This Week On Facebook

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I’m toying with making this a regular feature, if only to get me posting here more. Basically, I want to observe some of the things that my friends are talking about on Facebook, and go into a little more depth here. It’s a prompt of sorts. We’ll see.

At any rate, this week I’m seeing a lot of this:

richardson

If you’re not familiar with Terry Richardson, here’s the deal: he’s an “American fashion and portrait photographer.” His “snapshot aesthetic” utilizes a white backdrop, and lighting which gives his subjects a very blanched, beat look. He’s very trendy.

He’s also a completely repulsive human being.

It doesn’t take a lot of Google sleuthing to yield some very unsavory information about Terry Richardson. And yet celebrities flock to him, because – simply put – having Terry Richardson shoot you means that you’ve “arrived.” A Richardson portrait is the 21st Century equivalent of a Warhol silkscreen. And because of this, famous people are completely willing to overlook the nastiness, the abuse, and the degradation of NON-famous people in order to have those bleached-out, totally gross portraits of themselves. Status will always trump decency. So, you know, well played, famous people. If you stay good and drunk, you can continue to not think about how many women have been exploited and abused by this fucking creep, and that you’re basically enabling him to do it. May you treasure those pictures always.

giphy.com

On a more bittersweet note, loads of my music scene pals posted the link to this bit of news, about the impending demise of Central Square’s, um, “finest” pizza establishment: Hi-Fi:

hifi

What can I say about Hi-Fi? From around 1988 to 2002, it was the place I went to because I was too scuddered to walk down Massachusetts Avenue to Wendy’s. Unceremoniously jettisoned from TT’s or The Mid East for being a drunk ho? Get your shit together at Hi-Fi.

Once I got sober? Never set foot in the place again, even as I continued to see and play shows in the immediate vicinity. One – because I no longer needed that refuge in which to weep while attempting to “soak up” the alcohol braying through my bloodstream. Two – because sobriety afforded me the chance to get reacquainted with my taste buds.

Horrible pizza. Just terrible. A friend of mine has argued that it was at least “good enough” to keep them in business for 40 years, but I don’t buy that. The reason they stayed in business for 40 years? LOCATION. Within stumbling distance of two major clubs. I ask you, fellow denizens of The Scene: did you ever actually, specifically, go to Hi-Fi for pizza when NOT either at a show or playing a show? Like, did you go there to have dinner/lunch independent of a show? If this was a place you willingly went to because you loved that pizza SO MUCH, I would love to hear from you. Because you puzzle me.

And yet, I lament its closing. I truly do. It’ll be said over and over for the next few days, and I’ll say it, too, because it’s true: END OF AN ERA. My 23-year-old self would not recognize Central Square these days, and this is one more landmark that will be replaced by a Domino’s, or a bank, or some terrible place that sells those Vera Bradley quilted bags. Sadness.

dog

What Animated Dog Am I? Mr. Peabody. DUH.

complaint-weather-comparatively-less-annoying-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Finally, it’s March in New England, which means volatile weather to the max. Yesterday it was sunny and in the upper fifties. On Monday we woke up to snow. It’s going to snow tomorrow, too, probably. It will go back and forth like this until at least mid-April. We know this, and still we complain. And if we’re not complaining about the snow, we’re complaining about people who are complaining about snow. Because Facebook.

Valentine’s Day. And the National Anthem.

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“Happy Fake Holiday, everyone!”

Sigh.

The older I get, the more I’m kind of okay about the whole Valentine’s Day thing. I mean – I’m not about to leave a trail of rose petals from the front door to the bedroom, where I will be stretched out in my flannel cat-print pajamas with a half-eaten Whitman’s Sampler. But, you know, love is nice, and I like looking at creepy, vintage Valentines, and I just can’t with the grousing about it anymore.

WE KNOW IT’S A FAKE, MADE-UP DUMB HOLIDAY. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know it, and hearing the endless kvetching about it is sort of like…okay…here’s what I think it’s like. Story time:

One time I was at a 4th of July party with a boyfriend. It was in an apartment building which overlooked the Charles River, and therefore the fireworks display on the Esplanade. I think I was all of 22 years old at the time, fresh outta college, and therefore possessed of the belief that I knew EVERYTHING. I was also just starting to dip my toes into the cool, still waters of “drinking like an adult” (which is really to say, I was wading waist-deep into what would become the rip current of my full-blown alcoholism), and wanted desperately to appear like the sort of adult who goes to parties in nice apartments overlooking the Charles River, drinking out of nice glasses and saying, oh, just the most interesting things. But because I felt so out of place there, with my nice, smart MIT Ph.D candidate boyfriend and his nice, smart friends; because I was acutely aware that even in my nicest sundress I was never going to pass as one of them; because I was so uncomfortable that I wanted to jump off the tiny little balcony into the Charles River below – I drank too much. Somehow the conversation turned to the National Anthem. And I whipped around like a spastic, inebriated ostrich and bleated, “IT’S A DRINKING SONG!”

“I’m sorry?”

“The National An..anthem. It’s based on a English drinking song. No, FOR REAL. It’s about ANACREON. A Greek p-poet. It’s about DRINKING.”

“…”

“I mean…that’s FUNNY. You know? The words are different, but it just, like, got lifted from a song about being drunk. AND THAT’S OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM. Woooooo! AMERICA!”

Annnnd…scene.

So, basically, listening to people bitch about a bogus holiday that’s commercial claptrap aimed at supporting the greeting card industry or whatever is akin to listening to a 22-year-old, drunk-ass me lecturing everyone about the origins of the National Anthem. So stop it.

I’m reflecting on the love I’ve experienced, the reciprocated and the unreciprocated and the ones that got away (or, rather, the ones that RAN away), and of course there’s a soundtrack for it all.

Now, some of these songs now kind of make me want to hurl (you can probably guess what they are), but I’m not going to revise my life’s soundtrack to make it sound cooler and hipper than it is.

Let’s start with this one:

I was way into INXS through most of the 80s. Except when “Kick” came out, because then EVERYONE liked INXS and I felt robbed. I know – I’m starting to creep into “drunk 22-year-old Lisa and the National Anthem” territory there. ANYWAY. I was 15 when this album came out, and I would listen to this song over and over and over, and picture myself as the jilted heroine in my mental video, because surely Michael Hutchence would take one look at me with my frizzy hair and giant glasses and think, “Yes. This is the person I am thinking of when I sing ‘Girl, you know I need you more than any word spoken.’” So it’s kind of personal for me, because of my imaginary video love with Michael Hutchence. I had a really cute outfit for it, too.

Listen, this is a terrible song. I know this. But I had to sing it at this summer teen theatre review I was in during the summer of ’86 (no lie – Susan Tedeschi was in it, too; she sang “The Greatest Love Of All”). Somehow I was given this song to sing, probably because it was in my range. And I was in the throes of insane, hysterical puppy love. That heart-catching, burst-into-tears-at-any-moment, Twinkies-and-Jolt kind of love. The night of the show, I learned that my envisioned intended had a brand new girlfriend. I remember gazing out of the girls’ bathroom window (as much as I was able to, as it was frosted glass) and thinking, “Lo, my tiny teenage heart cannot possibly withstand this fatal blow rendered by this boy and his new girlfriend with the really cute asymmetrical haircut, but I must go up on that stage after Sue Tedeschi, and I MUST SING OF MY HEARTBREAK.” And so I did. And everyone applauded as I ran offstage and dissolved into a puddle of tears and colored mousse. And then I probably made my friend Katie, who had her license, drive past his house. Five times. Okay, only three.

So, fast forward several years. It’s now 1993, and I am no longer with the MIT Ph.D boyfriend, because I am berserk in love with this singer/songwriter guy who writes me songs, looks at me like I am a pretty, pretty princess, and doesn’t seem to mind that I am quite insane (understand that this is years before I got all of my brain chemistry more or less in working order). The problem? I am not a singer/songwriter. I am not even a moderately good guitar player. What I like to do is wrap myself in chains and spin around blindfolded in the basement of the Cantab Lounge while my friends play a cover of David J’s This Vicious Cabaret. And I think I’m pretty good at this. But, as I’ve mentioned, I’m completely insane and probably an alcoholic. So he moves far, far away – clear across the country – leaving me in my chains with a cassette copy of this Sting album that I bought because of this song, this song that he used to sing for me at open mics. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. Because Sting.

This is the song I think of whenever I think of my husband. He and I got together when I was still completely insane, AND an alcoholic. And while I got better for myself, and myself alone (because you simply can’t do it for other people if you yourself are not important enough), I am eternally grateful that he stuck around to see me through it. He is my rock. He is my love. He is my stone cold elf. We are going through a really terrible, trying time right now, but this is what you do when you love someone: you tighten ranks. You walk through, not around. And maybe you fart under the covers sometimes, but you totally apologize, like, immediately.

And on Valentine’s Day, you do some dumb little thing to acknowledge all of that, even though it’s a bogus holiday and blah blah blah. Have you heard my story about the National Anthem?

Oh, Christmas Tree

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I posted a picture of my Christmas tree on Facebook last night.

tree

My friend Vikki responded: “Oh, you’re a white lights person.

I could FEEL the disapproval with every keystroke. I told Vikki I was fully prepared to defend my choice, and throw down, as it were. And while she admitted that my tree is beautiful, she expressed disappointment, because she thought I was “one of us.”

Listen, admitting that I prefer white lights on my Christmas tree is NOT EASY for me. I am the only one of my siblings who does this. It is perplexing to them.

My complicated relationship with white lights began somewhere around 1980-81, when my family moved from one quaint South Shore town to another. Hull and Hingham are right next to each other, geographically, but from a sociological and cultural standpoint, moving from Hull to Hingham was akin to relocating to Neft Dashlari, or Mars, or Cleveland. I mean, it was an adjustment.

There are a lot of insane things about growing up in Hingham. I could write a whole book about growing up in Hingham (and I kind of am, at present). But one of the most insane things about Hingham? The unwritten, unspoken agreement that you do not do colored lights at Christmas, ever. At all.

Okay, MAYBE in the neighborhoods that nobody paid much attention to (like ours, which was practically in WEYMOUTH, for God’s sake), one could get away with a strand or two of multi-colored lights on one’s shrubs. But in most areas, and particularly on Main Street, it was understood that come the holidays, your home was to be decorated thus:

• An evergreen wreath on the front door. NO PLASTIC.
• A red ribbon on said wreath. NOTHING ELSE.
• An electric candle in any window facing the street. One candle per window, WHITE BULBS ONLY.
• If your tree is viewable from the street, the lights on that tree are WHITE.
• Absolutely no colored lights on the bushes. Actually, you really shouldn’t have ANY lights on the bushes.
• And, certainly, it should go without saying that nothing inflatable goes in your yard, ever.

Really. If you don’t believe me, take a trip down Main Street in mid-December and see for yourself.

There was something absolutely soul-sucking about this, every time we took Main Street en route to the Hanover Mall. I’d sit in the backseat and feel terrorized by this display of conformity. As a teenager, those little white lights represented everything I hated about living there.

And, yet…..I had to admit that I preferred them.

Believe me when I say that I would rather have admitted to just about anything than liking little white lights. I believed that white lights absolutely meant that I was a giant snob. For several years I used red, green and white lights on my tree. But I simply couldn’t keep up the façade.

In all other respects I am the Queen of Trash. If it is tacky, mismatched, unloved, or on the rack in the back of the store, I champion it. I believe in casseroles topped with potato chips, Cool Whip, and two-liter bottles of orange soda. Honey Boo Boo is my spirit animal. I cheer when we drive by a house that is so bedecked in flashing lights it can be viewed from space.

But, yes, Virginia. When it comes to my Christmas tree I am “a white lights person.”

Can’t we all get along?

You can feel the cushion but you can’t have a seat…

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me88

My 25th high school reunion is this coming weekend, and I’m not going.

I am feeling very torn and somewhat uncomfortable about this.

I’m not going, mainly because of “scheduling.” We are at the point in our caretaking journey where we simply cannot leave my mother-in-law unattended for any significant period of time. It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and securing some kind of care is going to be nigh on impossible.

A high school friend has gone so far as to offer to COME GET ME, and let me stay at her house, just so I can be there and offer my particular brand of Snarky Running Commentary™ on the whole shebang. But I don’t feel right about leaving Kevin by himself while I’m off at some waterfront shindig with a bunch of people who probably don’t remember me, while all the while I’m worrying whether or not my upper arms look fat. Good times, right?

So I’m not going, and I’m feeling about it the way I felt 25 years ago, when I didn’t go to my prom. Am I missing something? Am I going to be denied some poignant moment of connection because I’m staying home? For years, my friends from high school have been telling me that I Really Didn’t Miss Anything™ by not going to the prom. I don’t believe them. I am certain that if someone had asked me, and I’d accepted, it would’ve been the crucial turning point of my teen years. I’m not sure exactly what would have transpired to achieve this, but I KNOW it would’ve been crucial, okay? I just know.

And now I’ve up and convinced myself that THIS reunion, unlike the previous two reunions I’ve attended, is going to be similarly, er, crucial. And the thing is, history has shown that while I’ve had a pleasant enough time at these functions, I typically tend to stick with the people that I’ve been in touch with the whole time, which to me sort of defeats the purpose of a “reunion.” I lack the balls to go up to someone who wouldn’t have given me the time of day 25 years ago, because even though I am now in my forties, and have survived everything from mental illness to cellulite in the years since I trotted across the stage wearing a giant picture of Elvis on my mortarboard (because why not?), those social constructs are still hard-wired into my brain.

I went to my 20th. I had several people tell me they recognized me because my hair is still the same (short, spiky, dyed to within an inch of its life). I stuck close to my friends from the Drama Club and the Math Team. I DID make a fairly profound connection that year. I got reacquainted with my friend Drew, someone who traveled in similar circles back then, although we never really hung out one-on-one. I wound up realizing that Drew and I have, and had, LOADS in common, and we have remained in touch. So that was nice. Nice enough that I think, “Well, if THAT happened, then what’s going to happen THIS TIME?”

And that, I think, sort of captures my alcoholism (or my “addictive personality,” if you prefer) perfectly. I live in a sort of perpetual state of expectation, and subsequent disappointment. It’s not enough that I’ve managed to maintain solid, quality friendships with so many of my high school classmates (to the point where they’re offering to put me up so I can go to this fakakta reunion). I want more, and I don’t even know exactly what it is I want MORE of. Throw in my OTHER mental health issues and I can work myself into quite an impressive lather of MORE. More memories, more connections, more of something that I can obsess over, or cultivate, depending on my state of mind.

I didn’t go to my prom, but I survived. Maybe I haven’t quite gotten over that, but I’m here. Likewise, I’ll get over not being at this reunion.

Anyway, there’s going to be a DJ. Since at least a couple of my friends from high school read this, have him or her play this one for me, ‘kay? Thanks.

On the Art of Fright

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WARNING:  this entry contains clips of gross horror movie stuff.

My friend Jamie recently posted about having seen The Conjuring over the weekend.  A single sentence was all it took to TOTALLY convince me to see it:

I have never in my life screamed so high and so much.

SOLD.

For those of you who don’t know me particularly well:  I adore being scared shitless.  It’s probably my favorite thing ever, or at least up there with Sriracha, Billy Squier, and naps. 

A few years ago, I stumbled onto this treasure trove of scary stuff.  Kindertrauma is dedicated to all things that frightened us as children.  I rediscovered movies and commercials that I had buried deep in my subconscious.  It made me utterly, utterly happy.  It still does.

It made me think back, though, through my history of so-bad-they’re-awesome scares.  I am singularly “fortunate” in that my mother is a horror buff.  In fact, I have a theory that she had me and my siblings just so she could fill our heads with all kinds of nasty stories, creating – if you will –pint-sized, walking Encyclopediae Horrifica.  Her legacy.  To that end, I was allowed to watch horror movies on Saturday afternoons, I was allowed to stay up and watch horror movies that were too horrible for Saturday afternoons, and she taught me this song when I was but a wee bairn:

So, if I were hard-pressed to come up with my earliest recollection of being deeply freaked out, I’d say it was the whole “lady walking around holding her severed head” thing.  I was horrified-yet-fascinated by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for similar reasons.  And don’t get me started on the French Revolution (Did I mention my mother was also a high school history teacher at one point?  I was doomed from the womb, kids.).  Decapitation.  Yeah.  That was a big one.

 

This record was another one.  I’m fairly certain it made me wet my pants a couple of times, but that didn’t stop me from listening to it over and over and OVER (I still own it, by the by, and you can come over and listen to it if you want, but you have to bring chips, and Depends).

Oh!  And Lady Elaine Fairchilde scared me, too.  What the FUCK?!

imagesIn terms of actual movies that scared me, though?  Loads. 

 

For a lonnnnng time, I believed that I hallucinated this one as the result of some kind of feverish stupor (I was often sick as a kid, and had to be nursed through bouts of German measles, chicken pox, mumps, impetigo, staph infections, and a case of lymphadenitis that kept me out of school for a month in fourth grade).  Turns out – this movie really did happen.  Thank God for YouTube. 

(As an aside, when I showed this to Coombsie, he stared at it, hard, and said, “Huh.  I think that kid playing the ghost wound up being in Repo Man.”  He’s totally right.)

 

Listen, I know when you watch this stuff NOW it looks completely cheesy and not AT ALL frightening.  But a lot of Tom Baker-era “Doctor Who” scarred me for life.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  “The Brain of Morbius” was fucking TERRIFYING to me as a seven-year-old.  I mean, THEY STUCK HIS BRAIN ON TOP OF THIS…THING.

Brain_of_MorbiusWITH A GIANT CLAW.  AWFUL.  And Sarah Jane Smith’s been all blind and stuff but she’s starting to see again and OH MY GOD DON’T TURN AROUND, SARAH JANE SMITH.  AAAAUUUUUUGGGGH!

(For some reason, my sister and I decided that burning marshmallows looked like the Brain of Morbius, so we spent one summer dropping them into the barbeque grill in the backyard while yelling “MOORRRRRRRBIUS!”  True story.)

And then, you know, duh:

The very early Eighties brought with them the hideous one-two punch of icky-face-meaty-thing scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Poltergeist.

My mother, naturally, took us to see BOTH of these movies.  You know – these were state-of-the-art films we’re talking about here.  She wanted us to be exposed to, uh, “history.”  Because “Raiders…” was kind of based on history.  Yeah.

Look, it’s not as if she went to these movies by herself and LEFT US IN THE CAR, right?

Just the other day I posted this to my sister’s Facebook page.  It makes us laugh and laugh and laugh.

Unfortunately, all these years of taking in all of this horror has made me really picky.  I was beyond excited to see The Blair Witch Project, having bought into all of the hype, and when I actually saw it, I was FURIOUS.  LIVID.  Because that movie SUCKED.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I remember ranting about it at a party not long afterwards, and a friend of mine kind of sneered at me, saying, “Oh, what, so a movie has to have HUGE SPECIAL EFFECTS for it to be scary?”  And I was all, “NO.  A movie has to NOT SUCK, special effects be damned.”  Plus, it gave me a blazing headache.  Ugh.  I don’t even want to open that can of worms again.  You people who loved that movie go batshit insane whenever someone criticizes it.  I’m done.

Anyway.  I had my doubts about The Conjuring.  But I trust Jamie, so I’m going to go see it.

February. Meh.

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I woke up this morning not only with the “Oh, FUCK. It’s Monday” mindset, but also with the grim knowledge that it was FEBRUARY, to boot.

This is my least favorite month. You’re past the holidays, but Spring isn’t coming for a long way yet. It’s bleak, it’s cold, and smack dab in the middle is Valentine’s Day.

My relationship with Valentine’s Day is complicated. Not “complicated” in the sense that I’m sleeping with it a couple of times a month and pretending not to care that it’s flirting with other women on Facebook. It’s complicated because of dredged-up memories of Valentine’s Day parties at school where I’d only get a couple of cards from the kids whose parents made them write cards to EVERYBODY. Pity Valentines. It’s complicated because of the Valentines Day in 1986, when I got a carnation in homeroom from “Guess Who?” and I spent the entire day CONVINCED it was from the guy I’d been crushing on for MONTHS, and it turned out to be from this weird kid in my F Block History class.

As Coombsie, and any of my ex-boyfriends for that matter, can tell you – I am about the least “romantic” person on this spinning ball of overheating rock. This is not to say that I’m unsentimental. I openly wept into my box of pretzel M&Ms during Les Misérables. I’m just not especially romantic. I am not into flower petals on the duvet, long walks on the beach, overpriced 3-course dinners in a restaurant full of people trying to get laid, doing weird things with food in the bedroom, lacy undergarments besieged with hooks and snaps that push and lift parts of me that are perfectly happy where they are…any of it.

Any song that references tangled sheets, dreams, breezes in trees or across bodies of water, or being in love with your best friend, gets instant side-eye from me. In fact, when I started dating Coombsie I was all, “For God’s sake, whatever you do, DON’T WRITE A SONG ABOUT ME.” Fortunately, he’s strictly an ax man, so I’ve been quite safe for the last 16 years or so.

You know that episode of Star Trek where they land on the looooove planet and Spock starts acting all goofy and like he’s going to write that Leila bint a song about tangled sheets? GROSSES ME OUT. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Whenever it comes on I start tensing up and yelling, “Ew. Ew! EW! Change the channel! CHANGE IT RIGHT NOW I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS.”

Know what I like? 5:30 in the afternoon on Valentine’s Day at CVS. The desperation. Dudes coming in and buying the red-cellophane-wrapped boxes of candy that’ve been on the shelf since December 26th. That makes me so happy.

I bet some of you are starting to feel sorry for Coombsie, being married to such a cold, hard, unromantic data jockey such as myself. Sometimes I feel sorry for him, too. Like he should be married to someone who listens to John Mayer or something. Because, okay, Coombsie’s birthday is in March and somebody asked me what I was going to get him and I was like, “Wellll, he kind of wants a new meat thermometer.” And when I got a weird look (kind of like the one you’re giving right now) I yelled, “THIS WOULD MAKE HIM VERY HAPPY, OKAY?!” JESUS.

I’m just going to leave this here…

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I did the thing that always makes me roll my eyes when someone else does it.

I made a vague threat to leave Facebook, knowing full well that I wouldn’t.

I want to say that I didn’t do this because I wanted a chorus of virtual wailing and gnashing of teeth along the lines of “omg lisa plz dont leave FB its not the same w/out u.” Because while it’s not, ostensibly, the reason I made this vague threat, the fact is that I DID do this because I wanted to believe, somehow, that it would prompt change in the behavior of others, and if someone just happened to throw in a “Hey, you know, I find you enormously entertaining and it would be a shame if you left Facebook because some people are being unmitigated tools,” I wouldn’t be overly upset.

Here’s what happened: I saw – for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time – one of those slapdash factoid JPEGS that people post and repost because it’s easier than actually expressing their opinions in writing. You ALL know what I’m talking about, because you ALL do it, no matter where on the political spectrum you fall. I’VE done it, and have almost immediately felt quite filthy for having done it. So I really, really try not to.

And I also really, really try not to react when one of these things strikes me as particularly egregious, poorly-articulated, and/or an affront to common sense. But this morning, I was in a bad mood. It was cold as the rocks of Torneo’s hoary brow, I’d had a very horrible drinking dream just prior to waking up (I don’t have these often, but they scare the shit out of me every time I do), and I was looking for something else to be upset about. And I found it. On Facebook. Because Facebook is VERY good for that kind of transfer of emotional incompetence.

The current slapdash factoid JPEG that’s going around lists the last five mass shootings, and states that the shooters are/were registered Democrats. You know, because all Democrats want to take away your guns, but it’s Democrats that are going ballistic and killing people. Or something.

And I thought, “Now, I could rattle off the names of a dozen Republican legislators who’ve been charged with child molestation and say, ‘See? Republicans shouldn’t attempt to dictate morality because these Republicans did horrible things.’ But I don’t, because for one thing, it’s a stupid argument. I don’t because it’s faulty logic. Fallacious reasoning. No high school debate coach in the country would let that fly. Moreover, it’s a cheap shot, it’s dirty pool, and we all should be better than that.”

Evil is evil. Period. And contrary to what most of us believe at one time or another, evil has no political affliliation.

And so I posted some rant-y screed about this slapdash factoid JPEG, lamenting the lack of civil discourse and the hyper-partisan horrors of the current administration, and closing with some wrist-to-forehead whine about I’M LEAVING FACEBOOK SO CALL ME AND WE CAN HAVE COFFEE AND HAVE A REAL CONVERSATION BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Coombsie – always able to talk me off the ledge eventually – heard me sputtering at my laptop and gave me the straight dope: “You’re being one of THOSE people.”

“What do you mean – ‘THOSE people’?” I barked.

He stood in the bedroom doorway buttoning his sleeves. “I mean, the kind of person who gets all hysterical and threatens to leave Facebook every couple of months because other people are posting stupid shit and getting bent out of shape. You can’t get into politics on Facebook, Lees. Because what happens there is not real debate; it’s people posting stupid shit and getting bent out of shape.” He reached for his sweater. “Congress is operating exactly the way Congress has always operated.” He picked off a piece of lint. “Always WILL operate. But unlike Congress, nobody ever caves in and capitulates on Facebook. I keep telling you this: you can’t argue with people on Facebook.

He’s so good at bursting my self-righteous indignation bubble. I hate him.

So, I’m not leaving Facebook. I get far too much pleasure from posting my brittle and blasé witticisms and waiting for everyone to tell me how brilliant I am.

If you’re prepared to argue your side (even if we’re ON the same side) intelligently and respectfully, I’m willing to listen, and I like to think that you’ll do likewise. But can we agree to stop posting the slapdash factoid JPEGs, particularly if they’re ugly and full of grammatical errors?

No? Carry on, then…I promise to keep my thoughts to myself.

(Real) Girls

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I watched the Golden Globes last night because I don’t give a crap about football.

No, seriously…of all the awards shows, the GGs are my favorite. Everyone’s tanked by the end of them, and pretty much anything goes.

As in years past, I watched them while simultaneously following along with teh social networkingz. I have many hilarious friends (and friends of friends) on Facebook, so it adds a layer of mirth to the proceedings. Instead of just yelling at the television about what someone’s wearing, you can share your outrage with hundreds of other people.

And what people seemed the most out-of-sorts about (I mean, besides the gloriously absurd-yet-oddly-touching speech by la Jodie) was Lena Dunham.

If you haven’t heard of Lena Dunham, that will change during the course of this week, as everyone picks her apart. I say this because the reaction to her on Facebook was so, well, kind of horrible, that I can only surmise that’s going to be amplified tenfold in the mainstream media.

I’ve never seen her show. I don’t get HBO, so I am perpetually out of the loop as regards its programming. It’s been called “‘Sex And The City’ for millenials,” which is reason enough for me to avoid it, but the thing that did cause me to take note is that Dunham’s character certainly looks more like the women I know than Carrie Bradshaw & Company.

And so I was a bit horrified at the comments I was reading as she accepted her first award of the evening:  Lena Dunham is a “sloppy looking chick” with “ugly damn tattoos” that “ruined” her look. I wanted to say, “Am I the ONLY person sitting here being GOD DAMN DELIGHTED with this?”

Apparently – yes – I am the only person who saw Lena Dunham up on that stage and thought, “Okay, she’s awkward. Yes, she’s surrounded by people who work out 4 hours a day with personal trainers and who likely haven’t eaten solid food for a good 3 days before this show. Yes, she’s sticking out like a sore thumb. Yes, she’s ‘overweight,’ and has tattoos that she’s not ashamed of. AND THAT IS AWESOME.”

It’s awesome because Lena Dunham is an actress who didn’t have to “pack on” 20 pounds to play a role, to the collective ooh-ing and aah-ing of a culture that thinks that’s the bravest thing an actress can do.

It’s awesome because she can stand up there, looking like a slightly younger version of me, what with her few extra pounds and her great tattoos, and be absolutely radiant because she is successful, and doesn’t give a shit what her detractors – most of whom are sitting on their couches not wearing anything even as remotely fancy as that dress – are saying about her weight OR her tattoos. And she shouldn’t give a shit, either.

It’s awesome because it gives me hope. Real beauty is in believing in the value of your story.

Postscript: Since hitting “publish” on this, I have been told by several friends that the show is about as far from “Sex And The City” as you can get, and that it’s “an almost painfully accurate portrait” of life in one’s twenties.  I’d kind of like to not revisit my own twenties, truth be told, but I’m willing to give the show a shot.

The Curmudgeon’s Guide To Christmas Music

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One of my great pleasures in life is creating playlists of Christmas music.  I like the standards, I like interesting twists on the standards, and I like a lot of the “modern classics.”  I like listening to these playlists on my way into work.  I like listening to them as I’m walking through the city, admiring the lights.  I am, generally, a fan of Christmas music.

That being said, there are certain songs that will never appear on any playlist I create.  Indeed, these songs are more or less banned from my home.  I can’t do anything about them when they turn up on the radio, or in some store, but I can control the amount of tripe that makes its way into my living space.  Here are but a few examples:

It never fails.  Every time I hear this song I am almost honor-bound to sit through the whole thing, sputtering in outrage the entire time:  “What the…?  WHAT AM I HEARING?  IS THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?!”  And the quatrain that always makes me shriek the loudest:  “We went to have ourselves a drink or two / But couldn’t find an open bar / We bought a six-pack at the liquor store / And we drank it in her car.” I suppose for many, Christmas Eve is the night you want to be prowling around convenience stores looking for ex-girlfriends/boyfriends so you can go drink in a parking lot and rehash everything that went wrong.  Here’s a tip: you can do the same thing in the comfort of your own home by reading just about anything over at Thought Catalog, and hate yourself just as much in the morning.


SOB!  The poor kid just wants his mama to die wearing nice shoes.  It’s a sentiment we can all relate to, right?


Picture the scene:  it’s 1979, and Sir Paul has just gotten an analog synthesizer – top o’ the line, state o’ the art, and all that.  So he’s sitting there, scratching his head, pondering the best way to take advantage of the patch memory feature and newfangled modulation capabilities.  What do you do if you’re Paul McCartney, ex-Beatle and one of the most beloved songwritering (typo, but it stays) talents of the 20th century, and you’ve got all this technology at your fingertips?  Why, you toke up and write “Wonderful Christmastime,” of course.  And you load it up with so much flatulent synth that you sit at your console and giggle like an 11-year-old boy who’s just heard a fart joke.  And then you foist it upon the masses.  Because you’re Paul McCartney.


If CIA operatives ever wanted to get information out of me, locking me in a dark room and playing this over and over will get me to spill the proverbial beans.  As well as the contents of my stomach.


Dear Mariah, Xtina, et al:  the point of a holiday song is that it has a memorable melody that people like to sing along to.  They can’t do that if you’re cramming ALL THE NOTES into a single measure.  Leave the melisma and vocal acrobatics in your own music, and just SING THE SONG THE WAY IT’S WRITTEN PLZKTHX.

You’re probably thinking, “OK, Ms. Caustic Barbed Wit Curmudgeon – so what is it that you DO like?” I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED. Just a sampling:


In my opinion, no collection of Christmas music is complete with The Ventures’ Christmas Album.


This is probably my all-time-favorite version of this song. It’s so simple, and so wistful, and so gosh-durned ALTERNATIVE.


Waterworks. Every single time.

So tell me, since I know you’re reading: What’s on your so-bad-it-makes-you-stabby list? Your favorites? Have at it…

Dreck Catalog

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wonkathoughtcatalog

This is a rather presumptuous meme, no?  I wouldn’t call my disdain for Thought Catalog “fashionable.”  I’m not a fan of Thought Catalog primarily because I don’t find the writing to be all that original, or exceptional.  But since you asked…

Envy?  Hardly.  Status Anxiety?  I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.  Ageism?  Mmmmaybe.  OK, probably.

Honestly, I think another reason I’m so irked by Thought Catalog is that it’s clearly not meant for someone like me.  I’ve worked at the same company for 20 years, I spend most of my day analyzing data instead of text messages, and I’m well past the point of obsessing over whether or not my “relationship” with Coombsie is “headed in the right direction.”  I’m not launching my wee raft onto the turbulent ocean of my twenties. I’m halfway across the bay. I can see the shoreline, and I’m pretty sure there’s a subscription to Reader’s Digest and a MedicAlert bracelet waiting for me once I get there.

In other words – I’m old. Old old old. I’m not jaded and/or disillusioned before my time; I’m a pragmatist. If Thought Catalog’s countless listicles are any indication, I’m living the dream, man, since apparently the dream includes being able to run around my house stark naked in front of the person I married. Of course, a lot of times that’s because I’ve been rousted from my bed by the telltale hrk hrk hrk sound of a cat about to expel something wet and flocculent into the shoes I’ve left in the living room, BUT STILL. LIVING THE DREAM.

Christ, I’d LOVE to be able to go back to wondering What It’s All About. I’d love to have the luxury of beating my past relationships into the ground in list format. Thought Catalog – alas – is not interested in my postmodern Bombeck-ian musings on age spots or why I insist on bagging my own groceries. I’m not in the throes of a constant existential dilemma; I don’t have time for it anymore. My immediate concerns revolve around when we we’re going to have to remove the knobs from my mother-in-law’s stove, what’s for dinner, and whether or not I bought trash bags.

In other words, I have come to a grudging acceptance of the fact that most twenty-somethings don’t want to hear what it’s like on this side of my forties. They don’t want to read about how I know Coombsie is “the one” because he laughed at the song I made up while I was cleaning the litterbox the other night (it was to the tune of Duran Duran’s “New Moon On Monday,” and let me tell you, it was some of my best work as a satirist).  And they certainly don’t want a lecture about why ceaseless, insufferable navel-gazing is just not an attractive trait at ANY age.

And this is not to say that I am living a better, more fulfilling, or “grownup” life than Thought Catalog’s readers and contributors. I’m not so old that I don’t remember feeling those feelings, even if the circumstances which prompted them are on the fuzzy side these days. I will say this, though: thank God it didn’t occur to me to use the internet circa ’96 to chronicle those feelings, in real time, any time I may have felt the urge to share them. Because I’m fairly certain that would’ve looked an awful lot like Thought Catalog. In fact, it would have been more accurate it to call it “Tripe Catalog,” or “Dreck Catalog.”

Because I’m not going to pretend I was anything close to a deep thinker at 25, despite what I may have felt about myself at the time.  Shit, I’m not even particularly sagacious now. At band rehearsal the other night we spent an embarrassing amount of time between songs coming up with increasingly terrible and puerile euphemisms for my Lagoon of Mystery. And I’m FORTY TWO YEARS OLD.

And so, since nothing I write will ever make its way into Thought Catalog, here’s my own Thought Catalog:

8 Things That Make Me Realize I’m Too Old For Thought Catalog

  1. I’ve been getting mail from the AARP, and I’m starting to consider opening it.
  2. Pondering the state of my relationship usually goes no further than: “Am I going to yell at him for leaving that dirty pint glass on the counter?”
  3. I have underwear in my drawer from the Bush administration. And that’s the “sexy” stuff.
  4. I graduated college the same year that the average Thought Catalog contributor was being potty trained.
  5. I have a Pinterest account. I use it for recipes.
  6. I am regularly addressed as “ma’am” by baristas.
  7. Was that a hot flash?
  8. I remember a world in which Jabba never appeared in Episode IV, and Hayden Christensen was nowhere to be found in Episode VI.

Now pass the Postum, and get out of my yard.