5

How To Spend Your Birthday Laughing Instead of Crying

So, I turned 27 years old today. Happy birthday to me.

It started off with a fire alarm at 8 AM, but other than that it was mostly a good day. My parents sent me cookies, Twizzlers, and coupons, and even my sister gave me a call. I even got a surprise bag of donuts.

As most people who know me know, my birthday always brings me anxiety. It only comes once a year and then it’s gone. 364 days until I am special again. It’s also a symbol that yes, that number’s only going up, but I have to just remind myself that it’s a good day, a happy day, just for me. It also helps that tomorrow is my lunar birthday, so that kind of softens the blow going from balloons and singing to…nothing. Here’s another thing about me: I love it when people sing me the birthday song on my birthday.

It also helps to know that although I’ve probably had more memorable birthdays than this one, I’ve undoubtedly had much, much worse ones.

What I do know:

Today, I am having a happy birthday. I am so glad that I am alive, healthy, and independent. I am safe, and I am free. Those are the best gifts I could ever receive.

But enough sappy stuff.

I spent much of my morning watching videos that make me laugh and smile, so in addition to ones I’ve already shared, here are the top five videos that will fill your birthday with laughter and happiness.

Top Five Videos that Make Me Happy

5. Clueless as performed by the Golden Girls.

4. Wanda Sykes goes skiing.

3. Rosie O’Donnell and Bea Arthur singing the Maude theme song.

2. Ellen DeGeneres and her cubicle.

1. Aliens singing the birthday song.

Oh, and a bonus video, of course.

I just imagine Celine is singing right to me.

 

 

 

0

Party for Everybody Dance

Once upon a time, in 2011, a group of grandmothers from Buranovo, Russia, decided to form a singing group.

They called themselves Buranovskiye Babushki.

Their goal: Eurovision glory.

On their first try, they didn’t go very far.

On their second try, however, they sang a song called “Party for Everybody” and there was literally a party for everybody when they beat out past Eurovision winner Dima Bilan, among others, for a shot at Eurovision that year in Baku, Azerbaijan. The song was mostly in Udmurt with one phrase in English. At Eurovision, they scored a healthy second place to the incomparable Loreen. Good going for a group of grannies.

Here’s how singer Elena Ekimova reacted, as well as Dima Bilan and his team. Note the stark contrast.

ElenaDima

4

An Alphabet of Stereotypes

So, I was having a conversation with myself today about names, and I came across the name Summer. Summer. It’s a great word and a lovely name, but how many ways can you really slice a Summer? There’s never been a Queen Summer or a President Summer or even a Grandma Summer. I thought about adding it to my list of potential daughters’ names, but it’s just too…Summer. There are very few places you can go with a Summer, and most of them involve being in a bikini.

Since everyone’s blogging about Scotland’s independence referendum today, I thought I’d do something different and present to you an alphabet of name stereotypes. These are not common names like John and Mary, and not timeless names like Michael, Katherine, and Elizabeth that have too much history to be placed in one category. Rather, these are names that are uncommon but not unusual, but at least for me they have a certain way about them. To be fair, I’ll just do one random name per letter, per gender, skipping Q and X for obvious reasons. Join me, y’all.

And welcome, first visitor from Kyrgyzstan! You were always my favorite Stan.

Disclaimer: This list is meant to be read in complete jest, so Jacquelyn, the coffee is fine.

If your name is Albert, don’t get any piercings. This will only work against you.

If your name is Brook, have a headshot on your faculty website.

If your name is Chuck, you probably spit a lot when you talk and collect things.

If your name is Dallas, you probably own a ten-gallon hat but have never had the opportunity to wear it.

If your name is Eddie, be my drinking buddy. But not Ed. He can go and sit in the back of the closet.

If your name is Fred, you have a lot to live up to. Same for the Wilmas, Mickeys, and Minnies of the world.

If your name is Gilbert, you probably watched Howdy Doody in its first run.

If your name is Harrison, you probably have your hair parted on the side. Oh, and don’t go to China to teach English.

If your name is Ira, don’t be surprised if in the near future you get mistaken for a girl.

If your name is Jacob, be cool about it. Don’t toss that name around willy-nilly. Taylor Lautner did a number for us; unfortunately it was a negative number. And be friendly. If you want to be a jerk (and if I am), be Jake.

If your name is Kevin, take a break and sit down.

If your name is Lorenzo, eat some graham crackers.

If your name is Mickey, you better be cuddly or else.

If your name is Nathan, I really enjoyed those hard, wooden chairs you made me.

If your name is Ozzy, get that bat out of your mouth, I do not want to buy candy from you, and pull your shorts above your butt crack.

If your name is Peter, my deepest sympathies for the inappropriate jokes you have encountered in your life.

If your name is Ray, chill out. You’re much too intense.

If your name is Scott, I never want to see you wearing anything but underwear.

If your name is Timothy, and you haven’t heard the song, your life is incomplete. Also, if you shorten to Timmy don’t expect anything for your birthday other than Tonka trucks.

If your name is Ulysses, be prepared to work hard because you will be called useless at least once a day.

If your name is Victor, don’t make me walk into your magic cabinet.

If your name is Wilbur, your mother’s favorite book was Charlotte’s Web.

If your name is Yorick, I knew him well.

If your name is Zzzzybrrqahh, please don’t eat my brain.

If your name is Alice, you will probably have a husband named Al and move to Alabama where you’ll sell ant farms.

If your name is Bella, avoid used bookstores.

If your name is Carol, you probably either sing in a folk rock band or own a large collection of fuzzy sweaters.

If your name is Donna, you’re an asset to the secretarial pool. Maybe you’ll be an executive assistant one day.

If your name is Edith, thanks for the peanut brittle.

If your name is Frances, you probably need to lighten up.

If your name is Georgia, watch where you’re swingin’ that hoop skirt.

If your name is Helen, I hope you like cats.

If your name is Isabella, you probably can’t read this because you were born sometime this decade.

If your name is Jacquelyn, I may or may not have spit in your coffee this morning.

If your name is Kimberley, congratulations, you’re the head of the cheerleading squad and the top of the pyramid.

If your name is Lola, you were a showgirl.

If your name is Marni, you really got the short end of the stick. That is not a real name. And don’t stomp your platforms at me.

If your name is Nancy, you have an unhealthy relationship with yarn.

If your name is Olga, I am putting all my hope in you at the next Olympics.

If your name is Penelope…yeah, no one’s cool enough to pull off Penelope.

If your name is Summer, you have damaged skin, hair, or both.

If your name is Tiffany, you are never going to give up the 80s, are you?

If your name is Ursula, you either rule a sea kingdom or are in fact a Kodiak bear.

If your name is Velvet, you have served prison time and have the tattoos to prove it.

If your name is Willow, you have either participated in or led a women’s retreat.

If your name is Yolanda, you thoroughly enjoy the conveniences of a convenience store.

If your name is Zona, my seventh-grade Bible teacher gave me permission to shoot your parents.

5

Staycation, All I Ever Wanted

So, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and came across a link to this story about Zilla van den Born, a 25-year-old from the Netherlands, and her fantastic five-week adventure through Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.

Except…she didn’t actually leave her apartment.

Well, a few times for photo opportunities, but in essence, she took a five-week staycation in her Amsterdam apartment, using the magic of Photoshop to tell her family, friends, and Facebook about her life-changing adventures in southeast Asia, with only her boyfriend in on it. Two days ago, she revealed that she’d been in town the whole time, and had used this as a sort of reverse-undercover mixed media project/social experiment to prove how social media impacts our lives, or in van den Born’s words, “…to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media – we create an ideal world online which reality can no longer meet (Victor).”

More commentary on this subject after I finish my schoolwork.

***

Works Cited

Jones, Will. “Dutch Girl Fakes a Trip to South East Asia.” Gapyear.com 9 September 2014. <http://www.gapyear.com/news/230749/dutch-girl-fakes-a-trip-to-se-asia&gt;.

Victor, Anucyia. “What a scam!” Travel News. The Daily Mail Online. 9 September 2014. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2749306/What-scam-Student-boasts-friends-trekking-Asia-visiting-stunning-beaches-tasting-local-cuisine-meeting-Buddhist-monks-using-FAKE-photos-taken-home-town.html&gt;

4

Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like…

During dinner, we were watching the Orioles-Yankees game when it went to commercial. Commercials are against my dad’s religion, so we changed to a news channel.

Along with the rest of America, the headline hit us.

ROBIN WILLIAMS DEAD AT 63. 

I was never a die-hard fan of his, but if he was in it, it was all but guaranteed to be hilarious. From the cinematic masterpiece Mrs. Doubtfire to the farting wife in Good Will Hunting, the man had a gift for comedy. Ironic that the saddest of the tragedies would end his life. I think he would’ve wanted us to laugh at his best moments, just like he’d done for decades in his career. Let’s revisit that through some gifs, shall we?

 

Robin Williams, RIP.

5

If This Coffee Cup Could Talk…

Today, I decided to have an adventure in the wonderful town of Madison. I had heard of Dig N Save, but I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. I knew it was a resale shop, but we’ve got plenty of those, St. Vinny’s being the most prominent. Another friend told me that she had gone to Dig N Save and bought three hundred Beanie Babies to gut them and make a rug. I know that the 1990s aren’t coming back, but eviscerating them and sewing together their furry exteriors for art’s sake? Shudder.

Beanie Baby guts aside, I went to see Dig N Save for myself, and I couldn’t believe what I saw once I got there. There are resale shops, and then there are resale shops. Dig N Save wasn’t particularly big in terms of floor space, with only two large rooms, but the amount of crap they had was spectacular. The front room had dumpster-sized tubs full of used clothing, which people were rooting through. In the back, though, was where they had some really interesting crap. Mounted on pegs were wooden chairs and stools, most of them in great condition. The floor beneath them had dressers, file cabinets, desks, shelving, tables, sofas, and chairs, which, again, were a little dusty but not unusable. I guess if was truly unusable they wouldn’t bother putting it out. In the front of the room, however, were three rows of bins full of dolls, stuffed animals, board games, Beanie Babies (the ones that survived the massacre), and other childhood toys. The bin on the far wall contained china, and that’s where I found this gem.

Photo: Okay, so I saw this coffee mug in a junk shop and I couldn't look at it without laughing so I bought it. So much character. I wonder what it's story is and how it ended up in Madison.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bought it, because who knows what’s been in that cup. But I saw it, laughed, and every time I passed it by, I couldn’t help but laugh. So I had to buy it, dust and all. They charge by wright, 35 cents per pound, and all I had was the mug, so it came out to a bank-breaking 37 cents.

But just look at it…it’s hysterical.

Someone named Bernie (or with a friend named Bernie) went to Las Vegas and bought this mug, pictured here on my kitchen table. First of all, there’s that name…Bernie. Bernie. Seriously. Do you know anyone under the age of 65 with that name? And no, pets don’t count. Plus, Las Vegas, the place where you can get lucky in the casino, or in other ways (if you have the money).

So here’s the image I have, and a story to go with it.

This guy is about 5’7″ and a half, average build, maybe a bit of a pot belly. He appears to be in his late fifties or sixties. He’s got wrinkly skin, a slight tan from working outside, a brown mullet, and of course, a porn-mustache offset by his grayish facial hair. He’s not from Vegas; he’s just visiting from California because he won his disability case for choking on a Good-n-Plenty while driving the forklift at his job at a beverage supplier. He drove here in his pickup, and is staying at a fleabag motel but spending all of his time between the blackjack tables and the bar. There he sits, in his blue striped dress shirt, faded leather jacket, jeans, and boots. He’s also wearing those thick-framed glasses that are kind of a pinkish at the top and fade down to clear. After losing almost all his money on a poorly-placed roulette bet, he’s at the bar, flicking cigarette butts into an ashtray, when he sees a quarter someone left on the ground by his stool. On a whim, he picks it up, goes back into the casino, sticks it in a slot machine, and what do you know – five thousand dollars. He goes “whoopee!” and then off to the mall to get some classy duds and to a dealership to trade his car for a white Cadillac. He drives down the Strip, catching the eyes of some drunk ladies, and tells them to get in. They do, and he takes them on a shopping spree for sequinned dresses and jewelry, so they look like his fantasy: the spokesmodels from The Price is Right. Then, he checks all of them into a fancy hotel where they get even more drunk, possibly snort some coke, and play around naked in the hot tub. Then, Bernie announces that he’s feeling lucky, so he gets into his new purple Hugh Hefner pimp suit and the ladies back in their dresses (silver and gold, of course) and back down to the casino. He shoots some craps, plays some blackjack or poker, then tries his luck on the roulette wheel. He asks one of the girls when she was born, and she says “26!” so he bets it all on 26 as he kisses her and she coos. Of course, his roulette wheel luck returns with a vengeance and the ball lands on 17. He turns to the girl and she says “how strange, I’m 17!”

“Wait, I thought you were 26?”

“Yeah, 26. I was born on June 26.”

“I asked you your age.”

“Ohhh, I didn’t understand the question.”

An undercover cop notices, and arrests Bernie for bringing a minor into a casino, taking him away as the girls vamoose. As the cop’s loading him into the car, Bernie trips and falls face first into the console, which pops open to reveal a bag of marijuana. Bernie quickly grabs it with his teeth, and as he gets up with it, head bruised and bloodied and all, the policeman realizes he’s been caught. A bunch of people have been watching this whole thing and go “ooooh.” The cop quickly grabs the bag from Bernie’s teeth, jams him in the car, then gets in and speeds off, narrowly missing a lady who is knitting while walking. He quickly makes a deal – he’ll release Bernie if Bernie leaves Vegas immediately. Without much of a choice, Bernie heartily accepts. The cop keeps driving past the police station and arrives at the airport. He stops in the loading zone, quickly, goes to the back seat and unshackles Bernie, leading him to the ticket agent and giving him $500 to pay for the ticket right there and then. Bernie buys the ticket, and the cop then runs out of the airport, gets in his car, and speeds away, yelling, “keep the change!”

Bernie goes through security, only to find out he’s got some time to kill before his flight. So he gets a pizza and a coke. After he finishes, he’s on his way back to the gate when he spies an airport gift shop. He goes in and pokes around, before seeing the mugs on display, and what do you know, they’ve got one “Bernie” mug left. He has just enough money to pay for it. They call his flight number over the intercom, and he hustles back to the gate and gets on the plane, ready to put the trip behind him, with his coffee mug as a souvenir.

Then he realizes that he drove to Las Vegas.

Whoops.

If you’ve read this far, congratulate yourself. I wonder: what do you think of Bernie? I want to hear your “Bernie in Las Vegas” story…if you write and post one, comment below with the link and I’ll reblog you!

8

In-Flight Entertainment

One video I’ve been seeing a lot of on my Facebook feed lately is that of the funny Southwest Airlines flight attendant whose safety lecture is basically like spending three minutes with Kristen Wiig as all of her characters put together. Naturally, I watched the video myself, found it utterly hilarious, and for some reason made me desire crackers, but maybe because it was still Passover when I watched the video. In case you haven’t yet seen what I’m talking about, here it is for your enjoyment.

Yes, this is a real video, shot on an actual Southwest Airlines flight by someone with a very thin cellphone camera. Didn’t anyone on that plane manage to record it on HD? Anyway, this fantastically funny flight attendant was on Ellen today, where the world learned that she is 49-year-old Marty Cobb of Dallas, Texas (color me unsurprised; even the humor is bigger in Texas). Despite looking very young, she has three kids, two of whom were on the show with her today. Ellen DeGeneres, in typical Ellen DeGeneres fashion, was extremely generous, giving her an Ellen luggage set stocked with Ellen souvenirs and $20,000 dollars in gift cards from Target, RadioShack, Shutterfly, and others. She seemed like a terrific lady; not like she didn’t deserve those prizes (she totally did) but there are tons of funny flight attendants out there. Most of them work for Southwest Airlines. Personally, I love flight attendants because not only do they help keep the plane safe, but if you’re on their good side they will be the kindest of kind to you.

This reminds me: one of my two favorite flight attendant stories happened on Southwest Airlines.

When I went to UMass Amherst, the closest airport was Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut. Because there are so many colleges and universities in Connecticut and western Massachusetts, during weekends like Thanksgiving and Spring Break, the airport is full of students. A good number come from the DMV, and since Southwest offers cheap and quick flights from Hartford to BWI, students tend to use them frequently. At that time, Southwest didn’t offer flights to Dulles or Reagan (this may have changed) so for anyone from within a few hours from Baltimore, it was worth it to fly there and then take public or private transportation to elsewhere in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington DC. Since I went to one of the biggest schools in the area, chances were that I saw at least one familiar face in the terminal or on the plane, and usually we were actual friends, not just acquaintances. This is also how I ended up sitting next to the most insufferable girl in my major for four lovely hours in the air, but I digress.

I believe it was the end of Spring Break, and I was on my way back to school. The entire Trinity College men’s basketball team ended up being on my flight, coming back from a game with some school in Baltimore/DC. Just about everyone was settled on the plane, when the intercom system crackled, and a flight attendant’s voice rang out.

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Kevin? Kevin Miller? Is there a Kevin Miller on this plane?

Behind me, I heard a shuffle of sweatsuits, and various voices saying, “Kevin, wake up, they’re calling your name.”

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Passenger Kevin Miller…if you are on this plane please press your call button immediately.

BING! A call button comes on a few rows behind me, as I hear Kevin saying, “I’m here.”

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Passenger Kevin Miller, we have a message for you from Baltimore. Your mother just called, she said you left your Spider-Man lunchbox on the kitchen counter. She did talk to the pilot, and unfortunately, he has decided that we cannot delay the flight to wait for the lunchbox to arrive, but she is checking it through on the next flight out, and you should be reunited with it at baggage claim in Hartford. She also wanted me to tell you that she cut the crusts off of your peanut butter sandwich, and remembered the Double Stuf oreos, and she loves you very much.

His friends sitting behind me started cracking up, as did most of the rest of us on the plane. Somehow, they had managed to pull this flight attendant aside and convince her to play along with their prank. The best part was that she was a big, sassy black lady who didn’t miss a beat. That is how it’s done.

And that’s how to properly prank your friend on a domestic flight. International might be a little tougher.

0

…And I’m Colin Jost

So, I was going to write sort of a passive-aggressive post, but then the Weekend Update music chimed from Saturday Night Live and I remembered…

There’s a new anchor tonight!

Joining Cecily Strong at the oddly shaped desk that has been populated by the likes of Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase, and Tina Fey is Colin Jost. Instead of doing the regular thing and advancing through the cast members, Jost managed to make the jump from writer to Weekend Update anchor, one of the most coveted and recognized positions on the show. If it can make talk show hosts out of Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon, there’s gotta be some credence to it.

I watched it, and…it was OK. Just that. Jost is better-looking and more “news-anchor”-y than Meyers or Fallon, but he seemed a little nervous (well, who wouldn’t be?) and not as shiny (maybe that’s the makeup, but it was more reminiscent of a nondescript news reporter than someone like Peter Jennings). I think he’ll provide a nice foil to Ms. Strong, which is why the Fallon/Fey pairing worked so well.

What I like best about Weekend Update is when the anchors can keep a straight face. We haven’t seen that since Tina Fey/Amy Poehler. Even Jimmy Fallon had a habit of breaking character and laughing at the camera sometimes. But I guess the trend has stuck. I mean, it’s okay to laugh at the jokes, but if that ends up being all you do, that’s not terribly funny. There is value in being able to play the straight man, and not like Seth “Perma-Press Smile” Meyers, especially when the guests do that enough themselves (I’m looking at you, Stefon.) Kenan Thompson kind of lost it tonight, but Jay Pharaoh kept it pretty cool. On the other hand, he didn’t have to look at his own hilarious face.

Probably the best moment of tonight’s Weekend Update was Taran Killam’s 19th century Oscar critic, Jebidiah Atkins. Even at a technical glitch and Cecily’s incessant giggling, he played it straight and brought the funny.

Writing about something funny is way more fulfilling than ranting.

Now that awful, annoying dental insurance commercial is on.

Oh, the show’s over. Thanks, Lorne, and welcome to Sierra Leone and valkomin to Iceland!

4

Masterpiece Youtube: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown

First of all, thank you to everyone who viewed, read, and commented on yesterday’s blog. It was my most viewed blog to date, with 113 visitors and 210 views, personal records for me, including my first visitors from Nebraska (howdy!), Hawaii (aloha!), and Croatia (dobrodosli!)  Hope you continue to hang out and enjoy. And as always, if you have any ideas of current events you’d like my opinion on, stories you’d like to hear, or a new feature, just let me know!

In honor of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia (which apparently start in a few hours, at least in Russian time), I’d like to call your attention to something a friend of mine (well, okay, I don’t actually know her, but we’re friends on Facebook and responded to a comment I wrote her once) posted on Facebook. On your mark, get set…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 11: “Queen of the Ice,” Julie Brown, 1994.

Said friend was indeed the Great and Wonderful Julie Brown, who reminded us all of this glorious moment in her career, or at least the glitziest. One of the most underrated comediennes of all time, Julie Brown was unleashed upon the world as a VJ on MTV, hosting her show Just Say Julie, and leading the cast of an unfortunately-cancelled sketch comedy show called The Edge which featured her alongside the likes of Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, and oh yeah, some other chick named Jennifer Aniston. She’s been pretty dormant over the past decade or so, but has come back with a bang. Most of her earlier work is still hanging out on YouTube, and it’s still funny even though the 1990s are not even a twinkle of an eye to today’s teenagers. I had originally planned on doing one huge salute/tribute dedicated to Miss Brown, but since she started it, I’m just going to roll with it.

This song comes from a parody film called National Lampoon’s Attack of the 5 Ft 2 In Women which satirizes the stories of everyone’s favorite penis-chopper Lorena Bobbitt and everyone’s favorite Olympic ice skater rivals, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. If you don’t know either of those stories, stop reading, click over to Wikipedia, and come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that we’ve established the situations, on to the video. We open on Tonya Hardly (played by Brown herself) gliding around her attic in a snazzy black and white sweater and early-90s white floofy scrunchie…oh wait, that’s actually supposed to be her hair. Flash over to the Nancy Kerrigan character being pursued by Tonya in a fit of rage and a dress that could turn Medusa into stone (bonus points to those of you who get that reference!). Her anger-fueled, acid-trip tune turns deadly when she pulls out her “little hammer,” something that I initially thought was just an unusual rhyme, only to realize about fifty re-watches later that it’s a cultural reference to the Olympics in Lillehammer. I’m not quite sure what the significance of the parrot lady is, but Julie Brown’s finest moment in the video is when she bites her lip and takes aim with her gun. Pure, unadulterated, early 90s vengeance. The music turns sweet again as she scrolls through a list of her “idols,” other infamous ladies from the early 1990s. Then, here comes a wrestler with a wheelbarrow of money, for no apparent reason, and then Brown skates around some more, dances a bit on the podium under the American flag, and ends with a triumphant slap to Nancy’s face.

What did I learn from this video? Skating and shooting are two activities that go well together. Skating in the fog is fun and mystical. The girl who plays Nancy has a weird-shaped face. But the most important lesson of all is that Julie Brown is so talented that she can make the world fall in love with Trailer Park Tonya all over again (like they say in those commercials on PBS about the technicolor Shirley Temple Collection).

But seriously, folks…skate at your own risk.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by Winter. Winter: When you go outside and the snot freezes inside your nostrils, that means it’s working.