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The Real Israeli-Palestinian Crisis is My Lack of Knowledge About it, by Evan Waite

gazaMy ignorance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict shows no signs of stopping, and is from all indications worse than ever. It’s time to take a good, hard look at how uninformed I am.

Just this week, I heard someone say that the death toll rose in Gaza after Israel escalated its air assault. Whatever side of this conflict you find yourself on, I think we can all agree it is truly heartbreaking that I don’t understand what the term “Gaza” means.

Is it some sort of army base? Or a mythical mountain where the gold is hidden? I’m pretty sure it’s not underwater.

Left unchecked, the repercussions of this ignorance will be felt for years to come. Especially once I start raising children and have to teach them stuff.

Just this week, hundreds of people were wounded in attacks presumably unleashed by the king of Israel, who may or may not be that Arafat guy I heard Craig Ferguson mention in a monologue once. I didn’t really understand the joke, but I laughed anyway because he made a funny face.

Day after day, the dire situation inside my brain continues to deteriorate. As recently as a few days ago, I wasted nearly 20 minutes on Google Earth trying to locate the city of Hamas. READ MORE

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An Airbnb Review of Charles and Linda's Unique Private Room, by Spencer Ham

racecarbedOkay, first of all, stop looking for other Airbnb rooms in San Francisco right now. Just stop, because nothing will beat Charles and Linda’s private room. I stayed in their home for six nights and it cost me a grand total of zero dollars. That's right. This large, centrally located, beautiful space is free. F-r-e-e.

Now, there are some ground rules, but that’s to be expected. You will be required to wear a uniform. I know it sounds a little weird, but hey, a free room is a free room. The outfit consists of cargo shorts, an Angry Birds T-shirt, some Crocs, and a Webelos hat that has “Danny” written on it. They have various sizes for all of these items so you’ll be able to find one that fits you. It may not look chic, but it’s actually pretty comfortable for walking around in the city.

The room has A LOT of character. The bed is shaped like a racecar and is definitely on the smaller side, but it’s very comfortable. Also, if you’re a dinosaur fan (and c’mon, who isn’t?) you’ll be in heaven, because the walls are covered in them.

The house is pretty quiet most of the time, but be warned: You will periodically hear loud sobbing throughout the house, but it eventually fades away.

Linda and Charles are such a quirky older couple! I love them. They have one of those relationships that you hope to have when you get to that age. Charles can come off as a grump, but just know that deep down he’s a sweetheart. For example, he might ignore your presence and occasionally he’ll erupt at Linda, screaming things like “This isn’t normal!” and “We need to listen to Dr. Rollins’ advice!” Then he’ll storm out for hours at a time, but he’ll eventually come back and embrace her for hours on the staircase. It’s sweet. READ MORE

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Letting My Parents Know, by Blake Henderson

Mom. Dad. Thanks for meeting me here.

I’ve wanted to talk to you about this for years, but I’ve just been pushing it off. I don’t even know why I couldn’t do it. I guess I was just scared of what you would do. How you would react. What you’d tell your friends. And I mean, it’s not like I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be a part of my life. I didn’t do it because I wanted to protect you from the truth. And I know that was selfish— because I literally owe everything to you. But I’m sick of living in the darkness and the shadows of a life where I can’t be myself and voice the opinions that make me, I guess, me. And that’s an example of the type of morals that you ingrained in me all throughout my life. And I couldn’t be more grateful for all that you’ve done. So, I guess, here goes nothing. Just remember how much I love you.

I…I’m…what I’m trying to say is…what I’ve realized about myself is that I’m really only interested in…cloud-based solutions. I know you probably didn’t see this coming— or maybe you did—but I just wanted to let you know firsthand. In this day in age, I’m pretty sure that scaling integrated solutions in the new global business environment can really only be achieved by maximizing the effectiveness of shared computational resources. I honestly believe that. And just in case there’s some confusion, let me spell it out for you: Cloud resources are not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand. And that’s what I need! Platform as a service! READ MORE

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A Profile of Acting Legend John C. Reilly, by Blythe Roberson

reillyI’m assigned to write a profile of acting legend John C. Reilly. It’s an assignment of a lifetime. Wait. In a lifetime. It’s an assignment in my lifetime. In preparation, I decide to watch his films to study his technique. There’s just one problem: I still can’t figure out Netflix.

The day of the interview, I ride my skateboard 7 miles from my apartment to meet him at a restaurant that turns out to be next door to my apartment. So that’s why I suggested that deli, I realize after 3.5 miles.

I walk through the door to see acting legend John C. Reilly already waiting. I look at him and think, He’s the kind of guy who played Mr. Collins in a high school production of Pride and Prejudice. I pull out my journal to write down the thought in case I want to use it in something I write someday.

The man sitting across from me, drinking a mug of some hot brown liquid that smells coffee-y, is different than I imagined. In person, he looks like a man out of a Will Ferrell movie. Like Will Ferrell. Or maybe John C. Reilly.

READ MORE

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Angels Trade the Cruel Passage of Time to the Cubs for a Reminder of Your Own Mortality, by Pablo Goldstein

Image.aspxESPN’s Tim Kurkjian reports that the Anaheim Angels have traded minor league infielder Matt Scioscia to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Trevor Gretzky.

Gretzky, the son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and an abrupt reminder of how little time you have left in your short, insignificant life, was selected in the seventh round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The left-hander is expected to start for the Inland Empire 66ers where he will bat 5th in the lineup and emphasize the coming winter of your existence.

Scioscia, the son of longtime Angels manager and former big-league catcher Mike Scioscia, will make his debut for the Boise Hawks later this year. While the infielder isn’t predicted to start, he will remind you of the crushing realization that you are turning into your father despite all the steps you took to ensure that would never happen.

“We just felt this was the best opportunity for Matt to get some playing time,” Angels general manager Jerry Depoto said of the trade that revived the existential understanding that you’re just one of billions of humans hurtling around the sun at 70,000 m.p.h. “And in return, we’re getting a really great kid as well,” Depoto added, not recognizing that the death rattle of the Grim Reaper comes for us all. READ MORE

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Letter to My Husband as He Tries to French Kiss Me, by Devorah Blachor

Dear Sweetheart,

Gosh, it’s been a long day, hasn’t it? I’m beat. If I closed my eyes right now, I’d fall into Stage 4 sleep and stay there until someone shook me so violently that I’d wake up and say something crazy in a panic-stricken voice like, “Where are the elbow pipettes?”

Let me say that it’s so great to know that you’re still attracted to me. It makes all the hours we spend guessing which of our couple friends still have good sex even more entertaining. Remember when we started dating and you used to spontaneously massage the arches of my feet because you claimed you enjoyed it? In those days I’d say things to myself like, “The guy’s a total romantic,” and this completely short-sighted and self-serving assessment really helped trick me into a monogamous relationship. And now here we are! And at no extra cost, here’s your tongue, too!

You sure do like to French kiss, don’t you? Swollen glands, work deadlines, nausea—nothing deters you from this fun activity. You’re single-minded like a microbiologist examining mouse mammary glands over and over and over because you’re sure that it will either cure cancer or help produce an acetate that will revolutionize the way we produce lipstick.

It reminds me of that time years ago when we were at a party and the woman with the boobs was so amused by your joke that she had to put her hand on your chest to hold herself up while she laughed. And then afterwards when I protested that you were flirting, you dismissed my concerns as paranoid and a second later you were French kissing me and all I could feel was bitterness about those early foot massages because when we moved in together, you abandoned them to become a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier battling aliens while attempting to uncover the secrets of Halo. READ MORE

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Ditch Digger University, by Dan Rozier

Listen up! Are you tired of parents, relatives, and friends telling you to apply yourself? Do you want an education that works for you? How's your upper body strength? Are you typically awake at this hour?

Well, what are you waiting for? Get everyone off your back at Ditch Digger University. DDU was established on the belief that education shouldn't only take you further—it should take you wider and deeper, too. We're a premier institution for the modern world where students can learn, grow, and get their hands dirty with real world experience and, more often than not, actual dirt.

At any other university you'd just be a number, a face in the crowd. DDU gives you the personal attention and will rent you the tools you need to succeed. Our instructors aren't like the "professors" you'd find everywhere else. Our faculty members are your mentors, friends, drinking buddies, shift managers, and character witnesses.

Speaking of hitting the books, we provide our students with a rigorous balance of online coursework and on-the-job training. Our majors include: Irrigation System Creation, Flood Prevention Management, Basement Making, Roadside Slopes, Graves, and War Preparation. READ MORE

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The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, by Liz Arcury

The following are excerpts of reviews of some selected songs of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (1973)
With this album, Mr. Springsteen is exploring a newer, slower – yet explosive – sonic sexuality that America did not know was coming. After collaborating with various music historians who were active at the time of the album’s release, we have concluded that the second track, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” might be based on the non-fictional, existent location on the northern shore of New Jersey known as Asbury Park.

“Badlands," Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
This one has very sincere undertones of the singer’s personal history. Perhaps, where he grew up? We are given very little, and it is not clearly stated (and, need we remind ourselves of the value of ambiguity in art?) but “Badlands” could very well be about New Jersey, the home state of Mr. Springsteen.

“Streets of Fire,” Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
The streets and the fire are both located inside of New Jersey. READ MORE

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How I Will Become a Better Boyfriend, by Ronald Dario

I wanted to show you that I’m serious about making more of an effort to be a better boyfriend, so I thought about it carefully and came up with some personal goals. I know we have been having problems lately, but I wholeheartedly believe that if I follow through with each one of these, I will become a better person. I want to be the kind of boyfriend that an amazing person like you deserves!

1. I will sign up for those cooking lessons we read about.

2. I will start running again.

3. I will get rid of at least 80% of the Tupac-related content on my computer. Even though I worked really hard to collect it all.

4. I will try to wear shirts with collars on them more often.

5. I will be more vigilant about eating food in the fridge before it spoils or expires.

6. I promise to stop writing “Thug Life” in calligraphic lettering on your stomach with a Sharpie marker while you’re sleeping, every single night, regardless of how sexy I think it makes you look. READ MORE

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These Disappointing Times, by Tim Sampson

Living in this modern age is pretty great. For crying out loud, just look at all the wondrous technology that exists all around us. You can chat with your sister in Vermont while jetting off to Hong Kong at 500 miles per hour. We've got these marvelous little smartphones in our pockets that let us access a pool of knowledge too vast for any one person to consume in a lifetime. Heck, even as I write this, we've got little man-made robots roaming around on the surface of Mars. Mars, for pete's sake!

So don't for an instant think I'm not grateful to be living in the year 2013. I am. It's just that, when I'm really honest with myself, I can't help feeling a little disappointed. I mean, here we are living in such an advanced age, yet we still don't have flying cars or a morally dubious Truman Show-type reality program. READ MORE

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Fun Thing to Buy of the Day: 'Fridays' Is Finally Out on DVD

Fridays, the first and strongest challenger to Saturday Night Live's weekend sketch comedy dominance, finally comes out on DVD this week. The show (which ran from 1980 to 1982) has taken on cult, if not legendary status, because it launched the careers of Michael Richards, Melanie Chartoff (Parker Lewis Can't Lose), and Larry David — who was allegedly the one cast holdout who prevented a proper DVD release much earlier. It's better than early-'80s SNL for sure, and certainly more experimental, what with appearances from Andy Kaufman and even semi-dramatic bits. A four-disc best-of set is definitely a good way to check out this long-lost piece of comedy history.

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Miniature Golf Infractions, by John Carroll & Nick Klinger

Dear Trevor,

I am writing today to file a petition regarding our miniature golf match last Saturday. Since this is a formal complaint, I’ll be sending a carbon copy to Marty, the clerk at the Pro Shop & Sno Cone Stand who checked us in before our game.

At the end of our match play, you signed a scorecard of 49 strokes, which handily beat my score of 62. But I contend that you committed several infractions that typically incur additional strokes which you did not assign yourself. You should be penalized for the following:

The Mouse Trap (Hole 2, Par 2)

As I entered my backswing, you held your putter perpendicular to your cargo shorts zipper and said, “Jason, look how big my dick is.” You should have penalized yourself two strokes for distracting a fellow golfer in the act of putting. READ MORE

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Unearthing John Swartzwelder's 1996 Unsold Western Pilot

Antenna Free TV has a piece today on a near-mythical pilot from 1996 called Pistol Pete, written by the also near-mythical Simpsons scribe John Swartzwelder. A kooky, comic western, and an unmade show on par with cult lost gems like Lookwell and Heat Vision and Jack, it starred Brian Doyle-Murray and Steve Kearney, whom Harris tinterviews. Swartzwelder even makes a brief statement about the show, and shows up in a photo, both of which are remarkable, because if you know anything about the incredibly reclusive comic genius, it's that he's an incredibly reclusive comic genius.

SNL
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The Weirdest Episode of the Weirdest Season of 'Saturday Night Live'

Every few years or so, between its now clearly delineated epochs or eras, Saturday Night Live has a “growth year” or “building period” or “godawful season.” For example, the 1980-81 season was the first without the original cast, and the bloated, 1994-95 “Saturday Night Dead” year.

The 1985-86 season is one of those off years. Creator and masterlord Lorne Michaels had left the show, as had his poor replacement Jean Doumanian, leaving NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol in charge. Ebersol had very little understanding of comedy, nor did he care to understand. (Case in point: He publicly sided with Jay Leno during the 2010 Lenon/Conan/Tonight Show fiasco). Anyway, his tenure came to an end when NBC refused his request to shut down the show entirely for six months and build it up from scratch, and he quit.

And so Michaels returned in 1985, and he dismissed many of Ebersol’s writers and players. Michaels, who has something of an eye for talent, brought in new people (Jon Lovitz, Anthony Michael Hall, Dennis Miller, Joan Cusack) and new old people (former SNL writers Tom Davis, Jim Downey, and Don Novello). Despite having seen his somewhat experimental Friday night sketch show The New Show fail on NBC primetime, Michaels didn’t shy from experimentation. Part of that meant hiring the show’s first black female cast member, Danitra Vance, and its first openly gay cast member, Terry Sweeney.

Trying new things is never a bad thing, but it’s also a very, very hard thing, especially when you try a bunch of new things all at the same time. And Michaels decided to go ahead and try a bunch of new things all throughout his first year back at SNL. But almost everything about the March 22, 1986 episode seemed to be a new, half-baked, bewildering idea. It makes for a very strange departure from a comfortable, familiar, iconic broadcast. READ MORE