One subject that I have always been interested in is the cultural impact of generations. Each generation brings different changes to the cultural landscape and leaves a lasting impact. Well… except for generation Y or “generation whine” as some cynical experts call it.
First let me define what generation Y is. Gen Y is basically includes anyone that was born after 1981. The previous generation, Gen X, is anyone that graduated high school in the 1980s. (Which puts me in this odd category because I don’t fall into either group. This allows me to criticize both without having to take sides, which is a nice bonus.)
Most of the criticisms of Gen Y are that they are distracted (always multitasking but never doing a good job), feel a sense of entitlement, they are the most marketed to generation ever (not only do they accept it, they relish in it), have chosen to date or have sex with me (which says something about their taste), and there is a gaping void when it comes to cultural contributions. I feel the first couple of points can be debated because they always seem like a typical swipe at younger generation that happens every few years. The one I want to look at is the cultural contributions because you can see some real issues there.
Generation X: Grunge, Hip-hop, and Indie Rock There really is no debate about the lasting contributions of the music of this era. Although everyone want to distance themselves from Vanilla Ice, which everyone in generation x agrees about.
Generation Y: Pop punk?
(Fall Out Boy doesn’t make me want to beat it… )
Gen Y’s music can be defined as wholly unoriginal and the band Fall Out Boy personifies it. They aren’t original enough to come up with their own video concepts; they have to adapt stuff that was created by the generation before them. Their pop music is prepackaged Disney stars that are created by a massive marketing machine. There is no real movement here, mostly co-opting the culture of the previous two generations.
Generation X: Kevin Smith, Reality Bites, Singles Gen X had movies and filmmakers that helped define a generation. We are all lazy, mistrusting, weed smoking, coffee swilling, cynical smart asses… I have come to accept that personification. Oh and we all want to bang a young Wynonna Rider.
Generation Y: All those crappy comedy parody films The comedies that are created for teens aren’t even original to come up with their own ideas. It is all prepackaged pop culture references jammed into 90 minutes. I’ll even give you Juno and you still just have a shit load of pop culture references and nothing that defines that generation.
Generation X: The Original Real World We gave you a show that talked about race. That had Kevin Powell who is going on and running for Congress. Musicians who actually put out music and got signed by labels like Becky, Heather B, and Andre. Plus a founder of Gay Entertainment television. And who can forget Eric Neiss who brought us… um… uh… excellent aerobics shows?
Generation Y: The Hills and the Real World Hollywood
It isn’t a good sign that even Gen Y’s reality television turned out to be scripted and fake. Plus when you look at the shift generationally from the first few Real World seasons to the last few where the shows just include attention whores and people that want to be famous for being famous… Well it isn’t a good sign.
Although it did bring us the greatest episode of the Real World ever that included court, strip clubs, a guy going to alcohol rehabilitation, threats to roommates, some of the most pointless conversation ever, and possibly cemented this cast as the one I have the most disdain for ever. So I guess I need to give them points for that.
Where does this place Gen Y? Are they just going to be known for the mash-up? Combining the cultural production of others into their own products?
SHIFANG, China: At the moment of greatest despair, Wang Zhijun tried to kill himself by twisting his neck against the debris.
Breathing had become harder as day turned to night. The chunks of brick and concrete that had buried him and his wife were pressing tighter by the hour, crushing them. Their bodies had gone numb.
Then there was the rain, sharp and cold, lashing at them through the cracks.
“I don’t think I can make it,” he told his wife, Li Wanzhi, his face just inches from hers, their arms wrapped around each other.
She sensed he was giving up. “If God wants to kill us, he would have killed us right away,” she said. “But since we’re still alive, we must be fated to live.”
And they lived. They were pulled from the rubble of their collapsed six-story workers’ dormitory 28 hours after last Monday’s earthquake, spared the end met by at least 32,000 others.
Their tale of survival is also one of a rekindled love, of two people who might have died had they been trapped alone.
They whispered to each other. They talked of their 14-year-old daughter – who would take care of her? They recalled their life together, the shape of it before and the shape of it to come, all the changes they would make if they ever got out alive.
Days after their rescue, they lay in separate beds in Shifang People’s Hospital, a loud place with too many patients and too few doctors. Wang’s stout body was covered in cuts scabbed over with blood and pus, and he drifted in and out of sleep while talking to a reporter.
Li, 38, her petite frame dressed in a pink nightgown, spoke softly and stared at the ceiling with tears in her eyes. A white blanket covered her left side, where her arm had just been amputated. She had pleaded with a doctor not to cut it off, but there had been no choice: It had turned gangrenous after being trapped beneath Wang in the collapse.
Yet they were both thankful. “My colleagues said, ‘You’re the lucky one. You don’t know how many people died,’ ” Li said of the reaction of her fellow factory workers.
Of the 28 hours, Wang said, “It was more terrifying than facing the god of death.” Like for millions of Chinese, the life they knew was completely eradicated at 2:28 p.m. last Monday, when the 7.9-magnitude earthquake sent wave after wave of tremors through the river valleys and glaciated mountains of Sichuan Province, one of the most beautiful corners of China.
Wang, 40, had just returned home two days earlier, after traveling around the country for half a year and trying his hand at small businesses. He had lost a lot of money. He and his wife rarely spoke. He spent the Chinese New Year in the city of Guangzhou by himself, skipping China’s most important family holiday.
Wang is the kind of itinerant worker found in China by the millions, wandering from city to city in these boom years, and so it was chance that brought him home two days before the earthquake.
Li was raising their daughter, Xinyi, on her own while working at a chemical factory in the town of Luoshui. “My husband doesn’t have a stable life,” Li said. “He goes wherever he can get a job. I told him, ‘Why don’t you have a rest? Stay away from business. Just try and enjoy life for a while.’ “
Last Monday, she and her husband had just sat down in her fourth-floor apartment to watch a police soap opera on DVD when the dormitory, which houses dozens of factory workers, began shaking violently.
He flung an arm around her as they sprinted for the bathroom eight feet away. The entire building collapsed right as they got there, knocking them to the ground. The wooden bathroom door slammed against Wang’s back. Clouds of dust filled their lungs.
They were frightened but did not feel any pain at first. “In our minds, everything was clear,” Li recalled. “We were buried in the rubble.
“As a woman, as a mother, my first thought was, ‘What about my daughter? Who’ll take care of her if I die?’ ” she said.
They lay entwined on their sides, not knowing whether they were bleeding or any bones had been broken. A large chunk of concrete loomed inches above their heads. Shifting their bodies, they knew, could cause it to drop down on them.
Li’s left arm was wedged beneath her husband. The pain was excruciating at first, until the arm went numb.
“My mobile phone is in my pants pocket,” said Wang, who was wearing a tracksuit. “See if you can get it out.”
With her free hand, Li managed to fumble it out, but there was no signal. She thought she heard her cellphone ringing elsewhere in the rubble. It rang over and over for a while. Family and friends must be calling, she thought. Then it stopped.
They tried yelling, even though it was hard to breathe. “Save us! Save us!” they screamed. They yelled whenever they heard any noise outside. Li told her husband, “We need to keep our heads clear and pay attention to what’s happening.”
Li tried to focus her mind on only two things: How can I get out? How can I stay alive? But of course she and Wang thought of their family and friends, whether they were suffering in the same way. Their daughter was at school when the earthquake hit. Their parents and siblings, mostly farmers, also lived in the area.
“I want you to make it out,” Wang said. “We have a child, and I want you to raise her.”
Through a crack in the rubble, they could see the light fading. The rubble was moving. It was pressing down, slowly crushing them. They no longer felt any pain because their entire bodies had gone numb. Nor did they feel hunger and thirst.
They had to take turns breathing. When Li took a deep breath, her chest expanding, Wang held his breath.
Li looked at the cellphone at 11 p.m. Still no signal. But at least they had the phone, their one lifeline. They kept it on. The battery meter showed one bar of power left.
The cold rain started sometime during the night. Wang could hear it pounding the debris like a drum: da-da-da-da-da. It came down through the cracks. Wang also heard other noises, stones crashing against stones. Were those landslides?
They looked again at the cellphone. The battery had died.
“I gave up hope that night,” Wang recalled. “No one was going to save us.” He thought about what it would be like to die slowly, minute by minute, and he made a decision. “I tried bending my neck against the wall to kill myself,” he said.
That was when Li told him that since God had not killed them right away, they were meant to live. She also told him he was born in the Year of the Monkey, and monkeys can live for 500 years. She said he had to remember their daughter.
Maybe he would spend more time at home, he said. Settle down, see more of their daughter.
“Let’s try to get some sleep and save our energy,” she said.
But they were too terrified to fall asleep.
Then slowly the daylight began coming back through the crack. Hours later, they heard crunching footsteps on the rubble. Their voices were hoarse, but they began yelling again.
Someone shouted back, “Who are you?”
Li recognized her boss’s voice. “I’m Li Wanzhi,” she said.
Then came the words, “Hold on, we’re going to save you right now.” A constellation of voices, some familiar, swirled overhead. They could not understand what was being said, only that the people were weighing different plans.
At last, they heard rumbling of heavy machinery, which went on for perhaps five or six hours, the couple guessed. Afterward, a straw came down through the crack, and they took turns sipping sugar water.
“They were using their hands now,” Wang recalled. “The crack was getting bigger.” Then they heard rescue workers say that only one of them could be pulled out at a time. That risked rubble collapsing onto the other. But there was no other way.
The workers told the couple they were going to pull Li out first. “I can’t feel my legs, so I think I’m stuck under something,” Li told them. “You should get my husband out first.”
Two pairs of hands grabbed him, and within minutes he was out of the hole and being led to an ambulance, where his sister was waiting.
The rubble had not collapsed farther into the hole. On the contrary, Li felt a sudden expansion of space when her husband was lifted out, and now she could breathe more easily. But her lower body was still pinned down by heavy bricks. “Can you get some tools to pull me out?” she asked.
They said no. And at that moment, beyond exhaustion, she gave them the signal to get her out any way they could: “Well, I can’t feel anything anyway.”
She felt hands gripping her. After a powerful tug, she was out, just like that. In the ambulance, she was put down on a bench opposite her husband. “I wanted to hug him, but I couldn’t move my body,” Li said.
Nearly a week after the rescue, both were still in tremendous pain. Wang said it felt as if his heart were being squeezed. He still cannot sit up on his own.
Every aftershock terrifies Li. She thinks of being buried alive again. No one has told her how many of her co-workers were killed. But their daughter was unhurt, and she refused to leave their side in the hospital.
They have no home to return to, but that is another problem for another time.
“The only thing we had was each other,” Wang said. “We encouraged each other to live on, and we said once we got out, we’d live a good life and care for each other. Now we have a new start.”
When I was 12, I went down to my local video store and rented the VHS tape of The Hotel New Hampshire. In the film’s credits, I learned that the movie was based on the novel of the same name by John Irving. At that time, I kind of understood that there were these people called “screenwriters” who wrote movies, but this was the first time I made the connection that sometimes, movies were adapted from books.
From then on, if I found out a movie was based on a book, I’d run down to the library and borrow a copy of the book. But this was pre-Internet days, so this information wasn’t too easy to come by, especially not to a kid. So, I’d always be alert during the film’s opening credits to catch this information, then, if I enjoyed the movie, I’d read the book.
Covering entertainment news every day, I often write about books being adapted for film, so I’ve been running under the assumption that the average person also knows this information. Turns out, that’s not so. I’ve met people who didn’t know Atonement and The Kite Runner were based on books, and forget it if the movie was based on a graphic novel – no one seems to have that on their radar.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 10 movies coming out this year which were adapted from book/graphic novels, along with related source material to get you ready for the 2008 mega-movie season.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Source Material: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Author: C.S. Lewis Screenplay: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely Cast: Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson (voice), Sergio Castellitto Release date: May 16, 2008
In this tale that continues The Chronicles of Narnia fantasy saga, the Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – find themselves transported out of England and back into the magical land of Narnia. The children find that while it’s only been one year in their time that they’ve been away, 1300 years have passed in Narnia and much has changed there since the siblings ruled greatly as Kings and Queens of the land. After usurping the throne, the evil King Miraz now rules over Narnia instead of its rightful heir, Miraz’s nephew Prince Caspian, who lives in exile.
Non-canon tidbit: Susan and Prince Caspian’s ages are slightly advanced in order to creating a budding romance between the two characters.
Source Material: Sex and the City Author: Candace Bushnell Screenplay: Michael Patrick King Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon Release date: May 30, 2008
Just about everyone knows the long-running HBO series, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker as relationship columnist Carrie Bradshaw and her trio of close-knit NYC socialite girlfriends. But how many people remember that the cable television series – created by Darren Star – was actually first a best-selling book by Candace Bushnell? Bushnell’s book was a collection of essays the author wrote for the New York Observer about her and her friends’ experiences in the Manhattan social scene.
Non-canon tidbit: In the book, Carrie has a wider range of friends and the three presented as her inner circle on the show – Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha – are minor characters with much different personalities.
Source Material:The Midnight Meat Train from Books of Blood Author: Clive Barker Screenplay: Jeff Buhler Cast: Bradley Cooper, Roger Bart, Vinnie Jones, Brooke Shields Release date: May 14, 2008
After falling asleep on a New York subway train, the unemployed Leon Kaufman, awakens to find himself at the last stop of the line – a secret station where a killer named Mahogany has the bodies of the people he’s butchered hanging like animal carcasses at a meat warehouse. Leon must fight the killer for survival, but winning means more than just staying alive, but a whole new way of life.
Non-canon tidbit: In the film, Leon is a photographer on the trail of a subway serial killer, and reports are that the story has been expanded on for the adaptation.
Related Reading:Books of Blood by Clive Barker – A six-volume collected anthology of horror fiction short stories. No other stories relate to Midnight Meat Train, but the collection does include The Forbidden (adapted to film as Candyman) and The Last Illusion (adapted to film as Lord of Illusions), as well as The Book of Blood, which is currently being adapted for film.
Source Material: Wanted Author: Mark Millar (writer), J.G. Jones (illustrator) Screenplay: Derek Haas, Michael Brandt, Chris Morgan, Dean Georgaris Cast: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie Release date: June 27, 2008
Unenthusiastic slacker Wes is a hypochondriac whose job makes him miserable, as does his live-in girlfriend who cheats on him. He has no hope for his life and lives a bleak existence, until one day a bad-ass assassin named Fox comes into his life and reveals that Wes is actually the son of The Killer, the recently killed leader of a sect within the secret supervillain organization called The Fraternity. But Wes’s inheritance is more than large sums of money; it also comes his father’s position in The Fraternity, which sets Wes on a path of violence that let’s him have everything he’s ever wanted and more. Director Timur Bekmambetov’s big-screen version stars James McAvoy as Wes, with Angelina Jolie playing his mentor and lover Fox.
If you think you’ll fancy the movie, then pick up the Wanted (Assassin’s Editon) version of the graphic novel, which contains the original series, plus the Wanted Dossier, excerpts of Millar’s script, interviews, and behind-the-scenes developmental art.
Non-canon tidbit: Word is that the first half of the film follows the story of the graphic novel and that the ending is similar, but that the superhero attire was axed (not sure if this means that the entire superhero element was ditched, too). Also, the film introduces a new plot element by having the organization follow death orders commanded by the Fates, weavers of every human’s lifeline.
Related Reading:Savage Dragon #127 & 128 by Erik Larsen – Some Wanted characters appear in these two issues of Image Comics’ Savage Dragon #127 and #128, a story published after the end of Wanted. These issues have yet to be collected into trade paperback at this time.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Source Material: Journey to the Center of the Earth Author: Jules Verne Screenplay: Michael Weiss and Mark Levin Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem Release date: July 11, 2008
In this Jules Verne classic, an eccentric professor and his nephew decipher a coded manuscript which leads them to Iceland where they descend into a volcano. Once inside “the center of the earth” the duo and their guide encounter dangerous prehistoric conditions and species.
Non-canon tidbit: Aside from modernizing the 1864 science fiction tale, the professor (Brendan Fraser) and his nephew are now guided by an attractive female named Hannah. Not much is known about the character yet, but I’m guessing there will be a love connection between Hannah and Fraser’s character.
Source Material: Choke Author: Chuck Palahniuk Screenplay: Clark Gregg Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston Release date: September 26, 2008
The novel from Fight Club author Palahniuk tells the tale of Victor Mancini, whose unfit mother kidnapped him from various foster homes as a child. As an adult, Victor is a med-school dropout and sex addict who becomes a con man in an effort to get the money to support his mother, who’s now in a nursing home. His con involves “choking” on his food at restaurants so that someone can “save” him; after they do, Victor preys on their sympathies, getting them to pay his bills.
Non-canon tidbit: In an interview with IndieWire, writer/director Clark Gregg said of his adaptation: “After spinning my wheels in a reverent haze for nearly a year, I finally threw the book in a drawer and decided to write my own personal version of this story, one that Chuck would probably have me removed from. This, of course, is when the adaptation finally started to work and to my surprise, Chuck was extremely supportive of its departures.” Translation: expect this adaptation to be loosely based on the novel.
Related Reading: Nothing Choke-specific, but for another Chuck Palahniuk book-to-film, check out Fight Club: A Novel.
City of Ember
Source Material: The City of Ember Author: Jeanne Duprau Screenplay: Caroline Thompson Cast: Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Saoirse Ronan Release date: October 10, 2008
Not much is known about the film City of Ember besides the casting, its director Gil Kenan (Monster House), and that its screenplay is by Caroline Thompson, who penned such greats as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and The Secret Garden. Oh, and that one Tom Hanks is the producer. The children’s book takes place in the city of Ember, where there is no natural light and all electricity is powered through a often-failing generator. Once the lights go out for good, the people of Ember are doomed. Because of the lack of moveable light, the people are trapped in the city, but 12-year-old Lina and Doon believe there must be a way out, so they set out to find out how, which involves deciphering clues from an old mysterious letter they discovered.
Non-canon tidbit: The plot summary released for the movie follows the book exactly – so far, so good! Though, the film’s official synopsis has Lina and Doon as teenagers, not 12-year-olds.
Related Reading:The People of Sparks and The Prophet of Yonwoodby Jeanne Duprau – Ember is the first book of the series and Sparks is its sequel; Yonwood is the third book, but it’s actually a prequel to Ember.
The young wizard Harry Potter, now 16 years old, and his friends return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their sixth year. In this installment, Harry comes into the possession of a Potions textbook containing useful notes written by the book’s previous owner, a former student known only as “the Half-Blood Prince.” While the notes seem helpful, they could also be a trap of some kind set by Harry’s long-time nemesis, the evil Lord Voldemort. This sixth offering is a much darker tale as Harry faces the greatest dangers of his life as he slowly uncovers the mystery of Voldemort’s past and prepares to square off with the dark lord’s minions, the Death Eaters.
Non-canon tidbit: Producer David Baron confirmed that a scene is being added to the film that was not in the book which will take place at the Burrow.
Source Material: Twilight Author: Stephenie Meyer Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson Release date: December 12, 2008
This first book of the teen vampire series, published in 2005, has been a great hit recently with young teens. In the novel, Bella Swan moves to a new town with her father and into a new high school, where she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen, who at first seems to dislike her. But when Bella is almost hit by a car, Edward saves her and they eventually fall in love. Bella soon realizes that Edward is no ordinary boy, but a vampire, as his supernatural abilities come to light and the lovers are threatened by other vampires.
Non-canon tidbit: The film’s plot follows that of the book, and so far, no persions from the book have been reported (but, hey, there’s still time!).
Fitzgerald’s short story follows the life of Benjamin Button, who was born an old man in 1860 to a prominent family in Maryland, and over time, ages in reverse. The story is dramatic, but also comedic as Benjamin’s friends and loved ones absurdly remark how he should try to control his strange aging. Not much is known at this time about the David Fincher-directed film adaptation, which stars Brad Pitt as the title character, but chances are, it will take many liberties interpreting the details in Button’s life that were only touched upon in the book – his life was as full of eventful moments, much like Forrest Gump’s life was. Also, Pitt’s baby daughter Shiloh Jolie-Pitt makes a cameo.
Non-canon tidbit: In the film, Button is born in 1919 and the events in his life go through till the year 2000.
Related Reading:Six Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Six Tales of the Jazz Age short story collection was originally the only place to read Benjamin Button, but the story is now available in its own book to tie-in with the film (see Source Material link). While the character of Benjamin Button does not appear in any of Fitzgerald tale, the Jazz Age collection contains similar fantastical stories.
Here are some films that were released in the beginning of the year, if you’d like to catch up with them before the DVD releases.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Source Material: The Spiderwick Chronicles Books 1-5 Author: Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi Screenplay: Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum, John Sayles Cast: Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, David Strathairn Release date: February 14, 2008
The Grace children along with their mom move into the Spiderwick Estate, where they discover a book – Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You – which awakens the surrounding magical world of faeries, goblins, and an evil powerful ogre to their presence.
The film is based on the five novels in this children’s book series – The Field Guide; The Seeing Stone; Lucinda’s Secret; The Ironwood Tree; The Wrath of Mulgrath – though not all of the elements from the books made it into the film.
Non-canon tidbit: The screenplay departs quite a bit from the books, though that could be because some elements from the books will be used in the film sequels. A subplot about the children’s parents is introduced, and there’s an alternate more audience-friendly ending.
Source Material: Jumper: A Novel Author: Steven Gould Screenplay: Simon Kinberg Cast: Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson Release date: February 14, 2008
The 1992 novel follows the story of Davy, a teenager who discovers that he has the power to teleport. He uses that power to get away from his abusive father and search for his long-lost mother, resorting to criminal activities to get what he wants. The film does follow that part of the book, giving Davy (now David) a similar childhood appearance and the same love interest, teleportation skills, and initial criminal motives. But instead of showing Davy’s progression and maturity, David becomes a spoiled, whiney, hurtful person who wants what he wants when he wants it and thankfully he’s got this lovely teleportation power to do it. (Is this the only type of character Hayden Christensen can play?)
Non-canon tidbit: See above; also the film added in Paladins, religious fanatics who track down “jumpers” like David to kill them.
Related Reading: Jumper: Griffin’s Story and Reflex by Steven Gould – Griffin’s Story is a new adventure that revolves around a character created specifically for the film, a 9-year-old jumper Griffin O’Conner, while Relex is Jumper‘s sequel, which follows the life of the adult David.
The Other Boleyn Girl
Source Material: The Other Boleyn Girl Author: Philippa Gregory Screenplay: Peter Morgan Cast: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana Release date: February 29, 2008
Phlippa Gregory’s historical fiction masterpiece is told from the perspective of Mary Boleyn, the younger fairer sister of Anne Boleyn. Before Anne infamously wedded the 16th-century King Henry VIII and gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, the lesser-known Mary was the King’s mistress. The novel gives us what the PG-13 film, which stars Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as the rivaling sisters, could not – an R-rated and more realistic portrayal of these real-life events.
Non-canon tidbit: Many, many liberties are taken in this film adaptation, though that’s to be expected considering the source material was a fictional retelling of historical events. Much of Anne and Mary’s childhood is omitted from the film, and how the two sisters became involved with the King is changed from the book.
Related Reading:The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell – While Philippa Gregory has gone on to tackle more Tudor subjects, The Other Boleyn Girl is her only novel focused on Anne and her sister Mary. Maxwell’s novel is another fictional account of Anne Boleyn’s life told through Anne’s diary, as read by her daughter Elizabeth I.
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who
Source Material: Horton Hears A Who! Author: Dr. Seuss Screenplay: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul Cast: (voices) Jim Carrey, Steve Carell Release date: March 14, 2008
“A person’s a person no matter how small” is what we learn from this Dr. Seuss tale about Horton, an elephant who stumbles upon a speck of dust which contains an entire town of microscope people in it. No one will believe the elephant’s claims that there are people living in the dust; instead they mock Horton’s efforts Horton to protect the town, called Who-ville, from harm. Horton’s cause is a noble one and he works together with the people of Who-ville to convince the disbelievers to come around.
Non-canon tidbit: The film follows the events and characters of the original tale. But because the 1954 illustrated storybook runs only 30 pages, the CGI-animated film elaborates on the story, and obviously, the dialogue.
There’s a lot of advice out there about getting good sleep — it’s VERY important. We quickly adjust to being sleep-deprived, and don’t notice that we aren’t functioning at a normal level, but lack of sleep really affects us. If you’re feeling blue or listless, try going to sleep thirty minutes earlier for a week. It can really help.
Here are tips that have helped me get good sleep:
Good habits for good sleep:
1. Exercise most days, even if it’s just to take a walk.
2. No caffeine after 7:00 p.m.
3. An hour before bedtime, avoid doing any kind of work that takes alert thinking. Addressing envelopes–okay. Analyzing an article–nope.
4. Adjust your bedroom temperature to be slightly chilly.
5. Keep your bedroom dark. Studies show that even the tiny light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep cycle. We have about six devices in our room that glow bright green; it’s like sleeping in a mad scientist’s lab. The Big Man has a new pet, a Roomba (yes, he loves his robot vacuum) that gives out so much light that I have to cover it with a pillow before bed.
6. Keep the bedroom as tidy as possible. It’s not restful to fight through chaos into bed.
If sleep won’t come:
7. Breathe deeply and slowly until you can’t stand it anymore.
8. If your mind is racing (you’re planning a trip, a move; you’re worried about a medical diagnosis), write down what’s on your mind. This technique really works for me.
9. Slather yourself with body lotion. This feels good and also, if you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re hot, it cools you down.
10. If your feet are cold, put on socks.
11. Stretch your whole body.
12. Have a warm drink. Supposedly warm milk contains melatonin and trytophan and so helps induce sleep, but in fact, a glass of milk doesn’t contain enough to have any effect. But it’s still a soothing drink. My nighttime favorite: 1/3 mug of milk, add boiling water, one packet of Equal, and a dash of vanilla. A real nursery treat.
14. Stretch your toes up and down several times.
15. Tell yourself, “I have to get up now.” Imagine that you just hit the snooze alarm and in a minute, you’re going to be marching through the morning routine. Often this is an exhausting enough prospect to make me fall asleep.
16. If you still can’t sleep, re-frame: re-frame your sleeplessness as a welcome opportunity to snatch some extra time out of your day. I get up and tackle mundane chores, like paying bills, organizing books, or tidying up. Then I start the day with a wonderful feeling of having accomplished something even before 6:45 am.
What am I missing? Are there some more great sleep-inducing strategies out there?
The internet is responsible for many terrible things, which the world tolerates as long as these terrible things stay on the internet.
But some internet memes become so popular they spill out and infect the real world in ways that simply cannot be tolerated. Such as …
In 1998, a Canadian art student began a site dedicated to her pet hamster, which features four .gifs of hamsters and a nine-second loop of an irritating song that was basically the aural equivalent of pubic lice. The popularity of the site remained blissfully small until January 1999, when it inexplicably shot up from around 4 hits a day to 15,000 thanks to a campaign of emails, early blogs, bumper stickers and what must have been a worldwide drop in taste and sanity.
Where it Crossed the Line:
By the end of 1999 Hamsterdance.com was drawing an estimated 250,000 daily hits. Worse still, a band called The Cuban Boys released a song called “Cognoscenti Versus Intelligentsia,” which consisted mostly of that irritating Hamster Dance sound loop and high pitched yodeling you might recognize as the sped up voice of Satan. As you can guess, the experience was similar to having feces injected directly into your eardrums.
Before too long, versions of the Hamster Dance were being released in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and the tune was featured in 2001 film See Spot Run and the 2005 film Are We There Yet? (presumably a chilling trip into the human psyche in which a sadistic father drives his family around on an endless journey, blasting the Hamster Dance tune until they beg for the eternal silence of death).
All Your Base Are Belong To Us
The meme began in 1998, with an innocent animated .gif on a video game website. It was taken from the opening cutscene of a Sega Genesis game called Zero Wing, in which a villain called Cats appears on a space craft’s monitor and says “How are you Gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us. You are on the way to destruction!”
If you’ve never seen the whole thing in context, here it is:
This one line, which existed purely because game companies back then couldn’t afford translators, spread across the internet like … man we hate to keep using the pubic lice analogy, but when the irritating contagion fits.
Where it Crossed the Line:
We’re thinking right about here:
And by the end of 2000, it had international media attention–we’re talking mentions on Fox News, the BBC and articles in Time magazine. Or course, by the time the rest of the world had jumped on the bandwagon, use of the phrase would earn you instant rebuke from the daylight-dodging denizens of internet gaming forums.
But that didn’t stop it. In 2003, as an April Fool’s joke, seven teenagers placed signs bearing the slogan all around the town of Sturgis, Michigan. The joke backfired when the town’s residents got worried that it was an act of terrorism, Sturgis being widely regarded by its residents (and no one else) as one of al-Qaida’s next likely targets.
Those shirts are all probably being worn ironically at this point, since internet memes age in dog years. One irony that’s probably lost on the makers of Zero Wing: More money has probably been made off of their inadvertent catch phrase than they ever saw from the game.
Chuck Norris Facts
If you just bought your first computer today, Chuck Norris Facts are an internet fad that consists of hundreds of user-created facts about the actor, usually involving his ability to roundhouse kick your mother into next Tuesday.
It started with a thread on the Something Awful forums back in early 2005, one of probably nine million threads created that day. It simply asked members to post facts about Vin Diesel, at which point hundreds of pieces of completely false and exaggerated Vin trivia came pouring in. Later they were gathered into the Vin Diesel Fact Generator.
Around the time that a World of Warcraft add-on featuring a Chuck Norris Fact generator was released in January 2006, corporate America started realizing this thing might have some crossover potential. Soon enough, references started turning up in non-internet media and then, finally, Chuck himself got on board.
Norris has appeared on several talk shows since this all started. Rolling Stone did a small piece about them, and in 2006, Time interviewed Norris, calling him an “online cult hero.”
This meme is an example why early detection is so incredibly important. We had many chances to stop this thing before it spread. But it seemed so benign at first.
In 1997, 17-year-old Swede Daniel Malmedahl recorded himself mimicking the sound of a two-stroke combustion engine and posted it on a website. The sound became something of a meme itself, at least in its native Sweden. A local TV producer convinced Daniel to perform his sound on national television, probably on a Swedish prime-time hit called Sounds Made By People.
In 2003, another Swede, Erik Wernquist, created an animated frog to go with the sound, and correctly christened it The Annoying Thing.
Pretty harmless, right?
By 2004, what would come to be known as “Crazy Frog” had spread all over the internet, making the rest of the world wish Sweden could just stick to making Volvos and Victoria Silvstedt.
Where it Crossed the Line:
Shortly after Wernquist combined the frog with the noise of a nearly grown man pretending to be a motorcycle, he was contacted by a German ringtone company called Jamba!, who asked to use it as a downloadable ringtone for cell phones.
The ringtone became one of the most successful ever in the United Kingdom. Jamba! quickly earned approximately £14 million from download sales and everyone who downloaded it quickly lost all their friends.
Again, it seems like some kind of intervention could have kept this thing from going any further. But the world’s government turned a blind eye, and soon a dance track was recorded.
It charted in Europe and follow ups were released. By March 2008, the Crazy Frog had three complete albums, all of which serve as proof that music can be weaponized effectively.
Also released in the UK was a string of merchandise including an electronic game, key rings, backpacks, lunch boxes and air fresheners. Two computer games, each widely loathed by critics, have been released for the Playstation 2.
Worse yet, a German production company called The League of Good People have made a sad mockery of their name by entering into talks with a production company to create a Crazy Frog TV show. A film is rumored to be in the works, and is likely.
Unless, of course, it turns out that there is a just God.
One of the earliest internet phenomena, the Dancing Baby (or if you’re official about your internet meme history “Baby-Cha-Cha”) first appeared on the internet back in 1996-97.
The 3-D-rendered animated dancing baby comes complete with a somewhat disturbing hip thrust and mincing arm movements that suggest his parents shouldn’t hold out for grandchildren. It was created as a product sample source file for release of a groundbreaking 3-D character creation program “Character Studio” which was apparently dedicated to creating the creatures that populate our nightmares.
Where it Crossed the Line:
Its most famous crossover was on the popular 1990s legal drama Ally McBeal, as a hallucination Ally experienced.
On the show, it was supposed to represent the ticking of Ally’s biological clock or some shit, but to us, it just interrupted our fantasies of “accidentally” entering the firm’s unisex restroom to find Calista Flockheart and Lucy Liu having a race to remove their underpants first.
The baby appeared in the music video for Blue Suede’s cover of the 1969 hit Hooked On a Feeling. Then a song called “Dancing Baby (Ooga Chaka)” was released by a UK group called Trubble, who not only used an internet meme extensively in their marketing, but also felt the need to spell their name as if an infant had written it.
Back Dorm Boys
The Back Dorm Boys are two former Chinese college students who lip-sync most notably Backstreet Boys songs. Using a grainy webcam, they filmed themselves lip-syncing in a college dorm room whilst an uninterested third student sat in the background with his back to the camera, playing a computer game.
They completed their first video in May 2005, a synced version of “As Long As You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys. They released it on their local college network, but their act was so compelling that it showed up on YouTube and quickly accumulated millions of views.
Where it Crossed the Line:
Before the end of the year, while still in college, the Back Dorm Boys were signed up as spokespeople for Motorola cellphones in China and became the hosts of Motorola’s online lip-syncing contests.
They were also employed by Sina.com, China’s biggest internet portal, presumably meaning that to millions of Chinese peasants, the internet appeared to be nothing more than a high-tech karaoke device. The Back Dorm Boys also maintain a blog, one of the most popular in China, which, in a somewhat unsurprising turn of events, was awarded the “Best Podcaster” award in 2006. The award was given by their employers at Sina.com, but still.
In February 2006, just before they left college, the Back Dorm Boys signed a five-year deal with Taihe Rye, a Chinese talent management company in Beijing, to continue making lip-syncing videos. As it stands, the Back Dorm Boys have made at least 19.
At this point the Back Dorm Boys began to infect the rest of the world, getting mentions in the US on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, South Park and in the first episode of Heroes. We can’t imagine that anyone has gotten more famous on less talent. And luckily we don’t have to, because our number 3 meme exists.
In 2004, a somewhat portly young gentleman named Gary Brolsma, from New Jersey, filmed himself lip-syncing and dancing along to Dragostea din tei, a song by Moldovan group O-Zone.
The term Numa Numa comes from a refrain in the song; “nu m?, nu m? iei,” which roughly translates from Romanian as “you don’t, you don’t, take me (with you).” The video up there has 13 million hits, but that’s just scratching the surface (it was originally uploaded to Newgrounds.com on December 6, 2004, where every single internet user watched it four times).
Where it Crossed the Line:
In February 2005, the New York Times wrote an article about the dance and its creator, and in 2006, UK TV station Channel 4 listed it at number 41 of the 100 Greatest Funny Moments (upsetting critics who thought a home video of some guy getting hit in the nuts with a wiffle ball bat deserved the spot).
A story in the June 2006 edition of The Believer claims the video “singlehandedly justifies the existence of webcams (…) It’s a movie of someone who is having the time of his life, wants to share his joy with everyone, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.”
While he does certainly appear to be enjoying himself, we submit that for all your singlehanded webcam justification, boobs will do just fine. At the height of its popularity, the video was receiving mainstream attention from shows such as ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Tonight Show, and VH1’s Best Week Ever.
The New York Times said Brolsma was an “unwilling and embarrassed web celebrity” and Brolsma canceled several media appearances, suddenly realizing that people were laughing at his hilariously embarrassing private moment.
At the end of 2006, a report on the BBC, based on figures collected by a viral marketing company, reckoned the Numa Numa Dance was the second most viewed video of all time, with 700 million views. Brolsma reappeared in September 2006 with a professionally produced video and began a non-Chinese competition in which contestants pretend to mime to lyrics and win cash, finally accepting that when he lies on his deathbed at age 86, he’ll still be “The Numa Numa guy.”
Star Wars Kid
Maybe the most well-known internet meme ever, this began back in 2002 when Ghyslain Raza, a wonderfully named 14-year-old French-Canadian, filmed himself swinging a golf ball retriever around, as if it were a weapon.
The filming was done in his school’s studio, and somewhat foolishly, Raza forgot about it and left the tape in a basement. Some time later, he found the tape, and, even more foolishly, showed it to his friends. His friends thought it would be funny if they converted it to a .wmv file, and shared it on the peer-to-peer file sharing network, Kazaa. Within two weeks, it had been downloaded several million times, and an adapted version of the video was made, with added Star Wars music and effects.
Where it Crossed the Line:
In 2006, the Viral Factory claimed that the Star Wars Kid was the most popular video on the internet, with over 900 million views. Jumping onto the bandwagon, hundreds of internet users created their own videos, versions parodying everything from Terminator 2 to the Blues Brothers.
Soon after it became a global smash, it was extensively reported in the mainstream news media. The New York Times, CBS, BBC News and GMTV all gave the video a lot of attention, all to the horror of Raza and his family, who, in a huge show of ass-hattery, filed a lawsuit against his friends. The lawsuit stated, in part, that Raza “had to endure, and still endures today, harassment and derision from his school mates and the public at large.”
The joke was on him though, because in a wonderfully ironic move, mainstream media outlets who covered the video’s startling popularity covered the trial as well, all the while tutting about the internet’s ability to ruin a person’s privacy while at the same time giving their readers a chance to watch the original video again and laugh once more at Raza’s tubby, uncoordinated shenanigans. Raza eventually received $351,000 in Canadian money from his (former) friends, who apparently had way more money than we did when we were in high school.
Among the Star Wars Kid’s many references on television, including Arrested Development …
… and American Dad …
… the most famous occurred towards the end of 2006 when Steven Colbert, an adamant Star Wars fan, filmed himself mimicking the Star Wars Kid in front of a green screen.
He showed the clip on The Colbert Report and started a contest, asking for viewers to edit in their own CGI and sound effects with the best being aired on the show. Thousands of amateur filmmakers rose to the challenge and it eventually culminated in George Lucas himself making a video, with CGI done by Industrial Light and Magic.
That sounds like cheating to us, but whatever.
So there’s this message board. And just as most of the goods in your house were made in China, most of the internet’s irritating memes were manufactured there.
They used to have a tradition there called the Duckroll, where you would provide a link and lie about what was on the other end, often promising underage porn. Once the user clicked through, they’d get a Photoshopped picture of a duck with wheels. It’s difficult to explain.
Anyway, at some point that was mutated into the Rickroll, where the goal was to trick users into watching a video of “Never Gonna Give You Up” by ’80s ginger pop singer, Rick Astley.
Where it Crossed the Line:
Rickrolling had become widespread by May 2007, with hundreds of thousands of occurrences popping up all over internet message boards, despite the fact that it had stopped being funny around the second time someone ever did it. By 2008, it somehow began appearing outside the web, which you wouldn’t think would be possible for a joke based around a misleading link.
A real-world Rickrolling appeared during Anonymous’s anti-Scientology marches on February 10, 2008. In marches in Edinburgh, London, New York and Washington DC, protesters marched up and down outside Scientology sites, blasting the song through boom boxes, in what the UK paper The Guardian said was a live Rickrolling, and which bystanders said was some guys playing a song on the radio.
On April 8, after a web campaign starting at Fark.com, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” won a poll to be played as the 8th inning sing-along at the New York Mets’ Shea Stadium. Five million people voted for the song and, as promised, the New York Mets played it, to the extreme displeasure of the fans who didn’t grasp the four or five layers of irony required to enjoy the experience.
This should highlight the “fish out of water” aspect of internet memes. Take them into real life and, like the fish, they’ll die and stink up the house. And give you pubic lice. Probably best to leave them in the water is what we’re saying.
Being cool is normally subjective. But there are some things that unequivocally make you uncool. We’re not saying we’re cool, we’re just saying if you own any of these items, you’re not.
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: You can access e-mails, high speed internet, and watch videos, all on your phone. Because really, normal people around you are so f*&king boring you can hardly bear actually interacting with them.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: I’ve done some research and iPhone is actually a Japanese word that means “something that’s not able to be put in a pocket and instead must be carried in your hand at all times or set on the table in front of you so that any one around you can see it.” This may sound shocking, but when someone remarks how hot it is, they’re not asking you to look up the temperature in both farenheit and celcius, or show them a clip on a 3 inch screen from “An Inconvenient Truth” in an effort to relate this heat to global warming.
9.Ironic Belt Buckles
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: Now you can show up in bars and point at your belt buckle and tell people that you are a “Rodeo Champion” or a “Pac Man” or a “Truck Driver” or a “Jack Daniels.” And while they will know that you are actually none of these things, you think you’re being playful and a little bit mysterious. You also think this tactic will help you pick up women.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: You’re the same person who has ironic facial hair (mustache), drinks ironic beer (PBR) and wears ironic T-shirts (Lucky Charms). You spend your entire life trying to look as shitty and poor as possible while, chances are, you have rich parents or a job for an accounting firm that pays you over $60,000. In four years you will be a Republican living in the suburbs and complaining about your 401k over wine spritzers at dinner parties.
8. Blue Tooth Headset
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: All the other losers have to use their hands when they talk on the phone. Not you! You can talk on your phone and at the same time safely give some loser the finger because they’re only driving the speed limit. It’s Tuesday, doesn’t this asshole know you have your jujitsu class at 24 hour fitness to go to?
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: I don’t give a shit if you’re talking to someone on the other end, when you’re in a Subway Sandwiches and they’re trying to take your order while you say “Listen, you give me that paperwork for the Johnson account by tomorrow or it’s your ass. No mayo. I said no Mayo! Yeah, that’s right, Johnson account on my desk! No pepperoncinis!” it’s pretty god damn confusing and asshole-ish to everyone trying to deal with you. Answer your phone when you have time to hold it in your hand. The only people that should be wearing blue tooth wireless headsets are military field generals and the people that work the day after thanksgiving sale at Old Navy.
7. Quoting Austin Powers/Borat/Old School
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: Put on your earmuffs because that woman has a vageen that hangs like sleeve of wizard. Yeah, baby! Those movies are HILARIOUS, thus if you can quote them, by default you’re hilarious too!
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: We all enjoy quoting our favorite movies, but let’s put these three to bed. Not only did I have every last bit of dialogue to the Borat movie screamed in my face three months before it came out, but let’s face it, Austin Powers wasn’t funny 10 years ago. And I still have to hear people telling me that “circus folk smell vaguely of cabbage.” On top of it, everyone murders the accents. Whenever I hear some asshole in a bar trying doing his version of Borat, somehow he sounds like a tongueless Canadian with a sock in his mouth. This has to stop or I am going to skip the earmuffs and go directly to cutting my ears off.
6. PT Cruiser
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: It’s like a car from back in the thirties! It’s sleek design and throw back look allows everyone tailgating in the parking lot at the Dave Matthews concert know that you’re a free spirit who is all about having good times!
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: If you’ve ever wondered what a gay transformer would turn in to, wonder no more. Not only do they call a retarded amount of attention to themselves on the road, when you drive them you look like a soccer mom whose transporting alcohol during the prohibition era.
5. Tricked Out Bicycles
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: I honestly have no idea.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: Instead of looking like some hipper, younger version of a real biker (who actually is cool), you just look like some 8th-grader who blew his allowance on sparklers for his tricycle. With its weirdly-bent handlebars and wacky forks, your “cruiser” looks like the elephant man of bikes. Plus, these things are clearly uncomfortable to ride. I love watching some tattooed douchebag try to look laid back and cool after he had to dislocate both of his shoulders just to reach the handlebars. Not to mention, you could’ve gotten a friggin’ car for what you paid for this piece of crap. Dumbass.
4. Fidel Castro Hats
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: Wearing a Fidel Castro hat let’s the world know that you’re different and that you have thoughts and ideas that make you significantly more special and free thinking than those who wear traditional baseball hats.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: You know why the Communist Cuba Military can get away with wearing them? Because they carry automatic weapons. You most likely carry a compilation book of Charles Bukowski poems. The tiny bill and camoflauged coloring make you look like a retarded son of a army ranger who had a pair of scissors and access to his father’s closet. I realize you want to tell the world you’re a non-comformist, but unfortunately being a non-conformist means you’re conforming to non-conformism. You might want to ponder that at that next record release party for a band no one’s heard of that you’re pretending to like.
3. Guitar Hero
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: Dude, this game totally rocks! I love this song! Hell yes! Welcome to the Jungle, baby! You’re gonna diiiiiiiiiiiee!
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: Despite what the commercial says, you do not suddenly turn into Slash when you’re playing this video game. You are playing a child-sized guitar that doesn’t even have strings. It has multi-colored buttons and an on/off button. And playing this video game does not mean you can play the guitar now. If I have to hear someone say “I can totally play ‘Anarchy in the UK’” but actually mean “I can totally play ‘Anarchy in the UK’ on Guitar Hero,” I am going to take a pee inside the nearest PS3.
2. Longboard Skateboards
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: You’re just a laid back dude who likes to cruise the streets and board walks but still has the credibility shared by those who ride smaller, more dangerous boards.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: You’re basically one step away from being the little kid at Costco who jumps on the big grocery cart when his mother isn’t looking. Whereas if a normal skateboarder falls he injures himself, you’re traveling at speeds that allow those walking to pass you, and if you fall, you’ll most likely fall on the board and continue traveling. Hence, you’re basically riding a skateboard designed for those without any coordination or athletic ability. It’d be like playing baseball, except replacing the ball with a giant stuffed animal.
1. Funny Ringtones
WHY YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL: A ring tone is a great way to give strangers and coworkers a little peek into your personal life and let them know that your grasp of pop culture is vast. You’re pretty sure that having a silly quote from Monty Python or the Transformers theme song as your ringtone will make those around you realize that you are a the guy everyone else wants to be. There is definitely more to you than meets the eye.
WHY YOU’RE NOT COOL: Having your phone play Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” just makes you look (and sound) like an asshole. And the fact that you let it “ring” 15 times while you stand there and look around for reactions to your hilarious little joke not only reeks of desperation, but it makes everyone around you want to cram that phone up your taint. Put it on vibrate like every other normal person and keep your witticisms between you and your collection of Star Wars figurines.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”
“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.
So let’s just move on to some of my favourite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.
1. Change yourself.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.
And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.
And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.
2. You are in control.
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that’s mostly just all it is.
You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.
And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.
3. Forgive and let it go.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.
You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.
If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.
4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.
“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.
And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.
So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.
You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.
5. Take care of this moment.
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.
Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.
Have a look at 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment for tips on how quickly step into the now. And remember that reconnecting with and staying in the now is a mental habit – a sort of muscle – that you grow. Over time it becomes more powerful and makes it easier to slip into the present moment.
6. Everyone is human.
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.
And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.
It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.
One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.
Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.
Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi’s third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.
8. See the good in people and help them.
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.
And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.
When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.
With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.
Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.
10. Continue to grow and evolve.
“Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.
Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.
I’m pretty much addicted to photography. Methods, gear, news, you name it. It really is kinda scary. To keep my addiction in check when I’m not shooting or shopping, I need a steady flow of photo content to keep the shakes and withdrawl symptoms from popping up so I put together a list of what i consider to be some of the best photo-related content out there. Read on for more photo link porn than you can shake a stick at including 25 blogs, 20 AMAZING photographers, and some other fun stuff that will make those days you feel stuck at your desk wishing you were shooting go a bit smoother…
Photography Related Blogs
This makes up only about a quarter of everything I’m subscribed to in my Google Reader and are in no particular order. I tried to pick a well-rounded batch of sites to share and had to limit it somehow and it wasn’t easy. If you aren’t listed here, let me know in the comments!
A Photo Editor Blog by Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine.
Digital Photography SchoolJust as the name implies… a blog by prominent blogger Darren Rowse focusing on the basics of Digital Photography.
Epic EditsA creation of Brian Auer, the most dedicated blogger I know.
f/1.0Photography by Ed Zawadzki. He REALLY loves prime lenses
Flickr Blog DO I even need to say? Keps me up-to-date with news from the best photo sharing site in the world.
Gizmodo Digital Camera NewsBigtime gadget blog, this is a direct link to their camera news feed… I really only use them for release news and they sometimes have and link to good hands-on reviews.
EngadgetAlong with Gizmodo, these two usually break the big camera stories first… which makes them worth mentioning.
L7 FotoA general photography blog, great tips and reviews.
Magnum Photos BlogNo this isn’t photos of Zoolander, its the blog of the legendary Magnum Photos Agency. If you don’t know what Magnum is, you should.
PhotowalkingTrevor Carpenter’s world of photowalking, a craze thats seems to be taking the community by storm.
This list, in no particular order, makes up 20 of my favorite photographer portfolios out of about 60 I have bookmarked. Each and every one is frikkin ridiculous and I’m leaving out descriptions becasue the images speak for themselves.
Flickr Leech Ajaxy flickr exploration site, makes browsing images a fast, seamless process.
Pic LensSweet Firefox add-on that turns photo browsing into a full screen immersive experience. You really have to try it to understand.
Flickr RssMy favorite wordpress plugin for Flickr, allows you to ass your flickr stream to any wordpress blog.
Phew! That was a lot of clicking… I apologize if I’ve detroyed your productivity for the day, or caused arthritis in your mouse-finger… we both know it was worth it. Now it’s your turn. If you have your own site to share, or anything else you think is awesome, let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more.
*** Update: We have some late additions brought to you by CameraPorn readers
At a party once, Jesus was asked if he were a leg man or a tit man. The answer is neither. He’s a LEGO man. Well, to be honest, he’s all three, but rather like faith, hope and charity, the greatest of my husband’s loves is LEGO. I’m not bitter. The colorful, benippled bricks have just been around rather longer than I have. That’s not to say LEGO has never caused problems in our relationship. When it did, though, I came up with the following 10-point solution to cope.
To tell the truth, I was once as bewitched by the bricks as he is. We had a massive box at home, a hangover from when my brother, older than me by 11 years, was the snot-nosed kid of the house. (Well, I say massive, but it was barely Yoda-sized compared to J’s Millennium Falcon box of LucasTricks.) When I inherited the snot-nosed kid mantle, my brother having moved on to smoking dope and listening to Pink Floyd, I also inherited the LEGO.
And I loved it, back in the days when I was too small to see my father’s eyes roll when I begged him to help me make a LEGO pony. How fickle I was back then, however, and eventually lost interest-after all, there are only so many minimalist box-shaped houses you can make with a handful of hereditary LEGO. (I abandoned it for an Eagle-Eye Action Man I’d found, but even that obsession only lasted a few months, once I realized I couldn’t get his plastic shorts off with my teeth, a knife or even the help of the dog.)
Point is, I was not fully unaware of the issues when I married a LEGO maniac. I wouldn’t go as far as Lady Di did when she said there were three people in her marriage, but there was a point over Christmas when the whole LEGO thing became a bit of a nightmare. (It might have had something to do with the fact that we had become obsessive 24 watchers, and so, unconsciously, every time we saw the Millennium Falcon box, we could hear that bloody clock ticking down.) The pressure was unspeakable, from colleagues and commenters alike. Reader, I must confess that I threw one of the boxes on the floor, mixing up piles of bricks that he had spent hours sorting out.
The look in Jesus’ eyes. You may say baleful, but I see your baleful and I raise you pure, unadulterated, naked hurt. A lot of humble pie was eaten that night. I vowed to change, so I came up with a ten-point plan with which to sink my irrational plastic jealousy. Here it is:
1. Have a Spare Room A man needs a shed-a place his tools can call home, and where he can potter about in undisturbed for hours and hours. Since we’re still waiting for LEGO to bring out its life-sized LEGO Shed kit (estimated completion time 4-6 weeks), J keeps the bricks to his Millennium Falcon in the spare room. If we have friends to stay, the boxes are placed reverently on the floor of the office, until the room is vacant again. Blam can attest to this, as he found some LEGO under his pillow when he came to stay in February.
2. Keep the Dog in Plastic Chew Toys I haven’t yet noticed primary colored bricks in the dog’s poop, but when I do, I know that we need to go to the pet store again. And if Jesus notices, it’ll be time to get a new dog. Joke.
3. Never Hoover Now, this rule I absolutely love. I have also glued LEGO bricks and mini-figs to the ironing board, the washing-up gloves and the family silver.
4. Always Wear Shoes In the House Have you ever stepped on a LEGO brick? I know a guy who had to go to hospital to have one of those little one-row brickettes removed from the ball of his foot after he stood on it by mistake. I think you know him too-he writes for Gizmodo.
5. Vote Denmark During Eurovision I believe there is a trip to the LEGO factory in Denmark coming up in June. Did I want to accompany him, he asked me tenderly months ago? What, and stand in the way of a man and his first love? Feel like a gooseberry as he fingers and fondles the bricks in the factory? No, no, no, no, nonononononononono. No. NO. But do I tell him I don’t want to go and get nipple marks on my fingers from obsessive brickplay? Of course not. Anyway, someone has to look after the dog.
6. Regular Visits to the Local Toy Shop “Have you got that one? Thought so. And that one. Oh look! It’s a singing Freddie Mercury doll. Now why don’t they do a Freddie Mercury LEGO? Or Bowie? Yeah, come on then, let’s go inside.”
7. Never Write a LEGO Post for Giz I value my marriage above all things.
8. Laugh Every Time He Makes You Watch the “Death By Tray” LEGO Skit This is not exactly a hardship, as Eddie Izzard is funny as fuck. Jesus did actually manage to recite the whole skit when he was drunk in a taxi a few weeks ago. The long, 4am journey home was, believe it or not, alleviated by a slurred version of “Jeff Vader? Runs the Death Star?”
9. Agree That the World Would Be Better If Totally Made of LEGO How simple life would be. A couple of tiles came off your roof? Buy them from the LEGO store, then go up a ladder and clip them back on again. Kids, we’re going to build a swimming pool this weekend. A leaky one, but still, a swimming pool. No, honestly. Imagine, if the world was made out of LEGO you would just be able to unclip rogue states from the globe and dismantle them before putting them back in the cupboard, and then the world would just be a safer place. And what if everyone’s hands were shaped like those of the LEGO figures? Well, you wouldn’t get any work done, for a start.
10. Try to Relate and Even Join In Just after his Millennium Falcon arrived, J bought a TIE Fighter LEGO set. “It’s for you,” he said. “You can do that while I assemble the Falcon.” A month later, I had to go back to Britain for a long weekend, and when I came back, I found the TIE Fighter sitting, assembled on his desk. “Oy, I was meant to do that,” I said. Jesus shrugged. “I missed you. And I was bored,” he replied.
So, there you have it. While it may not be as life-changing as AA or NA’s 12-Point Plan, my LEGO-acceptance program keeps us on the straight and narrow. And I know you’re all wondering when Jesus is going to present his newly-clicked Millennium Falcon to the world, well, hell, so am I. However, I think he needs an incentive. Any ideas?