Sandy's His Name If You Please

I wonder if a whole song went into naming this hurricane Sandy?

I've never been part of naming a hurricane, but I have been part of naming a hurricane-focused essay. When Heather needed a title for her undergraduate thesis on the gender politics of Hurricane Katrina, I suggested, "Why Don't They Call It a Him-icane?" I don't know whether she went with that title, but let's assume she did, and let's also assume it's the sole reason she was given an honors distinction. You're welcome, Heather.

Watching all of the Hurricane Sandy footage on television, it's easy to forget that I'm not actually hiding inside from a hurricane. Then when I go outside it's like, "Oh, yeah, I'm in sunny Arizona."

I'm here visiting with a couple of people who have business jobs on the east coast, emphasis on the coast. They are NOT happy about how Hurricane Sandy is disrupting their jobs. "They better not close Wall Street, we have important trades that need to happen!" One wanted to make sure his office stayed open anyway, because no flooding would affect the employees on the thirty-somethingth floor anyway. Easy call for you to make on the behalf of other people when you're thousands of miles away from the problem.  It seems to me that - every once in a while - it may be useful to indicate to your employees that you value their safety over additional profits, even if it winds up just being a symbolic gesture.

Whether Hurricane Sandy winds up being as destructive as predicted is yet to be seen. But if the storm is over-hyped, it's at the hands of the corporate bankrolled politicians and corporate owned media. If Wall Street is upset at how it is being impeded for no reason, it only has itself to blame. Sometimes, it's okay for rich people to not make additional money. Sometimes.

Unless you're US Weekly, in which case, by all means, reference a tragedy flippantly, then carry on with business as usual.  


Clean Up Your Poop

On my way to the train station today, from a bit of a distance, an old man angrily shouts at me, “Make sure to clean up your poop!” I’m a little taken aback and just kind of sputter a, “What…?” He gets a little bit closer, “Oh, I thought you were walking a dog.” Nope, I’m not with a dog, I’m just pulling a little suitcase on wheels. Part of me appreciates how diligent he is at his self-appointed neighborhood watch post in the crusade against improperly disposed dog crap, but the other part of me wants to shout back “Maybe you should keep your mouth shut if you can’t tell the difference between a suitcase and a dog, old man!” Even if they did look similar, what kind of person takes his dog for a walk by dragging it behind him?


It's Difficult to Remember

"When is Oktoberfest? November?" - Christine


Live While We're Young

I heard the new One Direction song, "Live While We're Young" in the car tonight, and I enjoyed it so much I couldn't help but clap at the end.

It's not a good song, just predictable pop shit, but I got a kick out of how sexy the lyrics are. And by "sexy" I mean that the song is about sex. Not maybe about sex, definitely about sex. 

The chorus: "Let's go crazy crazy crazy 'til we see the sun/I know we only met but let's pretend it's love/And never never never stop for anyone/Tonight let's get some and live while we're young."

And my favorite verse: "Hey girl it's now or never, it's now or never/Don't over-think just let it go/And if we get together yeah get together/Don't let the pictures leave your phone." In other words, I'm never going to see you again, so we should probably just bang now. And promise me you won't share any photos - I have an image to upkeep.

It's precisely that image that makes this song so hilarious. One Direction's audience is primarily preteen girls, and they thrive with them because they've cultivated a pretty wholesome image. Releasing a single where they celebrate sleeping with young strangers kind of puts that in jeopardy.

One Direction, we already know, there's no need for you to sing about. You're cute, rich, and famous, so we assume you sleep around. But like Bieber before you, you've got to say you're virgins to appease the moms and young girls who buy your music even if everyone else outside of those demographics knows better. 

If you want to throw some innuendo into your songs, fair game, but you also need some plausible deniability. I just can't wait for the parents to start hearing their 11-year-olds screaming the refrain "Tonight let's get some!" and banning their kids from listening to the songs that they previously assumed where chaste. 

All the same, I think I have a growing adoration for this boy band, and not just because of this inappropriate sex song. Firstly, their best song is a blatant Backstreet Boys ripoff. Secondly, their hit song, "What Makes You Beautiful", doesn't make any sense. (If a girl doesn't know she's beautiful, and that's what makes her beautiful, then telling her she's beautiful would then make her ugly, right?) And thirdly, as Melinda has pointed out to me, they can't dance.

When is the last time you've seen a boy band without serious choreography? Maybe they're just pioneers like that, but you know their management must have brought in some of the best dance coaches in the world to work with these boys before deciding it was hopeless. So instead they just do a lot of walking and jumping in their videos and on-stage performances.

I mean, hey, as long as they're still getting laid, right?    


Flash Mountain

While at Disneyland, Christine attempted to make her Splash Mountain photo a little more exciting by using her scarf as a prop to pretend to hang herself as the log flume took its plunge. After the ride, she went to check out the results, but her photo never appeared on the screen. Instead, she was scolded by an employee for trying to "ruin Disneyland's magic". 

Granted, pantomimed suicide is sort of tacky, but you'd think that people who operate a ride based on a notoriously racist film could stand to be a little less judgmental. I proposed staging a Topless Splash Mountain event in protest, and Mike asked, "You mean Flash Mountain?" "Oh, that's a way better pun," I acknowledged. "No, it's a real thing," he explained.

Indeed, it must be true because Snopes says so. There's visual evidence, too, at a website that I've somehow been unaware of all my life which features women who have exposed their breasts on Splash Mountain. Apparently, the good folks at Disney can't filter out every inappropriate image. 

You might prefer - as I did - to look at the boobs in an animated sequence. I applaud these women - they are not "ruining" Disneyland's magic, but enhancing it. 


I Want to Be a Brony

How many episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic do I have to watch before I can consider myself a brony?

Two? Can it be just two? Because I don't think I can handle anymore. But I'm really fascinated by the subculture and want to call myself a brony without actually doing the homework.

When I saw the series on Netflix Instant, I figured, why not? I remember watching My Little Pony as a kindergartener, and I know that plenty of 20-and-30-something-year-old men watch its current iteration because I read it on the internet so it must be true. 

I actually quit partway through the first episode, but then Allison - who I think is shaping up to be a pegasister (the female counterpart to a brony) - encouraged me to finish it, and then it was a to-be-continued episode, so we watched the second episode, too.

Even though I want to completely throw in the towel, I keep going back to a quote from a man named Allen in the Wired article I linked earlier: "As a person with Asperger syndrome, I learned more about theory of mind, friendships, and social interactions from this season than I had in the previous 31 years of life."

Indeed, if there's one lesson I learned from the two episodes I saw, it's that friendship IS magic. They really drove that theme home. And maybe if I keep watching, I can befriend guys who hold conventions, dress up like ponies, and discuss a cartoon geared for young girls in detail. Now that would be magical!     



I went to an Occupy event a couple of weeks ago, and I was surprised at how well-attended it was. There had to be at least a thousand people, and it looked uncharacteristically professional with a whole of bunch of tents. 

I walked up to someone standing by the information table and asked where the classes were being held. "I'm sorry, I'm deaf," she said and signed. 

Whoops, what are the odds I would approach someone that can't hear to ask for directions? I decided to see if I could locate the classes or a familiar face myself. As I wandered, I passed by multiple people using sign language. Hmm, Occupy must have done some successful outreach to the deaf community, I thought.

Then I noticed a large sign for "DEAFestival". Drug Enforcement Agency? Is this a blatant attempt to scare the Occupiers away? Only after I saw more people signing to each other did it hit me. Not DEA Festival. DEAF-estival! Geez, they might not have their hearing, but they've got one up on me who seems to be lacking his brain.

On the opposite corner from DEAFestival, I saw a police officer issuing a citation to a woman who had taped a handmade sign to a tree that read "Kids' Village" to designate an area for the children to play. Targeted police harassment? That must be Occupy! They were a smaller bunch. A dirtier bunch. And yes, a louder bunch. With all due respect to the deaf community, these were my people. 


Nerd Alert!

We realize that this sticker is about enjoying the now and not dwelling on your stressors, but my friends and I prefer to look it as a grammar joke instead.

Present tense! Get it?



2.5 Beers

I recently posted about bumper stickers I used to own, but I neglected to mention this fourth bumper sticker I also purchased.

A decade ago when I left for college across the country, my sister essentially inherited my first car. I still considered it my car when I came back home, but she definitely saw it differently. She would shriek about how it was her car now and many arguments would ensue.

Finally, she marked her territory. If she were a dog, she would have pissed on the vehicle, but as a teenage girl, she did her own variation on that theme by placing a pink Tinkerbell sticker on the car. I consider myself pretty forward thinking, but I wasn't wild about riding around with a pink fairy on my rear window. 

I demanded that the sticker be removed, but my parents refused to take a side on the issue. And so Tinkerbell continued to survive -- but you can bet I wasn't clapping to make sure it happened. Consequentially, I drove to my summer job every day - a little bit humiliated - with Tinkerbell in tow.

After a while, I decided that two could play this game. While in Las Vegas, I stumbled upon a terrific bumper sticker: "CAUTION! I can go from 0 to HORNY in 2.5 BEERS". If my sister could put an embarrassing sticker on our shared car, why couldn't I? 

It was a bluff, obviously, because how would I be any less mortified to drive around in a vehicle with that thing? But my reputation for being usual worked to my benefit in this instance. My sister was dubious about my intentions to put it the sticker on our car, but also freaked out that I might actually do it. Initially, my parents found it funny, but soon my mom worried I would follow through and declared that my sister would take the Tinkerbell off the car.

It never happened, though. The "horny" bumper sticker was really just meant to illustrate a point. Besides, by then, I was barely even driving the car anymore anyway. But I do wish I knew where to locate that sticker now because I think it would be the perfect thing to put on a nemesis' car. That's right - don't piss me off. I may be pretty affectionate after 2.5 beers, but you wouldn't believe how vengeful I get after 4. 


Vote for Big Bird

This weekend, I wrote two things for Care2 that I want to share:

I think I watched more Sesame Street preparing this article than I did as a child. It is sort of alarming how many people took such a tongue-in-cheek piece so seriously. Like, duh, I realize there are plenty of flaws in my argument that if Big Bird didn't know he liked the taste of apples until he tried it, then maybe Romney would be in favor of legalizing marijuana if he tried it; I just thought it would be funny to say it. What I did take seriously was:

It's a controversial idea, and perhaps even a dangerous one, but I think it needed to be shared. I take voting so seriously, and yet I hate our system, and it wasn't until super recently I ever had my mind blown and wondered: why am I still participating, then? For the record, I still intend to vote. But I will no longer fault people who have principled reasons for not doing so. 

The commenters have crucified me, and I expected that. I never expected the opinion I shared - which wasn't even my own, necessarily, would be popular. I also think many of them didn't even read the article. They just saw someone suggesting not voting and freaked out, like all American citizens are taught to do. VOTE! YOUR VOTE COUNTS! IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO FIX THINGS (even though the problems just seem to be escalating) AND IF YOU DON'T VOTE, YOU'RE ESSENTIALLY CASTING A VOTE FOR EVIL (oh, and by the way, you have to vote for the lesser of two evils). 

I got accused of being an undercover Republican strategist a few times. (Ha, clearly they didn't read the Big Bird article.) More frustratingly, about 30% of the comments were some variation on "If you don't vote, you don't get to complain." And what if you're complaining about the very system of voting in the first place? You still have to vote? I'm still going to vote, but we need to acknowledge that voting once or twice a year is literally the smallest way to be politically active. And if that's your one contribution, then all the otherwise active non-voters have way more of a right to complain about you.

Anyway, the point of the article was not to convince people not to vote, but to incite a discussion. It's too bad people won't even entertain other points of view.


The Mariachi Band

While we drank margaritas at a place with a mariachi band last night, this white family near us requested that the band play "La Cucaracha" and "La Bamba." And I was like, "Ugh, white people. Of course they'd ask for the most obvious, stereotypical songs." Now I know the musicians are working for tips, so they're probably happy to play "La Cucaracha" until the cows come home if they're being compensated, but I was offended on their behalf anyway.

Upon further reflection, however, I couldn't think of any less cliched traditional Mexican songs to request before the band reached our table. The best I could come up with were Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca", Enrique Iglesias's "Bailamos", Los Del Rio's "Macarena", Gerardo's "Rico Suave", Selena's "I Could Fall in Love", and 98 Degrees's "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)". (After years of being off my radar, the last one incidentally came up in conversation earlier this week, oddly enough.) All of my ideas were shitty pop songs, and many of them were actually just Spanglish. 

Fortunately, we had a native-Spanish speaker with us to request some less predictable and less embarrassing song choices, but the experience taught me a lesson: I may have lived in southern California for quite some time now, but I'm still very white. I just wish I was less ashamed of that fact so that I could have dared to ask my sombrero-wearing friends, "Do you know that 98 Degrees song…?"


Downtown Abby

If I were to become a drag queen, I would name myself Downtown Abby. My character would be this woman who considers herself classy, but in reality is just tragically ghetto. And I'd have a British accent that would sound as phony as my tits would look. 

Alas, this is just a case of me having a really good drag name with no intention of following through, much in the same way non-musicians dream up the perfect band names. To be a drag queen, I'd have to shave on a regular basis - what a chore. I can barely be bothered to put on a t-shirt each day, so there's no way I'd want to put on costumes and makeup. And if I don't tuck in my sheets to make my bed, how can you expect me to start tucking my penis? 

So if any aspiring drag queens do want to steal the Downtown Abby character idea, please go ahead, it'll go to waste with me. You can have it for free, even, as long as you promise to tell Sharon Needles that I love her.