Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A New Low in Dog Whistling: Threatening a Sitting Federal Judge

Just when you think Donald Trump can't possibly lower the bar of civil discourse any further, he knocks it down a few more pegs. 

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo observes, this is the first time in U.S. history that a legitimate candidate for President of the United States has "personally attack[ed] and even threaten[ed]" a sitting federal judge.

The judge in question, Gonzalo Curiel, is presiding over two fraud lawsuits involving Trump's real estate "university," and things aren't working out in Trump's favor in Judge Curiel's courtroom. 

So what does Trump do? What he does best, of course: launch ad hominem attacks intended to rile up his supporters. 

But the problem is his target isn't just anyone this time. It's not Megyn Kelly or Rosie O'Donnell or Anderson Cooper. It's not a TV personality with a petty tweet beef. It's a federal judge, and you don't just go around casually talking smack about federal judges. 

Trump publicly accused Judge Curiel of bias, continually referencing his "Hispanic" and "Mexican" heritage, which according to Trump "is fine," but also the only reason he's losing in court. Not because Trump bilked people out of millions of dollars and is actually guilty of scamming them, of course; but because, you know, Trump is "very, very strong on the border."

I think Trump knows what he's doing, and it's an extremely serious and dangerous game to play. Every lawyer knows this. Every public figure of every political stripe knows this. And anyone with common sense knows it too.

Judges--and in particular federal judges in this country where the average toddler can get their hands on a gun more easily than they can a square meal--are protected by multiple layers of courtroom security with very good reason. 

I'm a practicing attorney and no matter how many times I enter the federal courthouse or whether the security guards know me, I go through two metal detectors to get into the courtroom every time. These are judges who preside over serious criminal cases, and this judge specifically was apparently targeted for assassination by a Mexican drug cartel during his tenure as a federal prosecutor.

Donald Trump has done and said so many repellent, xenophobic, malicious, misogynistic and fallacious things over the past few months, it's impossible to catalog them all. He's shown complete contempt for and/or ignorance of countless constitutional principles he'll have to swear to uphold as president. 

But using your bully pulpit to attack a sitting federal judge? That's not just careless, it's flirting with criminal conduct. Donald Trump should probably STFU about members of the federal judiciary before he finds himself running afoul of statutes that quite rightly make it a crime to threaten a judge. 

At a minimum, he should get off Twitter long enough to brush up on 18 U.S.C. sec. 115. 

Fldmnbzfh9s9lwgarprfPhoto: AP

Whole Entire Internet Now Officially Expert on Everything

INTERNET, WORLD--

For those of you who thought the world was in trouble, think again, because the internet is here to save all of humanity. From commenters and trolls to pundits and bloggers (present company included, of course), the entire internet is now officially an expert.

An expert on what, you ask? Well, EVERYTHING of course, with solutions to spare.

Armed with its collective expertise, the internet today will decide once and for all whether a gorilla should or should not have been shot versus tranquilized when a child fell into its enclosure, or whether the child's parents or the zoo keepers acted properly under the circumstances.

Here in Alaska, the internet also has much to offer in answer to the state's current fiscal crisis brought about by the global decline in the price of oil.

So too is the internet regularly prognosticating back and forth as to who might be the next President of the United States, but whoever wins, surely the internet will have been right.

Also, the internet is set to rule today once and for all on the merits of and solutions to the following issues: gender neutral restrooms, the refugee crisis, climate change, homelessness, and Keria Knightley's alleged bitchiness.

Internet, the whole world turns its lonely eyes to you, whoo-whoo-whoo. Truly, your expertise has arrived not a moment too soon.

Blood from a Stone

Have you ever tried to get someone to talk to you when they don't feel like it? It's actually an amazing exercise in futility and the perfect embodiment of the AA serenity prayer: the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

When someone isn't giving you what you want in life--either in romance, friendship, at work, or otherwise--it's like trying to get blood from a stone to get that person to give it to you. I'm not talking about material possessions here. I'm talking about emotional investment and certain desired interpersonal interactions, whatever those may be.

I thought of this today when someone sent me a Modern Love column from the New York Times. The author told the story of a difficult breakup in which she, the dumpee, was reminded of the memories of a lost love through their shared Netflix queue. The column ends with the woman deciding to "say nothing" in response to a check-in text from her ex, accepting that she "can't change the way someone else feels" about her, so she changes her Netflix password instead.

It was a poignant, sad, well-written, and funny column. Except I was struck by the fact that this woman was not, of course, "saying nothing." Quite the opposite, she was literally publishing a very long account in the New York Times of a breakup, which the initiator himself was likely to read. In her own way, she was still poking and prodding around for a response, or at least for the last word.

These interactions can be distilled into one very basic idea: you can know intellectually that you "can't control how someone else feels," as the author of this column does. But there's a wide gulf between intellectual insight and the emotional insight you need to feel that this is true. To have serenity about it.

I can remember many occurrences of this throughout my younger adulthood and even into the present day. I would feel a certain way about a person in a particular situation. I would want that person to feel or say something in response. I would want to do that thing Adele wants to do in Hello and "meet to go over everything." Of course, this is always the last thing anyone on the receiving end of these overtures ever wants to do. 

That person is a stone. Which is not to say they are cold and unreceptive in general, although they often are. But they are cold and unreceptive to you. Who cares why? It doesn't matter, because it's never about you, not in the way you think it is, anyway.

It took me a long time to realize this. I'm still figuring it out in many ways, and have explored this theme before. Trying to get reciprocity, responsiveness, or security from someone who won't or can't (it doesn't matter which) give it to you is like trying to get blood from a stone. You're constantly asking "why?" or "why don't they care?", when really you should be asking yourself "why do I?"

Like all of us, the author of that modern love column might still be seeking an answer to that last question. 

I hope she gets it.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Woodpeckers Are Dumb as Shit

Is anyone out there a woodpecker scientist? I'm sure that's not the technical name for it, but regardless: can someone please tell me why woodpeckers are dumb as shit? 

Not if. WHY.

Growing up in NYC, everything I knew about woodpeckers I learned from watching Looney Toons. As far as I knew, all woodpeckers were named Woody, dropped anvils on other cartoon animals' heads, and laughed like this: HEHEHEH HEHEHEHH HEEHHEHEHHEHEHEHEHHEHEH! 

All birds were either pigeons, sparrows, ducks, or geese. And all mammals were squirrels, mice, or giant rats. End of story.

Now that I live in Alaska though, I know that woodpeckers are unfortunately not just cartoons. They are destructive little fuckers who are dumb as shit. How do I know this without being a woodpecker scientist? I'll tell you how.

Every morning a woodpecker tries to find food in the siding of my house, which I know because I can hear it CLACKCLACKCLACKCLACKING away, poking holes in the gutters with impunity under the protection of some sort of federal migratory bird act. Your only option is to put your house under a net. No BB guns to at least just scare them away. Nope. A net. A fucking NET.

Otherwise, all you can do is listen to them peck holes in your vinyl-sided house on a vain hunt for bugs or grubs or whatever it is they eat. They do this every morning. Every. Single. Morning. It's like dudes: You keep looking, and you're not finding anything. There's nothing in there. It's vinyl. It's not a tree. The gutters don't have any bugs inside of them; they're made of metal. All you're doing is wasting time and sanding down your beak as you destroy my home equity. It's lose-lose for both of us here.

Go find a tree and give up on my house, which is not a tree. I don't want you to die or go extinct or anything, but for reals. You are so dumb I can't believe evolution got you this far into civilization. 

Seriously woodpeckers, you are dumb as shit.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Flight Suit Freakout

There's no getting between a kid and his "imagination." Imagination, schmimagination. Kids and their fucking imaginations. I'm always telling my kids to "use their imaginations," and then I'm sorry I did. 

But first a detour.

This post isn't about my period, because periods are boring and taboo and no one wants to hear about them. But I need to justify why I was in bed for several hours in the middle of a relatively nice day in Juneau. Who am I kidding. I'd be in bed in the middle of any day rain or shine if I could, even if I didn't have my period, but day 2 of Little Red Riding Hood doubled my usual weekend naptime and my parents were here to take care of my kids. 

So it was mostly from bed that I overheard Isaac's flight suit freakout, which, like so many PMS cramps, made seismic rumblings earlier in the day before we left the house for a beach excursion. 

By the time we returned, Isaac's "imagination" was in high gear. He wanted to make a "flight suit." 

He'd prattled on for 20 minutes in the car about the materials he would need (wire, cloth, duct tape) and what this invention would do (make him fly). He would not be dissuaded. Out of Isaac's five year-old earshot, my dad pulled me aside in the garage. 

"You can't tell him he can't do it, Elizabeth," my own father explained to me matter-of-factly. "You have to show him he can't."

Ah! There's that "never-give-up-on-your-dreams" Nick I remember so well from childhood! 

"Whatever dad," I grumbled. "I don't want any part of this. I'm having female troubles." (I learned long ago that this statement is usually enough to make every man in my life cut me a wide berth). Tried and true. I crawled into bed and jammed my precious earplugs in my ears, but still I could hear the flight suit under construction. 

And Isaac, both foreman and architect of the project, was NOT pleased with the execution of his vision.

"BUT YOU GUYS DON'T UNDERSTAND! NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO!!! IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK LIKE THIS!"

No shit, kid, I thought, rolling over and pulling a pillow over my head. Welcome to literally every single day at every single job in the real world.

When the project was "complete," I could hear every other member of my family (even Isaac's usually sadistic sister) alternately trying to gaslight Isaac into thinking his flight suit was working exactly as intended, and convince him of the limitations of physics.

I snickered to myself from the safe, dark cavern of my side of the bed. Might as well learn it early, kid. Your imagination doesn't mean shit. You wanna fly? Drop some acid and lock yourself in a cabin in the woods or buy yourself a ticket to Seattle. 'Cause an old curtain, a wire hanger, and duct tape ain't gonna cut it.

Isaac, if you're reading this, life is just a series of minor setbacks and disappointments like this, all of which culminate in the nihilistic realization that there's really no point to any of it. And that's if you're lucky. Maybe unlike your mother, you'll get religion. Then at least you can tell yourself you'll have a flight suit in the next life. Just do me a favor: don't let this POS flight suit you made today take you there, at least not while I draw breath.

In the meantime, keep on dreamin' kid. Keep dreamin'.

Carry On Then!

There's always a moment (or ten) at any social gathering with parents and kids when at least one kid comes running into a room of adults crying. 

The first order of business when this happens is to determine whether there's a significant volume of blood loss, a broken bone, or a trip to urgent care or the ER in the immediate future. 

You can usually tell right away whether it's a serious or trivial situation based on the cry. Like penguins, parents can recognize the unique cries of their offspring and can readily distinguish between sibling fights, small scrapes, and toy-loss crying versus trip-to-the-ER crying. 

This is known as phase one of triage.

Triage phase 2 is to figure out how, if at all, to assign fault and whether one's own child is to blame for making another kid cry and if so, what (if anything) to do about it.

This typical scenario unfolded yesterday at one of my Juneau sister wives' barbecues. 

All eight kids present at this gathering were engaged in a veritable reenactment of Lord of the Flies outdoors. I was inside holding court before a group of moms, coloring in my adult coloring book and wondering aloud why people are into weird sexual fetishes like dressing up in a Dalmatian costume or dipping their balls in chocolate sprinkles.

At this very moment, a little boy wheeled into the room wailing. Initial good news: It wasn't my little boy, so next I had to determine whether one of my kids made this child cry. In which case, I might need to get off the couch and perform some sort of active parental intervention. 

I say "might" because my usual response to verbal conflict is to ask what exactly the kids expect me to do about their problem, and direct them to figure out the solution their damn selves. If the conflict involves sword play, however, I might go outside and scream from a porch or something. (I guess you could say I'm more of a Model-T Ford mom than a helicopter mom).

As it happened, this particular fight was between this little boy and his older sister over who knows what. I didn't stop to find out, because at that point triage phase 3 kicks in, which is the "I don't care, please carry on" phase. 

This is the phase when you can breathe a sigh of relief that no one is seriously injured and none of your offspring is responsible for anything bad happening. At that point, as far as you're concerned it's the other parent's problem and the kid can cry until he's 25 for all you care. 

Carry on then!

Nothing left to do but keep drinking and hoping your kids don't climb on these commercial crab pots in your sister wife's husband's yard (Fig. 2). 

Which then frees you up to amuse yourself watching your daughter play a decidedly Southeast Alaska game of "car on the ferry" (Fig. 1), in which these Playmobil people were too late making their ferry reservations for camping in Whitehorse, Yukon; so they had to send their car on the boat ahead of themselves, and meet up with it later.

(Fig. 1)


(Fig. 2)




Saturday, May 28, 2016

"I Love a Good Whale"

Do you ever use someone else's sunglasses as a mirror to check yourself out under the guise of making eye contact?

I do. 

My college roommates and I used to call this sort of semi-surreptitious vanity "pulling a BMC." The BMC was the shorthand name for The Biomedical Center, a science building on campus completely paneled in gun-metal mirrors. Thus, its walls were perfect for examining your own reflection as you walked down the block on which this building stood, affording you a 250 foot-long view of yourself strutting and strolling between classes.

We loved to call each other out on it. "Are you pulling a BMC?" Caught in the act, the perpetrator was begrudgingly forced to admit that she was.

My statuesque friend with whom I was talking yesterday didn't go to college with me, so she was presumably unaware that I was partially using her head as a mirror. In my view, if you get the privilege of being a 6"0 tall woman, the least you can do for your 5"3 troll friends is to charitably help them feel less ugly by letting them gaze up into your sunglasses to try to get a piece of cilantro out of their teeth and see whether or not they look cute today.

Since I'm such a great multitasker though, I was able to focus on myself AND our conversation. 

We were talking (in part) about how gross it was to change a diaper when your kid is fully shitting turds, but also how satisfying it is when it's one hard piece that you can just dump into the toilet, and almost--almost--even immediately reuse the diaper because there's only just a tiny streak mark.

It was at this moment that we saw another whale breach in the Gastineau Channel, its cetacean majesty the perfect compliment to this moment.

"God, I love a good whale," I said to a third friend of mine standing next to me. 

We were all at the edge of the beach, scanning the horizon for more tell-tale poofs of humpback whale breath and tailfins, of which we'd seen the summer's first grouping moments ago. 

My tall friend and spontaneous mirror also worked as a marine naturalist on boats across the seven seas captained by her husband (that bitch has it all), so she knows how to use her 6"0 eyeballs for more than just a reflective surface. 

"I know," responded my other friend, who though a lifelong Juneauite, was not jaded on whales. "I love a good whale too." 

And who doesn't? 

For I was positive that nowhere else in the world at that very moment were three women standing around looking at whales, talking about toddler turds, and using each other's heads for mirrors all at the same time.

God, I love a good whale.

Two Jewish Mothers Walk Out of a Bar

And guess what happens next? Well, I'll tell you what.

We see three teenage boys flying--and I mean FLYING--down a very steep downhill street on skateboards. They had the look down. The shaggy Bieber hair. The slouchy hats. The baggy jeans and backpacks. 

But guess what was missing? You got it compadres. THE HELMETS. At 75 mph.

"Oh My God. Their MOTHERS!," my friend turned to me, cringing in horror. She has two maniac boys and I knew she was peering down a psychological wormhole into their future. I have one maniac boy and had precisely the same reaction. 

Propelled by my protective instinct and emboldened by the effects of a French 75, I cupped my hands around my mouth and screamed at them to WEAR THEIR HELMETS! I almost followed it up with the classic Jewish mother line: "WHAT? YOU DON'T EVEN CALL YOUR MOTHER?!?!" but I resisted.

That was outside the first bar we went to. 

By the time we got to the second, I quickly realized I was way too old and/or lame for a second bar.

My first clue was the singer in the bluegrass band at bar #2. This girl had those super short hipster girl bangs that you can only get away with if the rest of your style game is on point seriously ALL the fucking time. Like, you can't just wear Minion pajama pants and an Edward Jones t-shirt and look okay in super short bangs. EVER.

If I tried to rock super short bangs, I would look like someone with a traumatic brain injury who tried to give herself a haircut while doped up on quaaludes and watching Sixteen Candles at the same time. 

Not a good look.

My second clue was that half the people in the bar were teachers. It was the last day of school, and (I can't imagine why this would be the case) ALL of them were out celebrating. 

Hmm. If I had just finished wrangling 1,000 children for 10 months in an underfunded, underappreciated job that I worked ten zillion extra hours a week to kick ass at, I can't imagine I would need a drink afterwards.

So rather than let those teachers enjoy their achievement in peace, I did what I do best after two drinks: entrap them in a one-way conversation and tell them how great they are.

At least I didn't admonish any of them to wear a helmet or call their mothers, and so I can safely consider this night a smashing success.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oh Juneau, Never Change!

I've had two "Oh Juneau, Never Change!" moments this week. 

The first was yesterday, when I saw this pair of hikers and their dog. Immediately recognizing the sartorial miracle I was witnessing, I turned off the sound on my iPhone and clandestinely snapped their pic from behind. I figured they wouldn't mind. Anyone who rocks this look is clearly okay being the center of attention, right? And with any luck, they're even reading this and now know how much I sweat their style. (Will the real Slim Shady Raccoon-Tail (?) Cap Man please stand up?) 

This picture tells a lot of what you need to know about Juneau, so I'ma just drop it here without further comment:


The second Oh Juneau, Never Change! moment though was a bit more subtle. 

I was sitting in the airport waiting to pick up my parents, when I heard a disembodied voice pipe up next to me. "75 just landed." There was no way this person was talking to me. Why would she be? But of course, OF COURSE, she was. 

I looked up and to my left, to find an elderly woman with glasses on a chain around her neck scrolling through her iPhone. "You waiting for 75?" I nodded. "Me too," she offered. "It just landed."

"Um . . . thanks?" I said, a bit confused. 

The main reason I was confused is that there was only one flight landing at that time. The second reason I was confused is that I too was diddling around on my iPhone, which presumably featured the very same application that just told this woman the plane from Seattle was at the gate. Not to mention that there was a prominent board in the terminal also featuring this information.

It was sort of like watching Jurassic Park in a movie theater and a stranger leans over and says, "the velociraptor got out," or perhaps more aptly, if you were standing at a crosswalk and the stranger next to you for no reason other than to be gratuitously helpful offered, "it says you can walk now."

It was sort of amazing in a sweet, uniquely Juneau way. That was five minutes before I accosted Senator Murkowski to shake her hand and tell her I loved that one time she said only women showed up to the Senate in a blizzard.

Seriously Juneau. Never change!

Death Prep

My dad is in this phase of life that I like to call "death prep." I know it sounds macabre, but you need to understand a few things about my dad. 

Nick gives zero fucks. Like NONE. Especially when it comes to sentimentality or euphemisms. You'll never catch him wringing his hands, solemnly saying "he passed on" or "he passed away." You'll never hear him talk about "God's plan," because (a) he doesn't believe in God; and (b) if he did, he wouldn't presume God had plans. 

To give you an idea of his basic personality, Curb Your Enthusiasm is my dad's favorite TV show. If Larry David and Bernie Sanders got married and had a baby, and that baby drove to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to buy bread, ate yogurt with chopped-up banana in it twice a day, cleaned his glasses with a yarmulke on the few occasions he was forced to go to a synagogue, read biographies of physicists, followed baseball religiously while complaining about the price of a bleachers seat in Yankee Stadium, drank a scotch neat every night, and threw not-so-mini-temper tantrums over parking spots in midtown Manhattan, that Sanders/David hybrid baby would be my dad.

So it didn't really surprise me when he came to pick me up from the airport full of unsentimental reflections on his imminent demise. 

"Dad!" I waved both arms over my head in terminal A of Newark Liberty International Airport. I was back east for a quick solo trip earlier this month to attend a friend's wedding, and he, a 69.75 year old man, had kindly come to pick up his 38.5 year old daughter from Newark airport at midnight.

"Thanks for coming to get me. I'm 38 and my dad is still picking me up from the airport. Howdya like that?" He smiled, and we resumed this basic thread of conversation on the way out.

"Man, this place," he shook his head and grumbled, referring to EWR and its surrounding New Jersey environs. "What a fuckin' dump." Then: "$7.00! To park for ten minutes?" He announced incredulously to the sullen woman working the exit toll booth. 

A few minutes later, while casually passing an 18-wheeler in the left lane of the Jersey Turnpike at 65 mph," he goes, "I'm trying to deascession 40 years worth of crap in our apartment but I can't get your mother to throw anything out. Also, have I given you copies of our will and all the passwords to my computer and stuff?"

Ugh, okay. So we're doing this now.

"Why?" I asked. "Are you dying?" "Well not today, that I know of," he said matter-of-factly. "But you never know." I decided to take the conversation in a more philosophical direction.

"Are you afraid of dying?" I asked tentatively. I immediately realized this sounded like the type of question my kids ask as I'm putting them to bed at night. Ever notice how kids pick THAT moment to ask about dinosaur extinction, the Big Bang, and death? Why then? Why--when I'm just trying to put you away in your cozy little box for the night and be done with another day of guiding you to adulthood so I can watch TV and eat sugar--do you have to get all deep on me?

"Not really," my dad replied. "I mean, MEH." (He literally said "meh."). I didn't entirely become the person I wanted to become in life, but I got close enough, so the hell with it." I asked what he meant and he basically said it was dumb of him to get a PhD in French literature in the 70's, and he should have just started working as a journalist sooner.

"That's it?" I asked, hoping for some more profound reflection on his seven decades on earth or a pearl of wisdom. 

"What else do you want?" He asked rhetorically.

Yup. That's my dad.

This was taken at a restaurant in TriBeCa featuring sushi served by live ninjas. Nick was not impressed.







Thursday, May 26, 2016

Serial Monogamy

There's nothing First World Sadder than the end of a relationship. Oh I'm not talking about the end of a human relationship, at least not really. I'm talking about the end of a relationship with a juicy TV show on premium cable or Netflix. 

All you non-TV owners and watchers, I genuflect before thine magnificent holiness. The rest of you, don't front. 

You know you know what I'm talking about.

It's the end of Breaking Bad. No more Homeland. You couldn't get past season one of Girls. You've seen CosmosBloodline, Luther, and all four seasons of The Killing. You couldn't get into Orange is the New Black or Empire, and you didn't even try. In between, all it's been is shitty BBC nature shows and extreme sports and true crime documentaries. Nothing anyone suggests to you sounds good, and no, not even Game of Thrones and yes you're serious.

And you are looooong past caring that the void left between serial relationships makes your life a little sad, or about the obvious fact that you could be doing something much more valuable with your time besides sitting around moping.

It's time to get back out there. Or on there. On the couch, I mean.

That's when you swipe right on Sons of Anarchy, and you recognize that love-at-first-sight-in-the-pilot-episode-feeling and you know. You just know. As Taylor Swift would say, you knew he was trouble when he walked in. And by "you" I mean "me." And by "he" I mean "a seven-season FX serial about a California motorcycle gang starring the mom from Married With Children and a no-name, shaggy-haired, ripped BUH-AYBE of the highest order who you're positive would be your boyfriend in real life if only he knew how awesome you were."

And there it is friends. That's serial monogamy.

Pro Tip: If You Want to "Triple My Business," Find a New Spokesmodel

Sometimes I just have to stop and thank God, Country, and Facebook for the gifts that rain down on my life. (Hashtag gratitude, Hashtag thankful, Hasthtag Zuckerberg).

In between cracking my knuckles, tweezing my eyebrows, bouts of crushing nihilism over fears that a fascist cantaloupe is poised to overtake our sizzling planet and ship me and my Jewish family off to a 'Murican concentration camp in East Texas in the back of an 18-wheeler, and disbelief that five pounds won't come off my ass no matter how many kale smoothies I drink, I like to scroll aimlessly through the non-neutral "content" on offer from the internet. 

I'm talking about all the stuff (yes, ALL of it) that is very cannily and consciously curated to the masses to make us all think we're free agents with real choices, as opposed to disembodied cash cows seeing only what a boardroom on the Google campus in Mountain View wants us to see.

But whatevs duuuudes, 'cause if THIS is what Google, Facebook, and the rest of Silicon Valley's Evil Corporate Overlords want me to see, then Bring. It. On., 'cause I am PSYCHED, bitches.

Clearly The Googs/The Book/The Webs know I'm a lawyer in a small town. That much they've figured out. I don't work for a "small local law firm" though (you guys listening for next time?), so I don't need to turn the small local law firm I don't work for into Andre the National Giant/Hulk Hogan. What does this look like, Jack and the Beanstalk? 

But even if I was working at a "Small Local Law Firm" that I wanted to turn Into a "National Giant," the first thing I would do is remove bold, italics, and underline from my keyboard commands, since the most crucial lesson you learn on Day One of law school (after "99.9% of the people you see before you are unmitigated douchecrackers," of course) is how to use these font enhancers with discretion. DISCRETION, people. It's called discretion.

Anyhoo.

The second thing I'd do is call up Big Mouth Marketing and tell them they need a different spokesmodel for this campaign. Because "Sketchy McSketcher Courtroom Sketch Man" just isn't cutting it. 

Who is this mysterious-in-a-bad-way Sketchy McSketcher Courtroom Sketch Man supposed to be? Is he one of my clients? Is he a pedophile? Is he a white collar criminal defendant? Is he facing charges at an American version of The Hague in 2020 for genocidal crimes against humanity committed under President Trump? Is he sad because he was once rich but is now bankrupt due to a large punitive damages award just handed down at my request? Is he all of the above? WHO IS THIS MAN AND WHY DOES HE HAVE A 5:00 SHADOW DRAWN IN CRAYON? And WHO THE FUCK IS THE GUY BEHIND HIM? That guy looks like what would happen if Voldemort and Donald Trump, Jr. had a baby. Where are his eyes? Are his eyes actually just eyebrows, or vice-versa? And why are both of these guys standing against a backdrop of pastel green grass?

So many questions, Big Mouth Marketing. So many questions.

It makes no fucking sense. So all I can say is that Big Mouth Marketing needs to get a clue, because the only thing they tripled today was my contempt for advertising and marketing, and inspiration for my ad-free, Commie blog.

Eat a Banana

No parent should underestimate the power of the three words "eat a banana." 

Unlike iPads and more processed forms of sugar, a banana is Mother Nature's gift to her fellow mothers (and fathers) as the catch-all answer to the hunger-boredom hybrid known as "bunger." 

A banana is a perfect, self-contained unit of "shut the fuck up" and a cure-all for bunger, all wrapped up in a hearty, nutrient-rich, all-natural, and preferably organic and pesticide-free/fair-traded fibrous yellow package.

It's hard to quantify the number of times per day I say "eat a banana" in response to refrains of "I'M HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNGRY" ten minutes before dinner and half an hour after my kids' last snack. 

So what do I say in response? You guessed it! "Eat a banana, eat a banana, eat a banana, eat a fucking banana." 

Oh wait, what? You DON'T want a banana? Oh no? If you're REALLY hungry, guess what you'll do? That's right! You'll eat a banana. And if you don't want a banana, guess what? You can wait ten fucking minutes for dinner. The end.

A banana is one of the first solid foods most babies eat, and it's bland yet sweet, so most (though not all) kids like them. A banana is also highly entertaining: it's vaguely phallic (great inside joke for parents!), packed with potassium, a euphemism for being crazy, and--with apologies to creationists--hilariously makes your kids look like the monkeys from which they evolved and whose behavior they still emulate so well. (Sidebar/word of caution: don't do what I did at 16 and try to smoke a banana peel in the hopes that you'll get high and hallucinate. It won't work).

That's why "eat a banana" is the ultimate parental nutritional clapback. Just don't ask or think about where bananas come from, because "responsibly sourced" are two words that are potentially in direct conflict with "eat a banana." Or maybe do, and follow this handy guide to buying "ethical bananas", which sounds like a high school garage band, but is actually a chart to help you buy bananas without exploiting a family of 10 in Nicaragua.

In the meantime, next time you hear "I'M HUUUUUUUUUUUNGRY" do what I do: tell your kids to eat a banana. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Whoever Invented This Piece of Shit for Kids' Shit Never Met a Child

I am pretty sure that whoever invented this P.O.S. storage container for kids' shit never met a child. At least they never met my children. 

We had this piece of shit, past tense. And we still have the bins, which have come in handy over the years as pretend baby doll cribs, blocks for a fort, a staging ground for pending Lego projects, and/or more plastic junk to fill up the Closet Under the Stairs. (The C.U.T.S. is more terrifying than an R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size) and will be the subject of a future blog post).

What this thing did not remotely do, however, was organize my kids' shit. Oh, I put shit IN there, alright. But something about the environmental psychology of this structure compels every child who sees these colorful bins to dump OUT their contents and use the bins for something other than storage.

When we first got this P.O.S. years ago, I was optimistic. The never-ending stream of junk that pours into our home with the velocity of Niagara Falls with every birthday, holiday, and visit from grandparents was going to be dammed with THIS additional piece of shit. 

YAAAASSSSSSS!

This neat, pert, tidy looking rack with its neat, tidy, colorful bins. It didn't take long, however, before I realized that only one percent of my kids' shit fit in here; that the bins toppled over easily even when not intentionally toppled; and that a child intentionally toppled the bins each time they saw this thing--not to be naughty, but simply because WHY would you want to use these bins for STORAGE when you could make a fucking FORT or BABY CRIB out of them? HUH?

That's what I mean when I say I don't think whoever invented this thing ever met a child. If they had, they would have gone right back to the drafting table with this complete, utter, total, and unmitigated piece of absolute shit on a stick/made of sticks.

I have no idea what happened to the rack part. Last I looked, it was an integral feature in our "Clampetts-Chic" front yard decor.



Honey-Can-Do Kids Toy Organizer and Storage Bins, Multiple Colors

"Alaskans for Action Through Loud Inconvenience" Now Dropping Bricks Off a Six Story Building to Prompt Elected Officials Into Action


Now, with a government shutdown looming on July 1, the citizens group calling itself "Alaskans for Action Through Loud Inconvenience" (AATLI) has once again flexed its muscle in a thus-far-vain attempt to move the Legislature off the dime. It's hoped that dropping bricks from the top of a building in bulk will finally force the state's elected officials to pass a budget before every state worker gets a pink slip, and basic state services cease to exist.

Tim Jones, an AATLI spokesman from Kenai, told O.H.M. that the group has hired the same crew of burly dudes with jackhammers, but this time has directed said dudes to drop bricks by the bucket load from the very tippy-top of the six-story Capitol building.

"If you're anywhere in the 99801 zip code, you should be able to hear this," shouted Mr. Jones. "It's actually pretty amazing. You wouldn't think that re-doing the facade on the Capitol would be this loud, but it works out great because our team is there taking all of the old bricks and dropping them by the dozen down a long piece of black PVC pipe into the metal bed of a waiting truck from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., seven days a weeee ..." Mr. Jones lost his voice so couldn't complete the rest of this sentence, but made a thumbs up gesture to indicate he was optimistic about AATLI's newest effort.

Though the Legislature is doing its non-work in an alternate location, at press time several legislators could be seen with their hands over their ears and their eyes on a bunch of spreadsheets.

My Parents Won

My parents, Nick and Francine, won on coolness. They are officially and incontrovertibly much, much cooler than me.

Deep down, I've known this for awhile, because they have always been cooler than me. (For example, I mocked them for listening to Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan when I was a tweenager, but who's laughing now?) Anyway, my suspicion that my parents lead much cooler and more exciting lives at ages 69 and 70 than I do at 38 (or really ever did at any age) was confirmed anew when my mom called me last week from a hip neighborhood in lower Manhattan.

"We just ran into one of your friends from high school at a restaurant in Chelsea!," my mom reported cheerfully. "She's just moved back to NYC from Paris," she added, before updating me on the rest of the encounter. At the same time, my phone buzzed with a Facebook message from said friend: "Just ran into your parents in Chelsea!"

I listened to my mother narrate her night on the town as I pawed through our pantry for an after-dinner snack, opening and closing it over and over again like it was the wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia. Somehow, I was certain that this time, something delicious and appealing would appear that hadn't been there ten seconds ago. 

My mother's call from the depths of Chelsea was the straw of coolness that broke the back of the camel also known as my life as a mother of two in Juneau. Don't get me wrong, I like my life. But it is not--I repeat NOT--cool.

My mom and her Annie Lennox haircut still work more-than-full-time circling the globe trying to cure AIDS, while adhering to a strict anti-shits protocol that prevents her from barfing in places like Rwanda, Manila, India, and Nepal, so that she can keep Doctors-Without-Borders-ing the world without gastrointestinal disruption. My dad has the sweetest gig ever working from home (also full-time) for the New York Times, where he translates press releases on scientific research into articles about how coffee and wine are good for you. Half their friends are my age. I know this, because whenever I come back to visit, my mom tries to set my kids up on play-dates with her hipster friends' kids, all of whom dress better than I do.

My parents are NEVER home. I try calling them, and where are they? The opera, a play, a museum, a fucking fundraiser for one of the 1,000 foster care and AIDS-related boards my mom sits on. The last time this happened, my dad informed me that "a guy from run something" was the keynote speaker. 

Hold up hold up. Run-D.M.C.?! M'kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay dudes.

So let's review: my septuagenarian parents are listening to Run give a keynote speech at the very same moment that I am scouring my cabinet for tortilla chips while breaking up a fight between a 5 and 8 year old over: (1) who gets to sit on what identical stool; (2) who got to have more sugar this week than whom; (3) whether 40 x 4 is 160 or 44; and (4) whether Tuesday is the day after tomorrow or the day after the day after tomorrow. And I'm screaming "DON'T MAKE ME READ SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY!" while removing a magenta rhinestone sticker from my barefoot heel.

As Isaac would say, the disparity in coolness between these two tableaux "makes me sad in the face."

O.H.M.'s Parents: 1; O.H.M.: = 0.

My parents, Nick and Fran in Alaska, eating the shit out of some crab as they are wont to do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When I Go Camping, I Look Just Like This

My camping trips look exactly like the cover of this Cabela's catalogue, and I'm certain everyone in Alaska can relate. 

There's always a beautiful sunrise in shorts-and-t-shirt weather, and brand new, undamaged gear. But most of all, my camping trips are always romantic getaways that look like the set of a Viagara or Cialis commercial, minus the two bathtubs in a field of course, (because although soaking in two separate bathtubs in a meadow while holding hands is totes normal foreplay for "mature" adults, I usually leave my clawfoot porcelain bathtub at home when I'm heeding the call of the wild).

Look at the gentle yet authoritative and protective way this silver fox is pouring wilderness tea/coffee for his woman next to a perfectly controlled and warming fire while seated on a log-shaped sofa/sofa-shaped log.

Look at the woman's body language: how she's turned into him with her legs crossed and her perfect braid. Her demeanor says fit and confident, yet still appreciative of chivalrous kettle use.

Note too the ambiguous race and ethnicities of this couple, which is a bold move by Cabela's, I must say. Considering that Old Navy got hate-trolled by bigots for featuring an interracial couple in a recent ad, I'm certain the core customer base of Cabela's will be much more receptive to diversity as they flip through page after page of game-hauling carts and enough cammo to outfit every backwoods militia from Maine to Idaho.

Yup, when I go camping, it looks just like this Cabela's catalogue.

Okay, NOW The Huffington Post is Officially THE WORST. Please Boycott Them.

I've gone on numerous rants before about how the Huffington Post is officially the most ethically bankrupt publication on the internet, run by the most clueless socialite on the planet. (And no, I'm not just saying that because they once declined to reprint one of my blog posts). 

From their screaming click-bait tabloid headlines to the fact that Arianna Huffington herself has personally lured friends of mine away from good writing jobs into dead-end ones, the main reason (up until today) that HuffPost sucks so hard is that they don't pay their professional contributing writers. I know this from personal experience. My husband Geoff wrote for HuffPost for awhile (for money, you know, since that's his job), but pretty soon they were like, hey, we'd love for you to keep writing (i.e. working) for us--but for FREE from now on!

Wow, REALLY Arianna Huffington?! I know you've never actually had to pay a bill with a paycheck, but we mere mortals do that every month. Hating on Arianna Huffington is quite possibly the only thing Donald Trump and I have in common. 

That's like me going to a gift shop down the street and just asking for jewelry. You know, because a few people in town like my blog, right? And they'll see me wearing your jewelry. It's like, EXPOSURE for the jewelry store. That's a little closer to extortion than exposure, if you ask me. Make no mistake: HuffPost is very canny about this; they even have their own surrogates in full Patty Hearst/Stockholm Syndrome mode, trumpeting all the reasons you should work for the Huffington Post (and elsewhere) for free and just give away your livelihood.

M'kay. No thanks.

So I didn't think I could hate the Huffington Post any more, but now HuffPostUK has gone to next-level craven journalistic atrocity by posting--and then deleting--in its "comedy" section a video prank mounted by a misogynistic sociopath. 

In the video, which is still available in the deeper crevices of the internet (a.k.a. YouTube), this dude named Brad Holmes rubs a chili pepper on a tampon and then records his girlfriend screaming in agony at the result as she inserts it into her vagina. Staged or not, this does not send a good message: commit an assault-crime, film it, and then post it on the internet for likes and shares.

I couldn't agree more with Jezebel's Joanna Rothkopf when she says pranks are "a made-up thing that allows people to be terrible to other people in a socially-acceptable context." 

A video like this isn't funny. It's normalizing domestic violence to a bunch of impressionable millennial bros who love the Jackass movies and think this is an okay, clever, hilarious thing to do to another human being; someone you supposedly love.

I don't share HuffPost articles and I don't click on them anymore. I'm not here to tell anyone what to do or what to read, but just know that when you click on the Huffington Post, you're driving traffic to a site that exploits and gaslights creative labor, and celebrates and trivializes domestic violence.

Think before you click.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Alyssa Milano, Paper Towel Designer

Well, here are two things I never thought I'd see together: Alyssa Milano and paper towels. Peanut butter and jelly, popcorn and peanuts, bongs and a Cypress Hill record, and, OF COURSE, Alyssa Milano and paper towels!

Far be it for me to hate on anyone else's hobby, considering my hobbies are (1) snark; (2) self-hatred; and (3) judgmental sarcasm, in that order. But of course this is why I simply couldn't resist engaging in my own hobby at the expense of Alyssa Milano's hobby of designing paper towels. 

Paper fuckin' towels, yo!

I learned of this when an attentive reader posted a pic of a roll of "Viva by Alyssa Milano" paper towels that she'd snapped at the grocery store. Sharing my friend's incredulity that Samantha from Who's the Boss's career had come to this, I immediately set about some interwebs sleuthing.

It was true! 

The illustrious Daily Mail U.K. confirmed that as of 2015, Alyssa is taking a break from acting (in something?) to collaborate with Kleenex and "design signature prints for the brand's Viva paper towels." Even the plastic wrapping is "pink and purple and features the actress' imprinted signature." 

Well now. Fuck Brawny and Kirkland brand. How can I buy any other roll of paper towels now that I know there's a roll of paper towels out there with Alyssa Milano's IMPRINTED SIGNATURE in purple and pink plastic wrap?

I can't.

TBH, if Alyssa's signature hadn't been on this roll of paper towels, I can't say I would have known that a very regular looking roll of paper towels with "bright and vibrant patterns in a mix of coral and green" were in any way different from any other roll of paper towels I've seen marked with patterns and colors I can't remember because THEY ARE FUCKING PAPER TOWELS AND I USE THEM TO BLOW MY NOSE AND MOP UP BABY VOMIT, KID BOOGERS, AND APPLE JUICE BEFORE IMMEDIATELY THROWING THEM OUT.

I think this is where the celebrity-designed product finally jumps the shark. Paul Newman's salad dressing and George Foreman's grill were okay, but then came Adam Levine's signature fragrance, and we should have seen this coming.

If (and hopefully when) threats of a Trump presidency turn out to be the political equivalent of Y2K, I'm hoping he'll get smart and parlay his quest for the White House into the greater good by designing urinal cakes and toilet paper with his face on them.

Now there's a design I could get behind, so to speak.

I'm Eating Tuna Salad for Lunch and IDGAF

Yeah, that's what I said, BITCH! I'm eating tuna salad for lunch, and I don't give a FUCK. 

I have an office with a door, but even if I was in a cubicle with a thousand people around me, my own dietary whims come first. I've done "the stinky lunch calculus" and decided that the repellent grossness of my lunch to everyone else should take a backseat to the deliciousness of my lunch to me.

Yes, I know. Tuna fish salad looks, smells, and feels like wet cat food that's been smuggled inside the crotch of a female marathoner's spandex running shorts, dislodged at mile 23.5, and deposited onto a bed of lettuce. 

AND?! What of it? It's delicious! What do you think this is? The high school cafeteria? I could give two shits what you think about my lunch. I ain't tryna sit at the cool kids' table!

I can't make tuna salad at home, because my whole family gags at the smell and the sight of it, which is why I'm getting it for lunch at work. Do you have a message or letter to give me? Do you want to talk about a project? Better hold your breath when you come into my office, homeslice! Because this scoop of tuna fish salad ALSO has red onions in it. 

BOOOYAAH! Go hard or go home, I say. I have a toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk drawer and I'm not afraid to use them.

Nothing that's even remotely good for you actually smells good, and in the case of tuna fish, something that's somewhat good for you smells like a whale corpse found washed up and rotting off the coast of Japan.

As I was making this crucial lunch-time decision, I noticed a friend of mine doing the same thing. We eyed each other knowingly. 

"You're just gonna own the tuna salad for lunch thing, aren't you?" she asked, a scoop of tuna already in her own lunch container. "Yup," I replied firmly. 

"Me too," she nodded in clear solidarity. "Me too."

Polar Seeks Grizzly: A Singles Ad from a Polar Bear

MPBSFGB (Male Polar Bear Seeks Female Grizzly Bear for Reproduction)

Me: A male polar bear
You: A female grizzly bear

I'm an adult male polar bear with a healthy coat of cream-colored fur and an average build (about 950 lbs). My current territory is the Alaskan Arctic, but I've got family in Manitoba and sea ice is shrinking, so I'm willing to travel for the right grizzly sow. 

You might be wondering why I'm trying to date outside my own species. 

Not sure you've been keeping up with the news, but the Washington Post is reporting that grizzly/polar bear couplings are increasingly common in the age of climate change, leading to a whole new hybrid of "grolars." It's called "flexible mate choice," and I like to think of myself as open-minded. I'm not having any luck with female polars (they can be so aloof, and once they have cubs, FORGET IT). So I figured, why the hell not? 

I know scientists say polars are getting "the short end of the stick" in grizzly-matings because we're not "gaining any genetic diversity," but that's not really my problem right now. I'm just looking for a place to deposit my sperm, make a litter of hearty cubs, and die knowing I did the only job I have, which is to propagate my DNA.

I also realize this ad is a bit unusual--after all, all the hybrids analyzed so far have had grizzly fathers, because female grizzlies don't usually stray from their territory, whereas males grizzlies do, and encounter receptive female polars. But scientists also say that as the globe keeps warming, female grizzlies will start bumping into male polar bears, further straining polar bears' genetic variation. In other words, I like to think of myself as progressive and ahead of my time.

Bottom line: I just want to make a few cubs with a quality grizz. I'm looking for a down-to-earth sow with a good sense of humor who likes long forages on the tundra, briefly monogamous couplings, and stalking prey (preferably seals) at sunrise. You don't have to be perfect, but you do have to be in heat. 

If interested, urinate on a rock and I'll follow your scent.