Scrolling through Instagram the other day, I noticed a friend’s photo of a photo of a jar filled with slips of paper. She and her family had spent the month of November writing down things to be thankful for, and then took turns pulling out slips of paper and talking about them together on Thanksgiving.
Since I was already feeling like Thanksgiving went by too quickly for our family, without much of a chance to reflect, and inspired by my friend’s simple idea to add some meaning to the typically busy holiday season, I decided to grab the kids and do something similar. The result is our first ever Memory Jar (beta version, of course).
The idea is that every Wednesday for the next couple of weeks — and in between, if the inspiration strikes — we’ll jot down a memory from the past 11 months (happy or sad, both are important) on a slip of paper and drop it in a glass jar. Some afternoon or evening between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we’ll sit down and take turns pulling slip of paper out of the jar and talking over what we’ve done over the past year.
The resulting “memory jar” craft project is described below. Since this an off-the-cuff project we whipped up last night, I’m not sure how it will turn out, though I’m hoping it helps us take just a few hours to get together and think back on the ups and downs of 2014.
Here’s how we made our memory jar:
Some wrapping paper (holiday themed, if you’re into that)
Some ribbon (again, holiday themed is possible though not required)
A basket (or similar container)
Something to write with (pen or marker recommended)
Friends and/or family to contribute
Grab some different rolls of holiday wrapping paper and cut off 1’x1′ square pieces. Then, fold the pieces in half 3-4 times until it’s folded into a 3″ square.
Then, unfold the piece back again, and you’ll have some nice creases to cut on.
Using the creases as guides, cut the larger squares of paper into smaller squares. Then, fold the smaller squares in half (with the paper design on the outside) and crease them to make sure they lay flat.
As you finish them, put them in a circle in the bottom of your basket. Leave room in the middle of the basket for the jar.
Grab some ribbon (green and red, if available) and tie them to the top of a clear jar. Place the jar into the middle of the basket.
Set a particular day of the week (“Every Wednesday”) or just invite friends/family members to jot down memories any time.
When you’ve written a memory, fold it back up so it’s hidden and place it into the jar.
When the slips of paper are gone, or on a set date (we’re going with New Year’s Eve), take turns removing a slip of paper and reading it. Then spend a few minutes talking over the memory before passing the jar along to the next person to take the next slip of paper.
Bonus points for having a phone or laptop on hand — when a slip of paper is pulled from the memory jar, find photos or videos of the event to add to the conversation.
I rarely ever channel surf live TV, though when I do I’m consistently amazed at the sheer length and frequency of commercial breaks. The seismic impact of DVRing aside, TV providers have limited if any tools beyond the decades-old “Previous Channel” button to help casual surfers avoid the mind-numbing crush of ads in those rare occasions when clicking around is the entertainment method of choice.
Browsing through the DirecTV channel guide while out of DVR’d shows on a quick lunch break the other day, I thought of a new idea that might infuriate advertisers and networks even as it makes casual browsing just slightly better for viewers.
Imagine a small icon to the right of the channel or show name every time that particular channel was on a commercial break
Imagine your TV provider’s standard channel guide (a screenshot of my DirecTV guide is pictured). Now, imagine a new feature: An icon next to each channel or show name, to appear when that particular channel is currently in the midst of a commercial break. If we want to get negative, the icon could be a red button or perhaps a skull and crossbones; a more moderate icon could be as simple as a megaphone or “Ad break” — anything to provide an immediate and yet subtle visual clue so you can choose to skip past that channel and pick one where that 295th rerun of The Wedding Singer is actually airing.
If TV providers wanted to go a step further and give a nod to the advertisers they were helping viewers avoid, they could potentially even show a logo of the advertiser next to the show name in the guide, updating it live as the ads changed. An even more explicit and potentially mutually beneficial feature would be to show a countdown until the break is over. Sure, a commercial break countdown that still shows 4 minutes left might spur viewers to another option, though a nearly-finished countdown could also tilt the scales towards a few seconds of ad viewing. Since so much of my ad viewing comes via fast-forwarding the ads in DVR’d show, I’m assuming advertisers are already accounting for extremely brief views as part of their ad creation process.
Yes, this would be more visual clutter in the already crowded channel guide user experience, and no, TV providers are not likely to subvert their partners so brazenly. All that said, “heads up” ad break tracking on channel guides could be a useful innovation to a problem that has plagued our lazy weeknights and sick days for generations.
One of my favorite TV shows is ending, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Nearing the third season premiere of Kroll Show next month, co-creator and star Nick Kroll announced that he’s ending the show entirely after this season airs. Not because ratings are low, or the network decided to move on, or any of the business-related reasons that shows are ended. Rather, Kroll is wrapping up simply because he “wanted to feel like we were going out with the best work that we’ve done.”
Given how rare this type of voluntary ending is, I have even more respect for Kroll than I already did. In an industry where the norm is to renew successful shows until long after their natural expiration dates — resulting in increasingly ridiculous plots and beloved cast/characters exiting, among other issues — it’s really refreshing to see a star (with creative control, no less) making sure a show goes out like this.
Nick Kroll and Jon Daly as Wendy and Ashley, two wealthy jerks who get into adventures
Of course it’s natural to want something great to continue. That said, we often stick with great shows to the point where they’re no longer recognizable as what we loved in the first place. The results are comedies like The Office continuing on without its star, funniest character and emotional heart; otherwise superb dramas like Downton Abbey resorting to inexplicable deaths, and previously respected shows like ERdescending into soap opera-like insanity to keep viewers tuned in.
The worst part isn’t even what we’re watching — it’s what we’re missing. When previously great shows continue on well past their prime, their producers and stars are spending time and energy investing in a stale product when they could instead be working on new and different projects. A new project isn’t guaranteed to be a winner, though I’ll always bet on a great performer to come back again with something new and great, when given the chance.
After Kroll Show wraps, I’ll miss Liz and Liz, Ceasar (maybe not), Bobby Bottleservice, Wendy and Ashley, the Wheels crew, and of course Gil and George most of all. That said, loving nearly every minute of the show so far only makes me more excited to see where Kroll and the cast and crew of the Show will end up next.
A few months ago, my wife noticed this simple, beautiful and a little bit sad classified ad, and I impulsively snapped a photo of it. When I’m looking through photos, it’s still one that I stop to read, especially when I want a smile or reminder of the good, and whimsy, of the people around us.
Did the Young Man ever see the ad? Did he ever recover the lid? It almost doesn’t matter. Just the existence of the ad proves that somebody moved beyond thought into action.
Getting tickets to see Steve Rannazzisi (he might hate this, but you likely know him as Kevin on The League) tonight got me thinking about the other comics I’ve seen perform live. Below, a list with approximate dates.
Darryl Hammond, Sept. 2003 (John Fugelsang opening), Orono, ME
Dane Cook, October 2004, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Mitch Hedberg, November 2005 (Stephen Lynch opening), State Theater, Portland, ME
Eugene Mirman, June 2008 (As part of a live taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien)
Ricky Gervais, June 2008 (Todd Berry opener), Madison Square Garden, New York City
Demitri Martin, February 2009, Orono, ME
Conan O’Brien’s live tour, June 2009 (this counts, right? Deon Cole performed a short set), Connecticut
Bob Saget, December 2010, Orono, ME
Aziz Ansari, October 2011 (Joe Mande opening)
Bill Burr, July 2012 (Multiple openers)
Louis CK, November 2012 (With Gary Gulman opening)
Comedy Bang! Bang! Live, October 2013 (Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Tompkins, The Birthday Boys)
Steve Rannazzizi, September 2014, Orono, ME
Norm McDonald, May 2015, Orpheum Theater, Boston MA
Update, June 2015: Dave Attell, June 2015, State Theater, Portland Maine. (Josh Day, opener)
Doug Loves Movies taping, October 10 2015 (Riki Lindholm, Kate Miccucci, Paul F. Tompkins as Werner Herzog, guest appearance by Dan van Kirk as Mark Whalberg)
Gilbert Gottfried, November 2015, South Portland, ME
Steve Martin & Martin Short, September 2019, Bangor, ME
The Sunday comics are a big deal in our house, and while we love the overall experience of reading the entire comics, a discussion about our favorites quickly turned into three of us building our own “Top 10 favorites” list. Here’s my list — this isn’t exhaustive, as it only represents the comics available in our local paper, and it’s not permanent — just a few weeks ago, the previous #1 fell to #2.