Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

American Idol: Touching the Heart or Stabbing It? The Chris Medina Story

27 Jan

Did anyone else find this severely messed up? We all know American Idol has this history of heartbreaking stories: rags to riches, parental death to Cancer patient. Hey, it boosts ratings. That was all fine with me until this happened:

Video evidence of American Idol’s lack of heart

(look at 3:10)

There should be a distinction between heartbreaking story and capitalizing on a person’s disability. Ouch.

This happened.

I watched in discomfort as Chris Medina told his story. My feelings about his decision to stay and take care of his fiance aside (and all the sympathy, etc. that comes with it), why was it necessary to bring the girl in? She was shaking and could not respond to J. Lo’s comforting words and Steven Tyler’s awkward as hell kiss. She was exploited and publicly pitied on a major popular reality TV show. Ugh. My heart goes out to her but in a different way than American Idol’s producers intended.

On one hand, we hear the sob story and we feel compassion. Chris is a real person stuck in a difficult situation. Then you stop and think–wait a second–isn’t this a singing competition? You lose sight of the talent again. American Idol is a popularity contest after all. Again, that’s fine but there’s a line. Taking a woman who suffered from a traumatic brain injury to an American Idol audition, where she will later be talked to as if she’s a child by famous people, is just plain cruel and unsettling in my eyes. It’s a definite line-crosser.

That's messed up, American Idol.

Advertisements

“Nursery University”: Preschool Ed At the Price of College Tuition

18 Dec

Here’s to another random post contrived during the holiday season. I’m a documentary fiend so I decided to catch up on some via Netflix Instant.

I recently watched the documentary, “Nursery University.” It’s a film surrounding four children (or should I say their parents) and their search for the perfect nursery school in NYC. The goal is to get their children in the fast track to an ivy league education, which we all know must start at preschool.

What’s the big deal about preschool?

I love preschool. I think it is a vital part of a child’s development. The activities and academic aspects are key components. You learn spatial processing and problem-solving skills. You learn the alphabet and how to express yourself with words. I would almost say the social aspect and byproduct is even higher up on the list of necessary skills for optimal child development. Toddlers learn the ability to empathize, share, and work together, all incredibly important skills for success in…life. Learning to understand other people’s feelings will help a child develop far beyond the immediate scope of circle time.

So she IS gifted!

This film focuses on the pressure–the pressure to pay 25K a year to secure their child’s spot at an ivy. To me that is scary and almost repulsive. You want highly qualified teachers and caretakers. But there seems to be a certain threshold of what is a reasonable amount to charge relative to what they are actually offering. When a preschool is good, it’s good. That in no way means you should fork over the price of a college tuition for advanced finger painting. This creates a for-profit environment and culture that tries to capitalize on overbearing parents in the name of prestige. Ick.

The extreme pressure that these preschools put on NYC upper class parents borders on the “My Baby Can Read” scam (Every Teachers’ biggest nightmare)

It gets even better…

There is a grueling application process. The application process is even more appalling and hilarious. There are admissions essays and multiple family visits and interviews. You need connections and a famous name. The process is absurd! It’s really like a middle school cheerleading try-out popularity contest…with even more bribery.

He really looks like he's ready for Calculus!

I don’t have kids so I can’t and have no right to 100% judge (just a large portion of that 100%…just kidding?). I would solely urge these parents to chill out a little. Relax. Watch their kids grow up. Maybe even potty train their kids first before worrying about their vocabulary and SAT scores in relation to their peers.

If you have an urge to laugh at some overbearing parents, check out “Nursery University”…

Who Put the Fun in FUNemployment?

14 Dec

Well this just looks like fun.

Funemployed. A word that prior to circa 2000 did not exist. The term can either be used to negatively describe someone currently on the welfare system or someone who has fun while being unemployed and actively seeking a job (which is the one I’ll use for our purposes).

There’s the optimistic reaction to the unemployed, “Now you’ll have so much free time! You can get back to all your interests! Why don’t you take up painting? And what about that souffle that you used to love to make?” But what happens when you lose those interests? Or the “Just apply everywhere and you’ll get a job!” Unfortunately, it’s really not that easy and surely not all that “fun”. Job autonomy isn’t as common and skill level qualifications are much more demanding. You have the same job title and salary yet you must take on numerous uncorrelated tasks just to keep the job. The security of a college education yielding at least a decent job isn’t as certain as it was in the comparatively medieval 1990s.

As a response, I’ve compiled a Funemployment To Do List (AKA How To Stay Sane While Unemployed):

First and foremost. . .

Stay Active.

The Stairmaster: not my recommended apparatus of choice...

 

Hey, it’s free (at least in some form)! There’s hiking trails and beaches and the like.

It’s about much more than getting that killer bod you’ve always dreamed of. I personally find that to just be an added bonus. Being active makes you feel more alive and helps you immune system in the process! It’s difficult enough to get out of bed and go for just about anything when you’re unemployed. Getting in the habit of waking up to greet the day is a very good start.

Keep A Schedule

Where'd my day go?

 

I find it’s easy to get into a sleep in and watch Law & Order: SVU marathon-funk. The uneasiness of not having a schedule can be draining and even more discouraging. If you have no reason to wake up at 7am, why waste time? I’m not implying wake up early after some 2AM job searching (very easy to do but I highly discourage). It’s nice to have a plan so you don’t become addicted to video games or one of those addicting iphone apps.

Give Yourself A Break From the Search

How was this ever considered fun?

 

Searching all day on Monster and Careerbuilder and Craigslist (shudder) will only get you so far. Even though the actual job is vital-so is your sanity. Let yourself have fun and do things you love to do. Read a book at a coffee shop or library. Hit up free (or cheap) museums. Cook. Make out with your best friend. Build a fort. Do whatever floats your boat but try to steer clear of doing activities at your own house, an easy trap to a negative routine of rumination and despair.

Volunteer

Look! I'm worthwhile (and maybe even lovable...)!

Volunteer. I’m not saying go buy a plane ticket to China and teach English (not that that doesn’t sound amazing and is a very viable option), volunteer locally intermittently. Surrendering is the worst thing you can do. Although it may seem like this is taking time away from the career search, it’ll help you in the long run. It’ll help your resume. It’ll help your social life and, at the very least, help you maintain your sanity! You’ll be gaining skills and doing meaningful work (even if it’s just for the time-being).

Talk To People

Please tell me your story, wise Grandpa! I finally turned off my ipod.

 

Talk to old professors and family friends. People have been there and have persevered. The mere comfort that you are not alone should lessen at least a speck of tension and may even give you ideas about your future.

Be Positive Yet Realistic

Stay Positive–Easier said than done. Agreed. But it must be done. It is so easy to get discouraged when you are unemployed. That sofa is so comfortable and the TV Line-up is oh so good. You must keep it up.

I’m far from an expert on this matter. These are just some general ideas that seem to help in my opinion! Good luck.

Love and Marriage Go Together Like A…What?

29 Nov

Barbie, you make everything look so perfect...Childhood dreams!

I always love the plane ride back to Chicago, the solidarity and comfort of silently reading a new book, testing out a new ipod playlist, and the my favorite plane ride pastime of all—catching up on current events and research. The holiday season always reminds me of the concept of family, so I was of course drawn to TIME Magazine’s “Who Needs Marriage: A Changing Institution” cover article.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2031962,00.html

As Frank Sinatra such clearly sang,

“Love and Marriage.

Love and Marriage.

Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage.”

The concept of marriage is surely relevant in my generation. I find for majority of my friends (at least the nontraditional ones), it’s more a question of what if and why and when in relation to my professional career rather than solely who and a definite NOW. Cohabitation is much more socially acceptable. Couples move in together sooner maybe because the economy, maybe because they just don’t want to get married at all, and maybe because marriage is just that serious. It’s not that we think marriage is irrelevant, it’s because it is that relevant. Families aren’t typical. We see step siblings and half and half of step. We see same sex marriages and more adoptions. These are all things my generation seems to agree with.  The world seems much more untraditional and young people tend to gravitate towards that change and act accordingly. The consensus that we should all get married just to get married because, well, that’s just what people do doesn’t ring as true with my peers (a generation with a high influx of children of divorce).

AHHHHH!!!

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say “I don’t want to get divorced” or “I’d rather date for several years just to be sure.” This doesn’t seem to be true of our parent’s generation. My parents were married in their mid-twenties. There was a shelf life and if you were a female over 30–uh, you kind of missed the train.

So Why Get Married?

There’s the religious aspect. We all know another part of it is for a show, a status symbol that you found someone important because you are important. That surely can’t be it.

Tradition, TRADITION!

Oh Tevye, you are so wise!

Personally I like the traditional aspect. Okay maybe the actual wedding is more for your parents and creepy uncle that you always seat far away from the kids table. Then again, isn’t pleasing your parents and grandparents important? My mom will surely cry at my wedding just as she did during my elementary school graduation. And high school graduation. And absolutely bawled during my college graduation. So I like the tradition not because I feel we will be united as one under God’s eyes or that it makes me feel cooler and worthy of love. I love the fact that it’ll make my mom tear up and my grandparents beam with pride.

Although marriage’s significance is less obvious today, marriage has surely not become obsolete. With the economic advantages, religious support, and traditional appeal, we’ll continue to see it. It might just look a bit different this time.

Ton Of Love: Wow, Who Writes for TLC?

19 Nov

Let’s begin our journey with “Ton of Love.”

Ton of Love TV-14 (D), CC
Go inside the lives of three morbidly obese couples and see how their weight affects their daily lives and relationships. Including a wife forced to take care of her demanding husband, a couple’s difficulties in the bedroom and a mother’s risky pregnancy.

Okay, wow. We might as well look at TLC’s Entire Wednesday/Thursday Line-Up:

Ton of Love
The Man With Half a Body
Sarah Palin’s Alaska
A Baby Story
Make Room for Multiples
Pregnant at 70
Say Yes to the Dress
Police Women of Dallas

So much to say. So much to do. It’s just too much!

The sad thing is every single one of these shows interest me. And it interests many other seemingly normal people as well (that’s debatable!). I want to know the trials and tribulations of being obese without actually having to be obese! I want to know what they even mean by describing a man having half a body! I decided to take matters into my own hands and investigate just why we are so fascinated by TLC and why the writers continue to come up with more and more outlandish  material as we speak.

Exhibit A–Escapism.

I'd rather just watch Say Yes to the Dress than focus on my custody battle!

 

Would anyone rather focus on the grave state of the economy over watching other people’s strange habits and lives? Aw hell no. Escapism, or the ability to not realize your meaningless existence, allows one to feel content with their life because–at least for right now–you’re not focusing on your mundane life. Hey, maybe my life isn’t so bad. Maybe cleaning toilets is actually rewarding! I can’t pay the rent, but at least I have a full body! My kids may annoy me but at least I don’t have 19 children! The list goes on and ours lives continue with our resulting positive outlook.

What is the root of escapism? I remembered learning about it in my psychology courses so I decided to go back to the MADCAT database. While researching for this entry I discovered that I no longer have access to the library services (now this is depressing!). Fortunately, Google Scholar saved the day.

And all I wanted to do was learn...!

Escapism relates to much more avenues than simple reality television. Escapism can be an excuse for alcoholism and binge eating. Okay, so reality TV is definitely not the worst case scenario.

The results from psychology research studies on reality television are pretty obvious. They all point to the happiness stemmed from escaping your problems, even if it’s just for a half hour segment.

So…Why, TLC, Whyyy?

Historically TLC, previously known as The Learning Channel, was not a channel with high ratings.

Learning, Ick!

In the 90s TLC was a place for learning and “Ready Set Learn.” Learning-not such a popular form of entertainment apparently-just wasn’t effective in gaining ratings. That’s where the shift came in. “Cable in the Classroom” turned into “Trading Spaces” and “Ready Set Learn” eventually led to “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

Culmination of all the poor ratings factors–> Reality Television.

Learning doesn’t yield good ratings and ratings matter more (even if that means we have to turn in the academia for a better education on obesity).

As for the results, I look forward to TLC and their newfound creativity in writing, even if I won’t be learning about the newest book series. Because that’s what TV is for anyways, isn’t it? Right?

Where do we go from here?

Please, for the love of God, read a book!

If only between commercials, let’s start reading again!

Midwest Friendly Versus Sun-Kissed West Coast

10 Nov

Lately I’ve been having some sort of writer’s block (I’ll attribute it to the grad school apps and testing) so I apologize for the lack of creativity in posts. On that note, I’d like to write about a topic that is very personal and relevant to my current life.

I attribute this burst of inspiration to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” song.

“California girls
We’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce
We got it on lock
West coast represent
Now put your hands up
Oooooh Oh Oooooh”

Midwest vs. West Coast

DISCLAIMER: First off, I assert that it’s absolutely horrible to generalize entire locations (and in relation, entire groups of people). To refrain from making such brash assumptions, I’d rather mention my observations and analysis based on my short start in San Diego.

Driving

I’ll openly admit it; I’m a horrible driver. An absolutely horrible driver. The thought of switching lanes on the 5 during rush hour makes me nearly want to quit the act altogether and create a tiny pedestrian-only make believe city somewhere in Canada. Or in England. Or just anywhere. . .

Sense the anxiety?

Anything that’ll ease the driving tension is in my book, heavenly. Throughout college, I did not own a car. Madison, Wisconsin is ideal for the college student; everything you ever need is right on State Street: clothing stores, grocery stores, libraries, and even your local independent bookstore. I was definitely spoiled and didn’t realize this until the big move.

Do Do Do...(insert casual walking)

After much analysis (aka you HAVE to drive everywhere here), I’ve determined that driving is probably the most noticeable difference.

The Biggest Driving Difference…

Switching Lanes!!! In San Diego the concept of “letting someone go in front of you” is obsolete. Whenever you absolutely need to switch lanes (i.e. the lane is ending without advance notice, the lane turns into another highway, you have to get off at the next exit-all frequent occurrences btws), every car around you must speed up. It is a prerequisite when moving to San Diego that you speed up to 90mph whenever you see someone sweating and struggling to switch lanes. Driving manners are so foreign to them that even when you give them the “you can go in front of me” signal, they look at you like they have become completely dissociated from their body and remain stagnant in their designated lane. What? I don’t understand it and find it to be a major drawback in living 2 minutes from the ocean. I guess it’s a sacrifice you have to pay for the sun…

Wop

In retrospect, this doesn't look all that appealing...

Okay, okay, I understand this is a minor one but I think it’s worth noting and serves more as a symbol of the differences in random everyday slang. The topic of “wop” came up in conversation. Wop, for those of you not yielding from Wisconsin, is basically just a ridiculous term for jungle juice. I mentioned the word and all my new west coast friends thought I was an alien. They had never even heard of the word! Maybe it’s because I graduated from the University of Wisconsin, a large tailgating-based (and academic of course!) school. Or maybe, just maybe–we really don’t have that much to do in the midwest that we come up with bizarre names for alcohol. True stereotype? Possibly.

Clothing

Two words: California Casual.

Dis is real.

Yes, that is a “thing” here. In some offices you can dress “California Casual” for work, a term meaning you can pretty much wear whatever you want minus a t-shirt and flip-flops. Oh how California of them!

Swagger

And what I mean by swagger is more the behavioral aspect and not so much the actual walk. There’s an attitude that comes with having the ocean at your fingertips. It doesn’t seem to be an attitude in the general “stuck up” sense, it’s more of a lifestyle. They just seem more chill, more relaxed, more whatever. This was another one of those things that I assumed was just a made up theory. Nope, I’d fully support it. Not too shabby of a character trait I’d say. On a comparative note, midwest is slow as well (minus maybe Chicago). Buuuut in a completely different way.

Conclusion:

There aren’t too many vast differences. We are all people after all. There are, however, a fair amount of minor differences that can account for the disparaties. As an inhabitant of California, I’d say that I am happy to call this crazy place my new home despite all its little quirks and weird customer service habits.

California Gurls are really undeniable.

Halloween: A Time for Creativity & Tooth Decay

30 Oct

I love Halloween. I absolutely LOVE a holiday with no rules. I love pumpkin-affiliated food products, haunted houses, etc. And, of course, this week’s hilarious Modern Family episode really solidified my interest.

Unfortunately, this year I’ve been a little distracted and haven’t figured out my costume yet (so on top of everything!). I’d like to continue this post with my favorite Halloween costumes.

So every year it becomes a conflict: to be attractive or not on halloween. Every year this dilemma starts even younger (some 6th graders at my sister’s elementary school wore stilletos to their halloween parade).

I’ve decided that next year I want to be something either ridiculous, freaky, or just plain unattractive. Here are my favorite costumes from this year (and possible costume ideas for next year)!

1. Pee Wee’s Playhouse

2. Gorilla

3. Sexy Elmo

4. Sister Wives

5. Mad Men

6. Double Rainbow Guy

7. Antoine Dodson: Hide ya kids, wife, husbands

8. Vampire

9. Board Games-Operation

10. Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head

Until next year…!