Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Catching the HSM fever two years later

Due to circumstances largely beyond my control (which I won’t get into because no one would believe me anyway), I ended up watching High School Musical tonight… by myself. And I have to say, it’s fantastically wholesome fun. Positive messages, multiculti faces and age-appropriate (albeit unrealistic) clothing abound. It’s very encouraging that kids today—the age of Grand Theft Auto and Paris Hilton—are obsessed with this movie.

It’s basically an extended episode of MTV’s Made—extended and enhanced with sparkles, song and dance, and exaggerated facial expressions. It seems everyone in this high school has some closeted ambition that’s contradictory to “what they know,” the clique they belong to, etc. But guess what—by the end of the movie, you realize you can be whatever you want! We’re all different in our own special ways! And we’re in this together!

Unfortunately, this kind of optimism will only lead to disappointment later in life because you can’t, in fact, be anything you want—unless, perhaps, your parents happen to be very rich—although if that’s the case you probably only want to be “normal,” or at least that’s what you’ll tell Us Weekly after rehab. But nevertheless, HSM did deliver the warm and fuzzies, and if it helps one football star embrace his homosexuality rather than give wedgies to the drama club president, then I’m all for it.

Plus, it really doesn’t get much better than this basketball dance number. In “Get’cha Head in the Game,” heartthrob Zac Efron tries to shake his secret desire to try out for the musical—while his teammates dance in a synchronized circle around him. If I hadn’t been so distracted by his dreaminess, I would have maybe wondered why Zac was so worried about what his friends would think of “the real” him—they’re about as intimidating as the prancing, snapping gangsters of West Side Story—and just as entertaining. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does not play well with others

I thoroughly enjoyed the individualistic meritocracy of school, with the minor exception of when it was interrupted by the dreaded group project. Socially awkward since birth, I complained about each and every one of them, and I always heard the same reasoning: Learning to work with others helps prepare students for the “real world,” where idiot collaboration is inevitable. While the bit about dealing with other people is unfortunately true, I think, like most of my liberal arts education, group projects fell short in preparing me for Corporate America—or at least the very bottom rungs with which I'm familiar.

First of all, they had due dates. Conditioned by 16 years of schooling, when I first entered the workforce, looming deadlines filled me with a familiar sense of anxiety. When I stayed late to finish my part or feverishly called MIA co-workers to check on the status of theirs, however, I became increasingly frustrated. It took me a while, but I came to realize that, like almost everything else in Corporate America, deadlines are merely suggestions. Consequently, projects don’t “end” so much as “evolve,” allowing for levels upon levels upon loops of feedback, suggestions, comments, reviews and approvals. In addition to incorporating everyone’s “two cents” (in hopes of creating a mosaic of currency that might be worth something somewhere), this method has the added benefit of spreading responsibility so thinly that no one is left red-handed when someone inevitably drops the ball.

And secondly, we were given a grade. Sigh… I miss getting papers back from the teacher… the anticipation, the validation; that was the life. After graduation, however, I soon learned the best I could hope for is an e-mail response that goes something like: “Looks great. Sending on to Idiot McMoron and Nitpicky Von Controlling—will forward their feedback.” And for my sanity’s sake, I’ve had to stop equating “Thanks, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction” with a big fat F (suppose I'll save that designation for Fired). Actually, I'm encouraged when I get any response—sometimes projects simply disappear into the black Outlook hole of minimized archive folders, forgotten or killed, never to be heard from again. I was a little excited for my first “professional” review because I heard it incorporated an actual grading system. I was quickly brought down to earth, however, when my supervisor sheepishly flew through my evaluation and explained that HR instructed managers not to give perfect scores, and that pretty much everyone was getting a standard minuscule percent raise.

I’m trying to think how group projects could have been structured to better prepare me to not want to drive myself off the road ahead… Perhaps instead of rewarding students with praise and encouragement, teachers should give everyone Cs, blame the economy and then take credit for all their work.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fun New Toy!

According to my manager, this functionality isn't "new," but I just discovered the user created cards on someecards.com, and it has already provided hours of entertainment. I'd like to share my first creations -- you can even pass one on, if you care enough to hit send.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chuck’s sparkly blazer steals Nastia’s scene

Ah… tonight’s Gossip Girl… I’ve been looking forward to it for so many reasons:

  • Last week the elation I felt upon claiming a television in my building’s gym and turning it to the CW was quickly destroyed when I realized, mid-stride, that One Tree Hill, possibly the worst show in the history of teen-turned-weird-fast-forward drama, had robbed the 7 p.m. CST time slot.
  • The Snowflake Ball! A combination of my two favorite themes—prom and Christmas!
  • And last but not least, a guest appearance by the fantabulous Nastia Liukin!

Sadly, I was let down for many more reasons:

  • Apparently Nastia didn’t learn anything from Kerri Strug’s disastrous appearance on 90210. Minus the helium voice, Nastia’s performance was a lot like Kerri’s—random and brief. I believe her two lonely lines consisted of: “Are you Chuck Bass?” and “Oh…” Also, she looked funny with her long hair and dress. I prefer the sassy pony and hot pink leotard.
  • Dan may have crossed over to my list of characters I can’t stand (Jenny and Serena). He and Serena are SO RIDICULOUS. Either get back together or stop with the sappy, uncomfortable conversations! Tonight they talked about how special their first time was. Ick!
  • Have I mentioned that I can’t stand Jenny Humphrey?? Her hair, her brooding, her eyeliner… Can’t. Take it. Any. More.
  • Serena’s voice has not gotten any less annoying (ooh, I did like when her new boyfriend’s ex was making fun of her though).
  • Vanessa’s “humiliating” moment was not even that bad—Serena should have been more embarrassed by her Thanksgiving outfit.

And finally, didn’t the ads for tonight’s episode imply there was going to be some sort of disaster? “If you only had one night to live, who would you spend it with?” Huh? Who had one night to live? Did I miss something? Don’t get me wrong, I hate disaster episodes (such obvious filler when writers are out of ideas), but I don’t appreciate being mislead.

There was an accident at the VERY END, but I think it involved the old dude. It’s like when everyone was saying one of the Desperate Housewives cast members was going to die a couple of seasons ago, and it ended up being the annoying old lady. No one cares about the parents. What a scam. And I don’t even think they showed a preview of next week.

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