#Ashtag Week 22: Shmurdering 2014

Happy almost new year, folks! We are officially in the future (according to movies and such). Before we kick off this week's edition, I'd like to announce that starting in January, #Ashtag will scale back from a weekly to a monthly release. It will appear the third Monday of every month. Mark your calendars, and prepare yourselves for pop culture feasts. Let's dive into this week's most popular things on the Web. Currently, the No. 1 search on Google is "Twitter." Twitter is having some technical difficulties at the moment. Some tweets have time stamps of December 2015 and some are incorrectly stamped from last year. Maybe the social media giant has figured out time travel and this is some guerrilla way to announce it? Twitter is also having a bug where Android users are being booted off of their account. I can't think of a sci-fi explanation for why that is happening. Oh, maybe computer data remains of Steve Jobs are waging war against all things not Apple?

Ashtag221Another top search on Google is rapper Bobby Shmurda. Shmurda spent his Christmas behind bars after he was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, gun charges, and more. His attorney, Howard Greenberg, stated that this arrest was because, "The government hates rappers...and are jealous of a brother on the way up." That could be it or it could be results of the Wire-esque investigation the NYPD had been conducting on Shmurda and his crew. I actually don't know if it's appropriate for me to be using Shmurda like it's his last name. Bobby Shmurda is a stage name for Ackquille Jean Pollard. A rumor spread that Pollard, nope, that doesn't feel right either, Shmurda was killed in his jail cell at Rikers Island. I am now going to let you in on a secret. I didn't know that Rikers Island was a real place. OK, I think maybe I knew that it was real, but I don't think I thought it was currently operational. In my head, it was like Alcatraz or Arkham Asylum. Either way, I now know that Rikers is a real place and is still a functional jail.

Ashtag222One of the top YouTube videos this week is "Best News Bloopers 2014." Since, you're not getting a pop culture compilation or best-of-the-year list from me, I'd like to recommend you watch this gem instead. I watched this entire 15-minute video and chuckled aloud several times. There's a little kid at the 11:10 minute mark that is just adorable. For my next birthday, I'd really like for him to do a video card for me. I can't imagine he'll have aged too far out of his cuteness by then. Is this a strange request? It may be, but I mean it. Please someone make it happen.

To wrap this week up, I'd like to say thank you for joining me on my popular culture education so far. I look forward to learning much more in 2015. And just to note, I haven't been playing the Kardashian game, but I have been getting alerts that her mom and sister are now somehow involved. #Ishoulddeletetheappfrommyphonebutikindawannacheckoutthefam

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week #21: This Time With a Tiny Bit of Sports

The big 2-1. Twenty-one weeks of #Ashtag, and a first is about to happen: I am going to dive into the world of sports. As with every other week, the top Google searches are littered with the names of sports teams and athletes. I have made it a point each week to tell you how I am avoiding the topic, but I've decided that it is clearly a part of popular culture that I can't just ignore. So, in I go. Ashtag211

The No. 1 Google search at this very moment I'm writing is Johnny Manziel. I've heard his name, and I've seen it sprinkled across other top Google search lists, as well as my Facebook news feed. I can tell you that he plays football due to his nickname "Johnny Football." That is the extent of my knowledge about this dude. Let's learn more.

OK, he went to Texas A&M. That explains why he pops up on my Facebook feed. I will tread lightly now as to not offend any Aggie friends. He appears to be the No. 1 search on Google right now, because he played terribly in his first game starting for the Cleveland Browns. Hype, man, it'll get you every time.

Have we all gotten our fill of sports now? Cool, let's move on. Kourtney Kardashian has had her third baby with Scott Disick. Can I say that this guy reminds me of Christian Bale in American Psycho? I feel like a meal with him would be really unpleasant, and you'd leave the table with an upset tummy. I obviously don't know the guy; he could be very nice. Either way, I have to move on because "Hip to Be Square" is now rolling around in my head and I'm feeling very unsettled.

So, a hashtag that is currently trending pretty heavily on Twitter right now is #whatIfindattractive. It seems to be pretty self-explanatory. People tweet about the things they find attractive or post a picture and throw on this hashtag. A user named Harry Potter Quotes uses this particular hashtag pretty frequently. One of his or her tweets just says, "Hogwarts letters #WhatIFindAttractive." This user @harry_ppotter has over 6,500 followers. I don't actually know if that is a lot of followers, as I'm still what you'd call a noob/non-user of Twitter, but that seems like a lot of people. I don't know. The more I dive into popular trends, the less I understand.


One of the top YouTube videos this week is Ariana Grande's "Santa Tell Me." This music video has a lot of Christmas pajamas and those hats that look like animal heads with the attached mittens. I've seen these hats around. I mean I guess it's convenient to have your hat attached to the mittens along with some neck coverage, but it just seems like you'd have limited mobility. Can someone report back to me on that? If you can move around pretty well, can someone get me one that looks like a wolf? That'd be bitchin. Oops, let's get back to the video. There is a split second where you see this really cool wrapping paper; I hope I find some like it. Also, the second half of this video is just outtakes of Grande and her pals goofing around, which incidentally, is all that the music video itself contains.

Since we mentioned a Kardashian this week, I feel like I should report my progress in the Kardashian Hollywood game. There hasn't been any. I haven't played in awhile, and I've been getting alerts that my fans missed me. I got lured before thinking there'd be some sort of celebration of my return and there wasn't. Fool me once, game. #butitislikelyiwillplayitagainsoon

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week #18: We Are Sweet Potato

Ashtag4 Eighteen weeks! A milestone number in years, 18 is. An 18-year-old could vote or buy a lottery ticket. But this is weeks. And you know what is measured in weeks? Babies. Specifically babies still in the womb. The idea of gestation usually freaks me out a bit, but if #Ashtag were an unborn fetus, it would be the size of a sweet potato. A sweet potato! This week is Thanksgiving! This is neat. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, folks.

Let's get going, because the Internet is overflowing with things I don't know about. I'm going to skip over some of the top Google searches because untimely passings, Cosby allegations, Manson weddings, and immigration reform are not lighthearted topics of celebration. And we're celebrating: we're a sweet potato! Chris Hemsworth was named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive." Well, hello, Mr. Hemsworth, let's celebrate. Google's top searches lead me to a link of shirtless gifs. Now that's a Hemsworthy cause of celebration. I'll see myself out.

By out, I meant onto the next topic: Will Smith's children. Jaden and Willow Smith, both in their early teens, gave a joint interview where they mused about time and space. They laid down such sick quotes that a poetry generator was created based on the words they spouted during the interview. Please allow me to share my creation from the generator now:

So teenagery. Energy is coming through. I think of concepts. It's not true. Babies remember my high-fashion things. A place of oneness. An apple.

You're welcome. I hope you're able to make a poem that will make your spirit lift into the holographic reality that those kids talked about. I don't know what that feels like, but I like to imagine that's where I am now. We are sweet potato.

OK, I brought myself back down to earth by looking at those Hemsworthy gifs again. Hello. Alright, I found some names I'm not too familiar with on the top Google searches: Kylie Jenner was banned from Tyga's birthday bash. Now, I have heard of Jenner. She's step-sisters with the Kardashians. No, research tells me she is a half-sister to the Kardashians. I was so close. I have never heard of Tyga. I guess the two were dating. Tyga is a rapper. I assumed it was a cute way to spell Tiger with some hip vowel ending, but Tyga is actually an acronym for Thank You God Always. He's had some songs featuring Rick Ross, Drake, and Chris Brown. All names I've heard of.


Rather than hunt down the top videos of the past week, I'm going to chase down this Tyga train. I've just watched Tyga's video for "Wait for a Minute (Explicit) ft. Justin Bieber." I can't pass up an opportunity for Biebs exposure. This is how I immerse myself in pop culture even if the video is over a year old. I have a lot of catching up to do. Am I aging myself by saying that Bieber looks a lot like a young Vanilla Ice in this video? I just searched "Bieber Vanilla Ice," and the comparison has already been made quite a large number of times. Like I said, I have a lot of catching up to do.

If you'll remember last week, I told you that the Kardashian game was begging me to return to my fans. Well, I gave in. It was underwhelming, and things had pretty much stayed the same. Though there is a lot of Thanksgiving decor now littered throughout the game, haystacks and whatnot, there was no fanfare or celebration of my return. It was not triumphant. #ishouldnothavepreviouslycomparedmyselftochappelle

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week #17: Bean Bag Cuddling

Ashtag 17a There was no #ashtag last week, as I took a quick jaunt to Chicago that included a total of 40 hours on a bus. I missed you, and I'm glad we're back together. This is our 17th week together, by the way. If weeks were years and those years were our age, we'd finally be able to get into a R-rated movie. If it were our wedding anniversary, our traditional gift would be shells and/or furniture. In my head, we're celebrating this week by eating some shells 'n cheese on our new, giant bean bag that we bought as our furniture gift for ourselves while watching a raunchy, rated-R flick.

As we stuff our faces on our bean bag, let's learn about this week's Internet trends and find out what everyone else already knows about. Sports are still a thing. College football and NBA teams are top Google searches. Nothing sporty seems worth my dissection this week. Maybe someday.

Another top search is Diem Brown, a contestant from MTV's Real World/Road Rules challenges. Sadly, she lost her battle with cancer this past week. The MTV challenges started back when I was in high school. I was always a fan. Last year, I even found some episodes streaming online and caught up on seasons I missed through the years I didn't have cable. We all have our guilty pleasures. Diem was a nice girl and a cancer survivor. She had a romance with fellow contestant and ruffian, C.T., whom I always had a crush on. One of my first thoughts upon hearing of her passing was wondering how he was taking it. I hope he and her family are getting through the loss alright. Like I said, she always seemed like a nice girl.

On a more uplifting note, math and science seem to be getting even cooler. Maybe it's the influence of Neil DeGrasse Tyson or the hit flick Interstellar or maybe it's the whole "nerds are cool" movement. Either way, braininess seems to be very "in" right now. A new awards show held by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation is specifically designed to present awards and money to researchers who have made breakthroughs in life sciences, physics, and mathematics. This year's show will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane with a performance by Christina Aguilera. Granted, the show will be airing on the Science and Discovery channels and not MTV, it is still quite cool.

Ashtag 17b

Opposite of academia, I sought out this week's top music videos. I found another artist that I have never heard of, Calvin Harris, and watched his hit video, "Open Wide." If a snapshot of my face were taken while I watched this video, it would look remarkably similar to my face when I smell something funky. Not a good funky, but a bad, got-a-whiff-of-food-left-in-the-fridge-too-long funky. The beat of the song is fine enough. It kind of reminds me of Moroccan dance music that you might hear in a hookah bar. But the lyrics bothered me, and the ballerina dancing in the middle of a shoot-out in the video bothered me. Every week I learn that I'm bothered by "cool" things.

At this point, we've all seen the picture of Kim Kardashian's well-oiled bare behind, right? I think Conan O'Brien summed it up the best by saying that every time he sees it, he is reminded to check his car's oil. Speaking of Kardashian: I haven't played the game in over a week. I keep getting alerts on my phone like, "Where is Ashley?," and "Ashley's Fans Are Concerned." I haven't even opened the app. Who knows what I'll find? I guess this is what Dave Chappelle felt like before he came back from Africa. #iapologizeforcomparingmyselftomrchappelle

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week 16: Sweet, Sweet Girl Power

Sixteen weeks checked off of our collective calendar. Sixteen weeks of learning about what's popular, what's cool, what's in and hip, learning about what the kids are into, learning about what's gone viral. Sixteen weeks. Boy, does time fly. If we were married, the traditional anniversary gift would be silver hollowware. What is that? Hollow things made of silver like teapots, ice buckets, goblets, et cetera. I didn't know what hollowware was. I learned the definition from the Internet. The same Internet that told me that hollowware was the traditional gift. Let's learn cooler things from the Internet now, shall we? I censored them both equally. I also gave Putin a helmet for the whole equality thing.

Chelsea Handler is the top search on Google right now. She posted a picture of herself topless on a horse to mirror Vladmir Putin's photo of himself topless on a horse. Handler is making a statement that lady nipples should be free and allowed on Instagram just like man nipples are allowed. #Ashtag is not a place for my opinions. Well, I think I may only be saying that because I do not have strong feelings about lady nipples being allowed on Instagram. As a woman, should I have more passionate feelings? I suppose I should. I feel like any human body can be displayed without being salacious booty fodder. But it really doesn't bother me that lady nips aren't allowed on Instagram. Please don't take my woman card away from me, ghost of Betty Friedan.

Hermione as Rosie the Riveter. Girl Power.

Well, if you don't believe in perfect segues, step back and open your eyes. I wrote my pleas to Friedan, and then I read the next top search on Google: Rosie the Riveter. Well, hello, sign. I guess I get to keep my Feministo card, fellas. The building that used to be the Willow Run Bomber Plant was saved last week from demolition. Thousands of ladies, including ladies that inspired the image for Rosie the Riveter, built bombers during WWII. The rescue of this building and tons and tons of Halloween costumes of her put Rosie the Riveter on top of the Internet this week.

Ladies get another point this week as J.K. Rowling's profile of Dolores Umbridge is another top Google search. Although, as I consider myself a fan of Harry Potter (listen to Jim Dale's narration on the audiobooks - I cannot praise it enough), I can admit that Dolores Umbridge counts for quite a large deduction of points for females. She is an awful character. But she was created by a woman, so plus one point! There is no actual gender scoreboard.

And thank goodness for that. Because Amanda Bynes is back in the spotlight. If there were a scoreboard, we'd be minus some big points for this one, ladies. She doesn't have to stay in the mental institution, but she does have to remain under her mother's conservatorship until 2015. This is sad. Let's move on.

Back to Harry Potter talk, one of the top-viewed videos on YouTube this week is "Daniel Radcliffe Raps Blackalicious' 'Alphabet Aerobics.'" The clip is from The Tonight Show where Radcliffe does exactly as the title says he does. It is quite impressive. I don't believe I could even read all of those words to that rhythm let alone memorize and spit them with mad game like he does. I bet he could do the same to Blackalicious' "Chemical Calisthenics." I'm a fan of that song, you should check it out. See, I like music. Let's go look up the top music videos. I sure hope it's a girl, so as to fit this theme we've almost got going.

According to MTV, Tove Lo's "Habits" is a top music video this week. At first, I wasn't sure if Tove Lo was a boy or a girl, so I watched the video. It's a girl (yay! theme!) and I've heard this song before. It's a catchy little diddy, I guess. Here's a thing I don't like: I don't like cigarettes being cool again. Cigarettes suck. They stink. I'm sick of seeing people younger than me smoking them. I guess #ashtag is a place for opinions after all.

Oh, I almost forgot. I am still playing the game. Kim threw a Halloween party. She dressed as a leopard. I wore a red hood and an unmatching dress because I refuse to spend real money on a costume in the game. #IknowitsuncoolofmetojudgeotherswhenIplaytheKardashiangameIreallydo

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

#Ashtag Week 13: Into the Woods with a Full Moon and Some Lace

I bet this lady is celebrating a 13th anniversary. Thirteen. Spooky. According to Hallmark's website, the traditional gift for a 13th anniversary is lace. Sexy. Also according to Hallmark, the modern gift for a 13th anniversary is "textile furs." I put "textile furs" in quotations, because it was a question-inducing pair of words to me. I searched this phrase on Google to find out more. Immediately, 13th anniversaries popped up on the top results, even though I didn't include anniversary in my "textile fur" search. Most of the results did include the backslash; "textile/fur" which makes more sense to me.

I found myself on http://www.anniversarygift.org/thirteenth-anniversary-gifts/. Instead of me sharing all of the knowledge that I gained on this site, I really would like to encourage you to read "the celebration" suggestions at the bottom of the page. Suffice it to say, to celebrate our 13th week together, we're gonna need a lot of lace, some fake fur, Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock house, and a full moon.

OK. Everybody take a deep breath. We got a little bit too caught up in the whirlwind of textile fur. Let's focus. The Internet has been churning all week, and we need to learn what floated to the top (there are inaccuracies in this dairy analogy). Sports have littered the top searches on Google. No thank you. Ebola. We know. Again, no thank you.

Taylor Swift's new single "Out of the Woods" is a top search because the song is about her ex-boyfriend Harry Styles. A reluctant yes please. This is the kind of juice we need to learn about. The song very quickly popped to No. 1 on iTunes, but Harry refuses to react to it. Harry Styles is a member of One Direction. Ke$ha has made some very serious accusations about her producer that I don't want to make light of here. But good for her for getting help. Zach Galifinakis has lost a lot of weight. Penelope Cruz is Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive.

I'd like to register for this as my gift this week.

Well, alright, I just burned through the top Google searches pretty quickly. Let's keep truckin'. One of the top hashtags on Twitter this week is #PSAT. This hashtag is literally about the pre-SATs and teenagers' concerns about taking them. There are a lot of pics with sad faces and actually a few with kids burning their study guides. There are a few older people sprinkling in about how the PSATs are nothing compared to the SATs. My favorite tweet of the #PSAT persuasion is from a kid who basically tells everyone to get serious, because there are a lot of scholarship opportunities available if you score high on the PSATs. I hope those darn kids using the hashtag to look for funny pictures heed his advice.

One of the most viewed videos on YouTube this week, with nearly six million views, is the trailer for Tomorrowland. A movie based on the futuristic area of Disney theme parks. Pirates of the Caribbean was a movie based on a ride, and it did pretty well. The trailer for Tomorrowland looks pretty neat, and George Clooney is in it. It comes out on my mom's birthday, May 22. Jot that down and maybe send her a card or a picture of George Clooney. She'd like that.

I do have some pretty big news. I was recently given a bodyguard and a personal assistant in the Kardashian game. In real life (or IRL, as the kiddos would type it), I've been caught playing this game a few times by friends. And they have all given me some sort of grief about it. I would like to say that I've never picked the game over listening to someone. I don't play while I drive, unless I'm at a stoplight and I have full energy that needs to be used. I play this game for you guys. You come back every week waiting for an update. I do it for you. #imgoingthedistancebcusnobodyknowshowthiswillendandimayplayforever

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of the DCH Improv Training Program and is currently a level 3 sketch writing student. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.