Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Carnival Enthusiasm Gap

Metaphorically and generally speaking, you could drive a tractor trailer between a child and an adult's respective levels of enthusiasm for a traveling carnival.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, how much are you dreading this?," I asked Geoff under my breath. "8," he replied. "Yeah, me too. Maybe even 8.5."

We were in the car, en route to the carnival that had set up shop for the month on a vast stretch of asphalt parking lot abutting one of Juneau's two quasi-abandoned 1970's shopping malls. 

The kids were literally bouncing up and down with excitement in the backseat, and it was blazing hot outside. If I hadn't spent the morning walking in nature with a good friend, I would definitely have leapt from the moving vehicle to escape my fate. 

I felt my breakfast repeat on me a little as I watched a half-dozen rickety metal rides hurling people around in circles and spied--out of the corner of my eye--a piece of dog/possibly human shit with a cigarette buried in it. 

At that moment, a large-ish man ambled past wearing a red T-shirt with white lettering that read: "I'm not a gynecologist, but I'll take a look." I felt a flashing surge of relief that one of my kids can't read yet and the other can't read well or fast enough to have asked me to interpret that particular sartorial choice.

Paige and Isaac had been clamoring to go to the "CARNIVALCARNIVALCARNIVALCARNIVALCARNIVAL" for the better part of three weeks, and we'd waited until literally the last possible afternoon of the last possible day to take them there. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It's just that our expectations were low, and the kids' were high, and somehow all of us left feeling that our expectations were exceeded.

We were immediately divested of $40, which lasted for four rides. Then we paid another $40 for a couple of plastic shell games and two ice cream cones. "Bend over and grab 'em," Geoff mumbled as he dispensed bill after bill in service of "making memories" for our kids. 

The people operating the rides had a look about them. A look familiar to anyone who has been to a traveling carnival. A look that says silently (often between very few teeth): "You would be wise not to put your child's life in my hands." 

So it was against my better judgment that I let my kids go on something called "The Himalaya" and something else called "The Tornado," which at least Isaac was probably too short to ride. (Needless to say, the enforcement was lax). 

I also went on one of the rides, but it was a boring spinning plastic apple that somehow still made me want to vomit. The guy running it seemed especially frightening in his apparent ineptitude, but the thing was close enough to the ground and moved slowly enough that I felt I could take able command of the apple in an emergency.

On our way out, I ran into another mother I know. She had her three children and her husband in tow. We locked eyes and didn't have to say a single word. "I know," I said, touching her sympathetically on the shoulder and handing her three stray ride tickets that were insufficient to get our kids on one last ride. "I'm going to write 'The Carnival Enthusiasm Gap' as soon as I get home."

And so I did.

Geoff and the kids getting shellacked at the bottle ring toss.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Tyranny of the Mind

Depression and anxiety just do not give a fuck. That's the best way to describe it. 

That two-headed beast will hunt me down on a bluebird sunny day, in one of the most amazing places on earth, just to remind me who's really in charge here.

It doesn't matter if my family is around. It doesn't matter if there are a million things to do. All of that only makes it worse in a way, because it tells me that nothing external--including pills, including another person--can ever change this aspect of who I am.

Just like I will never be tall or blonde, I will probably never feel uncomplicated happiness or true peace and quiet in my mind. It's not bad or good. It just is.

But sometimes it means I'm lying in bed and crying when everyone else seems to be outside having fun. I won't have anything good to report about my day. I won't get to say I went out on a boat, because I was curled up in a ball. I won't get to talk about what I saw from a mountain ridge over beers with friends, because I was under the covers instead of on a mountain.

If I was sick with the flu, I wouldn't feel like I was supposed to "snap out of it." But because I'm sick in a different, more stigmatized, and less-understood way, I feel like I should, even though I can't.

The operative word though is "sometimes," and that's a good thing. I try to be grateful that "sometimes" isn't "always," or really even "often." And I try not to be angry or disappointed that I don't get to pick and choose when "sometimes" is.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Helicopter Dad

Each morning for the past week, I've awoken to a whirring sound in my living room--a room that has recently been re-named "great domestic air space." See, my father has been operating this remote control helicopter in our house all week long:

How nice of him to bring a toy for his grandson, you might be thinking. And although he is nice and does bring plenty of toys for his grandson, this wasn't one of them. This was my dad's toy. He traveled 5,000 miles with it, and each evening he parks it on the helipad known as my kitchen island so it can recharge for the morning's daring flight missions across the upper level of our split-level home.

He's actually a pretty good pilot, deftly navigating the helicopter across ceiling fans, bookcases, and other terrain. But even good aviators make mistakes, and so it was that I learned the hard way that a remote control helicopter unexpectedly smacking you in the side of your face is a little bit of a bad feeling.

A friend of mine was over and we were enjoying a cup of coffee together. (Not the same actual single cup of coffee; that would be weird. We each had our own cup). Anyway, we were drinking our coffee and minding our own, when all of a sudden I was literally blind-sided by a sharp, stinging propeller against the right side of my head.

"WHAT THE FUCKOVER DAD?!?!?" I yelled, as a little bit of precious wakey-juice spilled over the top of my Kodiak High School thrift store mug. "Sorry bunny rabbit!," he exclaimed, rushing over to see if I was hurt, and using an endearing diminutive from my childhood to engender good will. 

There was no permanent damage and my cheek only smarted for a minute, though I have to say that a propeller to the head--even a small one--is a jarring way to start your day. Still, I'm thinking about making remote-control-helicopter-crashing-into-my-head a regular part of my morning routine, after face-washing and tooth-brushing. Because although it didn't feel great, I also think it could be a pretty useful snap into reality each morning.

I Spoke Too Soon! Facebook Has Reached a NEW Low in Advertising!

Someone (or something?) named Candy Smaile is selling me "the one and only formula that makes a man feel an almost impulsive." I didn't watch the video, so I never learned "the magic words" (Open Sesame? Abracadabra? Oh Yeah Baby Do it To Me?), because I was too busy laughing at the use of "impulsive" as a noun. 

I had to wonder what exactly is IN the unique formula that "makes a man feel an almost impulsive." Now, I don't know the precise ingredients or their proportions, but I'm pretty sure they include: the famous Farah Fawcett nipple poster; a 16 oz. bottle of Jergens; and a tube sock. This product advises that should your man feel an impulsive lasting more than four hours, he should consult a medical.

And then there was this:

You know hip-hop culture has jumped the shark when a woman is fist-bumping her Febreeze plug-in air freshener. UNLESS, she's using it to deoderize her living room from all the chronic she was smoking with her gardening club. Next, she's going to pour some Proseco out on the hardwood floor for her girls doing "Beach Body Boot Camp" at Curves all week long.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A New Low in Social Media Advertising

Apparently, it's no longer enough for that asshat Mark Zuckerberg to bombard me with ads on The Facebook for products like K.Y. Jelly, Carefree Panty Liners, and Bali granny panties. 


Now Facebook wants to "hear from [me]" in "sponsored polls" ABOUT the ads! These are literally ads FOR ads. It's really quite meta when you think about it. As Larry David would say, "It's high concept. I've gotta get there." 

Facebook wants me to complete the following survey. They've promised to keep my identity confidential, so obviously I'm going to do it now:

I thought the ad for the ad for Bayer Pro Ultra Omega-3 was pretty funny, but then I saw the following "sponsored poll," and really it's even better:

Which of these brands do I "most associate with getting [my] life in order?" Were I to complete this survey, I would definitely click "other," and I would hope that I'd have an option to fill in the following:
  • Botox
  • Lululemon
  • Prozac
  • Dexatrim
  • Skinny Girl Cucumber Infused Vodka
Glad? Ziploc? Hefty? Great Value? What the fuckover, Facebook?! Do I look like a Kansas housewife who spends all day making green bean casseroles and marshmallow Jello molds? Facebook better step up its ad-for-ad game before it misses out on collecting some truly valuable and accurate data.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Things That Apparently Happen When My Mom Watches My Kids

From time to time, I've discussed censorship on this blog. Censorship is a dirty word to me. A four-letter word with ten letters. I'm not a fan of censorship, and I generally disavow it as a parenting tool. And yet, even I had to do a double-take when I returned from work today to find my seven year-old daughter, my four year-old son, and my daughter's six year-old friend doing a choreographed dance routine to the Katy Perry song "Peacock" under the supervision of my benignly neglectful mother (whose benignly neglectful mothering I can vouch for based on several decades of personal experience).

For the uninitiated, (which included me as of three hours ago), "Peacock" features the following lyrics:

I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock (repeat 4x)
Word on the street you got something to show me
Magical, colorful, Mr. Mystery
I'm intrigued for a peek cause it's fascinating 
Come on baby let me see 
What you hiding underneath
What's up your sleeve,
Such a tease, wanna see the show
It looks beautiful
I'll be the judge, and my girls gonna take a vote
Come on baby let me see
What you hiding underneath
I want the jaw-dropping, eye-popping
Head-turning, body-shocking
I want my heart throbbing, ground shaking
Show stopping amazing
Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?
Whatcha waiting for, it's time for you to show it off
Don't be a chicken boy, stop acting like a bee-otch
Im'a peace out if you don't give me the payoff
Come on baby let me see
What you hiding underneath.
You got the finest architecture
And a rainbow looking treasure
Such a sight to see
And it's all for me 


I cruised up the driveway, and my mom---who along with my dad (more on him later) is visiting for the week---came running out to stop me from mowing down my kids and their friend with my 2005 Subaru Forrester. Not that I was close to doing this, mind you. My maternal sixth sense somehow intuited that something odd was afoot, and sure enough, my instinct was correct. 

All three kids were on the concrete floor of the open garage, rehearsing a "show" featuring the aforementioned song. "This sawng sounds sort of PG-13," my mom editorialized in her thick Bronx brogue as she began dancing along to it. "But I think it's OK." 

I'd never heard "Peacock" before (although I was destined to hear it twenty times in a row), so I listened carefully to the lyrics, and was duly horrified.

"Let me see yah PEACOCK?! The finest ARCHITECTCHA?" my mother shrieked with incredulous laughter. "WHAT YOU HIDING UNDAHNEATH!?!?!? Libby, are you listening to this?!" She cackled again, and tried to reassure me: "They have NO ideah what it means, honey. It's awl towtally innuhcent." 

That was obvious, as Paige cast her brother Isaac in the role of the "Peacock" and herself and her friend as some other animals in the show. Isaac began skipping around dutifully with a jump rope like a flamboyant male stripper at a Chip N' Dales Boys Night Showcase while Paige and her friend twirled about in circles and leap-frogged over each other, their faces grave with concentration. I was suddenly very grateful for the reliable literal-mindedness of young children.

Oh well.

What did I care? My kids were safe, having a blast, and getting tons of exercise and fresh air. They had no idea that a song they thought was about a bird was actually about Katy Perry drooling over the "architecture" of some guy's dick. 

All in a day's work, I suppose. Thanks Mom!

More Tantalizing Forays Into Softcore Momerotica

Last week, I announced that I was embarking on a new career of writing erotic dinosaur fan fiction for moms featuring Chris and Martin Kratt of The Wild Kratts and "Dr. Scott the Paleontologist" of Dinosaur Train

The response to my proposal was so enthusiastic, that I am now vetting further ideas for the "Softcore Momerotica" genre. Here are five scintillating previews of what the future holds for my new creative endeavor:

Flynn Rider's Raunchy Castle Rescue: Flynn Rider--Disney-Pixar's square-jawed protagonist of Tangled and Tangled Ever After, embarks on a daring mission to rescue Mom from school pickup. He swoops in on a rope just as another, better-dressed mother is about to pass judgment on Mom for eating carbs and wearing a brand of yoga pants that is not Lululemon. As Flynn gathers Mom's limp, demoralized, and insufficiently toned body in his arms, he nuzzles his stubble against her ear and whispers in a hoarse voice that Rapnunzel means nothing to him, and he is taking her to HIS castle now . . .

Kristoff's Toasty Hot Campfire: The Polar Vortex has once again descended on the East Coast, and Mom is experiencing the frigid hell of her third consecutive snow day. She's about to mix Baileys into her sixth cup of coffee of the morning when suddenly, Kristoff--tall, rugged, and handsome Viking hero of Disney's Frozen franchise--knocks on the door to see if he can help shovel her driveway. "Oh, you can shovel my driveway," Mom says in a husky voice. The children are distracted in the other room with an episode of "The Backyardigans" as Kristoff places his giant hands firmly-but-gently on Mom's hips, gazes deeply into her eyes, and slowly guides her toward the electric fireplace in the family room without even tripping over a single Lego . . . 

Mister Rogers' Naughty Neighborhood: Mom always thought kindly old Mr. Rogers was just another sweet man living next door. Then again, it was always sort of attractive, the way he would take off his coat, put on a sweater, and change from shoes to sneakers with such regularity and discipline every day. And his graying temples made him seem more "Cary Grant" than "Dirty Old Man." Sometimes, Mom was certain Fred (he said she could call him "Fred") was catching her eye from across the lawn as he polished his toy trains. One sunny afternoon, Mom finds herself alone at home, mixing a giant batch of sugar water for another stupid lemonade stand the kids have demanded. She's just about to measure another cup of lemon juice when suddenly, she feels a brush of cable-knit on her bare shoulder and hears Fred whisper softly on her tingling skin, "Won't you be my neighbor?" . . .

Prince Eric's Erotic Beach Adventure: It feels like forever since Mom has thought about Disney's Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid. She might have seen him on Facebook recently, but she's tried pretty hard to forget him. Mom is at her summer rental on Cape Cod and has just finished sending the kids off to play on the beach with the babysitter, when she decides to go for a quick swim in the ocean. But she finds herself in a rip tide! Out of nowhere, Prince Eric motors up on a yacht and hoists her aboard. As she coughs up some seaweed, Eric tells her that that ginger bitch Ariel is out of the picture forever. He's come back to beg for Mom's forgiveness, and tell her she's the one that got away. He lays her softly in the V-berth of his boat while he brushes a lock of wet hair away from her ear. He bends down slowly and places his rough, calloused hands on her thighs as Mom's damp and salty skin seems to melt under his tender touch . . .

The Man With the Yellow Hat's Curious, Steamy Jungle:
Mom's always been intrigued by the mystique of "The Man With the Yellow Hat." The way he never goes anywhere without that damn monkey, and how he always wears a yellow hat and doesn't have an actual name. One day toward the end of the school year, Mom is 
chaperoning a field trip to the zoo. She's running after an errant brat when she suddenly slips on a banana peel. The next thing she knows, The Man With the Yellow Hat is leaning over her, asking if she's OK. They lock eyes and the chemistry is palpable. Suddenly she knows: She is going to be more than OK . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

10 Secrets to True Happiness for People Aged 25-40

1. Do what you love. Just make sure that "what you love" happens to be health insurance and a paycheck that covers basic expenses like rent, Diet Sprite, and weed that doesn't suck.

2. Don't try to self-diagnose your own diseases on the internet. Your mind will formulate Google searches to fit a pattern connected to your "symptoms," and suddenly you'll be convinced that you have so little time left to live that you shouldn’t even bother buying a bunch of unripe bananas. Unless you don't have health insurance (see #1 above). Then Dr. Google is your BFF.

3. Read lots of blog posts, especially if they're in the form of lists and open letters. And especially if they're written by other women (if you’re a woman); parent (if you’re a parent); divorced (if you’re divorced); married (if you’re married) or single, (if you’re single). In short: try to find something—anything—written online--by anyone (doesn't matter who) that either validates your experience or makes you feel glad you're not as fucked up as the person who wrote that thing.

4. Go on Facebook and unfriend everyone who has a better body than you and/or looks better than you and happier than you in pictures, especially professional engagement and/or wedding photos that are taken mid-laughter-with-shiny-white-teeth or mid-jump-in-the-air-while-barefoot-in-the-sand. Also unfriend anyone who is actively trumpeting a happy experience (e.g. pregnancy, promotion, trip to Italy), that you are not currently experiencing, but that you covet with a blind and bitter envy bordering on rage. Because let's face it, you can't quit Facebook--but you can control it. Sort of.

5. Break something on purpose every now and then. Like something valuable such as a laptop or an iPhone, or perhaps a Faberge egg. Something that can't easily be put back together or replaced because it's unique, expensive, or the pieces are too small. The first draft manuscript of your novel is a good one. Tear it up, pour gasoline on it, and burn that mother to the ground. See?  Didn't that feel good?  What a rush!

6. Unsubscribe from your college alumni and/or graduate school alumni magazine. 

7. Attend your high school, college, or graduate school reunion (5, 10, 15, 20) and count the number of people who appear more miserable than you and/or are aging badly. Make several snap-judgments and superficial calculations about their lives in order to make yourself feel better about your own. (This one's a gamble, though, as you could just as easily encounter someone who makes you feel like more of a failure, rather than less of one).

8. Travel to exotic places and document your travels extensively on Instagram. Unfollow anyone else on Instagram who travels to exotic places and documents their travels extensively on Instagram. That way you won't inadvertently make an invidious comparison that acts as an obstacle to your happiness.

9. Spend at least some time each day waiting for the other shoe to drop and entertaining between one and three catastrophic fantasies. That way, when one of these fantasies becomes reality (as it inevitably will), you might feel slightly more prepared for it.

10. Make a little time for yourself each day. Whether it's immersing yourself in a good book, going to a yoga class, heading outside for a run, throwing a ceramic bowl, meditating, or just crying dolefully into your pillow after masturbating and listening to The Velvet Underground while thinking about everything that could have been and mindlessly consuming a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream, it's always important to take those extra special little moments for yourself in life.

Processed Lemon Flavor is Dominating the Natural Foods Market Like a Boss

At a certain point, advertising crosses the line from credible and canny to unintentionally preposterous. 

This is one of those times. 

Like the marketing of Carefree Panty Liners as "fierce," or the marketing of Adam Levine's voice as good, the marketing of Crystal Light Lemon Iced Tea as featuring "Natural Flavor with Other Natural Flavor" is substantively laughable, in addition to being grammatically redundant.

It's as if Crystal Light conducted a focus group and asked, how can we market our carcinogenic aspartame poison (which I drink all the time, by the way) as a health food? Oh, I know! Let's use the word "natural" twice on the label and stick a picture of an actual lemon with the leaf still on it, notwithstanding the fact that the chemical dust inside the package bears about as much resemblance to a real lemon as my ass cheeks bear to Gisele Bundchen's.

Duncan Hines has also jumped on the same bandwagon, naming their neon-glow, nuclear spill lemon pie filling "Wilderness" and trademarking it with the "Wilderness Promise." They know you'll be compelled to look at the back of the can, because you see this picture and immediately need to know how this toxic-looking Chernobyl sludge could possibly invoke the word "Wilderness" so prominently on the label?

Then you turn the can around, and there's your answer. "The Duncan Hines (tm) Wilderness (tm) Promise" is that this dystopian gelatinous goo is allegedly made from "the finest fruits picked at their peak to deliver homemade taste and quality--that's the promise we bring to you with Duncan Hines (tm) Wilderness (tm) fillings and toppings."

Well, that's quite a stretch, isn't it?

I'm no patent lawyer, but I'm pretty sure you can't legally trademark the words "Wilderness" and/or "Promise," especially when the nexus between this "product"' and either the wilderness or a promise is so tenuous as to border on truly false advertising.

I think it would be more effective to sell Crystal Light Iced Tea as what it is: "Chemical Flavor with Other Chemical Flavor" and Duncan Hines pie filling as what it is: corn syrup, with "The High Fructose Corn Syrup Guarantee."

Is that so hard, or so terrible? I mean, I found both of these products in my own pantry, and I'm not fooled. If anything, these desperate ploys at marketing processed food as natural only draw attention to the fact that consuming them is slowly sending me to an early grave.

These products should just promise "better living through chemistry" and be done with it. It'd be more honest, and you'd gain the trust and respect of customers like me who are more than happy to slowly commit suicide over a period of years with fake sweeteners and Yellow #11.

(Oh, and by the way: If you want to see a "natural" or "wilderness" product that's truly worthy of the name, check out the cool things my friends at Tidal Vision are doing with fishery waste in Alaska. They're upcycling ocean byproducts and turning them into stylish aquatic textiles, and as far as I can tell, there's no gross lemon flavor involved).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fear and the Rush of Keeping It Real

The older I get, the more I appreciate the value and utility of fear in exercising judgment. 

I'm not talking about taking physical risks (which I try not to do, although Alaskan adventures and stupidity sometimes foil those plans). I'm referring more to emotional and professional risks, and the risks that come with speaking my mind in person and on this blog. 

Fear precedes most of my decisions, including big ones that I don't regret, like moving to Alaska, having kids, and taking certain professional opportunities that come to me before I necessarily feel ready for them. 

Fear also precedes smaller decisions, like whether I'm going to blog about a certain topic or tackle a certain conflict in my life in a particular way.

So far, the few things I truly regret feel too raw to confront anyway. None of them ever had an element of fear, exactly, but rather some ultimate realization that a certain path was irreversibly foreclosed to me.

Having kids (and taking Prozac) has made me less afraid, particularly about non-fatal things I can't control, like whether I'm laid off from work or whether someone is offended by me or misconstrues something I say or do.

There is also a certain rush that comes with the type of fear I'm talking about. It's a rush I get when I know I'm following my gut instinct and keeping it real, by saying what I really think, or taking something on that the imposter-complex-having, not-good-enough-working-woman in me says I'm not qualified to do, or shouldn't say out loud.

Today I came into work to a voicemail. I recognized the number as a client's. I thought, "Uh-oh. Now what? There's a crisis and it's not even 8:00 a.m.!" But when I listened to her message, it wasn't work-related. She'd only called to say she'd had a bad day the previous afternoon, and read the blog, and it made her feel better and cheered her up. So she was calling to thank me. Her call made my day.

A couple weeks before that, another client stopped by my office to chat. My heart was pounding because I was sure he was about to excoriate me for something (I didn't know what) I'd said on my blog, or maybe some other mysterious infraction I was unaware I had committed. But it turned out that all he wanted was ten minutes of my time and my professional opinion.

These felt to me like little reminders from the universe to keep saying what I think without worrying so much about the consequences. Not to give myself license to be reckless, of course. But more of an encouragement to trust my own instincts about what can, should, or needs to be said or done---even when fear tags along for the ride.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Mother Superior Morally Judgmental PC Piece of Crap Libtard"

That's my new nickname you guys, and I have to say I love it. Seriously.

My post about the Duggars from a few days ago unleashed a feisty and hilarious debate on Facebook after a friend of mine approvingly shared it on her page. I watched with (relatively) silent amusement and glee as one woman went absolutely apeshit in defense of Josh Duggar, calling my post "incredibly mean." She opened the fast unspooling thread of indignance with "at the risk of being attacked" (i.e., "please attack me"), and the internet happily obliged. (She also called the post "profane and giddy," which it was. Indeed, I made a special point in there to confess and fake-apologize for my giddiness, and my fondness for profanity speaks for itself).

Eventually, my friend got fed up and shut the whole thing down after this woman called me the very creative name mentioned above, despite my encouragement to let her keep it up because it was awesome, hilarious, and what America is really all about: Land of the free, home of the let yourself be provoked online over a felonious reality TV star to the point of apparent aneurysm and subsequent electronic silencing by a moderator. 

But like I said, I love my new nickname. 

The "Mother Superior" part is thick with irony, since the title of my blog could easily be "Mother Inferior" given my well-documented lack of parenting skills. 

The "PC Piece of Crap Libtard" part is great too, since "Libtard" is the perfect portmanteau of my first name (Libby) and a popular 1980's slur for differently-abled persons, thus mixing well with the "PC" label. "Piece of Crap" is also a nice touch, though I'd prefer "Piece of Shit," as you might guess.

But by far my favorite part is "Morally Judgmental." Because to that I can only admit that I stand guilty as charged in this case.

If you search my blog for real meanness, or even real judgment, or a real political opinion (as opposed to a statement on a human rights wedge issue that pretends to be about politics), I can assure you that your search will be in vain. 

Here, the subject of my skewering was a young man who has made himself filthy rich by choosing to appear on a reality television program. He has earned substantial additional income by public hate mongering, in which he told innocent adults of the same gender (and anyone else who would listen) that they are morally bankrupt, despicable, and literally going to hell for being in loving relationships and raising children together. He did this on behalf of an entity (The Family Research Council) that is classified by at least one highly reputable legal nonprofit as a hate group. 

He was then exposed as an admitted serial child molester with a string of victims--including his own siblings--whose lives are undoubtedly ruined forever by his actions. He never served a minute in jail for his crimes, while there are people (not anyone like him, of course) who have been incarcerated for life after smoking a joint on the street. 

His only punishment is public shaming he brought on himself, and lost wages from a TV network that's suddenly running scared.
Morally Judgmental? You bet! I'll take it. 


Saturday, May 23, 2015

I Just Found My Next Career!

Alaska is approaching a "fiscal cliff" with a currently unfunded operating budget. As a result, a large percentage of the state's workforce, myself included, stands to lose their jobs (hopefully temporarily) unless our legislators can quit wagging their dicks at each other long enough to do their jobs by July. 

But personally, I don't care anymore if our legislature funds fertilizer plants and lines Exxon's pockets instead of giving my kids their constitutionally mandated public education and letting The Poors get a colonoscopy once a year. 

Because as Dave Chappelle would say, I'm gonna be RICH BEEEEOTCH!!!

A friend just hipped me to a new career/golden parachute, and it's amazing. Drum roll please . . . DINOSAUR EROTICA! 

Yes, two twenty-something graduates of Texas A&M, interviewed here in New York Magazine, are making gazillions writing bodice rippers about T-Rexes ravaging unsuspecting young maidens and giving them toe-curling orgasms with their tiny little vestigial arms. Until now, scientists didn't know what those arms were for, and now they do!

This is an amazing career move (obvi) but I need to take it one step further. I need to write MOM DINOSAUR erotica, starring the animate characters of the PBS Kids shows Dinosaur Train and The Wild Kratts, specifically Chris and Martin Kratt, and that guy "Scott the Paleontolgist."

The set-up would be fictional episodes of these programs starring The Kratt Brothers and Scott the Paleontologist in various sexy scenes from the pleistocene era, and of course dinosaurs would feature prominently. 

For example, the Mom could have lost her way while en route to Whole Foods and inadvertently stumbled into a herd of stampeding diplodocus. Out of nowhere, Dr. Scott or Chris Kratt comes riding in on a wooly mammoth and scoops her up to take her back to the laboratory and examine her for wounds. There he lies her roughly-but-gently on a specimen table as he simultaneously knocks the gluten free acai berry sorbet she just bought onto the floor. All of a sudden, a triceratops rams down the door to the lab and catches her eye, his bony frill glistening in the fading light that streams in from the palms beyond . . .

You get the idea.

I am going to make MILLIONS writing these! My only challenges will be (1) not giving myself distracting spontaneous orgasms while I develop the plot lines; and (2) deciding how to spend all of my money.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Is It Rape or a "Wrong Road?": A Flowchart for Josh Duggar

Profane Emojis That Really Should Exist Based on Their Obvious Utility

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged, Josh Duggar!

The star of TLC's unwatchable "19 Kids and Counting" (alternate title: "Michelle Duggar's Vagina is a Clown Car") is learning his scripture the hard way this week. 

Josh Duggar, doughy-faced spokesbigot for the Family Research Council's official homophobia arm, was outed as a serial child molester!

The delicious schadenfreude I experienced upon hearing this news and hate-watching every single one of its developments unfold is rivaled only by my conflicted guilt at being a Terrible Person for dancing on the proverbial grave of another human being. 

If I was a Really Good Person, I wouldn't feel so happy that this proselytizing Mr. Potato Head is getting (at least 15 minutes worth) of his much-deserved comeuppance.

Good thing I'm not a Really Good Person, so I'm allowed to love this!

The fact that a dangerous moral absolutist and total hypocrite is being forced to choke on his own false piety is just too rich for words. To say nothing of the way in which he, his whole family, and TLC's crisis P.R. team keep referring to his victims as "teenage mistakes."


I wonder if the five little girls he sexually assaulted with his father's knowledge for over a year prior to reporting the assaults to authorities would agree with that characterization? Or I wonder if Trayvon Martin, who was walking home with a bag of Skittles, just made a "mistake?"

Hahaha. Of course not.

After all, this is America. Where being young, black, male, and walking home with Skittles is a capital offense, and being young, white, male, "Christian" and a serial pedophile is a "teenage mistake." A teenage mistake, by the way, that gets you your own reality TV show, a million dollar payday, and the benefit of a statute of limitations that rewards the non-reporting of rape and molestation (or, as you call it, a "wrong road"), thereby allowing you to evade punishment and meaningful remorse forever.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day Camp for Legislators

WHAT TO BRING: It’s important that your legislator arrive at camp on a good night’s sleep and after eating a healthy breakfast (for under $15.00 paid for by a lobbyist). This ensures a fun and productive day of hearings and activities at camp! 

We want our legislators to make the most of their terms and all that Day Camp for Legislators has to offer! With that in mind, please send your legislator to camp each day with the following items:
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Angry constituent e-mails requiring a prompt response
  • Mandate to do his/her job
  • Pithy, provocative Tweets
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Insect/constituent repellent
Daily Schedule

7-8:50 a.m.: Arrival/Early Care with Legislator’s Choice
Organized activity stations: Horsetrading; Grandstanding; Posturing; Sighing; Exasperation; Brinkmanship; General Sanctimony (content varies daily).

9:00 a.m.: All Camp Opening Ceremony
Announcements; Alaska Flag Song; Pledge of Allegiance; Solemn interfaith prayer; All legislators hold hands in a circle to welcome the camp day.

9:30 a.m. Group Caucus Time: Review of government values; Color wars between R (Red Team) and D (Blue Team) caucuses over budget funding; Apply sunscreen.

10:30 a.m. Activity Period 1: Complain loudly about construction noise; Continue to deny location of state capital; Call lawyers; Roast s'mores.

11:15 a.m. Activity Period 2: Fishing; Eviscerate sexual assault and abuse prevention bill; Prioritize Scantrons and parental denial; Tug-of-War; Bonfire using original version of aforementioned bill as kindling.

Noon LUNCH with more lobbyists

12:30 p.m. Activity Period 3: Fail to provide healthcare to thousands of people with a net economic loss to the state; Threaten the PFD; Free swim; Track & Field.

1:00 p.m. Activity Period 4: Discuss future political aspirations despite not doing current job and/or doing it poorly; Floor speeches about nothing; At-eases up the wazoo; Recess; Softball.

2:00 p.m. Activity Period 5: Deny public employees contractually promised raises and threaten their jobs forever; Canoeing; Basketball.

3:00 p.m. Activity Period 6: Slash funding to art, music, after-school programs, and extended learning until the entirety of school for kids K-12 is one giant Scantron test; Arts & Crafts; Woodworking.

4:00 p.m. All Camp Closing Ceremony; Sing National Anthem; Pat selves on back; Point fingers at each other; Snack.

4:30 p.m. Camper pick up. Please be sure to sign out your legislator!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bedtime in the Land of the Midnight Sun: F.A.Q.

Bedtime is often a flash-point of conflict for parents, but Alaska throws a monkey wrench into the works with its seasonal extremes of light and dark. Juneau is less drastic in this respect than cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks, which are much further north. Still, on the longest and shortest days of the year, we get something like 18 and 6 hours of daylight here, and the sun never exactly "sets" or "rises" during those times.

No matter how often I explain to my kids that Alaska's acceptable waking hours cannot be judged by the outside light (or lack thereof) during the depths of summer or winter, they remain confused (as do all of our bodies).

That's why I've prepared this handy F.A.Q. about bedtime in the Land of the Midnight Sun, for Alaskan parents, or those visiting Alaska with children. 

F.A.Q. About Bedtime in Alaska

1. It's light outside, but the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 11. Is it still bedtime?

Yes! Go the fuck to sleep!

2. Why do I still hear kids riding their bikes outside then?

Because their parents are nice and we're dicks.

3. It's still nighttime. Why are you waking me up now?

No, it's not nighttime. It's a Monday morning in December. In Alaska. Where you live. Remember?

4. I'm all dressed and ready for my end-of-school field trip to the beach! Can we leave now?

No. It's 4:00 a.m. Go the fuck back to sleep.

5. But I caaaaaaaaaaan't go back to sleep! Can we play outside by ourselves?

Fuck no! Not without an adult, and I'm asleep (as you can see). There might be a bear out this early. Do you feel like being a bear's breakfast? Didn't think so. Go find some crayons and paper.

6. How about a cartoon?

That's only for the weekends. Don't push your luck.

7. Santa?! Is that you? Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night?

I'm not Santa. I'm your dad. And it's not the middle of the night. So get up. It's time for school.

8. Why are you using those heavy black curtains to block out the sun?

Because you're a complete asshole without 12 hours of sleep, and it's June and this is the only way you'll get it.

9. Santa!?

Again, I'm not Santa. I'm your dad. Also, we're Jewish. Santa hates us. Remember?

10. Why are you making us go to bed now if it's still light outside?

For the ten zillionth time, you live in Alaska! Remember when we went to Philadelphia last summer and you were surprised that it got dark at night? Well, that shit doesn't happen here. You should know that by now. Go the fuck to sleep!

JERRY! JERRY! JERRY! Comes to Alaska

Remember The Jerry Springer Show? It's a tabloid talk show that's still on the air, believe it or not. You're probably not watching it unless you're unemployed, which if you're a State of Alaska employee, you might be as of July 1 due to a presently unfunded state budget and resulting looming government shutdown. According to my favorite resource, Wikipedia:
A typical episode of Springer begins with a title card warning parents that the show may contain content inappropriate for children. Springer then enters the stage by sliding down a stripper pole, being greeted by an applauding audience chanting JERRY! JERRY! Springer then welcomes viewers to the show, introduces a particular situation, and interviews a person who is experiencing it. After finishing the interview, Springer announces the entrance of another guest whom the first guest would like to confront. The second guest enters the stage, and a confrontation between the two guests usually occurs, often breaking down into a brawl that is eventually broken up by on-set security personnel. Once the fight has been quelled, Springer interviews the second guest about the situation faced by the first guest. In many episodes, there is a third guest involved in the situation, who is also interviewed by Springer, and often takes part in the on-stage fighting. It is also not uncommon for a fourth guest to be involved. Often guests will be given a cup of water after fighting, ostensibly to "cool off," but inevitably, the guests toss the water at each other, thus resuming the altercation. The cycle is repeated for each set of guests on the show. Once all guests have told their stories, there is usually a "question and answer" segment where audience members ask guests questions relevant to their situations, although usually the questioners insult a guest or flash (show their breasts to) the audience in exchange for "Jerry Beads' (Mardi-Gras-style beads with the show logo).
Well, like so many reality TV shows before it, The Jerry Springer Show has come to Alaska, and it's been more fun to watch than The Deadliest Catch, Alaska State Troopers, and Ice Road Truckers combined! Episodes have been filming continuously since January in the halls of the capitol building here in Juneau, with some special tapings in Anchorage and at other select locations around the state. 

The role of Jerry is a rotating one, played by the chair of any given legislative committee. The guests are Alaska's other 59 elected officials, the press, and their constituents who are trying to get all 60 elected officials to behave like adults and stop whacking each other over the head with chairs (so far metaphorically-speaking), before every man, woman, and child in Alaska is unemployed, has no health insurance, and/or gets molested in a school (but not in art or music class, because there's no money for that). 

There's plenty of water and coffee to go around, though, and the temptation to throw it in people's faces is high, although as far as I know that hasn't happened yet. All of this content may be "inappropriate for children," as I understand that several class trips to the capitol to watch our noble democracy in action have failed to impress Alaska's tender youth.

The only thing missing--so far--is the stripper pole, the flashing, the Mardi-Gras beads, and Jerry unveiling a paternity test and yelling, "Senator/Representative so-and-so IS NOT THE FATHER!!!"

Say it with me now: JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deflategate is The World's Greatest Injustice

Climate change. Sex trafficking. Sweatshops. Child brides. Somali refugees. Rape. Natural disasters. ISIS. Baltimore riots. Campaign finance abuse. 

All of it---ALL of it--pales in comparison to the grave injustice that is the N.F.L.'s persecution of the New England Patriots football team, stemming from some slightly deflated footballs that a bunch of dicks threw back and forth to each other and ran around with in a child's game played by adults who make millions of dollars a year for throwing a ball back and forth and running around with it in front of millions of screaming, testosterone-charged maniacs with painted chests and giant foam fingers.

Yes, it is a dark day, not just for football fans, but for all of humanity.

Speaking from the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco today, Robert Kraft, distraught and embattled owner of The Patriots who is not to be confused with a box of orange macaroni and cheese, stated that he would "accept reluctantly" the punishment meted out by the N.F.L., specifically $1M or approximately .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of Mr. Kraft's personal checking account, and the egregious blow of two revoked draft picks. 

To say nothing of Gisele Bundchen's be-dimpled lingerie muse and that tousled-haired hero, saint, knight, valiant quarterback, and Son of New England--Tom Brady--whom the N.F.L. grievously suspended for four--FOUR--games. Godspeed Sir Brady in his appeal of this atrocious sentence. Not since a wrongly-convicted death row prisoner who has served 30 years in solitary confinement before being exonerated with DNA evidence has such a profound miscarriage of justice occurred in an otherwise just Republic. Because even if Sir Brady did cheat, cheating is the American way, and he has earned the right to call himself a Patriot. Just ask Lance Armstrong, Jose Conseco, Bernie Madoff, or Milli Vanilli. To cite just a few of many examples.

Although the proud Patriots will not appeal their sentence, Mr. Kraft was correct to characterize the punishment as "unreasonable," the evidence as "circumstantial," and to note with gravitas and class that "at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32."

The "collective good of the full 32" being 32 teams of athletes, most of whom are by and large steroid-addled assholes, playing a game whose profits exceed the GDP of most developing countries and whose culture is renown for rape (both date and regular), gunplay, and head trauma. In other words, the trifecta of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as it has come to be known in America. And like America, football (deflated or not), goes great with strippers dancers and hot wings at Hooters.

All flags should fly at half-mast on the gridiron and beyond for the abuse of human rights that has befallen the proud New England Patriots today.

More Legislative Priorities: Another Graph

I Desperately Need One More Article in Slate About "Mad Men"

I've felt a major void in my life lately, and finally discovered its source. It's the fact that there are too few articles in Slate about the television show Mad Men.

Although I've never watched so much as a single episode of Mad Men, I've come to understand that I'm really missing out because it was a Very Good Show and a Very Important Cultural Phenomenon and the fact that it has ended is Very, Very, VERY Big News. 

At least for Slate, which readers of this blog know that I hate with a deep and abiding passion, and yet can't stop reading.

The series finale of Mad Men (and the show in general) is so important, in fact, that I would give anything for even just one more article about it, especially if that article appears in Slate

Articles like "Why Did Don Finally Stop Running?,"Did Everything Have to End Quite so Neatly,?" "Mad Men Stuck the Landing," "Does Don Draper Believe in Love?," "I Wish Mad Men Had Depicted Women in the Workplace With More Subtlety," "What Did Mad Men Really Tell Us About American History?," and "How Will Mad Men End?" just don't feel like enough, somehow.

Not at all. 

I would walk to the ends of the earth if it meant an entire section of a major online newspaper could be devoted to this television show. I need more articles about Mad Men. Articles like "Watch Don Draper's Kodak Carousel Project," "Mad Men's Silliest Moments," "The 10 Greatest Shots in Mad Men's Seven-Season Run," and "Man Men's 'Leonard' Describes That Hug With Don Draper."

Oh, the humanity! It's not enough! I need still more from Slate.

I need answers to the questions "How Do You Make Don Draper Cry?," and "Is Don Draper Worth It?" I need foreign language lessons like "A French Canadian Analyzes the French Dialogue in the Latest Mad Men Episode," and of course, who could forget the always-highly-anticipated "Mad Men Zinger of the Week?"

I need to hear from "Mad Men's Elizabeth Reaser on the Waitress, Auditioning for the Part, and the Fan Reaction," and I need to hear "Mad Men Boss Matthew Weiner Explain[] the Premiere." I need to know whether "This Mad Men Recap Made With Facebook is the Only One [I] Need," and "How George Lois, '60s Ad Man and Art Director, May be the Real-Life Don Draper."

All of this is essential information, but it's also wholly insufficient.

I also need the challenge posed in "We Found the Huge Reveal in the New Mad Men Teaser. Can You Spot It?," and I need to "Watch This Parody Combining the Worlds of Mad Men and X-Men." "I need to read "He's Moving Into Whose Office?! Time to Revisit the Don Draper Death Watch," and I definitely, definitely need the ground-breaking anthropological analysis found in "Peggy, Shirley, and the Flowers on Mad Men: American Race Relations in a Nutshell."

For you see, only more articles in Slate about Mad Men can complete my sense of cultural proficiency, and indeed my entire life. 

Yes, it's clear as day. I desperately need just one more article in Slate about Mad Men.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The One Thing I Most Want My Kids to Understand

This weekend, we had some visitors who were here in Juneau on a cruise for the day. None had kids with them, although one couple had children at home. We were in the middle of dinner when Paige interrupted to draw everyone's attention to the TV in our open-floor plan living room, which was playing a screen-saver slideshow of family photos, mostly of her and her brother. 

The adults were in the middle of a conversation, and Paige spent at least five minutes trying to divert everyone's attention to scenes of her and Isaac doing clever and funny things. 

Finally I said in a gentle tone of voice, "Honey . . . no one cares." This was met with uproarious laughter (from the adults), and the general observation that we were not helicopter parents. (We'd also been letting the kids run around outside for the better part of an hour before dinner). 

Paige simply shrugged and went back to playing with her dolls.

Had I not already had a cocktail, I probably would have found a slightly less direct way to deliver this information, and although what I said was blunt, it wasn't unkind, and it definitely wasn't untrue.

My kids are the center of my universe. But here's the thing. I don't want them to know it. Or at least, I don't want them to think they are the center of The Universe, capital T, capital U. Indeed, I want them to affirmatively believe that they're not.

In reality, Geoff and I spend all day every day thinking about our kids and planning for their comfort and well-being, from the minute they eat their made-to-order breakfast each morning to the minute they go to bed with one of us lying next to each of them. I know they feel loved. But I think there's a difference between being and feeling loved, and getting the message that your needs always come first and everyone should just drop everything and pay attention to you, the most interesting person in the room.

Every day seems to bring another parenting article about over-scheduled, over-coddled kids and how parenting used to be so much better back in the day. I think it's hard to be objective about the past, as surely every generation thinks the one that succeeds it grows up to be a big bunch of babies who had it too easy and is now suffering the consequences.

I actually don't worry that my kids will become spoiled from too many activities or toys. But I do worry that they will become spoiled by getting the message that whatever they are saying or doing at any given moment is the most important thing that's occurring. Because it's not. Not for any one individual. 

If you're going to survive and thrive in a world like ours, which is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, I think it's a good and very helpful thing to realize early on that you're not at its center.