Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Me (MeMeMeMeMe)

Birthdays have always seemed a little anti-climactic since my My Little Pony days. Somewhere along the way, getting the cake slice with the very most frosting became a matter of calorific concern instead of glee, and the wondrous wonder of helium balloons began to deflate. 

Plus, the fact that I've never had one of those incestuous Dawson's Creek/Saved by the Bell 'crews' who throws you surprise parties and gives you big group-hugs as sappy string music plays and you all learn a lesson about friendship and love and not abusing caffeine pills has always made a birthday party consisting of a geriatric primate and my brother and the cat who humps my pillowcase seem like a big YOU'RE LAME-themed commercial for why I should just give up the social struggle and stop shaving my armpits and move into a cave. 

Six year old me would not be pleased with this because she knows your birthday is not about you moving into a cave, but about you being the princess of the whole wide world. 

But time and middleschool brutality have taught me much humility.

A level of humility which is surprisingly difficult to maintain whilst publicizing the completely coincidental public birthday launch of my me themed show all about me:


I have nothing else to say because I'm watching it now making ick faces at all the times I sound/look like an idiot. Feel free to echo these embarrassing instances as a means of keeping me grounded, or if you're feeling generous, let me know what doesn't totally suck. Thanks guys. 

Hannah (Princess of the whole wide day) 

Also, if you liked it, it would be a huge boon if you posted a little love on lifetime:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ubermenschian Stemcell Baby Army. Also Jetpacks. Plus Democracy.

I refuse to dignify debates with anything longer than two sentences worth of attention, one for each candidate, because anything more would suggest that I think they are actually a reflection of intention or integrity rather than a big red white and blue puppet show for big kids. So... did you notice Obama wore a flag pin while McCain wore a Palpatine, Dark Lord of the Sith mask? 

Talk is cheap. Especially in wake of the past 8 years, in which the value of talk has been so badly bludgeoned that it makes pieces of dog shit look like British Pound Sterling while talk is devalued into pieces of... I was going to say worm shit but that's actually a key natural fertilizer so perhaps pieces of garbage. Unrecyclable biohazardous smelly ugly garbage. 

This is of great concern to me, someone who is attempting to make a living by putting words together. So you can understand how it's hard to watch people with zero accountability saying whatever the heck they want for two hours on primetime. Let's lower taxes! Torture is bad! Look at my friendship bracelet from some dead army kid. No look at MY friendship bracelet from some dead army kid! Freedom!!!

I don't understand how a country so awesome at sensationalistic reality television can put up with this. Where are the tears? The alcoholic rages? I want to see how McCain discusses foreign policy after he finds out his wife has been giving head to Flava Flav in the whitehouse grotto.

Seriously, there should be a reality show where we lock both candidates in a house, deprive them of sleep, and then have fake national disasters of all different shapes and sizes to see how they really deal under pressure- then they're acting instead of just waxing poetic about freedom. They do it in Model UN and I don't see why we can't do it here. It would be like campaign bootcamp. Wake up McCain! Iran has obtained weapons of mass destruction and is threatening to obliterate Israel and you have 12 minutes to come up with a negotiation strategy....

...underwater! Maybe not the underwater part, but how else are we going to keep the ratings up?

I'm sick and tired of all this bullshit political sweettalk lies. And it's contagious- I told you I was only going to spend two sentences discussing this nonsense and I lied straight to your face because here I am still ranting about this whole absurd charade.  So what do we do when we're up to our neck in lies? Do we leave?

This possibility sounds more and more compelling, especially after seeing things like this, which is actually what I originally intended to write my entire post about:

This Swiss guy flew across the English Channel via Jetpack. 


Holy Shit.

This is my childhood Jetson fantasy come true- they have self opening doors and self cleaning litterboxes and even a magical network of boxes which can magically teleport your thoughts to anywhere in the world, and yet jerky Seagulls are still laughing their winged asses off at us.
Us and penguins. We're both flightless rejects.

Until now. Swiss guy gives flight to the dreams of kids who suck hardcore at every sport and yet still hold out absurd hope that in some alternate reality, they are totally Quiddich masters... the dreams of everyone who's sure they could be Iron Man if only they were a little more genius suave and a billionaire... and the dreams of people like me who are too lazy to walk six blocks to the grocery store and carry their own groceries back. 

Jetpack Flight. The stuff dreams are made of. So if the debate bummed you out like me, take solace in the knowledge that weird and whimsical wonders are all around and above us. 

Or, if you, like me, can't drive past a McDonalds without having a nightmarish fantasy about McCain stealing the election a la 2000, for a giggle that's still politically themed, check out some of the things which are younger than John McCain:

Chocolate Chip Cookies, the lubricated condom, Scrabble, the PB&J sandwich, Zip Codes, and the Minimum Wage. tadaa!


PS... if you are a regular reader of this blog and you haven't entered my Writinghannah Writing Challenge,  you kind of  Writinghannah Writing Suck. We can only become a world-altering establishment-shattering creative community if we create stuff. As a community. So here's the deal: if you're enjoying the blog, it would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside if you sent it to a few pals who might also enjoy it, and if you've put in your two cents in comments already, I thank you kindly. As for R. Matt- he is not only gentleman and scholar, but also sire-er of my future Postmodern ubermenschian stem cell baby army. (If that's okay with you R. Matt.) 

Monday, September 22, 2008


I know embarrassingly little about the economy. It's never been a discussion topic in our house because we've never had enough money to warrant interest in the market, and if we ever do it will almost certainly be spent on a 10 acre monkey preserve and some kind of virtual solar powered piano/guitar/kazoo hybrid which also dispenses strawberry shortcake before you can say Bull. 

Plus those guys on Wallstreet don't do a great job of promoting the interesting side of the industry- all that swearing and bidding and sweating... A friend's dad once told me that on the day his wife gave birth to kid number 3, he lost $9 million of a client's money and was so deliriously distraught that he puked and passed out in the bathroom and didn't wake up till the janitor found him that night and the kid was already born. Cherished memories.

Anyway I'm admitting this deficiency in my knowledge base for two reasons: 

1. As our nation plummets even deeper into what would be a comedically meteoric clusterfuck if it weren't going to screw over everyone in my generation while all the idiots who at fault are contentedly dead, it seems prudent to be informed and 

2. I'm guessing most of you out there don't understand every in and out of the market either. It's big and numbery and, until recently, didn't seem to have a huge impact on day to day life if you weren't a high-rolling coke-snorting Rolex-wearing Wallstreet guy. And frankly, it seems to me that a lot of those guys are in those jobs at least partly due to the fact that it's easier to talk to numbers than to other humans. Maybe if you make enough monkey you can buy some friends...

But as I'd like to be the ultimate crunchy hippie whose ideal form of currency is macrame bracelets and hugs, I realize that finance is not all numbery drivel, and that even if it is, it's important to start getting real and getting informed. I went to the bookstore today with my brother to pick out something to inform me investment-wise, became achingly bored in 2 minutes, then wandered into the children's section in search of a colorful remedy where I came across this...

Reeeally? I mean Barack seems like a good guy, but does his story really merit shelf-space next to my beloved childhood One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish? It freaks me out to think that our political system has become so reductive and polarized that candidates are either evil scum or the Harry Potter of politics. Then, not to be outdone, I find the republican counter...

Can you believe this shit? A children's book which features a whole four page watercolor spread of a guy in a cage being tortured for five years?! Who the hell would buy this? 

And, more importantly, where is the middleground? Neither men are complete saints, and canonizing them in children's books is a perfect example of how we're cultivating a nation of followers who don't look beyond the myth to demand the fact. If you want to read to your kids about Jesus or Moses or Santa then fine, but don't start shoveling pagefulls of kiddie-propaganda down their throats about real people who deserve critical, sophisticated analyses.

In such a black and white media circus it's easy to get caught up in absolutes. I've had to remind myself often that I can't constantly defend Obama just because he's not McCain- there are thousands of Obama quotes and interviews and policies which I know nothing about, and if I support him just because of who he is instead of what I know to be truth, I'm no better than the mindless Bush devotees who I've criticized so fervently in the past.  

I think that especially in the face of such unprecedented economic turmoil it's important not to get swept up in Obama-Mythology. He's just a guy like the rest of us with good and bad qualities, and if we mentally bestow him with every positive attribute from MLK to JFK's, we'll be as disappointed and disillusioned as ever. 

Plus, our generation cannot afford to be uninformed... we can't accept the children's book watercolor version of politics, economics, or anything we care about for that matter.  Thoughts? Suggestions? What do you feel uninformed about? Maybe we can do some virtual fact networking. And maybe if you're not as mathtarded as me you can explain how all of a sudden the entire economy can go tits up in one night like a tipsy sorority girl in stilettos? Keep me posted.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

TV & Me

I must apologize for being MIA as of late. I got a bitchin case of tendinitis from typing all curled up in bed in what yoga enthusiasts might dub the 'constipated fetus' pose. I know that fetuses can't be constipated and now I also know that pirating crappy mac dictation software and trying to use it in public leads to your yelling obscenities repeatedly at someone who isn't there, thus blurring any differentiation between you and a crazy homeless person- 

"It was a rather aggressive... "Not 'a grass lives.' Delete. AGGRESSIVE. Not 'agar is' goddamn it. Aggressive. Delete. Delete! No don't type delete, just delete. DELETE!"

And then it deletes your entire document. And then you shout "control Z! control Z! whilst tensing your fists up like... a constipated fetus. And then a policeman asks you if there is a problem. Needless to say that little experiment didn't last very long and I decided to let my tendons rest for a bit.

I spent the week at the New York Television Festival at which a reality pilot about me was premiering. I suppose what I should have guessed about reality television is that, instead of being a compilation of your most fantastically intelligent viewpoints and clever quips and humorous moments, it's more like letting someone take hundreds of naked pictures of you and then publish a hideous compilation of all the most hairy scaly blotchy dimply pimply patches for all the world to see. Over and over again when and wherever they would like. In fact I think most people would come off better in their secret sex tape than in their own reality tv show because you can't really be a whiny jerk or a jerky ditz or a ditzy fucktard when all you're doing is having an orgasm. 

That being said, my pilot Flying Solo was a pleasant surprise, and although they cut all my thoughts on positive female role models, and reforming education, and music as a means of cultural communication, and the creative unconscious, and the writing process, and the mark of our generation, at least I didn't look like a megabitch.... It premieres on mylifetime.com in the next few days and I'd love to hear your thoughts. It's a hybrid reality show by P&G combining my footage with the crew's footage to detail my summer.

The festival was smashing and I met tons of creative filmmakers as well as comedy development folks and even the heads of Swedish television. Turns out Swedish television is totally cutting edge- they won an interactive Emmy for a recent project called The Truth about Marika which combined a TV drama with an online conspiracy in which fans were encouraged to uncover the truth about the 20,000 people who have gone missing in Sweden in the past few decades, and the part that blew me away was that in addition to the online hacking there were clues and meetings and surprises planted all over Sweden, blending game with reality, and completely immersing the viewer as a true participant in the mystery. They even had a game where viewers could drive to an actual set in the form of a war trench, suit up in battlegear, and wage computer warfare from within the game. And we think we're pushing the limit with text message American Idol voting...

I always loved those old maps in  history class from before all the continents had been mapped- the ones with big dragons and seamonsters dotting uncharted waters, daring explorers to journey into the unknown, and I was pretty bummed to discover at the age of 7 that the only things truly left to explore are the thick jungle, the deep sea, and outerspace seeing as I am an allergic claustrophobe with a fear of flying. 

But the NYTVF really inspired me to view the internet as a new frontier not only for entertainment and social networking, but for education, creative inspiration, and as a tool for empowering the oppressed. Never before have we had access to so much information from so many different cultures, and I can only hope that this, in the face of religious oppression and intellectual/social intolerance and economic fucking Armageddon, will pave the way for cooperation and innovation as it's done in previous incarnations of cultural renaissance. 

I was heartened to find a community of artists at the festival who were really just plain nice. They were hardworking passionate people who were excited to share their ideas and it made me hopeful about the future despite increasingly dire newspaper headlines. 

I also learned that everyone is desperate for good content, and that even for comedy geniuses only about 10% of ideas are great, and the collaboration leads to greatness, so in the spirit of the festival I'm posing the very first...
Collaborative Writinghannah Challenge!!!

Combine at least three of the following elements into a kick-ass TV series pitch:

Speculum   Kleptomania Beer  Byron  Bear-Baiting  Toddlers  Adultery
Jellybeans   Dr. Seuss Podiatry  Treasure-Hunting  Celebrities  Foot-Fetish
Drugs Collectors Vampires/Ninjas (must use both)  Dating  Amish
Sing-Along   Canada Time-Travel   The-80s  Tits  Fashion  DaDaism
Thoreau  Terrorism Feminism  Dragons  Psoriasis  Lesbians  Marsupials
Defenestration   Mendel Flesh-eating-bacteria Glitter  Lincoln  Dwight
Makeovers Prison Monarchy  Amnesia  Intervention  Japan  Gynocology
Octopi  Johnny-Cash Baking  The-1800s The-Mob  Nietzsche  World-Domination
Sun Tsu Jesus Fungus  Nuts   Ballroom-dancing  Fetuses  Aquaphobia 
Monkey Nymphomania  French Maids Basketball  Puppets  Hipsters

Prizes will be awarded by category and for originality.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quickie plug

my fabulously talented friend Jeremy's new Palin spoof video:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

PH.D. in Yo.U

If you are looking for Yale posts, I suggest you read the intro to this post which is here and here. 

Thank you for your insightful thoughts and questions regarding my most recent education post.  My favorite nervous prefrosh E wrote: “Before you scared the bejeezus out of me concerning Yale. Now you scared the bejeezus out of me in general. Where can I get a REAL education?"  


This question and others like it from fellow knowledge-lovers who are frustrated with what one reader described as “recycled thought, recycled theses, and recycled teaching,” deserve a very thoughtful answer, and I spent much of this week turning over possibilities in my mind.          

But an answer came to me, as most exciting answers so often do, as a complete surprise and while I was focused on something else entirely- namely finishing a 50 page chapter summary for my editor.


Let me just say that writing is a bitch. You stare at a blank page completely convinced you have absolutely nothing to say, or even if you do kinda have a vague idea of what you’d like to say, crafting those blobs of thought into a cohesive narrative seems about as likely as your being able to sculpt a life sized replica of the David out of peanut butter before lunchtime.           

So in the face of no ideas, no outlines, and no hope, you just have to forge ahead anyway by convincing yourself that something good will happen eventually. Believing in yourself is a clich├ęd mantra, but a popular one because it is such an essential prerequisite for having the balls and audacity to turn passion into product.


And therein lies one of my main problems with the ‘idea’ of higher education. We seem to think that we need to do well on the SATs, we need to get good grades, we need to graduate from college in order to be PREPARED. But the truth is, you’re already prepared. You were born with a unique set of abilities and interests and with a completely revolutionary perspective. You, as you are right now, are capable of unrecycled revolutionary thoughts simply because you are the only you there ever has been or will be.

But traditional education thrives on enforcing the belief that you are not enough. How can you expect to accomplish anything if you don’t know algebra? If you don’t read Dostoyevsky? If you can’t speak 2 languages? If you don’t have a college degree? Until you do all of those things, you are still only in the prerequisite part of your life, acquiring the skill points necessary to qualify you as a person who is worthy of doing something real.

Frankly, that's bull...           

I’m not saying that learning isn’t the brightest pigment in your creative palate- learning is profoundly powerful. But even if you spend 50 years amassing millions of shades of information colors, compared to Wikipedia you will still only be a Crayola 10 pack.  And you’ll be so self conscious about what you still don’t have, you’ll never take the plunge and just start scribbling with what you’ve got.                        


Ask any four year old fingerpainter about their “creative process” and they will look at you cockeyed. They’re just painting. They have not yet been told how ignorant they are in the face of college-education requirements, so they’re free to follow their own truths.           

“But oh how woefully uneducated they are! Heathens! What they really need is to sit still, listen and repeat!”

We listen and repeat and listen and repeat in different subjects and formats for the better part of 17 years. We fill in bubbles with number two pencils and try to prove we aren’t idiots. But no matter how many bubbles we get ‘right’ we feel like failures in the face of the impossible expectation of being human Wikipedias. We’ll never be ready. But guess what?


You have always been ready.


And any educational system or institution which focuses on how much you don’t know, instead of nurturing what you intuitively know, is a sham. Haven’t your best teachers been the ones who encourage and engage you with knowledge which, for whatever reason, enriches you? Feels relevant for you? It's not about the subject, it's about how you feel about the subject. And you won't always be able to rationalize why you are drawn to what you are drawn to- your creative unconscious is a vast and thrillingly complicated place and you need to trust in hunches and passions- you'll end up doing something exciting everyday instead of trying to force yourself to be interested in something that seems 'important' but doesn't have meaning for you. 

You are the only expert in yourself. Start listening. 

And this isn’t self indulgent self-help baby stuff. You are an extremely difficult subject- infinitely harder than college classes. Going to Yale was technically tough, but strategically it couldn't have been simpler: just take the tests, do the reading, follow the rules.

What makes writing or painting or inventing so hard is that there is no syllabus for the intricate caverns of your own brain. There’s no expert, no textbook, no study-guide for the midterm. All there is is you, and when you’ve spent 17 years focusing on how much you don’t know, it’s hard to have faith in what you do. It’s hard to have faith in a process which you can’t read about in a book because nobody has ever done it before. It’s completely uncharted territory, and the only way you’re going to figure out how to do it is to do it.

So now you know why I started out talking about self confidence. I was an A student all my life who went to a top college, but having the confidence to follow rules is completely the opposite of believing in your own unique vision.

The ingenious idiocy of persisting in exploring your ideas instead of memorizing others' is not taught in schools because it undermines their authority- the notion that a child could produce something marvelous by following through on their inspiration might make SAT prep courses completely obscolete.

And I'm not saying it's all a waste of time, but remember that tasks which are safe and predictable will never be anything but safe and predictable, while the completely terrifyingly unknowable challenges have the potential to change the world.

So although I don't think I'm going to change the world with my little teen memoir, I do feel like I've learned an enormous amount about myself and my creative process by forcing myself to write even when I don't have a good idea, even when I feel untalented, even when it seems like it'll never sound right, and even when I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, because showing up and having faith in the face of self-doubt is the only prerequisite for creating something new and worthwhile.


There are a billion things you don't know, but you'll only discover something truly unique if you trust in yourself. And the best way, the only way to start, is to just decide you're going to do it without questioning yourself about how unprepared you seem. Everyone feels unprepared. If they don't, then they aren't taking any risks. And risks are the only way that crazy amazing ideas become crazy amazing realities. 

So to answer the original question, "REAL education" is not something you can purchase or download or memorize, it is an active personal journey. It can be supplemented and illuminated by school, but the only way you're going to have the balls to think you can write a sonata or cure a disease or find a unifying theory of the universe is to challenge yourself as often as you can.

Give yourself every opportunity to surprise yourself.

Because everything else you can just find on Wikipedia.

thoughts questions comments?

much love,

(formerly-Hurricane-now-tropical-storm) Hannah

Monday, September 1, 2008

Secrets Secrets Hurt Someone

I was absolutely tickled pink when I heard the fabulous rumor that Sarah Palin's new retarded baby was actually the illegitimate child of her 17 year old daughter Bristol.

Bristol had been suspiciously kept out of school for 5 months prior to the birth with "mono," and Sarah Palin was allegedly leaking amniotic fluid before boarding the 8 hour flight back to Alaska, where upon landing instead of rushing to the closest major hospital she ambled along to some tiny town  an hour away to give birth in total seclusion. Nobody on her staff knew she was pregnant and the flight attendants claimed they hadn't the faintest idea there was a pregnant woman on the flight. 

This is fantastic people- top notch Republican shenanigans right out of the gate- they'd have to find an Obama-run cigarette sweatshop which enslaves privileged white babies to top it.

But now I find out that 17 year old Bristol Palin actually is pregnant! 

Either she's gotten knocked up once before and both babies are hers, or her mother is a reckless nut who gladly boards crosscountry flights while in labor with a down-syndrome fetus. Either way, McCain's new VP who is pro abstinence-only sex ed and pro-life even in rape and incest scenarios has an unwed pregnant 17 year old daughter.

Are the Republicans kidding? Part of me is giddy that McCain has dug his own grave with this nomination, but another part is gravely suspicious. I mean maybe they're just fucking with us- like the time they nominated an illiterate draft-dodging cokehead to office because they knew they could rig the election and win. Or the time they did that again. 

Bear with me while I explain that I just came back from my cousin's wedding in Florida, complete with cheek-pinching relatives and floofy dresses and that guy who is incapable of comprehending the meaning of personal space. 

And here is what I realized- everyone love gossip. I heard about overbearing mothers and selfish brothers and alcoholic sisters and manic-depressive gun-toting uncles. I heard about the best friend who's in love with the roommate's girlfriend, and I even heard about the cousin who was a big mouthed troublemaking yank and realized after a while that my gossip buddy was unknowingly referring to... me.

My grandmother says that 'lashon hara' (evil tongue) is, in the torah, one of the worst things a person can do aside from breaking one of the big 10. That is, of course, unless speaking the truth will prevent future harm.

So technically if I want to get into heaven, saying that Sarah Palin is a hypocritical bitch will not win me points with the big guy unless being a hypocrite will endanger the country. And maybe it will. But we do have a long illustrious line of hypocrites- Jefferson, author of the declaration of independence, not only owned slaves, but had illegitimate slave children! Fucking A! Why didn't they tell us that in school?

Well, probably because being a hypocritical bastard did not diminish enough from his positive accomplishments to warrant a juicy footnote. So as much as I hate to say it, and as great of a story as preggers-Bristol is, we can't write off Palin just for saying one thing and (her daughter) doing another. Without a condom. Again.

There are plenty of thing about all of us that are beyond humiliating and which, if plastered all over the tabloids, could be used to make us look like total psychopaths. In most every case, people are not divisible in a Good/Bad binary, and as much as I'd like this scandal to take down Palin and the Republicans in a fireball of elitist racist homophobic ignorance, I think that buying into the gossip instead of the real issues is eventually going to hurt everyone involved. 

The media has become so obsessed with gossip that honest discussion about experience and ideas is completely irrelevant if one of the candidates happens to not be donning an American Flag pin. And God help him if his middle name is Hussein. Even though the rumormills are favoring the Dems at the moment, mudslinging always goes two ways, and if we ever want to have an adult democracy it is incumbent upon our generation to demand relevance instead of spectacle. 

So, this is a long way of explaining Hannah's Guide to Eternal Happiness (Part 2):
2. Gossip is bullshit.

It hurts when it's about you, and it hurts you even when it's not. 

More to come. Keep me posted.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt