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Reading Between The Texts: Sexting, Sort Of. (?)

The Texts

B: Dinner this week?

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Reading Between the Texts: Is THIS Flirting?

The Text

Him: Nice job today. My teeth feel very clean.

The Analysis

K: Uhhhhhhhh gross?

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Reading Between the Texts: The Best/Worst Texts We Got This Year

The Texts READ MORE

Little-Known TV Crossover Spinoffs

“The eX-Files” 

Premise: Forced into hiding by an in-agency threat, Agents Doggett and Reyes decide their jobs would be better handled off the radar – WAY off. Reyes convinces her friend Carrie Bradshaw to take over the X-Files by night, maintaining her sex columnist day job as both a cover and a way to get into the minds (and beds) of New York City’s alien hybrids, shape shifters, and worm people. Little does Carrie know that she’s being watched; that high school boyfriend of hers who ended up in a mental institution? He’s got a secret identity of his own. He knows all there is to know about the X-Files, and he’s not about to let them go without a fight. He’s Fox Mulder.

Tagline: “If you thought chasing UFOs was tough before, you haven’t done it in Manolos.”

Reception: Critics and viewers seemed to agree that the show was best left to a brief and deliriously campy run; one such reviewer summed it up thusly: “The first four extraterrestrial-related puns were delicious, airy fun. The next eight were increasingly torturous.”

Trivia: The series’ two-episode run is the first two-episode series in history to be syndicated; the episodes play frequently on TBS, though the editing of the interspecies sex scenes bring the series down to a total of 11 incoherent minutes.

***

“Law and Order: Friends of the Court”

Premise: Out-of-work actor Joey Tribbiani is en route to an audition in a sheriff’s deputy costume when he mistakenly walks into the county courthouse and is unwittingly hired as the new bailiff. Despite a number of comical misunderstandings, Tribbiani becomes well suited to the job, developing close relationships with judges and attorneys alike. Later, Tribbiani, intending to play a practical joke, uses his connections to land his friends (“Friends”) on jury duty for an upcoming trial, for which he has comically neglected to read the briefing report. The trial — a complex and deeply twisted case of a grotesquely violent serial killer — was intended to shape the entire series’ story arc.

Tagline: “Laughing this hard should be a FELONY!”

Reception: Viewers found the juxtaposition between the Friends’ playful flashbacks — funny, shared memories that served to inform decisions made in deliberation — and the grisly witness flashbacks to discoveries of the defendant’s suspected 62 victims to be unsettling and, at times, inappropriate. Reviews were mixed to negative, with critics noting that laughs were “bittersweet” and “never quite frequent enough to forget this is a show that is, at its core, about serial murder.”

Trivia: The show’s opening theme showed the Friends cast dancing in the pouring rain on the courthouse steps. It was meant to be a play on the legal term “arraignment,” but nobody really seemed to get it.

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“911 Can Be Used To Report Both Fires AND Medical Emergencies, After All”

Premise: Facing budget cuts, the newly laid-off staff of County General Hospital (“E.R.”) moves to New York City in search of work, where they are somewhat inexplicably forced to create a makeshift hospital within the Harlem Firehouse (“Rescue Me”). Much of the show’s conflict centered around the difficulties inherent in using one small building as both a firehouse and a makeshift hospital, and the much sexier difficulties inherent in having constant intercourse in a high-intensity work environment where so many lives are at stake and the outfits take almost forever to get off.

Tagline: “Is this an emergency? You bet your f%#*ing ass#$*% it is.”

[Note: producers hoped to draw a younger audience with the tagline’s edgy language; though the line briefly became a meme, viewers 18-25 failed to watch.]

Reception: Critics called the show “unbelievable,” noting that the show “waste[d] an absurd number of scenes depicting the doctors crafting surgical tools and machinery out of items lying around the firehouse.” Critics and viewers alike also lambasted the show’s over-long, weirdly literal title — a title that producers reportedly intended for use as a placeholder, but upon which they were apparently unable to improve. The show’s ratings were dismal from the start, and, despite intensive marketing aimed towards popularizing a shorter, acronym version of the title (“911 CBUTRBFAMEAA,” pronounced “see-butte-herb-fame-ahh” in television spots), they continued to plummet. “911…” was canceled after just seven episodes.

Trivia: Fans of the show found a heroine in the beloved and beleaguered in-house 911 operator, Trudy Banks, played by Alexis Bledel wearing geriatric make-up — a transformation that reportedly took six hours to apply each day on set.

 ***

“The SBU Crew”

Premise: Cast members from TV shows “The O.C.,” “Boy Meets World,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “That’s So Raven,” “Skins,” “Lizzie McGuire,” and, perhaps most famously, “Pepper Ann,” become acquainted (and entwined) as junior transfer students at the fictional Sensual Birches University.

Tagline: “Meet the new kid in school … 27 times over.”

Reception: Critics called the large cast “confusing,” cast members’ widely ranging ages “visually jarring” and the pseudo-collegiate dialogue (“Yo bro-ski, whaddaya say we show these doofuses the way a keg stand is REALLY dunzo?” and “Oh yeezy? Why don’t you Skrill-AX?” are two examples) “overwrought, embarrassing, and frequently offensive.” Nevertheless, viewers tuned in to “The SBU Crew” in record-breaking numbers. Still, the show floundered after two desperately pathetic seasons. Cast member James Franco’s repeated installments of a performance art piece he titled “I Am Not On Set” — in which he convinced other cast members to skip days on set — played a major role in cancellation, creating undue complications for the show’s writing staff. The entire student body was killed off by a “simultaneous mono outbreak” in a tedious yet unexpectedly moving five-hour finale.

Trivia: Copies of I Am Not On Set: The Still Images (a photograph book including images of Franco and Adam Brody wearing humorous false facial hair and Franco and Danielle Fishel in a nude, tearful embrace) are available in select Urban Outfitters stores.

Katie Heaney loves all the TV, and is only just now watching Buffy, if you can believe that. Her nonfiction book (Grand Central Publishing) comes out in 2014!

The Essential Pocket Guide to Monster Survival

Globsters

One of the earliest recorded globsters – The St. Augustine Monster of 1896.

Class: Unidentified organic mass

Threat Level: 1.5 out of 5 screams. (They might be lifeless, but they are SO gross.)

Summary: Globster” is a term used to describe unidentifiable, seemingly dead carcasses that wash up on seashores. That this phenomenon is so common as to need its own name, and that that name is “globster,” is really all you need to know. In 2003, the 14-ton Chilean Blob globster motionlessly and silently terrorized a nation — onlookers probably reported feeling as though the mass was “looking at [them], seriously, get it awayyyeeee.” In this one particular case, scientists allegedly found that DNA from the blob matched that of a sperm whale, but ask yourself: wouldn’t it be clever of globster monsters to mimic the DNA of natural animals?

How to Survive: It doesn’t take a water scientist to guess that the main reason globsters come to land is because they’re looking for human blood. You should be staying 100 yards from any coastline, at minimum, at all times. Especially while menstruating. What non-evil thing has ever emerged from the water of its own accord? Not one thing! 

Jersey Devil

Cute shoes!

Class: Winged biped

Threat Level: 2 out of 5 screams.

Summary: According to legend, the Jersey Devil was born to New Jersey resident Mrs. Leeds in 1735, after she understandably wished that her thirteenth child would be born a devil so she could be done already. This creature — bony, winged body, spindly hoofed legs, and a horse-like face — immediately set about roaming the New Jersey Pine Barrens for the rest of eternity. Sightings continue to this day, and are recorded by American heroes “The Devil Hunters.” The illuminatingly vague reports include:

2007: “In January, a man watched a strange creature fly out of the woods.”

2009: “Strange screeches were heard and a singular hoof print found in Mayetta.”

Spooky stuff.

How to Survive: Unfortunately, no known defense mechanisms against the Jersey Devil exist.

Dammit.

Bigfoot

A little hot, right?

Class: Bipedal humanoid

Threat Level: 2.5 out of 5 screams. (There are some who propagate the idea that Bigfoot is relatively non-threatening, but doesn’t it seem suspicious that the only people around to say how non-threatening he is are alive?)

Summary: Bigfoot are usually described as being 6-10 feet tall ape-like humanoids, with red or brown hair covering their entire bodies. Presumably, there are both male and female Bigfoot, but because of the way they walk, most Bigfoot just kind of seem like guys and are thus usually referred to as “him.” Sightings are common, and occasionally frightening; watch this stirring news story about the experience of self-proclaimed mountain man Tim Peeler for just one example. Lest you have any doubt about Bigfoot’s existence, Jane F%#*ing Gooddall said “I’m sure that they exist.”

How to Survive: If you see a Bigfoot, your prehistoric ancestral instinct is going to tell you to make out with him. Do it! Use your sexuality to get what you want: survival. For seduction tips, consult what appears to be a very to-the-point manual.

Drop Bears

Closest known visual approximation.

Class: Mutated arboreal carnivorous marsupial

Threat Level: 3 out of 5 screams

Summary: If at first glance these creatures look like sweet and cuddly Koala bears, look closer. These beasts “drop” from trees onto unsuspecting hikers and tear them limb from limb. Cynics at Wikipedia suggest that drop bears are not “real,” but why, then, would the Australian Museum list them in their species catalog? Later, the Museum would backpedal, claiming the page was intended as a joke. The reason you don’t get the “joke” is because drop bears are serious. Deadly serious.

How to Survive: Arm yourself with knowledge: watch this short, authentic documentary, which definitely does not feature the filmmaker’s grandmother and friends as unpaid actors displaying varying degrees of enthusiasm. Finally, locals suggest putting Vegemite behind one’s ears to ward off drop bears. It’s gross, but you know what’s grosser? Decapitation.

Tiyanak

Possible Tiyanak.

Class: Undead humanoid infant

Threat Level: 4 out of 5 screams.

Summary: This creature disguises itself as a harmless, adorable baby, drawing in its victims by crying in mock helplessness so that unsuspecting bystanders will pick it up. At that moment, the Tiyanak will transform into a tiny, vampiric nightmare, alternately described as “a little old man” with a right leg that is “much shorter” than the left, a small “nut-brown” person who floats, or simply a clawed and fanged baby. All awful! You can look them up, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

How to Survive: Treat each crying baby you see as though it were a potential elderly floating vampire with short leg syndrome, and flee. If it WAS a Tiyanak, you will have just escaped certain death. If it WASN’T a Tiyanak, at least you will have escaped a crying baby.

Astral Spiders

Are these normal spiders or astral spiders? It depends which plane you’re on.

Class: Higher realm-based arthropods

Threat Level: 5 out of 5 screams. Spiders! Terrifying!

Summary: Astral spiders are like normal spiders, except that they exist on the astral plane and can only be seen clairvoyantly. They tend to attack those that meditate or otherwise participate in out-of-body experiences, and are 100% worse than real spiders in that they cannot be crushed with books. They will also devour your aura. Try saying THAT three times fast, only don’t, because it might summon the spiders.

How to Survive: First of all, you could just stay on your own plane where you belong. But if you insist on plane hopping, the Australian mystic Robert Bruce recommends ridding yourself of astral spiders by cleansing your atmosphere with his Purple Fire Audio (bottom of the page). Incredibly, you can download the 5-minute mp3 for free. It involves imagining you and your room covered in raging purple flames. Very soothing; I feel less spidery already.

 

Katie Heaney loves this stuff, and thinks you should also check out the very cool and very scary “10 Famous Ghost Pictures and Their Story.”

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Reading Between the Texts: ‘Tis the Season

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A Semi-Microeconomic Analysis of Halloween Treats

Of all the many things I love in this world, two that rank near the top of the list are discovering delicious taste combinations, and finding ways to make sense of my life through the use of charts and graphs. It’s almost Halloween, and I spent 20 minutes (and an undisclosed number of dollars) in the corresponding candy section of Target this weekend. To excuse that behavior to myself, I made the whole thing into a graphical microeconomics project. Sort of. READ MORE