The Divorce Everyone Saw Coming

Whoa now! SPOILER ALERT! I hadn't had a chance to watch the Kim Kardashian four-hour wedding special yet, and now the ending has been ruined for me. Geez, media, why not have some consideration for the TV-watching public?

On second thought, why not have some consideration for decency? I actually literally shed a tear while seeing all of the Kardashian divorce coverage today - not because I'm emotionally invested but because it wrecks me to see that this is what America cares about. I know it's not an original gripe to say, "How is this news?", but this entertainment story is especially infuriating because everyone knew this wedding was a sham from the start. And now we have to go through the motions of the divorce, too? There are legitimate newsworthy stories going on in the world right now, but instead everyone (including ME apparently) is "keeping up" more readily with a professional fame whore.

We are suckers. Don't watch her show, don't buy her magazines, don't perpetuate her fame. I say this as a reality television addict, too. Watching attention whores is amusing - so long as they're failing. The appeal of reality television is that people debase themselves just to get looked at. They want to be famous, but the real "fifteen minutes" rule is that fifteen minutes after the show goes off the air, they are forgotten. Sure, there are some exceptions, but we can't let one as big as Kim perverse this otherwise enjoyable system.

She marries, she win$. She divorces, she win$. She sneezes, she win$$$. Fuck her and her scripted life that so many people buy into it. She's not royalty, fuck, she's not even interesting. Let Kim embarrass herself publicly all she wants, but PLEASE don't let her profit from it. We should all be less concerned about her divorce and more concerned with the fact that we've created a monster.


Halloween Playlist

Is Halloween over yet? I can't believe I still have three more nights of costumes and staying up to ungodly hours. Last night was great though. Leave it to Halloween to get me dancing harder than I have in ages. I helped create the playlist for a party last night and - not to toot my own horn - we were dancing until our legs gave in. I avoided the cliches (you want "Thriller", "Ghostbusters", "The Monster Mash"? - go to every other party) and found songs that embodied the Halloween spirit either in sound, lyrics, or title. You're gonna need this 40-song playlist to do Halloween properly:

Zombie - Cranberries
Run to Your Grave - Mae Shi
Enjoy the Silence - Depeche Mode
Danger (High Voltage) - Electric Six
Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Toxic - Britney Spears
Ready or Not - Fugees
Du Hast - Rammstein
Walking with a Ghost - Tegan & Sara
Disturbia - Rihanna
We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives - Los Campesinos
Nightcall - Kavinsky
Everybody - Backstreet Boys
Spooky - Dusty Springfield
Beautiful People - Marilyn Manson
Werewolf Bar Mitzvah - Tracy Morgan
Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
Possum Kingdom - Toadies
Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Crossroads - Bone Thugs N Harmony
Spiderwebs - No Doubt
Creep - TLC
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Obsession - Animotion
S&M - Rihanna
Southside - Moby & Gwen Stefani
Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm
Your Woman - White Town
She Wolf - Shakira
Machinehead - Bush
Dance the Way I Feel - Ou Est Le Swimming Pool
My Boo - Ghost Town DJs
Animal I Have Become - Three Days Grace
Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox
The Girl and the Robot - Royksopp & Robyn
Infected - Bad Religion
In a Dream - Rockell
Tearin' Up My Heart - N Sync
Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
Twisted - Keith Sweat

Download it here: Halloween Dance Time


The Surprise Pallbearer Returns

My grandmother passed away last week. She was a lovely woman (and former beauty pageant queen) who will be missed dearly by my family.

The funeral was rough on me, mainly because it was difficult watching my mom cry. How do you deal with that sight, other than crying yourself? I think the minister put it best when he said that we grieve at funerals because we must confront our own mortality. That's a heavy thing to deal with, and why I don't make it a habit of attending acquaintances' funerals... it's just too much.

But there is an old man named Herb in New York state who seems to thrive on it. I first "met" him five years ago at my other grandmother's funeral. He had been acquainted with her husband decades earlier and showed up at the funeral, which at first seemed nice, but then got weird when he appointed himself a pallbearer at the last minute, even though none of us knew who he was. So the pallbearers were six young grandkids plus this extra old guy who I'm sure my grandmother wouldn't even remember even if she hadn't had Alzheimer's.

Anyway, I still chuckle about the surprise pallbearer sometimes, but I never thought I'd see Herb again. But then he showed up, five years later, at my other grandmother's funeral. He arrived an hour before the service started, at least half an hour before anyone other than immediate family arrived. My grandfather sort of remembered the guy as a fellow community member from back in the day, but seemed confused as to why he would be there.

So it seems like Herb is a funeral crasher. Maybe this old guy just really likes to face mortality head on. Unfortunately for him, Herb wasn't able to insert himself as a pallbearer this time, but I bet he might have tried had my family not given him the cold shoulder. I joked years ago that I wanted to make pallbearing a hobby, but now that I've done it twice, I feel like I'd be glad not to have to do it again for a good long while. I'm sure Herb would be happy to assist, though. If you should find yourself short a pallbearer - or just want a bonus one - give Herb a shot. I don't actually know the guy, so I can't help you get in touch with him, but there's a pretty good chance he might just be at the funeral already anyway.


Part of Your World

Ugh ugh ugh. A half hour stay on the plane layover in Las Vegas is cruel beyond words. I really relate to Ariel right now.


Funny Bunny

This is me on my first Halloween at just four months of age. What a happy bunny I am. Or not. It seems pretty cruel to put babies who can't even sit up straight in ridiculous costumes for your own amusement.*

*Anne Geddes being the sole exception. That woman is a fucking genius.


Love Is in the Air

"You realize he's gay, right?"
- 13-year-old girl next to me on a plane to her mother who was shamelessly flirting with the flight attendant. He did give mom an extra bag of Wheat Thins, so her effort wasn't entirely futile.


Begley's Best

I found this bottle with some other cleaning supplies under the sink. I'm not convinced that this isn't just a prop from an old Saturday Night Live parody. Who knew there was a market for environmentally-friendly cleanser with Ed Begley Jr.'s face on it?

Also, why is it dressed in ribbons as if it's the belle of the household cleaner supply ball?

It actually works pretty effectively, so good on you, Mr. Begley.


Ellen Feiss

You ever decide to retroactively have a crush on a drugged teenager from a decade ago?

Forget the IPod, student Ellen Feiss is the best thing that Apple ever produced.

I love her impression of a PC ("BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP"), I love her near Scooby Doo grunt of confusion, ("Enh?"), and I love her confidence in her own writing abilities. It's a "bummer" she's not still part of our day-to-day lives. I'd be willing to switch a lot of things for her.

I did a little stalking researching (it's okay, she's not 14 anymore, folks), and found this interview. Here are six important Ellen Feiss facts:

1. Her wardrobe is what she wore to school that day.
2. Her friend's dad directed the commercial. She came by the set to watch, not be filmed, but got coaxed in front of the camera to share her story.
3. It's a true story. Her essay was a 15-pager about Chinatowns throughout America for history class.
4. Though she's been high before, she wasn't on marijuana during filming. She did take Benadryl, though.
5. She likes Nelly Furtado and Sleater Kinney.
6. She has "no comment" on whether she's single.

I think I might need to be Ellen Feiss for Halloween this year.


Now This Is the Story All About How

I spent last weekend in Chinatown dressed like the Fresh Prince.

Multiple people asked me to do the Carlton dance. And while it was kind of annoying because I was clearly Will, not Carlton, I can much more easily snap around dorkily than legitimately get jiggy wit it, so I obliged. You don't have to worry about having shame when wearing a mask.


Occupy Wall Street Is the Movement I've Been Hoping for

I’ve long thought the Tea Party is genius. I’m not saying that of their ideas, but to form a splinter group that pushes an agenda their political party was ignoring and achieve actual sway is a remarkable feat. I was envious that we didn’t have a similar group of liberal youth pushing for our own reform. My friends and I joked that such a group could be called the “Pizza Party”, because who doesn’t like a pizza party? Now Occupy Wall Street stands for the same ideals that I hoped the Pizza Party would, minus the pepperoni.

I didn’t immediately jump on the Occupy bandwagon. The first time I went down to Occupy LA, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, buying into the common critique of “what do they stand for?” and “what are the demands?” Then I read this powerful speech by the wise Naomi Klein (which I urge you to read), which opened my eyes to the idea that we can’t simplify an agenda to a short list when really the goal is to change the underlying values of our society. Democracy somehow went from “for the people, by the people” to “for the corporations, by the corporations”.

I’ve grown up believing in capitalism, but the powers that be have lost me in recent years. Their lying, cheating, hoarding, and demanding more when they already have the most have all disenchanted me to the system. If only corporations played fairly or even decently, they’d still have a believer in me. If only they made even a half-assed attempt to make it look like they weren’t trying to take everything at the expense of others, many of us would still be content to play along. But rather than maintaining a structure where they could have an majority, the 1% continually pushes to literally have it all, and we have no choice but to push back.

As corporations merge and conglomerate, stronger consolidations of power form that we lack the control to vote out. Monopolies do not benefit society at large. We’ve all played the board game, and while some games taking longer than others, there’s always only one result in the end – one person who has everything, while everyone else is bankrupt.

That’s not what I want. I want campaign finance reform, I want money out of politics, and I want people in charge of their own democracy – not corporations that have so generously been given the status of a person in the eyes of the law. I want a country where our failing educational system is finally a priority. The 1% only stands to benefit from others’ ignorance, so we can’t count on them to fix it for us.

A lot of people dismiss the Occupy movement because “that’s just the world we live in.” But the thing is, the people make the world we live in. And if we have a system that doesn’t benefit most of us, we need to reclaim this power to make it right. Moreover, we have to turn the tides sooner than later; the more power we concede, the harder it will be to gain back.

I’m not saying it will be easy, I’m not saying we have all of the answers, but no matter what the critics say, it’s not a waste of time. When you’re protesting for what’s fair, decent, and right… when you’re protesting to make the world a better place… what better use of your time is there? It’s time to #Occupy.


The Power Cord

Once again my Macbook power cord has crapped out after only about a year of use. Then again, I guess it's no surprise that a Steve Jobs product would expire prematurely. Oh shut up, the only thing that's "too soon" is how quickly my power cord went.

Before buying a new one, I tried to research how to fix the cord myself. This process involved cutting some of it apart and trying to rejoin some of the inner wires. Because I had no clue what I was doing, I was unsuccessful, but I figured there was no harm in breaking an already broken item.

The next morning, I went straight to the Apple store because I use my computer for my livelihood. Thinking ahead, I brought the power cord I decapitated with me in my pocket in case I needed to see which size to purchase. This move was unnecessary, however, because the "Genius" told me exactly what I needed to buy.

When purchasing the cord ($80 - you don't suppose they make them that fragile on purpose, do you?), I accidentally knocked the power cord head out my pocket while grabbing my wallet. It hit the floor and the Genius literally gasped at the sight. I nervously laughed, and he just said, "My God."

I forgot about how much Apple people love their products. While I'd guess he was accustomed to dealing with broken power cords, I doubt he usually sees them dismembered, with frayed wires spilling from it's neck. I actually felt judged as we finished the transaction for the new cord, as if he thought I was some murderer who couldn't be trusted to be responsible with a new one.

If he was that distraught over the cord, I would have to imagine he took a bereavement day when he heard the news about Steve Jobs.


Happy Columbus Day

I love how everyone's getting extra feisty about Christopher Columbus this year. He got lost on the way to where he was actually trying to go. He "discovered" land that was already inhabited. He murdered and swindled the new people he encountered. They all seem like good reasons not to honor a man with a holiday.

But then, some of the people who despise Columbus are also pissed that they didn't get today off. Good-for-nothing lazy liberals! Am I right?

I decided to honor Columbus and take the day off because I could. In fact, I gave all of my coworkers the day off, too. When I saw Columbus Day coming up a few weeks ago, I wrote "DAY OFF" all over the calendars and nobody questioned it. To be clear, I don't have this sort of authority, but I do write up the production schedule, and even though we didn't take it off last year, I took some liberties and added it as a company holiday myself. Last week my boss was like, "Oh, we have Monday off?" which should have been her call, but she just accepted it as fact and took the day off, too. Given what an incompetent dick Columbus was, I think he'd be proud of my accomplishments.


Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

This old man rides by my house every day.

The first few times I saw him go by I wondered where he was going on a little girl's bike, but then I noticed he does laps around the block, so it's likely an exercise thing.

Biking in sandals is funny, but it's his helmet that really kills me - and maybe him one day, too. Does he really think a fake plastic Yankees helmet will protect him if he gets in an accident? Perhaps that's why he always rides on the sidewalk, even though there are rarely any vehicles traveling on the street.

I have so many questions for this man, but in the meantime I'll settle for just sneaking peeks at this absurd scene from my window.


Human Lactation

Yo, check out this giant framed poster of the cover of The Journal of Human Lactation.

My friend works in academic publishing, and I guess in that industry, your clients reward you with large, awkward tokens of gratitude. First her coworkers debated whether they were obligated to hang it in their office, and once the conclusion was no, they had to decide what to do with it instead.

To make a long story short: Happy Birthday, Kevin!

It's proudly displayed in my home now, obviously.


My Shameful Rise to Grammar Superiority

It's no secret that I'm a nerdy grammar fan. I not only have grammar conversations for fun, but I also headed a grammar parade float for three years. The source of my grammar obsession is actually a shameful story that most people would never admit to; fortunately for you, I'm willing to blog my most shameful stories.

In third grade, there was a kid with Down syndrome named "Bruce" in my class. Well sort of, most of Bruce's day was spent in special education classes, but he made appearances in the main class occasionally. At one point he popped in while the rest of my class was receiving a grammar lesson.

"Oh, Bruce can do that!" Bruce's aide told my teacher while the lesson was in progress. I didn't believe it, of course. I was struggling to understand the whole subject/predicate thing myself, so how would Bruce ever understand that? Besides, there's no way his special class would be ahead in the text book of where my "normal" class was.

Bruce went to the board and answered all of the questions correctly, several of which I had gotten wrong on my own sheet. As Bruce beamed with pride, the girls in the class all clapped for him in a condescending manner. My response, although private, was even more condescending. How could a "retarded" kid be smarter than me at something? I couldn't stand it when any of my classmates was better than me at anything, so I definitely was upset when the kid in special ed was superior at grammar.

That night, we didn't even have homework, but I still took my grammar book home with me to start learning ahead of the assignments. I'd be damned if I would be made to feel that dumb again!

And I think that's how my love of grammar began... while trying to rectify a feeling of inferiority. Perhaps it's no coincidence that grammar lovers often use their knowledge to make others feel inferior.

Yeah, I'm ashamed of my third grade reaction in retrospect, but at the same time, that moment could be largely responsible for the person I became: a high school English teacher and copyeditor. Looks like someone learned how to excel at grammar after all! I wonder if Bruce can say the same. (That's awful, I know. I only said it because it's awful, I swear. I actually hope he's doing really, really well. And I mean that even more sincerely than Steven's sister.)


San Dimas: Home of the Bar Brawl

I moved to Los Angeles proper a couple of years ago to add some excitement to my life, but I still believe that the best adventures take place on the outskirts of Los Angeles county. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Sam Dimas (home of Bill & Ted!) to see my friends' band play at a bowling alley bar, and the experience was delightfully trashy. The place was full of twenty-year-old bros and hos and a few eccentrics. I'm guilty of not paying too much attention to the band because the people-watching was so ripe. Let's start with the eccentrics:

* Boat Guy: an middle-aged, short gentleman with a ridiculous picture of his boat embroidered on the back. Not sure how he found his way into this bar, but he had a lady friend (twice his size in each direction) who must have had a thing for boats considering that she kept putting her tongue in his ear. Things got so amorous that they fled for the parking lot before even finishing their drinks.

* Golf Hat Guy: a dude who was doughier and a bit more preppy than most of the buff bros in the place, but he still managed to bag one of the bleach blond girls. (Every girl in the bar had the same fake color hair.) As he danced with his new friend, he couldn't wipe the "how-did-I-get-so-lucky" grin off his face and would clench his fist in victory when she'd rub her butt against him. Occasionally, she'd pull her top down to show him (and a hundred other people, whether she realized that or not) her boobs and he'd wriggle with excitement while pointing at his Titleist hat. "It's the hat, it's the hat!" he'd brag to everyone.

* Cowboys: a group of dudes with cowboy hats, buckles, and boots, looking just short people in bad costumes. I wasn't close enough to hear any of their conversations, but REAL cowboys, guys!

* Over-Sexual Grandma: Probably the oldest person in the bar, she came in making out with a man, then proceeded to flirt with every other younger guy in the room. After freak dancing with a few gentleman, she asked if I'd like to take her for a spin, but I declined, pointing out that her man-friend, who had been glaring at her, seemed a little jealous. "He let's me do what I want, he knows I'm young at heart!" she insisted. Except that she ended up dancing with one too many dudes, because they were soon in a fight and all of her apologizing and cheek kissing wasn't enough to placate him and she left in tears.

But again, the real excitement was just the sea of bros. They were mere feet from us, so I had to routinely cover my face so they wouldn't catch me reacting to every dumb thing they said and did. It was like watching a National Geographic special on assholes, except that I could reach out and touch them... or they could touch us, as it wound up transpiring.

Michael called it well before it happened. A chick (blond, obviously) had come in with her boyfriend, but then was spending a lot of time talking to another dude. The boyfriend start fuming and rather than expressing his displeasure with words, he went right in with a fist. One punch spurred dozens more, as there were at least 20 bros that wound up getting involved in the fight. A sad excuse for a security guard tried to come break up the fight, but against that many buff dudes, he just ended up getting attacked, too. Organically, the brawling mob started moving across the bar. Someone would try to flee and another guy would chase and soon they'd all be moving as some uncontrollable pack. Unfortunately, the scene went from funny to dangerous when the fight came crashing into our table. Allison had dudes land on her, another guy got his head slammed against the table, and we all had to get out of our seats and back away to avoid being injured.

Finally the fight stopped, thanks in no part to the ineffective security guard. The management tried to kick them all out, but they wanted to stay and have "one more shot" before leaving. They found it incomprehensible that the bartenders refused to serve them, got livid, and finally stormed out not because the police had arrived, but because they couldn't get a drink. I couldn't get served either because for some reason I had been lumped in with the bros until some fellow patron was like, "Come on, does he look like one of them? Give him his drink!" and finally I got my $7 pitcher.

The funniest line of the night came from my friends in the band: "Looks like we can't play Sheryl Crow anymore." In the past, they've had to stop performing Rage Against the Machine at certain bars because it riles the crowd up too much, but in this instance they were playing a Sheryl Crow cover when the violence erupted. Who knew she had the power to provoke a twenty-person brawl?

For obvious reasons, this is now my favorite bar. I don't care that it's a half hour drive, if anyone wants to make the trip to San Dimas, I'm game.


How Are You?

Let's be honest: the majority of the time we ask someone how they're doing, we don't care. It's a pleasantry. It's a go-to question after you exchange "hello"s that buys you time before having to think of something more substantial to add to the conversation. In the best brief conversations, you might not even have to go further than the obligatory back and forth "how are you?"s.

Need more proof that these questions are useless filler? We only want certain answers to this question: "Good" "I'm doing well" "Things are great" "Yeah, it's been pretty good" and other such variants are all acceptable answers. While a good friend can shoot it to you straight about what's going on, acquaintances must respond positively to your inquiry. When you're only checking in someone every so often, you don't want to hear about his crap.

For this reason, I am constantly taken aback when a recent acquaintance of mine doesn't play by the rules. Every time I ask him how he's doing after greeting him, he'll make a pained expression and give a purposely unconvincing "I'm okay". That of course prompts me to follow up to make sure things aren't awful, to which he shakes his head and says, "Just okay, that's it, things are just okay." He also doesn't even do the obligatory ask-back. That would normally be rude, but in this circumstance, I wouldn't want to say how I'm feeling, given that he's managed to depress me in the meantime.

And for real, slight variations on this have happened several times in the past few months. Not once has he been good or even pretty good, always just a clearly forced "okay." As I don't know him well enough to find out what's actually going on his life, I've made it a point to just stop asking him so I don't have to go through this awkward ritual. Except that the "how are you?" pleasantry is so ingrained in my life that I start asking it without even thinking and then catch myself only after it's too late.

Recently, I watched another friend ask this acquaintance how he was doing, and the same sad scene played out. After the acquaintance left, she said, "Well that was weird!" Then a third person interjected, "He is the only person I never ask how he's doing because he's always too sad and honest about it." "I thought I was the only one!" I replied.

So remember, when someone you don't know that well asks you how you're doing, you're "good." That is the response. I don't care if your dog ran away. I don't care if you're $40,000 in debt. I don't care if you only have five more minutes to live. If that's the case, just answer the pleasantry and help end the conversation more quickly and painlessly, then you can go on trying to make the most of whatever time you have left.


This Is What Democracy Looks Like





I'm concerned that my penchant for literalism is interfering with my ability to protest effectively.