Our opening show on September 26, 2015 had the theme, "Going Viral." Our head writer, Courtenay Hameister, has some experience with this.
Going Viral on the Reg.
I can turn anything into cancer.
I’m like the world’s saddest magician.
Most people see a mole on their shoulder change a little, and they think, “Uh-oh. Could be cancer.”
That is rookie bullshit.
I can have a pain in the second-to biggest toe on my right foot, and think, “Bone cancer. It’s probably bone cancer. Yes, the chance of bone cancer is significantly lessened in adults without other cancers but that’s exactly why Scott’s friend got it because the doctors didn’t think to look for it and now they haven’t looked for it in me and here it is, in my toe that weirdly hurts even though I didn’t do a thing to it.”
The thing about hypochondria is that unlike most things that you need to work harder at as you get older, convincing yourself you have some sort of illness or infirmity gets significantly easier once you hit 40.
Now there are so many new pains and unexplained marks and bruises on my body that the list of diseases I could have has skyrocketed, so I no longer need to create new-and-undiscovered illnesses like “healthy-feeling-fever” or “latent tibula fracture." In my 30’s I mostly worried about cancer and schizophrenia or that might be a sociopath, but now I’ve had shingles and herpes and the plague and a heart attack, all in my head.
That’s the funny thing about hypochondria—our brain can’t really tell the difference between when we’re imagining something or actually experiencing it—it reacts almost identically, so when I’m talking to someone who had a heart attack, my impulse is to say, “Oh, I did too,” because of that time when I had gall stones and I was sure I was dying. In my head, I was going through the exact same thing he did, I was just wrong.
And now, hypochondria has an assist in the internet, to the point that there’s now a colloquial term for people whose hypochondria is escalated by looking up their symptoms on the web: it’s called Cyberchondria.
WebMD is essentially Pinterest for hypochondriacs—all they need to add is the ability to create boards of your favorite disease families, like "dermatological disorders I probably have," "New viruses that are definitely going around my office" and "Cute cats that just gave me the first human case of feline leukemia."
There are about 25 million searches for the word "cancer" on Google per month. About a million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer in a month, so that's approximately 24 million people searching for cancer who probably don't have it. (I'd like to apologize to all the hypochondriacs out there for that cancer statistic. That's just the type of thing to send them into a tailspin, so you have to remember that there are 7.3 billion people in the world, so only .0001% of them are getting diagnosed each month. I hope that makes you feel better. It made me feel better. But what that also means is that if you tell someone they're one in a million, you're telling them that there are 7,125 other people in the world exactly like them. Statistics are a complicated double-edged sword.)
As for me, it turned out that I'm not a hypochondriac, I've just had generalized anxiety disorder my whole life, which I just discovered recently. But for all the hypochondriacs out there, I know it's frustrating when you keep thinking you have something and it turns out you don't. It may be comforting to find out that even if you don't have anything else, hypochondria is a bonafide mental illness listed in the DSM-5. So you were right. You DO have something. Congratulations?
We had Chuck Palahniuk on our show back in May, and he talked to Luke about a possible Fight Club musical that David Fincher has been talking about for years.
After the interview, we had our band perform our vision for the Fight Club Musical. That went something like this:
Many thought the project was dead in the water, but it appears to be alive and well again.
As this Slashfilm.com article attests, Chuck tweeted the following at Comic Con:
"Julie Taymor working with David Fincher on a FIGHT CLUB rock opera? You didn't hear it from me. :) #SDCC"
Want to hear more about it? Check out Luke's interview with Chuck:
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Episode 270 (available here) focused on the subject of Adulting. Our head writer had some thoughts on the subject.
Why I Choose Immaturity.
By Courtenay Hameister, Live Wire Head Writer
In thinking about adulthood, I considered that almost every single one of my friends, even the ones I would call the most "mature," still don't truly think of themselves as grownups.
These are people who have accomplished a lot in their lives - great jobs where they manage a staff of other ostensible adults, raising kids, some of whom can now be defined as adults themselves, creating nonprofits...but when you ask them if they're a "grown-up," they'll say...not really. Not yet.
The scientific definition of an adult is a human or organism that is fully grown or developed.
Fully grown isn't really debatable - you either are or you're not, but fully developed is where I think the crux is - where most of us scratch our heads about whether we fall into that category.
Dr. Jeffrey Arnett did a study in the 90's and found that people didn't consider age or goal markers as indicators of adulthood, like being married, having kids, or having a good job - but that they believed an adult is something you have to "become." And you become an adult by accepting responsibility, making grownup decisions, and being financially independent.
I think most people in their 30s and 40s can say they do all three of these things, and yet...we all seem to have some little niggling voice back there that still says, "But I'm still not a grownup...not really."
And my question is, why? Why does some part of us fight adulthood even though it was all we wanted when we were kids?
I think there are a few reasons.
One is the cool factor. There is nothing cool about a grownup. Grownups wear mom jeans and drive sensible cars and never do blow off anyone’s boobs, ever. That seems miserable.
Which brings me to number two, which is that adulthood isn’t fun. When we agree that we’re an adult, we’re saying, “Yes, I know the difference between an HMO and a PPO and a roth IRA and an annuity and both of those facts make me want to weep quietly into this horrible, soul-shattering kale salad.”
Even scarier than kale salad, though, is accepting that we’re aging. Admitting to being a grownup is like intentionally walking up to the window and purchasing a one-way ticket on the bullet train to Deathtown. That seems dumb. I would much rather pay the change fees, wait a few hours and get on the party train to Devil-may-care-ville.
These are all super bummer-y aspects of being a grownup, but more than anything else, I think we don’t think we’re adults because what we’re living from day-to-day doesn’t resemble anything that we imagined adulthood would be.
When we were very young, we imagined that adults had life figured out – we asked our parents questions and they had answers and we believed them and that was that.
What they didn’t tell us was that we all begin our lives with all these questions, and we answer a lot of them when we’re kids and it feels like it’s going really well and we’re definitely going to be able to answer them all eventually. But then you get past college and into real life and suddenly the questions start to pile up and instead of answering all the questions that pop up in a day, you'll answer maybe three of them and then you'll add 35 more, which just roll over to the next morning where you'll answer 4-10 of those but then add 23 more (and some of them are whoppers, like “What is the point of all this again?,” and “What’s my special purpose?,” and “Will Kourtney Kardashian ever find lasting love?,” and “Why the hell would anyone spell Courtney with a K?,”) until you're just a walking question vessel with a tiny pocket of answers that don’t even feel relevant anymore because now all the questions have changed.
So the question is, if that’s what being an adult means, do I want to admit that I am one?
I’m going to take my Hello Kitty gel pen and check the “no” box on that one.
Welcome to Blue Monday!
Psuedoscience claims this is the most depressing day of the year, but Live Wire is here to help. On this page, you’ll find some peppy tunes from our musical guests over the years (Download them and take them with you to fight off the blues!), and some delicious recipes perfect for these gloomy days. Enjoy! (As much as you can on this dark, dark day.)
RECIPES TO LIGHTEN YOUR MOOD:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bacon S’morrito
Bacon (cooked? Probably?)
1 standard-size chocolate bar
4 large marshmallows
1 Large Flour Tortilla
Place tortilla on your kitchen counter, coffee table or bedside table. Spread 1-20 tablespoons of peanut butter over the full circle of tortilla, then do the same with the jelly. Cook 12 strips of bacon, eat 8 of them and then place four slightly off-center on the left side of the tortilla and cover them with the chocolate bar. Place the marshmallows on a pencil, fork or pair of children’s scissors and hold over a burner to cook. When they catch fire, they’re ready! Place them immediately on top of the chocolate, fold in the top and bottom of the tortilla, then fold in the left-hand side, and roll all the way to the right. Pair with your favorite bottle of scotch and a collection of YouTube videos of dogs unsuccessfully trying to befriend cats.
The Baker’s Dozen
13 doughnuts or cheeseburgers or anything you buy for the office, but actually eat in your car by yourself.
Bologna and American cheese on white bread with mayonnaise (TM Divorced Dad).
The Chuck E. Cheese Gloater’s Special
Single and depressed? Go to Chuck E. Cheese at 5:15 on a Saturday night and order a single slice of pepperoni pizza. Sit quietly at your table and savor every bite while “happy families” scream, rend garments and fall apart around you.
2 AM Pancakes
NOTE: If you don't have pancake mix, just take several deep pulls off a bottle of maple syrup.
The Five Dollar Cry for Help
Subway’s Five Dollar Footlong, once an hour until unconscious.
It’s been a great year at Live Wire! Over the past 12 months, we’ve featured the work of over 120 writers, musicians, filmmakers, and comedians – people like Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Kristof, music icon Melissa Etheridge, and Wild author Cheryl Strayed. In addition to showcasing some of the biggest names in arts and culture, we also pride ourselves in promoting the work of up-and-coming talent and thought leaders that you might not hear anywhere else.
In a year with so much compelling content, we asked our host Luke Burbank to share some of his personal highlights from this year. Although the process was nearly impossible, Luke narrowed it down to ten of his most memorable moments and explains why they stood out for him.
Jason Padgett discussing relativity
The last 90 seconds of this interview taught me more about theoretical physics than all my years studying at Harvard and Oxford. I should clarify that “Harvard" and “Oxford" are two of my favorite sports bars in Tucson.
Ken Jennings - Questions and Appetizers
For someone who talks for a living, I am uniquely terrible at the conversation game we played with Jeopardy Champ Ken Jennings. Hopefully my shame was at least somewhat entertaining.
Megan Amram grew up in the wilds of Portland and then went on to Harvard (the college, not the sports bar). Yet it was on Twitter where she first started getting wide-spread notice. I’ve got to find out more about this Tweeter thing, because it seems like all the kids are doing it.
Eef Barzelay - All The Way
Eef Barzelay’s version of “All The Way” is lovely and heartbreaking. Hearbreak like a Portlander feels when they realize that scone had gluten in it.
The Doubleclicks - Cats & Netflix
In these trying times of international crisis and unrest at home, there are two things we can still rely on as a nation… Cats & Netflix. This is an entire song dedicated to them.
Ayron Jones & The Way
Without a doubt, one of the musical high points of 2014 for Live Wire. The crowd was so into this song, we considered cancelling the rest of the show and just letting Ayron play an entire concert. Then I found out that I only get paid if I “host” the “entire” “show” so we went back to the original plan. 'Dat song doe.
Children's Books Gone Dark sketch
Let’s be honest, kid’s books are kinda boring when you’re not a kid anymore. That is, unless you create dark adaptations. Which we did this year. Then, they are upsetting and weird, two of our specialties here on Live Wire.
Cameron Esposito is more than just a hairdo, but seriously, no one’s made more of a career out of having self-described “lesbian hair”.
Kurt Braunholer’s misadventures make us all feel better about how we proposed marriage and decided not to jet ski down the electrified section of the Mississippi River.
Live Wire recently played host to the incredibly funny Megan Amram, Parks and Rec writer and author of the hilarious book Science: For Her! The theme of the show was "The Art and Science of Being a Lady," so I took the opportunity to expound on what I think it means to be a lady.
I’ve never liked the word “lady.”
It reeks of propriety and obligation.
The only times I can remember people using it in my presence have been to tell me the myriad things I shouldn’t be doing.
Ladies don’t belch.
Ladies don’t pass gas.
In fact, ladies never let anything go into, or come out of their bodies.
Ladies have Barbie parts.
Ladies are sexless.
Ladies are humorless.
Ladies don’t make crass jokes.
Ladies don’t make jokes at all.
Or if they do, they’re about a heated game of bridge with the Andersons and they’re never, ever funny.
Ladies don’t laugh, they titter.
There’s nothing fun about tittering.
A titter is a laugh and an apology at the same time.
The only time a laugh ever requires an apology is if your friend falls down in your presence and you laugh prior to asking them if they’re okay.
Ladies don’t skateboard, or snowboard, or waterboard or do anything with the word “board” in it.
The only sports ladies are allowed to play are tennis and golf because both involve cute skirts and the word “stroke” without any sexual connotations.
Ladies let the man set the pace in the relationship.
Ladies wear long skirts with bustles because it’s a great place to store all the anger and frustration they feel about letting the man set the pace in the relationship.
Ladies never ugly cry.
Ladies never yell, or run, or jump, or spit,…or swallow, or smoke, or twerk, or do body shots, or discover radium, or complain about sexism in the video game industry, or swear, or chew gum, or do that pully-squatty combo that’s required when the crotch of their tights is traveling to their knees.
What I’m saying is, ladies don’t really exist.
Or, I should say, they might appear to exist, but if you think you know a lady, she’s doing every single thing on this list when she thinks no one is looking.
Especially the pully-squatty tights combo.
Everyone has done the pully-squatty tights combo at some point in their lives. Even Batman.
To ask someone to “be a lady” is asking her to conform to some nonexistent, un-reachable standard in the same way “be a man” or “why can’t we just have a normal family?” is.
I say if we all want to be around women who drink and actually have bodily fluids and cackle and have sex with their non-Barbie lady parts and eat hot wings and eliminate Skynet by using old Terminators against new Terminators, we should put the term “lady” into the same dark closet that “gentlewoman” and “wench” are hanging out in.
Or, maybe the next time you see someone acting in a way that you don’t think correlates properly to the genitalia you assume they have, maybe just take all those feelings you’re having about it, and shove them into your bustle.
There’s a lot of room in there.
I should know.
I’m a lady.
At Live Wire, we end up performing about a quarter of the sketches that are written for the show by our crack* team of writers. The others languish on the cutting room floor, until now. This was a sketch brought in by guest writer Ben Coleman.
*Writers not on crack.
When our writers found out Wil Wheaton was on the show, there was much rejoicing (yay!). We couldn’t wait to write a sketch for him to act in with us, and most of our ideas were Star Trek-focused. But what ended up airing was “Wil Wheaton Erotic Fan Fiction” (listen here). So that meant that a sketch we really liked ended up…you know where. Here it is in all its glory.