Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have one weird item on my bucket list. I know everybody else has the usual clichés: 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.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Unbelievable. A friend of mine owns a business and he just got this letter from a customer.

______________________

U-Sav Law Form 271y-2015b



Official Notice of Refutation of Legal Culpability by Parent(s)
(Fill in blanks pertinent to specific incident)

Dear     Owner of Stoddard's Department Store    :

It has recently come to my attention that on     Thursday     you encountered some difficulties with my     daughter         Raddison    . Furthermore, I understand that you may wish to initiate legal action against    him   /  her.

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that my     daughter     is a straight-     B-     student at the esteemed     Kids 'b' Here Day Care & TV Repair    , and recently received much acclaim for     hugging her maw-maw    . It is virtually unprecedented in this community that someone reaches such heights of accomplishment at the age of     she just turned six    .

As I understand it, the difficulty arose when my     daughter     decided it would not be deleterious to     spin around with her eyes closed and her arms out     for the reason that     everything disappears when you close your eyes    .

Though     Raddison     immediately understood the result of her actions and the fractional degree of culpability to which her parents would be exposed, it wasn't soon enough to avoid damage to     a bunch of shitty crystal    .

While     Raddison     sincerely regrets the incident, we are certain that upon further reflection you will understand that culpability lies just as much with     your shitty department store     as with us because     my husband is a LAWYER     and additionally     only a MORON would put merchandise out where CHILDREN can reach it!!!    .

It is our hope that you will discount the short-term profitability that might result from legal action and instead chalk up the incident to     YOUR IDIOTS!!!    . If you do, we are certain that the benefits you receive in future customer goodwill would far outweigh the     $40,000 in damages! UNBELIEVABLE! FOR A BUNCH OF UGLY CRYSTAL SWANS!!!     that you allegedly suffered from        BEING IDIOTS!!!     her    .

Sincerely,

    Mrs. Barbara Benelli    
(Write name here)

Friday, October 20, 2017

"Apartments in Berlin are incredibly cheap," a friend of a friend tells me. "It doesn't make sense. Europe has three main capital cities: London, Paris, and Berlin. And for some reason, real estate prices in the first two are five times the prices in the third."

I start looking at apartments online and discover he's absolutely right. In Berlin there are apartments in great neighborhoods, as big as my Brooklyn place, selling for $250,000. All of a sudden it makes that $2,500 monthly rent look awfully stupid. The place would pay for itself in 10 years, and then for the rest of my life there's just the maintenance fee of $250 a month.

I tell my German boyfriend I want to buy an apartment and he doesn't need convincing. In fact, he suggests sharing it. I'm wary: we are officially a couple, but we've only been together a year. Is it smart to buy real estate this early in the relationship? I agree to split the place, but not because of some starry-eyed optimism. No, because he works out of town, which means he'll only be there on weekends. It's hard for me to get sick of somebody when I only see them two days a week.

Plus there's that little voice in my head screaming: "If we share the place, it'll cost nothing at all."

Seemingly within minutes we find an apartment we love for an unbelievable price. What seemed like a silly daydream just a short time ago has become reality. I'm getting a home in Berlin.

I know I'll have bills to pay so I open a German bank account and link my American account to it. Right away I need $1,000 to reserve the apartment, so I go online to make the first transfer.

"Sorry," comes the error message, "that exceeds the maximum allowed."

Okay, I think. That's annoying. That's a pretty low maximum. But I'll call, I'll get it raised, and that will be that. I wait until American banking hours and telephone the bank.

I express a bit of minor irritation -- it's my money! It's not that much! Why does everything have to be so difficult? -- before a perfectly nice, reasonable clerk replies. "We're just trying to protect you, Mr. Hans. There are a lot of bad guys out there trying to do terrible things to older people."

Instantly I recognize this voice. It's the voice I use to say things like, "Grandma, I'm pretty sure Pierce Brosnan hasn't been looking at you through the kitchen window," and "That looks delicious. But you know you've baked an oven mitt into that pie?"

It hits me: this is how you talk to old people. They've checked my date of birth and decided I'm one of those clueless old people in need of help. Is this how I'm going to be treated every time I pull money out of the bank? "Now, Roman, you say you need some money to go to Spain. Are you planning on buying a plane ticket, or just walking there?"

My nieces and nephews will chime in next. "Remember, Uncle Roman -- you have to turn the water off every time you've turned it on." And "Promise me you'll never give money to a psychic, even if she breaks open an egg with a blood-red yolk."

Is this is how it's going to be for the rest of my life? Am I going to be saddled with people "helping" me?

I assure the clerk that I know what I'm doing and she makes a note allowing the transfer to go through. The next day the money moves across the ocean and I transfer the funds to the escrow account. I congratulate myself. That's one major milestone met.

But then bills come from the translator and the real estate agent, and I have to go online to move more cash. "Sorry," reads the error message again, "that exceeds the maximum allowed."

I know banking has simplified our lives incredibly since it's gone online, but it doesn't actually help if I have to call America every time I need cash. My heart is pounding in my chest but I try to stay calm as I call the bank again.

A guy gives me the same speech about my "protection" but this time I'm not feeling it. "I'm sorry, but I do not appreciate your 'help,'" I say. "I need the money right away and I don't appreciate having a simple procedure take days. I can't keep calling America to move money so I can buy an apartment."

"You're buying an apartment?"

"Yes," I reply. "This is for some of the fees."

"Oh," he says. "Okay. Before I authorize this though, tell me: have you actually seen the apartment?"

I assure him that I have. I'm tempted to run off onto random tangents, you know, like old people do. Maybe mention it's got a chair lift so I don't have to climb those awful stairs, and that I've got a cuddly red Tickle Me Elmo to keep me company. "Hello?" I'll say. "HELLO? Oh. I get confused sometimes. I spent eight hours yesterday talking into the vacuum cleaner." Instead I just ask him if the problem is fixed, he says yes, and I hang up.

And then the big day arrives. My German boyfriend and I sign the contracts and make it official. We are now the proud, joint owners of a small apartment in Berlin. Now a big pile of money has to go into the escrow account, and I go back online.

"Sorry," reads the error message, "that exceeds the maximum allowed."

I know the number by heart. "WRITE THIS DOWN," I scream red-faced into the phone. "I AM NOT AN OLD PERSON. I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. I AM BUYING AN APARTMENT WITH MY BOYFRIEND AND I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD LET ME TAKE MY GODDAMNED MONEY OUT OF MY GODDAMNED BANK ACCOUNT."

"I'm so sorry," comes a chastened voice out of the phone. "Believe me, no one here thinks you're an old person. We're just trying to help you hold on to your hard-earned cash. I'll see to this right away." She disappears for a minute, and then the voice comes back. "Just tell me one thing: have you actually met your boyfriend?"

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Americans know exactly one thing about Germany's autobahn: you can drive as fast as you want.

Naturally all the speed freaks are salivating, picturing eight or nine lanes of Mercedes, Volvos and Audis traveling at the speed of light through Blade Runner cityscapes. The fact is, though, the autobahn at its widest is three lanes across, and it mostly snakes through fields full of Swiss chard and wind turbines. The right lane is taken up by an endless line of trucks moving home furnishings, clothing and food to and from nearby countries like the Czech Republic and Poland. The left lane is shiny new cars moving unbelievably fast. And the middle lane is everybody who doesn't fit in those two groups, and that's what fucks everything up.

See, that middle lane holds all the dirty, banged-up cars that can't get up to eighty miles per hour, all the SUVs overloaded with kids watching DVDs, and all the old people who can barely see the road ahead of them. Now, I like going three hundred miles an hour, but when the lane next to me is barely shuddering along at sixty, I have second thoughts.

In America, half of everyone on the road is also on their cellphones, checking their email or talking to friends or posting photos of their drive on Facebook. This means half of the cars are bouncing around like bumper cars, slowing only when the driver looks up or smacks into something that corrects his course. If you are also doing sixty miles per hour, he will leave a dent. But if you are going three hundred miles per hour, the slightest imbalance in aerodynamics means your shiny Mercedes becomes airborne, flips eighteen times, flies off the freeway into a field of Swiss chard and comes to a rest against the base of a wind turbine.

But the German boyfriend speeds along obliviously as I quietly freak out in the passenger seat, jamming my foot onto nonexistent brake pedals every time we pass another car.

"What is going on with you?" he finally asks.

"Aren't you worried?" I ask. "What happens when one of these drivers gets distracted by his cellphone and veers into our lane, and we go flying off the autobahn into a field of Swiss chard?"

GBF looks off the highway. "First," he says in his schoolteacher tone, "it is October, so that's corn. And second, German drivers aren't on their cellphones, because that would be stupid."

And in an instant everything I know about the universe vanishes in a puff of smoke. People ... don't ... do ... something ... because ... it ... is ... STUPID? A parallel universe materializes in my head that doesn't include superhero movies or Kardashians. My entire concept of civilization changes in a flash, replaced by questions. Does this mean I have to stop watching Say Yes To The Dress and start reading books?

GBF has to travel a lot for work, so I tag along. Usually this means a night or two in Munich, Cologne, or Bonn, but on this particular weekend we're having dinner in a cafe in Oberkassel, a quaint little village on the Rhine. Food in Germany is also seasonal: for a few months every year there are massive celebrations for things like asparagus, strawberries, and mushrooms, and then the foods vanish completely until the next year. GBF gets ridiculously excited when these foods hit the market, which is why he orders a $170 plate of mushrooms. I don't want to burst his bubble but think about telling him New Yorkers get that shit from Peru year-round.

Me, I order the pizza because I've already tried German food. On one wall I spot a plaque engraved with the number 2017 and a lot of German words that make no sense to me accompanied by one that does:

KEGEL.

Now, I'm a big fan of Kegel exercises. Conventional wisdom points people to the pecs and biceps as the primary things to exercise, but these are equally important muscles deserving of equal time. Even if they're not ravaged by childbirth, they're slackened by age or disuse. I do the exercises as a sort of sexual empowerment, blindly hoping they'll improve my performance without plastic surgery. The practice is a bit more confusing for men, but I tighten up the back and I tighten up the front and cross my fingers it'll eventually show up in bed.

"What's that sign on the wall?" I ask the GBF.

"Kegel," he confirms. "They do Kegel here."

"Kegel," I repeat. "The exercise?"

He nods. "It seems they won the championship this year."

I probably shouldn't be surprised, since sex stores here put dildos in the windows. "You can win an award for it?" I'm vaguely interested, just out of curiosity, but I'm not ready for the championships yet.

He shrugs his shoulders. "It is a very popular sport. Many restaurants and bars have teams."

"So, once a week they all get together and practice? Doing Kegels?"

He's a little annoyed by all the questions but he understands this is what you get when I talk. "There must be an alley nearby."

"An alley?" I ask. "That sounds a little dirty. Why not just do it here, in the restaurant?"

He looks at me like I'm crazy while swallowing another forty dollars worth of mushrooms. "They don't have the equipment. It takes a lot of space. And then there is the noise."

I'm often impressed by Germany but here my admiration hits an all-new high. I'm picturing crowds of chubby middle-aged men in lederhosen and pale women in dirndls, all holding enormous steins of beer and squinting while they tighten up downstairs. "Okay, folks," somebody named Manfred shouts, "now two more sets of fifteen. Squeeze, and release. Everyone, repeat after me: 'NO, NO, NO. STOP THAT URINE FLOW!'"

I take another bite of bad pizza while trying to make sense of GBF's words: they need equipment? And space? And I know I've exerted myself doing Kegels but I've never made the neighbors complain. Still, I'd be surprised with all those potato-powered thighs if Germans didn't make a lot of noise. I can't begin to think of what a championship would be like, and picture arm-wrestling in my head. Could the Kegel-offs be similar? Do hyped-up competitors high-five each other while shouting stuff like, "I got the womb that's gonna take down the room!"? I don't even want to picture the movie Sylvester Stallone would make about this, but I know it would include headbands.

"Do you do Kegel?" I ask.

He shakes his head. "I tried it but didn't like it."

I feel like saying nobody likes it, but the alternative is having to tell people that you ejaculated once you hit 55. "I guess somebody must like it but I'm a little surprised there are teams."

He nods. "In America there are not?"

I shake my head. "It's a solitary thing. And I think it's mostly woman, but a few guys do it too."

He shoots me an interested look. "You do it?"

I stop and think for a second but decide there's no shame in the truth. "Yup," I say. "In fact, I'm doing it right now."

He looks puzzled. He scans my top half above the table, then he pushes the tablecloth to one side and checks out the bottom half. "You are doing Kegel right now?"

"Yup," I say. "Sometimes I do it on the subway if I'm bored and it's a long train ride."

"Kegel," he repeats.

"Yup."

"Where you have a ball, and you roll it down a long -- "

He stops because he can't find the word. I know what he's talking about but I can't find the word either. Then it comes to me. "Lane," I say.

"Lane," he says. "And you knock over pins and keep score."

I smile for a minute before finally saying, "American Kegel is a little different."

"It is an exercise you do with your clothes on? Is this something I will see when we are naked?"

I pick up the last piece of pizza. "Maybe," I say, still on the fence. "But you might want to close your eyes, just to protect yourself."

On our drive back to the hotel I explain the whole thing to him. With the language barrier I guess I shouldn't be surprised we have these disconnects. Even worse was the time I found pickle cream in the skincare section of a drug store. I asked GBF what it was and he shrugged and said you put it on pickles. I was pretty sure there was more to the story, but if you've ever tried German food you'd understand why I had my doubts.




Sunday, October 15, 2017

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." -- Theodore Parker

"Say what?" -- Anne Frank

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CNN Explains The Lyrics From Twelve Classic Songs

Eminem verbally stomped Donald Trump at the BET Hip Hop Awards last night in a fiery, four-and-a-half minute prerecorded rap. CNN recognized that it "perhaps the fiercest and the most exhaustive attack against Donald Trump in hip-hop," then listed his "11 fiercest lines" and explained them. Thank God at least some of the media understands that regular people don't get hip-hop.

Eminem: But this is his form of distraction, plus he gets an enormous reaction when he attacks the NFL, so we focus on that instead of talking Puerto Rico or gun reform for Nevada. All these horrible tragedies and he's bored and would rather cause a Twitter storm with the Packers.

CNN: Here, the rapper slams the President for spending days attacking NFL players who take a knee and escalating the feud as a hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico and a massacre occurred in Nevada. Trump visited both Puerto Rico and Las Vegas following each disaster.

This translation may be a little loose. I don't think Eminem was pissed about Trump visiting Puerto Rico: it's probably the fact that he flung paper towels at starving poor people that pissed him off.

Eminem: Same shit that he tormented Hillary for and he slandered then does it more. From his endorsement of Bannon, support for the Klansman, tiki torches in hand for the soldier that's black and comes home from Iraq and is still told to go back to Africa.

CNN: Here, Eminem is referring to Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is also the executive chairman of the conservative media outlet Breitbart News.

CNN has apparently confused commas with periods here. Apparently they missed the end of that sentence, which refers to the fact Trump watches black people pretty closely while somehow missing those rallies with all the white guys in hoods.

Eminem: We better give Obama props 'cause what we got in office now is a kamikaze that will probably cause a nuclear holocaust while the drama pops, and he waits for s--- to quiet down, he'll just gas his plane up and fly around till the bombing stops.

CNN: Here, Eminem is likely referencing Trump's war of words on social media with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, whom the President referred to as "little rocket man."

Oh! I'm not sure why but I thought this verse was about something that happened at a Chili's.

Anyway, props (that means "thanks") to CNN for providing the translation. I only wish they'd been around when I was in college. I can only imagine how one of America's top media outlets would've translated these lines from classic songs.

Led Zeppelin: If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May queen.

CNN Explanation: Whether you have a flower box on your balcony or an acre in Vermont, gardening can be just plain fun.

Pink Floyd: We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teachers, leave them kids alone

CNN Explanation: 24% of American parents find home-schooling the answer in these cautionary times.

The Beatles: Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

CNN Explanation: They left out the swaying palm trees and white sand beaches! Yes, there's nowhere else quite like Barbados.

Jefferson Airplane: One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.

CNN Explanation: With the plethora of prescription drugs available today, many people complain of unexpected side effects.

John Lennon: Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.

CNN Explanation: For an adventurous afternoon activity, smart families look to the trampoline.

The Beatles: I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me. She showed me her room; isn't it good, Norwegian wood.

CNN Explanation: When it comes to home decoration, solicit tips from creative friends.

Steve Miller: Some people call me the space cowboy, yeah. Some call me the gangster of love. Some people call me Maurice. 'Cause I speak of the pompitous of love.

CNN Explanation: It takes a real rocker to ask the hard questions: what happens when nicknames hurt?

Jimi Hendrix: Tell me, are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?

CNN Explanation: The smart job-seeker focuses on the basics at a job interview.

Phil Collins: I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord. And I've been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord.

CNN Explanation: Putting on a pretty dress is just the beginning. The well-dressed woman also wears scent.

Marvin Gaye: Mother, mother, we don't need to escalate.

CNN Explanation: Listen to your kids! Researchers know taking the stairs can burn 20% more calories.

Billie Holiday: Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root.

CNN Explanation: In juice or in salads, who doesn't love the pomegranate?

Billy Idol: Oh dancing with myself, dancing with myself. There's nothing to lose, and there's nothing to prove; I'll be dancing with myself.

CNN Explanation: Don't be shy -- get out there and move! It's better than staying home and masturbating.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's impossible not to notice that America is split in two these days. Usually the New York Times just adds fuel to the fire, but every once in a while they print an article that brings Republicans and Democrats together to agree in one voice, "What kind of shit is this?"


Dorm Essentials You Shouldn’t Forget (and Some You Should Skip)
By HAILEY NUTHALS

Everyone in your life will have advice on what you absolutely need to take to college. Multicolored sticky notes? Crucial. A rug by your bed? You’ll die without one!

HAILEY: Grandma, I'm going away to college tomorrow. I'll be back in a few months but I just wanted you to know I love you and I'll miss you.

GRANDMA: Is that you, Hailey? Remember to put it by your bed or YOU'LL DIE.

Needless to say, when I left for college it was somewhat different:

ROMAN: Hey, folks! I'm going away to college tomorrow. I'll miss you all but I'll see you in a year or two.

DAD: Okay, have a good time. [PAUSE] And Roman, if you ever need anything, remember this: LOTS OF PEOPLE NEED SHIT.

But from my experience dorming for the past four years, I’ve learned that smaller, sometimes forgotten items can sometimes have the biggest impact.

Sure, I was grateful I had a hanging shoe organizer...

ROMAN: Holy shit, that was a fucked-up day! I spent six hours in line to get my financial aid forms, three hours in line to sign up for classes, and ate nothing but a Cup O´ Noodles for lunch because I only had eighty cents.

HAILEY: I nearly couldn't find my yellow pumps. I pity the poor kids who aren't organized and have to wear, like, espadrilles. [SHE GLANCES OVER AT MY FEET, THEN SAYS TO HERSELF:] Look first, then talk, Hailey. Look first then talk.

...but it’s little things like pot holders or specialized kitchenware that made my dorm life a little more comfortable.

HAILEY: Goddammit Mom, how many times do I have to tell you? COLLEGE. STUDENTS. LIKE. CREPES.

Everyone knows to bring a good pair of noise-reducing headphones and a bathroom caddy for dorm living...

DAD: Roman, what do you mean, "What are testicles?" You're shitting me. One of your friends must have told you, right? You gotta be shitting me. [PAUSE] Anyway, I'm glad we had this talk. Remind me to tell you tomorrow about bathroom caddies.

...so here are a few items that will lighten your load in small but frequent ways....

Not saying anything here other than maybe Hailey was buying potholders while I was learning English.

...plus a few things you’re better off leaving at home.

What You’ll Want to Have

Whiteboard

There are plenty of ways to put them to use: Hang it on the door to leave messages and doodles for roommates and use it as a conversation starter for making friends on the hall.

ON WHITEBOARD: HEY, RADDISON, LOOK! I DREW A BIG RAINBOW AROUND A CHUBBY CAT! AND NEW NEIGHBORS, KNOCK ANY TIME! MY CREPE MAKER IS ALWAYS WARM.

Better yet, use it to draft texts to the cute member of your writing seminar who gave you a phone number without worrying about hitting “send” before you’re ready.

Hey Brad. I met you today and just wanted to say hi. Hi. ;) Wait, no -- :) No, that looks stupid. ;> OH GOD THAT IS THE WORST ONE YET WHY NOT JUST TYPE "MY NAME'S HAILEY AND I'M AN IDIOT!"? Well, at least I didn't accidentally send it, but WHY THE FUCK IS THIS ON MY DOOR?

Ministapler

Staplers are useful! Breaking news, I know. Staplers in printing centers are often either woefully absent or empty. (Alternately, use it to make it that much harder for your roommates to eat your leftovers.)

ON WHITEBOARD IN DIFFERENT HANDWRITING: Is anybody's mom or dad a therapist? I don't wanna point fingers but somebody's stapling her food shut now.

Portable phone charger

Inevitably, there will be free food being given out somewhere on campus. Don’t be the person who misses out just because your phone is dead.

HAILEY: Are those sandwiches? Hi, my name's Hailey. What is this "Scientology" anyway?

Beach towel

Grab this watermelon print towel from Target during one of those last-minute supply runs — it’s nice and big for extra space (or throwing impact for those disagreements with your roommate).

HAILEY: I'm sorry, Raddison, really sorry. I won't do it again if you promise not to report me. [PAUSE] Really, it can still be assault if the towel has watermelons on it?

What You’re Better Off Without

Rugs sound like a good idea. They keep your feet from hitting the cold linoleum floor in the morning, add some color to your room and make your tiny box look a little less institutional. But the harsh truth is this: Rugs are a bad idea.

No. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Wait: you mean in a dorm room or in the world as it stands today?

In all my years of dorm life, I never met someone who vacuumed or washed a rug regularly enough that it wasn’t just a patch of dirt and germs.

I can top that: in all my years of dorm life, I NEVER MET ANYONE WHO OWNED A RUG. Here's a question that never came up:

ROMAN: Should we make a midnight run to Jack In The Box, buy an ounce of sinsemilla from the Hawaiian guy down the hall, or get a kicky little cotton throw that will brighten up our dreary surroundings?

That (decorative) glass decanter? It will be broken.

HAILEY: Ohmigosh, it's a text from Brad! What's this? He doesn't see a future between us? He doesn't like my whiteboard doodles and either sweet or savory crepes. [THROWS DECANTER AT GROUND, WHERE IT SHATTERS INTO A MILLION PIECES] Shit. That's why grandma said, "Bring a rug."

That limited-edition Lana Del Rey vinyl that you never play because you paid so much money and elbowed so many other hipsters to get? Snapped in half, or at the very least scratched.

Hailey, you have a shoe organizer and watermelon-patterned beach towels. Those weren't "other" hipsters.

That stuff can wait until you have a trustworthy group of friends or your own apartment (or until dorm parties in your room are a thing of the past).

Got all that? Good. Now I've got to go draw a unicorn on my whiteboard, and these crepes aren't going to eat themselves.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Considering how much everybody raves about Germans, it's a shock to discover they're actually pretty fucked up. The trains are always late, the whole country lives on sausage, and there are drunks stretched out on just about every horizontal surface here.

Particularly irritating, though, is just how messed up the language is.

Now, there's a correct way and an incorrect way to order words, with no subjectivity about it. You put the important words towards the front of a sentence and the unimportant words later on. The English language is pretty good at this. For example, here's a common English sentence that you frequently hear:

I want to strangle you in the park with a fluffy blanket on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

This is an example of a good word order. The important stuff is up front. Somebody expressing this sentiment says the word "strangle" pretty early on, which gives you time to process his sentiments and start running. If you're anything like me, you're frantically trying to disappear into a passing crowd by the time they get around to the weather.

But here's the German translation (and feel free to pass it through Google translate if you don't believe me):

Ich möchte dich im Park mit einer flauschigen Decke an einem sonnigen Sonntagnachmittag erwürgen.

Let's go over that word for word. I, want, you, in the, park, with a, fluffy, blanket, on, a, sunny, Sunday afternoon --

Weird, right? We're already talking about fabrics and sunshine and everything is sounding swell when an alarm should have been raised by now. Remember, if this guy was speaking English about fifteen minutes ago you'd have found a hiding place under somebody's skirt. Instead, he's speaking German so all the way up to the bitter end you're picturing the sun on your face and wondering which outfit of yours is particularly picnic-appropriate. You may even be flirting: rubbing his hairy forearm and tossing your hair back, daydreaming about what a handsome couple you'll make. Let's see, you think: I'll bring potato salad, dill pickles, toothpaste, and a jar of lube. But wait: here comes the verb.

strangle.

Strangle. Okay. One second: I was expecting "kiss," "caress," or "make love." To be honest, I wasn't expecting any variation on the word "choke."

The reality hits you in stages. "Okay, buddy," comes your first thought. "I am definitely not bringing pickles."

Then the realization of your stupidity whacks you. You were actually picturing having children with this guy. And while you're trying to figure out where you went so terribly wrong, the guy's made a noose out of his shoelace. He's lunging at you while you're still processing thoughts about the picnic. In your last mental picture, you see your gravestone: "HE WAS STILL THINKING ABOUT POTATO SALAD AT THE END."

It doesn't help that all of this comes at you with a horrifying accent. With every syllable there's so much baggage involved. If a guy is French, everything sounds sexy. If a guy is British, everything sounds proper. But when a guy is German everything sounds like a threat.

Imagine all the words that your boy- or girlfriend says to you, but coming at you in Hitler's voice. If Jacques says to you, "Who's got a cute little toe?" you giggle and say, "I do!" But if Dieter says the same thing your natural inclination is to say, "I DON'T KNOW SIR BUT I WILL FIND OUT AND I WILL FETCH THEM FOR YOU."

I spent the first months of our relationship on edge, because everything the German Boyfriend said made me defensive. If your grandma asks, "Did you do the dishes?" there wouldn't be any unease. It would sound almost sweet, since this is the lady who frequently asks, "Who wants cookies?" You say no, you didn't do the dishes, and she'll say, "Okay, I'll do them. Now do you want a Maple Bar or an Oatmeal Spunky?"

When the words are shot at you with a German accent, though, your body reacts even faster than your brain. You freeze up, and shout the first thing that comes to your mind. "NO!" you scream. "I SWEAR TO GOD I DIDN'T TOUCH THEM!"

Slowly you realize it was a question, not an attack. Your boyfriend looks at you like you're crazy. "Then I will do them," he says as he walks away.

Aside from the accent, the words can be a problem. We actually argued for two hours about ice. At least, I thought it was about ice, because I was using the word "ice." However, he thought I was using the word eis, which means "ice cream." Which explains why he stared at me like I was crazy when I said that I liked a whole bunch of it in my gin and tonic, that I always have a twenty-pound bag of it in my fridge, and that I used to go outside and slide around on it when I was a kid.

We're at a Berlin drug store when I notice pickle cream. "What's this for?" I ask him.

"Pickles," he says. "It's for pickles."

"I know that," I said. "But, like the dill-cucumber things?"

He laughs and points to my face. "No," he says, "you know. These little bump things."

"Pimples," I correct, and I laugh until the thought hits me: Wait, did he just point at MY face?

After that I Google for other problematic words. There are a lot: kittchen means "prison," mist means "manure," and fahrt means "journey." I mentally invent sentences to avoid, like "I love spending time in the kittchen" and "My favorite thing about the British countryside is feeling the thick mist on my face."

I'm not convinced that fahrt would cause any confusion. I could have asked any of my boyfriends, "You enjoy a good fahrt now and then, don't you?" and the answer would have been yes either way.

I can't predict the problem we'll have with the word "eventually." GBF lives in Berlin and I live in New York and we're getting tired of flying back and forth. Finally on the telephone we confront the situation.

"We'll figure it out eventually," I say, and the line goes silent on his end.

"Are we breaking up?" he finally asks. "Are you dumping me?"

"No," I say. "I mean, we'll figure it out eventually. Like, some time, hopefully soon."

"Oh," he says with audible relief. "In German the word eventuell means 'possibly.' Usually never. It's what you say when you don't have the nerve to tell the truth."

"That's not what I meant," I say, but from the other end I still hear trembling. "Don't worry; we'll work it out. We'll figure out something at some point, and everything will be okay."

"Really?" he says, and I assure him that it's true.

"You have to know," he says, "if it ever sounds like I am being mean to you, it's not me. It's a problem with the words. I would never ever say anything mean to you, because I love you with all my heart. You will tell me if it sounds like I am being mean to you. You will promise?"

"I promise," I say, tears welling up in my eyes.

"I promise too," he says, his German accent disappearing in the softness. "But now it's very late for me and I have to go to bed."

"Good night, honey," I say.

"Sleep well, sweaty," he replies.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Google employee recently released a ten-page argument against diversity in the workplace. It went viral, and he got fired. A lot of conservatives are freaking out because from the very first word the man asks people to respect his unpopular opinion.

The whole thing gets convoluted and wordy, so let's cut out the bullshit and see what his writing really says. I edited the original because it was nearly incoherent. That's a male thing, where half the success in your writing comes from making it so lengthy and obscure people read eight words and go, "Oh, fuck this shit!"


Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.

I get it. But people generally aren't "shamed into silence" unless they think a diversity seminar is a good place to whip out the old "two nuns and a black guy" joke.


At Google, we’re regularly told that biases hold women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, technology, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

Blacks also say they're discriminated against at Google, but sometimes I feel discriminated against if the Google cafeteria cook forgets the bleu cheese in my salad, because what is salad without bleu cheese, and don't get me started on croutons.

I hope you're smart enough to keep up with my tangents.


Men and women differ biologically in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed: they’re universal across human cultures.

BOUDICA, QUEEN OF THE ICENI: Go fuck yourself. [CUTS HIS HEAD OFF WITH STONE AXE]


Women generally have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men.

BAD GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Hey! Good to see you. How are you today?

GOOD GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: How's that sweet Camaro running today? Man, I'd love to supercharge that puppy and take it for a few spins around the track.


These differences in part explain why women relatively prefer [Siri says, "Nope, not English!"] jobs in social or artistic areas. Men like coding and women like working on the front end, where you deal with both people and aesthetics.

MALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Sara, there's a recursion fault in your zero-sum logirhythmic simulation loop.

FEMALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Brad, I just won't be able to concentrate until you let me do something with your hair.


This leads to women generally having a harder time negotiating salary, asking for raises, speaking up, and leading.

TYPICAL GOOGLE BOSS-EMPLOYEE INTERACTION:

FEMALE WORKER: Boss, I'd like a raise.

MALE BOSS: Wow! An assertive woman. Hang out here a second, honey, and let me get my camera.


We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism. But men are more strongly judged by status and women by beauty. Again, this has biological origins and is culturally universal.

Okay, got it. So when you meet a female who wants to be successful, shove her sharply backward while shouting, "BUT YOU'RE A GIRL!"


Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting.

FEMALE IN BAR: So what do you do for a living?

MALE IN BAR: I live on the edge. I'm that stereotypical man's man who can't be held down, always reaching for that brass ring and jumping off that mountaintop without a parachute. You've probably guessed by now: I'm a trash collector.


I’ll go over some of the differences in traits between men and women and suggest ways to address them without discrimination. First, women show a higher interest in people and men in things

Which is why the Home Shopping Network just sells carburetors and jock straps these days.


We can make software engineering more people-oriented with more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain jobs can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise.

AVERAGE FEMALE TECH EMPLOYEE: I'm just not interested in this code. Is there some way you can, like, put more Kardashians in it?


Women on average are more cooperative

I never, ever thought I'd say this: somebody needs to watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.


Women on average are more prone to anxiety.

Maybe because men don't wake up every morning to find a new rant by some smug tech female about why Google shouldn't hire dudes?


Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average.

Wow. Is this smart-guy talk for "motherhood"? Because I don't know of any other "work-life balance" that females require.

FEMALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Boss, can I take off the first week of September? I want to have a cappuccino and try yoga.


The male gender role is currently inflexible. Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role.

At least that's what my dad said after he stopped crying when I told him I wanted to dance professionally.

What "men" are we talking about? Is this whole sentence about peer pressure?

LITTLE GIRL #1: I want to be a nurse when I grow up.

LITTLE GIRL #2: I want to be a football player.

LITTLE GIRL #1: Wow! Good for you!

LITTLE BOY #1: I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up.

LITTLE BOY #2: I want to be nurse.

LITTLE BOY #1: Faggot.


If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles.

Because there's no way tech can learn to value female traits. Nobody wants to ask, "Siri, what's six times eighteen?" and have Siri reply, "Why are you bugging me? Math is hard."


I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering just to make it appealing to women. For example, people working extra hours or taking extra stress will inevitably get promoted, and if we try to change that too much it may have disastrous consequences.

Crazy thought: why don't we get some of those women wives?


I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices like programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race.

Things I hate:
  • Women in tech
  • Things that help women in tech
Stay tuned for my next 82-page memo, "Special Ed? Special RIGHTS!"


We’re told by senior leadership that helping women in the workplace is the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without any evidence this is just harmful left-wing ideology partly based on the fact that humans are biased towards protecting females.

Dude, enjoy being married to that HP calculator, and say hi to your best friends, Mr. Microwave Oven and Mr. PlayStation II.


Nearly every difference between men and women is interpreted as a form of women’s oppression. As with many things in life, gender differences are often a case of “grass being greener on the other side."

I'm not sure I understand this. He attacks females for sixty pages then pretends that both sides think the other is better off?

FEMALE: Oh, man -- I really wish I was a dude. Then maybe I'd be taken seriously in tech.

MALE: Oh, man -- I really wish I was a chick. Then I'd look better in stretch pants and nobody'd freak out if I ate a salad.


The same compassion for those seen as weak creates political correctness, which constrains discourse and is complacent [Siri says, "That word doesn't mean what you think it does!"] to the extremely sensitive PC-authoritarians that use violence and shaming to advance their cause. The frequent shaming in our culture has created the same silence, psychologically unsafe environment.

MALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Chicks shouldn't work at Google! They're prone to anxiety and aren't as dedicated as dudes.

FEMALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Dude, you need to shut up, because that is seriously messed up.

MALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Really? Now you're creating a toxic work space!


Suggestion: De-moralize diversity. As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”

Translation: I've got a scientific reason for firing all the chicks. Don't get mad at me.


Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.

GOOGLE EMPLOYEE #1: Seriously, the earth is flat, and there's been a massive coverup for two thousand years to make us believe otherwise.

GOOGLE EMPLOYEE #2: Interesting. Let's go deeper into this.


Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.

MALE GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Seriously, if I can't get a mentor I'm calling my lawyer NOW. [PAUSE] It's a lady? Oh, HELL no!


Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for women’s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.

Google is trying to create equal opportunities for women who want to work. This statement only makes sense if women are also struggling to be high-school dropouts who are killed in jail.


De-emphasize empathy. I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. Relying on affective empathy causes us to focus on anecdotes and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases.

Got it. So if predominantly white male police forces kill unarmed blacks five times more often than unarmed whites, those are just anecdotes prompting shit like "diversity" and should be ignored.


Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.

Okay.

You're an idiot and you shouldn't be let outdoors.

Wow -- now all that anxiety is gone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Germany isn't weird at all. Just like the rest of the world, kids here love to play with action figures drawn from education and entertainment. Kinder Joy, Germany's top confectioner, recently introduced a line of chocolate eggs with their own action figures hidden inside. While they're currently exclusive to Germany, it's easy to imagine American kids delighting at these toys and devising action-packed dialog just like this:

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: We have been at sea for over two years. We are out of food and water. It is finally time to consider the thought that perhaps the world really is -- wait! Do my eyes deceive me? Is that not LAND?

LEONARDO DA VINCI: I must quickly sketch this before my thoughts are lost to the wind. There! I do believe I've devised a way by which a man can fly.

JOE BASTIANICH: This Béarnaise has entirely too much salt. Did you even taste this before you brought it to me? You're a hack. A HACK! GET OUT!

Just imagine the thrill at Munich slumber parties.

MOM: I brought you girls some Kinder Joy eggs! Just one apiece, though. And you girls get to bed soon!

GIRL #1: Oh boy! Okay. Thanks, Mom!

GIRL #2: Mmm, this chocolate egg is delicious. What's this? Oh. [GARBLED] There's a tiny plastic person in my mouth.

GIRL #1: Wow, what fun! Is it super-cool Cody Simpson? Is it Tori Kelly, who voiced a shy teenage elephant in the movie Sing?

GIRL #2 [EXTRACTING FIGURE FROM MOUTH]: No. Judging from the fedora, the soul patch and the bright red shoes, I'd say this is beloved America's Got Talent judge Howie Mandel!

GIRL #1: You dummy, that's Joe Bastianich. His mom introduced him to Mario Batali in 1995 and three years later they opened Babbo.

GIRL #3: Huh. I'll trade you my Lindsay Vonn for it.

GIRL #2 Nah. [YAWNS] I think your mom is right. Suddenly I feel like going to sleep.

Despite our initial assumption that Mr. Bastianich is out of his league here, his website convinces us otherwise. "I am a restauranteur, author, sometimes television personality, rocker, runner, husband and a father," he says, perhaps unaware that after the age of fifty the word "rocker" should be deleted from one's biography. "I made the choice to pursue what truly interested me, worked like a dog to open Becco twenty years ago, and I guess the rest is history." Such initiative! Such drive! What perhaps isn't quite so historical is the fact that he opened Becco with his mom, who'd opened and run the wildly-popular Felidia restaurant in Manhattan twelve years earlier.

After following in the footsteps of Mom and Mario Batali it appears Bastianich wanted to follow Anthony Bourdain next:

Bastianich recalls one night during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when the gregarious [Bill] Clinton loudly tells an off-color joke involving lesbians and Jerry Brown within earshot of journalists, even though Bastianich tries to warn him. The story goes viral the next day. -- NY Post

So the triathlete/rocker/restauranteur/denture wearer and -- what's that? oh, right -- husband and dad is a hero too. Too bad he wasn't similarly heroic roughly eight years earlier when presidential hopeful Bob Kerrey told Arkansas governor Bill Clinton a joke involving lesbians and, yes, Jerry Brown at a political dinner in New Hampshire. It was picked up by a microphone and also went viral, prompting "profuse apologies" from Kerrey.

You'd think Clinton would have learned from Kerrey's mistake, but I'd also have thought that an experienced businessman like Bastianich, who said a restaurant owner's life is “a nickel-and-dime business, and you make dollars by accumulating nickels," wouldn't have allegedly accumulated nickels that belonged to his restaurant help, resulting in a $5.25 million dollar judgment against Batali and him.

Still, with part-ownership in something like thirty restaurants, maybe Mr. Bastianich deserves to be a little plastic figure inside a chocolate egg. It just looks a little painful when, as they say, a man born on third base claims he hit a triple, and when somebody's Wikipedia page, in addition to spotlighting their cameo in an American Girl TV film, reads like this:

Bastianich has received numerous accolades[example needed]."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Dear Germany,

It's 2017. Can't you use Helvetica for a change?

Thanks,
RomanHans

Superstar Miranda Kerr Marries Snapchat Billionaire Evan Spiegel And Not ONE Person Has A Lint Roller

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I like rock and roll music. My favorite song is Bad Reputation by Joan Jett. My other favorite song is I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow. My other favorite song is Cherry Bomb by the Runaways. I especially like the part where she sings, "Hello, daddy. Hello, mom. I'm your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!"

Perhaps you can tell I like songs about young girls. I write songs too and I have written a classic song that is just like these. If you are a singer and want to put this song on a record you can email me.

I am out of control and I drive my parents crazy.
I won't do my chores and they say that I am lazy.
I date rough old men because they make me feel girly:
I am a 12 year old girl who's gone thru puberty prematurely.

Rebellious boys out there need to give me a call
We can go to Six Flags and really have a ball.
I have an hourglass shape and long blonde hair:
Doctors say pesticides caused this but I don't care.

I climb out my bedroom window and hitchhike into town
not wearing anything except my nightgown.
When the sun comes up then I finally go home.
I am having so much fun with a documented syndrome.

If you have a snake you can clean out my plumbing.
From the noise I make you will know when I am coming.
Or if you have a worm maybe we can go fishing.
I am far too busy to write to a regulatory commission.

So give me a call, any Toms, Dicks or Harrys
if you're hot for a girl whose mom picked strawberries.
We can climb up a tree and start acting really squirrelly,
because I am a 12 year old girl who's gone thru puberty prematurely.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled"

I don’t usually go to movies, but I couldn’t resist seeing Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, sure to be this year’s most-talked-about film just opening across America. I wasn’t surprised it was breaking box office records here in Brooklyn, because the crowd in front of my local theater was abuzz. In fact, I'm shocked there weren't more conversations like this one I overheard:

TEEN GIRL: How about if we go see Wonder Woman again?

TEEN BOY: I don’t know. The flick is good but I kind of feel like it's not, you know, beguiling enough.

The film is about a hunky young soldier (Colin Farrell) who suffers an injury during the Civil War and finds care at a school for young girls (Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning) run by a frigid spinster (Nicole Kidman). Immediately sexual tensions develop and the audience is left to wonder: just who is beguiling whom?

I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I’ve got to say that everyone in the audience, regardless of age, income or background, got completely immersed in the film. In fact, just before the film’s startling climax, a streetwise thug behind me shrieked, "Uh-oh, looks like somebody’s getting BEGUILED!“

While who's the beguiler and who's the beguilee is left up in the air, I have to applaud the film for provoking a conversation we desperately need. Leaving the theater I must have heard fourteen couples arguing a variation of this:

TEEN GIRL: I think it takes a certain innocent charm, like that possessed by Elle Fanning, to truly be considered beguiling.

TEEN BOY: What are you talking about? Ain’t nobody beguile like Colin Farrell.

I’ll leave this discussion to more erudite critics and just repeat what other audience members told me.

"Sofia Coppola is such a genius she can literally change language," said Martina D. "I see 'beguile‘ for Brooklyners as that next gotta-have word bridging the gap between 'bewitch‘ and 'dupe.‘"

"Sometimes I do things of dubious legality,“ admitted someone who didn’t want to be named. "I’d like to thank Sofia Coppola for letting me know that since I’m sexy I’m not just a thief.“

"That film was the bomb,“ said Stuart T. "My next tattoo is going to be captioned with the word BEGUILE, if I can figure out a way to illustrate it using dogs."

"I think this film presents an important lesson for kids today," said Samantha R., a schoolteacher. "They already know they can be robbed, cheated or swindled. Hopefully this alerts them to the possibility of getting beguiled, bamboozled or even hornswoggled.“

"That’s it,“ concluded beaming Briana E., a pregnant teen. "I’m naming my daughter Beguile. I can’t believe how stupid Inveigle sounds to me now.“

Anyway, two big claps for Sofia Coppola, and let’s hope this film is the start of a whole new franchise. I don’t dare pretend to inspire the young auteur but I’ll bet everybody in this borough would run to see The Diddled, The Entranced, or Hey, Who’s That Come Hither Girl?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

If I had to pick one person who Donald Trump reminds me of it'd have to be Fred Flintstone. They've both got the same kind of confident stupid. Fred would run for president too, mindlessly spouting inanities like "I'm going to hire all the best men, the best people for the job, and everything is gonna be great!"

It's a cartoon so there'd be a miracle: Fred would get elected too. Nobody would really know what happened, but before they'd cut to a commercial we'd see a polling place where one Wooly Mammoth says to another, "I was hoping you could add." "YABBA DABBA DO!" Fred yells. "I'm gonna make Bedrock great again!"

Unfortunately, Fred is no Homo Sapiens. You know he'll go to a ball game or he'll get drunk and fall asleep and at the last minute he'll be like, "Oh shit! I forgot to hire anybody! What am I gonna do? [PAUSE] I know! I'll hire Barney as my Vice President. Betty can be Attorney General. Pebbles can be Secretary of Education, and Bamm-Bamm can be Secretary of Defense. Now that's a great cabinet!"

There's just two flaws with Fred's plan. First, you know, they're not the best people for the job. You're not going to get brilliance out of somebody who wears diapers and goes BAM BAM BAM! all day long, though who am I to criticize Jeff Sessions. And second, isn't it a little insulting to Wilma? Everybody Fred ever met is now in a position of power and has moved to Washington -- except for her. Luckily, she doesn't care. She's glad to get rid of the stupid oaf and enjoy spending his money. You know she's home alone trying on all her fancy new clothes, and she's got a sassy talking bird that she asks, "Does this stegosaurus fur make me look fat?"

After a few weeks, though, Fred gets sad. He looks out the window and sees angry people with picket signs that say things like, "GO BACK TO THE BRONZE AGE!", "I THOUGHT DODOS WERE EXTINCT!" and "I WISH YOUR PLEISTO HAD NEVER BEEN CENE!" He gathers his cabinet around the dinner table. "I'm feeling a little down," he says. "I'm feeling like maybe I'm not the best president Bedrock has ever seen. Why don't we go around the table and everybody say a short sentence or two about how I am?"

Betty and Barney say, "Fred, you're the greatest!" Pebbles spouts random baby-talk while Bamm-Bamm hits the ground with his club and the Great Wazoo turns all the protesters into Brontosaurus burgers.

In real life, though -- at Donald Trump's "Let's All Talk About How Great I Am" meeting -- the focus eventually turns to Reince Priebus. He isn't a relative so unlike the other incompetents he can be fired. I feel bad for him: my blood freezes when some omnipotent asshole announces that I have to say something about myself. "My name's Roman. I'm single, I'm a Virgo, and I was born in sunny California!" Eighty percent of the crowd will laugh to themselves and think, "What a dickwad!" while the other twenty percent go, "I just knew he was a Virgo."

Reince thinks quick. "We're sitting around a table and unexpectedly somebody's making me give a speech. What does that remind me of? [PAUSE] I've got it! GRACE! It's like when I slept over with Dadpappy and Maw-Maw and they made me talk to God before I could eat. I'll say a version of Grace!" He makes a few small changes as it runs through his head:

Bless us, Oh Trump,
and these thy gifts which
we are about to receive from thy bounty,
through Trump, Our President, Amen.

Not bad, he thinks, but a little obvious. He whips up a quick Version Two:

Bless us, Oh Trump,
for the opportunity and the blessing
that you've given us to serve your agenda
-- and the American people --
through Trump, Our President, Amen.

Getting closer! One more try:

On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President,
we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that
you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people.

That's it! And not a minute too soon. It's Reince's turn to talk and he repeats it.

Trump is blown away. He doesn't recognize the source material, as he also won't recognize Reince's next speeches that start with "Who's the leader of the club?", "It's a world of laughter, a world of tears," and "I'm a little teapot." He wipes away tears and yells "YABBA DABBA DO!" In the closet, the bird who's been recording the whole thing grabs his ears and says, "I think it's gonna be a looooong four years."


Friday, June 9, 2017

Odds and Ends

Simon Cowell used the Golden Buzzer for a deaf singer named Mandy Harvey on Tuesday’s “America’s Got Talent." [Harvey] explained that when she was 18 years old she lost her hearing due to a connective tissue disorder.

She then said she was going to sing a song she wrote called “Try.” Before performing, Harvey explained that the song was about not giving up.


Wow. That sounds a lot like my song "Swim," which is about not sinking.




Fewer people know proper grammar these days, irritated blogger finds.



The First Draft Of An Article For A German Tourist Magazine

Germans always choose a side dish with tang or bite to counteract the richness of certain foods. The smart tourist, seeking an authentic meal, should always follow suit.

With Wienerschnitzel, for instance, you should opt for sweet lingonberry jam. Bratwurst needs a side of tangy sauerkraut. Rinderroulade (beef wrapped around bacon) finds a friendly companion in a heaping portion of pickles. The pork meatball called Frikadelle begs for a slathering of sharp, acidic mustard or HOW ABOUT YOU JUST STOP EATING FATTY FOOD???



I hate it when you're with somebody at a restaurant and the check comes and they say, "How about you get this and I'll get something else?" It never works out. Fifteen minutes later we're walking by a jewelry store and they don't say, "Hey, how about I buy you a nice watch?" We pass a Circuit City and they don't say, "You know, I can get you an air conditioner!" Instead right before you head home you pass a 7-Eleven and they're like, "You feel like Slim Jims and meth?"



Are You As Good A Parent As Salma Hayek?

See if you can choose the right ending to a common parenting problem she faced.

"I'm a very good stepmum," [Salma] Hayek insists. "You have to work very hard to please them all. If you are making pizza, there is one who doesn't like cheese, and another who hates tomato."

(1) "I practice tough love. I make what I want and say, 'Eat it or don't! I just hope you don't starve before breakfast.'"

(2) "I'm a softy. I end up spending all night in the kitchen making sure they get whatever they want."

(3) "Our chef sometimes looks so downhearted. He's always saying, 'Madam, what are we going to do?'"




Suggested Company Motto

1 (800) DENTIST. When closing your eyes and randomly stabbing a finger at Google search results just isn't good enough.



Nine o'clock at night I realize I'm hungry, and there's nothing in the fridge. "I'm going to get a slice of pizza from the corner," I tell my boyfriend.

"Pizza is so overpriced," he says. "It's like twelve cents worth of ingredients they charge $16 for. It's easy to make your own pizza: you can make the sauce from canned tomatoes, grate some fresh cheese, and easily make your own crust from flour and yeast. The result will be much tastier and far cheaper."

"Oh," I say. My stomach growls and I get up off the couch. "I'm going to go plant some wheat."



I'm Not So Good At Pithy Sayings

Give a man a sheep and he'll eat for a week or he'll wear fucking wool pullovers for the rest of his life.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

In Today's News

A group of New Jersey policemen were caught on cell phone video kicking and beating an innocent bystander who had been injured by a car that crashed while trying to flee police.

The officers had been pursuing another man who drove off during a traffic stop. That man got into a minor collision, prompting pursuing officers to fire shots. He then crashed his car into a utility pole and it burst into flames.

A motorist who has not been identified was driving by and his car also caught on fire. As he tried to get free, several officers surrounded him and began kicking him.

Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, said the officers were simply trying to save the man by putting out the flames.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Aside from Princess Diana. Please tell me this is ASIDE FROM PRINCESS DIANA.

Friday, May 12, 2017

People in big cities put up with a lot of shit. The air is filthy, the streets are crowded, the people act like animals. We note these faults and accept them and think, well, it's worth it, because at least I can go see "Hello, Dolly!" whenever I want.

There's one ridiculous phenomenon that I can't accept, though, that other big-city dwellers have probably noticed. Picture this: you're waiting for a subway train. You've been on your feet for eighteen hours and you're exhausted. It's your lucky day! When the train pulls up, the doors are right in front of you, and through the window you see an empty seat.

The doors slide open and in less than three footsteps your dream dies. Before you get to the seat, a rambunctious little rugrat scurries between your legs and clambers up onto it. They smile. "Look at me!" their face says. "I'm sitting! Wheee!"

You shoot them a glare that would paralyze oysters. "You're sitting, kid," you want to repeat. "You didn't make a hit record with LaToya Jackson."

I blame parents. A kid does fuck-all and they act like he's won the Nobel Prize. You ate a carrot? Hooray! You took your socks off? Whoopee! You stuck three Legos together? OHMIFUCKINGOD! I worry about the damage it's going to do to the kid. Twenty years from now their boss will say, "Hey, what's up with that Farnsworth report?" and they'll say, "I haven't started it yet, but I've been pooping into porcelain!"

As an observant human, this kids-on-the-subway phenomena confuses me. Doesn't a child's life consist of running around aimlessly? While adults are sitting in comfy chairs drinking cappuccinos, kids grab at the opportunity for exercise. "Gosh," they think, "I wonder if I can run in a circle until I carve a groove into marble tile!"

Yet the second they're in a moving metal box with strangers they're like, "Oh, shit. I just gotta get offa these dogs." They play endless sports. They scamper across streets. They march in place in their bedrooms. But they minute they're on a subway car they're staring at everybody seated with tears in their eyes, like "I been chasing a squirrel with a rock for eight hours. How's about helping a six-year-old out?"

They can fuck off. You focus on your smartphone but from the corner of your eye you see the sad face. "Yo, bud, have some sympathy," it says. "These little pink legs are swole!"

Once the kids sit down, though, their demeanor changes. Now the energy is back. Now they can hardly sit still long enough to stare out the window. "What the hell?" they think as they kick everything within eight miles with their dirty feet. "There's a motherfuckin' pigeon out there!"

I don't understand their parents. They know the kids don't deserve or appreciate the seats. Why don't they make the kids stand? It wouldn't be difficult: just say something like, "Teddy, I'll bet you can't jump up and down until Jesus returns." "I'll bet I can!" Teddy yaps. He leaps out of the seat and the 92-year-old lady in front of it smiles for the first time since Rudolph Valentino took off his shirt.

Before she can get to it, though, a little girl is there. "You look just like my great-grandma!" she says. "Holy shit, is that graffiti? Raddison Marie, get your little pink Keds over here!!"

Friday, May 5, 2017

What If Jane Austen, Philip K. Dick or Ernest Hemingway Had Written 'Basic Instinct'?

Jane Austen:

A handsome police inspector who is questioning a lady may often find it is the wrong question that is being answered. So discovered Sir Thomas Bertram, squire of Flittylocks Manor, as he cross-examined accused murderess Fanny Coleripple about a lifeless corpse discovered amidst a copse of quails on the grounds of Lower Smalldimples.

"It is quite easy for a horse to be led astray," lectured Sir Thomas. "The question is how many biscuits are required for him to find his way home."

Miss Coleripple raised her brow and giggled delicately. "Sometimes it is best to save one's biscuits for a more reputable mare," she bespoke.

The fetching owner of eight piglets and a tractor glowered. "It is all fine for you to stare at me out of your countenance, but there was an act of violence over a quarter-dollar ago and I am determined to uncover the truth."

The visage of the resident of Titteridge Place adopted a girlish vexation. "It is often discovered when one tries to hover," she pined, "that they uncover something from which they can't recover." She raised a long limb and delicately lowered it across the other.

"I daresay, Miss Coleripple," said the most skilled dancer of Bigstaples County, "I am quite in the dark. Which is something I can't say for a significant portion of your underoos."

There are a million acceptable options for a proper lady's wardrobe but just one truly ghastly choice. Reader, I'm talking about knickers. Because when she returned to the third-smallest thatched-roof ivy-covered cottage in Upper Dashboard Valley for the final time, the prettiest woman to have played a half-round of croquet at Woodcheeks Manor would discover the hand-tatted lace panties she thought she was wearing crumpled upon the settee. Her team of horses raced to meet the last train to Warsaw and, as one can scarcely listen to a thing which does not speak, she was never ever heard from again.


Philip K. Dick:

I piloted my red Hydro Booster X711 down Inter-Steller 405 and stopped at the Police Station that hovered just off the border of Sector A-14. There, a wealthy man's housekeeper was being held, suspected of his murder. I peered through the nano-glass of her extruded cryo-cell. She was beautiful all right -- but she was also a replicant. She might have been well-programmed but even Windows 4763-X(b) had bugs.

I had her trans-portaled to the plasticine Interrogation Capsule and when I entered she was floating in a pool of crocheted neon. I took my seat behind a flickering hologram of a desk.

I couldn't take my eyes off her. I'd rarely seen such excellent work. "It's not looking good for you," I said. "You never should have impaled him with those weaponized titanium geese."

A tear rolled down her cheek. "I -- I didn't do it," she choked.

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. I looked into her eyes: a matched pair of Bernlicht R-2000s, fashioned from the finest vinyloid harvested from cloned Japanese cattle and pure latex rubies. Was it possible? Had some sort of virus corrupted her operating system, or did she honestly think she wasn't guilty?

She crossed her legs and exposed her nether regions to me. I looked up her skirt and saw it all: the sleek hair, the sultry lips, the little man in his red space ship. Obviously this was a P386x, a part instantly recognizable to all synth-human developers. This little work of art all by itself cost more than the residents in this quadrant made in their lifetimes. It was the finest vagina money could buy.

She was hoping to unnerve me, but her little trick wasn't going to work. See, I've always been able to control myself. Completely. Every muscle, every fiber, every cell in my body. In fact, ever since I was a little boy, I could --

Oh shit. I AM A REPLICANT TOO!


Ernest Hemingway:

I was asking her about a murder. A murder she probably committed. Her fingerprints were all over the joint, and five miles from the murder site I found a blood-covered lace serape that was exactly her size.

I had to question her but I couldn't. I was the blotchy, bone-shaking, wine-addled son of an itinerant highwayman, and she had flaxen hair, a delicate manner, and porcelain skin that would make everyone in Germany smash their Lladro and scream, "WHAT KIND OF USELESS SHIT IS THIS?"

It was difficult keeping myself together. I tried to confine my wandering thoughts to matadors but the horns of the snorting black beasts kept growing foreskin. Here I was, a big tough guy at the mercy of this unwrinkled wench who couldn't have weighed eighty pounds if she was holding a wheel of cheese and my testicles.

I was at her mercy.

I was starting to say a prayer for myself when she threw one skinny leg over the over and whaddaya know?

Pussy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

8 Reasons People Keep Clicking On Articles Like "11 Foods That Fight Cancer -- Number 2 Will SHOCK You!" Number 7 Will SHOCK You!

1. I don't know. Maybe they think GoGurt will replace kale this time around?

2. They actually want to go for a jog but they're too fat to get off the couch.

3. They know that one day the world is going to recognize RHUBARB!

4. They just finished eating thirteen cans of baked beans and they've got their fingers crossed.

5. Actual hospital studies aren't shit compared to Buzzfeed's medical breakthroughs.

6. It's the only link they haven't clicked other than, "This Father And Daughter Took The Same Photo Every Year. DON'T CRY WHEN YOU SEE THE LAST ONE!"

7. They thought it said, "11 Foods That Fight Canaries."

8. They are the last living souls on earth not saying to themselves, "Oh, Holy God -- would you please SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT BROCCOLI?"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Why yes, I did. But for some reason I couldn't find the key that puts TWO STUPID FUCKIN' DOTS OVER A VOWEL.

A Sociologist Examines Life in the 1960s Based on Beatles Lyrics

You're going to lose that girl,
You're going to lose that girl.

In the 1960s, women were possessions of men. This doesn't mean they weren't valued, as these two lines imply: men don't warn other men about the potential loss of a wad of lint or a corncob. "Hey, buddy," no male would ever say, "you better drive slower or you're gonna lose that clump of bird shit on your roof."

If you don't take her out tonight,
She's going to change her mind.

These two lines give us a hint as to the root of the problematic female treatment. The female is above all fickle: despite an established, long-standing relationship, if her man disappears for an hour or two she's got her thumb out by the side of the road. Since loyalty is a trait identifiable with more developed species, this pinpoints the female's position on a societal scale to just above that of a cat, since a cat would share the sentiment but not be able to mouth the words, "You're not gonna feed me? Then, buddy, I'm gonna find somebody who will."

And I will take her out tonight,
And I will treat her kind.

One can easily recognize the objectified woman in these two lines, since there is no parallel in male-dominated societies. If Google wanted to steal a valued male employee from Apple, for instance, they wouldn't threaten to take him rollerskating in their daddy's Mustang. The male requires a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract to switch allegiance while the female is settling for less. "Raisinettes and a Sprite?" she chirps. "Okay, buddy -- I'll go home and pack right now."

I'll make a point
Of taking her away from you, yeah,
The way you treat her what else can I do?

Even the most clueless reader must sense the unreliability of the narrator here. On the surface he's expressing unselfishness with this offer to help the beleaguered female, but if he felt even the slightest bit of empathy this song would be about bringing sausages to Darfur. Competitiveness rather than altruism is the motivating factor for action here.

If you don't treat her right, my friend,
You're going to find her gone,

Female as object is reiterated here, though her value is again unspecified. Perhaps losing a woman is like losing your car keys, with both cases leaving the hapless male frantically checking his pockets. But perhaps it's more like a preoccupied male spotting an empty space on a bedroom shelf and realizing he hasn't seen his Kylo Ren action figure in something like six weeks.

Cause I will treat her right, and then
You'll be the lonely one.

In the end, it's the lack of female volition that is most troubling in this work. We're left with the idea that male action alone is what prompts female fidelity. She can stay or she can go, but otherwise her opinion doesn't matter. It may seem smug to congratulate ourselves on living in a more enlightened time, but if this song were written today it would certainly include a discussion of the male's qualifications, perhaps with a couplet like this:

If you don't treat her right, my friend,
Then she might mobilize,
Cause I have got a job, and then
there is my penis size.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


ME: Um, you don't actually wear this cologne, do you?

GERMAN BOYFRIEND WHO IS TALLER THAN ME: No. NO! DEFINITELY NOT! (PAUSE) Only when I'm out of David Hasselhoff.

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