Friday, July 20, 2012

You Didn't Build That. Your Stupid Meme-Builder Did.

Sometimes - okay, often enough that you wonder if it's some sort of elaborate bet - politicians say dumb things. And, because this is the Internet of the America, those dumb things haunt you like the time you mixed crushed-up Ritalin into a glass of red wine.
Which brings us to Obama, who your thrice-married sistercousin has probably informed you is out to destroy America and was only elected because he's black. (Saying that is apparently NOT racist. Huh?) But, yes, he does hate America and loathes business and wants to reduce our country to a Commietopia. Here's the smoking gun:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."
These are all perfectly valid things to say. If you think your achievements come exclusively by bootstraps and brilliance, then you're living in a fairyland where you never went to public school, never used a road, and never got a lick of help from anyone. Now, I'll be fair and say "you didn't build that" was a gaffe. All he had to do was say "You didn't build that by yourself," and the political narrative would have stayed in the land of magical tax break dressage ponies, vacation spots and whether it's racist to compare the Obamas to monkeys. (Answer: yes. So very, very much.)

Saying "You didn't build that," scares the crap out of people. That's because it is human nature to externalize failure and internalize success - as in, if something goes well it's because you're awesome, and if it goes poorly it's because somebody (usually the President, an ex, or your parents) screwed you over. It's all very human and normal. After all, if it wasn't for the fables we tell ourselves, society would collapse into a puddle of fetish porn, trans fats and despair.

But there's a silver lining: conservative memes. They're right up there with rapping little old ladies and dads using hipster slang on the Awkwaaaard Scale. Unlike liberals, who amass abundant time to dream up their memes during barista shifts, conservatives have to just sort of throw things against the wall and hope they stick. Like spaghetti made of one-liners. Mostly it's just a rehash of the Most Interesting Man in the World, Willy Wonka...yeah, I'm snoring already.

Sometimes it's semi-amusing, like this one:

Sure, using Footprints is only slightly less embarrassing than trying to make a meme out of Desiderata, but it's an attempt and it's even slightly cute.

But sometimes, in their girlish enthusiasm to pick the least-flattering Obama photo, they kind of prove the other side's point. To wit:

First off, yes, that is a freaking awesome expression on his face. Like the little girl suddenly grew fangs, and only he can see it.

But, well, the little girl didn't build the tower. She was helped by the good people of Lego, who molded the plastic to make the bricks, by the teachers and parents who nurtured her motor skills, and so on. The only way she could have credited herself with "building" the tower is if she worked in a Lego factory. If that were the case, most of us would be up in arms about child labor, while the rest of us would hope this meant cheaper Legos. (I'm Team Cheap Legos.) So, conservatives, thanks for helping Obama prove his point.

To continue the nitpick, I bet Obama helps out the other side by making those ridiculous faces. That expression? You didn't build that, either. (Doesn't feel so good to be on the other side of a nitpick, does it?)

So let's figure out what we've learned, before the narrative takes us to the next gaffe or creepy uterine obsession. The American political process is like that married couple you know who just never stop bickering. Either side will bring up a tiny quote out of context for the express purpose of damning the other, and in the Age of the Internet any quote can become a meme. And our society has elevated ignorance to the point that whoever wins this election will most likely do so by creating a meme that brings together Mordor, cats, Willy Wonka and a political gaffe in a glorious crescendo of all that's wrong with America.

Also, when the best you can do is a Footprints parody, it's time to wonder if your party's half stuffy/half crazy image isn't at least partially earned.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Tosh, Gottfried, and Why "Edgy" is for Teenagers and Steak Knives

Hi! Miss me? Or, more exactly...remember me?

By now, particularly if you are my Facebook friend, you have probably heard about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes to a numbing degree. Everyone from feminists to Tosh apologists to Gilbert Gottfried has weighed in.

That's right. GILBERT GOTTFRIED. Has an opinion. On For real. I suppose Carrot Top was unavailable? That or the Apocalypse is nigh and it's time to stock up on gin and firearms.

Here's the article.

So, what have we learned? We learned that Gilbert Gottfried, aside from being numbingly unfunny, has yet to learn a damn thing about anything. So far he's been called out for bad tsunami jokes, bad terrorism jokes, and just bad jokes in general - and yet, he thinks he's qualified to be an arbiter of humor and what others should and should not find hurtful.

Sigh. Did anyone else read this and imagine a petulant teen?

Look, I love humor. Wrote this blog for years. Dealt with trolls, harassing emails and all sorts of silly drama in order to come on here every day and hopefully make someone laugh. I adore comedy. The more ridiculous and inappropriate, the better. But the purpose of comedy is to take pain and turn it into laughter. It is not to be offensive and hurtful for the sake of being offensive and hurtful, and then pretend that it's just you being "edgy." Edgy is for teenagers and steak knives.

Moreover, if you realize that you've metaphorically poked someone in the eye, the correct response is to simmer down and reflect, and perhaps learn something from the experience. It is not to lay blame on the other person for having the temerity to have eyeballs in the first place. And maybe you'll hone your craft and be funnier the next time you put yourself out there.

Finally, the whole Tosh brouhaha isn't about heckler etiquette, it's not about "edgy" humor, and it sure as hell isn't about the First Amendment. At no point has anyone said the government should ban rape jokes. So please step off the silly "freedom of speech" arguments.

The issue is that rape is used as a threat to keep women in line - be docile, don't go out by yourself, be a lady, don't get drunk...because if you don't follow those rules, ugly things will happen and it's going to be your own fault. So when Tosh uses the threat of gang rape (even as a "joke") to dismiss and subdue a woman who disagreed with him, it's a whole level of ugly beyond "tastelessness," "offensiveness," or, silliest of all, "edginess." She stepped out of line, and he used rape to bludgeon her back into being a "lady." It's misogyny, it's real, and it's scary stuff.

Pretending it's just a "slip of the tongue" is pretending that misogyny is over, and you don't have to be a woman to know that's bollocks. You just don't get from rape jokes to rape threats without some serious underlying issues.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments. (Which, yes, is my way of saying I'd like to be coddled out of retirement.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'd Call this Wedding a Raging Success

I've been married for 11 days now, and just realized I never got around to updating my remaining readers about the wedding. Probably because most of y'all were there.

It was awesome. Fun. Exactly what we wanted, and totally worth the months of hassles and planning. We should have a wedding every year. It was like the biggest funnest kegger ever, with sliders, pasta and great beer. And very relaxed, despite a few kerfuffles, misplaced mothers, minidramas and broken cake toppers. (I found my cake topper alter ego headfirst in the cake and wobbly, which is exactly how I'd intended to look by the end of the evening.) Oh, and the ceremony clocked in at a luxurious six minutes, leaving lots of time for bonding, dancing and mayhem.

Best of all, it was a family affair from start to finish. That includes the families we were born with, and the ones we've put together for ourselves. Our officiant was the friend who introduced us, all of the decorations were put together with the help of many friends and multitudinous mimosas, three friends volunteered to be the string trio for the ceremony, and everyone pitched in wherever they could. (And, if they didn't, you better believe I deputized them at random. Thanks for putting out the ceremony programs, The Buddy!)

A few memories, from what we can remember:

1. Let's just say Brando and I are not the most graceful of dancers. Well, OK. Imagine two Clydesdales with four left feet, all of which have been encased in Jell-O. During our first dance, a lurching disaster to the tune of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," all of the guests spontaneously began to sing along to the, "I love you baaaaaaybeeeee, if it's quite all right I need you baaaaaybeeee!" Which not only made me deliriously happy, it took a little focus off all the flop sweat flooding the dance floor.

2. Not only was there an after party at the hotel bar, there was an after-after party, hosted by my sister. People started randomly wearing each other's jewelry while snacking on fried chicken and bourbon. And a member of the wedding party fell off the side of the bed while attempting to stand. Which is when we all pretty much gave up on standing.

3. Virtually everyone pulled Irish exits out of the hotel bar, which meant we got a very awkward, "Hey, I have a stack of credit cards, what do I do?" phone call at the after-after party. (Related: Refugee, J. has your debit card.)

4. One guest, who shall remain unnamed, woke up still in her clothes and covered in wasabi pea snack mix.

5. Another guest showed up for breakfast still in his suit from the night before. Not for the reason you'd think, but because he'd forgotten to pack a change of clothes. But he was topped by the guy who showed up at breakfast, still drunk in what appeared to be a backwards t-shirt.

6. I thought I'd picked a relatively simple dress. Until we found out the crystal buttons on the back were very, very hard to fasten, leading to the scene in this photo. All five bridesmaids punched me in the stomach to hold me still. (I think it's secretly retaliation for all those Sundays with a glue gun and a tower of ribbons.)

So, it's over, to my mild disappointment but tremendous relief. If you were there, thank you, if you were not, well, maybe we'll do this again sometime.

In the comments, tell me if you've ever woken up in a pile of snack food, and, if so, what were the circumstances?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's the Final Countdown! (Try not to picture GOB in a wedding gown)

Hello, four remaining readers! Remember me? I've been rather busy lately, what with the fact I'm getting married in TEN DAYS. According to common (and sexist) stereotyping, my life right now should be a fondant-flavored blur of errands, meltdowns, manicures and utter self-absorption. Unfortunately, that's my usual state of being.

My bridal state seems to be one of eminently not giving a flying frick.

I started off with mild wedding hysteria. Towers of magazines, dress excursions, overly complex emails to my ever-patient bridesmaids, and a round robin of color schemes. I even had a nightmare where my bowling-themed wedding was changed at the last minute to a hotel ballroom wedding with ice sculptures, and I fell on the ground and wept. (Note: why DIDN'T I have a bowling wedding?)

A few weeks ago, however, a switch flipped. I achieved bridal burnout, which is sort of like a Demerol high*. If I could distill this stuff and hand it 'round like a flask of bourbon-flavored joy, I would. It's amazing.

I knew it was all over when I ordered a light-up plastic arch for ceremony decor, as, hell, it got stuff off the list and was on sale for $34.99. We'll just glue something festive to it and be done. I realized I didn't have something old or borrowed to wear, and fell upon the idea of kidnapping a nursing home resident for the day. Brando asked me about the menu, my response was, "Is there food on it? OK, that works." I even plan a ceremonial torching of my Martha Stewart Weddings, as there was never a time in my life I'd contemplate baking anything, let alone my own wedding cake.

I'm sure most of this is a sort of stress-induced catatonia. But at least some of it is a rare flash of maturity. Hell, I get to spend the rest of my life with someone who will gleefully watch homicidal bird films like ThanksKilling and Birdemic: Shock and Terror. We love bourbon, good food, and each other. He's my best friend.

And the wedding? Well, I've learned that the people who love you just want to wish you well and have something mind-altering to drink. Anyone who expects a shebang, or makes the event about themselves, isn't a true friend. Your wedding is as good a time as any to learn that.

In the comments, tell me if I should have held a ThanksKilling theme wedding, complete with a malicious rubber turkey as the officiant.

*No, I've never been high on Demerol. (Hi, Dad.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Barbiegeddon Bunker

This isn't the place to come to for informed, intelligent post-election analysis.

Instead, I've decided to skip ahead and map the road to 2012. Why live in the present, when the past has the lovely glow of idealism, and the future is yet to be shaped? So I'd like to get all Nostradamus on you, minus creepy predictions about blue turbans and Hister.

Instead, I'll forecast something scarier. I predict a Palin-O'Donnell ticket.

In fact, I would highly encourage one, just because I would love the entertainment value of Tea Party Barbiegeddon. And, due to circumstance, the endless gullibility of the public, and jerks like me who would vote Palin-O'Donnell for giggles...they could win.

They'd be taken at their word for everything they have ever said they could fix (hint: claiming you will balance the budget by eliminating "waste" is intellectual laziness of the highest order). And then they'll be forced to read the Constitution once in a while, and be disappointed with its actual contents. And then the electorate will be forced to take "Second Amendment remedies" to manage our disappointment.

This will hasten the onset of the Apocalypse, complete with Michael Bay explosions and a merry band of elitist survivors with artfully applied dirt and bruises. My current plan is to be one of those survivors. Heck, I want to be their leader.

To that end, I've decided to build the Barbiegeddon Bunker. I will stash it with gin and Twinkies and books above a fourth-grade reading level. I will interview participants, for both bartending skills and ability to fend off looters. And it will be fun. Karaoke among the cockroaches. Martinis amid the mayhem. Merry toasts to the decline of civilization. You don't even have to agree with my politics. You just have to be civil and agreeable. Who's in?

In the comments, tell me why you should be allowed to live in the Barbiegeddon Bunker. Or tell me how my college education, which I earned via hard work and graveyard shifts, makes me an "elitist" who is out of touch with the "Real America." Because I love divisive language and electoral nerd-bashing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who's Got Two Thumbs and Ten Extra Pounds?

What with all the Marie Claire brouhaha this week (just Google "Marie Claire hates fat people" or similar if you want to see it), and my recent doctor's appointment, weight has been on my mind lately.

Yesterday, I asked my adorable Yoda-esque doctor to shove me onto that scale.

Please note that, due to a history of disordered eating, I only weigh myself at the doctor's office. (Also, please note that, due to a history of disordered eating, any icky troll comments will not be deleted, instead, my cadre of commenters will issue a verbal beatdown, the likes of which has not been seen since, "You're no Jack Kennedy." I prefer to let trolls show themselves for their true gruesome nature, vs. just quietly deleting them.)

The results were not surprising, but they were pretty damn scary. I am at the very tippy-top of a healthy BMI range, and 16 pounds more than I was at my physical last June. Ideally, I should weigh about 10 pounds less than the current total. I'm usually a little underweight, and I have never been anywhere near overweight.

I could blame any number of factors:

1. Thyroid and/or metabolism issues. Which, yes, I'm being tested for.
2. Those delicious breakfast Sunny Sandwiches at my deli. Canadian bacon, egg, and tomato mayonnaise on a kaiser roll? Yes, please!
3. My Italian-American fiance's preferred meal of pizza with a side of pizza, and sharing a home with all those carbalicious habits. On average, women who live with a male partner weigh more, because they start eating bigger portions of heavier food. (So sorry Brando, it's not you, it's not me, blame science!)
4. Copious indoor time brought about by Snowpocalypse, followed by Snowmageddon, followed by the new frontier of stretch pants in public.
5. The evils of the fast food industry. Never mind that I never actually eat fast food.
6. Stress! Of which I generally have plenty.
7. The chronic sinus infection that has sapped my energy and made me less active on weekends.

Or, instead of casting blame, I can start making some changes. Due to my medical history, diets are right out. And I don't run unless something is chasing me. And I sure as hell am not turning my wedding into an excuse for a weight-related anxiety freefall. (The second you turn your FB status into "Engaged," you get a bunch of ads exhorting you to lose weight for your wedding. One even cut to the chase and just said, "Hey! Fat bride!" Don't believe me? A bing search of "bridal weight loss program" turned up 2,890,000 results.)

Instead, I'm walking home from work (about an hour), swapping those Sunny sandwiches for an apple with peanut butter, and swapping my beers for vodka and soda with lime. The good doctor Yoda recommends I lose 1-2 pounds per month by making small changes.

I'll admit this is partially about health, and mostly about vanity. I miss my cuter clothes with non-elastic waistbands. And I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with saying that. Looking good leads to feeling good. If I didn't care at all about how I looked, wouldn't that be worse?

In the comments, tell me about your favorite small changes for a healthier life. Or just kick a little encouragement my way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Updates, the "I'm Still Here" Edition

Wow. "See you in September," went straight to, "I haven't seen you since September!"

My life has centered around work, which I don't talk about for ethics/common sense reasons, and wedding planning, which is excruciatingly dull to anyone who is NOT planning a wedding. My colors are black and white with red and yellow accents, the flowers will be Gerbera daisies, and the menu will be....HEY! Come back here!

See my point?

Also, my fiance moved in with me a few months back, which has provided a lot of entertainment. He's borne witness to the hoarder machinations of Marvellous. Also, the blasting boiler heat in our building has meant sleeping with the windows open, which leads to a lot of local color. Like the dude vomiting/coughing/violently ejecting his lungs below us, or the couple arguing, or the lady honking...and honking...and screaming out her car pick someone up for church. Because nothing says "Jesus" quite like, "Get your butt down here!"

Most importantly, a great mystery has been solved. Have you ever wondered, "What happens when two people who buy disaster-ready, bulk quantities of toilet paper move in together?" Easy. They buy shelves, display their collection with pride, and dub it: The Tush Mahal.