Friday, October 21, 2016

I Just Want to Hear Monster Mash on Loop for the Next 10-15 Days

Do you think that's too much to ask? To hear the song Monster Mash over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until Halloween and maybe even a few days after? Until early November, maybe?

Monster Mash goes super amazingly great with waxy fun-size 100 Grand bars that somehow taste a lot worse than I remember. Like, a lot worse. (Reese's PB cups are still delish though. No one can step to the Reese's).

Also Thriller. That one really takes me back. Remember the Thriller video? When that came out it was state of the ART! And the record? I had that shit on vinyl. I can still see Michael Jackson sprawled out like a lynx, all airbrushed with "Thriller" scrawled across the album cover in white script. I stared at that album cover all day, e'er day.

But I digress.

Monster Mash is the earworm I MOST want boring a hole into my brain crinkles for the next two weeks. Every time I turn on the radio, and every time I go into a store, I just want to be reminded that it's Halloween. Because without Monster Mash, I'd forget.

I'd be all like, why does cheaply-made polyester Minions and Harry Potter-themed garbage keep showing up on my doorstep from Amazon? Why is every surface in my workplace and home littered with foul, processed miniature candies that I wrinkle my nose at and announce are disgusting as I open and eat one after the other after the other like a chain smoker but with Sour Patch Kids instead of Camel Lights? Why do I keep saying, "ohmigawd this candy is so disgusting" [chomp chomp chomp chomp chomp]?

Then fucking Monster Mash comes on, and I'm like, OH YEEEEEEEAH! Now I remember! It's Halloween!

Democracy, Denial, and the Death Rattle of a Demagogue

Everyone keeps talking about the big scandal that is Trump's sneering refusal to "accept" the results of the election unless he wins it. In reality, this is less a scandal than it is yet another manifestation of a persistent theme: 

Trump's ongoing--and, yes, SAD--public denial of reality. 

From walls to women to faux-fortunes, Trump's entire campaign--if not his entire life--is a sham. A house of cards built on bullshit, and fueled by his sociopathic lack of empathy and relentless compulsion to promote and satisfy himself at the expense of everything from women's bodies to democracy itself.

To be sure, Trump's promise to keep us all "in suspense" regarding his acceptance of election results gives the middle finger to previously sacrosanct democratic traditions and norms. It even threatens to rile his most ardent supporters into a dangerous (albeit likely temporary) frenzy, with terrifyingly unpredictable consequences.

Here's the thing though: It doesn't matter if Trump "accepts" the results of the election or not. 

If, and hopefully when, Trump loses the election, that's it. It's over. Hillary Clinton is President of the United States, and no amount of denial or acceptance on the part of Donald Trump or his supporters will change that. I don't "accept" that I'm not 29 anymore, but guess what? Time marches on, and doesn't care about my back fat and wrinkles. The idea that Donald Trump could hold the presidency hostage simply by "refusing" to "accept" an election result is just one more self-delusional fiction in a long line of grandiose Trumpian delusions.

Last week, I wrote about how we can't put the proverbial toothpaste back in the tube. You can churn out a million red baseball caps and hold a rally every day of the week if you want to, but there is no making America anything "again," great or otherwise. 

The world is globalized. The planet is warming. People are more interconnected than ever before. Rigid constructs of race, gender, and nationhood are becoming increasingly fluid, if not irrelevant. There is no undoing any of this. It's a numbers game, and white supremacists and nationalists are outnumbered. There are simply not enough alt-right zealots in this country or anywhere in the Western world to move the needle of that movement meaningfully beyond the fringes where it currently resides.

That is not to say the movement isn't dangerous and newly mainstreamed by this election. Clearly, Trump has lifted up a rock and a billion snakes have crawled out from under it. And it's not to say that a smarter, more self-controlled, self-aware, and generally more cunning person than Donald Trump couldn't pose a serious threat to the stability of American democracy and the constitution. 

Trump has already exposed their vulnerabilities, though not necessarily for the reasons that have provoked the most outrage. His apparent willingness to ban Muslims and Mexicans, build walls, silence the press, and jail his political opponents are much more insidious and un-American than his failure to commit to a concession speech. They are certainly more offensive (strictly from a civics standpoint) than anything he has ever said about the female anatomy. 

Fortunately, because Trump is Trump--i.e., a basic failure of a human being by every measure--these comments are hollow lies just like everything else that leaves his mouth.

As abhorrent, shocking, and unprecedented as it might be for a major party candidate to refuse to commit to the results of a federal election and the peaceful transition of the presidency, that refusal should be seen for what it is:  

The howling death rattle of an angry, pathetic demagogue who has finally reached the outer limits of his own denial.

Image result for donald trump images

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm Just Waiting for My Kid's Teacher to Write a Letter That Will Go Viral on the Internet

I'm just a mom. A mom with two kids, standing in front of the internet. And I'm waiting for a letter to come home in one of my kid's backpacks that I can photograph with my iPhone and then post on social media in the hopes that it will go viral and everyone will be totally obsessed with it for two days.

Parents everywhere will be like, "OMG did you see that letter from that teacher yesterday about that thing?! It was like, all over Facebook? Cuh-raaazeee, riiiight?!" And then I can be all like, "I never expected this to happen . . . "

That's really my life's dream. 

It will be like winning the lottery, but unfortunately with zero money and for two days instead of forever. I don't really care what the note is about, as long as it promises to create some super mega-vi content that basically breaks the internet, gets tweeted and shared on FB over 500K times by celebrities with millions of followers, and gets picked up by Huffpost Parents, Scary Mommy, Buzzfeed, Vice, or Mashable.

I want to see click-bait headlines from these sites with titles like "This Teacher Never Guessed Her Letter About [BLANK] Would Go Viral." I mean, can you imagine? Maybe it will even spawn a few hastily-drafted think pieces from legit semi-famous bloggers and columnists for Slate or something. 

What a rush!

Although I have approximately zero control over whether or not this happens, I must confess that each day I open up the green folder in each of my children's backpacks and feel a crushing disappointment when all I see is another field trip permission slip or a Scholastic book order form. 

What I'm really looking for from my kids' teachers (HINT HINT my kids' teachers) is a letter that says something super profound about how homework isn't cool and my kids aren't getting any more of it because we should be eating dinner at the dinner table and spending meaningful time together. (We all eat standing up in the kitchen and screaming at each other, homework or not, but that won't stop this letter from fucking lighting up the interwebs).

I don't even care if it means something bad or traumatizing just happened to my kid, as long as it's not too bad or traumatizing. Like maybe they were sent home for some sexist or racist or homophobic reason or something that's reflected in the letter and the teacher will look really stupid and small-minded and incite public outrage/shaming and get fired (or at least placed on paid administrative leave pending a full investigation). 


That would only increase the possibility of this letter from my kid's teacher literally exploding the internet into a mass of ashes from which the phoenix of viral content shall rise triumphantly for the next 48-72 hours.

Today is my lucky day. I just know it.

O.H.M.'s 6 Step Guide to Being "Such a Nasty Woman"

I don't know anything about important matters of state. But I do know a lot about being a nasty woman. A whole lot. That's why I was thrilled when Donald Trump muttered during last night's third (and thankfully last) presidential debate that Hillary Clinton is "such a nasty woman." What an amazing, inadvertent compliment!

It might have been after she called him "Putin's Puppet," or it could have been right after she offered a long, boring, complicated analysis of mid-east conflict, to which Trump replied with the observation that "Mosul is SAD." 

I don't remember. I do, however, know how to be suuuuuuuuuuuuuuch a nasty woman, and here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Smell really gross stuff out of curiosity: Whether it's a sponge on the edge of the kitchen sink, your children's dirty clothes, the back of an earring, or last week's festering salmon in a Pyrex on the third shelf of your refrigerator, there's nothing nastier than taking a deep, long huff of super gross stuff out of curiosity and seeing whether you gag or not.

Step 2: Eat in bed whenever you feel like it: Forget leading by example, and ignore the pleas of your spouse. YOLO SISTAH! You deserve to eat popcorn, cheerios, and Fudgecicles (TM) in bed. Own that shit.

Step 3: Floss in the car on the way to work; have Halloween candy for breakfast: Who has time to floss in the morning, much less eat breakfast? Not you, Little Miss Nasty! Grab a roll of dental floss out of your purse, and start flossing. Crumple up the used floss in a little waxy ball and flick it somewhere into the void of your car. Then dine out on York peppermint patties and Fun Size Reese's peanut butter cups 15 minutes later because October. Finish it off with a giant spoon of peanut butter straight out of the jar and stick the spoon back in your desk drawer without washing it. SLAY, BITCH!

Step 4: Start a blog and curse constantly: Write a blog where every other word is "shit," "fuck," "vibrator," and "vagina." You'll be internet famous for your nastiness in NO TIME.

Step 5: Make an art out of delivering the side-eye: There is a fine art to the side-eye, and when nastily deployed it can be very effective at getting the world to see things your way. Rolling your eyes and talking back to anyone and everyone in the face of abject stupidity and crushing mediocrity is the best way to cement your rep as a NASTY ASS SKANK.

Step 6: Defy expectations: This one's important, so listen up. 
  • Don't do and say what they want and expect you to do and say. 
  • Defy expectations. 
  • Be assertive. 
  • Be confident in your opinions. 
  • Trust your gut. 
  • Say no to more bullshit, yes to more opportunities, and sorry less frequently.
  • You're not a fraud, and you're not an imposter. 
  • Don't let anyone gaslight you. 
  • Get shit done. 
  • Draw boundaries and stick to them. 
  • Advocate for yourself, because no one else will. 
  • Wear makeup and a short skirt if you want to. Or don't. But do it (or don't do it) for yourself. 
  • Question authority. 
  • Question people's demands and assumptions of you. 
  • You don't have to be a "lady" and you don't have to be "classy." Not being a classy lady doesn't make you a cunt or a slut. It makes you a person. 
  • You are more than the sum of your anatomy and your sexuality. Repeat after me: You. Are. Human. First. 
  • Read Shakespeare or binge-watch Real Housewives of New York. It doesn't matter.
  • You don't always have to please other people and accommodate them, and you don't have to be defensive when someone disagrees with you. 
  • Disarm them strategically, but they don't all have to like you. In fact, you're winning if they don't. 
  • You can please yourself and accommodate yourself first. It's okay. 
  • You can be "such a nasty woman." And believe me, that's good enough.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Mom is Cooler Than Me, Part One Zillion

The shoes alone prove it (See Fig. 1). What 71 year-old grandma wears shoes like this? Granted they are extra supportive to help her not fall all over the place, which she has always done, just now with more terrifying consequences. 

But these kicks are fresh.

Also, Francine emerged from the ladies room in the food court of Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo on Sunday to inform me that a full-grown man--who at least outwardly did not appear to be in any phase of transition to another gender--had been using the ladies room at the same time.

I asked if she was uncomfortable and/or if she brought her AK-47 to defend herself against restroom predation, and she said no to both questions. "We're in a post-gender society now," she added with a shrug. "A man wants to use the ladies room? What do I care?"

She also has a good perspective on aging, as reflected in the following text exchange (Fig. 2) where she was letting me know she and my dad made it safely home to their NYC apartment.

That's my mother for you. I had to move 5,000 miles away just to escape the shadow of her dopeness.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Things Fall Apart: Donald Trump and the Entropy of Democracy

en·tro·py ˈentrəpē/noun

1. A thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.

2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.

synonyms: deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, collapse; disorder, chaos; "life is a struggle against entropy."


For better or worse, there is nothing guaranteed or inevitable about American democracy as we know it. That's my number one takeaway from the 2016 presidential election. 

Arguably, true democracy in America died long ago, when, for all practical purposes, it became commodified for sale to the highest bidder. Or maybe it's always been more of an aspiration than a reality. Nonetheless, the truth is the quality of life in the United States remains better than in more fragile democracies around the world. 

That's owing largely to a tacit agreement among participants in American democracy that they will adhere to basic civic principles: a free press should flourish in an intellectual climate devoid of threats; elections aren't "rigged" or alleged to be; political opponents are not targeted for imprisonment; voters are not intimidated by vigilante poll watchers; the constitution matters; the tripartite system of government matters; spin is inevitable, but facts still matter, etc.

You can have policy differences--even completely opposite policy goals and ideas--and still agree that the fundamental structure of the republic is important, and that everyone should adhere to certain norms.

Donald Trump has turned all of those assumptions upside-down.

In Collapse, Jared Diamond, Pulitzer-prize winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, explores the factors that catalyzed various societal collapses throughout human history. Chief among them, Diamond concludes, are the failure to adapt to environmental changes and the compromised integrity of political institutions. 

Donald Trump is the first American politician of any party in living memory to lay waste to the playbook itselfSome people think that's a good thing, some think it's not, but either way its significance cannot be overstated. I'm in the latter camp, because while American democracy is a far cry from perfect, it works reasonably well as long as people continue to follow its basic precepts. 

None of us were alive when the Great American Experiment began, and hopefully none of us will live to see its end. As flawed as our government is, most people who were born and raised in the United States have no idea what it's like to live under a truly different political system--one in which the conduct of the Trump campaign over these past 18 months is normalized. 

It's the consummate manifestation of American privilege to fail to recognize that even a decent--much less a good--government is not a given. Not here, not anywhere. It is not some law of physics that the structure of American democracy should hold. Indeed, the opposite is true: entropy suggests it should not hold. And ironically, Donald Trump trades on populist fears of entropy despite being entropy's most obvious harbinger in a long time. 

The health of a democracy is entirely dependent on the character and conduct of its actors. Although all three branches of government are co-equal, the executive branch is a little "more equal," because the executive can act quickly and unilaterally in ways the legislative and judicial branches can't. In other words, the executive is capable of doing a lot of damage (or a lot of good) in ways that it takes the other two branches of government a long time to undo.

Maybe this election will be the Y2K of 2016, much ado about nothing. Maybe the fabric of American democracy is as strong as we've always assumed. Maybe all of Trump's supporters are right, and he really will give America the "best deal" it's ever had.

The question, though, is whether we really want to find out.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

---William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Is There Any Possible Way Theo Epstein is Not a Dick?

I'm asking that question seriously, sort of as a thought experiment. Hear me out.

Like, I don't know Theo Epstein from Adam, as they say, so who am I to judge? Yet Theo Epstein reminds me of many, many secular-Jewish, Drakar-Noir-drenched Adams (and Seths and Scotts and Joshes and Ians and Daves and Mikes) whom I tried unsuccessfully to woo at sleepaway camp at various points in time. One thing I've learned the hard way about the Theo Epsteins of the world: They'll shove a tongue down your throat and stick a hand up your shirt, but they don't usually fall for semi-unconventional looking (and acting) loud-mouths.

So that's my disclaimer in exploration of this question. Based on my own experience, I confess I'm a little bitter and thus biased in favor of "no" being the answer, but I'm open to changing my mind upon careful analysis.

Let's look at the evidence: 

Exhibit A: Youngest GM in history of Major League Baseball
Exhibit B: Team in Exhibit A was the Red Sox
Exhibit C: Guided two ancient cursed MLB teams to unprecedented records
Exhibit D: Born in NYC, raised in Brookline, MA
Exhibit E: Went to Yale
Exhibit F: Got a law degree
Exhibit G: Engages in charitable giving
Exhibit H: Has super hot blonde wife (I just Googled) and two sons
Exhibit I: Extremely good looking

The man is clearly incredibly accomplished and successful, even generous it seems. He's like the grownup version of "biggest catch at summer camp." But that's not my question--whether he's smart or successful or philanthropic. My question is, is there any possible way he's NOT a dick?

Because I do think you can be all of the above things and STILL be a complete and total dick. And there is no doubt that for all their virtues, the Ivy League, professional sports, and law school are cradles (banana hammocks if you will) of dickery. They're sort of like the in utero, undescended testicles of dickhood. I know this from having personally been inside of the first and the third cradles of dickery for the better part of a decade. 

I also know that nothing is ever really as it seems.

And maybe I'm just a sad, salty old hater, trolling for petty shit to hate on because I'm not satisfied with myself, and I resent the fact that I never got a Bridget Jones moment with one of these dicks. 100% GRANTED. You'll get no argument at all from me on that point. Again though, that does NOT change the fascinating nature of this inquiry.

So tonight I put to you this question, almost in a Neil DeGrasse Tyson "Is this cosmically possible?" sort of a way: Is there any possible way Theo Epstein is not a dick?