GUEST POST: The funniest people you aren’t following on Twitter

Time for another guest post! Here on my blog I appreciate all forms of writing, even if it’s only 140 characters. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but I’m sure my feed isn’t nearly as entertaining as Twitter resident Jeff McMurray’s. Here he lists the funniest people you probably aren’t following on Twitter.

(Quick preface before getting into this post. This was originally supposed to be about the time I spent a week in Spain after I lost my job last year. But I loafed around and was uninspired to write. Kind of ironic since that trip was one of the more memorable things I’ve done in my life. I advise all of you to take 8 days off of work and travel to a random country by yourself. All right, on to what I’m here to write about.)

I love Twitter.  Not really a controversial statement but it’s true. Of all the social media platforms out there today Twitter is hands down the best.  In a short 140 characters at a time Twitter has helped change how society has interacted. I can’t imagine watching any relatively major event on TV these days without having my feed up to read what is being said. Hell, Twitter has even allowed me to not watch shows (looking at you Golden Globes) and still know exactly what is going on.

I’m also a comedy nerd. Podcast ranging from Comedy Bang Bang to You Made it Weird fill up my iTunes. Comedy Central Radio is one of three stations on constant rotation in my car, (Backspin and XMU are the other two). In my eyes Hannibal Burress is the best comedian in the game today (John Mulaney and TJ Miller are a close second and third).

With those things in mind, it’s time to dive in and talk about what I was asked to write about. What is that you ask? Oh, it’s just the funniest people you aren’t following on Twitter. Real hard-hitting stuff, I know. But if you end up following any of these people and you find yourself to be a happier person, well then you can send your thanks to @mcmurrayjt (yeah, that’s me, no big deal). Time for the list!

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 Shelby Fero (@shelbyfero): 20 year old comedy wunderkind who dropped out of college after her freshman year at USC to take over the comedy world. And take over it she has. At such a young age she has already appeared on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast and is a writer for both @midnight on Comedy Central and Chozen on FX.

Sample tweets

@shelbyfero  3m
I’m gonna be like six babies deep into a relationship before I admit I still don’t actually know his first name.

@shelbyfero  Feb 16
There are people among us, that look just like you or me, who think matte black is a good idea for cars.

@shelbyfero  Feb 9
A lot of knockoff Morgan Freemans out there narrating subpar nature docs.

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Jon Bois (@jon_bois): writer for SB Nation, known bourbon lover, and breaker of Madden. Has some of the driest wit and sharpest criticism of twitter and how it’s used by brands on twitter today. He’s also like ee cummings and gives zero fucks about proper grammar.

Sample tweets 

@jon_bois  Feb 15
i bet the “sun revolves around the earth” people throw cooler parties than the “i’m going to scold you because you think that” people

‏@jon_bois  Feb 15
would anyone like to discuss mlb spring training studs & duds

@jon_bois  Feb 14
be on the lookout for web tools that could improve your workflow

@jon_bois  Feb 8
whoever correctly guesses what that fan said to Marcus Smart will be ushered into a transdimensional god-bubble & sent to survey the heavens

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Pour Me Coffee (@pourmecoffee): Do you like politics? Do you like satire? Great! Now go follow Pour Me Coffee.  Best way to describe PMC tweets is that they are an unfiltered, written word version of the Daily Show. They have a liberal bend to them but they are sharply funny.

Sample tweets

@pourmecoffee  Feb 17
Remember, the Constitution mandates that on Presidents Day all citizens buy a mattress or at least test drive a car.

@pourmecoffee  Feb 17
Insects are up to something. I will let you know more as I go deeper.

@pourmecoffee  Feb 15
Today in 1989 Soviets left Afghanistan after 9 deadly years and world learned to never again go to war there, j/k we totally did.

@pourmecoffee  Feb 11
Believe in yourself, work hard and you can do *anything*. Except what these Olympians are doing. Like 100 people can do that. Be serious.

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Fred Delicious (@fred_delicioius): Twitter can be a weird place. Hell, there’s even a subculture within Twitter called Weird Twitter, @horse_ebooks being the most well known handle in the world of Weird Twitter. What makes Fred such a great follow is that he is so random. You never know what you will get from him. One day he will go on a Bruce Willis joke spree, and then the next day his is tweeting about cops’ breakdancing. He’s also, I think, British? No clue really. All right, enough questions. Go follow him.

Sample tweets 

@Fred_Delicious  Feb 16
[judge looks concerned]

“so, u want a divorce because ur wife chose Bulbasaur as her starter Pokemon?”

“GRANTED”

*Bangs gavel 500 times*

@Fred_Delicious  Feb 16
[Duck support group]

“After i lost Barbara I was doing bread 5, maybe 6 times a day”

*the other ducks nod sympathetically*

Fred_Delicious  Feb 13
Music trivia: “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” is about a stripper who wore down the batteries in Kendrick Lamar’s favorite dildo

I hope you found these people as funny as I do. They are what help make Twitter great.

But, if none of these tickle your funny bone then there are the following. I won’t go into a suspect line breakdown of these but these people are just as, if not more, funny than the people listed above: @nachosarah, @filmdrunk, @edsbs, @mobute, @mattsebek, @thebrianahansen and @puddinstrip.

All right, that’s it from me. I’m off to live tweet that one thing we are all dying to watch.

If you like tweets about comedy, Louisville, music, the St. Louis Cardinals, Xavier Basketball, #hashtags or the TV show Community, you can follow Jeff @mcmurrayjt.

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The Shakespeare Log #1

People who’ve been following me will know that one of my goals in my 30 Before 30 is to read the 100 books listed as the ‘must-reads’ according to the Guardian. I sort of arbitrarily picked this list and now I’m sort of regretting it, mostly because of all the Shakespeare I have to read.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Shakespeare. I studied him in high school and took a Shakespeare class in college during study abroad which was in LONDON. It was truly a wonderful experience and, in my opinion, the best way to learn Shakespeare is to watch it performed live at The Globe. I find his life sort of fascinating, and I think that he came up with some really wonderful stories.

*sigh* Oh, Leo…

When I sat down to figure out how many Shakespeare plays I had to read, I was surprised by how many I was super familiar with, but haven’t actually read. I know what happens in Macbeth, The Twelfth Night, The Tempest, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra and a couple of others (I get all the Henrys mixed up though), but never read the actual play or seen it performed live.

In short, I have less than 3 years to read 30 plays. I think 10 plays a year is doable, but it could be a little dry. So, I’m going to amend the rules. I can watch the BBC adaptations (since it’s basically a reading of the play), for some of the plays, or, if I have the opportunity, I can see them live. In fact, it might be preferable since I hear you gotta see Ian McKellan as King Lear and I want to see the movie version of Coriolanus (mostly because I need to know how to pronounce it.)

How about you, lovely readers? Any Shakespeare plays you absolutely love? Anyone out there read all of them?

Well, I’m off to read and get back to my life. Until later, I’m out.

[exit, pursued by a bear]

Read It or Skip It: Non-fiction edition!

Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I haven’t been slacking on my reading, I promise. Instead of doing a hodgepodge of books, I thought I’d try out having a themed ‘Read It or Skip It.’ I’m all about experimentation over here in lantern land. First up are some non-fiction books I read recently. If you’ve got suggestions for what non-fiction I should read next, send them my way! 

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Read it! I advise that everyone, no matter what line of work they’re in, will get something from reading this book.

Spook by Mary Roach

Read it you like science but are a “non-science” person, if you question the afterlife.
Skip it if none of the above applies to you

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout (with Sara Corbett)

Read it if you like memoirs, travel writing, and have an interest in Somalia (not a place I advise traveling to).
Skip it if you can’t stomach assault and abuse

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Read it if you like books in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love or outdoorsy adventure stories.
Skip it if the whole wandering soul thing gets on your nerves.

The War of Art and Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

Read them, don’t skip ’em! These books are perfect for creative types and they are also good for anyone with a large, seemingly insurmountable task in front of them. They’re both so short you could read one in a day.

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

Read it if you like meditative works that incorporate nature and spirituality or science, like Walden or the works of Annie Dillard (The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). Otherwise, skip it. There’s some tokens of wisdom in here, but it’s not for everybody.

I was one morbid kid

When I was younger, I thought about death a lot.

Okay, that’s a pretty morbid intro but it’s actually kinda true. I was a pretty happy kid with a penchant for playing pretend, organizing the neighborhood kids for plays, and a burning desire to somehow acquire exactly 101 Dalmatians, but boy did I have a weird fascination with death. Well, more like suffering in general. I’ll explain.

I don’t know when this began, but I’m thinking junior high. I went through this big phase where I was obsessed with the Romanovs and the Russian revolution, Princess Anastasia in particular. I read everything in my age group I could get my hands on (and even some things way beyond my comprehension level, such as a biography of Anastasia’s mother, Queen Alexandra). My favorite part of the story was when they were taken from their palace to Yekaterinburg where they were later murdered in the woods. This wasn’t because I wanted them to die, I was just fascinated by how their lives were changed physically and psychologically.

This grew into another phase where I read a lot of books about the Holocaust. Talk about a depressing topic. I was well-versed in the horrors in Auschwitz and the occupation of Poland before I went to high school. My favorite Holocaust subject, or person, was Anne Frank. I read her diary many, many times, as well as a book of her short stories that she wrote while hiding in the Secret Annex. I even portrayed Anne Frank in Shrine of St. Anne’s inaugural production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” She was, in a sense, my home girl. I knew the story didn’t end well for her, but every time I read her diary or a biography of her, I hoped it did.

I eventually grew out of these phases and went about my life, but still I sometimes had morbid thoughts. I often wondered about my mom’s parents, who died well before I was born. I loved ‘The Lovely Bones,’ the bestseller about a girl who watches her family from heaven after she’s raped and murdered. I thought a lot about what heaven would be like, who I would see there, all sorts of things. Again, I realize how strange this is, but there’s a point to this, I promise.

One of the campus ministers at Xavier, Deanna Martin, was trained to administer the Enneagram personality test. She did this often and I have another deep interest in personality tests (ENFP, visual and linguistic intelligence, Concrete Random mind style—I could go on) so I anxiously awaited mine. According to this particular test, I am a 4, the Individualist. This means my ultimate desire to be uniquely myself and I fear being insignificant and alone. I hate being ignored and neglected and I am often envious of others. I’m interested in the origin of ideas and I like to make up my own, hence why the whole “being a writer” thing makes perfect sense.

The thing about suffering and death is that it strips away all the things on our outsides, both metaphorically and sometimes physically, to show who we really are. It reveals your true essence, your inner core. It answers that simple question of ‘who am I?’ I think my interests in the Romanov family was there were cloaked in finery, royalty, and wealth, but then they were stripped of it, forced to live in seclusion and then murdered in the woods and buried in an unmarked grave. I think when I was little I wanted to know who the Romanovs really were and this part where they suffered the most was the biggest clue.

Now, taking an interest in the Holocaust is not abnormal for a kid, but I still think it had something to do with my curiosity about human nature; specifically, how could the Nazis have been so cruel? The variations of their torture horrified and fascinated me. I was curious if those Nazi soldiers were really being themselves when they did those terrible deeds or were they forced to? If so, what price did they pay mentally? What did it to do their self, their soul? Also, the accounts of survivors made me hopeful. It was a genocide and people still lived. Some of those people even under the most terrible of circumstances managed to be resilient enough to survive and that, to my 14-year-old mind told me all I needed to know about who they were.

I like to think that even though my interests may have been a little worrisome (my grandma noted that I read “a lot of depressing books for a kid”), they affected my education in some way. I wrote about my trip to the Holocaust Museum for my college essay and I like to think that knowing about that horrific time in history made me more accepting of people who were different than me when I was a kid. Knowing a lot about the royal family made me pretty good at trivia (Who is Anastasia’s famous great-grandmother? Queen Victoria, from her mother’s side. Also the side that carried the gene for hemophilia. BAM. Next question).

Let’s hope there are some other ways in comes in handy, too.

Also, just because it’s fascinating, here are two visual artifacts of my former historical interests.*

Grand Duchess Anastasia takes a selfie.

The only known footage of Anne Frank. Kind of erie. (Filmed in 1941, via The Guardian)

*okay, current. I’m still interested.

What about you, lovely readers? Fascination with True Crime at age 10? Witch hunts? Weird tribal customs? Let me know in the comments!

Time for something new

There’s an early episode of Mad Men where Peggy is trying to sell a weight loss stimulant that pretty much doubles as a vibrator and she’s struggling creatively. Don, in a moment of genius mentorship tell her, “Just think about it deeply, then forget it…then an idea will jump up in your face.”

via Vulture

As far as my current struggles go, I have been thinking about them to the point of obsession and it’s hard to forget about them. No ideas have come to me as a result. I’ve tried loads of things such as re-outlining (painstaking), talking about it to my friends (who make me speak in vague terms because they don’t want the book spoiled), talking to myself about it (I’m losing my mind), cutting myself off from social media (difficult), and cutting my self of from real life social interaction (also difficult and slightly rude).

So now I’m at the part of the program where I put my current WiP (work in progress) aside and write something else. This might be the only way to get me to stop thinking about it. I’m annoyed at myself for slowing down the process even more. I fluctuate between thinking I’m a worthless writer or a total idiot (writers are deeply insecure and I’ve been assured I’m not the only one who feels this way). I look at my goals for 2014 and I cringe because I was so confident in the book coming out this year and now it might not. I’ll have to put my foot in my mouth.

My friend Gina and I had a running joke after we graduated from college called “Post-Grad Problems.” They included things such as “talking about health insurance with friends” and “checking if a man is wearing a wedding ring”. Another one of the things I could tack to the list is “doing things that suck now, but are better in the long run.”

Making no progress and feeling discouraged sucks, but perhaps taking a sabbatical from the A story and working on another will put me back into happy go-lucky writer mode instead of the verbal pity party I’ve been throwing myself over the past couple of weeks.

via The Huffington Post

Apparently, JK Rowling wrote other stories while working on Harry Potter when she needed a break. John Green got halfway though a novel before he ditched it and wrote ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and it took Chad Harbach five years to finish “The Art of Fielding.” See, even the professionals do it. I remind myself of this over and over again when I start to worry.

It’s time to stop worrying and start writing. I’m out.

A letter to my daughter

February 5, 2014

From where I sit, writing this to you, you are in what my grandfather called “God’s pocket.” You’re just waiting to come into the world (also, I’m sad you will not get to meet him). A lot of things have to happen before you happen, but just so you know, you’re always a thought in my mind.

I don’t take my responsibility as your mother lightly. I think about it often, as represented by the things I’ve saved for you; dolls and books and even clothes (you can tell all your friends it’s “vintage”). I’m probably going to write you lots of letters like this, harping on things like education and sexuality and health and on and on and on. Your mother is a talker. I’m sure by now you are tired of me talking, but honey, if the universe is willing, I will be talking to you for a long time.

Here are my hopes for you, as a woman. They are the things that I wish I knew before I went off to college and grew into my 20s. I’m giving you this sage advice mostly because I messed up, or I took a chance and it worked out. I’m 27 as I write this to you, so of course there’s more to come, but here’s what I want to say to you and I have to write it down before I forget (yes, I’ve always been this way):

-“Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” You know that show ‘How I Met Your Mother’ that’s on Nick-at-Nite now? I stole that line from them. This is almost always true. I’m not going to get into specifics, you just tell yourself that when you look at the time on the clock when you’re making a decision.

-Do not count on a man (or woman, if that is your preference) to be the one thing that makes you happy. This is something your Grandma Hoferer used to say to me and she is frustratingly right a lot of the time.

-The choice that makes you the happiest isn’t always the best choice. I know, I wish it were the other way around, too.

-If you ever mess up, I will still love you.

-You may have to work a job you don’t like for a while, but it’s not a life sentence. As long as you work hard, you will go places.

-You are not a “bitch” if you ask questions, assert yourself, or politely give your opinion and engage in conversation.

-I don’t give you chores and responsibilities to annoy you; I give them to you in hopes that they will make you a strong, independent woman. You can thank me later.

-You will not get answers to everything, not all your life dilemmas will have full closure, and people will not always be nice to you. The world is harsh, but it’s also beautiful.

-Travel as much as you can. Learn and grow as much as you can. I didn’t invest all this time/money/energy into your education for you to be a bump on a log. A life as a citizen of the world is the richest life of all.

-You can’t plan for everything, despite what that large calendar in our kitchen says.

-You’ve got one body; believe it is beautiful and treat it well. Also, you can get a tattoo. There, I said it. You have it in writing. It would be hypocritical of me to say you couldn’t. Just think it through. And not on your face. And let me break it to your father.

This is what I know so far. I’m sure I will add to the list as time goes on, I’m sure life will throw lots of stuff our way, but remember, no matter what happens, I’m your mother and I love you.

Love, Mom