Another Great Show Just Ended: Your moment of zen.

Yesterday, we said goodbye to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As I’ve been thinking about it this week, I’ve been reminded of a conversation I had with a friend some years ago that was really an ‘a-ha’ moment for me.

We were talking about podcasts and comedy and when speaking in reference to me, he said, “…as someone who cares a lot about comedy-”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean you clearly care a lot about comedy.”

“Yeah… I mean, I guess. You say that like not everyone loves to laugh. Or that it’s a BAD thing.”

“I don’t mean it like that. Not everyone cares about comedy. You follow comedians’ careers?”

“Yeah!”

“Go to their movie’s opening weekend? Read their books? Watch sitcoms every week and not just the stuff that happens to be on when you turn on the TV?”

“Of course!”

“Lauren. Not everyone is like that.”

Which was crazy to me. I understand maybe not having your top 5 comedians at the ready to talk about at a moment’s notice, or a dissertation about how the film Wet Hot American Summer contains almost every genre of comedy… but I just sort of assumed everyone cared about comedy like I did. In my adult life, I have come to understand that it isn’t a universal truth. But I feel like people of my generation really do understand and care a lot about comedy. Jon Stewart has everything to do with this.

Jon Stewart took over the desk at The Daily Show in 1999. I was in my teens. He was fresh faced, sharp, and, even in those early shows, polished with solid jokes. Comedy Central’s website has been playing a “Month of Zen”, marathoning every episode he’s ever done, and I’ve found myself just letting it play in the background while I do housework or make dinner. “SOLID JOKE!” I’ve been yelling back at the TV, whenever he lands something particularly silly or punny.

The Daily Show’s comedy ushered us into the new millennium and reported on truly monumental moments in our lives. National tragedies, historic changes, technology and the evolution of the internet, politics, journalism itself… Jon has spoken about everything under the sun.

He’s done all this through the lens of comedy, which has helped my generation be more informed and connected to the world around us. That’s because his comedy, and his wonderful writers, have made these complicated topics approachable. He has been a reliable and knowledgeable voice. And he has been a constant. Other news venues have changed, folded, or cycled through their talking heads faster than we could keep up with. For 16 years, Stew Beef has been there for us.

Not only has the show developed this trust with his viewers, his correspondents have always been very talented people who have gone on to be some of our comedy elite. We looked to them to laugh and kept following them even after they left.

The Daily Show has so closely blended comedy with our day-to-day lives, I don’t see how someone who has watched this show over the years couldn’t care about comedy. Jon taught us to look at a situation and see what was funny about it. What was absurd. What was crazy. Sometimes we laughed so we wouldn’t cry. Sometimes we laughed and cried anyway. We learned, too, about what makes us human. What connects us to something greater than ourselves.

That’s a lot of the reason why I kept coming back to The Daily Show. It would be easy to just watch the news, including Stewart’s reporting, and be really, really jaded. The difference between the ‘just the facts’ of “real news” and The Daily Show is that Jon helps us believe things are going to be okay. That at the end of the day, while things are scary or tumultuous or just wacky, it’s alright. Because we still have fart jokes. And we still have each other. To tell the fart jokes to.

I’m going to miss Jon. At least the Republican primary field has been a wonderful parting gift for him.

Jon. I can call you Jon, right? After all these years, I think we’d be on a first name basis. You know what I always fantasized about? My interview on The Daily Show. In my head, THAT was my measure of success. I’d save a dozen puppies from a burning building, film my stand-up special “I’m Part of the Problem”, write a book about pizza, and THEN I’d go on The Daily Show to pitch it… and get to talk to you. I’m bummed that’ll never happen. But we had 16 years of you. I guess we can give you back to your loved ones. Or whatever.

But thanks. Thanks for making us laugh. Thanks for the best news team ever. Thanks for introducing a whole generation to the finer points of comedy.

Now, here it is, Jon. Your moment of zen.

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He and I like to make things. We just do it differently.

Husband Nick is starting a week of vacation. I am JEALOUS. A LOT. His plans are to bum around the house, relax, and maybe tinker with this place. He’s pretty handy. I think it’s why buying a house from the 1950s wasn’t intimidating to him. He has this wonderful mind where he can analyze and construct. Meanwhile, I like to research, write, and make puns with the word ‘fart’. We’re the two great tastes that taste great together. Or something.

We had a charging station for our cell phones. It was this number from Pottery Barn that I cannot fathom why they stopped selling it, because surely there are people who it would be perfect for. For us, we’d overgrown it. Observe:

oldchargingstationmess

This station worked well for years when all of our electronics were flat, shiny rectangles. But now I had a small netbook and a tablet. We needed something new. I saw this idea on Pinterest where someone turned a mail organizer on it’s side and used the slots for their electronics. GENIUS. But alas, I could not find a similar organizer.

Nick looked at the picture and immediately pieced together himself how to create one. There was wood and glue and slots involved. I was in awe. He had it together in no time.

newstationpieces1
newstationpieces2newstationpieces3

newstationfinished

newstationfinishedbackThe back has these openings, so we can thread the power cords down to the surge protector we have mounted to the bottom of the table this sits on. (A lot of surge protectors are mountable – just look on the back for some holes. You’ll put a couple screws in and slide the surge protector on to them.) We did use some cord organizers, leftover from a project we did with Ikea LEDs. (I should post that next!) Container Store has a lot of options for this, if you don’t think you have a way to wrangle them. Compensation free endorsement: I love me some Container Store. They need one in Michigan.

In conclusion, it’s nice to have someone handy around. I try not to invent projects for him, but I do want some shelving in our tiny bedroom closet. Is this a challenge for him? Or his wife’s way of punishing him for a week of luxuriating? Eh. Maybe a little of A and B.

The 2015 North American International Auto Show

Last week marked the conclusion of 2015’s North American International Auto Show. This annual event invites the world to Detroit in January, a really wonderful, WONDERFUL time to visit the Motor City – the dead of winter. My husband loves to go. When we first had moved in together, he didn’t come to the apartment with a lot of ‘personal effects’. But there were pictures of a past visit to the auto show shuffled in with shots of beloved family members and celebrations.

For the uninitiated, the auto show is all the major automotive brands doing one of three things.

Thing the first: ogling a pretty car none of us can touch. Exhibit A is the new GT from Ford.

theautoshow

Thing the second is sitting in cars you can touch. It’s like a car lot with none of the pressures of sales people. We sat in cars we could never afford. We sat in cars we would never pay a cent for. But we could sit in them and for a brief moment imagine that they were ours.

The third thing is the reason I tag along with my husband while he gets excited and judgey about cars. The third thing is the Parade of Marketing Opulence. In these displays, the lengths that the manufacturers go to with this ‘ooo ahh, wizz bang’ design to distract and delight you is just incredible. Originally I was taking pictures of car butts so I could do stuff like this:

alfadog

aforestBut instead I’ll share with you all the wizzbangery I found the most distracting. Let’s start with Ford. Behind that mob of people gawking at the GT, there was a goddamn forest. They planted a mini living forest inside their display. Inside of the forest was a park with cell phone chargers attached to benches, seats you could spin around in, and a giant camera that took picture of the park and displayed that picture on the ceiling.

crisisoninfinitephotos

Here’s a picture of the picture that was taken of me and projected on the ceiling. Why can we do this and we don’t have flying cars? Don’t ask me.

Part of what makes the auto show unique is that you’re able to view cars in ways they’re not normally displayed. On their side, see-through, lifted up.

tiltmustang seethroughlifththerc

That last photo is a Lexus that’s on lifts, to draw attention to the “Rear Bumper Exhaust Diffuser”. I pointed out that my husband had one of those, too. Hashtag fart joke, hashtag LifttheRC.

But for everything that allowed uncommon visual access to the cars, there was a really weird thing happening for NO apparent reason. Take for example THIS abomination:

segwhy

That is a talking iPad type thing strapped on to a rolling Segway, brought to you by Volkswagen. I say talking because there was a human person interacting people via a camera and asking them if they were enjoying the auto show, via the display on the non-iPad. It was weird. I have covered up the child’s face in this photo, ‘cause I didn’t know her, but let me assure you the expression is accurate.

There were people 3D printing a car BECAUSE THEY COULD. Car with a fish tank in it? SURE. You could high five a Michelin Man who was walking around or a dude dressed exactly as Abraham Lincoln (obviously a tie-in for the Lincoln MKC). My husband tried out the new virtual reality goggles called Oculus Rift and drove a virtual Lexus on a virtual race track. The experience felt very real but left him disoriented and feeling a bit drunk, which honestly I could use THAT to make a great analogy about the whole auto show experience but I have one more weird thing to show you.

Scion had a free swag vending machine that was triggered by an Instagram photo tagged with your GPS location. While this might feel creepy and like a violation of some kind of civil liberty of mine HEY COOL FREE STUFF. I, of course, used it as an opportunity to troll them.

niceshot

If you can’t tell, that is a picture of my husband’s butt and the butt of some Scion with the text, “I like the rear end on this one.” The Swag Machine has declared, “NICE SHOT”. I was rewarded with free earbuds.

So there you have it. The North American International Auto Show. I’d like to end this post with just one more photo. It’s actually the first photo I snapped when I was there. It was at the GT. There was this huge crowd and everyone was facing this tremendous blue bullet made of steel and carbon fiber and wonder. And there was this baby, on someone’s shoulders.

camerababy

While everyone is facing towards the shiny car, the baby is looking at the camera (which nearly bonked him in the head). Keep your head turned, baby. Keep looking where no one else is. Perspective is everything.

Tea + book = TIME TRAVEL.

These are books about the internet. I told you I was a nerd, yes?

These are books about the internet. I told you I was a nerd, yes?

I’ve had a cold, so I should also note that tea + NyQuil  = TIME TRAVEL as well.

This week’s blog post was almost pictures of horses with googly eyes. ALMOST. But I’ve rallied in time to bring you some musings about reading. I like to read! It is ‘hide indoors and read’ weather! And I like to read the dried tree paste type of books, not these newfangled electronic books that all the kids are reading. It probably has to do with the fact that when I’m on an electronic device reading, I’m also on the internet, which makes it easy to OH LOOK A CAT

What were we talking about? Books. Ah yes. So I like physical books. The problem, though, is that I am terrible about sticking with one book. Right now I’m in the middle of nine books. Just sort of shuffling from one topic to the other, going back and forth, book to book. You might say this is a terrible way to go about reading, but I read 90% non-fiction books, so it’s not as bad as you think!

This also dooms me never to use a public library. I always paid my fines as they inevitably came until I gave up on borrowing books entirely. I was never the friend you lent a book to if you wanted it back anytime soon, which stung at first when I realized it… but I’ve come to accept my affliction. It has a name: F.A.R.T. – Fickle Arbitrary Reader Thievery. To anyone that has been a victim of my F.A.R.T., I am sorry. I can’t help nature. I read as the wind blows.

What I do instead is use PaperBackSwap. The idea is that you have books. Other people want those books. You post them, people request them, and you pay to mail them the book. You get a credit of a book. You ALSO want books. You list the books you want and as people post those, they come to you in the mail. Circle of life and all that. A semi-permanent library. Perfect for me.

At this time, I’ve been a member of PaperBackSwap for seven years. I’ve gotten 235 books. The closest person I’ve sent a book to was 13 miles from me. The furthest I’ve mailed a book was 5,854 miles away. (They were in the military overseas and ordered How To Survive A Robot Uprising – a bit disconcerting but HEY I’m sure we’re all going to be fine.)

Not every book you’ll list will come around. There have been some books I’ve had on my list since 2008. But I do get a steady flow of books coming and going. If I really like a book, I can keep it. If after 40 pages I’ve decided it’s not for me, I’ll ditch it and move on to the next thing.

I’m not sure if there are other F.A.R.T.s out there. But if you’re a F.A.R.T. like me, you might give PaperBackSwap a shot. As for me? I’m going to start a new book, I think. Maybe The History of Salt?! (Yes, this is actually a book I have.) (Yes, I am a terrible dull person.)

Also: POST BONUS – sometimes you’re not paying attention and you order two copies of the same book, like this:

Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good

YEAH LET’S DO THIS. AGAIN.

I’m trying in earnest to blog again. I could go on and on about my personal brand and synergy and search engine optimization and FAAAAART – who cares?

Hi, I’m Lauren. I own a house and my husband and I are fixing it up. I like to cook. I had a weird childhood. I have stories to share. Things to say. I will try my best to be insightful and entertaining and not to waste your time.

There. I’ve laid out some expectations. Including that I may say the word “fart”. Hello, world.