Meme of Lists

I love seeing lists of the media that have impacted people’s lives. The other day I saw someone post about 15 movies that had impacted them. Then I saw another person post 10 books that have stuck with them. Today, I thought about listing 5 of the earliest Internet memes I liked/stuck with me. Here are my lists.

I think if you choose to make a list of your own, you should do so first, and then compare notes with your friends. Just a thought.

Fifteen Movies
The Princess Bride
Bringing Out the Dead
The Fifth Element
Event Horizon
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Big Lebowski
A Serious Man
Fight Club
Groundhog Day
Young Frankenstein
Empire Records
Stranger Than Fiction
The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Ten Books

The Grapes of Wrath
The Jungle
Kafka on the Shore
Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance Chronicles, Volume I)
Snow Crash
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
High Fidelity
American Gods
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (Sleeping Beauty Trilogy)

Five Earliest Remembered Internet Memes/Sites
I Kiss You! (1999? I remember earlier.)
Zombocom (1999, and still live!)
Hampsterdance 1998?
Hatt-baby! 2000?
All Your Base Are Belong to Us (Invasion of the Gabber Robots – Laziest Men on Mars) (1998?)

Disclaimer needed?

I don’t own a TV or listen to commercial radio (though I do watch TV and listen to non-commercial radio, like KEXP.) I also don’t frequently consume magazines except when I’m stuck somewhere with nothing else to do (doctor’s offices, gyms, airports, bathrooms, salons).

This means that while I’m pretty culturally literate (IMHO), I miss out on things that aren’t widely discussed in my corner of the Internet.

This means that I miss out on televised news unless I bother to watch a YouTube video. And I admit, I really don’t care to given the little that I see in my 60 minutes at the gym. I mean, from what I understand, people are going to town hall meetings, yelling crazy, nonsensical and dissonant things that stem from blatant lies being told by other people? What more do I need to know?

So yeah – I watch my TV without commercials thanks to DVD, Blu-Ray and download, get my news from news websites and blogs, get my entertainment news from the check-out lanes at the grocery store, and read magazines when I’m in purgatory. I like my way of life. It allows me to spend time with my husband cooking dinner and getting 8 hours of sleep.

Of course, YMMV.

“It’s like reality television, but for books!”

Going to the gym is indulging in irony. Any gym you go to there will be thumping music, television and magazines. Unless you’re lucky enough to remember to bring your book or your iPod, you’re in a situation where you can spend an hour or more staring at other people or at the equipment, or pass your gaze over cable TV or a magazine, or sometimes switching between the two. The content of both cable television and the magazines is guaranteed to be interspersed with commercials and content that might as well be a commercial, all driving you to a vague sense of unease that can only be cured by purchasing or indulging in the flashing images and the ads in the sidebar. I get hungry for specific and unhealthy pseudofood while at the gym, while images of Ore-Ida frozen potatoes, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Tyson frozen chicken nuggets tempt me.

Yesterday I picked my poison in the form of Real Simple magazine, which was nicely provided by my gym for my distraction. Flitting my gaze between Wolf Blitzer and faux simplification, I eventually found an article that seemed worth reading by A.J. Jacobs (author of The Year of Living Biblically. ) Of course, I didn’t realize he was also the author of The Year of Living Biblically, I only knew that he was the author of the upcoming book The Guinea Pig Diaries, whose title I discarded due to me not particularly caring until now.

The article was an abridged excerpt from his new book, focusing on the actual effort to simplify and organize life by unitasking. It turns out, in case you didn’t know, that any feelings of increased productivity by multitasking is a lie. We actually lose productivity when we try to multitask, and I would argue, lose some intimacy with our surroundings making multitasking at best a time sucker and at worst downright dangerous (eg. talking on a cellphone + doing anything else.) The excerpt read like an article in the Shambala Sun: unitasking as a conscious effort of mindfulness and full experience of a singular action. There were elements in the excerpt that included contemplations on patience and the hard work that is bringing your mind back from distraction. All good lessons, and a great reminder to me, as a chronic multitasker, that I should take this lesson to heart.

I found myself a little disappointed, though, when I found out just who the author of this piece was. This is based solely on the fact that A.J. Jacobs is a writer who basically logs a portion of his life, then packages it into a book. It’s what happens when you turn a blog into a book. It’s reality television, with the pretense of being unscripted, but packaged into a book giving a more virtuous veneer to a genre that I’m not sure deserves attention. I’m not saying that A.J. Jacobs is a bad writer – in fact, I enjoyed reading the excerpt and think that he made some valid points, however, this is just one book in a string of books where he sets off on a quest for the purpose of his own self-discovery and then writes about it.

Maybe I’m jealous. I’m a blogger (though, if not for Google Analytics, I would not believe anyone read this thing), and I’d love to be published some day – but not for the content of my blog. I do have to wonder, though – what makes these bloggers-turned-published authors more deserving of royalties than the next guy? A.J. Jacob’s schtick seems to be putting himself in awkward situations and writing about it. Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia, turned her blog into a best selling book, and now a well-received Hollywood film starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Why shouldn’t any person’s mundane life be profitable?

I aspire to high art. I can only believe that my art background before college, and the two years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago infected me with this idea that there is good art, and there is bad art (or non-art, if it’s really bad), and I know the difference. Maybe we, as a culture, have reached a state of media saturation, of too many choices, leading us to consume junk food for our brains as well as our bodies. It’s not that junk food is bad necessarily, it’s just in the quantities that we’re consuming it.

You know, necessitating us to buy our gym memberships to balance the chicken nuggets and fries we had for lunch.

Personal Update and a word from our sponsor…

My week has started off with a small success: my craft caddy of tremendous hugeness has been picked up by either the Salvation Army, or someone else who liked the size of the monstrosity. I’ve been wanting this thing gone for something like 5 months. It continues to be really hard for me to put any energy into cleaning/transforming this space, since that was the project I was in the middle of right before my plans derailed.

I’ve been busy trying to craft up rewarding (and profitable!) ways to spend my time. I haven’t gotten very far with these plans, though – mostly due to my urge to have my home-space figured out before I try to do anything extra. I have some drafts for a painting series (or, as it might turn out, a single diptych) in the works. I’ve become lax on my paper journaling, and on my hope to hand write and send a bunch of letters. The day to day seems to intervene, and in other times, the emotional energy just doesn’t seem to be there.

I continue to spend about 12-15 hours a week volunteering at 826 Seattle. Not only are they wonderful people, who open their doors to me and put me to work when I needed it, they provide an amazing resource for the community. Please check out their site, visit the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, make a donation, get involved, get your kids involved… they do great stuff. If you’re not local, there are 826 chapters across the nation.

Finally, this weekend Jon and I have tickets to see Pema Chodron at the University of Washington. It’s a weekend-long teaching session. I’ve never been to anything of its kind. I first ran across Pema Chodron thanks to picking up her audio Getting Unstuck while I was still working at Whole Foods Market. I’ve listened to it a few times, and find her voice and her message thoughtful and calming. I recommend her work to anyone who has a tendency towards criticism of others or themselves. I’m excited to have the opportunity to see her in person.

I’ve hopefully got more blog posts on the way. In the mean time, why don’t you pick up a copy of How to Cook Everything and/or Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. How to Cook Everything is the bible of our kitchen, and Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home is a great, no fuss, easy to manage book of tasty vegetarian recipes, perfect for farmer’s market weekends. (BTW, all y’alls who dig the Trader Joe’s balls of pizza dough – Bittman’s pizza dough recipe takes <10 min to make w/ a food processor, makes two pies, and is freezable.)