Galanty Miller

 

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9-2-19

I can't tell you the name of my mailman, the guy who works on my car, the person who signs my work checks, any of the cops who ever gave me a ticket, most of my college professors, most of the useless politicians running the country, most medical professions who ever touched my skin, or, frankly, most of my neighbors. But I will remember every single one of my elementary school teachers until the day I die. To be an elementary teacher is pretty much the most important job in the world.

 

9-1-19

As another year of college begins, I’ve been reading some really crappy, cliché advice. So here’s MY advice- or at least a different perspective- for those of you entering college for the first time.

In elementary school and in high school, the worst thing in the world is to be alone: eating lunch in the cafeteria, sitting around during free periods, being by yourself during a pep rally. It’s embarrassing, depressing, and it chips away at your self-worth. When you’re young, friends are so important… even if that just means the “perception” of friendship. And even if *you* don’t mind being alone, *other* kids feel sorry for you, teachers are concerned for you, and psychologists encourage counseling. To be alone is some sort of failure.

But college is different.

In college brochures and websites, you’ll see one picture after another of groups of students having fun together. Walk through the halls of any university building and you’ll see posters for clubs, team sports, and other social activities. You’re bombarded with opportunities to join just about any any clique centered around just about any interest imaginable. And it’s all good.

But there’s something else about college, something nobody tells you…

In college you can be alone.

You can eat alone. You can walk to- and sit in- class by yourself. You can study at your own separate table- in the library, outside on campus, wherever.

And it’s not embarrassing. You won’t feel like a loser. Nobody is whispering about you. Nobody is judging you. Nobody cares.

You’ll probably make friends in college. But don’t force it. And until it happens, or even if it doesn’t happen, or during those moments when your friends aren’t around, don’t feel self-conscious when you’re by yourself. Instead, use the time to reflect, contemplate, think, READ, study, or just clear your mind and think about nothing. And enjoy it.

 

8-16-19

"A" PLUS *PLUS*

A college that which I taught has officially eliminated the A+ grade option. Thank God.

 

One time, a student complained to me about not receiving an A+. She finished the semester with a 94 average.

 

During my first few years of teaching, I never offered an A+ as an option, mainly because it’s such a stupid grade. It makes the same logical sense as soccer’s overtime rules. “After 90 minutes, the score is 0-0. But we’ll give the teams random, subject extra time and penalty kicks. So Manchester ended up beating Chelsea 6 to 4 in a 97 minute game.”

 

Telling someone to “give 110 percent” is just a figure of speech, not a logical reality.

 

It’s like when you receive an A on an exam and you’d get the little happy face sticker next to your grade. Can’t you just be happy with the freakin’ A?

 

Plus, the A+ seems suspicious. If someone graduates with a 4.0, you think, “That person must be smart.” If someone graduate with a 4.2, you think, “What the hell is a 4.2?”

 

If you get a 4.0, you’re assumed to be perfect. If you get a 4.1, it’s assumed you probably could’ve received a 5.0 had you tried just a little harder.

 

So for a while, I never gave out an A+, although some students were indeed pretty close to perfect. (I hope you’re not still angry with me, Eric Trump.)

 

As the years went on, I was a bit more forgiving. And I’d give the occasional A+ to a student who finished the semester with a really strong grade. Or who paid me.

 

Nevertheless, I appreciate the administration’s decision… though I suspect in our world of mediocrity, by the end of the decade, all schools will just switch to the Pass/Fail grading option, and after that the Pass/Pass option. And after that everyone will just graduate college with a happy face sticker.

 

 

7-13-19

DONALD TRUMP, JEFFREY EPSTEIN, AND SEX CRIMES

Jeffrey Epstein’s mistake is that he didn’t die young enough. Had he left this earth in his early fifties of an unexpected heart attack, at that point already having had sexually assaulted a multitude of girls, his funeral would’ve been standing room only- with dozens of high-powered wealthy men extolling his virtues. “Great guy” would’ve been thrown around a lot. 

More than anything else, the story makes me think of Aunt Becky. Boy, people are so adamant that she spends time in prison for trying to sneak her kid into college. She’s a danger to society. There was that story last year about the two emotionally-troubled friends. The girl told her friend he should kill himself; he did. Everyone was up in arms that this young woman should go to jail. She was a real danger to society. Then there was the story- with video- about the girls goofing around on a cliff or something, jumping into the water below. Girl 1, without any thought, jokingly pushed her friend, Girl 2, into the water, with the expectation that Girl 2 was about to jump in, anyway. Girl 2 injured herself falling into the water. Girl 1 was mortified at what she had done. No matter. So many observers demanded that she spend time behind bars. (The tabloid show Inside Edition was especially obsessed with this story. It’s like Girl 1 was on the level of a serial killer.) So many criminals.  

In Alabama, the government wanted to convict a woman for murder after she got into a fight with another woman. Oh- it was a pretty tame fight. But the woman was pregnant. Alabama wanted to put this woman in jail for endangering her fetus.  

The Jeffrey Epstein story makes me think of Aunt Becky. I find society’s level of anger for a man who systematically raped girls to be about the same as it is for Aunt Becky. She had the rowing coach say that her daughter was on the team.  

But had it not been for a couple of emotionally invested prosecutors, neither of these cases would’ve ever been exposed. And life would’ve gone on.  

And that’s our prison system.  

Some people in prison deserve to be in prison for the crimes they committed- whether or not those were the crimes for which they were actually prosecuted. Some people are in prison for victimless crimes, merely a victim of circumstance and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some people are in prison because they were wrongly convicted. Most people who commit a crime will never be arrested, indicted, or convicted. Many people of privilege commit horrible acts, indifferent to the suffering they inflict; these people can’t be arrested for those acts- because those acts aren’t crimes… because people of privilege decide what is and is not a crime.

There are bad people in prison. There are some good people in prison. There are many more bad people *not* in prison. Luck- both bad and good- is a more powerful determiner than any sort of rhyme or reason.  

This is society. And for as long as any of us are alive, it will never change.

My next post will be funny again. I promise.  

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/12/741326915/new-accusations-for-epstein-as-some-in-south-florida-say-good-riddance-to-acosta

 

7-10-19

ISN'T "MERMAID" ITS OWN SEPARATE RACE?

As you may have heard, Disney cast a black actress to play Ariel in the new live-action version of The Little Mermaid. (Wow, Walt Disney’s cryogenically-frozen head must be spinning in its state-of-the-art bio-chamber “grave”.)  

And my well-meaning friends are attacking the perceived backlash, that racist America (ie Twitter) is voicing its anger over the casting decision. My progressive friends support an African-American woman playing the lead in another Disney live-action version of an animated classic. Meanwhile, my cinephile friends oppose yet another Disney live-action version of an animated classic.  

To be fair, though, racist America is *not* voicing much anger.  

This is another situation where the (social) media creates conflict where none exists.

Racial injustice is a serious, complex problem- fueled by social power, ignorance, historical prejudice, and the traditional institutions that guide society.

But in a country of 320 million people, maybe a tiny fraction of a small percentage of a miniscule segment of one percent of Amerians give a shit about who is playing Ariel in a movie that most people will never see and that most people don’t even know is being made. 

And yet social media loves to stir the pot with headlines about a casting backlash. “Twitter Erupts…” should never be the beginning of any legitimate news story. 
In fact, out of curiosity, I just went on Twitter and hashtagged the Little Mermaid casting. There’s a ton of tweets from people excited about the casting choice. But where’s all the hate? I’m scrolling down and I don’t see any of this outage I’m hearing about.

Actually, with all the problems that exist in America- racial and otherwise- that a black actress is playing Arielle and nobody cares is a *good*. Though, personally, I was hoping for a blue actor to play the genie in Aladdin. 

I mean, if Hollywood really wants to get serious about diversity, how long do we have to wait to finally see a transgender James Bond?! 

As usual, everyone is missing the bigger picture. The reason nobody cares about this casting choice is because Disney picked an actress who happens to be black… but what is more important to the movie studio and the audience is that she’s young and very pretty. She even *looks* like a mermaid. (I mean, I just assume that in real life mermaids are all hot. It’s basic science.)

(note: I also happen to know actress Halle Bailey’s work, as I’m a fan of her show Grownish. The level of my TV viewing is that which is directed to adolescents.)

You really want to see Twitter go crazy? Cast an actress who isn’t conventionally attractive. (That’s a trick question, by the way. Nobody really wants to see Twitter go crazy. Rather, we just want to see Twitter go *away*.)

If Disney cast an Ariel who wasn’t beautiful. The social media outrage would equal that of what it *should* be for keeping kids in cages at the border. (That the actual anger about what’s going on isn’t that intense… well, we’ll save that for my next post, titled “God Society Just Keeps Getting Worse.”)

How about the girl from Precious? She’s a pretty good actress. Gabourey Sidibe, I think her name is. She’d probably make a convincing Ariel. No? Why not?

Women in Hollywood, and in society, are not judged so much by race, but by their physical appearance. Or as our President Donald Trump said, in defense of the rape allegations being held against him, “She’s not my type.” Trump was insulted not because he was accused of rape, but that he was accused of rape by someone who didn’t reach his physical standards. Oh, did I mention this is the President of the United States?

You really want to get angry at someone? Don’t worry about the anonymous Internet trolls trying to provoke you. Instead, blame that bullying shallow misogynic Prince Eric. What a cruel, hateful, ignorant piece of sh*t.

Prince Eric’s initial interactions with Ariel were about as deep as a typical group date on The Bachelor. But he falls in love with her because, hey, she’s cute. Oh, and he likes her singing voice. (It should be noted that this literally *is* one of the plot threads on this season’s The Bachelorette.) But then Eric loses interest in Ariel when he meets an even *better-looking* girl.

Now, in the animated film, the better-looking girl is really the evil sea witch Ursula in disguise. And why is Ursula in disguise? Because God forbid Prince Eric be romantically interested in Ursula if she looked like Ursula. That’s crazy! Ursula isn’t pretty.

Who is rumored to play evil Ursula? Melissa McCarthy. Heavyset singer Lizzo. Perhaps a plump *man*. Why not Melissa McCarthy for the role of ARIEL!? (Plus, it’ll eliminate the creepiness of Prince Eric falling in love with a sixteen-year-old. Hey- don’t look at *me*. I’m not the one who wrote the script.)

As Prince Eric sings in what is probably the movie’s most famous ballad, “I’m a F*cking Piece of Sh*t”, “I measure a woman’s value by her physical appearance. I also bully and mock the physical appearance of my servant because I’m a Prince and he’s just a poor servant so he has to sit back and take it like a little bitch. Also, if I feel in love with Ariel because of her singing voice and then I fell in love with disguised Ursula because of her singing voice, then why would Ursula have to change her appearance?”     

note: And to those obsessive fans who’ll tell me, “But Ursula cast a hypnotic spell on Prince Eric so that he’d forget about Ariel”… yeah, right. And that’s also why my first two marriages fell apart. “But honey, I didn’t mean to cheat on you. Someone must’ve cast a hypnotic spell on me!”

That Disney cast a young, beautiful actress to play the lead in The Little Mermaid is not controversial or bold. It’s boring. The more interesting casting decision involves the Prince Eric character. But if they’re going with the obvious, then there is really only one choice: Donald Trump.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDXfNLXRGYw

 

3-25-19

THE SOCIOLOGY OF SCREAMING COLLEGE COACHES

See now I don’t understand the term “snowflake.” I mean, I *get* it, but I don’t understand the partisan aspect. Why is snowflake associated with being liberal?

Trump’s entire existence is blame, whine, defend, and accuse. This is not snowflake behavior? Is Trump literal?

Two years ago, a student of mine went to speak to the head of my department to complain that I wasn’t showing him “respect” during a class debate. When I was in college, I didn’t even know there WAS a “head of the department.” The student took the conservative side of the issue. I took the… actually, I didn’t really even take a side; I was just trying to be funny.

That being said, though I’m usually horrified by the politically correct, excuse-making, lightweight, “woe is me”, snowflake society we’ve become, I kind of agree with the people who are making an issue out of Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.

For those of you not in the know, Izzo, like so many college basketball coaches, is an angry middle-aged white guy making tons of dough. During the NCAA Tournament a few days ago, he was caught on camera screaming at one of his players. Some people were upset by his behavior. Some people said it wasn’t a big deal- and the “real” problem is that we’ve become such a wimpy culture.

In no other arena of society is verbal abuse allowed. If you were at a party and you saw a man screaming at his wife, waving his finger in her face, would you just sit back and allow this to happen? No! You’d take out your camera and film it! If your boss yelled at you like a lunatic, as a way to motivate you to do your job better, would you accept this abuse?

Only in sports (and in Republican politics) are grown men allowed to throw idiotic tantrums, verbally and aggressively attacking their subordinates.

Keep in mind that college athletes don’t get paid. I would’ve liked to see one of the Michigan State players get into Tom Izzo’s doughy face and start screaming, “You’re making millions of dollars off of my free labor you ungrateful dickhole!”

Every year, HBO premieres Hard Knocks, the real-time reality series focusing on an NFL team’s training camp. Last year, the show featured the Cleveland Browns. Greg Williams, the defensive coach (and the current defensive coach of the NY Jets!), would constantly scream like a moron at his players… who, by the way, are adults. Does he think this is motivating the players to do a better job? I enjoy watching the players’ reactions, which range from disinterest to amusement to annoyance to “When is this imbecile going to go away?”

If a player isn’t doing his job properly, teach him- COACH him- the right way to do it. Isn’t that your job? To COACH? Your job is not to scream like a jerk. And if the player still can’t get it right, either through a lack of talent or a lack of effort, replace him with someone who can.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the coaches with anger management issues tend to be rich white men. Meanwhile, the players on the receiving end of this stupidity are young black men. Could you imagine a middle-aged rich white male coach screaming and pointing his finger and getting in the face of his middle-aged rich white male players? (Well, technically you CAN; just watch a Brigham Young game. Mic drop.)

This is the world of Trump. Angry white men screaming at the powerless- the ones actually DOING the work- to get it right. Luckily, nobody is listening to them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eaq5d-KqFfo&fbclid=IwAR3eqWtLWmeJsEAEGgT0tuZLo_74WZRkNVhNU2Nx-g7_rRUlVjhoRrEqFto

 

3-20-19

WE ARE SCARY (THE SOCIOLOGY OF THE MOVIE "US")

I have no interest in watching gory horror movies. What does it say about someone who needs to watch people being tortured? And yet when I see a commercial for a slasher movie, I have an obsessive need to find out what happens. So I Wikipedia the plot. Wanna know how the most recent Halloween movie turns out? I’m your guy.

I did watch Get Out, which was more “thriller” than “slasher”. It was entertaining and clever. And so I’ll probably check out Jordan Peele’s new film, Us.

I suspect the violence will be more psychological. Even so, the marketing is trying to scare us with the idea of murderous doppelgangers.

However, it seems to me that the IDEA of a doppelganger, an exact version of yourself, is a lot more frightening. I mean, if anyone- whether or not they look like me- attacks with scissors, my natural instinct is to fight back. But if someone who looks and speaks exactly like me is just sort of hanging around, angrily yelling at me… well that’s pretty freaky.

I feel like my evil doppelganger wouldn’t try to kill me. Rather, he’d keep waking me up during my afternoon naps. Heeeeeeeelp!!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNCmb-4oXJA&fbclid=IwAR2ANWUlYDAGh_AQ5xn-o4iRuY_WfxyfXVcscdyFkBfolhYbsp1bbGUXfoU

 

3-14-19

I was watching the NBC morning news today. I was particularly interested in a story about how, in just a few years, thousands of truck drivers will be replaced with driverless trucks. I mean, yeah, I guess you can't stop technology. But *NO* machine- not matter how advanced- can ever replace the human personal element of a truck driving 49 mph on the highway and so you pass it, which for some reason seems to irk the driver so he speeds up and dangerously tailgates you until he finally passes you and then immediately gets back into the right lane, in front of you, and goes back to 49 mph... like what happened to me on my way to work this morning... and most mornings.

 

3-13-19

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PREDICTABILITY? (THE COLLEGE CELEBRITY BRIBING SCANDAL)

It’s funny when wealthy, entitled people get arrested. Especially when they’re celebrities. Nevertheless, I’m trying to figure out if this is a legitimate news story. I’m not sure. Maybe? Any thoughts?

The University of Texas was one of the colleges involved in the scandal. I mean, if your kid can’t get into the UNIVERSITY OF FREAKIN’ TEXAS on their own… then they are not ready for college. You know how sometimes thirteen-year-old geniuses attend college? At the University of Texas, some of the students are just regular thirteen-year-olds.

Aunt Becky bribed a USC coach to say her daughter was being recruited for the rowing team. People are mocking this. It turns out the daughter has never rowed a boat in her life. I have a different take. Let’s say Aunt Becky’s daughter *was* on the rowing team. How the f*** does that qualify you for college?! It this was we’re defining as “merit” now? “Trigonomics? Sure, I can do that. I row a boat.”

Let me put it a different way. Mark Sanchez was admitted into USC legitimately. So was O.J. Simpson. My point? Maybe there’s a bigger problem with our system of college admittance.

This story encompasses a number of issues. Let’s get something straight; academic fraud is wrong. Someone can’t take your exams for you. But that has nothing to do with college admittance. There’s no objective requirements for getting into a college. Harvard can literally say, “You cheated on your SAT? That shows initiative. Welcome to Harvard.” (Well, I mean, Harvard can’t *literally* say this because universities can’t speak.)

Though the percentage is still small, I’ve noticed a growing number of students in my OWN classes who simply don’t have the intellectual ability to succeed in college. This is a new phenomenon. It’s weird. Like- “Let’s peel back the complex layers of this concept and get to the core….” These students don’t understand the CORE. “Okay, let me apply this to real life. Here’s an example of… no? You don’t understand the example… that applies to real life? Okay, why don’t we take a little break for now.” Seriously. I’m just thinking to myself, “How is this college?”

As a matter of fact, I’ve been lecturing about the diminishing quality of the collective American student body for years now. Turns out I was right. Just sayin’.

I just had a student last week who missed the exam. It’s not a surprise. He has missed most of our classes this semester. When he realized he skipped the test, he said, “This is a wake-up call for me to start attending classes.” I’m like, “Jimmy, getting into college was a wake-up call for you to attend classes. THIS is a wake-up call for you to LEAVE college.” He asked if he still had a chance of passing the class. I said, “If you do really well on the next two tests, you can still pass. But you won’t.” (I know. This sounds really snarky. It wasn’t. I was actually trying to be nice.)

But I talk about college students because I work with college students. EVEYRONE is like this now. My on-line class consists mostly of adults in the military. Do you know why I’m writing this past right now? Because I’m sitting around waiting for them to submit their big project, which is due in a few hours. I expect to receive projects from, oh, about half the class. During the evening when class projects/papers are due, the number of projects/papers that are actually submitted only slightly outweighs the number of emails I receive that start with “I’m having a family emergency…” People have a lot of family emergencies. Thank God I don’t have a family.

Anyway…

It’s such a weird form of corruption.

I understand why people rob banks. People want money. Banks have money. Sure, there are consequences if you get caught. But for bank robbers, I suppose, the rewards outweigh the risks.

But why would you literally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and risk legal prosecution to get your kid into college? Are people that sleazy? I just don’t get it. Send your brat to community college for a year. Bride them in exchange for good grades. (I’m pretty sure that’s a legal bribe.) And if they do well, they can re-apply to the four-year school next year. No? Isn’t that better than risking jail time?

Or better yet- don’t go to college! Did you see Aunt Becky’s daughter’s YouTube video? She had no plans on attending class. She just wants to party. Hey- I’m not judging. Partying is awesome! Good for her. I mean, if being a college student was a prerequisite for hanging out at college bars, the bouncer would’ve thrown me out twenty years ago. (“Twenty?” Really?)

Wow. I did NOT mean to write this much. I’m just fascinated with the story. I guess it *is* a legitimate news story. I liked the Bob Kraft story better, though. God the Patriots are a garbage team. This is a team that drafted murderer Aaron Hernandez… who, incidentally, got into the University of Miami legitimately.

Lori Loughlin, charged with paying bribes to cheat her kids into college, was taken into custody in Los Angeles after turning herself in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-7-19

I BELIEVE I CAN FLY (THE SOCIOLOGY OF R. KELLY)

Here’s a good example of the subtle, institutionalized racism that exists in America.

Did R. Kelly seem like a deranged liar? Why? Because he was angry and out-of-control? Yes, that’s probably true. And yet I suspect many of the same people commenting on R. Kelly defended Brett Kavanaugh’s embarrassing tantrum during his Congressional hearings. “I don’t blame Kavanaugh. He was angry! How dare those women question his disposition and mental stability.”

What’s the difference, other than skin color and privileged entitlement?

Actually, there *is* a difference. R. Kelly, a professional entertainer, was basically giving an over-the-top performance during a ridiculous TV interview. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, who is now making decisions over women’s reproductive rights, was speaking to CONGRESS. 
Some citizens are allowed indignant self-righteous anger; others are not. This is America.

And I’m not defending R. Kelly, a celebrity of minimal importance. (He did the “I Believe I Can Fly” song, right? There. I know one R. Kelly song.) But I don’t think R. Kelly is the issue. Rather, it’s about the social status of his victims.

Kevin Spacey groped an eighteen-year-old waiter and you’ll never see his face in another movie ever again. R, Kelly ran a decades-long sex cult brainwashing underage black girls and he was still performing all over the country. It took a televised documentary- as opposed to, say, law enforcement- to get the authorities involved.

 
WASHINGTONPOST.COM|BY ELAHE IZADI
 
Kelly sits in jail over alleged unpaid child support while King's interview with the singer and his live-in girlfriends, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, airs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1-16-19

DEM'S FIGHTIN' WORDS! (THE SOCIOLOGY OF TOXIC MASCULINITY)

 

People are talking about the new Gillette commercial, in which poorly-shaven men with facial razor-burn come together to denounce toxic masculinity.

In the ad, a new generation of bold men are stepping up to those who disrespect women, or they’re speaking to teenage boys with kindness and compassion rather than stereotypical male hostility.

For too long we’ve been a culture in which masculinity has been defined by aggression and sexual dominance and those douchebag guys on the The Bachelorette who wear V-neck T-shirts to cocktail parties.

And yet just as Ace Hardware was criticized for its “Stop the Vocal Fry” campaign, Gillette is receiving on-line backlash. Traditionalists argue that here begins a slippery slope, and that misguided political correctness is telling men that they’re not allowed to be MEN.   

Of course, this is an absurd counterpoint. America still values manhood. We still respect what it means to be a man: fight clubs, neck tattoos, power lifting boulders, river rafting blindfolded, rock climbing at night, drunk skydiving, eating fire, recreational water boarding, pedicures, etc. Rather, all Gillette- along with the decent people of the world- are saying is, “Men, don’t be jerks.”   

We need to eliminate toxic masculinity. We also need to eliminate toxic glue. Just imagine a world with edible glue. One can dream, right?

Toxic masculinity leads to intimidation, mean-spiritedness, vicious school bullying, sexual assault, psychological dysfunction, and, well, you can just read the rest of Brett Kavanaugh’s resume on your own.   

Gender roles are changing. A real man no longer has to prove his worth through caveman-like behavior. And as a matter of fact, he never did. Well, I mean, the actual cavemen did. But let’s say “never” starting around, oh, I don’t know, the six-hundreds. A real man is in control. A real man treats people with dignity and respect.

Women don’t want to see your dick pics. They want to see your dignity pics. Eh, they don’t want to see those, either. Just send photos of your dog. Women like that.

At some point, one has to look in the mirror and say, “Here is a commercial for razors about men being nice to each other. And this offends me. Maybe I’m the reason I never get laid?”

Here’s my prediction…

1.    What with all the media buzz, Gillette generates millions of dollars in free advertising.

2.    The fake Fox News outrage quickly subsides.

3.    Gillette makes a few extra bucks.

4.    Everyone goes back to not giving a sh*t about anything.

But in-between commercials for personal injury lawyers and probiotic soda, a little public service announcement isn’t the worst thing in the world. And the music is nice.  

Oh, I just checked. Gillette tests on animals.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4Qa9ZXTg2g

note: I started my own fight club. At night, we get together in an old abandoned factory and watch Fight Club, along with other Brad Pitt films. Rule #1 of Fight Club: don’t forget your Netflix password.

 

7-1-17

HONESTLY, SAME-SEX WEDDING CAKES JUST TASTE BETTER

The Supreme Court, along with reality show star Neil Gorsuch, announced that it will hear the case of the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The baker claims that same-sex marriage contradicts his religious values.

Whatever its decision, the Supreme Court should specify if the ruling applies only to cake. What about same-sex wedding doughnuts? Besides, this is Colorado; pot is legal. You’d think the big money would be in brownies.

I understand the libertarian perspective. It’s a private business. A store owner shouldn’t be forced to serve customers he doesn’t want to serve. If I owned a bakery, I certainly wouldn’t serve Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson- not because of his race, but because of that Baywatch movie. And should I really be obligated to serve people I went to high school with? Heck, I won’t even accept their Facebook friend requests.

And within that same philosophy of free enterprise, it’s unfair to demand that a business owner create a product he doesn’t want to create. It’s like the time I went to Arby’s and insisted, “Give me something that won’t cause heart disease.” Instead, they served me the fried chicken bacon sandwich. I’m pretty sure the bun was just a Twinkie cut in half.

What’s annoying about this case, though, is the way the term “religious freedom” gets thrown around. For years this has been the go-to justification for racism and misogyny and anti-Semitism and homophobia and I swear that my own personal religion commands that I barf on Newt Gingrich’s shoes should I ever run into him in person. It’s in our literature.

I’ve read many a religious scripture- the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook- and nowhere does it say anything about gay wedding cakes. Now, in Leviticus 19:27 of the Old Testament, it clearly forbids one to clip off the edges of one’s beard. Hence, if I asked the Colorado baker to make me a cake in celebration of my new Bic disposable razors, he’d have a legitimate complaint.

To be clear, a wedding cake is not legally binding. To bake a same-sex wedding cake is not to officiate, legalize, celebrate, or even condone same-sex marriage. They bring out the cake after the ceremony already happens. You’ll never hear a minister say, “Do you take this man to be your… but first try a piece of the lemon meringue.”

Here are some facts about wedding cake…

Even if the couple doesn’t end up getting married, you can still eat the cake afterwards. But I’m taking back my present.

During weddings, not everyone attending the ceremony eats the cake. This has no bearing on the legal unification of a couple. In fact, some of the weddings guests will have already left the reception before the cake is even brought out. Which brings me to a more important issue… why does it take them so long to bring out the desserts? I’m supposed to listen to all these crappy speeches without pastries on my plate? I’m taking back my present.

By definition, any cake served at a wedding is a wedding cake. If I buy a pair of shoes for my friend Barry and Mike’s wedding, then these are now my wedding shoes. But it’s not the shoe store’s religious right (or even its business) to forbid me from purchasing them.

During one wedding, I ate three pieces of cake. I wasn’t three times more supportive of the couple’s right to get married. Rather, I was just really hungry.

The Colorado case has nothing to do with marriage. It’s about proving that “gay people aren’t allowed to eat sweets” is a legitimate form of religious expression. It’s not.

No baker should ever be legally forced to officiate a gay wedding. No store owner should ever be legally required to bake gay wedding vows. And no American should ever everread Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook. Oops. I meant to write “… legally forced to read….” My bad. But bakers of the world- get over yourselves. We love you, bakers. We love what you do. But your overindulgent sense of self-importance is illogical. The cake has nothing to do with the marriage. And none of this has anything to do with religion.

To be honest, I don’t know what constitutes a gay wedding cake, anyway. Do they use a different kind of frosting?

It can’t be the names on the cake. Congratulations Bob & Alex? I don’t know if Bob is marrying Alexander or Alexandria. Congratulations Wendy and Chris? I don’t know if Wendy is marrying Christopher or Christina. All I know is it’ll last longer than the Kardashians’ next marriage.

Is it the wedding cake topper? I’m pretty sure no couple has ever requested a plastic model wedding cake topper that shows them engaged in graphic sex. Well, maybe when Pamela Anderson married Kid Rock. Most wedding cake toppers are of the couple simply being in love. Is there a religion that prevents two people from simple being in love? Okay, maybe Scientology.

Nevertheless, bakers bake. Sculptors makes the wedding cake topper.

So here’s a compromise. Bake the stupid cake. Then have someone else put on the topper. It’ll only take a few seconds.

Yeah, I get the legal significance of the case. Building up a successful bakery takes time and effort. I don’t want to see anyone’s business go under because they don’t want to bake your wedding cake. I’m sure you can find another baker who’ll take the job. And besides, wouldn’t you rather hire a person who shares your enthusiasm for the task? I don’t want to ingest food prepared by people who hate me. That’s why I stopped eating at Jared Kushner’s café.

But in the meantime, things would be a lot easier if we maintained the separation of church and bake. Wedding cakes are not about religious expression. Rather, they’re for trashy newlyweds to smash into each other’s faces.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/26/supreme-court-to-hear-case-bakers-refusal-to-make-wedding-cake-for-gay-couple.html

 

7-26-16

BERNIE OR LUST

Even obsessive Star Wars fans have trouble describing Darth Vader’s role within the evil Empire. He’s not running the show. Emperor Palpatine is the one in charge. And at board meetings, Vader is simply one of several military high-ranking officials… although unlike the generals and lieutenants, Darth Vader doesn’t really have an official title. Yeah, I mean, he’s a “darth.” But that’s more of an honorary degree. It’s like how at college graduations, they’re always giving Billy Joel a doctorate.  

Basically, Darth Vader's job is to be the face of the Empire. Eh, maybe not “face." More like the "mask" of the Empire. He travels around the galaxy shaking a few hands, inspiring the troops, promoting fear, strangling his friends, and killing off those last remaining Jedi dedicated to freedom and democracy.   

According to reliable news sources, Donald Trump originally wanted John Kasich as his Vice-Presidential running mate. Kasich was told he could be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. What other policy is there? The “who gets to choose where we eat tonight” policy? Essentially, Kasich would’ve been entrusted with the duties of President of the United States.  

And what would have been Darth Trump’s role in this new Empire? Well, he would be the face of America, traveling around the country shaking a few hands, inspiring the… oh how about Applebees!  

I’m not sure if this is what we want in a President. The most powerful person on the planet should probably have a more “hands-on” approach to governing. A working knowledge of the Constitution and a touch of civility wouldn’t hurt, either.  

Meanwhile, the Bernie Or Bust protesters are the Jar Jar Binks of the galaxy. Sure, they’re annoying and ignorant. But they’re irrelevant. Yes, it was Jar Jar’s proposal to give the Emperor all his political power. But do you really think, in the bigger picture, this made a difference? The Emperor didn’t really need Jar Jar, just as Donald Trump doesn’t need the Bernie or Busters.   

Hillary Clinton will lose the Presidential election if her campaign doesn’t inspire the Democratic base to come out and vote. Donald Trump will win the Presidential election if his campaign can instill enough fear into the electorate.  

No presidential election has ever been decided by that insignificant number of people choosing “not to vote” as a political statement. “Not voting” is not a political statement. It’s not even a statement. It is, by definition, nothing. “Not” is even in the word “nothing.” There are people who will literally forget to vote. There are other people who want to vote, but they can’t because they’re busy binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. You’re making the same statement as these people. Or, rather, you’re doing the same nothing as these people.   

Four plus zero is the same as four on its own. It’s just four. Logically, there is no such thing as Bernie or Bust anymore. Bernie isn’t running anymore. Now you’re just Bust. This is your well thought out political stance: bust. It’s like standing outside a house on fire, holding up signs that say “death.” Yes, perhaps that true. But instead of being a gloomy asshole, you could try to help the people inside.

 

“No. We’re making a political statement.”

“What your statement?”

“People inside the house fire are going to die.”

“What does that have to do with you?”

“It doesn’t. But if we stand outside with signs, we can temporarily make it about us.”

“Yes, but a year from now, nobody will remember you. All they’ll see is this burnt-up house, and all the tragedy is caused.”

“We can temporarily make it about us.” 

 

I’ve been hearing a common catchphrase amongst the Bernie or Bust Never Hillary non-voters. Don’t bully me into voting for Hillary Clinton! Yes, a political debate about the future of our country now constitutes a form of bullying. 

For a recent photo shoot, Rumer Willis was photoshopped so that her jaw appeared smaller. Willis called this an act of bullying. Boy, bullying has really changed. Remember in middle school when sociopathic thugs would beat up the smaller kids during gym class? I bet, given the chance, those kids would’ve voted for Hillary over getting punched in the arm. 

Nobody is being bullied here. Bullying requires a victim. You’re not a victim. Everything is not about you. The Presidential election is about the country. Sadly, the Bernie or Bust movement is so based on the self-obsession and entitlement of its members that it’s not even about Bernie Sanders anymore.  

Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton. He is telling his followers to vote for Clinton. It’s like when people do crappy things while wearing those What Would Jesus Do bracelets. If Jesus appeared and said, “I wouldn’t do that,” the response would be, “Naw, I think you would.”  

Here’s the truth… 

Most Americans, including most Bernie or Bust members, are living pretty good lives- maybe not relative to billionaires, but relative to being on your own in the woods. Yes, I know you want free college. But paying a relatively low tuition for public universities beats eating tree bark and getting chased by bears.   

But if your life does suck, it’s probably based on a combination of bad luck, personal irresponsibility, and the people with whom you directly interact- who have the power to exploit and control your circumstances.  

And if the President of the United States is indeed the reason for your shit life… well, that the next President will be Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders won’t make much of a difference.  

The system isn’t rigged. Our biological wiring is rigged. Anger is part of our genetic make-up. We can’t escape it. So we find outlets for its release- through exercise or blame or being a people-pleaser or being a jerk or whatever. I find that I’m able to alleviate some of my anger through speed-dating.   

Heck, there’s an entire website devoted to our bitter jealousy and irrational rage. It’s called Twitter.  

But for some people, turning Hillary Clinton into an emotional punching bag is their release. The vicious hatred toward Clinton, who by all accounts is a nice, intelligent lady, is not inexplicable. Rather, the explanation just doesn’t have anything do with the candidate herself.  

If you’re voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party, then support her. If you’re voting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party, then support him. If you’re voting for NBA groupies because you just wanna party, then support the strip club Champaign room. But if you’re not voting, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. So get out of the way. Nobody cares who you’re not supporting. Hey, you want to hear my reviews of the big summer movies I don’t plan on seeing?  

Independence Day: Resurgence? I’m thinking probably 2 out of 4 stars. 

I will, however, be seeing the next Star Wars movie. It’s called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It comes out in December. I hope it’s good.  Jar Jar Binks won’t be in it. But Darth Vader will.

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/07/20/trump_reportedly_wanted_kasich_as_vp_to_be_in_charge_of_domestic_and_foreign.html 

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/rumer-willis-claims-photographers-photoshopped-her-jaw-calls-it-bullying-w205317 

 

7-15-16

BLACK LIVES MATTER, THE POLICE FORCE, AND ME

We should all take fifteen minutes a week to consider the possibility that everything in which we so passionately believe- politically, religiously, socially- is completely wrong. 

People have a strong emotional reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement- not so much the movement, but the name. People place too much importance on semantics.  

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? That’s reverse-racism. We should call it the National Association for the Advancement of All People. Well, maybe not the Kardashians.  

BET, Black Entertainment Television? That’s divisive. All people should be entertained by television. That’s why I call for a boycott of that Full House re-boot on Netflix. Nobody’s being entertained by that show.  

Jack Black? Wrong. Let’s get behind a jack-of-all-trades.  

My opinion? Scuba or Platform. Forward, Backward, Twisting, Armstand, or Reverse. Straight, Pike, Tuck, or Free. All Dives Matter.  

Really, it’s just the name of a group. White people are way too outraged over the name Black Lives Matter. So they counter with All Lives Matter. And other people are way too outraged over that. We should be outraged over racial stratification, police brutality, urban violence, and senseless murders. And cancer. And Tom Brady deflating footballs.   

Unfortunately, all lives don’t matter. American laboratories still do torturous medical testing on dogs. It’s common for labs to remove the animals’ vocal chords so their cries don’t bother the technicians. And visit a factory farm sometime. It will make you sad.  

There’s so much strife between white people and black people. That’s why I respect blind bigots; they don’t see race.  

In Toronto, a Black Lives Matter protest temporarily shut down a gay pride parade. I think it’s time to place blame on the real troublemakers- Canadians.  

Nevertheless, it’s generally not productive when minority groups battle over who is the most oppressed. Let’s just agree to agree that both black people and gay people have been historically oppressed. Actually, the minority group most oppressed throughout the world- the people mostly likely to be harassed, assaulted, and murdered, simply because of their social category- is women. But it’s hard to convince people of this statistical fact. It’s even hard to convince black women and gay women.  

Police officers have a dangerous, important job. They deserve our respect… and better cop “buddy” movies. Is it just me, or did Ride Along 2 feel like a bit of a money grab?   

Speaking as a white person, though, I have to be honest; I’ve had some unpleasant experiences with police officers that really ruined my day. I’m not talking about “getting shot multiple times in the back and chest” ruined. But on more than one occasion I thought, “Why is this policeman being such a jerk?” And I’m a law-abiding citizen. Hey, barely-legal is still legal. Wink.  

The police officer involved in the fatal shooting of a black man in Louisiana is deserving of a fair trial. The video doesn’t look good, though.  

Sometimes we forget that a policeman’s job is to apprehend suspects (and, at least growing up as a teenager in my small town, to break up high school parties.) That a suspect is resisting arrest, or that he’s a bad guy, or that he “deserves” to be punished is irrelevant. Then once a suspect is in custody, it’s up to our legal/judicial system judicial system to determine a person’s guilt and punishment. This is how society is supposed to function. Without a clear set of rules, we’re no better than the Olympics.   

This is not partisan politics. This is something we can all agree on. No? In Memphis, a policeman was suspended for a racist Snapchat picture in which a white office is aiming a gun at a black man emoji. This man should not be a police office. He should never even have been given a badge. He’s a sociopath- like all grown men on Snapchat.   

There are a lot of problems in society. We should address each of these problems separately. One problem is that black people feel they are treated unfairly by law enforcement.  

There’s a solution.  

No, the solution is not “love.” F*ck love. Love is not working. We don’t all need to love each other. Now, to suggest that we can solve this issue by making love to each other… then heck, I’m on board.  

No, we don’t need to have “an honest discussion about race.” Everyone is kind of racist. There. I’m being honest. Are we done?  

Seriously, don’t make me have an honest discussion about anything. It’s like when my girlfriend says, “We need to talk.” No, you need to talk. I need to finish my movie. I’m up to the part where Tom Hanks builds a raft. Yes, I know I’ve seen this movie before. But I like it and it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m relaxing and… oh no Wilson!”  

“We need to have an honest discussion” generally means “I’m going to tell you what you need to do.” People don’t like to be told what to do. No, Mr. Grocery Store Cashier, as a matter of fact, I will not have a nice day.  

I don’t think the solution is for people to take a long hard look at their whiteness. Trust me- I acknowledge my whiteness every time I look down at my Doc Martens sandals.  

I’m not ashamed about being a white person. I’m ashamed about being a person. God we suck. Look what we’ve done to the environment. And, I mean, Pokeman GO?! 

No, the solution is legislation and better supervision. And new police academy rules that we can all agree on. If we can fake putting a man on the moon, we must be able to come up with more intricate psychological testing so that racist trigger-happy sociopaths aren’t allowed on the force. Frankly, I can’t imagine that most police officers want to work with violent lunatics. It’s dangerous. I certainly don’t want to work with violent lunatics. Why do you think I quit my job as one of Britney Spears’ backup dancers?  

Remember the gay marriage debate? That was once a thing. And then gay marriage was ruled a Constitution right. And the laws changed. And now it’s no longer a thing.   

I’m not sure of any effective policy ever created out of blocking traffic or interrupting speeches or self-entitlement. That’s not helpful. You’re making me late for work… okay, for my Pilates class. But still.    

Martin Luther King’s life mattered. But his legacy matters even more. He wasn’t just an existential symbol of racial harmony. Rather, he led a civil movement, whose demands were intelligent, clear, and undeniable. And things changed in grand ways that we now take for granted… because we’re too busy taking selfies. 

Change the rules. Make it harder to become a police officer. There are already many fine policemen and policewomen. And we want more of them.  

The madness needs to end. The battle over semantics deserves to fade away. And soon we will stop the hate and go back to grudgingly accepting each other… which is probably the best we can hope for.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/dog-testing-the-beagle-fr_n_898513.html 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbpCxPE_dOY 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/11/memphis-police-suspended-over-racist-shooting-snapchat.html

 

7-11-16

THERE'S A NEW "I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT" INSULT

You’ve heard people complain, “Don’t talk about me behind my back! If you’re going to insult me, do it to my face.”  

This is stupid, of course- and weirdly masochistic. I mean, if you have something negative to say about me, do it behind my back. Why would I want to hear this? You’re not Simon Cowell and I’m not auditioning for American Idol. Heck, that’s why we have friends- to get together and critique our mutual friends. 

“And now the bride and groom would like to exchange their wedding insults. They wrote their personal attacks themselves.”   

There’s something so self-absorbed and self-entitled that one would demand you insult him to his face. I mean, can’t I just keep my behind-your-back insults to myself? Not everything is about you. I can’t stand this “selfie” generation. It’s not a coincidence that those bathroom mirror selfies you post are literally behind-your-back.  

Nevertheless, if you are indeed going to insult me to my face, at least do it directly.  

There’s nothing worse than those subtle jabs, backhanded compliments, mean-spirited suggestions, and all that condescending crap advice. Well, maybe childhood poverty… but not by much. You’re not helping when you offer unasked-for constructive criticism; you’re just being a dick.  

Don’t roll your eyes when I tell you I’m thinking of going back to school. Just tell me you don’t think I can handle it. Be honest. Don’t give me a scale for my birthday. Just say I’m fat.   

Incidentally, as a matter of fact, I’ve lost 130 pounds, thanks to my strict diet regimen of healthy Subway sandwiches and inedible prison food. (Oh, we’re not doing Jared jokes anymore? Hey, at least they’re more relevant than American Idol references.)   

But there’s a new indirect-insult craze that’s sweeping the nation. It’s the “I don’t have time for that” insult.  

 

“I’m having a lot of fun on Facebook. You should join.”

“Eh, I don’t have time for that.”

 

Well, of course you have time for that. You’re engaged in an unimportant conversation about Facebook. You could be using that time to join Facebook.  

But, see, this response is not about their time. Rather, it’s about your time. Specifically, they’re saying, “I do important things with my time because I’m an important person. You are a loser. Therefore, your time- like your life- is meaningless.” And, I beg your pardon, my life is not meaningless. Well, I mean, it sort of is… but no more than yours

Facebook itself is an ocean of self-important people complaining that they don’t have the time to do all the silly crap that makes up your tiny, insignificant life.  

When engaged in Facebook debate, one sometimes gets an angry “your stupid comments are wasting my time.” Perhaps. But my “smart” comments are also wasting your time. You are on Facebook, by definition, to waste time. That’s the whole point of Facebook and Instagram and reality television and having children.

 

“I enjoy the Real Housewives of New York on Bravo. I think you’d like it.”

“I don’t have time for that.”

 

Umm… yes, you do. Are you a secret agent? Did you take a second job driving a truck at night? Are you experiencing some sort of unprecedented time-space continuum in which you only have 18 hours in a day?  No? Then you have plenty of time for that. I hate to break it to you, but you’re just like me.  

I Don’t Have Time For That has an ugly sibling. His name is I’m Too Busy

News Flash: You’re not so busy.  

 

“I play Words with Friends. Ever play?”

“I’m too busy.”

 

Busy? Doing what? Writing your novel? Building orphanages in Romania? You’re not so busy you lazy piece of sh*t.  

“I’m too busy” means “you are not busy.” Because your worthless life is nothing but frivolity, while my day is filled with serious, important endeavors. Heck, if not for goofy games, you’d be doing nothing.   

And nobody ever says, “I’m too busy playing my own goofy games on-line.” No, its that, unlike you, they’re doing something worthwhile with their time- something that makes them better than you.  

I Don’t Have Time For That and I’m Too Busy share the same mother. Her name is Shut-up.  

Shut-up isn’t just a verbal attack. It’s also the worst kind of insult. Shut-up means that you have no value; you’re small and without purpose. Shut-up has intention. Shut-up is just another way of saying, “I’m better than you.”   

But you’re not better than me. And you’re not busier than I am. And you do have the time. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this conversation… that you’re having during your free time.   

Do you know the real reason why you’re not on Facebook and why you’re not watching my TV shows and you’re not playing on-line games? Because you don’t want to. And that’s fine. Do what you want. But just be honest. Say, “I don’t want to.” And then if you want to insult me, then if you feel a need to tell me that the stuff you do to fill the 24 hours in your day is more important than the stuff I do to fill the 24 hours of my day, be clear and direct.  

But be warned. I have a new etiquette plan of attack.

 

“I’m having a lot of fun on Facebook. You should join.”

“Eh, I don’t have time for that.”

“Okay, I’m also driving over to the local shelter to help feed the poor. Wanna come with?”

 

“I enjoy the Real Housewives of New York on Bravo. I think you’d like it.”

“I don’t have time for that.”

“Totally understand. I also enjoy donating blood. I think you would, too. Can you spare an hour?”

 

“I play Words with Friends. Ever play?”

“I’m too busy.”

“No prob. What are your busy with? Maybe I can help?”

 

If you have a disease, well that’s not my business. But if you say, “I have a disease,” then it’s not unreasonable to ask, “What’s the disease?” I didn’t ask if you had time, if you were busy. You put it out there. Hence, it’s perfectly appropriate for me to inquire further. “Why don’t you have time? What are you doing? Really? How long does that take? Really? What are you doing after that? And after that? Are you ever not busy? And what do you do during those hours? Really? And then what?  

And… well, I have more questions to ask. But right now I really have to get back to work.

 

6-22-16

ARE REPUBLICANS STILL FUNNY?  

At some point in their movie career, every comedian- in hopes of being taken more seriously as an actor- will take on a dramatic role. By starring in a challenging film void of any laughs- as Adam Sandler did in Punch-Drunk Love or Eddie Murphy did in Norbit- these talented individuals shed the “he’s just a clown” label.

But the Republican Party, the clown prince of politics, seems content on crapping out one Ace Ventura: Pet Detective sequel after another, collecting a fat paycheck, and turning down any screenplay of substance. “Nope. My audience doesn’t want to hold hearings for the next Supreme Court justice. They only like fart jokes.”  

I don’t think that’s true, though. Yes, enough drunken trolls might stumble into the theater so that your insipid movie ekes out a profit. But your true fans would like you to take chances. And even if they don’t, a comedic performer cannot rest on his laurels. Or hardys. Artists- like Jim Carrey and Louie CK and Chris Rock and definitely not Andrew Dice Clay- have been met with both success and failure as they’ve taken on more complex projects. But at least they tried. The Republican Party, on the other hand, has lost its will to try.  

Liberals tend to mock the Republican Party for what it is. However, I mourn the Republican Party for what it’s not… and for what it can be. For America needs a strong Republican Party. Yes, we all love goofy movies; the Libertarian Party and the Green Party are comedic gems, filled with ridiculous wacky characters and laugh-out-loud dialogue. Heck, I’ve seen Happy Gilmore more times than I can count. (That’s an exaggeration. I can count to four.) But audiences wish for more than just one serious movie in the theaters. Could you imagine if the Academy Awards didn't have enough films to nominate? The telecast would barely make it to three hours long.

But I digress.  

Chicago is on a record homicide pace, most of the murders involving gang violence in poor neighborhoods. This is a real issue. This is a real thing. Yes, we can debate the controversies of which bathroom Caitlyn Jenner should use and Hillary Clinton sending government emails on a private server or she sent private emails on a public server or whichever it was that made it a “scandal” and a gun’s right to own a smaller gun and all the other nonsense that’s making America great again. But innocent children, who just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time, are going to die this weekend in Chicago. This is a serious problem and we need serious people to fix it.  

But I digress again. I’m very digressive.   

Political junkies know the recent history of the Republican Party. It’s a party, in theory, dedicated to the ideals of fiscal and social conservatism and rich white men who drive expensive douchey cars. There are not enough economic conservatives, social conservatives, and NFL team owners to win Presidential elections, though. So, in order to gain numerical leverage, the GOP opened their door to all the racist rednecks, the proudly ignorant, and the easily duped. The Republican establishment welcomed in all the angry scapegoaters, folks who wish to go back to our nation’s wholesome 1950s sit-com roots, and anonymous hate bloggers. The Party brought in the big game hungers, those demanding Mississippi justice, the Religious Right, talk show hosts who don’t believe in evolution, Fox & Friends, anti-intellectuals, and the Duggars.      

And so now we’re left with the worst kind of comedic actor: a washed up has-been hack so afraid of what taking on a serious role might do to his already-crumbling career that, instead, he hopes to resuscitate his fame by starring in some cash-grab garbage with plots like “saving his uncle’s farm with a bikini car wash” and “voting down even the most common sense gun control bills because he’s bought-and-paid-for by the NRA.” In Hollywood, it’s such a quick ride from telling jokes to becoming one. And in Washington, it’s such a short trip from bending your integrity a little in order to keep your Senate seat to… congratulations on winning the Presidential nomination, Mr. Trump.  

Now back to Chicago. 

In 1994, in response to the rising homicide rate that was devastating black communities, President Bill Clinton, with bipartisan, ethnically-diverse support, signed into law a lengthy crime bill. Violent crime declined. And as an unforeseen bonus, though possibly a spurious correlation, only a year later ABC cancelled Full House.

Was the crime bill effective? What parts of the law worked? What aspects of the law should have been changed, in order to benefit the largest number of people? Did the law go too far? Should Kourtney Kardashian take Scott Disick back?  Could this same sort of law help to alleviate gang violence in 2016 Chicago? These are intelligent questions, open for serious political debate, for the betterment of society. Unfortunately, nobody cares about these questions. Instead, the issue is: Hillary Clinton, while the bill was being discussed, used the term superpredator to refer to the violent, remorseless young people committing horrific acts. And apparently that was… racist? Today, of course, we understand that to say words is bad. Instead, we refer to violent, remorseless young people as “Bernie Bros.” 

Hillary Clinton, while on the campaign train, apologized for saying superpredator. However, many liberals are incensed that a woman who said superpredator 22 years ago might soon become the leader of the free world. The outrage! And so now even the more right-leaning Democrats- so afraid of being labeled racist- are staying away from the racial violence in Chicago that is killing young black children. It’s sort of like when my wife accuses me of being unromantic and I solve the problem by simply avoiding her.  

Wait. I’m getting to my point.  

Sincere, thoughtful Republican politicians have been trying to attract more minorities to the Party: black people, Hispanics, people who thought that Warcraft movie was good, etc. The pitch is that implementing true conservative ideology of limited government spending, personal responsibility, and an end to hashtag-friendly politically correct nonsense will, in the bigger picture, empower socio-economically disenfranchised communities.  

Can conservatism principles dissipate racial and economic inequality? Hmm… I’m not sure. But it’s an important, well-meaning discussion- that, objectively, is not racist or corrupt and is not obsessed with banning abortion and stopping gay marriage and the rest of the idiocy that now brands the Republican Party.  

America needs a strong Republican Party. The Democratic Party needs a strong Republican Party, just as Batman needs the Joker and the Yankees need the Red Sox and Arby’s needs Pepto-Bismol.  

Smug, self-righteous liberals might celebrate the demise of the Republican Party, and the atrocity that it has become. But this is not a joyful occasion. The United States can’t function properly without a legitimate two-party system. I mean, without Republicans standing in the way, we could just as easily adopt some of those horrible progressive policies that even liberals dread coming to fruition. It’s like when you’re a teenager disrespectfully screaming at your parents for not letting you go to that all-night rave in the city… with the secret fear that if you keep it up, your mom might just give up and say, “Okay, fine. You can go.” We only demand free college based on the comforting expectation that it won’t happen.   

America needs a strong Republican Party- not the collection of bill-blocking weasels who currently make up Congress. Rather, our country thrives when conservative, intellectual, reasonable opposition presents an alternative political dogma to the masses. As a Democrat, I’m tired of thinking “what a bunch of morons” anytime Republican senators gather around a microphone. That these bozos are in charge is depressing. I crave real, stimulating political debate. I covet a variant opinion to which I simply don’t have a response. Sometimes, it’s good to be proven wrong… as when I suggested Charlie Sheen for Cub Scout leader.  

The rise of Donald Trump is no surprise. He’s the inevitable final turd of a movie franchise that has lost its way. Donald Trump is Police Academy part 8.  

It’s time for the Republican Party to make a comeback. Get rid of the entourage. Those leaches never really cared about you, anyway. Hire a new manager, a new agent: people who respect your talent and value your career. And take on a serious role. Will it pay off? Maybe, maybe not. But at least if you go out with some self-respect, audiences won’t read your obituary in the newspaper and think, “Really? I thought he died years ago.”  

 

6-10-16

THE SOCIOLOGY OF WAL-MART (or: SHOPPING IN SWEATPANTS)

It’s sort of like when people complain about friends who talk about them behind their backs. “But aren’t you now talking about your friends behind their backs?” “Yeah, but that’s different.” “How is it different?” “Because I don’t enjoy it.”  

And so goes the rationalization for anyone who has ever shopped at Wal-Mart, mocking the type of people who shop at Wal-Mart.  

“I went to Wal-Mart. You should see the type of people who shop there.”

“But if you were at Wal-Mart, doesn’t that make you the type of person who shops at Wal-Mart?”

“No. That’s different.”

“How?”

“Because I don’t enjoy it.”    

I enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart. It’s a consumer oasis of bargain-priced baked goods, huge selections of beach towels, and- if you can actually find them, since it’s almost guaranteed that the friendly stock boy will direct you towards the wrong aisle- AA batteries. Plus, Wal-Mart is open 24 hours. I’m pretty sure I could live there for two or three weeks without provoking any suspicion.  

I don’t feel judged when I’m at Wal-Mart. You can wear old, crappy clothes that don’t fit and nobody notices or cares. Heck, you can wear old, crappy clothes that don’t fit inside out and nobody notices or cares. Coincidentally, that exact same sentence applies to the runway of a Kanye West fashion show.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb_oP3e-4qY 

Wal-Mart shoppers wear outfits that range from appropriate to bizarre to some sort of tangible material that more-or-less covers their body parts.  

Interestingly, the clothing sold at Wal-Mart is perfectly nice: jeans and shirts and skirts that look just like the jeans and shirts and skirts found at any typical mall store. The outrageously wacky outfits worn by Wal-Mart shoppers can’t be found on any Wal-Mart clothing rack. In orders words, Wal-Mart doesn’t sell Wal-Mart clothes. Weird.  

Wal-Mart has a grocery section, which could be its own separate supermarket. The frozen pizza aisle gets a little crowded. And the snack area tends to be filled with way too many people. The produce section is pleasantly empty, though. Sometimes, when I just want to be alone with my thoughts, I hang out by the kale bin at Wal-Mart.  

The cliché is that Wal-Mart shoppers tend to be a bit overweight. And that’s probably true. But let’s get real; this is not limited to Wal-Mart. Obesity is also a serious problem at Target, at Bed Bath & Beyond, in parks, in high schools, everywhere. Do you know where the fattest people hang out now? America-Mart.   

I can’t speak about the Ladies Room, but as for the Mens Room, the bathroom toilet stalls at Wal-Mart are always occupied. I mean always.  

Theories?  

1. People are indeed living in Wal-Mart for two or three weeks at a time. (giving double meaning to the word “squatter.”)

2. There is something about being in Wal-Mart that prompts one to need the bathroom. 

3. People go to Wal-Mart with the specific intent of using the restrooms.

4. It’s the free toilet paper. 

Nevertheless, while the facilities, in my experience, are kept clean, pooping in a jam-packed restroom of Wal-Mart men falls somewhere between a prison strip search and the Netflix Fuller House reboot on the “discomfort” scale. With all this talk of transgendered bathrooms, people are missing the real issue; what kind of psychopath is comfortable going to the bathroom next to any person, male or female? What- are we zoo animals?    

Some people boycott Wal-Mart to protest the store’s poor working conditions. Wal-Mart, we’ve been told, treats its employees unfairly. Fine. But I hope these protesters are not the same people who vacation in Dubai, wear Nike sneakers, or use Apple products. You know the Chinese factories where your iPads get made don’t have free coffee and La-Z-Boy chairs in the employee break lounge.  

Regardless of whether or not Wal-Mart stays in business, those quaint old-fashioned Mom & Pop stores, where everybody knows your name, aren’t coming back…which is a shame, because that’s where I bought all my hardcore pornography. The death of superstores gives way to the rise of Internet shopping, where corporations are far less regulated.  

If you really care about the rights of blue-collar workers, fight for government legislation that increases the minimum wage and requires businesses to provide reasonable employee benefits and vacation time. Your vote counts; your boycott does not. And, also, it wouldn’t hurt to stop the condescension and mocking of low-wage workers. Working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds’s is not a punchline and it’s not a failure. There is honor in all* work. Not working is the failure.  

* exceptions 

Hitman

Sea World orca trainer

Pimp

Vice-President 

Contrary to popular belief, Wal-Mart isn’t always cheaper. The Wal-Mart brands are low-priced. And you’ll definitely save money on toiletries: toothpaste, soap, Luke Bryan CDs, etc. But the mainstream brands sold at Wal-Mart are usually around the same price as other stores. Say you spend a hundred bucks on name brand items at Target. The same shopping spree at Wal-Mart will probably cost you, oh, maybe ninety-eight dollars, or the price of a Mega-Millions lottery ticket. So, really, you’re only saving about 400 million dollars, give or take a few million, depending on that week’s jackpot.  

Popular at Wal-Mart are the motorized scooters. I believe these scooters are for legitimately disabled people, rather than for shoppers who simply don’t feel like walking. That doesn’t always seem to be the case, though. Nevertheless, just as it’s chivalrous to give up your subway seat to a pregnant lady, I do hope that obese people offer their scooters to the Wal-Mart customers who literally have no legs. It’s common courtesy.    

There are websites dedicated to making fun of people who shop at Wal-Mart. The sites feature unflattering pictures of unusually-dressed, offbeat-looking Wal-Mart shoppers, who don’t appear as if they know they’re being photographed. They’re simply fodder for hateful amusement. Personally, I’d rather spend my time with a misshapen dude wearing a pink halter top than a mean-spirited dick who mocks innocent people and invades their personal space.  

That some of these shoppers might suffer from mental illness doesn’t negate, apparently, the joy of bullying.  

Nevertheless, when poor people dress ridiculous, they’re the targets of ridicule. But when wealthy people do it? We call it “having fun with fashion.”  

Take, for example, the spectators at the Kentucky Derby. (They’re rich.)  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKZEuiMnr9U 

And here’s Princess Beatrice. (She’s rich.)   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEJN7qppR3g 

And here’s... oh, right, I already mentioned the Kanye clothing line.  

I shop at both Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. I just like stores. Stores are fun. But, as with our neighborhoods and our schools, stores exemplify the socio-economic segregation that leads to misunderstanding and mistrust. 

It might be a multi-million dollar company, but Wal-Mart is still a “poor” store. In my hometown, Wal-Mart is right across the street from Target. Yet everyone in my hometown knows that poor people go to Wal-Mart and wealthier people go to Target. And we look down on what is poor. More than that, we’re “angry” about it. Hence, people have such an irrational animosity toward all things Wal-Mart.   

But, at least when it comes to buying basic household items like Apple Jacks and shaving cream, poor people and rich people aren’t so different. Hence, rather than separating us, stores can be a place to unite people. Because it doesn’t matter how much money you make, the Wal-Mart greeter will still ignore you.  

 

6-3-16

GORILLAS MUST STOP THE PARENT-SHAMING

By now, you’ve heard the sad story of the three-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at a Cincinnati zoo, forcing zookeepers to shoot and kill the young boy. Unfortunately, there are many inci… What?! They murdered the fucking gorilla?! That doesn’t seem fair. He didn’t do anything wrong.   

Plus, Harambe, the 17-year-old silverback gorilla, was an endangered animal. I mean, when you’re surrounded by zoo personnel with immediate access to guns, ready to fire on you within a minute’s notice, I’d call that “endangered.”  

Nevertheless, the incident highlights the social media phenomenon of fat parent shaming, in which parents are condemned online for their parenting skills and for posting bathing suit pics of themselves- simply because they don’t have a perfect “supermodel” body. Or, in the case of this gorilla story, just the “parenting skills” thing.      

After the zoo episode was reported, self-righteous opinionists immediately took to the Internet, criticizing and threatening the boy’s parents for allowing their son to crawl into the dangerous compound, presumably unsupervised. People should really wait for all the facts to come out before judging others. Heck, when my twin girls were attacked by a crocodile, I was called a bad father. But I swear- that giant gator came out of nowhere. For heaven’s sake, we were at a Bat Mitzvah! And, yes, my teenage son was mauled by a lemur… but that’s only because my son is a big pussy.       

Honestly, there is far worse parenting than for a loving couple to spend the afternoon with their young son at the zoo. Take every single child actor in Hollywood ever, for example. (Dina & Michael Lohan’s reality show pitch to Bravo: “We push our daughter into a gorilla cage!”)  

Rather than blame the father and mother- neither of whom, I surmise, directly encouraged their offspring to enter the gorilla enclosure- perhaps a good portion of responsibility should fall on the zoo itself. I mean, if a young boy snuck a loaded gun onto an airplane, we wouldn’t just blame the parents. Instead, we’d put aside our petty differences and attack the real issue- illegal immigration.  

This seemingly nice couple and their precocious three-year-old notwithstanding, the ugly “parent shaming” trend presents an interesting philosophical question. Is it ever fair to publically shame parents? And, also, Melissa from Dance Moms- the worst! Am I right!?   

I’m not talking about abuse or neglect or the illegal stuff that happens when meth addicts with face tattoos breed. And I’m not talking about the personal choices that parents make consciously: to breastfeed or not, to circumcise or not, to name their child North West or not. Rather, there are simply a lot of crappy parents who consistently fail to discipline, to instill good values, to monitor, to protect, to communicate with, and to teach the importance of kindness and compassion to their children. Is it wrong for me to condemn this destructive parenting? Certainly, I’m far from perfect. Does this deny me the moral right, as a dispassionate blogger, to say, “Umm, maybe you shouldn’t swear so much in front of your second-grader.”   

Look, I don’t personally know the hockey dad who ran onto the ice to punch his kid’s coach. Maybe he donates money to UNICEF. But I’m just gonna say it; he’s a terrible father and a terrible role model for his children. There. Now let the “blogger shaming” commence.  

You know, your seven-year-old is kind of kicking the back of my seat. I’d really appreciate it if you told him to… no, I take that back. Traveling with children can’t be easy. You’re probably exhausted right now. It’s okay that you’re not doing anything about my temporary discomfort. Fourth grade seems a little old for your child to be throwing his food in a restaurant. It’s a little distracting and if you could just… nope, never mind. It’s no problem. Whatever. So you’re letting your kid throw food. Big deal, right? It’s not like he’s murdering anyon… is this apple sauce in my hair? Well, I mean, I did spend a lot of money on your daughter’s middle school graduation present. But you have a million things going on right now. I don’t expect you to sit her down and demand that she write me a thank-you note. Besides, her generic Facebook post in which she thanks everyone is enough for… no. Fuck that shit. You’re a parent. Yes, I’m being condescending and judgmental and self-righteous and I don’t care. Sit her ass down and make her write me a damn thank-you note, you half-assed self-absorbed lousy so-called “parent.”! (What? Oops, the gift is still sitting here on my desk. Turns out I forget to send it. Just go ahead and ignore everything I just said.)   

Nobody is responsible for their parents. And besides, my dad Donald Trump is so much nicer at home than when he’s out on the campaign trail. But should people not be held just a little bit accountable for their children?    

If you have five children and one of them is the school bully, you’re doing your best. If you have five children and all of them are the school bullies, then I say, “Let the shaming begin!” Or maybe not. What do you think?  

According to studies that probably exist, respectful children are the products of good parenting, while horrible children are the products of bad parenting. Of course, there are always exceptions. But overall, it’s kind of like pit bull ownership.  

For every teenage date rapist, there are a million Internet users ready to castigate the parents. Does this help the situation? Of course not. But is it wrong? I don’t know. Maybe?  

Shaming has its benefits. Idiots post pictures and videos of themselves engaged in all sorts of inappropriate activity. And there have been cases where Internet outrage- phony as it may be- has led to the formal investigation of potential child endangerment and animal abuse and property damage. And I truly believe the National Football League will soon change its rules thanks to my non-stop “it’s time to get rid of the kickers” blogging.    

But getting back to the zoo thing… 

I’ve heard that some media outlets have released the Cincinnati parents’ names and personal information. But that’s not parent shaming. That’s parent harassing. These parents aren’t running for Congress; you don’t need to know their names. You don’t need to now what they look like.  

Some Internet commentators have suggested that the Cincinnati parents should be indicted for “child neglect” or some stupid charge. This is ridiculous, of course. If parents were arrested every time they lost sight of their kid for a minute, our prisons would be overcrowded with soccer moms and dads wearing tube socks with shorts, and jails would no longer have room for society’s real criminals- nonviolent drug offenders.   

And yet it is still a sad story. And so I felt like writing about it. And the parents are part of the story. They probably already feel awful about the situation. I don’t mean to pile on. But this “parent shaming” trend is here to stay, and it’s a provocative debate, challenging our sense of fairness. Besides, the Cincinnati parents will never read this essay, anyway. I’ve been assured that my reader base consists entirely of family members, some college kid in Iowa, and a couple of Serbian porn stars.   

Yeah, the Internet is a tidal wave of racism, misogyny, anger, homophobia, bigotry, hatred, violent threats, sociopathic ramblings, verbal assaults, and Justin Bieber selfies. But there are also decent human beings in the world (by last count, about 80) who play by the childrearing rules and have no other outlet for venting their occasional, well-earned, how-come-other-people-are-such-terrible-parents frustration than to post an angry tweet every once in a while. It’s not a socially productive activity. But to express outrage over an unnecessary tragedy does not make one a bad person. It just makes us human… which is a moral step down from the traits that make us gorilla, but it’s not the worst thing in the world, either.   

 

5-26-16

I HATE PRESIDENTIAL POLL NUMBERS (or: AN ANALYSIS OF WHY DONALD TRUMP WILL WIN)   

Years from now, when my half human/half Martian grandchildren (colonization of Mars to begin in October, 2049, while at the same time the six remaining land dwellers of the barren apocalyptic wasteland once known as North Carolina are still focusing all their efforts on banning transgendered bathrooms) ask me, “Grandpa, how could a bully con artist who knew absolutely nothing about government get elected President”? I’ll say, “Well, there were a lot of reasons: voter ignorance, an illogical Electoral College system, the BernieOrBust douchebags, systematic misogyny, society’s obsession with celebrity over substance. Oh, and Florida cheated. Wait- no, that was sixteen years earlier. When you’re my age, everything starts to jumble together. Kirk Cameron was in Game of Thrones, right? But, mostly, it was because the news media gave Donald Trump a free pass.”  

Last week, our most legitimate news sources reported (and analyzed) a major news story; Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Meanwhile, these same news organizations are completely ignoring the fact that the actual President of the United States has already nominated a judge for the Supreme Court. And Congress refuses to even meet with the very well qualified Judge Merrick Garland, creating a disastrous Constitutional crisis..  

Google “Trumps’s Supreme Court Picks.” What’s on the first page of results? Oh, there’s CNN. Oh, here’s Reuters. I also see ABC News and Politico and… why did I just get a pop up ad for weight loss pills?  

So click on one of the sites. How about- oh, let’s say the CNN article, written by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond. It’s a lengthy article. Here’s how it begins…  

Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled a list of 11 judges he would consider nominating to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, an unusual move for a presidential candidate that underscores his efforts to appeal to conservatives. 

Yes, this is indeed an unusual movie, considering that the actual President of the United States has already nominated a judge to fill Scalia’s seat. Because that’s how the process works- the actual President nominates a- not a theoretical, but an actual- person to the Supreme Court.  But I’m sure Diamond- who may or may not be the brother of Dustin Diamond, best known for his role as Screech on Saved by the Bell, mentions this later in the article. Let me just check on that… still looking… still looking. Okay, here it is- last sentence of the eleventh paragraph. In journalism class, we learned that’s called “burying a story.” Most readers lose interest before getting to the last sentence of the eleventh paragraph of an article.    

Now let’s look for the important Merrick Garland information in the ABC news story, written by reporters John Kruzel and Jennifer Hansler- who may or may not be dating. Okay. Looking for the Merrick Garland stuff. Here we go. Okay. Still looking. And… still looking. And… nope. Not there.  

The news isn’t about reporting news anymore. It’s about talking heads analyzing polling data. And I’m not just talking about cable news channels, like CNN and FOX News and Bravo. Just kidding. We all know FOX News isn’t a real news channel. No, I’m talking about the once-reliable, one-time-respectable network news divisions. Watch any of the Sunday morning network news shows: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Face the Press, Hug the Nation, whatever. It’s pundits talking about polls.   

Rarely does a day go by without the media telling us the latest poll numbers and what they mean. And if the election was held today, do you know who would win? Certainly not the Constitution, which specifies that the Congress- and not the media- determines the election date. It’s the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. And between now and then, as is the case every four years, debates and conventions and unforeseen circumstances will render these current numbers unrecognizable. So what do the current poll numbers mean? Jack shit. (Though I bet it would send less crass coming from CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.)

Poll numbers are not news. This has nothing to do with news. Summer Presidential poll numbers are a wildly inaccurate prediction of what might possibly happen in the future. “Our top story tonight- celebrities who might die six months from now.”  

Oh, and the media is also big on “favorability” polls, as in the political pundits’ smug, self-righteous analysis of the general election candidates’ favorability numbers. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have low “favorability” ratings. How do we analyze this? (Oh, and congratulations. You made it to the final sentence of the eleventh paragraph.)    

Here’s my analysis. The two candidates who received the most votes in their primary elections have low favorability poll numbers. Therefore, logically, one of reasonable intelligence would surmise that favorability poll numbers are not important. So then why the hell is the news covering something that isn’t important? Some of us want to hear about actual news stories that… OMG Kylie and Tyga broke up again?!  

side note: Do you know who had really, really low favorability numbers, so much so that they didn’t even bother putting him on the ballot in some states? Abraham Lincoln. And Lincoln became the greatest President in our nation’s history… until someone shot him. His favorability numbers must’ve stayed pretty low. (Too soon?)    

See, the news media doesn’t analyze Donald Trump’s ignorant statements and actions. Rather, the pundits explain how these ignorant statements and actions will affect his poll numbers. This is the news now. Of course, Trump’s statements and actions are not affecting his poll numbers. But perhaps that’s because the news media- whose job it is to explain Trump’s ignorance of facts and complete cluelessness of government process- is not doing its job.   

My fav? During one of the Republican primary debates, Trump asserted that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito “signed a bill.” Yes, the Republican Presidential (soon to be) nominee thinks that Supreme Court judges “sign bills.”  

There are three branches of government. Trump doesn’t know how one of those branches works. But, hey, two out of three is over 66 percent. And that’s still a passing grade. Trump passes! But the media does not. Shouldn’t these political talking head roundtables be focusing on Trump’s ignorance of judicial powers rather than how it affects his poll numbers. (analysis: It doesn’t.)  

Well, two out of three is 66.6%. I learned that at Trump University, a fake college that conned people out of money. This Trump University thing was kind of a big deal. Trump was asked about it, gave a BS answer, and then the media sort of moved on. Oh, but the media is boldly, fiercely analyzing how this issue has affected his poll numbers. Meanwhile, zero out of three is nothing. In actuality, Trump knows nothing.   

The other day, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton “wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment.” Is Clinton running for Congress? Presidents have no authority to amend the Constitution. Here’s a simple question any reporter could ask Donald Trump. “Can you explain the separation of powers, as explained in the Constitution?” That the President of the United States wouldn’t know what the President actually does is disturbing. No? Follow-up question: “How do you think this will affect your poll numbers?”  

Reporters ask Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton. He responds with mean-spirited personal attacks. Reporters egg on Hillary Clinton, in hopes she’ll deliver mean-spirited personal attacks on Donald Trump. She doesn’t. Then the news media pundits tell us it’s going to be a really ugly campaign. Yes, because the media is doing its best to make it an ugly campaign. It’s like walking into an assisted living home in December, taking away all the food and supplies, and predicting that it’s going to be a hard winter for old people.  

The news media wants things to get ugly. The pundits like when things get ugly. This boosts ratings. But it really doesn’t. Heck, the TV audience for five political hacks sitting around a table offering worthless psycho-babble is less than the number of people watching re-runs of Suddenly Susan. So you might as well deliver real news about real things. What have you got to lose? And vigilant, unbiased analysis of Donald Trump’s virulent nonsense might actually wake us up from the intellectually numb stupor caused by listening to robotic television nobodies evaluating poll numbers. And this could make a real difference come election time, which according to poll numbers doesn’t happen for another six months.  

Donald Trump is still a reality show star. Only now it’s a different reality show. But it doesn’t have to be.    

“Grandpa, did a bully con artist who knew nothing about government really run for President?” “Yes. But thanks to the media’s solid reporting, he got trounced in the general election. Now go to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow; we’re taking the family starship to see the giant wall we built around Jupiter. Mexico paid for it.” 

 

5-18-16

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO ONLY DATES MODELS

Leonardo DiCaprio has become a leading activist on climate change and environmental destruction. The award-winning actor travels the world, speaking to international leaders about the dangers of global warming. He works with top scientists, researchers, explorers, conservationists, and philanthropists, in order to help spread his message. And he only dates models.   

Year ago, according to reports, DiCaprio spent an entire night speaking with Nobel Prize winning environmentalist Al Gore. They spent hours discussing the importance of climate change issues. But do you think that, for maybe just a couple of minutes, perhaps later in the evening as the conversation started to drag, Al Gore might’ve brought up the model thing? “And as carbon dioxide emissions continue to…  so, Leo, do you meet these women at parties, or does your manager set it up for you, or how does that work?” If I was Al Gore, I probably would’ve asked. Of course, I don’t have a Nobel Prize. But I do, if I may be momentarily immodest, own several “participation” trophies from my youth.  

Many of the world’s leading scientists have offered theories about why Leonardo DiCaprio- and the hundreds of other respected gentlemen in the film & television industry and the music business and the world of professional sports- have no romantic interest in women whose income doesn’t depend on physical appearance. 

One obvious theory is that, as famous men age, dating young models is a way of clinging to their youth. I mean, if your girlfriend is twenty years younger, it kind of makes you feel twenty years younger, constant knee pain notwithstanding.  

I don’t agree with this analysis, though. For one thing, Hollywood actors don’t want to be too young. Heck, all the best roles go to men in their thirties and forties. If you were an actor, would you rather star in the next Batman or the next High School Musical? It’s Iron Man, not Iron teen. It’s Spider Man, not Spider teen. I mean, yeah, technically, the new Spiderman is a teenager. But I bet the next Spider villain is an older dude. And it’s more fun to play the rogue.  

To spend time with young models, in actuality, probably makes one feel old and irrelevant. What could twenty-year-old models possibly have to talk about? The latest hip hop artists? The hot new apps? Political upheaval in Syria? We older guys don’t know about any of this stuff. Actually, the best way to feel young is to hang out with senior citizens. I helped my 83-year-old neighbor Doris carry in her grocery bags. I felt like I was back in high school.  

Here’s another theory. Famous men only date supermodels because famous men are shallow and insecure and they want to be seen with a model on their arm. But that can’t be true. Celebrities insecure? Nah. I mean, in Los Angeles, you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting a plastic surgery clinic for men with a “going out of business” sign. Look at Donald Trump. He’s wealthy and famous and admired… yet he is still so thick-skinned. (I mean that literally. His outer skin has a disturbing orangey thickness to it.)  

Nevertheless… 

I have a different as to why so many of these male celebrities only date models. Do you want to hear it? Of course you do. 

The kind of men who only date models are the sort of men who are not physically attracted to women. Oh, they’re romantically attracted to women in every possible heterosexual way. They most certainly want to be with women. However, they’re unable to perceive- to diagnosticate- feminine beauty. 

Prosopagnosia, also known as “face blindness,” is a rare but real cognitive disorder in which one has no ability to recognize faces. Men who only date models suffer from a lesser extension of this condition.  

All heterosexual men want to date beautiful women. And there are so many beautiful women: lawyers, waitresses, teachers. Take an afternoon stroll through the mall or a crowded park and you’re likely to see dozens of pretty women, with great hair and cute smiles and nice legs, all with aesthetically-pleasing eyes and noses and cheekbones.  

Sadly, some of our nation’s male celebrities are unable to recognize attractiveness. It’s a sad biological disorder, really. Are models more beautiful than the hundreds and hundreds of other physically appealing women with whom these men come into contact on any given day? Not at all. But they’re models. That means they must be good-looking. Someone is paying them to look good, right? Hence, it stands to reason that men- who feel they should be attracted to beautiful women and want to be attracted to beautiful women- should be attracted to them.   

Not to stray from the topic at hand, but I have a philosophical question. There’s a misogynistic aspect to commenting on a woman’s appearance when her looks have nothing to do with why she’s in the public eye. A female CEO giving an interview doesn’t need anonymous Internet trolls criticizing her forehead. However, if a woman is in the public eye solely because of her physical appearance, is it then wrong to discuss her looks?  

My point? Compared to all the hot women I’ve known in my life, I don’t think most high fashion models are even that beautiful. They look like aliens. Attractive aliens, but aliens, nonetheless. And this is not appealing to men. I mean, “alien sex” is just about the only fetish category you can’t find when browsing the vast world of Internet pornography. Nope. Just checked. I was wrong. It’s there.  

Yes, I get that to walk the runway, one must have a certain look. But that look is not necessarily what regular guys find most attractive. Regardless of how many movies you’ve starred in, famous men are still regular guys. Regular guys are attracted to all kinds of women because there are so many attractive women out there. Men are lucky. This is why many famous men do date women from all walks of life. Yet there will always be a small group of celebrity men with this unfortunate brain impairment, rendering them unable to determine which women are pretty. So they need to be told. “She’s a model. That means she’s attractive. I like attractive women.”   

Women of the world, don’t be mad at Leonardo DiCaprio. He would totally date you, too. Unlike most men, he just doesn’t know that you’re pretty.  

The fact of the matter is that DiCaprio should be pitied for only dating young supermodels. So let’s cheer him up. Do your part to help save the planet. Vote for pro-environmental political candidates. And always recycle.

 

5-1-16

YOU DON'T FEEL BAD

The word feel is interesting for the same reason it’s so stressful when your girlfriend asks what you think of her friends; it can mean so many different things.   

As a noun, feel can be a touch sensation, as in the weird-looking businessman on the subway copped a. But sometimes, feel is the ability that comes beforehand; he has a feel for groping people on the subway. From my experience as an outside observer, this ability grows stronger in Queens.    

As a verb, to feel can mean to be aware of, to garner an impression of, or to develop an emotional experience for. I feel an uncomfortable sensation in my body when I feel like Donald Trump is about to speak, and this makes me feel sad for America. Here’s the shorter version; Donald Trump makes me vomit.  

Feel has so many different meanings, but it does have meaning. To feel is a little like Christmas; we’ve lost its true meaning. (Geez, Christmas is not supposed to be about consumerism and superficial commercialism. It’s supposed to be about putting little Santa hats on your pets. So cute.)    

Sometimes people say, “I feel nothing.” But to feel nothing is to not experience, which contradicts the definition of feel. For example, if the Kardashians are on television, I might feel emotionally numb. But I can’t feel nothing. I might feel angry or depressed or horrified or disgusted. But this is different from feeling nothing. Oh, you might- and certain will- feel bored and intellectually stifled and tortured and sickened and if someone doesn’t change the channel in one second I swear to God I’m going to hurl myself out the window… but you can’t feel nothing. Oh, hey, Scott Disick is back on the show. Super.      

When someone says, “I feel nothing,” he or she really means “I don’t care.” But that’s different.  

There’s a sentence even more annoying, though, than the meaningless of “feeling nothing.” It’s when people say they feel bad for someone that they don’t- nor should they- give two craps about.   

“I feel bad for (famous actor who is much richer and better-looking than you) because he still hasn’t won an Oscar.”  

“The (professional football team made up of millionaires and felons) had such a great season, but lost so badly in the play-offs. I feel bad for them.”   

“You know, I really feel bad for (random celebrity’s) (random celebrity’s spoiled children who will never work a day in their lives) because it’s so hard for them to have a normal childhood.   

“I really feel bad for (Justin Bieber) because he can’t go out in public without being hounded by fans.”  

Do you really feel bad for these people? Then send them money. Should you really feel bad for these people?  

Just remember; when you feel bad for Rachel Ray because TMZ called her fat, there is a seven-year-old Somali child dying of poverty thinking, “That’s who you feel bad for? Fuck you!”  

That you feel so bad for anyone having a bad day does not make the world a better place. Rather, it is further prove that society is falling into a deep hole of fake compassion and delusional, pointless sympathy.  

On the National Football League’s draft day, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil was taken by the Miami Dolphins with the thirteenth pick. Experts predicted he would go earlier. However, the night of the draft, a social media video surfaced of Tunsil wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong.  

A few days later, a pundit on an NBC morning news show said that she felt bad for Tunsil. Why?! But do you know what I think? If you asked the pundit lady about that situation right now at this very moment, she won’t remember Tunsil’s name. My guess? She didn’t really feel that bad. (note: I would specify the morning pundit, but I don’t remember her name. And I don’t feel bad about it.)  

Laremy Tunsil is young and healthy and popular. He’s about to be a well-paid professional athlete. And he’d be making even more money if he didn’t, well, videotape himself wearing a gas mask and smoking a bong. Shouldn’t we save our “feeling bad” for those less fortunate than ourselves? I mean, there are literally thousands and thousands of kids who can’t afford a gas mask; they have to smoke their weed by hand. So sad.  

I have a theory about people who feel bad for Senators who lose their re-election bid and rock stars forced to cancel the remainder of their tour due to laryngitis. Here it is… 

They don’t actually feel bad.  

There are words and phrases that need to be retired from the English lexicon: the C word, the N word, the M word (moist), and “I feel bad for him/her.” Because it’s a meaningless statement.  

To feel is an emotional experience. Bad implies a level of unhappiness. Hence, to feel bad is for your current emotional state to pivot into a more unpleasant one. A friend tells you she bought you a present; you feel at a specific emotional level. You open the present. It’s the first season of Matthew Perry’s new The Odd Couple sit-com on DVD; your emotional level takes a nosedive.  

When the NBC morning news lady pundit said she felt bad for the Miami Dolphin’s number one draft pick, she was smiling. You can’t feel bad for someone and smile at the same time. That doesn’t make any sense.   

It’s unfortunate that the nice auto worker lost his winning lottery ticket. But you don’t feel bad. No, you feel bad that you didn’t find the ticket.  

And that’s okay. We can’t feel bad for other people all the time. Life would be too depressing. I mean, if you truly felt bad every time a teacher deserves to make a better salary or that elderly man’s wife of seventy years passed away or the waiter accidentally spills sauce on my lap, you wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. And I’d feel bad for you.  

There’s a solution to this phony wordage, by the way. Take out the “bad” part. No, you don’t feel bad for Laremy Tunsil. Instead, you feel for him. Just say it like that. “I feel for him.”  

To feel for someone implies empathy. “Yeah, I don’t really care that your TV show got cancelled. In fact, it deserved to get cancelled. It sucked. But I can fantasize about being a TV star. And I bet I wouldn’t like it if my show got cancelled. Hence, I can feel for you.” See what I’m saying? “This famous athlete was suspended and fined thousands of dollars for cheating. Oh, he deserves to be punished. Nevertheless, I know that if I lost money, I wouldn’t like it. Therefore, I feel for the guy.”  

Ted Cruz is wealthy, powerful man. And his political ideology is horrible. But he hoped to run a serious, mature Presidential campaign. Instead, he was bullied, embarrassed, insulted, and belittled by the Republican frontrunner. I don’t feel bad for him. But I feel for him.  

It’s time for the rest of society to get on board. Let’s take the “bad” out of our phony, misguided compassion. Instead, just say, “I feel for him.” Or, better yet, don’t say anything.

 

4-29-16

ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH BACTERIA? (THE SOCIOLOGY OF YOGURT)  

There’s Greek yogurt. There’s Swiss style yogurt. They also have an Icelandic style yogurt. I haven’t yet seen an American style yogurt, but I bet it loves guns, kicks ass, and takes pride in its political ignorance.    

On television commercials, yogurt lovers savor each bite like they’re getting a body massage in a porn movie. To be fair, though, nobody really loves yogurt. Rather, we accept it as a wholesome food source that satisfies your hunger. We’d much rather be eating Cool Ranch Doritos. But as healthy food goes, you could do worse. Have you had tofu? It literally tastes like toe. So F you.   

Yogurt is produced using the bacterial fermentation of milk. Apparently, bacteria can be healthy. If only the same could be said for the bacteria in our drinking water. Or the rat head I found in my Mountain Dew.   

Fancier yogurts market themselves by the amount of live active cultures listed in the ingredients. You wouldn’t think “live active cultures” would make food sound more appealing. Live active cultures sounds a little like “flesh-eating viruses.” Aren’t live active cultures the scientific term for sea monkeys?    

Yogurt has become the hip new trend, surpassing even man buns, genital tats, and pretending to enjoy Coachella. Gone are the days where a supermarket shelf limited itself to basic flavors of Dannon yogurt. Today, even the most blue-collar supermarkets carry elite, fashionable brands such as Fage and Noosa and Siggi and Trump. And each company offers so many non-traditional flavors. Yoplait, for example, has dozens of yogurt options, including Triple Berry Torte, Chocolate Cherry Cupcake, and Blackberry Pomegranate. (my three favorite rap artists, coincidentally)

Most yogurt brands still offer a “plain” flavor (or, to be more precise, a lack of flavor). Younger consumers purchase plain yogurt so that they can add their own fruit and toppings. Elderly people purchase plain yogurt because they’re convinced it’s vanilla.   

There are so many different kinds of yogurt now: probiotic, prebiotic, organic, democratic socialist, yogurt in a tube, yogurt in a bottle, yogurt in a boot, kefir, skyr, etc.  

Probiotic yogurt is very popular. You’ve probably seen the Activia commercials, in which Jamie Lee Curtis harasses strangers at the supermarket and asks them about their bowel movements. Probiotic yogurt includes extra beneficial bacteria- like L. Blugaricus and S. Thermophilus and the mighty Hercules- to regulate one’s digestive system. Basically, the way the science works is that you consume yogurt, releasing an army of tiny microscopic animals into your stomach entrails, where it does battle with a squadron of stomachache-causing little demons. I’m currently working on the screenplay for Pixar.       

Greek yogurt has been dominating store shelves lately. The Greeks are unable to control their nation’s unstable economy, creating financial chaos around the world, but at least they know how to make a thick creamy yogurt with over ten grams of protein per container. Chobani, Voskos, and Dannon’s Oikos are among the best-selling brands. None of these products are made in Greece. They’re American. But an ethnic-sounding word adds to the authenticity of what you’re selling. Take, for example, Kardashian. Would anyone have bought a leaked sex tape starring Kim Jones? Or maybe that’s a bad example.   

Some yogurts are blended, which means the flavor is in the yogurt itself. But sometimes the fruit is on the bottom. Yeah, like I have time to scoop the bottom of the container and mix it in with the yogurt. News flash, Millennials; some of us work for a living.   

Yogurt used to be sold with solid plastic caps covering the top of the containers. But now, most yogurt is sold with a flimsy aluminum foil top that you peel off. This is better for the environment, although leading Republican scientists are still not convinced that more waste creates more waste. Nevertheless, this packaging does tend to create more moments of getting home and unpacking your shopping bags to discover “Why are my groceries all wet and slimy? What is… oh, crap.” Sometimes the foil rips open.   

Yogurt is a strange word. In Latin, I believe it means “I’m hungry and there’s nothing else in the fridge.” If you stare at the word for a minute, it starts to look kind of strange. When writing Rocky, if Sylvester Stallone named his love interest character Gertie, it would’ve put a different spin on the classic line. “Yo, Gert!”

And don’t get me started on frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt is one of the world’s great lies, like “fifty is the new forty,” Twitter serves a useful purpose, and you look good in those jeans. Frozen yogurt is not yogurt frozen. Frozen yogurt is ice cream. If I put my Stonyfield strawberry yogurt in the freezer, it tastes like strawberry yogurt harder; it doesn’t taste like ice cream. It’s like selling cold Snickers bars and calling them “frozen chia seeds.” Frozen yogurt is not healthy. You’ve been duped.     

If yogurt disappeared tomorrow, we’d get by. And, yet, I think we’d miss it… not every day, not even every month. But every once in a rare while we’d look into the sky, ponder the meaning of life, and think, “You know what? I could go for some yogurt right now.” So next time you’re eating a yogurt, appreciate the experience. And tell your yogurt thank you for making our time on this planet just a tad bit better. But not out loud, of course. That would make you a crazy person.

 

4-20-16

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO HELP PEOPLE (OR THE SOCIOLOGY OF GETTING INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL)

It’s very difficult to get into medical school. Only a tiny fraction of college students make it in. And, statistically, it’s even harder for dogs. 

It’s not uncommon for a respected medical school to accept, in any given year, less than five percent of its applicants. And that includes all the high school football players who get into med school on an athletic scholarship.

And these small percentages are themselves a statistical manipulation. Only the best of the best- those college students with the highest grade point averages- even bother to apply. I mean, let’s be honest; if they passed out medical school applications at Donald Trump political rallies and audition callbacks for MTV’s The Real World, the acceptance rate would barely register a pulse. Heck, my chances of getting into medical school pretty much ended after my first semester of college. “Look, if we start smoking all this stuff immediately, I think I’ll still have time to make my history midterm that starts in fifteen minutes.”

It’s hard to get into medical school. And yet, medical school itself isn’t particularly challenging. Graduation rates, even at the most elite medical schools, are particularly high. Only a very small percentage of students drop or flunk out. And when they do, it’s only because they’re offered more lucrative financial opportunities in the webcam pornography industry.  

Yes, I know that your friends in medical school complain about how busy they are, and how hard they work. But to be fair, they’re only telling you this to get out of going to your birthday party. In reality, medical school isn’t very tough. I personally know many doctors. They’re not all smart. You hear stories about patients going in for surgery to have a leg removed… and the doctor removes the wrong leg! That doctor graduated from medical school. (Incidentally, this happened to me when I went in for my gender re-assignment surgery.)

There is elitism to the way that medical school works. It’s easy to succeed once you’re there, but it’s practically impossible to get there. It’s like our world of celebrity. It’s so hard to become famous. But once you are, your chances of dating a Kardashian are pretty much guaranteed.

But it’s not just snobbish. Rather, the medical school system is also stupid. Yes, we live in a stupid society. I get it. Michael Jordan gets paid millions of dollars to endorse underwear. Congress holds hearings to ask Bono how he feels about global terrorism. North Carolina makes laws about who is allowed to use which bathroom. But doctors are important. We need doctors. And the medical school system is stifling America’s health care system.

The medical school system has got it all wrong! It’s completely backwards! It’s inside out! It’s a national health care crisis!

It should be easier to get into medical school… and harder to graduate.

Put more chairs in each classroom. Hire more instructors. Open up more buildings on campus. Dig up more cadavers. Medical schools should do more to increase enrollment.

What are medical schools afraid of? Regardless of your undergraduate transcript, regardless of how you weaseled your way in, once you’re a medical student, as long as you complete the necessary work to graduate, then you are entitled to a diploma. And if it turns out you don’t have what it takes to succeed- because blood makes you queasy or because you can’t remember which intestine is the long one or… whatever- then you won’t receive a degree and you won’t be allowed to practice medicine, anyway. No harm, no foul. Or no ham, no fowl… if you’re a vegetarian.  

There’s no real logical reason why it should be so hard to get into medical school. Heck, you can get into law school with an application fee and pinky-swearing that you’ll eventually get around to finishing up your GED. This year’s law school acceptance rate is 109%. I was accepted into four different law schools last year alone… and I never even applied. And we need lawyers. Without lawyers, it would be so much harder to sue doctors for malpractice… these same cream-of-the-crop doctors who were accepted into medical school. Just sayin’.

Regardless of your qualifications, or your lack thereof, if you fail out of medical school, you can’t be a doctor, anyway… I mean, unless you open a practice in Florida.

But it’s not like, by expanding the acceptance rate, medical schools will be flooded with unqualified applicants. The vast majority of rejected medical school applicants are successful, studious, hard-working students. That’s the reason they’re trying to get into, and expecting to do well in, medical school. Statistically, less than fifteen percent of medical school applicants are functionally illiterate and/or only applied to medical school out of drunken confusion.   

Thousands of rejected medical school applicants graduated from college with a 3.8 GPA, a 3.9, even a perfect 4.0. Have you been to a college campus lately? It’s a ludicrous world of frat parties, political correctness, texting during class, and man buns. The students who do take their education seriously, who make the effort to flourish academically, have earned a seat in medical school. Or does one not sit down in medical school? On TV, the medical students are always huddling over a dead body. Is that a real thing? Well, anyway, I bet a lot of those top quality students who don’t get into medical school would, if they had the chance, become fantastic doctors.

If I have a medical problem, I want to see a doctor who thrived in medical school. I don’t care if they scored well on their medical college admission test. You know what question is not on the MCATs? “Doc, can you help me with this weird pain in my shoulder?”

Society accepts the reality of medical school. But understand that we made it all up. We can just as easily change the system, which in turn will produce more competent doctors, fewer sick people, and more horse tranquilizer prescriptions for my upcoming bachelor party. Everybody wins.

America is ready for a medical school revolution. Your medical school application was rejected? Then fight for your right to earn a degree and to help people in need. And if that fails, then apply to the University of Guam. 

 

4-12-16

I KNOW WHO CELEBRITIES ARE FOLLOWING ON TWITTER

I try to keep my Twitter feed simple. Right now, I’m only following four celebrities: Selena Gomez, Eric Trump, the homeless guy from those Trivago commercials, and, oh, let’s say the drummer from Nickelback.  

By my count, there are 82,392 celebrities in the United States. And not a single one of them has a college degree. But we’re fascinated by famous people. Who are they dating? What are they thinking? Why are they famous? But you know who’s even more fascinated by famous people? Other famous people.  

Celebrities have lots of followers. Melissa Rivers has 255,000 followers. It’s sad to think that over a quarter of a million people hate their lives that much. Nevertheless, I think you can tell a lot more about a celebrity by who he or she is following on Twitter.  

You throw out a name. And I’ll look that person up on Twitter. Okay- go!  

Khloe Kardashian. Khloe has 19.8 million followers. But she’s only following 331 people. That’s not a lot of people. She’s very picky, apparently. Khloe is probably only following the best of the best, the most interesting of the most interesting: economists, astronauts, maybe medical researchers on the brink of important breakthroughs. So let’s see.  

Clicking on FOLLOWING… 

Among the first few names… 

Pauly Shore, Chrissy Teigen, reality star Kendra Wilkinson. Coincidentally, this is also my answer when asked, “If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would it be?” (And just to double down on that joke… I’d prefer to have dinner with those people dead.)  

Scrolling down, I notice that Khloe is following herself a lot, or at least she’s following Twitter accounts dedicated to her. Yes, thanks to Twitter, there’s an easier way to find out what’s going on with yourself than the hassle of cognitive thought; now you can follow yourself on Twitter.    

Okay. Give me another name.  

Alec Baldwin. There are several Alec Baldwin Twitter accounts. One says “I luv all my fans.” I feel like Baldwin wouldn’t spell love with a U. Plus, I feel like Baldwin doesn’t really love his fans. This other account has almost 71,000 followers. That’s probably the real one.  

Alec Baldwin is only following 234 Twitter accounts. Madonna, Spike Lee, Sir Anthony Hopkins. Baldwin is also following many organizations: The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Juilliard School, the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I mean, yeah, Alec, we get it; you’re an intellectual. And I follow Booker T. Washington on Snapchat.  

Alec Baldwin is a great actor. But I’d prefer to follow his fake account. It’s less pretentious. And I luved u in Glengarry Glen Ross.  

I mean- what is Alec Baldwin really getting out of the London Philharmonic’s tweets? Symphonies?    

Okay. Give me another name!  

From ABC’s The Bachelor, Ben Higgins. Ben Higgins has 334,000 followers. But only 333,000 will be getting a rose tonight. Higgins is following 270 people.  

Let’s see… professional athletes, actress Lacey Chabert, model Kate Upt… no, I have to move on. Ben Higgins’ Twitter account is even duller than his personality. 

Give me another name.  

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Sanders has a few Twitter accounts. His official Senate account has 1.83 million followers. He’s only following 1940 people. However, he’s pandering to millions more. Whoa. Did I just go there?!

Actually, I suspect you’ll find that all the Presidential candidates, since the advent of Twitter, are followed more than they are following. Politicians don’t really care what the voters have to say. And, in fairness, that’s probably good. I mean, Hulk Hogan has 1.44 million potential voters. That’s not a good sign.   

Oh, and it looks like Senator Ted Cruz is up to six Facebook friends.  

I need another name.  

Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest has 14.2 followers. He is following 610 people. Jared Leto, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t see any regular people.  

Jared Leto is a good actor, I guess. I bet Ryan Seacrest’s dentist is a good dentist. So why would Jared Leto have more interesting things to say than a dentist? 

How come celebrities don’t follow brain surgeons and drug counselors and repo men and bounty hunters? I bet they have more interesting thoughts- and more interesting lives- than Hollywood actors do. No? Just asking.   

Celebrities aren’t interested in regular people. And they’re especially uninterested in their fans. Celebrities don’t follow fans. There’s an interesting psychoanalysis here; “Anyone interested enough to follow me must not be interesting enough to follow.” You know what? I’m starting to think that celebrities might be… insecure?! Naw, that can’t be it.  

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah has 3.23 million followers. He’s following 118 people. Kendrick Lamar, Lindsey Vonn, Josh Gad… oh give me a f*cking break.  

I could do this all day. Okay- give me another name.  

Sofia Vergara. Comedy star Vergara has 8.92 million followers. She’s following 70 people.  

I’m reading some of Vergara’s tweets.  

Sending compliments to Ellen Degeneres. Sending prayers to murder victims. Promoting her TV show. I don’t get it; are these tweets interesting to people?  

Here are some of my recent tweets, that which I post for my friends… 

What's the world coming to?! Do you realize it now costs a family of four over 200 dollars for an afternoon out at the strip club? 

I hope I die violently in my sleep. 

The only way to truly solve the conflict that exists in America is for us all to have an honest discussion about who stole my doughnut. 

I've become so absent-minded, the other day I accidentally left my gun in the refrigerator. 

To be honest, I'm not really an alcoholic. I just attend AA meetings for screenplay ideas. 

My sister told me her teenage son is "emo." I don't know what that is. So for his birthday, I figured I'd just get him a football jersey. 

Oddly enough, the list of things that upsets me is completely different from the list of things that burn my britches. 

Honestly, I don't think Game of Thrones needs all the full frontal nudity. I feel the show would be just as effective by only showing butts. 

I love the new Oreo-flavored Oreos. You pull the black wafers apart and the cream in the middle tastes just like black Oreo wafers. 

"I swear to God if Kim Jong-un is elected President, I'm moving to Canada." - disgruntled North Korean voter 

Medical technology is amazing. I truly believe that in my lifetime, a mound of cocaine will be replaced by a single pill.  

Don’t forget! Tomorrow is National Yesterday Day. It’s the one day of the year that we get together to celebrate today.  

I can tell when my wife is mad at me because she withholds rough sex. 

I feel like my life would be completely different if I had a fully-functioning Iron-Man suit.  

My last words before I got shot at the grocery store: "Excuse me, Sir. I believe you have more than fifteen items." 

I’m probably biased. But I think my tweets are funnier than comedy star Sofia Vergara’s tweets. Just sayin’. And I look better in a dress.  

Eminem has 20.1 million followers. He is not following anyone. Eminem is just as uninterested in celebrities as he is in regular people. I kind of respect that, actually.  

Oprah Winfrey has 32.1 million followers. She is following 248 people. And you get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car! And you… well, just repeat this another 245 times. I think you can probably guess the sort of people Oprah is following. That’s right- Japanese porn stars.  

Young pop star Demi Lovato is followed by 35.4 million teenagers and pervy middle-aged men. She’s following 432 people. Lovato only follows other celebrities: Keith Urban, Dr. Drew, Jenny McCarthy. Nevertheless, Lovato sends positive tweets out to her fans, reminding them to take charge of their lives and to not be followers.  

Give me another name. How about, oh, Derek Hough, the guy from Dancing with the Stars. His sister’s the one who was in that thing.  

Derek Hough has 715,000 followers. He’s following 46 people. Let’s see… he’s following Ryan Seacrest, a couple of pop stars, the guy from… yeah, celebrities are just not interesting in people who aren’t celebrities. I mean, don’t celebrities stay in touch with anyone from high school? They have Twitter accounts, too, you know.  

Why the hell is everyone following Ryan Seacrest?! I need to check this out. Give me a minute… typing in his name… finding his Twitter account…  

I just learned two things about Ryan Seacrest. He tweets nothing interesting and he has bad grammar.  

If all of the world’s plumbers disappeared this afternoon, we’d have a problem. If all of the world’s celebrities disappeared, I think we’d be okay. But I get it. I understand. We live in a celebrity culture.  

Celebrities are fascinated with each other. They don’t want to hear what you have to say. You’re fuckin’ dull as shit. Celebrities want to hear what celebrities have to say. Celebrities want to hang out with other celebrities. Celebrities want to know what other celebrities are thinking. 

Nevertheless, in my naïveté, I still believe there are many interesting, totally unfamous people who have interesting things to say. My prediction? An evening spent with a guest list that includes a dominatrix, a mortuary cosmetologist, a Native American tribal chief, an activist fighting for the rights of the disabled, a soldier who spent time in Iraq, and a gambling addict would be a more stimulating few hours than a dinner party with the cast of Friends.  

In closing… 

I would ask all you celebrities to reconsider your Twitter-following habits. Give regular people a chance. Follow us. You’ll find our musings about life are no less boring and pointless than your celebrity colleagues’ tweets.  

Plus, it’s good to get to know regular people. You play us in your movies. Don’t you want to know what makes us tick? And when you capture our essence so convincingly, when you truly get to the heart of who we are, and your name is announced on Academy Award night, and you walk up to the podium, don’t forget to thank the people who made it all possible: your agents.

 

3-29-16

BATMAN v SUPERMAN (SPOILER WARNING) SUCKED 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (spoiler warning) sucked. And there are other spoilers included here, too. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet… don’t.  

Director Zack Snyder accomplished what bullying, vegetables, and regular trips to the dentist failed to do; he ruined my childhood.  

Despite negative reviews from the critics, the movie has already made hundreds of millions of dollars. But sometimes the critics are right. The critics also hated third-world famine, Joseph Stalin, and tuberculosis. But the difference is that Batman v Superman is much, much worse.  

In Gone Girl, Ben Affleck played a dull, clueless, amoral, idiotic thug who spends the entire film being manipulated. In Batman v Superman, Ben Affleck plays a dull, clueless, amoral, idiotic thug who spends the entire film being manipulated… while wearing a Batman suit.  

Batman is supposed to be a brilliant detective. But in Batman v Superman, Batman doesn’t find the Kryptonite. Lex Luthor does. Batman steals it. Batman doesn’t find out about the existence of other super beings. Lex Luthor does. And Batman steals the information. It reminds me of the time Sherlock Holmes took out the bad guys with a gun and then instead of gathering clues on his own, he just ripped off Moriarty’s notepad.  

Batman is supposed to be of keen insight and a brilliant mind. I know. I’ve read the comic books. I’ve seen other Batman movies. But in Batman v Superman, Batman prepares to fight a God-like indestructible super alien by… doing pull-ups. When Donald Trump says, “I’m going to defeat ISIS,” I sort of feel like this is his plan.   

In the comic books, on television, in other films, in animated series, Gotham City and Metropolis are distinct and unique. In Batman v Superman, the two cities are indistinguishable from one another and they appear to be about a half-a-mile apart, separated by a lake. It’s sort of like if Batman was the dark knight of Oakland. And you asked him, “But Batman, can’t you help the people of San Francisco, too? I mean, it’s a fifteen minute drive.” “But I’m the dark knight of Oakland.” It makes you wonder why Batman owns a plane. 

I remember seeing Marvel’s The Avengers for the first time. You could feel the energy in the theater. The crowd roared with laughter and applause during about a dozen different scenes. During Batman v Superman, I sat in a completely packed, completely lifeless theater. People watched the movie in the same way you look at your friends’ family vacation pictures on the Internet- joylessly, with a soul-crushing dead-eyed gaze, and with no emotional connection to what’s on the screen. Hulk smash… this crappy movie. Please.  

Superhero movies are supposed to be fun. That doesn’t mean they have to be funny. That doesn’t mean the colors have to be bright. But they’re supposed to be fun. Real life is hard. These films are escapist. We watch these movies for the fantasy, the excitement, for the geeky fanboy giddiness. When Superman confronts Batman… well, did you see the scene in The Revenant when Leonardo DiCaprio gets mauled by a bear? Yeah, it’s sort of like that.  

Being a fan of the genre, my favorite part of the movie was when the other superhero cameos were revealed. There’s the Flash! So basically, by far the most exciting moment in the film was a quick teaser for future movies. It’s like, yeah, my favorite scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is when they threw a trailer for Ghostbusters in the middle.   

Yes, it’s just a movie. I shouldn’t get so riled up. But, to be fair, I did pay to see it. What’s a good analogy that might make a non-fan understand? Okay- how about this… let’s say that you just spent sixty dollars on a new pair of sneakers, but the sneakers were played by Jessie Eisenberg, doing some unbearably annoying, schizophrenic version of his character from The Social Network, whose fiendish plot is to destroy the world for reasons that made no logical sense. Note to filmmakers: Lex Luthor is not Mark Zuckerberg. And Zuckerberg’s invention of Facebook was a much more practical way to annihilate civilized society.  

In Superman IV: the Quest for Peace, the worst superhero movie of all time up until two weeks ago, Lex Luthor has a bratty jerk of a nephew with stupid hair named Lenny. I just figured it out! Batman v Superman is a nod to the late eighties. Jessie Eisenberg is playing Lenny.  

As in Man Of Steel, in which he envisioned Kryton as a glum, ugly planet where Russell Crowe rides a flying dinosaur, director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman Superman is devoid of purpose or personality. At point, he is about to defend himself during Congressional hearings. The audience is finally going to get a glimpse of the real Superman. But before he utters a word, Lenny Luthor blows the building up… for reasons I don’t quite understand… and then Batman, the world’s greatest detective, is unable to solve the crime.  

At one point in the film, Bruce Wayne tells Superman’s alter-ego Clark Kent, “Every time your hero saves a cat out of a tree, you write a puff piece editorial.” I suspect audiences would’ve preferred to actually see Superman saving a cat out of a tree… instead of boring us with endless dream sequences.   

Yes, the movie made a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean people liked it. It only means they paid to see it. I paid to see it. I didn’t like it. Oh, I can tolerate plot holes and incoherent storytelling and a lack of character development and long set-ups without any payoff and the key point of the film depending on the randomness of two women having the same first name… but did the movie have to be so depressing? This is the Justice League, not 12 Years a Slave… which, coincidentally, describes how it felt to watch Batman v Superman.  

And, yet, I’ll probably see the next DC Comics movie, too. Because that’s what I do. I give crappy movies my money. Don’t judge me. Hey, if you don’t like the air, then don’t breathe it.  

There. Got that off my chest. Wheh! Oh, but I did like the Batman fight scene in the warehouse. And the music was cool.

 

3-16-16

WHAT DO OREO COOKIES REVEAL ABOUT YOUR PERSONALITY? 

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again.”  

Obviously, Trump hasn’t been to a supermarket lately. Have you been to a cookie aisle recently? You’ll find shelves full of Oreos, different flavors and forms and sizes and varieties. Oreos have become the Internet pornography of cookies. The only difference is that Oreos always come in the same position.   

Make America great again? Heck, we’re in the middle of an Oreo renaissance, with new mind-spinning limited edition flavors being introduced at a frantic pace. They had cookie dough Oreos, for crying out loud! Aside from the deliciousness, I also dig the existential quality of the cookie dough flavored cookie concept; a cookie that tastes like the ingredient from which it spawned. Do they make rat-flavored hot dogs? 

Oreos qualify as what I refer to as an “urge” food. One doesn’t have a constant hunger for Oreos. But every so often, you just get the urge. And after consuming four or five, then you’re done and the desire is gone. It’s like listening to a James Taylor Greatest Hits album.   

Some people prefer to eat their Oreos whole, like a sandwich. Others prefer to pull the wafers apart and dive into the creamy filling first. Both methods are pretty crass. I mean, have you animals ever heard of a fork and knife?  

I eat my Oreos both ways, though if I had to pick, I’d rather eat the cookie whole, in order to fully appreciate the cookie. It would be like listening to a movie without the picture, and then watching the movie without the sound. You’re not really getting the full movie experience… although I’ve found the best way to enjoy Birdman is without the sound or the picture.  

There are so many different Oreo brand products now: shakes, pie crusts, prescription meds. But even within the world of its cookies, there are a million different options. It’s wonderful. And people are complaining about America?! Heck, when I was a kid, an Oreo cookie was just a thick block of wood with a couple of rusty nails. If you wanted a tasty treat, you had to use your imagination.    

Oreos can basically be separated into three categories: the wafer flavor, the cream filling flavor, and the amount of cream filling in the cookie. The cream filling is called stuf, not to be confused with stuff. I believe this is an FDA regulation, as the government doesn’t want consumers confusing processed Oreo filling with the healthy, all-natural organic stuff that grows on trees. This semantics rule falls under the same regulation that prevents Totino’s pizza rolls from labeling itself as food.   

Double Stuf Oreos have twice the normal amount of stuf. Released in 2015, Oreo Thins only have half the stuff, and fewer the calories, as regular Oreos. Do you ever watch the reality shows on the health channels about morbidly obese people who are literally too heavy to get out of bed? For those people, I’d recommend the Oreo Thins. They also have Mega Stuf Oreos now, with even more cream filling than the Double Stuf Oreos. On the Mega Stuf Nutrition Facts label, next to calories, it simply says “infinite.”  

Oh, but there are so many different flavors of stuf now. There’s even a Wikipedia entry dedicated solely to the different varieties of Oreo.  

It would take weeks to list all the different Oreo flavors. But here are a few. (These are real.)  

Banana Split Crème Oreos. I’m not a huge fan of banana-flavored treats. Still, they’re safer than bandana-flavored Oreos, what with all the gang violence.  

Fruit Punch Oreos. You can’t go wrong with fruit punch, although cookies are probably harder to spike. Oreos should consider an adult line of flavors, like Tequila Oreos. Yes, tequila-flavored cream stuf sounds repulsive, but still less grotesque than actual tequila.  

Root Beer Float Oreos. Nothing goes better with Oreos than a cool frosty mug of Oreos. Some people like to dunk their Oreos in milk. Other people like to dunk their milk in root beer. And that’s still less disgusting than tequila.   

S’Mores Oreos. My friends and I go camping sometimes. They bring along marshmallows and graham crackers and chocolate bars and we hold the marshmallows up to the fire to make S’Mores. Then I discovered the treats taste much better when you don’t cook the marshmallows, and you eat the three ingredients separately. Then I discovered they taste even better when you put the marshmallows and graham crackers aside and just eat the chocolate bars. Luckily, they have chocolate-flavored Oreos. I’d recommend them over the S’Mores.  

Gingerbread Oreos. Bleech.  

Key Lime Pie Oreos. You have to respect lime, the lemon’s scrappy younger sibling. Oh, lime will never have lemon’s talent and good looks. But it keeps trying. So, yeah, maybe limeade will never taste as refreshing as lemonade. Perhaps key lime pie will always take a backseat to lemon meringue. Nobody will ever ask for a little lime in their water. And Lemon Oreos look like golden drops of scrumptiousness, while the green Lime Oreos look like Slimer from Ghostbusters. Oh, we like lime; we just don’t love it. And we never will. But, hey, that slime. I mean- that’s lime.   

Pumpkin Spice Oreos. I don’t consider pumpkin to be a legitimate food flavor. So I won’t acknowledge Pumpkin Spice Oreos. Moving on…  

Candy Corn Oreos. These Oreos are only available during Halloween time, featuring orange colored stuf. Once the season is over, the remaining packages are thrown out. After that, they’re recollected, marked down, and sold at Big Lots. Candy corn is the only candy that tastes worse than the vegetable it’s representing, though to be fair they don’t make candy broccoli.   

And the flavors get even weirder: Watermelon, Toasted Coconut, Cotton Candy. They should come out with Oreo-flavored Oreos; you pull the black wafers apart and the cream in the middle tastes just like an Oreo.  

Oreos are a lot like America.  

Yes, Oreos are always changing, keeping up with modern times. That’s social progress. And that’s wonderful. But there will always be a place for the traditional Oreos with that we’re familiar. So for those of you who fear Caramel Apple Oreos, the classic black & whites will always be available, reminding you of a simpler time that probably never existed but provides emotional comfort to those frightened by the riots on television.  

The term “Oreo” has been used to describe people in a rather condescending and unfairly racist way. But I like to look at Oreos in terms of racial progress. Oreos come in all different color schemes: black and white, white and brown, black and yellow. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, an Oreo filled with a rainbow of stuf became a popular Internet meme.     

Heck, Oreos aren’t like America. Oreos are America.  

Recently, a Chicago Oreo factory partially closed down, in favor of cheaper production lines in Mexico. Ah, there’s nothing more American than screwing over our nation’s workers for corporate profit.   

Donald Trump vowed to stop eating Oreos because of the move. Then he said, in reference to Oreos, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re bringing generic-brand chocolate sandwich cookies. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good Oreos.”  

They don’t make Trump-flavored Oreos yet. But when they do, I’m sure they will be the best, most fantastic, best tasting Oreos ever, I can tell you that much.

 

3-10-16

LADIES; NOT HAVING A CAREER AND NOT RAISING A FAMILY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE EITHER/OR 

For years, women have been told that they have to choose between raising a family and pursuing a successful career. But why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t women just choose neither?  

I was in the supermarket the other evening, stocking up on string cheese and those pouches where you squeeze the yogurt straight into your mouth. Heck, it’s 2016. Who has time for a spoon? Standing next to me in the breakfast aisle was an attractive, though frazzled-looked, woman in her thirties. She was wearing a professional-looking business suit. I’m guessing she had just finished up a long day at the office. She must’ve picked up her young son from daycare before stopping in to grab some groceries. Her son was not happy. He was throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the supermarket aisle. He was lying on his back, screaming and crying and pointing to everything he wanted. The exasperated woman was trying to pull him up by the hand, unsuccessfully. She looked like she was about to cry. Feeing compassion, I did my best to gently and unobtrusively push her shopping cart to the left as I reached for my Apple Jacks.  

And who was this uncooperative little tyke, making life miserable for his mother? It was none other than pop culture superstar Kanye West.  

Or maybe it wasn’t. I’m not good with faces. Nevertheless, what was more interesting to me was this woman’s obvious frustration. Oh, I’m sure her life is filled with pleasant moments, too. Perhaps she has Netflix? But, at that moment, wrestling a brat in aisle five, exhausted from climbing the corporate ladder, was she contemplating her life choices?  

I’ve been thinking about her all day. I’m obsessed with the private life of a woman I don’t know. Now I understand how it feels to be a politician trying to ban abortion.  

There was a successful book, later a movie starring Julia Roberts, called Eat Pray Love: The Force Awakens. Or maybe it was Eat Pray Love: The Search for Something. Whatever. I didn’t read or see it. It’s 2016. Who has time for research? 

But anyway, these are the things that seem to make people happy: eating, praying for more food, and loving life- making an emotional connection with other human beings and with our natural surroundings. Nobody wants to read a book called One Woman’s Journey: Promotion, Children, Mandatory Monthly Sex Night with Your Fat Ungrateful Husband. Why? Because those things suck.  

It’s like when parents sign their kid up for Little League and they say, “You can win and show good sportsmanship at the same time.” It’s a manipulative statement, brainwashing you into assuming that if can do both simultaneously, then they must both be appealing.” In actuality, you’d rather just be home playing video games, eating Doritos. “During practice, I want you to run three laps around the field in the hot sun.” “Okay, Douchebag! I mean… Coach.”  

The morning talk shows are so busy analyzing whether or not women can be successful in business while raising children at the same time, they’re missing out on the more obvious question. Rather than the unappreciative family and the weekly board meetings, might it be better to just enjoy life? There’s nothing wrong with just earning a living and doing stuff you like to do: walking your dog, painting, watching Internet porn specifically designed for women where the actors cuddle and engage in sweet romantic conversation after they bang, listening to music, etc. Somehow, everything is shallow until you get to family and career. And only then does it become a worthwhile discussion. Well, I don’t agree. And I bet a lot of women don’t, either.   

If I may speak on behalf of every single woman ever… Ladies, don’t feel guilty. You don’t have to try to balance a family and your career goals. Instead, don’t have a family and don’t make any career goals. In other words, you can have it all!   

Actually, you’ll probably feel more fulfilled in a job where you don’t have to wear a power suit to work. And you can use those free extra hours- just think of all the time you’ll save not dragging the kids to soccer practice- to fight for your right to earn a decent wage.   

You see, “career” is a socially constructed concept, controlled by those in power- in this case, men. When we think of a “career woman,” we’re thinking of the kind of jobs that men do. You know those men- the ones getting out of taxicabs in big cities holding briefcases and walking into large buildings, where they teleconference with businessmen from China and synergize with the VP of marketing to develop strategies for corporate growth. These are the men who spend most of the afternoon playing fantasy football on-line, since their stupid high-paying jobs are meaningless and completely unnecessary to the overall functioning of a society.  

Type in Google search: Women Balancing Career and Family and Hulk Hogan Sex Tape. (Warning: NSFW) Or, just to be safe, only type in “Women Balancing Career and Family.” Now click on the Google “images” tab. See a common thread? Notice that all the women in the pictures look the same. I mean, yeah, they’re all white. But also… they’re dressed and styled in a certain way. They look like businesswomen.   

How come there aren’t any kindergarten teachers in the “career woman” pictures? Being a kindergarten teacher is a career. Being a dental hygienist is a career. Managing a beauty parlor is a career.  

But women are kindergarten teachers. Women are dental hygienists. Therefore, these jobs aren’t valued. Therefore, they’re not highly paid. Therefore, the women in these professions are not part of the “can you have both a successful career and family” conversation.  

Society defines career and importance not by what the objective nature of the job is, but by who is doing it. Trust me- if Khloe Kardashian and Charlie Sheen became rocket scientists, the expression “you don’t have to be a rocket scientist” would take on a different meaning. “You drove the car into a river!? What, are you a rocket scientist?!”  

Some Donald Trump supporters argue, “He’ll be a good President because he’s a businessman.” But what does being a businessman have to do with being a political leader? Kindergarten teachers have to be in charge, they’re responsible for people’s lives, they have to keep things organized, they’re on a budget, they have to keep things moving, they have to work with uncooperative brats. In other words- the job requirements to be President of the United States. Meanwhile, Donald Trump sells crappy suits. Yes, that’s what we want in our Commander-in-Chief.   

Personally, when it comes to electing the leader of the free world, I’d put my trust in a good kindergarten teacher than a businessman. Kindergarten teachers don’t send me spam.  

But kindergarten teachers are women. So they’re not valued. So they don’t get paid a lot. So they’re not taken seriously as career women.  

Now, if eighty years ago, more and more men started becoming kindergarten teachers, if ninety years ago, more and more men started taking over traditional women’s jobs, and now the majority of people in these occupations were men… well, then, did you check out my neighbor’s new Ferrari? Of course he can afford it; he’s a nurse. Men are in jobs that make more money because men are doing these jobs.  

Why do women earn seventy-eight cents on the dollar? It’s not because of overt discrimination. It’s not because they have to take time off to raise their kids. Rather, women earn less money because they’re women. In America, feminized jobs are less valued.  

And for those women battling the pay gap by becoming doctors and college professors? News flash. Doctors and college professors aren’t held in the same high regard as they were fifty years ago, and they don’t make as much money. Why? Because more and more women are becoming doctors and college professors.  

To be a professor used to be a prestigious profession. But now, there’s a correlation between the growing number of female university professors and blatant disrespect towards professors: students texting in class, demanding higher grades, and on-line websites where college kids can anonymously disrespect their teachers. Oh- and also demands for free college.  

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is endorsing a plan to offer free college for everyone. Well, I doubt the country will be better with more people in college… though it might make Spring Break more fun. A more effective use for that money- and to strengthen the family unit- would be to pay women to stay home and raise their kids. But, of course, no politician would endorse that idea. It sounds absurd. Yes, “free college” and “build a giant wall around Mexico” are now legitimate, serious campaign promises. But paying women to raise emotionally stable, respectful children sounds ridiculous. But it only sounds ridiculous because that’s what women do.   

Ladies, having a successful career while raising a family doesn’t have to be either/or. Either men will let it happen or they won’t.

 

2-23-16

KANYE WEST IS THE TRUE ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT CANDIDATE

Do you remember Batkid, the cute little boy from the Make-A-Wish foundation? His dream was to be a superhero. So thousands of kindhearted people came together to turn San Francisco into a real life Gotham City. And five-year-old Miles Scott was able to live out his fantasy.  

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gw3aWPxtpfE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Similarly, it’s kind of sweet that so many people are joining in the fun and playing along with Kanye West’s dream of being a real life fashion designer.  

Kanye isn’t technically a child, but he throws tantrums and he thinks everything should be about him and he’s just absolutely adorable. We’re trying to set him up on a play date with my son Austin. I hope Kanye likes Chuck E. Cheese! 

Oh, years from now, when he’s a grown up and all his imaginary friends are gone, Kanye will understand that it was just pretend. But, for right now, there’s nothing wrong with enabling a good kid to feel special. And thousands of good Samaritans have joined together to help create this elaborate world of make-believe: the volunteers willing to attend- and applaud!- his fashion show, the big-hearted media folks lending a helping hand by covering Kanye’s collection as a serious artistic statement, and even the charitable do-gooders spending hundreds of dollars on these ridiculous clothes.   

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ns0iTMn8pBs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

At the end of all this, we should award Kanye with a big “Fashion Champion” trophy. Kids love trophies. I feel like it would really help boost Kanye’s confidence.  

Of course, Kanye isn’t really a fashion designer. If a cheesy straight-to-DVD movie about post-apocalyptic butlers could physically throw up, Kanye’s clothing like would look like the vomit. I mean, do you recognize the sick irony in that the cost of one Kanye sweater could feed thousands of prisoners from a 1960s Russian Gulag… when that’s basically what prisoners from a 1960s Russian Gulag wore?   

Nevertheless, we want Kanye to be happy. So we’re all playing along, getting him to think this is real. And it feels good.  

Now, are you still in an altruistic mood? Because Kanye’s special make-a-wish doesn’t end with his fashion designer fantasy. Recently, Kanye made the news when he announced his plan to run for President in 2020.

Of course, Kanye can’t really run for President in 2020. Nobody can. Unless you’re an absolute idiot, you know that in just a few short years, America will be an oppressive dictatorship run by our Supreme Overlord, Kylie Jenner.  

Nevertheless, we can all still pitch in to make Kanye think he’s a serious candidate for President. We can proudly display our “Feel the Kanye Bern” pins and wear “Kanye Will Make America Great Again” hats and cheer wildly for his childlike ideas.   

Do you remember the fable of The Emperor’s New Clothes? In the story, the Emperor is very powerful, but he’s also very vain. And these two con artists prey on this vanity. They tell the Emperor they’ve designed these new amazing clothes- but only if you’re very intelligent and only if you’re very wise can you see them. In reality, the con artists are holding nothing. The clothes don’t exist. But the Emperor doesn’t want to appear foolish. So he says, “Yes. I see them. And I’m going to wear them in the parade.” At the end of the story, the Emperor is walking in the parade… and he’s naked. The townspeople are confused; they know he’s not wearing any clothes. But they’re too uncomfortable to say anything. So they remain silent and allow this folly to continue.    

Meanwhile, even if the Emperor was aware of his stark nudity, I bet he’d still feel less embarrassed than if he had to walk down a runway wearing Kanye West’s hideous designs.  

But Americans, being the well-meaning souls that we are, don’t want to wait for 2020. No, we’re already bringing to life a child’s dream of starring in his own Presidential campaign. Several children, actually.  

One day, when they’re much, much older, we’ll sit Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders down and explain the absurdity of their political positions. But for now, they’re far too youthful and inexperienced to understand the harsh realities of how the political process works. And isn’t it nice how millions of compassionate Americans are taking time from their busy schedules to partake in the Trump/Sanders “I-Want-To-Be-President” wish-fulfillment project.  

Free college tuition? Applause! Making Mexico pay for a giant wall all across the border? Big cheers! Socialism! Keeping certain religions out of the country! Hooray! Here’s a trophy! Those are super special ideas and you’re super special for thinking of them. Oh, and when you’re President of the United States, we’re going to make you a magical suit with flying wings that taste like candy. Now, the adults won’t be able to see your magic suit, and they’ll argue that these ideas- which are legally and financially implausible- will be laughed out of Congress and then quickly forgotten about, but that’s only because grown-ups are no fun. Don’t let a bunch of lame old people stifle your creativity. Keep clapping and cheering and drowning out the sounds of basic political logic. Oh, and snack time is in eight minutes. Who wants string cheese!?   

Some people are unhappy with Barack Obama’s Presidency. They didn’t like that President Obama turned out to be- in holding the most important politician job in the world- a politician. They were hoping for a revolutionary. Unfortunately, revolutions never start at the top. That’s not a President’s job. Rather, when an informed public demands a new way of doing things, change flourishes, followed by legislation and enforcement. It’s how things get done. It’s not as exciting as Batman and Robin, but it’s effective. Sanders and Trump and Ted Cruz sound great at the podium. They’re angry and battle-ready and they’re on our side in the fight against the Joker and the Penguin and establishment politics. But this political posturing is about as revolutionary as a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor of ice cream.  

President Obama accomplished his rather realistic goals- strengthening the economy, expanding access to health care, etc. - without anger, using calculated, boring, non-revolutionary methods, within the confines of a divided government and an impossible-to-please electorate. But the days of President Obama are long gone. It is 2016 now. It’s time to get back to feeling good about ourselves.   

Wait. I mean, we are just pretending to feel the Bern and to make America great again, right? We’re all just playing along in order to make these kids believe they can transform society by spouting shallow political platitudes, right? Because we know that’s not how the game really works. And, in fact, the Oval Office itself plays just a small part in the ups-and-downs of a typical American’s daily routine. Okay. Good. For a second, I thought you were serious.  

I think I’m going to support Kanye’s 2020 Presidential run. Hey, why not? It’s cute. Yeah, Kanye has been a bit misogynistic towards Taylor Swift recently. But, you know, politics can get a little rough.   

Meanwhile, pat yourselves on the back for pitching in to make these 2016 campaigns seem so realistic. Heck, even the campaign buses really work. You can honk the horn and everything! And when you see the beautiful smile on Bernie’s face and you hear Donald’s carefree laughter and you receive one of those magical Ted Cruz hugs, that’s when you know it was all worth it. Revolution! Everything is a revolution! So adorable.

But after we finish this up, and these silly political ideas fade from the public’s memory- and they will- let’s get back to the real world.  

Political moderation is the “vegetables” of the kid’s menu. Yes, I know that carrots aren’t as much fun as a Happy Meal. But recent history has proven that in our modern, divisive political climate, moving towards the center is the only way to get anything done.  

And it’s still not too late to help make Kanye’s dreams of fashion design come true. Let’s give him a chance to feel special. My suggestion? Buy the $2,500 oversized Kanye parka. It’s for a good cause. And, heck, you can wear it around the house.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw3aWPxtpfE  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns0iTMn8pBs  

http://time.com/4048824/kanye-west-running-for-president/

http://www.mtv.com/news/2097445/kanye-adidas-line-price/

http://www.thewrap.com/kanye-west-defends-taylor-swift-bitch-lyric-famous-life-of-pablo/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/fashion/kanye-wests-line-yeezy-causes-a-stir-new-york-fashion-week.html

 

2-16-16

WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR STAY (THE SOCIOLOGY OF HOTELS)  

I love hotels.  

When traveling, one has so many options about where to stay. There are hostels, where you’ll probably be attacked by a serial killer. There’s the rising popularity of Airbnb, where you’ll probably be staying in a serial killer’s home. Then there’s the traditional bed & breakfast, run by sweet old people who used to be serial killers but that was a long time ago and they seem pretty harmless now.  

You can also crash on a friend’s couch, and I swear I only need a place to stay for one night. Okay, maybe two nights. One week tops. Possibly nine or ten days, just to get back on my fee… I’m never leaving.  

Nevertheless, I prefer hotels. I love hotels.  

Motels are okay, I guess.  

The Waldorf-Astoria Motel welcomes important heads of states from sleazy, unshaven countries that just seem a little “off,” like they’re trying to hide something. 

On investigation shows like Inside Edition, they’re always going undercover in motels to warn viewers about the unsanitary conditions. And the reporters discover dirty pillowcases and cockroaches in the radiator and troubled actor Tom Sizemore asleep in the bathtub.  

I’ve stayed at many motels, however, and I’ve never experienced any of that wretched filth. Well, one time I stayed at an Econo Lodge while a Republican Presidential debate was on television in the background. But the lodging itself was very clean.  

My motel stays have always been just fine. And it’s entirely possible that those angry-looking gentlemen standing outside, two feet from my first-floor window at three in the morning, are not partaking in a drug deal. Maybe they’re just out for a walk?  

Hotels. Motels. I guess the further down the alphabet you go, the less luxurious the lodging. I draw the line at wotels, although if you don’t mind the eyeball peering out from the toilet bowl, they can be a smart money-saving option.   

No, but I prefer hotels. I love hotels.  

Opening the door to your hotel room is like opening a bicycle-shaped present on Christmas morning. You kind of know what you’re going to get, but the fun is in the details. How is the room arranged? Is there a lot of extra space? What kind of art is on the wall? Will there be one of those little mini-rooms outside the bathroom, with the mirror and sink? Or is there a giant mirror in the bathroom itself, so that you can look at yourself nude each time you step out of the shower? By the third morning in any hotel room, you start thinking, “I don’t want to look at myself stepping out of the shower nude anymore.” Big hotel bathroom mirrors are the worst perpetrators when it comes to body-shaming. Stop the bullying.  

Oh, and all the free stuff!  

Remember- it’s not stealing; once you check out, the hotel is just going to throw all that stuff out, anyway. Hence, I feel no guilt in taking the shampoos and the moisturizers and the towels and the television sets and can you give me a hand? I’m going to need some help lugging this bed to my car.

I’m kidding, of course. You don’t get to keep the big things. But it’s still a small thrill taking home a bag of toiletries. And if you don’t think about the three-hundred bucks a night you spent in order to acquire those little forty-cent shampoo bottles, the feeling of coming out ahead is truly satisfying.  

Hotels even specify the soap. There is the body soap. And there is the smaller face soap. My sister and I had a debate. She said that the two soaps are exactly the same, only in different sizes. But I’m convinced that the face soap, unlike the body soap, is specifically designed to wash one’s face. Otherwise, that means you could wash your body with face soap and wash your face with body soap. That’s insane. And that sort of chaos leads to washing your legs with arm soap, using morning shampoo in the evening, and the next thing you know, dogs can talk.  

I’m pretty sure you’re allowed to take the toilet paper. And, on a side note, let me offer a little financial advice; I find that you can save a lot of money on toilet paper by simply going to the bathroom at other people’s homes.  

After checking out your room, the next fun thing to when staying at a hotel is to tour the facilities.  

There’s the fitness room, usually occupied by a serious-looking woman in her early thirties running on the treadmill and a couple of unsupervised kids climbing on the bench press and kicking around the big blue exercise ball. The “All Children Must Be Supervised by an Adult” sign in hotel fitness rooms is respected about as much as Johnny Depp’s foray into music.  

I don’t use the hotel pool very often. I’m not really into swimming with strangers.  And I almost never use the hotel hot tub, not because I think it might be unsanitary, but because of that weird couple who never leave. Life’s greatest pleasures will always be ruined by annoying strangers trying to make conversation. I mean, if I wanted to chat with you, I’d be by myself texting.   

When I was growing up, I used to love the hotel ice machines. There was something kind of fun and adventurous about running down the hall on your own, scooping up some ice, and racing back to the room. And sometimes my parents would give me change for the soda machines. Hotel soda vending machines are the best because they’re practically the only place where you can still find the lesser, competing versions of familiar brands, like Mr. Pibb and Mello Yello and Liam Hemsworth.   

Nicer hotels offer a complimentary breakfast, usually in a pleasant room with lots of windows. Oh, I know the waffle machine can be a bit intimidating, especially when there are a lot of other hotel guests around. But it’s surprisingly easy to figure out.  

And hotel breakfasts have so many morning beverage options. My hotel visits are the only time of the year I find myself saying, “I think I’ll try some of the grapefruit juice.”  

There’s an interesting phenomenon about hotel breakfast. By the second morning of your stay, you’ve already developed a pattern: when to eat, where to sit, etc. And you start to recognize the same people. By the second morning of your stay, other hotel guests- regardless of how big the hotel is- already seem familiar. Oh, there are the two nice ladies who wear the hijabs. There’s the family with the four kids of different ages but who all look exactly alike. Hey, what happened to that older gentleman who sits in the corner and reads the newspaper? Did he check out? Did he die? And then you see these same people in the elevator and sitting around the lobby. And they recognize you, too. We form a sort of emotional attachment- an unconsummated bond- with these people, from afar, and then you leave and never see or think about them again… sort of like college roommates.  

By the time you’ve checked out of a hotel, it feels like a second home. You’re completely comfortable and at-ease with the arrangements: you’ve learned how to work the shower handles, you’ve memorized your favorite TV channel numbers, you’ve had sex with the kitchen staff, etc.  

I always clean up the room before I check out. In fact, aside from a little “clothes tossed on the chairs” clutter, I try to keep things relatively tidy throughout my stay. Yes, the hotel pays employees to do this. But there’s something disrespectful and entitled about leaving an unnecessary mess for someone else to fix. I’d be willing to wager that the sorts of people who leave their hotel room in disarray are the same people who leave our grandchildren with massive debt, environmental destruction, and worldwide oppression. In other words, housekeeping must hate it when Congress checks in.  

We’ve all heard stories of rock stars trashing their hotel rooms. They’re funny stories, until you think about the low-paid maids whose job is to clean up the room. That’s when you start thinking, “Hmm, maybe those rock stars are douche bags?”   

See, a hotel stay is a lesson in capitalism. You’ve worked hard. You deserve a little luxury. And that’s great. But understand that other people work hard, too, so that you can enjoy this luxury. And you can acknowledge this reality, and do your part to make life better for everyone by cleaning up after yourself. Or you can be an asshole.  

The Presidential candidates are traveling around the country, campaigning from one city to another, staying in nice hotels. As a voter, I’d like to know which of the candidates clean up after themselves. I don’t want to hear a candidate’s canned debate response. Rather, I want to know if he threw away the rest of his sandwich, or if he left it on the couch for the hired help to pick up. That tells you a lot about a person.

 

1-29-16

THE PRESIDENCY IS JUST SO ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT

The United States has forty-four Presidents of the United States, forty-three if you don't count Grover Cleveland's non-consecutive terms, and forty-two if you don't count George W. Bush.

All our Presidents have something in common. Yes, they've all been strikingly handsome. But also, they've all been men. 100% of our  nation's Presidents have been men. 0% of our nation's Presidents have been women. So if you do the math, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have a 100% chance of becoming the next President of the United States.

As the political pundits on the cable news and auto racing channels will tell you, there's an obvious reason why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are soaring in the polls; they're "anti-establishment" candidates.

The President of the United States is the world's more powerful politician. Hence, it stands to reason taht we wouldn't want to elect anyone who is too much of a "politician." I call a plumber for most of my plumbing needs. But when my plumbing gets really serious, like when the toilet is overflowing, well that's when I call my local outsider. I find his lack of plumbing skills refreshing. And because he's not a real plumber, that must mean he truly cares about the people.

Personally, I tend to put more trust in established people. I think of established to mean accomplished. Nobody running for office ever brags about being anti-accomplishment. Maybe Ted Cruz.

I'm not sure why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the anti-establishment candidates. Sanders has been in Congress since 1991. That's a long time. In 1991, Sanders was still a young, fresh-faced old man. Heck, in 1991, Trump was still married to Marla Maples... who, by the way, if Trump becomes President, will make an excellent First Ex-Lady. Though, before Marla, Trump was married to Ivana. So I guess that would make Marla the Second Ex-Lady. Nevertheless, it's still a great honor.

Bernie Sanders has spent years as an anti-establishment politician. One could say he has established himself as anti-establishment, which is quite an establishment. Hence, people looking for an anti-establishment candidate have finally found their establishment candidate.

Donald Trump is a billionaire celebrity, with more political connections than country music has awards shows. Trump is even more of a household name than Omorasa. Not that's established.

Trump- having money and fame and connections- is the ultimate politician, but without the burden of any political accomplishments. He's the unestablishment candidate.

Nevertheless, Sanders and Trump seem to be the favorites for the anti-establishment vote. And what that really means is that the people want someone like themselves- someone who complains a lot and is angry. Our next President should be the Philadelphia Eagles fans.

The typical Sanders supporter and the typical Trump supporter are living pretty decent lives. Why do they feel so much anger? They're well-fed, they have jobs, their wages have gone up, and they have 24-hour access to a giant world of Internet pornography, featuring such smut categories as hardcore, point-of-view, and fetish. Fetish is the "anti-establishment" of porn.

I've personally met both Trump supporters and Sanders supporters. And, just between you and me, outside of the political rallies, beyond the Facebook posts, in real life, they're really not that angry. And why should they be? America is pretty good.

Oh, there are most certainly Americans in desperate need. People in Flint, Michigan have been drinking poisonous water, for example. But these pepole are not anti-establishment. Rather, they're pro-establishment, expecting our powerful, established government agencies to do their job and help them... only to be let down. They don't want a political outsider to shake things up; they want political insiders to follow the well-established procedures set up to protect the rights of all Americans.

we anti-anti-establishment voters simply want the establishment- our government officials- to do what is required of them, competently and without intrusion from corporate interests. Nobody needs to "shake up" the Constitution. Just follow it!

It's hip right now to be anti-establishment. Most people are anti-establishment. Soon, everyone will be anti-establishment, including the establishment. And only anti-establishment politicians will win elections. And our new anti-establishment world, filled with all the same people who occupy the country now, will look juts like the country does, well, right now.

Hey- do you ever wonder why nothing ever changes? The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't' exist. well, that and the Kardashians are rich and famous. Society's existing power structure has fooled the masses into thinking the existing power structure is the government and rich corporations and greedy banks. But in reality, the power structure is men. Wanna be anti-establishment? Vote for a woman.

 

1-23-16

HERE'S WHAT THEY'RE NOT TELLING YOU ABOUT VEGETARIANISM

 

It’s not that I’m against eating animals. Rather, I oppose the inhumane way in which they’re raised. It’s the same reason I won’t eat home-schooled children.

 

I’m a vegetarian. Vegetarian is a misleading word, though. Forgoing meat does not, by definition, mean eating vegetables. I’m really more of a Doritorian. Especially cool ranch flavored.

 

There has been a lot written about vegetarianism. So far, I’ve avoided the topic because I’m not sure I have any new perspective to add. But then I realized, “Hey, it’s 2016 America; I write for the same reason that everyone does everything now- to draw attention to myself.

 

Meat eaters argue that it’s our “biological instinct” to eat meat. Well, to those people who live in caves and hunt down wooly mammoths with a spear, you have a point. However, it’s kind of a stretch to include factory-processed Chicken McNuggets and “biological instinct” in the same sentence.

 

Have you tried the Slim Jim-flavored Snapple? It’s made from the worst stuff on earth.  

 

By “biological instinct,” you mean survival. It’s our human nature to survive. Neanderthals didn’t have the pasta salad option. Luckily, life is better now. We don’t have to eat meat and we wear pants.

 

Sharks are naturally inclined to eat meat. Sharks have very sharp teeth. Tigers are naturally inclined to eat meat. Tigers have very sharp teeth. Human beings don’t have sharp teeth. We have evolved. Our bodies are not designed to be carnivorous. That’s why, to eat meat, we have to use sharp forks and knives and, in the case of hot dogs, nuclear Geiger counters.

 

We don’t have a biological instinct to eat meat. And, sure, that’s not necessarily a reason to avoid meat. But just be honest about it. You don’t eat meat for biological reasons; you eat meat because it tastes good. I get it. Hell, I’d eat this computer keyboard I’m typing on if it tasted even remotely like a Snickers bar.

 

Meat tastes good. Trying to convince someone with a juicy steak on their plate that meat doesn’t taste good is like trying to convince someone watching 2 Broke Girls that 2 Broke Girls doesn’t suck.

 

I miss my regular meat intake. And, to be honest, it’s not filet mignon I crave. No, I miss the garbage meat: the extra-crispy fried chicken, the greasy burgers, the baseball stadium hot dogs. Fast food and fast food-like-substances taste so freakin’ good. Seriously. I have a biological hunger for chemical preservatives and rat.

 

Nevertheless, I stand by my principles. And I stick with vegetarianism… more or less. It’s not easy being a vegetarian when you love Buffalo wings. Oh, I still cheat once or twice a year. We vegetarian wannabes do that occasionally. And we feel terribly guilty about it. And we apologize profusely and we rationalize our behavior to our tablemates… who absolutely, positively don’t give a shit. When vegetarians eat meat, it’s sort of like how Coldplay must feel when they come out with a new album; you think people will care, but they don’t. 

 

People who eat meat think that vegetarians talk about their vegetarianism too much. And vegetarians do talk about their vegetarianism too much. And, yes, some vegetarians are condescending jerks, trying to shame the people around them into eliminating meat from their diet. But that’s not why most vegetarians bring up their eating habits so often. Rather, I think it’s more of a subconscious insecurity defense mechanism- a constant need to avoid the awkwardness of where and what you can eat by reminding the group that, no, you can’t eat the party pizza if it’s topped with pepperoni. Actually, it’s easy to recognize the difference between the self-righteous hypocrites and decent people concerned about food issues; the decent people aren’t wearing man-buns.  

 

Wait- people do care about Coldplay!? Seriously? Okay, then, maybe it’s just me.

 

People don’t like vegetarians. I don’t think a vegetarian could be elected President of the United States. You can lie to Americans about what you’re doing with their money. That’s fine. But if the public finds out you had tofu for lunch, you’re considered untrustworthy.

 

Former President Bill Clinton is a vegan now. And people say, “It’s great that he’s taking his health seriously.” But if Clinton didn’t eat meat during his Presidential campaign, he would’ve been called “un-American.”

 

Here’s a true story. A few years ago, I was dating a nice woman. We were of different religions. We lived a far, inconvenient distance from each other. There was a noticeable gap in our ages. And we had many other differences. Her parents didn’t care about any of that stuff, though. But when they found out I was a vegetarian, they didn’t like me. They asked, “What’s wrong with him?” But you’ve lost interest in my point. Now you just want to know more about the age-gap.

 

Animals suffer terribly during their torturous factory-farming lives. This is not out of necessity, but of corporate greed. There was a time when cows and chickens and pigs lived in relative happiness, frolicking carefree, and then the last few minutes of their lives were kind of horrible. Sort of like 1960s rock stars. I’m okay with that. But big companies are able to squeeze out a few more dollars of profit by forcing living, sentient creatures to spend all their time being poked and prodded in nightmarish conditions. Sort of like the Kardashians. And I’m not okay with the Kardashians. Are you?

 

Most meat eaters are good people. They enjoy their carnivorous world- but would prefer less suffering. I believe most people would be willing to pay a little more for their food knowing their food wasn’t crushed to death in an overcrowded cage.

 

McDonald’s should offer a dollar twenty menu. Yeah, the food is twenty cents more. But now the world is a better place, with less misery.

 

Oh, I suppose a small percentage of people don’t care at all about animal welfare. These are the people who literally brag about eating meat. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the guys who boast about their lack of compassion for animals and the guys who name their dicks. But don’t take my word for it; just browse Tinder.

 

It’s not necessary to wear a T-shirt telling the world you like eating tasty animals. It might be true. But it’s something personal that doesn’t need to be shared… and it’s not funny. It’s like wearing a shirt that says “I spent the morning masturbating.” That’s fine. But we don’t need to know. Okay- bad example; that’s sort of funny.

 

There are two common questions asked of vegetarians.

 

1. If you care about animals so much, why aren’t you a vegan?

 

The short answer: I can’t stop eating Reese’s peanut butter cups. Oh, and those Cadbury creme eggs are so good.

 

Without dairy, I don’t have much left to eat. I’d be pretty cranky on a diet of just fruits, vegetables, and spaghetti But lately I’ve been trying to limit, at least somewhat, my intake of milk and cheese and… are there animal products in Xanax?

 

But the laws of supply & demand are on our side. More and more people are disgusted with modern meat-producing techniques. Hence, companies are producing better-tasting veggie options. And, with money as motivation, anything can be made to taste good. I mean, if you bite into a cow’s butt, it doesn’t taste like beef jerky. There’s a lot that goes into the production. If McDonald’s thought it could make a profit from veganism, then two years from now McDonald’s will be offering the most amazing, mouthwatering barbeque-flavored McTofu sandwich that Burger King will counter with its succulent, kid-friendly nutritional yeast wrap.

 

One day, pouncing on the economic opportunities, restaurants and food companies will offer a plethora of great-tasting vegan pizza and burgers and candy. And when that happens, I’m there.

 

Meanwhile, vegetarian foods are already there. Maybe the meatless hot dogs still have some work to do. But if you haven’t tried a veggie burger in a while, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. They’ve gotten good. And, I say this with no exaggeration, and I have absolutely no stake in the company, but the Sedona black bean burger at TGI Fridays is to die for.

 

2. Where do you get your protein?

 

The short answer: Do you really care where I get my protein?

 

The protein question tends to be asked with judgment, by people who are angry at vegetarians for… well, for being vegetarians. These people are passive-aggressitarians. It’s a lifestyle choice, I suppose.

 

But for those people considering the vegetarian lifestyle, who are sincerely curious where we get our protein… cheese, yogurt, nuts, protein shakes, and broccoli are just a few of the many foods that’ll keep you going until afternoon vodka time. You’ll probably survive.   

 

Some people eat only what they personally kill. I’m not much of a hunter. Last week, I shot the Fruity Pebbles cereal I had for breakfast this morning. And I still can’t stop thinking about all those little baby pebbles now forced to survive in the woods without their mother. I named one of the pebbles Bambi.

 

Nevertheless, hunting is much more humane- and much more “natural”- than factory farming. But even if you don’t care about other living creatures’, other earthlings’, emotional and physical pain and suffering, I would urge anyone to visit a factory where animals are kept for slaughter: the filth, the stench, etc. And then watch the killing process itself. It’s not quick. And it’s not clean. And then think to yourself, “I’m putting that in my mouth?” Gross.  

 

1-15-16

MY SUREFIRE GUIDE TO PREDICTING THE MOVIE THAT WILL WIN AN OSCAR FOR BEST PICTURE

 

Ah, the Academy Awards- that one night a year we stop watching the audience-pleasing movies we love in order to appreciate the critically-acclaimed movies we’ll eventually get around to watching on DVD… or maybe HBO.   

 

Did you know that people place bets on the Oscar race? It’s not a smart gamble. Heck, I lose a fortune every year on my “Tim Allen for Best Actor” prediction.

 

Nevertheless, when it comes to betting on the Academy Awards, there are three guaranteed, “can’t miss” sure things: the speeches will consist of famous people thanking people we don’t know, I’ll be asleep by the second hour, and the movie that wins the Oscar for Best Picture.   

 

I’ve spent years developing a complex, mathematical equation for predicting the winning film. And here it is…

 

If a movie is about dudes, it wins Best Picture. If a movie is about ladies, it doesn’t.

 

There’s a big difference between big-budget blockbusters and those dismal, depressing critical darlings. Oh, it’s not just that the intellectually-frowned-upon movies (like Star Wars, for example) lack the graphic violence, non-stop profanity, and dreary misanthropic themes that characterize the films that dominate Oscar night. And it’s not just that movies such as The Hunger Games and The Avengers- fun motion pictures made by passionate and creative people, that families enjoy together- have legions of fans still watching and debating these films years after their initial release, whereas most of the Best Picture winners of recent years are quickly forgotten.

 

No, there’s another difference. Do you want to know why the popcorn movies, the ones that film snobs mock, don’t win awards? Because these movies feature strong female characters. Katniss Everdeen is the one participating in the games. Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff is part of the superhero team. Heck, Rey Skywalker is the main character in The Force Awakens. (I mean, I just assume her last name is Skywalker. But millions of fanboys and fangirls will have this debate for the next eighteen months- in a spirited, nonviolent way… because these movies, so often scorned by elitists, bring people together. Isn’t that why we go to the movies?) 

 

For a segment of the population that prides itself on liberal tolerance and diversity, the film community- at least the people who vote on the awards- doesn’t think much of women.

 

Here are the last nine movies to win an Academy Award for Best Picture…

 

The Departed

No Country for Old Men

Slumdog Millionaire

The Hurt Locker

The King’s Speech

The Artist

Argo

12 Years a Slave

Birdman

 

Notice a trend? Yes, Samuel L. Jackson is in all of them. But notice anything else?

 

The film’s protagonist is- and in most cases the film title itself refers to- a man. No bird gal. The Artist isn’t referring to Georgia O’Keeffe. No Country for Old Men; no movie for old women. No speech for the Queen. The man was a slave for twelve years; the tragic young woman in the film was a slave for her entire life.

 

Women are gaining more equality in most aspects of society. Heck, female CEOs make almost 80% of what their male employees earn. Things are getting better for women… except when it comes to what the Hollywood community considers an Oscar-caliber film.

 

On Oscar night, things for women have gotten worse. Oscar night is like a 1990s rap video of what Hollywood thinks of women.  

 

Among the Best Picture winners throughout the 1940s and 1950s were Rebecca, Mrs. Miniver, All About Eve, and Gigi

 

Do you know what they have in common? That’s right; Samuel L. Jackson was in all of them. Plus, women play a predominant role in the plots. I mean, I haven’t actually seen any of these films. But I assume they’re at least partially about Eve. Well, let me search Netflix to see if any of these films are streami… oooh, Cheers reruns!

 

Are you betting on this year’s Academy Award winners? If you want to increase your odds, take my advice and pick a movie about guys.

 

Personally, I enjoyed the last nine Oscar winners. Or at least I liked eight of them and I vaguely tolerated Birdman. But I’m not sure if any of those films were really the best movie of that year. There have been fantastic films during the past decade in which women starred. Yet, in 2014, if Birdman didn’t win, the Oscar would’ve gone to Boyhood (a boy growing into a man) or American Sniper (a man shooting stuff). A year earlier, if 12 Years a Slave didn’t win, the Oscar would’ve gone to Captain Philips (a man taken hostage by other men) or The Wolf of Wall Street (a rich man who dates models- I’m talking about Leonardo DiCaprio… but the movie was also about a man).

 

Traditional America has finally caught up to Hollywood’s lack of values. Meanwhile, when it comes to the Oscars, Hollywood is still lagging behind the rest of society. We are not afraid of movies with women. That’s why we go to see them. That’s why these movies are big hits. So tell us, Hollywood, what’s your excuse?

 

Here are the 2016 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…

 

The Big Short 

Bridge of Spies 

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

 

The Big Short is about men in the financial world. The Martian is a man. The Revenant is a man. Mad Max is man. The brilliantly hysterical Spy was about a female spy, Melissa McCarthy. But that fun movie wasn’t nominated. Instead, Bridge of Spies is nominated. That’s a lot of male spies on the bridge. The Room stars a man, Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote and directed the film. Brooklyn is about a woman.

 

I’ll bet my 1.5 billion-dollar winning lottery ticket on which of these movies doesn’t win Best Picture: Brooklyn.

 

As for which movie will be the winner, well, it will be the one with a spotlight on men… so… any of the other nominees. Take your pick.

 

Meanwhile, the actual best movie of the year is only nominated in the animation category. It’s called Inside Out. It’s about a little girl. 

 

1-10-16

HERE'S HOW TO RESPOND TO PEOPLE WHO SAY GUN CONTROL WON'T PREVENT MASS SHOOTINGS 

I believe in the Second Amendment. But I also believe we need laws that would eliminate loopholes at well regulated militia shows. 

Gun enthusiasts say, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Technically, couldn’t a bad guy with a gun also be stopped by another bad guy with a gun? Therefore, logically, we should supply bad guys with more guns.   

On the other hand, there are many things that can stop a good guy with a gun. Heart disease, for example. Statistically, people who own a gun for security are much more likely to die from health problems. Gun stores should sell salads.  

I’m interested in the gun control debate, but I’m not passionate about it. I figure that, in all likelihood, I probably won’t get shot. After all, I generally try to avoid high schools, shopping centers, movie theaters, college campuses, office buildings, public parks, restaurants, concert halls, and hunting trips with Dick Cheney. 

I understand one’s desire to own a handgun. If a thief broke into my home, I’d feel safer with a weapon nearby. One time, an intruder broke into my house and tried to steal my gun… so I stabbed him to death.  

I don’t really understand the urge to own an assault rifle, though… unless you plan on assaulting people. For what reason would you own an assault weapon? Do you think your home will be invaded by twenty elementary school children?  

Assault weapons are designed to assault people. But I guess it’s true what they say; the only thing that can stop a bad guy who is assaulting people is a good guy who is assaulting people. Assaulting is unhealthy. Heck, even a salt weapon will cause high blood pressure.  

Let’s be clear; Americans hate Congress because it’s a worthless pile of crap that does nothing about anything. Specifically, our Congressmen continue to ignore the gun violence in this country. We’re sick of it; and Congress hears us loud and muffled.  

Congress voted down a bill that would deny people on a federal terrorism watch list the ability to purchase guns. Our politicians don’t even want to take guns away from terrorists! Some of the current Presidential candidates want to prohibit Syrian refugees from entering the country out of fear the refugees might try to kill us. But if they do enter the country, those same politicians support the refugees’ right to own a M134 General Electric Minigun.  

Some Congressmen, in defense of denying gun access to people on the government’s no-fly list, claimed the list was flawed and unfair. They said that even Senator Ted Kennedy was on the list. Well, that might be true. But Ted Kennedy has been dead for many years. Does the Second Amendment apply to deceased Americans? I’ll be honest, though, based on his lifestyle back when he was alive, I’m not sure if I would’ve been very comfortable with a drunken Ted Kennedy holding a dangerous weapon… I mean, one that wasn’t attached to his body. 

But if you think there’s a problem with the no-fly list, then fix it, you worthless, lazy assholes! That’s why you’re in Congress. That’s why we’re paying you. In the meantime, however, keep guns away from people on the list. It’s like saying, “Well, some of the apples in this bag of poisonous apples might not be poisonous. So while you’re determining which ones are the good apples, I’ll be busy eating this bag of poisonous apples. Hey, look- this apple is Ted Kennedy! He was a bad apple.”    

Anytime there is a mass shooting, which happens every fourteen minutes or so- or at around the same frequency that Khloe Kardashian tweets about her vagina- the gun lobby wing of Congress flippantly argues that President Obama’s gun control regulations wouldn’t have prevented that particular tragedy, anyway. Hmm… well, on the other hand, those same gun control laws wouldn’t have stopped any gun successes, either. When you hear about a homeowner who used a gun to defend his house from someone trying to break in, how would the President’s sensible gun laws have prevented that situation? 

Congratulations on stopping that home intruder. How many guns did you need, how powerful did they have to be, how many rounds did they have to fire, how quickly did you need to purchase them, and what background check should not have been conducted in order for you to have protected your home that night?   

You know what you don’t hear? “We had a burglar last night. Thank God I was able to purchase a submachine gun, capable of shooting 600 rounds per minute, at the gun show right there on the spot with no background checks.” Did you know that you can stop most home invaders with just one shot? Maybe two.    

But here’s what you do hear… 

“Yeah, the school shooting was a tragedy, but those proposed gun laws wouldn’t have stopped it from happening, anyway.”  

And here’s my response… 

“Are you Nostradamus!? How the f*ck do you know?!  

Maybe those gun laws would have prevented horrible tragedies from happening. The United States has become a gun culture. We’re all about guns and violence and shooting people. The NRA is promoting guns, the NBA is carrying guns, and NWA is rapping about guns. Politicians are fighting for the rights of guns to carry concealed guns. Guns don’t kill people; people gun guns. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good gun with a gun. Americans are demanding their Third Amendment right to own a gun. This country’s love of guns has guns become guns so obsessive guns that it’s now guns considered “normal” to guns debate whether or not guns should guns guns guns. Jesus Christ Ted Nugent must have a tiny dick! 

Angry, mentally ill people aren’t particularly creative. Well, okay, I mean, there’s Kanye. But as a general rule, emotionally disturbed people are followers. They see violence, they act violent. They live within a culture of guns, they want to be part of that culture. When we glorify guns, they want some of that glory. Other countries don’t have the same amount of gun violence as we do. Are you saying that other countries don’t have mentally ill people? I doubt that. Have you ever watched a Japanese game show?  

I would argue that many of those mass shootings would never have happened had the shooters lived within a rational society of calm, normal human beings living under sensible, reasonable regulations.   

Regulations.  

This is the Second Amendment.  

 

              A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be

              infringed. And (Spoiler Alert!) Han Solo dies.  

 

Well regulated. That’s what gun control is- regulations.  

Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say we can’t have nuclear arms. But we regulate, as stated in the Constitution.  

You paid taxes when you bought your gun. That’s regulation. We impose regulations in order to maintain some sense of sanity. And this is what gun control laws do. Do you think the government should just hand out guns for free?! They’re guns- not condoms! (note: Stay away from the lambskin assault rifles. They’re unreliable. Last time I used one, a bullet got through.) 

Read the Second Amendment carefully. I think the founding fathers gave us an out. “… being necessary to the security of a free State…” In other words, when we enter a time when arms are no longer necessary or adequate to ensure the security of a free state, this amendment will phase itself out. Wiretapping, computer hacking, improperly labeled food: times change and guns are no longer associated with what it means to be free. You can’t use a gun to stop someone from stealing your credit card number on-line.  

A more accurate Second Amendment would’ve included “… the right of the people to drive their horse & buggy to a place where they could buy, keep, and bear Arms, shall not be infringed until that time we invent working toilets and we’re no longer living in the 19th century.…”    

Leading Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again.” America becomes a little less great with each gun murder. So how does Trump propose to stop gun violence? Arming law-abiding citizens who own guns with more guns? 

Make America great again by making it safer for all Americans to take a walk down the street without the legitimate concern that a weirdo like the Newton elementary school shooter- an introvert who never would’ve gotten a gun on his own- isn’t walking down that same street in a bad mood. I can’t believe that the path to making America great again involves sucking up to the gun lobby. What’s great about that?  

If only we could build a time machine and go back into the past, putting President Obama’s gun safety proposals into law. Lives would’ve been saved. The Newtown tragedy, as well as all those other mass shootings, would never have happened. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And, today, right now, Congress would still be useless, but we wouldn’t hate it as much. Heck, I’m already feeling more patriotic.  

Incidentally, I broke up with the woman who traveled back with me in our time machine because I just don’t see a future together.

Our government needs more sensible gun control laws. Things have gotten out of hand. I often disagree with the President on policy issues. But, in this case, I applaud his initiative.

Oh, and I’m not sorry about the Han Solo spoiler. The movie has made a billion dollars already. The secret’s out.

 

http://www.factcheck.org/2015/12/ted-kennedy-and-the-no-fly-list-myth/

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/gun-amendment-democrats-216389

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galanty-miller/have-you-heard-the-one-ab_5_b_3973561.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlx3GEsM1pQ

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/05/politics/obama-executive-action-gun-control/

 

1-2-16

ARE YOU OBSESSED WITH THROWING STUFF OUT? (or: THE SOCIOLOGY OF ANTI-HOARDING) 

It’s hard to keep track of all the new diseases: hoarding, obesity, alcoholism, sex-addiction, affluenza, commitment-phobia, whininess, laziness, that late afternoon sluggishness, etc.  

Nevertheless, I share an illness with millions* of other Americans. And nobody is talking about it. And nobody is writing about it. But it’s real; I am an anti-hoarder. I am a throw-outer. (not to be confused with throw-upper, which describes my recent attempt to get through an entire Donald Trump stump speech)  

*estimate 

Hoarders are unable to part with any of their unnecessary possessions. I, on the other hand, feel an overwhelming compulsion to rid myself of all unused or unnecessary electronic devices, extension cords, hangers, magazines, clothing, pens, picture frames, blan… excuse me for a sec. Do I really need this old alarm clock? Nah, I think I’ll toss it in the trash… kets, lamps, folding chairs, receipts, pillow cases, old sunglasses, two-year-old credit card statements, and all the other clutter that takes up the majority of space in a typical home.  

Often, famous people are hired as spokesmen to help raise awareness of an illness. My fellow anti-hoarders, take note. We need people like Justin Bieber or Kourtney Karadashian, popular** and beloved*** celebrities, to join the cause and educate America about this very serious problem.   

**estimate

*** rough estimate  

Other medical hurdles are harder to describe. I mean, one can’t truly describe what it feels like to be in a coma. (It’s like… you know how when you’re watching E! and Leonardo DiCaprio is speaking to world leaders about climate change, and so you quickly grab the remote to change the channel? A coma is sort of like if you weren’t able to change the channel.) You wouldn’t be able to explain an upset stomach to someone who has never had a stomachache. (It’s like… you know how… well, basically the Leonardo DiCaprio scenario again. My God celebrities are unbearable.)   

But explaining to the normal people what it feels like to be an anti-hoarder is easy. Here goes. What is the mall’s most crowded day of the year? No, it’s not Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. No, it’s not the day before Christmas. It’s the day after Christmas. The stores are flooded with people returning their horrible gifts. And why would Americans be willing to stand in such long, boring lines to return their holiday presents, when they could just as easily wait a couple of days when the stores are less crowded? Because people are so disgusted, so horrified by your crappy presents, they can’t even stand the thought of allowing these items to sit in their homes. Your friends and family hate your gifts so freakin’ much, it sickens them to think these things might be desecrating their living room floors for more than twelve hours. Your friends and family could barely sleep, just knowing that your garbage presents are so close by. So the next morning, they rush out to rid themselves of all your good-for-nothing dreck.   

This is what it feels like to be a throw-outer; it’s the overwhelming urgency to free oneself from the stuff you don’t need, want, or use. But it’s not just the day after Christmas; it’s all the time.  

Have you ever worn a jacket on a hot day? The physical discomfort compels you to take off the extra clothing. But it’s not just that. Rather, it’s so invigorating to remove the extra layers from your body. A physical sensation engulfs you. Anti-hoarders get and need this same sensation when they eliminate tangible things from their personal space. Does that make sense? If not, I also have a condom analogy that fifty* percent of you might understand.   

*estimate 

Perhaps you live with an anti-hoarder. While you’re relaxing on the couch in the evening, they are scurrying around the house like a headless chicken looking for stuff to throw out.  

And you know these conversations all too well.

 

“Honey, do you know where my headphones are? They were on the shelf, next to the TV.”

“Oh, you were still using those? I got rid of them. Sorry.”

 

“Sweetheart, what did you do with jeans, the ones with the ripped up knees that I like to wear?”

“Those things? I gave ‘em away to rummage.”

 

“Baby, where’s my class ring?”

“You’re not in class anymore. I threw it out.”

 

No. We’re not easy to live with. We’re annoying. But it’s not our fault. We can’t help it. Pity us. We crave extra open space, neat and tidy shelves, organized closets. We can’t stand when there is just a little shampoo left in the bottle. We purposely take more showers and use more shampoo- just as an excuse to toss the bottle into the recycling bin.   

Here’s a good rule of thumb for the typical throw-outer. Aside from your furniture and maybe a big television, squeeze as many of your possessions as you can into your car. The stuff that doesn’t fit? Throw it out.   

When I die, I want to fit my relatively small number of possessions into the coffin with me. And this will be so much more convenient for my loved ones... especially since I plan on being cremated. Because you know what happens when normal people die? Their family is burdened with the time-consuming task of discarding the deceased’s many, many possessions. Because whether or not you want to keep your crap, nobody else does.  

In the classic movie Heat, Robert DeNiro’s thief character famously tells Al Pacino, “Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” Anti-hoarders always feel the heat… I mean, at least in reference to our material objects. I think DeNiro was talking about people. Anti-hoarders love people; we just want people to keep only one toothbrush at a time.   

Heat is really an anti-hoarder movie. Now, it does kind of show the life of anti-hoarders as sad and lonely, making it really more of an anti-anti-hoarder movie. But to be fair, Hollywood has also come out with many films in which the protagonist gives away his possessions in order to live a more simple life; yes, there are many fine anti-anti-anti-hoarder movies. It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing anti-anti-anti-anti-hoarder movies. But I’m against that.  

There are no anti-hoarder television shows. I suppose Anti-Hoarders on A&E would not be as entertaining. Sort of like a TLC show about thin people trying to gain 700 pounds.   

Meanwhile, I offer these inspiring words to my fellow anti-hoarders. Until they come up with a cure, don’t sweat it. Despite our social status as less-than-human second-class citizens to be mocked, we are valuable, contributing members of society. So keep throwing stuff away. You didn’t need it, anyway. And should you come to regret any of your throwing-out decisions, should you decide you really did want to keep that bulky metal stapler or that half-tube of glue you haven’t used since 1996, remember this; you can always find more-or-less the same thing on eBay for a couple of bucks.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MImNGJNcvIc 

 

12-22-15

I DON'T THINK "THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN" SHOULD BE BANNED

Free speech in America officially began on December 15, 1791, the day the First Amendment was ratified. Our founding fathers were a group of very smart men and women of all races, religions, and gender-identities. And they understood that, hundreds of years later, the Constitutional principles of 1791 would remain unchanged. Our most important freedom, aside from having sex in airplane bathrooms, is the right to express one’s beliefs.  

When I was a kid, we’d hear about the crazy conservative religious zealots trying to ban books from public libraries and trying to ban songs from being played on the radio. But that has changed. Today, crazy conservative religious zealots are busy battling it out in Republican Presidential debates. Meanwhile, it’s the liberal left at the forefront of stopping unpopular ideas.    

The United States has gone batshit crazy… oops, didn’t mean to offend anyone with offensive language; I meant to write “batshit mentally ill.”

It was disturbing to read that a Philadelphia high school eliminated The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its English curriculum. A group of students in the school said the book made them “uncomfortable.” Yes, it’s important that we encourage kids to stay within their comfort zone. The school’s principal said that the book was “challenging for some students, who felt the school was not being inclusive.” But what’s wrong with feeling “challenged?” As a moviegoer, I’ll never forget, in Dead Poets Society, when Robin Williams challenged his students to seize the day by avoiding anything that might be challenging. Very inspiring. Carpe Don’t.    

The school’s principal went on to say, ““I do not believe that we’re censoring. I really do believe that this is an opportunity for the school to step forward and listen to the students.” We’re not even allowed to use words like “censoring” or “banned” anymore. Do you see the irony? As I explained to the policeman who stopped me on the highway for going eighty-two, “I do not believe that I was speeding. I believe this was simply my opportunity to drive fast.” Nevertheless, I’m not sure I’d call removing the most important work of literature in American history to be a “step forward.” Oh, and by the way, the students also hate math. So get rid of it.   

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an exciting, poetic tale, incorporating many of the same issues of racism and intolerance that we still grapple with today. First published in 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has stood the test of time, a work of genius that challenges (and, in 2015, reminds) one to think about the effects of slavery and society’s complex morality. So what book are you going to replace it with? Eat Pray Love?  

Yeah, I get it. This situation in Philadelphia is not really a Constitutional thing. There was no government ban. However, social censorship is like Mike Tyson biting the ear off of our nation’s ideals. Words are just words. Yet there has been a metamorphosis in the decline of free speech; we’ve gone from being challenged to being offended to being outraged to feeling marginalized. Heck, I go through this same emotional transformation anytime I read Kylie Jenner’s tweets. But that doesn’t mean we should ban the stuff Kylie says… I mean, if she actually said anything.   

Listen, as a general rule I totally support the complete removal, from every aspect of society, of absolutely anything related to absolutely anyone who says absolutely anything that might be remotely offensive to absolutely anyone. And if the only way to stop the horror of hurt feelings is total censorship of anything anyone might be actually thinking, then so be it.  

But The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is written objectively, without exaggeration or hyperbole or hate. The language in the novel is the language that was used at the time. We can’t deny the terrible past by pretending it didn’t exist. If we could, well then let’s agree that all those Barbara Walters celebrity interview specials never happened. (Barbara Walters thinks that Bradley Cooper is one of the ten most fascinating people of the year? You could probably wave around a piece of string in front of Barbara Walters and she would think it was fascinating… as long as the string was famous.  And in other news, beige is one of the most fascinating colors of the year.)   

And bringing this back to the Kardashians (since everything eventually comes back around to the Kardashians)…   

Words are like Kardashian boyfriends and husbands; when they go away, they’re immediately replaced- with a noticeable drop in quality.   

Don’t think for one moment that the deterioration of Mark Twain’s grand ideas will leave us with an empty space. Rather, that space quickly gets filled with trite, shallow, politically-correct nonsense posing as something relevant.  

Free speech has been replaced by me speech. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn isn’t about you. But the outrage over its existence is about you. The controversy is about you. And whatever crap you’re replacing it with is about you. Mark Twain wrote about the American spirit. Khloe Kardashian writes about her vagina. Free speech has been replaced with somehow making every single fucking thing about your precious, easily-offended feelings. It’s all about you.  

Free speech has been replaced by fake speech. The annoying exaggeration and hyperbole that now fills up the American lexicon are directly related to the erosion of real expression.  

It’s remarkable how people today are so intimidated not just by grand ideas- but by the subtlety and ambiguity often encompassed within those ideas. And when their generalities are challenged, the response is not a thoughtful, articulate reply. Rather, it’s to pout and demand things cater to their personal comfort.    

Well, censoring The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is wrong. You’re wrong. The world doesn’t always fit comfortably into your simplistic, idealistic self-importance. Nor should it. And now grand ideas have been replaced with ridiculous overstatements, with nobody around to say, “But maybe you’re wrong.” Actually, there are people saying that. But you’re not listening. Because to be confronted with a different view is offensive.  

Game of Thrones is not the greatest show in the history of television. Neither is Breaking Bad. Nor is The Walking Dead or Orange is the New Black or Homeland or Downton Abbey. They’re all good shows. But just because you enjoy a quality show does not make it the greatest show in the history of television.  

You just watched a show you dislike? Doesn’t make it the worst show in the history of television. Everything you dislike is not the worst thing ever. (Well, okay, unless maybe you just watched 2 Broke Girls.)  

Every movie you like is not a four-star film. Every good movie does not “deserve to be nominated for best picture.” Every movie at the Sundance Film Festival is not the greatest movie ever made.  

Every movie you hate is not the worst movie ever made. Every bad movie is not a “piece of shit.” Every stupid big-budget action movie does not “signal the end of Hollywood.”  

Everything is not a travesty. A star football player having to wait until the second round to be drafted is not a travesty. Your romantic breakup was not a travesty. The Star Wars prequels were not a travesty. Okay, Jar Jar Binks was a travesty. But (spoiler alert) I fast forward through the Jar Jar scenes.  

You don’t have the greatest friends in the whole wide world. Did your friend donate their kidney to you? No? Then what did he or she do to deserve the “greatest” title? Yeah, they took you out for a drink that time you were feeling down. Woo hoo! Throw them a goddamn parade and pin a “greatest friend ever” medal on their freakin’ shirt.  

Everyone with whom you disagree politically is not evil. All Republicans are not evil. All Democrats are not evil. Adolph Hitler was evil. I can’t stand Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O’Donnell, either. But neither of them invaded Poland.  

And stop comparing everyone to Hitler. Hitler murdered twelve-million people for the crime of being different. George Bush was not Hitler. Barack Obama is not Hitler. Only Hitler was Hitler. And maybe Tom Brady.   

Calm your fragile, political sensitivities down.  

You’re not moving to Canada if Donald Trump becomes President. You’re not going to go live in a bunker if Hillary Clinton becomes President. You’re not going to change a single thing about your lifestyle. There. Now go back to posting your political Facebook memes.  

Yes, I agree the thought of a President Trump is pretty scary and somewhat embarrassing. But haven’t you been listening to his speeches? Once he gets into office, he’s going to bring in the best, most phenomenal people ever to advise him.  

Yes, you like that singer’s album. Doesn’t make them a musical “genius.” Everyone is not a musical genius. In fact, nobody is a musical genius. Albert Einstein was an actual genius. Some people are gifted with vast musical talent and ability. But some dudes are gifted with the talent and ability to fart loud; they’re not farting geniuses.  

Everyone isn’t a hero. Everyone isn’t brilliant. And your boyfriend isn’t so amazing.  

Everything isn’t phenomenal. Every stroke of good luck isn’t a miracle. Every coincidence isn’t eerie. The Grand Canyon is extraordinary. Your graduation party? Not so much.    

And this doesn’t put things into “perspective.” Stop saying that! Nothing puts anything else into perspective. We don’t need a deadly hurricane to put the insignificance of a baseball game into perspective. If you don’t already know what is and is not important, you’re a moron… which really puts most of your opinions into perspective.   

Your occupational choice doesn’t, by definition, make you a hero. Having a disease doesn’t, by definition, make you brave. And, by definition, nothing you do, say, admit, express, reveal, display, perform, apologize for, or acknowledge on YouTube, The View, or the cover of any major magazine makes you courageous. The self-absorbed attempt to become more famous doesn’t take courage; it takes gall. And, yes, that includes you, guy who lost three-hundred pounds but is insecure about all the extra loose skin.   

No actor, athlete, politician, or wealthy entrepreneur ever deserves an award for being an actor, an athlete, a politician, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Those most deserving of acclaim are those whose selfless acts usually go unnoticed and unappreciated by the masses. Off the top of my head, I can name at least four-thousand people more deserving of accolades than whoever wins next year’s Best Supporting Extra in a Television Mini-Series or Dog Food Commercial or whatever the frick they’re crapping out awards for these days.  

Get the hell over yourself, America!  

You want to censor speech? Then let’s ban the following expressions… 

“… shocked the nation.”

“… an unimaginable crime…”

“… did the unthinkable…”  

Slavery existed up until 1865. For the next hundred years, people of different races were legally, violently segregated in schools, restaurants, hotels, etc. And yet a school shooting is unimaginable? A violent college campus rape is unthinkable? We’re shocked that it didn’t work out with Juan Pablo and Nikki?  

If America really lost its innocence every time I heard someone on the news say that America lost its innocence, then America’s current innocence would fall somewhere between Bernie Madoff and a pretty young Russian woman marrying a sweaty old guy for the green card. 

We have reached the hyperbolic fake outrage zenith. Hence, it’s no longer enough that we just pretend to be incensed over semi-offensive moments of minor significance. It’s no longer enough to slightly praise that which is sort of kind of impressive. Now we must dig through the dirt of random tweets and off-hand remarks and private phone conversations- absurd ridiculousness of absolutely no social significance whatsoever- to pronounce outrage and to call on their banishment. And we have to scour the Internet in search of pointless feel-good stories to celebrate and pseudo-heroes to applaud. And where does all this ridiculousness start? A school administrator, succumbing to pressure, eliminates Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum.   

Nevertheless, intelligent people can distinguish between the serious and the silly, the important and the trivial. And rational people can articulate the reasons why certain circumstances are inappropriate and should even be eliminated, rather than form an immediate and hypocritical self-congratulatory mob-like screech to vanish whatever they happen to find offensive that day. Or at least they used to… back when being rational wasn’t the worst thing in the world… back when teenagers still read Mark Twain in school.    

Without hyperbole, without exaggeration, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the most important novel in American history. And it should be treated with respect.  

Oh, and your baby isn’t the cutest baby ever.  

http://articles.philly.com/2015-12-12/news/68963005_1_huckleberry-finn-n-word-central-school

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/school-removes-huckleberry-finn_566dc65be4b011b83a6b9c75

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/photos/barbara-walters-presents-10-fascinating-people-2015-35764667/image-35786058

 

12-16-16

HERE'S WHAT THEY'RE NOT TELLING YOU ABOUT TRANSGENDER BATHROOMS

I’m a proponent of transgender bathrooms. I also support same-sex marriage, gender-neutral divorce, pansexual kitchens, lesbian pornography, asexual poetry, and bigender guest houses. I am not a proponent of heterosexual guys who claim to be your best friend since high school but then when you were supposed to meet up last Friday night to see the new Hunger Games movie they cancel at the last minute with some lame excuse about having to work late. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mitch.  

Traditionally, public bathrooms have been separated by sex; there’s the Men’s Room and the Ladies’ Room. Or, if you dine at the Outback Australian Steakhouse, there’s a room for Blokes and for Sheilas. Or, if you need to use the restroom at the Academy Awards ceremony, there’s a Men’s Room and a Ladies-Under-Thirty Room. For women over thirty? There aren’t any restrooms… or roles. 

Recently, schools and businesses have begun designating transgender- or “gender-neutral”- bathrooms in order