Women of the arts, working and (sometimes) finding success within discriminatory industries

Grimes. WireImage.

Grimes. WireImage.

By Jake Pitre

On April 23, 2013, the music artist Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, wrote a lengthy manifesto on her Tumblr account, lambasting the music industry for its casual sexism. She wrote about how she doesn’t want to be molested at shows because people perceive her to be an object for their satisfaction, and how common and accepted this behaviour is. She goes on to call out men that approach her without being asked, offering to help out with her equipment.

“As if I did this by accident and I’m gonna flounder without them,” she wrote. “Or as if the fact that I’m a woman makes me incapable of using technology. I have never seen this kind of thing happen to any of my male peers.”

Lindsay Zoladz, associate editor at the music website Pitchfork, celebrates Grimes for speaking out about this issue. The fact is that women across all the arts often have a harder time finding success in their respective industries. Even once they do, they still have to deal with sexist and discriminatory situations like the ones Grimes described in her Tumblr post.

“It’s so common and widespread,” Zoladz said, “so I don’t think you could talk to a single female artist that doesn’t have a story like that.”

Creative and Cultural Skills, a council in the UK devoted to developing a skilled workforce, reports that the gender divide across all music industry related jobs is 67.8% male to 32.2% female. The Performing Rights Society, which represents songwriters and composers, has just a 13% female membership. There are many women in powerful positions, but they are still judged not on their talent alone.

“I think the way that women are viewed is a little bit different,” Zoladz said, “because there’s an emphasis on appearance, and people saying really nasty shit. [Women] have to prove it that they know things, especially stuff related to technology or equipment. I don’t think that most men experience that.”

Zoladz said that when she came to Pitchfork in 2011, she was one of the only women on the staff, and she hoped she would not be pigeonholed as the resident critic of female artists. More recently, she says that the editor-in-chief, Mark Richardson, strives for balance.

“I do think that he makes a conscious effort to balance [the gender divide] out,” she said, before adding, “which historically wasn’t always the case here. I think there’s a diversity among female writers now, so everyone’s able to develop their own voice.”

Despite her hope to avoid being labelled ‘the female critic’, it is true that 30 of her last 40 reviews on Pitchfork were of female or female-led artists, several of them covering themes of feminism, like The Knife, Bikini Kill and St. Vincent. She says this does not come from a pointed effort to request female or feminist artists.

“That’s more of a reflection of my personal bias as a listener,” she said. “Every critic brings their own bias to this job. It annoys me when I hear people say, ‘Oh, Pitchfork always just makes Lindsay Zoladz write about the female artists, to save them from being called sexist.’ I see this frequently. It denies [me] agency.”

She explained that one doesn’t see her male peers denied the same kind of agency for their own biases.

“People assume an agency there,” she said, “he listens to that music, he probably pitched it or wrote about it enough to be seen as his beat, simple as that.”

She went on to say that she appreciates and is grateful for the large audience Pitchfork has, but that to use that specifically to put forward certain politics (ie. feminism) would be irresponsible and missing the point of criticism.

“Good politics doesn’t necessarily make good music,” she said. “I want to use the platform [of Pitchfork] first and foremost to point out good music to people. If it’s something that the message or the values in it are in keeping with what I think is good, too, then that’s a plus. [But] it’s something that I try to not let dictate me. At the end of the day, I’m a critic and I have to give the most honest opinion about the music.”

Comedian Jackie Monahan. Getty Images.

Comedian Jackie Monahan. Getty Images.

Jackie Monahan, a comedian in Los Angeles, performed for much of her career as a lesbian comic (she recently split with her wife of 12 years, and describes her current sexuality as being attracted to energy, not gender). This additional aspect did not particularly help in gaining popularity or success, but the root of the issue was still her sex.

“I didn’t advance very far at all because a lot of the shows [she was in] were heavy with women,” she said of her early career. By contrast, the more popular “shows in Los Angeles, there will be nine guys to one girl, and that’s not cool. There’s [certain] shows here and in New York City, and the guys that book them are pretty against booking women.”

She remembers a recent altercation online with a man who was hosting an all-male show at his venue.

“I wrote on [his] Facebook,” she said, “‘Why don’t you have any girls on your show, you don’t want to be outshone?’, and he said, ‘Haha, our next show is going to be all girls’. I’m like, why can’t you have a mixture? You don’t want the juxtaposition of girls being funnier than you?”

“He didn’t say anything back,” she added.

Apart from booking shows or getting ahead, she has also encountered her share of direct sexism and harassment from audiences.

“When I first started,” she said, “guys would yell at me to take my top off, and they probably wouldn’t be doing that to men, so that was annoying.”

“I had an audition once,” she continued, “and some guy was really drunk, heckling me, but I handled it well and he got kicked out. But I don’t know if he would’ve been heckling a man the way he was heckling me, because it was based on my appearance.”

Monahan long ago resolved to not let this type of thing get to her, because if she were to focus on it, it would simply drain her creativity.

“I’ll point it out, but I’m not going to get angry about it,” she said. “There’s no point in [doing comedy] if there’s no fun in it anymore.”

She also stressed that despite giving in at first after being told by friends and the industry to avoid publicly coming out, she decided early on to embrace her identity and not worry about any lost career opportunities.

“People told me, do not be out as a lesbian because you’d be hindering how much money you can make,” she said. “But I always have to be true to who I am, and that’s what I wanted to talk about.”

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2013.

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 2013.

Perhaps more so than any other, the gaming industry is uniquely notorious for the rampant sexism of male gamers and the low representation of women working in the industry. Karla Zimonja, a designer with independent developer The Fullbright Company, is acutely aware of this.

“In my AAA [major developer] life, there has not been a whole lot of super upfront, in your face sexism,” she said, “but the pay difference is real, the amount of authority and amount of times you get consulted versus guys with the same role is significantly different. I have never worked at a AAA company that is more than maybe 7%, 10% female. It’s preposterous.”

In Canada, women comprised just 16% of the video game workforce in 2012, and most of those were in administrative positions, according to Nordicity, a consulting firm.

Jennifer Jenson, a professor at York University and organizer of Feminists in Games, an annual workshop devoted to better understanding the digital gender divide and to finding solutions for it, is puzzled by the gaming industry’s seemingly accepted sexism, and how this can turn women away from engaging with it.

“For some reason,” she said, “games companies tend to have these really hostile work environments for women, not just because of the kinds of jobs people are doing, but because women are subjected to porn on the walls and on computers, because they’re outright stalked or harassed.”

“I can’t tell you the number of people who I’ve talked to,” she shared, chillingly, “that said people feel like it’s perfectly their right to follow them around at GDC [Game Developers Conference] for three days. That’s not cool.”

After a lecture, Jenson sat down for a roundtable discussion about games. About 15 were gathered, most of them men. One man spoke up and shared a story about the computer game World of Warcraft. He played in a guild with a single mother of two. One evening, the guild was to go on a raid. The mother didn’t log on – both her children were sick. In the team chat, frustrated, he called her a “c***”. Jenson was shocked. The man, dumbfounded, said, “I don’t see why that was wrong.”

Jenson shares this anecdote to suggest that even though this kind of casual sexism is a wider cultural and societal problem, there seems to be a greater license for it in the arts, and she finds it in gaming especially.

“There’s a level of entitlement to be an asshole,” she said, “that isn’t in the rest of the world. That is the difference. I don’t get asked in any other context how that [the WoW player’s story] is an incorrect speech act.”

Zoladz, too, recognizes both the larger cultural size of the problem, and the pattern of male entitlement that exists in the arts community, in her case the music and music journalism industries.

“It’s more a culture that women aren’t considered to be experts in music,” she said. “That was certainly my experience. I didn’t have a lot of female friends that were as into listening to records and poring over the details. Other people I knew who were like that were men, [because] it’s a socially acceptable way for men to be, whereas it’s seen as more of an anomaly with women.”

“I think that confidence gap is something that happens early on and affects the number of women that grow up and believe in their opinions enough to want to write about music or be a critic.”

Some women in the arts, while aware of how common this kind of discrimination and marginalization is and support the fight against it, have not actually experienced it themselves. Olivia Johnston, a photographer based in Ottawa, is a self-identified feminist but feels disconnected from the struggle many women have to get ahead.

“It’s odd,” she said, “because I fight against all these issues, but I’ve never really had to deal with them myself in the same way. I’m sheltered from a lot of the negative stuff that women experience.”

“I personally haven’t had much problem with [getting her art shown]. It’s not really like a glass ceiling to me.”

Even Monahan, the comedian, feels as if it might be better to ignore it.

“I don’t let it affect me,” she said. “Other women do complain about it a lot. A long time ago, I saw somebody who was my age now, and they were so bitter [about it]. I remember looking at them and I was like, if I’m ever that bitter, I’m quitting comedy.”

US-Beyonce-1_067-5313205

With disheartening statistics and horrifying stories of sexism, discrimination, harassment and marginalization, it is easy to get bogged down in how negative these environments are for female artists. Once a woman is able to find success, she continues to face these and other challenges and obstacles in a way unlike what men typically go through. And yet, women like Monahan refuse to lose faith or let it distract them from their goals.

Grimes, back in a 2011 interview with Maisonneuve, echoes the sentiment by suggesting that the best course of action is to just focus on your work.

“The music industry is kind of a boys’ club,” she admitted. “Not that I’m really adamant about changing things. I feel like the best way to change it is to not make a big stink and just do a good job.”

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Let’s Kill The Guilty Pleasure

Carly Rae Jepsen.

By Jake Pitre

I’ve been meaning to write this for a long time. It’s something that I think about a lot, something that I consider on likely a daily basis, but can be difficult to properly articulate. It is also something that I think most people generally agree on, or rather when I say a simple statement like, “Everyone should be free to like whatever they want to like,” very few would quibble with me. A lot of it goes without saying. However, I believe it’s an issue that goes a little deeper than that, and is still worth exploring. I think the term ‘guilty pleasure’ should be totally dismissed when discussing pop culture. We should stop using it. Completely.

For me, it’s a gross phrase. A guilty pleasure, according to Wikipedia, is something that one enjoys and finds pleasure in even though they feel guilty about it. I prefer the Urban Dictionary’s typically blunt definition: something you shouldn’t like, but like anyway. Therein lies the core problem: why shouldn’t I like this? Who decided that I shouldn’t, as an avid and serious music listener, find immense pleasure in listening to Carly Rae Jepsen or Taylor Swift? Why should I feel compelled to refer to the much-derided Sucker Punch as a guilty pleasure to avoid any scorn I could receive? Why should anyone feel guilty about something that brings them pleasure and enjoyment?

'Sucker Punch'. Warner Bros. Pictures.

‘Sucker Punch’. Warner Bros. Pictures.

This is the basic outlook. It’s a gross phrase because it is reductive to meaningful art, but more importantly, because it presupposes that someone should feel a certain way about something they find pleasure in and encourages them to disassociate themselves from it. It perpetuates the idea that some art is more valuable or important than other art, and that if you prefer or even just enjoy the ‘other art’, your taste is somehow inferior and you should clarify this ‘other art’ as guilty pleasures. This idea is, inherently and obviously, false.

Unfortunately, it seems that we are psychologically hardwired to feel shame and guilt when we like something that others may perceive to be a lesser work. We make excuses, because we’d rather lie about what these things mean to us than to feel the powerlessness and indignity that can come from unequivocally loving something others consider to be culturally subordinate. I always think of the Arthur episode where Arthur goes to a store to buy a Love Ducks CD, dressed in a trench coat. He asks the clerk if they have it, and the clerk goes on the loudspeaker to ask, “Do we have any copies of the Love Ducks CD for this boy?” (I love that he specifies “this boy”). Arthur, horrified and humiliated, spreads his arms and explains, “I have a baby sister!”, even though we know the CD was for him.

It is gross that Arthur, and we as Arthur (Arthur is us and we are Arthur), have to feel this way. I find it to be particularly unfortunate and defeating because I think there is so much richness to be found by cultivating a diversification of your taste. If you only ever experienced pop culture that has been deemed the most valuable and essential, you would enjoy some good stuff, but I find that once you explore outside of that, you often find things you more closely connect with and become passionate about.

'Hannibal'. NBC.

‘Hannibal’. NBC.

Treme may be critically and culturally significant, but no one really watches it because they love the characters and stories and then create fan blogs about it. A show like Hannibal, while dismissed by some as trash TV, still deals intelligently with themes like death and isolation and grows a huge, obsessive following. And at the opposite end of the spectrum from Treme is Pretty Little Liars, which many people love but some inevitably feel the need to qualify it as a guilty pleasure. It’s not necessarily that Treme and Pretty Little Liars are equivalent shows in terms of quality, but they are just as valuable to their respective fans and are therefore equally valuable and vital as pieces of art.

Expose yourself, with an open mind, to any and all types of music, movies, TV, art, literature and whatever else, free of inhibitions or doubt or preconceived impressions, and your enjoyment of pop culture will – I promise – grow. I know this from personal experience. I went through the traditional childhood and adolescent stages. In elementary school, when I was too young to know any better or give a shit, I liked Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne unapologetically. In high school, I switched over to Nine Inch Nails and Death Cab for Cutie and balked at anyone that liked country music or Ke$ha. In fact, I remember sitting on the bus, late at night, coming home from some field trip and “TiK ToK” came on the radio, twice (I should note that I now love Ke$ha). Two girls sang along to the entire song both times, and I eventually turned around and told them to listen to real music before they start singing next time. Looking back on that moment now, and others like it, that’s what I feel guilty about.

kesha_thebeijinger2

Ke$ha.

As I neared the end of high school, though, I started to see things a little differently. I wish there was some moment I could point to as when everything changed and I started trying everything and liking whatever I liked, but I think it was really more of a progression. As I began to encounter more pop culture, I started to care less about how I would be perceived for liking something and I started to care more about what I was encountering and how it made me feel. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that this gave me a new freedom. Maybe I don’t exactly like myself, but I am comfortable enough with myself to take pleasure in whatever I want and not feel guilty about it or feel the need to excuse it out of fear. The kid walking his high school halls in a NIN t-shirt and the guy walking his university campus in a Carly Rae Jepsen t-shirt are the same person (he even still wears his NIN shirts), but the latter one feels more diverse with his taste, open to new experiences and he feels more accepting of his identity and how others’ perception of it isn’t important.

This is a long-winded and personalized way of saying that the guilty pleasure is out of touch, and restrictive on us coming to terms with ourselves and our identities. It is, obviously, part of a systemic problem in our society where everyone not only feels pressure to fit in to a certain aesthetic but also to avoid any semblance of inferiority, to steer clear of shame and embarrassment. To do so, we lie to others and by extension ourselves about what art means to us on a personal level. Just because I take film seriously and analyze it on an intellectual level and all that, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have felt a strong connection to Frozen and consider it to be one of the best films of the year, and it feels ridiculous to have to say such a thing when we live in 2014 in a seemingly educated and tolerant society. No one’s taste is any lesser or invalid than anyone else’s, and no piece of art is any less valuable than any other – all that matters is if it’s valuable to you. That’s why I propose we reject the guilty pleasure, and just start loving the art we want to, unequivocally and without exception.

Thoughts on Fire.

CAMPING PIC 1

Oh look, an artsy fire photo!
(photo credit: Dylan Hunt)

I recently went camping with some friends for a weekend, which included fishing, shooting, drinking (milk), and a healthy dose of campfire activities. Starting and maintaining a fire proved to be the most important part of the trip, because without fire we wouldn’t have had food or warmth (or artsy fire photographs). Though campfires are an essential part of the camping experience, it’s worth weighing their pros and cons (well probably not… but I’m going to do it anyways).

We cooked roughly 73% of the food we ate over the fire (everything except for burgers, because barbecues are easier to work). Food cooked via a campfire just tends to taste better, potentially because of the effort that goes into starting the fire and hand cooking the meat (or meat-resembling product in my case, because vegetarianism). First off, we ate a ton of hotdogs, which are easy to cook and prepare, but offer the nutritional value of an empty Coke (or Pepsi) can, which I’m quite okay with (because metabolism). Then there’s Jiffy Pop: that kind of popcorn made by frantically waiving ones hand in front of the open flames. It’s completely delicious, but I can never figure out how to cook it without burning my hands (If the handle was like three inches longer it wouldn’t be a problem, FIO Jiffy Pop makers). Finally, we ate a ton of s’mores (I technically can’t eat, marshmallows, but just don’t tell the vegetarian police and we’ll be fine), which caps off the trifecta of perfect camping foods.

As far as warmth is concerned, there is no other feeling quite like cozying up to the fire at night, as the weather starts to cool down. The warmth also helps keep bugs off, which makes me a happy camper (that pun was just waiting to happen). Because of the comforting warmth, we spent many hours by the fire, which lead to all my clothes smelling like campfire (which they still do). This is easily one of my favorite smells, so it definitely counts as a positive.

Side note: We bought this little packet thing that you throw in the fire, and it makes the fire turn a bunch of vibrant colors. Though it was probably pretty bad for the environment and pretty chemically hazardous, it provided a solid half an hour of giddy fun (maybe because of the aforementioned milk).

I don't eat bacon, but it looks pretty incredible cooked by the fire.  (Photo credit: Dylan Hunt)

I don’t eat bacon, but it looks pretty incredible cooked by the fire.
(Photo credit: Dylan Hunt)

On the negative side, fire comes along with smoke, and when wind is in the mix, that smoke becomes my worst enemy. Having smoke in your eyes is such an uncomfortable and debilitating feeling, which definitely makes the fire seem not worth the trouble (but only while the smoke remains in your eyes, which doesn’t tend to be for very long). Another negative is that fire isn’t all that easy to start and maintain (for those of us who weren’t boy scouts for 10 years). Though some folks tend to have an innate sense of what to do to get their fire going (like some sort of fire-whisperer), us regular folk have to struggle with lighting kindling on fire and creating a solid log tepee, which is certainly no easy task.

All in all, the negatives to do with campfires contribute to what make camping such a unique experience. The struggle of starting a fire and the eventual feeling of success provided by the fire finally catching are both important moments in the iconic camping experience. The food produced via the fire’s heat also greatly outweighs the pain of having smoke in ones eyes.

I give campfires 8 out of 10 jaunty versions of “Wonderwall”, by Oasis, played on somebody’s father’s acoustic guitar.

-Kevin

Thinking Back to Graduation.

‘Tis the season for girls to spend far too much money on a dress they’ll only wear once (or twice, depending on if the dress stays fashionably relevant), and boys to half heartedly pick out a tux that matches the color of their date’s aforementioned expensive dress. Yes you guessed it, it’s high school graduation season here in Canada. Since I graduated only a year ago, I still have vivid and fond (ish) memories of the graduation process, including both the ceremony and the banquet (or prom, as it’s referred to almost everywhere else).

So first comes the prom portion, which is really the part that the graduates care about. In theory, prom is an event held to celebrate the graduating class, and bring all of the graduates together one the last time (excluding the ceremony) before they go their separate ways into post-secondary, immediate careers, pregnancy, and prison (We all know that guy). In reality, prom is a chance for the graduates to board a limo with some close friends (half of which they won’t speak to ever again in six months) and take some pictures (three or four of which will be used as their Facebook profile and cover photos for the next four months), and then proceed to the actual event where they get to continue to pretend that they like the majority of their graduating class (which obviously they don’t, because a lot of people suck, particularly while they’re in high school), before finally getting to attend a post-prom party where they promptly get smashed with some of the people they actually like from their classes.

I think that the key to liking prom is to have low expectations. If graduates go in knowing the food will be mediocre, the DJ will essentially be playing the radio, and the venue will be packed, they will actually have a lot of fun. Even though the amount of money that goes into the outfits (and hair stuff, for the girls) is ridiculous, dressing up and taking pictures with friends while you would normally be in school is undoubtedly fun. Dancing can also be fun, even if the music is repetitive and boring (“Unts, unts, unts, unts… air horn sound, etc”). It’s also genuinely awesome to see how visibly proud parents get while taking pictures of their kids, who have grown up into adults (sort of) right in front of their eyes.

Now comes the part that the parents really care about: the ceremony. The ceremony presents a chance for parents to franticly try to snap as many pictures as possible of their kids as they walk the stage for 4.5 seconds, before rejoining the masses for the rest of the three-hour ceremony. As a graduate, it’s great to be able to give your parents that opportunity, and it’s also fun to hear your friends cheer for you as you cross the stage (and also laugh at the “popular” kids who don’t get any cheers). It’s also heartwarming to see some of the kids you’ve known since third grade walk the stage (even if you can’t picture some of them without braces). The ceremony ends with an overpowering feeling of completion, which is both exciting and terrifying, because it represents forced propulsion towards the unknown.

Side note: I also quite liked the robes we got to wear, because it was the closest I’ll ever get to being a part of a swarm of Dementors.

Oh I look, I walked the stage. My dad was the assistant principle at my high school, so this happened.

Oh I look, I walked the stage. My dad was the assistant principle at my high school, so this happened.

I give prom 7 skinny dudes in white suits out of 10, and the ceremony 8 meaningful tears wiped from a parents cheek out of 10.

-Kevin

A Battle of Hunger and Cost: The Infamous Pizza Pocket

Image

When shopping for food products, there’s three main categories which I critique the product on before purchasing:

1. How good will this taste?
2. How expensive is it?
3. How difficult is it to make?

Surprisingly, the most important category is the third. Like many others, cooking is not my forte, and to continue surviving I basically need something I can easily throw in the microwave in times of extreme hunger.

For those readers of the upper class who are unfamiliar with the Pizza Pocket, it’s basically a big doughy blob filled with tomato sauce, cheese, and other pizza goodness that you throw into the microwave for some quick munching. What came first? McCain’s Pizza Pocket or Pilsbury Pizza Pop? Frankly, I don’t care and I don’t care to ever find out, because Pizza Pocket’s are slightly cheaper and therefore are the product for me. I do not wish to compare these two product but to simply share my many experiences with the Pizza Pocket.

On the instruction manuel on the back of the packaging, it suggests 1:45-2:00 minutes of cooking time when preparing two Pizza Pockets. That seems like a small enough of window of time but believe me things can go very wrong during those 15 seconds. This is the largest flaw with the product. Each Pizza Pocket is a new startling experience with absolutely no consistency. Each of these devilish creatures have a mind of their own and even when using the same microwave you can never be sure exactly how much time to cook it to get it just right. Different experiences with the same cooking time have shown that sometimes the product might still feel slightly cold where as other times the whole thing has pizza guts gushing out the sides. There is always an uneasy feeling as you push the buttons on your microwave to decide the cooking time, because you have no idea what the results may be.

The other main flaw is a simple complaint, these things burn the roof of your mouth. There’s no way around it. You can let it cool all you want but as soon as you take the first bite and release all the sauce from the inside, it will rush into your mouth and burn you and your taste buds. It’s very frustrating and very annoying, but something you unfortunately have to accept.

But still, I keep coming back to the product. It’s just so easy to prepare and so tasty for the price. If you can deal with the pain and inconsistent nature, you’ll still find a surprisingly rewarding food product.

I give McCains Pizza Pockets 4.5 lazy dinners out of 6.9. 

– Keith

Kmart Understands Commercials.

I consider myself the kind of person that pays attention to commercials, which has led me to be increasingly disappointed by the quality of the advertisements appearing on television. I find that most commercials either fail to captivate due an unoriginal concept, or try too hard to be culturally relevant and lose their meaning. However, Kmart, a chain of discount stores, has risen to commercial supremacy with their current advertisement campaign.

Thus far they have released two commercials, the first being the infamous Ship my Pants, which has garnered international attention. The premise is simple, funny, and informative. They seamlessly incorporate the joke into the sales pitch, because the viewer actually comes away from the commercial understanding Kmart’s shipping policy. The commercial is only 34 seconds long and really only contains one joke, which is altered several times by different actors, but the joke doesn’t get old. Really what it comes down to is that old people talking about pooping themselves is funny, and this commercial beautifully delivers on that unquestionable truth. I also quite liked the ending, though it had just about nothing to do with the rest of the commercial. The ending sort of felt like a microcosm of the rest of that advertisement (in that it was unapologetically random and original).

Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I03UmJbK0lA

The second commercial, entitled Big Gas Savings, has not quite earned the same Internet popularity as it’s predecessor, but effectively succeeds as being a funny, memorable, and equally informative advertisement. The ad very much follows the format of the first commercial, but switches out old people for a mother and son with a foreign accent. Kmart proves a second comedic truth: everything is funnier with an accent. The ending really sold the commercial for me, because just when I thought the bit was over, they brought in a, “big gas man”. Though the commercial loses some slight originality points, it makes me super excited to see what Kmart will come out with next.

Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuDpJhLJbto

I’ve never been inside of a Kmart, and I’m sure they’re not overly impressive, but these commercials make me want to shop there. I honestly hope the commercials help generate revenue for Kmart, so that other companies will feel more inclined to release original, SNLesq advertisements like these two.

I give Ship my Pants 9 white dudes in green polo shirts out of ten, and Big Gas Savings 8 affordably priced vacuums out of 10.

-Kevin

I Got Some Fish

So about two years ago for my birthday I received a small fish tank, some fish food, and a few ornaments. I suppose it’s a reflection on the vastness of my laziness that earlier this week I finally made it out to the nearest pet store to purchase some fish. Going into the purchasing process, I knew nothing about fish (especially what kind to buy and how to take care of them), so you can image that it went swimmingly (that pun was fully intended, and yes, I’m proud of it).

Note the Buddha ornament

Note the Buddha ornament

So I walked into the aquatic section of the pet store and told the lady that I had a small tank meant for a Betta fish (It would have been intelligent to look up what a Betta fish was before I went to buy one…). She then vaguely gestured at a bunch of different tanks, which housed a ton of different kinds of fish (and naturally I knew nothing about any of them). Being a first time fish buyer, the criteria for which I decided on the two fish I wanted to buy consisted entirely of identifying which two were the brightest. So I did that, and returned home happily, new pets in hand (well actually, they were in a bag).

So about a day went by, and I found that my fish tank was getting quite cloudy. I tried fruitlessly to switch out the water, but the cloudiness returned again after a few hours. I was quite worried that I was committing fish-slaughter on my beloved (albeit still unnamed) pets, so I went to a different pet store to see if they could help. As it turns out, the original lady didn’t know what she was doing, and sold me tropical fish, which cannot survive in a Betta fish tank (I give her 3 Dave the Barbarians out of 10, because that’s who she kind of looked like).

Now my wonderful fish are swimming happily (… I actually have no way to prove if they are happy or not, but parents just sort of know) in the new tank I bought for them.

Fish, as it turns out, are pretty cool. Mine pretty much just swim around and chase their reflections from the walls of their tank (Which is essentially what my dog used to do, but replace, “chase their reflections”, with, “run into”, and, “walls of their tank”, with, “all of the walls in my house”).

All in all, I’m happy with my fish, and I’m excited to buy frogs and algae eaters (because apparently those get pretty humongous, which sounds fun).

Based on my limited experience, I give fish 8 out of 10 clips of Nemo touching the butt. 

But seriously, fish are impossible to photograph.

But seriously, fish are impossible to photograph.

Side note: Help me name my fish! Name suggestions are appreciated. 

-Kevin