The Internet is a pretty vast place (world wide, in fact), and can be downright daunting, no matter what generation you belong to. Certain that an answer to any question is out there in the most comprehensive collection of facts and trivial info mankind has ever seen, the web can suck hours down a drain of unhelpful, unenjoyable, somewhat offensive content that is all the more infuriating because of the medium's promise. With great power comes great responsibility.
In that spirit I have hopefully compiled a cheat sheet of interesting links for the week; may you find the veritable potpourri of videos, articles, commercials, and music as diverting as I did. These are the Internet nuggets that kept me afloat through another week spent in front of the computer, and if anyone else has anything they think I should check out, I'll accept any suggestion with open arms - the internet is supposed to be great for networking, right?
Nerve.com and IFC have teamed up to compile a list of The 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time. The list does a very respectable job of including skits from a wide range of sources, not just Saturday Night Live (they thankfully leave out any mention of MadTV). There are some great bits, several of which I had never seen (such as most of the stuff from The State and Mr. Show). But the compilation also launched some fond trips down memory lane, as I remembered my 9th grade drama class and our interpretation of Monty Python's "Ministry of Silly Walks," "Argument Clinic," and this list's #1, "Dead Parrot." My only complaint with this countdown is that they failed to include two of my favorite sketches. First, the legendary The Chappelle Show skit where Chapelle plays a blind White Supremacist (who happens to be Black, though he has never been told his own race) didn't make the cut. Puzzlingly, neither did Chris Farley's freak-out about being served Columbian Coffee Crystals on SNL; there are few times I've laughed harder in my entire life. In any case, this list is a guaranteed 30-45 minute interlude during the day.
In the category of "Impressive Things That Make You Realize How Little You've Done With Your Own Talents," a new addition is six-year-old Boxing phenom Pretty Boy Bam Bam, out of Toledo, Ohio (repping the 419). I first came across his appearance on ESPN this past weekend, but even more impressive is his training video on youtube, which is already a bit of an internet sensation.
There are several things of note about this kid; first, how awesome the nickname "Pretty Boy Bam Bam" is, and how it guarantees a certain amount of success and celebrity for the guy no matter what. Second, how fast and hard he hits. This guy is only five years old in the second video, and he probably hits harder than I do right now. It's oddly fascinating to think about a five year old kid who could really, truly, beat you up. Even for relatively weak, easily winded men such as myself, there are certain physical boundaries and rules that are concrete: never hit a woman, and never beat up a child. But the mind can't help wandering to theoretical situations that involve a diesel woman on the warpath, or, say, three drunk girls with rings on and large bags to swing, hanging outside Wicker Park on 83rd and 3rd. If you were to find yourself in a situation like this, if you found yourself standing between Sarah Connor and her son in Terminator 2, wouldn't you think to yourself, "can I just take one swing here, and not tell anyone/be judged for it?" Same thing with kids. If the kids who beat up Randy outside of school in season 4 of The Wire stopped you on the street, you don't think you'd be justified in at least kicking a shin there? If I was in a one-on-one fight with Pretty Boy Bam Bam, even if I was fighting back, I'd bet 50 bucks I would lose.
Pretty Boy also makes me think of that scene (about three minutes into this clip), in Searching for Bobby Fisher, where Josh's dad goes off on the Elementary School Teacher for not understanding the, "chess thing" that's taking up his son's time: "He is better at this than I have ever been at anything in my life. He is better at this than you will be, at anything." This just about sums it up for Bam Bam, and the allure of any child prodigy, for parents and the general public alike. I just hope his life turns out a little better than most prodigies.
Aaron Karo is one of these guys who seems to have it really figured out; I can't speak to his financial situation, but in terms of his website and his "Ruminations", they are almost always very true and always very funny. It takes real skill to make all people of a certain age (college - late 20's) think you'd be an awesome guy to hang out with -- a skill that Karo has mastered. In one of his recent ruminations, he drops two bits of wisdom particularly relevant to me right now. First, this nugget about the nature of recommending TV shows: "Why is it that whenever I convince one of my friends to watch a TV show that I love, the next episode is always the worst one ever?" I'm feeling this big time right now. As some of you may know, I recently wrote a glowing endorsement for How I Met Your Mother . Well, sure enough, the three episodes that have aired since have been the worst three ever. We're talking absolute freefall. The show has been less funny, less authentic, more annoying. I don't know if I jinxed it or what, but it sure is disconcerting.
Karo's other point that hit me was his term for women who are above a "10" in looks; "uncomfortably hot." These are women who are so beautiful they are no longer fun to look at. I prefer labeling them, "too hot," because it further expresses the (almost) disgust I feel when I see them. Admittedly this rarely (very rarely) happens in real life, but I've had a few cases from TV and film recently. Most prominently, I'm having a hard time with Blake Lively, the star of Gossip Girl. Not that I'm watching this show anyway (I'm far too insecure with my masculinity as is), but in the two episodes I have seen, I was blown away by this girl. Lightheaded, dizzy, impaired vision. I tossed and turned all night, shaking like an alcoholic. She is just too hot. With women like this, you see so much of your own shortcomings reflected in their beauty, so much of life's unattainable dreams, everything you've wanted only to see it slip through your fingers. They are the green light on Daisy Buchanan's dock. Women like this can really screw with a guy's head. I have a buddy who broke up with his girlfriend of three years after seeing Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door. Other recent examples of women who are too hot are Megan Fox in Transformers and Jessica Biel in I Know Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. These women are a liability for casting directors; they make the rest of the movie less enjoyable in the wake of their beauty.
Lastly, the video I've been going back to the most this past week is actually a commercial. For me, this isn't exactly a surprise; I think I'm the last man standing who really enjoys watching commercials. I keep my mouth shut most of the time, as my friends fast-forward through all of the potential laughs and conversation pieces. But I insist that everyone at lease check out this ad for the Discovery Channel. Dubbed the, "best commercial on the air, hands down, I don't want to hear it," by my (normally commercial averse) roommate, it's got a great vibe to it, and even if you're not a big Discovery watcher and therefore don't recognize a lot of the personalities in the spot, I think you can still get into it. The world is just awesome, indeed.
This European Ikea spot is also worth checking out. For me, it really nails the thrill of getting out of work early, as an office drone has the gaull to get up and go at three. He's satisfied and relieved, and even his superiors can't help applaud. In my experience leaving work early is usually a more tense, "am I doing something wrong" feeling while you're waiting for the elevator, even if you've done all your work for the day. I always half-expect a text message five minutes out of the building, telling me to get my ass back upstairs. But the prison-break feel of this is great; his wife hugs him for dear life when he gets out, his co-workers cheering him on like he's Cool Hand Luke. We should all be so lucky.