There are some moments in life that require a little extra effort. Here are some of our favorites, brought to you by the delicious caramel, chocolate and nougat inside every Milky Way®
Catching flies with chopsticks
You know, when I was a kid—NO WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I promise, it's relevant! Okay, anyway: When I was a kid the big question was what would an image look like if you made a copy of it and then a copy of the copy and then a copy of the copy of the copy and so on until whoever was the office manager of the place where your parents parked you while they were at work came and yelled at you to stop hogging the Xerox machine. Anyway, times have changed, I guess, so now the mystery concerns what a YouTube video looks like after you rip it from YouTube and then re-upload it 1,000 times. If you didn't learn the answer back in 2010 when this went up for the first time, you can learn it now, because I guess we're moving to a world wide web where "currency" and "freshness" are no longer concerns. Maybe we can brand it as vintage Internet or artisanal content or something. Anyway, I didn't realize this was that old until I went to get the embed code, and by that point I had already written it up, with tags and slugs and everything, so I'll be damned if I'm gonna discard it and go search for something new, you know? There are still like 15 more posts that need to get slotted in today, I don't have time to toss something overboard just because it has probably been through the Internet rinse cycle a dozen times already. If you don't like it wait for a bit and something else will come along. God, just get OFF MY BACK.
"The societal pressure forces you to get on board because it’s considered a good cause. It would be such a faux pas to say no to it — you don’t want to be the one guy who doesn’t save the puppies. I know everyone thinks it, but no one wants to be perceived as cheap."
—Is there a real trend going on where "more altruistic New Yorkers are insisting on throwing birthday bashes with mandatory charity donations"? On the one hand, now that we've decided government isn't going to do anything but funnel more and more money to people who are already well off while leaving an ever-increasing slice of the neediest to fend for themselves, I can see annoying New Yorkers making a point of forcing their friends to cough up dough for a collection of causes that don't actually alleviate poverty but do make birthday celebrants feel better about themselves for raising funds to, for example, "foster Jewish identity among young internationals." On the other hand, I can't for a second imagine the mindset of someone who would expect their friends to shell out every time someone in the group turns another page on the calendar.Then again, I am rarely invited to anything and people are pretty universally terrible, so it probably is a thing. I blame millennials, what with their overactive sense of entitlement and their belief that throwing a few thousand dollars at something makes you a better person. Ugh, I'm so glad I'm not going to be around much longer.
In the few weeks before the auditions there was a bubbling sense of excitement which reminded me of the beginning of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. A huge film enterprise, thus far closed to mere mortals, was to let two chosen people not only appear in the film but also perhaps take on lead roles.
I was working at my receptionist job at a local community center in Edinburgh the morning it was announced that Disney and Lucasfilm were holding open auditions for a ‘Major Hollywood Movie.’
"I’m too old, dammit," said Victoria, of the cafe volunteers, "and also they want beautiful, so that rules me out."
"You are beautiful," I said and she scoffed.
"You should go for it," one of the volunteers told Murray, as he pulled the caretaker's trolley round the corner.
"What, Star Wars?" he said. "Too old, and why would they take me."
"Harrison Ford was a set carpenter," said another volunteer.
Julie, who coordinates the day care program, came by to get her mail. "Well, someone has to get it," she said.
My boyfriend, who loves Star Wars and made me watch the films—"come on, they’re classics, I mean the first three are anyway, the others are shit, but let's watch them anyway because they’re Star Wars"—was going to audition. I thought this was brilliant, as did our friends—the idea of a shy, awkward science fiction geek getting cast in the film was amusing and sweet.
I called my friend Ed who lives in Glasgow. He hadn’t seen the news. "No shit," he said.
"They’re auditioning the leads," I told him. He sucked in his breath on the other end of the receiver.
The momentum tapered a little after the Glasgow auditions were postponed after a debacle down in Bristol, which saw thousands of people turned away after spending a night in the freezing rain outside the Arnolfini art center, which, though beautiful, was simply not big enough to hold them. Yet I knew many people who were still determined to go along and wait, however long it took and however slim their chances of even getting seen.
Also, the postponement felt lucky; my friend Natasha Stiven, an actress who had been living in Australia for the past year, was coming home a day before the new audition date. She had been gutted that open auditions were coming to her country—her city even!—and yet she couldn’t go. The timing seemed like it could be fate.
It wasn't lucky for everyone. My boyfriend had an exam on the rescheduled Glasgow date, and Ed had to work selling hot dogs at a football stadium. I wished that he could have made it. He’s a great guy and he deserves a shot at a fairytale. I guess we all do.
The night before the auditions in Glasgow, a helicopter went through the roof of a pub by the banks of the River Clyde. The auditions were to begin at 11 a.m., with no overnight queuing allowed. People could only show up from 6 a.m., and loitering with intent to audition was banned. Therefore, Star Wars hopefuls were spared hearing or seeing the accident. A hundred or so people were in the pub; six of the nine killed were there to listen to a ska band.
The people on the morning train from Edinburgh to Glasgow were subdued. The huge TV screen at the station had been showing footage of the accident; so many people stood in front of it that I had to push through them to reach the ticket barriers.
On the train, news reports trickled through on people’s phones and laptops. One person had been killed, but otherwise everyone was okay. Then two people dead; then everyone in the helicopter. Some people had been directly under where it fell. Locals had created a human chain to help people out of the rubble. I hoped no one was still trapped in the pub. I made notes for the auditions and looked out the window as the day became light.
It felt colder in Glasgow than in Edinburgh. While I waited for Natasha’s train I wondered if there was any place I could buy gloves, hat or scarf. I looked in WH Smith; the only hats they had were Tartan with a shock of orange hair coming from the back and a button which played bagpipes if you press it. They sell these everywhere in Scotland though I have never known anyone who has bought one, especially at £8.98. Natasha showed up with her boyfriend, Brodie, an aspiring actor and film maker, and her friend John, known by all as 'Buffy.'
Also I interviewed my friends on the way to the Science Centre.
Me: So, why do you want to audition for Star Wars?
Natasha: (with a very serious face and an American accent) Well, that’s a very good question, Hope. Let me have a think about that. I’d love the opportunity to star in a movie and… and erm, expand my acting skills. (She pulled a face.) And ask someone else.
Me: Brodie, why do you want to audition for Star Wars.
Brodie: Because it's Star Wars. Star Wars is amazing.
Natasha: (breaking in) And Natalie Portman did it, and she’s beautiful.
Me: And Buffy, why do you want to audition for Star Wars?
Buffy: I’m just here because it’s a movie that’s going to be remembered for generations and it should be interesting. And Ewan McGregor was in the last one and he’s from Perth.
Buffy: Yeah, he was born there, Perth, the city where stars are born, but you wouldn’t think it.
Both Natasha and Buffy are from Perth, Scotland; Brodie is from Perth, Australia. The Australian Perth seems a whole lot more romantic and beautiful; more the sort of place where you can imagine stars being born. I imagine sun-drenched streets; the towering office blocks reflecting in the harbor; the feeling of opportunity and promise and frontier, the city which gave us Gemma Ward and Heath Ledger.
I’ve also never been to Perth, Scotland, but I have heard it has a chilly, brittle beauty. A slight roughness in parts so the locals mock it among themselves, but woe betide an outsider who is sarcastic about Perth. It doesn’t have the same ring of stardom, glamor, adventure, but the thing about stars is that they can come from anywhere, and most people deep-down hold a belief that maybe they are secretly special, or, at least, destined for fame.
In the Star Wars films, Luke Skywalker is living a pretty ordinary life at his aunt and uncle’s farm, until he is discovered, and in turn he discovers that he has a destiny greater than anything he could have imagined. He is called to adventure. It's a childish desire to have secretly been left on a doorstep as a baby, to be the daughter of the prince of a foreign land. That feeling underlines a sense that we are waiting for our real lives to start, even while we know on a practical level that such dreams of greatness are silly, unreal, the things of myth. Aren't they? READ MORE
★★★ The sidewalks were fairly empty, in the mild morning, except where people crowded outside waiting for doors to open on a clothing sale. The light was gray in the shade and flat but dazzling in the open, and the children had no objection to being out in it. Down in the subway, the cool and damp air had a quality not entirely unlike freshness. As the day went on, an unassuming high, thin cloud layer gathered, letting blue through overhead but suppressing the southern sun. Gradually the clouds thinned out again, and briefly the light was golden—till the sun was cut off abruptly by a solid gray sheet of cloud coming up from New Jersey.
It seems like just yesterday that Tinariwen's Aman Iman brought the band of Tuareg nomads to Western (i.e., my) attention, but the Internet tells me it was actually 2007, which I guess kind of makes sense when you think about it because the last six years are pretty much a blur. Like, think of anything that happened in your life in the last six years and there will be this weird, indeterminate fuzz surrounding it, as if it could have happened two days ago or five-and-a-half years ago. The last six years, to put it bluntly, have been some kind of terrible, hazy nightmare from which we have been unable to awaken, particularly today when it is just so hard to get started. Anyway, Tinariwen has a new album coming out, and if this video is any indication it will sound pretty deserty.
During Dan Harmon's Community exodus last year, he went and created another TV show, this one for Adult Swim. Called Rick and Morty, the new animated series was co-created by Harmon and Justin Roiland, and it premieres tonight at 10:30.
Based on a rejected pilot Roiland made for Harmon's monthly video competition Channel 101 in 2006 called "The Real Adventures of Doc and Mharti," Rick and Morty is a Back to the Future-inspired sci-fi comedy about a sociopathic scientist and his grandson going on wild adventures. I recently had the chance to talk to Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland about how the new show came to be, how they run their writers' room, and the Rick and Morty episode that unintentionally copied South Park. READ MORE
For a white dude in America with a hot wife and a huge house and kids who aren't in rehab and a job that presumably pays at least six figures, Clark Griswold sure has a lot of problems come Christmastime! His family is annoying! Putting up Christmas lights is hard! He might not be able to afford a pool with his bonus! In terms of economic landscape, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has aged about as well as a pumpkin in a swamp.
The film is ostensibly about finding the true spirit of the season amid a hellish, slapstick descent into suburban holiday dysfunction, but the film's "fun, old-fashioned Christmas" is remarkably steeped in wealth's economic markers, which I'll discuss in 2013 dollars. READ MORE