Tag Archives: Legends of the Hidden Temple

That Moment When … You’ve Forgotten What Constitutes a Complete Sentence

19 Mar

Dear People of the Internet,

I’m afraid we need to have a talk.

I know you really like pictures to go with your words, so you might understand it better this way:


I think you know what I’m going to say.  You’ve known it since the beginning, but for some reason, we’ve been letting you get away with it.  It’s our fault, really.  We should have given you better boundaries.  I’m sorry, people of the Internet.  But I’m telling you now.  Here it goes:

Those “that moment when” word blobs you’re so fond of writing?  You know what I’m talking about.  Here’s a short list of some real examples I just found on Google:

“That moment when the ugliest guy you know gets a girlfriend and you’re still single.”

“That moment when you find out you have no homework.”

“That moment when you hear a familiar beat and then you finally recognize what song it is.”

That moment when … wait, what?  What are you saying about that moment?  WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY AT ALL?!  What is this, Internet, Rear Window: Part II?  BECAUSE YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH SUSPENSE.

(That moment when the blog lady references a movie you’ve never heard of.)

I don’t want to be harsh, but … honey.  Sweetie.  Internet.  I don’t know how to tell you this, but those … those aren’t sentences.  Not even a little bit.  I know you don’t care much about grammar (believe me, I’ve seen your YouTube comments, and we need to have a long, long talk about the comment, “shut uppp your muslim lolololol,” starting with what a contraction is, and ending with me asking you what that had to do with David going to the dentist), so forget about the fact that you’re not using sentences by any stretch of the imagination.

You’re just not saying anything.  You are not expressing an actual thought, and I’m afraid that you think you are.  I’m afraid you think you’re making some profound comment on the shared awkward and painful experiences of adolescence, but bro?  YOU FORGOT TO.

Screen shot 2013-03-19 at 8.05.05 PM

Here’s what I think you’re trying to do.  I think you’re trying to say things like:

“That moment when you lock your keys in the car is a major bummer.”

“That moment when you look directly at a solar eclipse is the moment when you realize that your eyes hurt.”

Do you realize how much you tease us when you leave out the ends of those sentences?  Do you realize that without saying something about “that moment when,” you leave your life up to endless interpretation?

And do you really want to perpetually live out the ending to Lost in Translation?  Do any of us really want to live in a world where Bill Murray is primarily a serious actor?  Do you know that in that world Steve Martin visits you once a day and lectures you about art and explains that Two Wild and Crazy Guys are really a darkly ironic depiction on the hedonism of modern life?

Look, I get it, Internet.  You’re busy.  There’s a lot going on right now.  In fact, as we speak, the following is happening:

  • Buzz Feed just published 16,000 new articles about 9 MORE reasons why the 90s was the best decade ever (spoiler alert: Clarissa Explains It All, Big League Chew, Justin Timberlake looking different than he does now, Legends of the Hidden Temple, slap bracelets,Warheads, Lite-Brite, Fruitopia, and CLOTHES THAT LOOK FUNNY!)
  • There’s a new tearjerker video on YouTube that features soldiers coming home to their reptiles (spoiler alert: oddly anticlimactic)
  • Someone just created a Ryan Gosling “hey girl” meme for YOUR SPECIFIC LIFE SITUATION.  That’s right, AS WE SPEAK, Ryan Gosling is wearing a tank-top, holding a puppy, looking you right in your deserving-of-love eyes and saying, “Hey girl.  I know that you graduated with a B.S. in Marketing at a time when the economy was going through some stuff, and even though long term, you really see yourself opening your own business, you’re currently temping in an office complex three days a week and then helping your parents (who live next door) with some remodeling they’re doing on the other kitchen the other two days a week, even though they’re not paying you, when you’re honestly putting a lot of time into it and have even made quite a few runs to Home Depot and you’re spending your own money on this, and you don’t need them to pay you, but it just would be nice if it was offered.”
  • Oh, wait, Buzz Feed just published 4,000 more 90s articles.

So you’re busy.  I know.  But I’m asking you to just try your best, Internet, to say something.  If the Internet was about nothing, then it would be a Seinfeld episode.

Actually, now that I think about it, this all might be a Seinfeld episode.

Isn’t It Ironic?

1 Apr

What Alanis Morissette did with her song “Ironic” to confuse a generation of neon-fanny-pack-wearing, Legends of the Hidden Temple-watching, Surge-chugging, Third Eye Blind-listening, Topanga-crushing, Beanie Babies-hoarding, Duck Hunt gun-wielding ’90s kids, hipsters have done with their commitment to faux-irony to confuse a generation of … I don’t know, what defines us now? … people who miss living in the ’90s.  What a mantra.  No wonder they call us the “greatest generation.”

… oh, really?  That’s not us?  That doesn’t seem fair.  I fail to see how there is a difference between World War II veterans and twenty-somethings whose current contribution to society is leading discussions on how “totally awesome Tamagotchis were.”

[But dude, weren’t Tamagotchis totally awesome?]

Let me also say that I’m not really a fan of anti-hipster humor for this reason: it’s not funny or original.  If you can come up with a hipster joke that says something more original than, “Ha, uh … oh, yeah, I liked that … you know, BEFORE it was cool … and, uh, I like old stuff,” please let me know.  To date, there is just one hipster meme (despite its minor grammatical problem) that I think has pulled this joke off successfully:

One very real problem hipsters have created, though, is a resurgence of a confusing use of the word “irony.”  Are you listening to Phil Collins purposefully or ironically?  Are you wearing an “I Love Funyuns” t-shirt because you really love Funyuns, or is it ironic?  I’m not going to dissect every instance of irony and non-irony in hipster culture.  As we’ll soon see, irony is tough to define and is largely contextual.  So yes, sometimes hipsters do things that are truly ironic.  But sometimes, irony is a misnomer.  As in … I’ve got this awful moustache previously donned only by un-cool guys … but I’m a cool guy … irony!  That’s not irony.  That’s, in the vocabulary of elementary-school playground games, Opposite Day.

And hipsters, hear me: I do not ever want to re-visit Opposite Day.  Opposite Day is the worst day because YOU CAN NEVER CONFIRM IF IT IS TRULY OPPOSITE DAY.  If I ask you if it’s Opposite Day, and you say yes, is it really?  Because if it’s really Opposite Day, and you say yes, then you actually mean no, and then it’s NOT Opposite day; but if you say no, and you actually mean yes, HOW WILL I EVER KNOW, BECAUSE YOU KEEP SAYING NO?!

Opposite Day caused me my second true existential crisis at the age of eight.  The first one occurred when my kindergarten teacher read us the acclaimed existentialist kids’ books, “Goodnight, Camus,”  “The Little Engine That Could … Validate Its Own Existence,” and “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Does It Even Matter?”

Let’s talk about irony.

There are quite a few different types of irony: verbal irony, dramatic irony, socratic irony, historical irony, etc.  Today we’re going to focus on the two forms most currently used and debated: verbal irony and situational irony.

Verbal Irony

Verbal irony is often confused with sarcasm, and for good reason: they are quite similar.  Put simply, verbal irony is saying something when you, in fact, mean the exact opposite.  That sounds like the definition of sarcasm, right?  It pretty much is.  Really, the only difference between verbal irony and sarcasm is that sarcasm (by definition) has cruel or ill intentions, whereas verbal irony is verbal irony despite intent.

For example, saying, “Gee, this is great weather” when it’s NOT great weather is verbal irony, but not sarcasm, because you’re not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings.  Saying, “Nice shirt” to somebody when you actually mean it is an UGLY shirt is both verbal irony and sarcasm because, well, it’s mean.

Situational Irony

Here’s where the trouble starts.  The basic definition of situational irony is that, similarly to verbal irony, there is a discrepancy between what is expected and what actually occurs.  Why is this troublesome?  Two reasons:

1. The word is defined by situations and personal expectations.  By its very definition, irony then varies on a person-to-person basis.

2. I don’t think this definition is comprehensive enough.

Before we talk about what situational irony is, though, let’s talk about what it isn’t.  Here are some examples:

“She wore the same shirt as me yesterday.  It was totally ironic.”  This isn’t irony.  This is a coincidence.  If you own the same shirt as one of your friends, it’s actually pretty likely that at some point, you will wear it on the same day.

“They won the championship game.  The last time they won it was ten years ago … to this day!  How ironic.”  This isn’t irony.  This is an interesting fact, and probably a testament to good coaching.

“I’ve never had an accident, but I got rear-ended right as I was pulling into my driveway!  Ironic!”  That is not ironic.  That is a bummer.  Also, expected, because most accidents happen within ten miles from your home.

Now, let’s talk about what situational irony IS.

Like the definition says, situational irony is when what actually occurs is in stark contrast to what would be expected to occur.  I’ve seen some debates over this example: is it “ironic” if it snows in May?  Going just by that definition, maybe.  What one expects in May–nice, sunny weather–is in stark contrast to what actually occurred: snow.

My verdict, though?  No.  That is not irony.  This is why I think most of the basic definitions for irony are lacking.  Some may disagree, but I have high standards for irony.  For something to be truly ironic, there cannot just be a discrepancy between the expectation and the reality.  There also has to be that something extra, that intangible quality, that je ne sais quoi (literally: “Jene, no: say, ‘Qwa.'”).

Behind irony should be an action or a purposefulness that causes or results in an (often) unfortunate yin to the planned-for yang.  Often, it is the very actions that meant to precipitate the yang that cause the yin.  That’s irony.

If I am terrified of diseases, and my incessant cleaning and scrubbing somehow causes me to GET a disease, that’s situational irony.  I actively behaved in a way to precipitate yang and to avoid yin, but it was those very actions that caused yin to occur.

All of the bullets fired at President Reagan during an assassination attempt missed.  The one that hit him only did so because it ricocheted off of the bullet-proof glass.  That’s situational irony: an active attempt to avoid one situation (being hit by a bullet) was, in fact, the very thing that caused a bullet wound.

Some may disagree with my stricter rules on what is or is not ironic.  I’ll admit here and now that I’m an irony snob.  But I’ve just about had it with people saying things like, “My lightbulb burnt out.  It was totally ironic.”

And just as a final wrap-up, let’s go through some of Alanis’ lines from “Ironic” and help her out by giving her the terms she actually wanted to be using.

“An old man turned ninety-eight.  He won the lottery and died the next day.”  That’s not irony.  That’s old age. Also, Alanis, you haven’t told us if the old man had any precipitating health conditions.  Also, isn’t the average life-span for males like 75 years old?  This guy is used to beating the odds.  I’m frankly not surprised that he won, nor that he died.

“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay.”  Not irony.  Health code violation.

“It’s rain on your wedding day.”  That’s not irony.  That’s weather.

“It’s a traffic jam when you’re already late.”  The traffic jam is probably why you’re late, actually.

“It’s meeting the man of your dreams … and then meeting his beautiful wife.”  That, in literary terms, is actually known as an “introduction.”

“It’s ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.”  Is that irony, or is that the wrong attitude to have when you’re visiting a spoon factory, Alanis?  Show a little thankfulness.


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