Thursday, February 15, 2018

Poor Rebekah Mercer! Rolling around in shit all her life and now people act like she stinks.

Rebekah Mercer is one of the daughters of Robert Mercer, the right-wing’s version of George Soros if everything conservatives said about him was true. She inherited billions of dollars along with his right-wing beliefs and the crank media outlet Breitbart News. In today’s Wall Street Journal she develops Gloria Vanderbilt’s "Poor little rich girl" theme with an op-ed about how misunderstood she is. Her "natural reluctance to speak with reporters has left [her] vulnerable to the media’s sensational fantasies." All she has is money, a dozen houses, power, recognition, politicians at her beck and call, and a media outlet to defend herself.

Poor thing. No wonder she’s jealous of the rest of us. Any time we want we can scream to our eight followers on Twitter.

I’d love to put a succinct summary of her conservative oeuvre here, but, well, there’s just too much bad to write. She helped finance Trump’s presidential run, combined six condos in a Trump Tower to make a home larger than the one New York City gives the mayor, and defended Trump’s pussy-grabbing tape. She created and ran the Defeat Crooked Hillary PAC, and made the film "Clinton Cash" with Steve Bannon. She liked him so much she started a political committee with him, and supposedly was going to push him for president in 2020.

She’s a trustee, along with names like Koch and Coors, of the Heritage Foundation, a group that denies climate change, fights ObamaCare, and authors papers arguing that same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty and Hispanic immigrants have lower IQ's than whites.

She didn’t start off as a villain. She tried working for daddy’s hedge fund before deciding, like Vanderbilt, to just take his money and do what she wanted. Where Vanderbilt did jeans, Mercer and her sisters started Ruby et Violette Bakery. It wasn't particularly ambitious considering they were already rolling in dough.

How does this questionable history translate in the story in the WSJ today? "Over the past 18 months," she writes, "I have been the subject of intense speculation and public scrutiny.... Some have recklessly described me as supporting toxic ideologies such as racism and anti-Semitism."

Huh? I think she’s being intentionally misleading here. It’s like Hitler defending himself with, "Right now critics are saying I’m a bad dancer." Dude, we might get to that eventually, but right now there are a few bigger fish to fry. I’m thinking misogyny and homophobia are the main complaints against Mercer, as seen in Breitbart headlines like, "Gay rights have made us dumber. It’s time to get back in the closet." and "Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?"

"Last month a writer for the Financial Times suggested mysteriously that my 'political goals are something she [sic] has never publicly defined.' In broad strokes this is what I believe:"

The next eight thousand words are a real shocker. She wants the hungry to be fed, the homeless to be sheltered, discrimination to vanish, immigrants to be welcomed, blah blah blah. Which makes me think she needs to find better advisors, because the politicians she pushes are against all of the above. "I am deeply committed to research and the scientific method," she says, though her family gave $200,000 to a politician who believes the government sprays chemicals on the public from airplanes flying overhead.

She supports "ideas and policies" rather than people. I feel better knowing maybe she didn’t like Trump but just told a lackey to put forty million dollars on the first person who said Ted Cruz’s dad shot JFK. "The only thing I ask of the politicians I back is that they be true to the promises that they made to their constituents during their campaigns." Apparently she dozed off in the seconds between Trump saying he’d never cut Medicaid or Social Security and Monday’s budget decimating both.

If she’s so smart and scientific, why does she support the voices of white supremacists, assholes and cranks through Republican politicians and "news" outlets like Breitbart? "I own a minority stake in Breitbart News," she says, implying you’d have to have 50+ percent before they’d give you the microphone at meetings. Why, 49% is hardly worth owning, since to influence Breitbart’s insanity in any way she’d have to make a deal with other owners. Sure, two are her sisters, but maybe it’s a long walk to their bedroom doors.

Segueing from "There’s nothing I can do about it!" To "It’s not really so bad," she says, "I believe [Breitbart] adds an important journalistic voice to the American conversation." I love the way this is phrased, implying differing voices are more important than honesty. No, Breitbart is part of the conversation like Uncle Hal screaming "JESSICA SIMPSON’S SURE GOT SOME TITTIES!" is an important part of the Thanksgiving conversation.

"Stephen Bannon, its former chairman, took Breitbart in the wrong direction." Hmm... He was the co-founder, so this is a little weird. It’s like getting on a bus and then shouting that the driver is going the wrong way. Next she'll say Bannon was just there to get coffee. "Now that Mr. Bannon has resigned, Breitbart has the opportunity to refine its message and expand its influence." Because nine years isn't long enough to refine your message. I can identify: I was only married thirty years and still when I tried to tell the hubby I loved him sometimes I accidentally yelled, "WHY IN GOD’S NAME DID I MARRY YOU?" Clearly that message needed some tweaking too. And they definitely need to expand their influence, because President Trump hasn’t retweeted them more than eight or nine hundred times.

"I have chosen to involve myself with important policy issues, and with some of the institutions that discuss them, because I am, first and foremost, a mother." Aw. She must be a good mom, too. I mean, mine never told me, like a Heritage Foundation panel on Feminism, that women have jobs foisted on them when what they really want are husbands.

"I hope that my children will show stoicism and perseverance through adversity," she writes. The girls will definitely find adversity at places like Breitbart, where a headline reads, "There's no hiring bias against women in tech. They just suck at interviews."

We get to her kind-of point in the last two paragraphs. It’s all about — ta dah! — free speech. "This country was founded on the principle of open discourse," Mercer writes, echoing bigots and assholes everywhere. For right-wing snowflakes it translates to, "Sure, I say offensive shit, but why do people get mad?"

It’s not an especially bright argument coming from a Stanford graduate, since it could be the defense of somebody yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater. "Well, nobody else was saying it," she could argue.

"But questioning the status quo is more important now than ever. America’s future depends on it." Rich Girl should write t-shirts instead of baking cookies. This "Question Authority" thing could really catch on. And though she’s just a minority shareholder clearly Breitbart agrees, offering their insightful retorts to accepted reality:

  • Homophobia is bad: "Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard."

  • Racism is bad: "Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage"

  • Sexual harassment is bad: "The solution to online 'harassment' is simple: Women should log off"

  • Feminism is good: "Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy"

Even the Founding Fathers would be applauding these sentient additions to the discourse, as well as Mercer's pushing Trump to appoint brainiacs like Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conaway, and Jeff Sessions. Because nobody attacks the status quo like they do, asking the tough questions like, "Is white supremacy really bad?", "Do you seriously have to put people in jail for lying to Congress?" and "Is there really such a thing as a fact?"

Call her a poor little rich girl, but know one thing: she’ll keep adding to the conversation as long as she has money, and cookies to get that bad taste out of her mouth.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I am so excited about this new film coming out! I just know I'll love it as much as The First Appearance of the Third Avenger and The Fifth Time We Saw Avengers Four Through Twelve.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Beloved Reader,

Permit me to take the opportunity this joyous season to post one of my all-time favorite songs, an iconic holiday classic by songwriter Leonard Cohen. I hear it frequently around this time of year -- to the point where some people might get tired of it -- but somehow the uplifting melody and spiritual lyrics still give me chills.

At this wondrous time, may your holidays match your hopes: surrounded by loved ones in a comfortable home, full of good health and happiness and inspirational songs like this.

RomanHans


Macadamia

Well I heard there is a nut you take
over all the others when you bake
If you hate walnuts, really, I can't shame ya.
But there's a nut I always buy
it's from a land they call Hawaii
Don't underestimate the plucky macadamia.

Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia

When I make fruitcake it's what I choose
Don't want no fucking lame cashews
Don't pull this shit like they are all the same, ya.
Because most are crunchy and taste like cheese
but just one is round and comes from trees
Behold the one, the only macadamia.

Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia

If a can of mixed nuts you should ope,
what will be your fondest hope?
Say peanuts or Brazil nuts and I'll maim ya.
Because peanuts look like human toes
and Brazil nuts like alien embryos
not like the unspoilt, buttery macadamia.

Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia

"Chestnuts" sound like Playboy fans
and almonds look like they have glands.
If they both creep you out, then I don't blame ya.
Pine nuts could pass for doggy ticks
and pecans resemble mummy lips
so the only safe one left is macadamia.

Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia
Macadamia

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

After seventeen years in Brooklyn, enough was enough. The city is a perpetual Peter Pan and I decided it was time to grow up. Of course I'm fine with having fun, but at some point we need to show a little responsibility. We don't need to buy a house, or get married, or have a kid, but we could at least buy a theater ticket, or go to the opera, or plan an Ikea run more than three minutes in advance.

I'd make suggestions to friends and get vague answers that, with a bit of thought, always translated to the same thing: "I will definitely go!" followed by "unless I meet a new guy or get drunk or just don't feel like getting out of bed."

Briana didn't recognize the tautology: she met so many pitiful, immature men that she'd try to forget them by going out and getting drunk, where she'd meet more pitiful, immature men. Charlotte gave up men in favor of friends and dogs. Emma got so sick of hipster-types that she started hanging around Mafia bars. I had to agree that these guys showed some maturity, even walking her home late at night, but when I inevitably put my foot in my mouth I don't want it stuffed there permanently.

It's the trademark of a Brooklyn party that somebody ends up crying in the bathroom. Always. The first time I noticed it I desperately wanted to help. "It'll work out!" I yelled through the door, followed by random stabs at advice. "We'll sign you up for community college! We'll find you a better roommate! We'll go to a bar on Wall Street and find you a man who's employed!"

Tiffany, my neighbor, walked up to me and shook her head. "Dude," she said, "women in Brooklyn don't need logic. We need sympathy."

After that I adjusted my behavior. Every time I saw or heard a woman crying, I'd ignore the impulse to identify the problem, concisely summarize it, and offer to facilitate. Instead I'd just sigh and loudly say, "Men are such bastards." Nobody got any better but people thought I was nice, which is pretty much what I'm aiming for.

I was single too, so of course I had to practice what I preached. I was just shocked when it actually seemed to work. I found a spectacular man, and, though I'd never say the words, I seemed to have done a "creative visualization." While I hadn't sat cross-legged on the carpet picturing myself living in Germany, I'd been thinking about moving there, and seemingly out of nowhere a man appeared who said, "Good idea. Can you pack up and leave right now?"

Maybe, I replied.

We had just two weeks before he had to return to Germany, so we spent every night together. I was mesmerized by the cultural differences. Here's what happens when you ask a Brooklynite out for cappuccino. "YES!" they'll text. "Maybe around 1?" Then at 3: "I fell asleep! Have to walk the dog now. Maybe around 4:30?" Then at 5: "My piercing got infected but maybe we could have a cappuccino while we walk to the clinic?"

I like cappuccinos. I don't like being known at the local coffeehouse as "The guy who gets his morning coffee after dark."

Ask a German man to join you for a cappuccino and you'll get this reply. "Yes," he'll say. "That sounds great. I will drive my car, and will stop in front of your apartment at 11:14. At 11:12 you will comb your hair and then wait by the front door."

The time flew by as I experienced exactly what I'd been looking for. Before Rolf left, I agreed to fly over and spend the next month in one of his friends' empty apartments in Berlin. There, I fell in love with the city, and discovered the inhabitants were ... adults. Rolf's friends had attributes that vanished from Brooklyn with the stegosaurus: they held down jobs, made plans for the future, and actually followed through on promises. One guy offered to take me on an architecture tour in his classic Alfa convertible. I happily accepted, but when the day came I was running behind. I got there two minutes late and found the guy on the phone asking Rolf whether or not I'd recently died.

I enjoyed the month so much I signed up for a three-month extension. Rolf and I became inseparable. There's an old saying that Germans will never tell you they like you, but you know they do because they are there.. Rolf never talked a lot about the future, but I knew he wanted to be there. One day he spent hours furiously typing at the computer, and late that night he gave me a printout. "This is your schedule," he announced.

It was a marvel, with odd color-coded hieroglyphics on every page meaning I'd meet a friend or go to a museum or drive with him up into the Alps. I felt a flush of admiration intermingling with those first twinges of love. It was perfect: as long as there's a competent leader, I'm happier following along and admiring the scenery than being in front and listening to the complaints.

Then I glanced at the top. "This is really, really wonderful," I said, "but shouldn't we get through 2018 first?"

Though I had the Berlin apartment, I started spending more time at Rolf's place just outside the city. One night he said his niece would be over the next day from 2:15 to 3:45. Anyone who knows Germany knows this is how it works: visits have a start and end time, and it's rude to be even two minutes late. In Brooklyn if you have a party starting at 8, you can roll around your living room wearing dirty diapers until 9:25. In Germany, your doorbell will start ringing at 7:59, and by 8:03 somebody will be checking names off of a list.

I was excited at the idea of meeting Rolf's family, but the start and end times seemed odd. I pressed Rolf for details. "She is driving from Frankfurt to Hamburg," he said. "It is a long drive. She will be passing by on the autobahn, and she will be tired. She will stop by here to wash her face, use the toilet, and eat a snack before returning to the road."

Again I was struck by the difference between Germany and Brooklyn, though this time Germany came up short. This sounded less like a family visit than a NASCAR pit stop. Brooklyners would be, I don't know, maybe happy? At least nobody would say, "She must use the toilet and drink some coffee or she will fall asleep in her car and die."

His niece's plans changed so she didn't stop by, which disappointed me. Not that I wanted to meet her -- no, I wanted to witness her exiting the toilet so I could cross off another entry on the checklist. Then Rolf and I could walk her to her car and check her tire pressure before she drove off.

We went to a wedding last month along with a carload of his friends. I was staring out the window at the Bavarian countryside and thinking the random, stupid thoughts Americans think on their way to these joyous events. Isn't it romantic? Will the food be good? Will both of the grooms be hot? Then my attention returned to the conversation inside the car. "I hope they sign the paperwork to divide their assets in case one of them dies," Rolf said.

"That paperwork is vitally important," one friend replied.

"So many people neglect to complete it and they regret it later on," added another voice of wisdom.

This was definitely not the chatter you'd get from a carload of Brooklynites, and it struck me as sad. Suddenly I realized something: I'd found the logic I'd wanted, but it highlighted what was missing. Was there no romance in Germany? Was it possible that Germans were too cold?

I got my answer a few days later when Rolf proposed to me. He got down on one knee and with his eyes full of tears he told me how much I meant to him, how much he loved me, and how he wanted to be with me for the rest of his life. I didn't pause for even a second. I didn't need to analyze what an unbelievable turn my life had taken, in a new city, in a new country, with an unbelievable new man. Of course I answered yes.

I've always joked before that a millisecond after a gay man accepts his boyfriend's proposal, both partners scream, "I'M DESIGNING THE RINGS!" and sprint off to a jewelry store. In this case, we Googled "wedding rings" and found a design for a silver band with your partner's fingerprint etched in it. We had them made and kept them in a box that Rolf brought out to show visitors.

I was exiting the toilet during an Advent party when I was greeted by a jewelry admirer. "Those rings are amazing," he said. "Such a wonderful idea!"

"I know!" I gushed. "So personal. So romantic. Marriage is all about the connection, and the fingerprint is a sign that of a uniquely personal bond."

He shot me a confused look. "Oh," he said. "Okay. Rolf just said they'd make it easy to identify the bodies in case one of you died."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have one weird item on my bucket list. I know everybody else has the usual clich├ęs: they want to jump out of airplanes, sing on TV, or have a shirtless Alec Baldwin knock on their door holding pizza. My dream is a little more unique, and as far as I can tell I'll be the first person in history to actually do it.

I want to kick the living shit out of a goose.

Now, I'm not a thoughtless asshole. I don't mean just ANY goose. I'm sure there are some really nice geese out there somewhere, though I'm having a hard time picturing them. I can't exactly picture a goose helping a disabled chicken across the road. I don't see them donating their bird seed to less fortunate creatures. And there's a reason you have to kill geese to get their down: they don't hold their wings back and say, "Here, you take it. I know you can't sleep without a pillow that completely collapses under your head."

If they exist, I don't want to beat up any of those geese.

No, the geese I'm talking about are the ones you see on TV's funny video programs. You know the videos: it's a beautiful spring day in the countryside, and somebody with, say, a basketful of leeks is skipping through a field when a big, angry goose comes out of nowhere with wings flailing and honking his head off. At first the person is puzzled: can this sweet, fluffy white thing really be coming after me? But then they realize it's moving like a missile with a pointy orange beak aimed directly at their crotch, and they run. As fast and as far as they can. They jump creeks and spring over fences, their leeks flying, millimeters away from the goose's angry choppers clamping down on their ass.

People laugh at these videos. Me, I don't think they're so funny.

First, I'm not a fan of unwarranted anger. What do geese have to be mad about? You're close to their nest? Whoopee. They don't have Time Warner Cable. They don't have landlords. Their friends with emergency keys don't barge in when they're trying to take a shower or masturbate, thinking that because they didn't answer a text within eight minutes they're probably sprawled out on the floor, dead.

Hey, Emma.

Second, it upends the natural order. I don't like the precedent set by running away from something so far down the food chain. If we let geese intimidate us, what's next? Rabbits? Hamsters? I refuse to put up with backtalk from other species. If I give Mr. Papadopoulos half a can of Cheapo Chow I don't want him hacking up hairballs on my shoes and thinking, "Buddy, this is your life until I get fuckin' Meow Mix." Next rats will be waking us in our beds, squeaking, "I can't get this Rice Crispies box open, and you used the scissors to trim your pubes."

Oddly, I don't have that same visceral reaction to monkey crime. You see them stealing our stuff all the time in other funny videos: tourists on mountaintops observing the cantankerous monkeys when suddenly one grabs their reading glasses and scampers up a tree. Personally, I'm fine with that. Monkeys are pretty close to us evolutionarily-wise, so it's entirely possible they have recipes to peruse or filing to do. I wouldn't blame them for getting bored in the forest and grabbing somebody's binoculars or cigarettes or fanny pack: I always pull out my cellphone when my boyfriend starts talking and he has other things to say than, "Eek eek eek."

Still, I don't want to give the wrong impression. I'm not ordinarily a tough guy, but geese aren't exactly Colin McGregor. They don't have muscles or tattoos: that would change everything. If I was in a field and a goose with a tiny teardrop tattooed under one eye came running after me, I would also run like hell. There'd be leeks all over the place. If he had a spiderweb tattooed around an ankle, I'd be completely freaked out. I'd jam YOUR ass into his beak so he'd leave MINE alone.

I think it's a fair fight, because there's just as much danger to me as there is to them. I'm a much bigger target, and they've had a lot more practice. They're more purposeful, and driven: if somebody got too close to my nest I'd be like, "Eh. It was just, like, eight minutes collecting twigs." I haven't run up to a stranger clucking since Jaegermeister passed twelve bucks a bottle.

Plus, I've never actually punched anything, especially something whose head is on a two-foot stalk. They're so fluffy I don't think I could even bruise one, while they could inflict serious damage on me. We're talking an actual animal bite, which would be painful. Maybe not alligator painful, since alligators have teeth, but about as painful as something can be when it has like a nerf ball for lips.

So anyway, it's on the list. And with all the geese here in Germany it's a distinct possibility. All I have to do is buy a basket, buy some leeks, and head for the countryside. I'll wander through fields. I'll scamper, I'll meander, I'll skip ... all while keeping my eyes wide open for the vengeful little bastards.

Eventually I'll spot one, and instead of running I'll stand tall. Of course, he'll be startled. He'll stop, confounded by a human being who has no fear. I'll lower my gaze to his round, pale face as he waddles up and squawks, "You want a piece of me? You want a piece of me?"

I'll be picturing a new video in my head. In it, I'll put the leeks down, slick back my hair, take off my shirt, crack my knuckles and say, "Yeah, you fluffy son of a bitch. And I'll start with a leg and a breast."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I've just been contemplating what a miracle the human body is. There are the eyes: complex sensors where 130 million cones and rods convert light into pictures that appear in your brain. And the ears: an intricate system of tubes and channels full of microscopic hairs and fluids that turn random air vibrations into sound.

Anyway, I'll see you later. I've got to wave my dangly thing over the toilet so I can pee.

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