the show: 02-21-07

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Intro: Remote Hoedown (song)

Girl: Magnets. [Showing them, puts two magnets inside her mouth, two outside on her cheeks.] Welcome to The Show with Ze Frank.

Ze: That little ditty we just heard is called the Remote Hoedown and is the result of the collaboration between no less than 8 sports racers over the last couple months. Congratulations on finishing and for the rest of you, click the link in the sidebar to hear the whole song.

So, while browsing a news site in the Most Popular category, which might as well be renamed Least Relevant to my Life, I came across this story: Thousands of Taiwanese students had spent months braiding 320,000 strands of human hair into a cable. That human hair cable was going to be used to lift this elephant [image of elephant] off the ground. The stunt was called off, however, when animal rights activists pointed out that it would scare the shit out of the elephant. The new plan consists of using the hair rope to lift about six tons of rocks and wood.

Amusement parks are for amusement. If you're having trouble amusing yourself with who you are, they offer a place designed exactly for that. This opening stunt was meant to show how amusing this place could be. They had banked on the hair being the amusing part, but as is evidenced by the lameness in the transition from elephant to rock, the hair wasn't the key.

This amusement park was part of a subset of amusement parks called theme parks. Most amusement parks offer amusement in the form of sudden release followed by hours of boredom and nausea. Theme parks offer that, plus the amusement of being immersed into a theme that's different than themes that you're used to. If you're having trouble amusing yourself with the themes of your life, these places promise a fast and easy switch. Difference is the key, that's why we don't see supermarket theme parks. Or theme parks where you have to work an 8-hour job in a cubicle: "Suburbanland".

The Taiwanese park is called the Naughty Boy theme park, not kidding, which I have to say is brilliant in its simplicity. A quick search on "naughty boy" in Google Images reveals a theme that I think a lot of people have an underground desire to be immersed in. I'm not sure how they pull it off, but I will say the article doesn't mention which part of the human the human hair was taken from. Puts.. [Laughing] puts that braiding into a whole new light.

There's lots of different themes for theme parks: there's the Dolly Parton-themed Dollywood [image of Web site] which recently cancelled its plans to hoist three llamas in a single brassiere [image of Dolly Parton with the quote, "My one wish for your visit to Dollywood is that the wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains will touch your heart"]; there's Florida's New Testament-themed Holy Land Experience [image of Web site], which was given a tax exemption in 2005; and Bonbonland, which is apparently themed around candy and half-naked animals [displayed] Oh yeah, and this guy [image of a bird protruding from a toilet].

Theme parks, however, become tiresome. After a little while, the initial thrill of difference wears off and you're stuck standing in line looking for attractive people. And soon enough, you're back in the theme of your life. There can be a little bit of a disappointment in this, and some people try something much harder: changing the theme of their own life. Lots of things can stand in your way, especially the people who are closest to you. Your family, your closest friends, think they know you and sometimes can have a very rigid definition of your theme: "You were never athletic." "You always start things and never finish them." "You're not a naughty boy." "You're artsy." "Your theme isn't just made up by you." Robert Putnam, in a book called 'Bowling Alone' says this inner circle is very good at supporting you in times of crisis. When you're emotionally severed, they can remind you who you are. But if you wanna change who you are, you might need other people. People who know you but don't know you so well. Putnam says that that's what knitting circles and bowling leagues and clubs supplied in the middle of last century. People who would surprise you by saying, "Wow, you're athletic." "You do have a way with words." "You seem like a naughty boy." These are the people who seem like they can lead you to a new, interesting job. These are the people who provide you with new themes and new perspectives, away from the burden of history of your inner circle. Putnam worries about the decline of those kinds of activities and wonders what takes their place: forums, Second Life?

As I looked down that Most Popular list, I couldn't help imagining that this is what happened to Britney. There was no amusement left in the theme of her life and she'd already been to all the parks. She tried to change her theme but she's in the Most Popular list, and the whole world is part of her inner circle, always pushing her back to that one dead theme. That's a lot of people to battle. So maybe as a stunt, for the opening day of her new theme, she cut off all her hair. But it's a momentary thrill and you're left with boredom and nausea. And as we've seen, hair is not the key.


This show's sponsors - Gimme some candy

Image:theshow-sponsor-1-7.gif    I turn 30 today. Holy hell.

Image:theshow-sponsor-2-0.gif    Nice chatting with you at RSA in S.F.; Fly Ze!

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