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Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's Almost 2017

Twelve hours away from 2017. Blech.

Anyway, the past seven years of writing for the internet have been...interesting. On the one hand, I've gotten to interview some truly amazing people. On the other hand, I have witnessed the death of journalism, and the rise of click bait and fake news. I've been told I should kill myself, had a guy offer to drive over me in a bus, and been threatened with rape and murder. A C-list actor named Nick Searcy hates me. I am part of Todd Kincannon's Wikipedia page. I made the #1 spot on Reddit, and stayed there for over a day. I've been trolled, lied about, hacked, impersonated, and dealt with police when some random dude sent me my own address and said he was coming, with guns, to kill my entire family.

Which brings us back to 2017. While writing for the internet has been exciting (not necessarily in a good way), it's worn a bit on my soul. There's only so much a person can take before they decide to walk away from a bad thing. And writing online is a bad thing, at least for me.

I might, from time to time, sit down and put fingers to keyboard next year, but not very often. It's a waste of energy, energy I would rather use to volunteer, take road trips, go for walks, swim, read, garden. I want to live my life away from social media, away from death threats, away from click bait, away from the stress of checking AdSense once a week, and realizing I can't even make $100 a month.

I have great memories. Talking to Anne Rice on the phone. Laughing with John Fugelsang. Listening to Bobby Seale as he told me how he felt after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Skyping with the original co-founders of We Are Woman. Interviewing Will Turpin, amazed that someone with that deep a voice could hit the high notes.

So thank you. Even to the trolls and the people who threatened my life, who wanted to rape me to death, who wanted me to kill myself. Thank you to the people who lied about me, and to me. Thank you to the good, the bad, and the in between. It's been a weird and sometimes wonderful seven years. And like most things, now it's over.

This website will stay up through next April, then I will most likely save the articles that mean the most to me, and delete everything else. My words will still float around online somewhere, like so much flotsam and jetsam. But I have come to the point where I simply cannot expend the energy required to do this anymore.

Happy New Year, hope we survive, don't drink and drive tonight (or ever), and thanks again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

We can mourn Carrie Fisher and still care about Aleppo

Carrie Fisher, badass, movie star, writer, and outspoken advocate for ending the stigma of mental illness, died this week. Fans are posting their tributes online, dealing with our collective sorrow by coming together to watch clips of Ms. Fisher in "When Harry Met Sally," or "The Blues Brothers." We feel more connected in our grief this way, less alone while we laugh through our tears.

And as often happens when a beloved "celebrity" dies, some folks who see themselves as morally superior to the rest of us have begun shaming our sadness. How can we mourn Carrie Fisher when so much horror is happening in Aleppo? Why does her death "matter more" than the dead children in Syria? Where is the outpouring of grief for Aleppo?

We are filled with sorrow over Aleppo, Morality Police. But what would you have us do? We are limited in our responses, simply because we are just people. We can donate to charities on the ground in Syria, we can watch news stories in horror, we can wish we could get on a plane, and somehow help the people whose lives have been destroyed. We can mourn the dead, we can pray for peace in Syria, we can hope with every fiber in our being that the violence ends.

Grieving for Carrie Fisher does not diminish our grief for Aleppo. Or Nigeria. Or any other place on this planet where madness and power grabs and violence reign. We can do both. Posting diatribes on social media, attempting to force us to choose, and insulting us when we tell you we can't, is unfair, and frankly, offensive.

I am a recovered (as much as one can be recovered) borderline with chronic anxiety and depression, and mild to moderate PTSD. Carrie Fisher was a hero to me, and to many others who struggle with mental illness and personality disorders. She was open and honest about her own life being bipolar, she refused to be ashamed of her illness, and she battled with strength, humor, and grace to the very end of her life. We are allowed to feel whatever we need to feel about the passing of such an amazing advocate and fellow staggerer down the road less travelled.

Telling us that we are not allowed to feel sadness, telling us that if we do, we are bad people, shaming us on social media, and holding us to an impossible standard, is bullying. Something people like me have to deal with far too often. Carrie Fisher was a light in what is often suffocating darkness, and if we need to mourn her, if we need to laugh through our tears, let us. Because we can mourn Carrie Fisher and still care about Aleppo.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Donald Trump's Christmas Letter

Dear Trump family, friends, subjects, and constituents who donated more than $250,000 to my campaign,

Merry Christmas! Yes, thanks to me, we are all finally free to say Merry Christmas! This is bigly. No more will you be harassed or bullied for believing in the spirit of Christmas. And what is the true spirit of Christmas? Me! I am just like Santa or Jesus (I plan to change the name Jesus to something less Mexican during my first 100 days...maybe Andrew, or Vladimir). If you're nice to me, I will shower you with gifts. If you're not, I will punish you with eternal damnation and a permanent job in a coal mine.

As you know, I am the president-elect. Could have knocked me over with a 24-karat shrimp fork. I didn't want to win, I just wanted to show that uppity Obama that insulting me in 2011 has consequences. I have no idea how to run a country; hell, I can barely run a casino. But as my father used to say: "Here's a million dollars, don't fuck it up." And I sort of didn't, so that's pretty yuge.

Melania is thrilled to be the next First Lady. She's been boning up on her English, reading Michele Obama's speeches, meeting with the few designers willing to clothe her, and putting the final touches on her anti-bullying platform. She tells me there's an epidemic of online bullying. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, and I know Melania is right. Some of the shit Crooked Hillary supporters Tweet to me is horrible. God, the ugly bitch lost, get over it already! Whiny babies with their safety pins and safe spaces. Pussies.

The first 100 days of my presidency are gonna be yuge. We're planning to take out ISIS with my super secret Taking Out ISIS Plan, we're finally going to get rid of Planned Parenthood, we're going to make sure American jobs stay in America, unless they don't, then whatever, we're going to reopen all the coal mines, and we're going to build a temple in Jerusalem even though I don't really understand why that's such a big deal. They're a bunch of Jews, for God's sake. Franklin Graham and Jim Bakker have been explaining this to me; how when Jerusalem is the capital, Jesus (seriously, that name) will come back, then everyone who believes he's the son of God will go to Heaven, and everyone who doesn't will spend eternity in a lake of fire, which means Jews. So, it's still okay to hate Jews, because even Graham and Bakker do.

Friends, I have a confession to make, something I could never say out loud in public. I kind of like the adoration of the alt-right. As you all know, I have hated minorities for a very, very long time, for the simple reason that they are inferior to me. I am the epitome of the Master Race. Look at me. Tall, handsome, incredibly high IQ, with great plans, such great plans, so much winning. That's why I appointed Bannon. I couldn't appoint Duke or Spencer, but Bannon will do just fine.

Well, it's time to watch the staff wrap presents. I'm giving all the kids guns, and Melania is getting first-editions of "Tintin In The Congo" and "Mein Kampf." I'd giver her mine, but I plan to use Hitler's little book a lot during my presidency.

Merry Christmas from President and Mrs. Trump.

Friday, December 16, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like the War on Christmas!

General Bill O'Reilly has declared a win against the War on Christmas. This means we can all go back to saying Merry Christmas without the fear of being stoned in the streets, or strung up in the church rafters by our Uggs, or deported. Unless you say Happy Holidays while burning an American flag, then you're doomed, enjoy Siberia. Where there's a new reality show that "allows" rape and murder.

O'Reilly has an oped up at Fixed News about his big win, and it includes two lists. The "nice" list and the "naughty" list, both provided by the American Family Association, an actual hate group. Because nothing says Birth Of White Jesus™ like having a hate group tell you who's naughty or nice. These lists are to help super Christians shop at like-minded stores, and eat at like-minded restaurants. The nice list includes Cracker Barrel, Lowe's, Hobby Lobby, Rite Aid, and Neiman Marcus. Or, as my dad calls it, Needless Markup.

Coincidentally, Neiman's released their Christmas Book a week or so ago, filled with everything the discerning and outrageously rich Christian could ever need to prove how much they love White Jesus™. Some examples, from Today:

Tanqueray No. Ten Imperial shakerEver wanted the world's coolest cocktail machine? This is it. The 6-foot tall Imperial Shaker oozes authenticity, from its cast iron, brass, copper and silver materials to the elliptical shake created by the crank. Not only do you get a one-year supply of Tanqueray No. Ten®, but you also get a personal cocktail education session for up to 20 guests with a Tanqueray mixology expert is included. Forget going out for cocktails anymore, you're set.

Price: $35,000

His & Hers: Vilebrequin Quadskis Forget having to share jet skis or ATV on your next vacation — you can now have your own. Hailed as the world’s best high-speed amphibians, these machines convert from water cruisers to land lovers in just under five seconds. And if you're in a rush, your Quadski can accelerates up to 45 mph on land or water.
Price: $50,000

Luxurious linensIf sleeping or eating on the finest linens is your idea of a dream come true than this package from the Leontine Linens Home Trousseau is the present for you. Your induction to true luxury living begins with a personal in-home visit from founder Jane Scott Hodges where together, you will select bed, bath, and table linens for every room in your house to create a perfectly appointed home. 
Price: $55,000

Ultimate slot car racetrackMaybe you never had a race car worthy of the world’s most notorious tracks, but you’ve certainly dreamt of driving on one. Now, the checkered flag are yours with this 100 percent authentic 1:32 scale model of your favorite track. Iconic structures, pit crews, period slot cars and more help get you into the action while integrated track cameras capture and display it on mini screens. Racing legends, such as Vic Elford and David Hobbs, will co-host your inaugural race-night party. Gentlemen, start your engines.
Price: $300,000

A fragrance journeyEverything from your clothing to the decor in your home suits you perfectly. Isn't it time you had a signature scent that does the same? Your quest to fragrance utopia begins with two first-class tickets to Paris close to the Fontainebleau, where you’ll meet with sixth-generation Master Perfumer Olivier Creed to create the ultimate custom scent. While in The City of Light, you and a guest will dine with Creed, enjoy five-star accommodations, white-glove car service, private tours and other experiences befitting the royally amazing you. A few short months later, a fragrance nonpareil will arrive at your doorstep in 24 14-karat gold-gilded six-liter flacons and 12 14-karat gold-accented leather atomizers featuring your bespoke scent. 
Price: $475,000

Now, the stores that are on the "naughty" list include Barnes & Noble, Nordstrom, PetSmart, Office Depot, and Victoria's Secret. That last one surprised me. After all, a manager for Victoria's Secret threw two black women out of her store because another woman was shoplifting. One would think that alone would relegate Victoria's Secret to the "nice" list.

There is a war on Christmas, but it's not being waged by liberals, or atheists, or Muslims, or Wiccans. It's being waged by Madison Avenue. We are told for over a month that the only way to celebrate Christmas is to buy a Lexus, or a Mercedes, or a giant diamond ring, or a flat-screen television. We are told we must spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on toys made by slave labor for our kids.

The war on Christmas is also being waged by the very people who decry it: conservative Christians. Setting aside for a moment that Jesus wasn't born in December, and this entire holiday is based on Paganism, what do conservative Christians believe happened on December 25? They believe a white virgin named Mary gave birth to the Son of God, who was also white. The wise men were white. The shepherds were white. Everybody was white. And that Son of God would grow up to hate the poor, hate the gays, hate the blacks, hate the disenfranchised, hate the sick, and hate the marginalized.

Remember Megyn Kelly and her White Jesus™? They really believe that. Try explaining to a conservative Christian that Jesus really looked more like Osama Bin Laden than Anders Breivik, and they'll beat you to death with a Yule log.

So Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Saturnalia, A Peaceful Solstice, and all the other tidings of joy. Celebrate whatever you want. Just remember: Jesus was born to an unwed Middle Eastern refugee mother. The same sort of person conservative Christians refuse to welcome to our country.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Handy Russian phrases for surviving Donald Trump's presidency

Image of Putin Trump mural from the BBC

Donald Trump is, sadly, the president-elect. Intelligence groups believe Russia had just a little something to do with this, and that little something is hacking. Trump refuses to not only listen to briefings on the alleged Russian interference, he's really not interested in any intelligence briefings, because he's so smart, he doesn't need them. And this morning, Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, former Exxon chief and man-about-Moscow, as secretary of state.

You may recall Donald Trump has lavished praise on former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, calling him a great leader. Given how much Trump hates the media, and that Putin jails journalists, it kind of makes sense that they are in the midst of a bromance. One can almost see the two of them, picnicking on the banks of the Volga: shirtless Putin, milking a cobra while singing, and Trump, wearing a red MAGA hat and a Member's Only jacket, stoning orphans. What an idyllic tableau.

But, as depressing and terrifying as it is, here we are. A month away from Donald Trump's inauguration. Our household is boycotting media on January 20; we have no desire to watch Cheeto Mussolini put his hand on "The Art of The Deal" the bible, and take the oath of office which he has already proven he will not take seriously at all.

There are things we can all do to survive the next four years. Donate money or time to organizations that are either fighting against Trump or will most likely lose funding. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter or food bank. And learn Russian.

Yes, Russian. We're going to be governed by a man who is nothing less than a puppet for Vladimir Putin. And we need to know how to communicate when Putin's thugs come to the door, looking for writers or fans of Pussy Riot or gay people or liberals or atheists or anyone who didn't vote for Putin Trump. So, here are some hand Russian phrases we should all learn to make it through the next four years.

1) YA byl v bol'nitse v den' vyborov. (I was in the hospital on election day.)

2) Zhurnalistika yavlyayetsya zlom. (Journalism is evil.)

3) On moy dvoyurodnyy brat.* (He's my cousin.)

4) Privetstvuyu Trampa. (Hail Trump.)

5) Ona moya dvoyurodnaya sestra.* (She's my cousin.)

6) Yeshche chetyre goda! (Four more years!)

7) Belyye lyudi izobreli vse. (White people invented everything.)

8) Gde khleb liniya? (Where is the bread line?)

9) Amerika yavlyayetsya samoy sil'noy stranoy v mire. YA imeyu v vidu Rossiyu. Podozhdite, net, pozhaluysta, ne ... (America is the most powerful country in the world. I mean Russia. Wait no, please don't...)

10) YA znayu, chto kholodno v kvartire, tak chto davayte poydem k szhiganiyu knig. (I know it's cold in the apartment, so let's go to the book burning.)

* 3 and 5 are for the LGBTQ community.

You can use Google Translate to find other hand Russian phrases just like we did. Click the speaker icon to hear each phrase pronounced.