Been & Going

[Citizen Filter] I Never Intend To Rage This Much, But Dammit, America, You’ve Disappointed Me

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This has been one hell of a week, hasn’t it.

We’ve got a rising body count of young black men who were shot dead by cops for existing, we’ve got a town in Missouri that has been turned into a war zone by law enforcement, we’ve got one in four military families on food assistance (for fuck’s sake, Congress, you can’t even feed people? Go home, you’re drunk. Oh, right, you’re already home because somehow you deserve a vacation), we’ve got chaos and despair running rampant, and on top of all that, my dog finally died on Friday. (For those of you playing along at home, that was the third mention of her to date. And probably the last. Because she’s dead. Are you happy now?)

Sometime in my child-to-tweenhood, I read a book called No More Dead Dogs, about a group of students who adapted an Old Yeller-type book into a play and refused to keep the original ending. Rather that entrails strewn across the foliage (or was that Where the Red Fern Grows?), the dog came back to life and everyone was happy. And a girl kept writing fan letters to Julia Roberts for some reason. It was not a great book, but it passed the time, and it fulfilled the feeling I’ve had for a long time time that not everyone loves dead dog books. Unhappy endings are not the sole way to write a good story. Happy endings work, too. Then this last week happens and I’m left wondering what the fuck happened to the American people that we are satisfied with what’s happening and here and all over the world. We are killing kids. We are killing them–we are killing us–through undereducation, food deserts, the School-to-Prison pipeline, the School-to-Military pipeline, (two is too many pipelines–have you ever known a pipeline of a good thing? Oil doesn’t count), the restrictions on reproductive rights that strip from women in poverty (once again, disproportionately women of color) their bodily autonomy, the lack of healthcare coverage that keeps people sick, the lack of labor rights the keep them sick at work, or working months in row, dealing with physical and mental stress that leads to health conditions and earlier deaths…I could go on and on. (And have. And will continue to.)

If you’re still telling yourself that the US is the greatest country in the world (and since you’re my friend, you probably aren’t, but let’s pretend that maybe that is what you believe and also that the Department of Homeland Security didn’t just mark me as a dissident), you’re dead wrong. The greatest country in the world is probably Finland or something, except I hear that they’re pretty racist, too. Because that’s what we are and that’s what this country is. We don’t value people of color. We are content to underpay just about everyone who is not white and complain when there’s a poverty epidemic. We’re content to acquit man after man who shoots black teenage boys, and we suffer the fools who try to defend those men in silence. How dare we. Who the fuck do we think we are, to be so arrogant, so cruel, and so stupid. (We might be Steve Jobs, but with more racism.)

Thanks to Married to the Sea for this delightful commentary on white people activism. Just be happy they're not doing the ice bucket challenge.

Thanks to Married to the Sea for this delightful commentary on white people activism. Just be happy they’re not doing the ice bucket challenge.

We are surprised when there is a revolution in the streets of Ferguson, when there is a protest in LA, when there are, scattered across the internet like stars in the galaxy, angry essays on the hard truth that is America. We are surprised when people of color, how good they were or not, are mourned by their friends and loved ones. And yet we read and write thousands of words on the white young men who perpetuate violence, we say it’s complicated. It’s not complicated. We are in the early days of revolution because we have spent 400 years encouraging a system that is fatal for people of color. We are steeped in injustice. (The revolution never ends well for we, the oppressors. We are the them who end up in line for the guillotine of public opinion or… the guillotine.) Our country was founded on the idea that we have a responsibility to dismantle the system that is no longer serving us. (It was also founded on slavery, because everything is terrible.) We are supposed to take down a government that does not work. It is not hard to realize that our government only works for white people, and although Obama is president, we are not a goddamn post-racial society.

Have some shame. Do better. Sit down and listen to your fellow Americans, who live in the same geography but a different country. Listen and learn and be uncomfortable.

Listen to these people:

Janee Woods

Greg Howard

[Citizen Filter] I Tapped My Ruby Slippers Three Times, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

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Being a young woman in my slighter-later-than-mid-twenties, I have some privileges. I get to make 70 cents on the dollar to my male counterparts (hang on, I think it’s up to 77 cents now–it is! I’m rich!), I get to fear walking alone, going to parties alone, and meeting trusted male friends alone, I get to have second shift of cooking and cleaning and coming home from my full-time job…Hang on, those are the reasons having ladyparts sucks.

What I mean to say is that I have the privilege of going back to Ye Olde Homesteade and changing from an ambitious go-getter of the big city and turning into the bratty ingrate my parents know and love. Soon the day will come when I return home to embezzle their retirement funds, stick them in old folks’ homes, and clean up their various bodily fluids, but that day is not now and thinking about the future is for suckers. (For those of you keeping score at home, dying dog: not dead yet. Which means she’ll never die ever and that’s why she spends her nights communing with nature under the grapevines and who told you I was beating my breast and rending my clothes there last night THAT SOUNDS LIKE A PORNOGRAPHY YOU PERVERT.)

My favorite part about coming back is seeing my family and blah blah blah parents and stuff blah blah memories blah return to roots, etcetera. My second favorite part of coming back is eating all the fancy food my parents can afford now that all their children are gone and have stopped sucking the teat of family funds.

This is me, lack of ears and all.

This is me, lack of ears and all.

They are also environmentally conscious because they care about stuff, I guess, which makes for some winning Slow Food ™ combinations. For example, my father hand grinds fair trade, locally roasted coffee beans every morning in a camping coffee grinder, makes his coffee in a french press with water heated up on the stove in a fifty-year old kettle, and my mother uses the same water to make her coffee (machine ground, but she’ll get there) in a ceramic pour-over with a cloth filter that she washes every day. No drip pot for them! Percolators, ha! Suck it, Starbucks! It’s going to take thirty minutes to make coffee and they like it that way! (It’s also delicious.) They serve it with turbinado sugar (you know, it’s brown and little squares instead of itty bitty white grains, so you can’t pretend it’s coke and have a Wolf of Wall Street theme party), and local cream that comes in a glass bottle, is so thick it looks like paint, and is still lumpy, just like when it comes out of the bull. I may not know where milk comes from, but I know those lumps are pure fat and that is goddamn delicious. It also costs approximately 700 dollars an ounce, but you can return the bottle for five cents, so it’s really a deal.

Stuff of the gods. The sweet, sweet milk gods.

Stuff of the gods. The sweet, sweet milk gods.

They live in the civilized part of Washington state (Tacoma is civilized compared to Sequim or Forks, probably–a sparkly vampire would either get stabbed or concerned-white-people’d to death), and so there is an abundance of incomparable, affordable seafood. Last night we had salmon on the grill, wrapped in grape leaves from the yard that we did not worry about getting heavy metal poisoning from, and there was nary a siren nor a nutty homeless gentlemen in sight or sound of the meal. There were many hummingbirds, who brought us warm towels and beautiful hummingbird sculptures when the meal was over. (That’s a lie. Hummingbirds are all bastards. It was seagulls, who are fine sculptors despite their fish smell and aggressive need for validation from strangers. Indeed, they are the performance artists of the air.) There were also hornets, who did not sting but rather braided my hair with the delicacy of the child laborer who undoubtedly made my t-shirt.

And naturally, I did nothing. I took a nap in front of their giant tv in a giant blue chair (cable! a Futurama marathon! local commercials!) while they made dinner, fetched me for dinner, poured me a beer, entertained me with their loving marriage antics, and then did the dishes. Being an ingrate is fun.

Such things can’t last, though. It’s imperative that I don’t spend too much time with the people who birthed me, raised me, and ensured I had a decent education and could go to college to be in debt for the rest of my life. I’ll be back to the squalid, sprawling squalor of Los Angeles in a few days, left to forage in ill-kept grocery stores for my meager gruel and water, slaving away in the the insidious non-profit industry (save me, corporate America! you have evil on your side!), making my way through the hard, cruel world like the blind slug that I am…

Fuck it. I’m staying here until they drag me out by my hair. Independence is for suckers. If you miss me, I’ll be instagramming a reasonable cost of living.


[Citizen Filter] A Brief Guide To Grieving With Dignity

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I’m going to tell you a joke:


My dog’s dying!




Well, I tried. No, but really my dog is dying, and not my second or third dog, but my first dog, my childhood dog, the dog that made my father ruin innumerable photo prints and led my mother to discover the joys of buying chicken necks from the butcher, my dog who is beautiful and perfect and once chewed up an amazing pair of leather sandals when I was thirteen and she was still a puppy.

My mom texted me last weekend (hey, that’s why this is a week late! I HAVE REASONS FOR THINGS) with an adorable photo of my 16-year-old dog and the message the she has 25% kidney function and about two weeks to live, because she had stopped eating. That was my Saturday. Doggy suicide via hunger strike. Can’t even tell you how great that was. Can’t. Even. (Sidenote: Let us all take a moment to appreciate that my mother now knows how to send a group picture text. A moment of silence for her lost innocence, and a moment of laughter because anyone who thinks previous generations were innocent clearly has never seen a statistical chart teen pregnancy over the last century, nor have they read Shakespeare.)

So here’s my handy guide to dealing with your dog’s imminent demise:

1. Cry at the wheel while you’re driving to get gas on the way to your boyfriend’s mom’s birthday party.

2. Call your mom while you’re getting gas and cry on the phone with her. Marvel at her calm attitude. Realized that your mascara is running but you’re also running late so screw it, you were going for a smoky eye look anyway and how the fuck are you going to get through a party with a bunch of people who ask how you are and with whom you usually tell the truth?

3. When your boyfriend tells you that he is definitely driving the rest of the way, concede gracefully and climb over the parking brake, exposing your underpants to the whole gas station and (this is very important) Don’t Give A Damn because you are Grieving and No One Understands.

4. Sniffle all the way to Hipster Neighborhood, where your boyfriend is practicing a song to sing for his mother.

5. When you get there, ask your boyfriend’s brother for bourbon. Drink a healthy amount. Touch up your mascara.

6. Realize that they took your suggestion of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, a suggestion you made pre-dog-dying text. Realize that it is the Wrong Song to listen to when you are saying goodbye to an old friend. Sob quietly in the kitchen, using up all the eco-friendly paper towels to blow your nose. Wobble unsteadily to the living room when they’re done, finish your bourbon, and touch up your lipstick.

7. Cry when the roommates come home with their adorable dog.

8. Cry in the car on the way to the party.

9. Touch up your mascara again. You are going to run out of mascara.

10. See your boyfriend’s sister’s new puppy, who looks a lot like your dying dog, fenced in the yard. Hold back tears and pretend the last two hours didn’t happen.

11. Spend the whole party with your boyfriend’s brother-in-law’s brothers, who don’t talk much and mostly to their mother, in Spanish, when they do. Finally be grateful you forgot most of your Spanish.

12. Drive home. Debate going out. Decide against going out, go to the 24-hour Mexican and breakfast food place and get a burrito. Get teary-eyed because they are out of pickled carrots and radishes, and you don’t even eat those.

13. Eat your burrito. Drink a beer. Sleep.

14. The next day, text all the friends you have left in your hometown and strongarm them into going to your parents’ house and petting your dog. Succeed in annoying your parents, your friends, and your dog, who just wants to sit in the yard and sample the olfactory delights on the breeze. Hope your dog hasn’t learned to text in her old age, although that would be an amazing miracle that might compel God to keep her around a little longer, but would also make you the worst person ever because you annoyed your dying dog so much that she learned to text.

This is my dog. She is the best. This is her sniffing the breeze for interesting smells, including but not limited to: Squirrel, Other Dog, Bird, Milkman, Mailman, Delivery Man, School Children, Sad Lost Deer in an Urban Setting

15. Put up a weepy Facebook status, including the fateful first picture of your dog.

16. Get a barrage of concerned texts from your older sisters, who are channeling their grief into worrying about you. Thank the Lord for the consistency of the world, in which there is a time for life, for death, for change, and for always getting so much goddamn attention when your family members are trying to forget their own feelings. It is your duty to accept their worry graciously. It is your right to bitch about it to your boyfriend. It it your fate to be simultaneously happy that you are surrounded by Loving Concern and grumpy because all that Loving Concern is Stifling.

17. Cry. Drink a beer. Cry.

18. Watch cute dog videos on YouTube. Cry.

19. Get a text from your mother the dog has started eating again. She’ll be fine for awhile. Cry.

20. Realize that your bathroom is leaking water from the ceiling, walls, doorjamb, and windows. Cry, then eat a Bay Cities sandwich.

See how you too can dealing with the crippling sadness of losing a beloved pet and de facto family member in 20 easy steps! Fill your larder with booze and Kleenex and you’ll be just fine.

But don’t forget about the crippling guilt for moving away from your hometown to find education, love, and happiness! There is nothing more reproachful than the eyes of a dog who is old and sick and sad that you’re leaving, and that was last January, when we thought she had at least another year.

Happily, I’ll back in ye olde homesteade in a couple of weeks, and I’m hoping she holds out long enough for me to say goodbye. Because the only thing worse than your dog dying is when you miss saying your farewells by a day or two!

[Citizen Filter] But It’s Haaaaard

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Oh boy, you guys, you’ve caught me on one of those days where I got approximately zilch to say. (And apparently have traveled back in to a Josie and the Pussycats-starring-Rachel Leigh Cook-era of early 2000s slang. Da bomb. Etc.)

I could go off on Facebook activism and why it sucks to get into those endless endless horrible threads of psuedo-political discourse (1. ENDLESS. END. LESS. 2. Half the people engaged in the conversation don’t know what they are talking about and just want to call dem liberals bleeding heart pinko commies and liar liarwholes [this actually happened with that spelling and I keep reading it as ‘liarwhore’, which is much more interesting] or call those conservatives heartless fascist sheeple who blindly obey Limbaugh and Focus on the Family [I’m sure this has happened], and no one learns anything nor listens to other people. 3. You always end up hurting the feelings of the host’s partner/mother/grandpa/favorite babysitter/cult leader/actual religious leader. 4. There’s a nasty emotional hangover usually compounded by a nasty actual hangover, because as we all know, alcohol usually deescalates conflict. 5. It looks bad when you lose your temper on the internet.)

I could also go off on the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl/Woman as McGuffin that I saw in a movie that ALMOST GOT RIGHT SO MANY TIMES but no, it was a romcom that appeared to be subversive but was ultimately still about a man finding himself through the help of a quirky, less-than-dimensional woman. It did have Catherine O’Hara, but The Decoy Bride it was not. (Still worth watching if you’re looking to while away the afternoon and want something that is a step up from Lifetime, which, by the way, I love.) Anyway, The Decoy Bride had David Tennant and lots of Scottish accents, which is always an A in my book. But somehow, today is not the day for a feminist screed.

I could talk about the ways the poors get screwed over by the system in a way that is so delicately balanced and creatively nuanced in its cruelty that other countries should be protesting the practice of torture by poverty (and the nuns are already doing it, so it’s not an unreasonable expectation), but honestly, I got to spend money this week on sushi so it’s a rant that is currently facetious and also…

I’m tired.

I’m tired of living in this world where my rights are so easily stomped upon and the stomping so passionately supported by good people.

I’m tired of media that is both comforting and undermining, that makes me choose between enjoying myself with a side entree of guilt or losing out on shared cultural experiences.

I’m tired of telling myself that crippling debt is something that I’ll get used to, because I’m going to have it my whole life.

I worked many jobs for several years. The best and worst part of subsuming myself entirely to subsistence living and the hustle of being young, broke, and educated (besides never having to choose between food and some other necessity because I could barely afford food anyway–up top, bro!) was the lack of feelings. I cared about politics and social justice and equality and rights, but I didn’t care with the religious fervor that marked me before and since. I didn’t have to care beyond my immediate space. Victoria’s Secret starts selling shapewear*? Time for a new job that just happened to call at the same time! Constant aggressive street harassment? Time for a third job so I can buy that car! Worrying about pollution is for later, when I can afford it.

Listen, I cared, and I cared enough to talk about, but I didn’t care in the way that I would actually engage in long debate on social media. I didn’t care to the point of reading dozens of articles and sharing them over the course of day. I didn’t care enough to feel sick for days after explaining the reasons behind the reasons that made a law or court decision really bad news in the long term.

Now that I have a great job and time to do things like eat properly, sleep, and feel things, the pendulum of human experience has swung all the way back in the other direction and I feel ALL THE THINGS ALWAYS OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP.

And why is this important enough to read? Fuck if I know, you’re the one who’s still here. Sucker. You read about my feelings, turn in your man-card!

More to the point that I’m literally making up right now: last night I got a text from someone who saw one of those fruitless debates and wanted to thank me for speaking up. So I guess the point is that even if it hurts to care, even if you make mistakes when you say something, it’s important to keep talking. You might actually change someone’s mind. You might find your own mind changes. In a perfect world, we’ll all be better at the end of the day for talking to each other. And also it helps the CIA, FBI, and NSA keep tabs on you and your socialist commie fascist ways and they’re paying me off so you keep doing it. Up top, bro! Hella tight!

*Imagine shoving your body into a compression sock that sucks in everything from the knees to the boobs, because god forbid the general public sees that you have a human body shaped in a human way, instead of some upsized Barbie or Ken doll . Bending your waist is so last season.

[Citizen Filter] Hold My Drink, It’s Wedding Season

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Situations described herein may be fictionalized or dramatized because I damn well feel like it, that’s why.

One of the things that happens as you emerge from your college years are the many warnings from slightly-older friends and family members: “Wedding season is coming,” they say, shaking their heads. “Soon you’ll spend all your money and vacation time on weddings.” Sure, you believe them, but in your heart of hearts (oh, you cute little ball of naivete), you believe that they will be Fun, you will have a Good Time, and you will celebrate the joining of hands in holy matrimony with the light heart and joyful spirit of one who will soon be enjoying an Open Bar. Amen, hallelujah.

Both these things are true.

The tone of the season changes somewhat, when you are a participant in these occasions. Mostly, it changes from “love is amazing!” to “oh, God, I am so poor and this is so expensive!” to “I have no money left for basic necessities, but I am now the proud owner of many satin dresses” to “love is amazing and I’m drunk!” Mostly the last one happens after the ceremony and before the maid of honor pukes on your shoes.

And I am actually truly happy and so honored to be invited to stand up with the bride and groom and support them on their day of commitment, but before that day, as a bridesmaid, I also get to run the gauntlet of dressing myself. It used to be that the bride would pick a dress that flattered no one and send you to the local bridal chain store for purchase, but in this enlightened and Pinterested age, bridesmaids are supposed to express themselves. This is kind and thoughtful, and completely terrible.

For one of the approximately seven hundred weddings that I’m in this fall, we were give a color, a fabric, and dress length, and send to everyone’s favorite national bridal chain to pick dresses. Within those parameters, we choose anything we wanted. This means that you end up in the wilderness of a chain of a thousand emails, comparing links to various dress styles that may or may not fit in those parameters so none of the two dozen bridesmaids pick the same dress (oh the horror!) and then realizing the one you like is regular satin instead of stretch satin and then realizing that you just have to go to the damn store to see if you can even try any of those on, because short legs are the curse of your gene pool and apparently completely unknown to bridal party designers.

So imagine yourself in a beautiful and quiet blush-colored salon, trying to zip yourself into samples that either look and act like sausage casings or feel like tent and fall off in the “fancy old fashioned powder room” themed waiting area, and of course you’re wearing an old grimy bra and ripped underwear, and of course there’s someone’s little brother running around, right at the age where they become fascinated by women’s bodies, and of course you haven’t even shaved your legs because why would the experience afford you, the lowly bridesmaid, contractually obligated to make the bride look gorgeous at the expense of your own shallow vanity, any dignity at all?


This is that dress. What you can’t see are the clips holding the damn thing on.

So imagine that, then pull out your credit card and pay many dollars for the privilege of wearing the least unfortunate of those dresses, and then when you stop by the grocery store on the way home, text your significant other that you are going to drink “ALL THE WINE THEY HAVE” and impulse buying deep fried bar food that warms conveniently in the toaster oven.

This is mitigated when you get home and the bride texts you happy emoji and tells you how excited she is to have you as a friend.

Then you get online to scour all your go-to dress sites for dresses, because at least one bride gave you the parameter of “don’t show up naked” but you have to coordinate with everyone else or at least the theme so you don’t ruin the pictures, but then you start considering whether it should be a one-time deal or if you should look for investment pieces. It’s at that moment when you’re skulking designer discount sites in the seedy part of the internet that you realized all your clothes are from Forever 21 because investment pieces are really fucking expensive and who in their right mind spends three digits on shoes?

It’s at that point you switch from wine to scotch start buying household gadgets that you don’t need and will never use, and you wake up the next morning with invoices for dresses and shoes and slap-chops, and as you nurse your hangover through each ping of new store e-newsletters and each transaction draining more of your hard-earned cash (“there goes my student loans” you think), you hide under the covers and get a text from the bride “I’m so glad you’re coming for the wedding, I might kill myself planning this bitch”, and you think, “this is why we’re friends”. And suddenly being broke and looking like shit doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day your friend is getting married to someone who adores her, and they are taking some rad steps towards creating the life they want.

(Congratulations, gorgeous friends. Kelsey, Betsy, and Therese, I really couldn’t be happier for you.)

[Citizen Filter] Wallowing in Decadence, Your Late Afternoon Papal Laugh-In

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So now that my rage has subsided into a low, manageable simmer (despite TWO MORE shootings in the last several days. TWO. MORE. No wonder humanity is going extinct in 86 years) let’s talk about something fun! Let’s talk about popes.

Whatever your views may be on the Catholic Church (one holy catholic and apostolic Church…we acknowledge one baptism for remission of all sins… sorry, I got caught in the Nicene creed for a second), it sure has given us much in the way of comedy. Growing up Catholic, that comedy often came from my mother making fun of the priest during mass if he went on too long. (Her motto: If you can’t say it in ten, don’t say it in twenty.) Between family stories about setting things on fire, wearing kleenexes on your head (if you forgot your hat), and taking a sip too many of the sacred backwash that is communion wine at one’s First Communion (age 8), the laugh riot never ends, but truly, our most holy gift is the pope.

With a history more bloody and scandalous than Game of Thrones, a library of apocryphal stories with all the blood, gore, and crossdressing one could hope to be titillated about, and aristocratic families fighting for control of the giant golden throne, one can only imagine the glorious scandal that a comprehensive history of the papacy could be. Well, too bad, because I’m only going to talk about the things I think are funny. To wit:

Pope Joan

According to popular history, Pope Joan ruled at as Pope John Anglicus for several years in the 13th century, and was actually pretty damn good at it. Wise, learned, and with that sense of fun you only find in a transgender pope, she was revealed as a fraud when she gave birth while parading through Rome on horseback. Of course, she fell from her mount and was dragged for a half a mile before dying, at which time she was buried in disgrace.

Pope Joan did not exist (although I’m willing to bet that we have had a few popes who were actually women–see anyone who did not have illegitimate children during the Renaissance because EVERYONE had illegitimate children in the 16th century), but if she did, I have questions. 1. How was she so unaware of her impending labor that she decided to ride around publicly on horseback? 2. How did the papal staff not realize that the pope was getting fat on a remarkably specific timeline? 3. Who had sex with the pope in a) such a way as to impregnate her, and b) not tell all their friends in a drunken stupor? Was it an extremely disappointed gay man? Was her lover unceremoniously offed? Is the ground under Rome filled the corpses of Joan’s loose-lipped lovers?! The world may never know.

The Three Popes in a Boat and No One Can Steer (The Western Schism)

So as you might imagine, the Middle Ages were a peaceful time filled with stable governments, easy transitions of power, and many happy and tolerant people who lived long, productive lives.

HA. Ha ha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

The Middle Ages was a time when people were either fighting over paltry portions of land and power, or they were so bored they started killing each other. (That’s how the Crusades started. Seriously.) And by people, I’m obviously referring to landowning men and their sons, because neither poor people nor women nor non-Christians were considered people, a tradition that continues today in the thoroughly not-a-theocracy United States.

Anyway. At one point, the papacy up and moved to France for several decades, and since the pope essentially ruled Rome, the people in ye olde country were none too happy about it. (It’s like the next president being a British citizen, living in Britain, and consulting with whoever the fuck is in charge over there. It’s an emperor, right? Emperor of the Galaxy or something? Politics are stupid.) So the Romans demanded a Roman pope, and since people never turn down enormous power and wealth, the College of Cardinals picked some guy from Naples, who became Pope Urban VI. (He was terrible. The only good thing to come out of Naples is the ice cream, and I’m not even sure about that. But most popes were awful, so there you go.) So the College got together again and chose Pope Clement VII, who skedaddled right on back to France. (He also wore an onion on his belt, as was the fashion at the time.) So they fight it out for thirty years or so (‘I’m the true of voice of God on Earth!’ ‘No, I’m his only holy representative!’ ‘You’re a blasphemer!’ ‘You’re a blasphemer!’), and the then College meets up again (rather than having a couple of good, old-fashioned assassinations, which would be so. much. easier.) and they elect a third pope, Alexander V, based in Pisa (‘Neener neener boo boo, I’m the real pope now!’ He was also known as the antipope, perfect for all your papist infection needs.).

Cut to five years later, and enough’s enough. The College meets one more goddamn time, they fire everybody, and elect a fourth pope, Martin V, whom no one hates enough to kill or depose, and everyone lives happily ever after. In Opposite Land. No, he actually initiated some wars, attempted genocide against the so-called heretics in Bohemia, organized a crusade in Africa, and endorsed slavery. History is fun!

The Crusades

Everyone loves the Crusades! The following is factually true:

-There were four of them.

-They all involved the same (mostly French) aristocratic families.

-They all started with bored idiots and their swords rampaging through Europe, decimating local Jewish populations.

-The Children’s Crusade was real, and while those darlings wandered to the sea to take back the Holy Land for Jesus, they mostly died of exposure, starvation, and disease, and the ones who lived got the grand adventure of being sold into slavery! Where they probably died of exposure, starvation, disease, AND horribly cruel beatings!

-The Crusades started because Western Europe was too peaceful. (Does that not explain everything about Western society ever?) There were a bunch of landless, battle-trained younger sons wandering around killing each other (because you’ve got to have some spare knight-sons in case your first couple die and you have to give the land to your daughter’s husband), and the Pope had a nope sandwich and created the first crusade so they could blow off steam in the (then) peaceful, productive, well-educated and tolerant Middle East. So rather than embracing peace and hammering their swords into plowshares, the (mostly French) aristocrats gather an army, kiss their wives and mistresses goodbye, and invade a series of countries, kicking off about a hundred years of conflict at home and abroad and ruining the pretty great societies thriving in the Middle East. THANKS, POPES.

In Conclusion

You may find yourself asking why this is relevant? Good question, yourself, HISTORY IS ALWAYS RELEVANT. But actually, it’s because history is always relevant and has echos that affect us today. Here’s a little thinky-think: it’s on the funny side, seeing Pope Francis plead for peace in Israel and elsewhere, when a little less meddling from the papacy would’ve been much more helpful in the following: 1. Deconstructing the long-held idea that Jews were less than human and deserving of genocide, eventually leading to the Holocaust, 2. Never planting the idea that Western Europe has any sort of mandate to act politically in the Middle East (see also: colonialism, Gulf War), and 3. Using violence as a solution for just about anything (see also: violent antisemitism, colonialism, Gulf War).

I actually really like Pope Francis and I think he’s creating more change in just a year than most popes aspired to ever. But history is long and filled with assholes, and it’s our job to call them out.

And Now Your Moment of Zen

The Pope Francis Popener, ideal for opening all your beer and adding a taste of the holy.

He smiles because alcohol!

[Citizen Filter] I’m a Raw Nerve and You Should Be, Too

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Although I only have the precedent of one post, I’d like to state for the record that I intend this space to be, above all else, funny. (Cut to no post being funny ever after this.) Today I’m making an exception, because it’s Memorial Day and I’d like to remember the women who have died in the epidemic of violence that seems to be the sacred core of American society.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard about the UCSB shooter. And I mean that very specifically. You’ve heard about the shooter. We know his name, we’ve read his manifesto (those many pages are the most some people probably will read this year, barring the comment section of YouTube and Buzzfeed captions), we’ve seen his video, we’ve stalked him to the ends of the Interwebs and back. (Somewhere someone has probably made a doge about it, because if there is one thing we’ve learned in the Age of Information, it’s that people are terrible and nothing is sacred.) The Daily Mail, a noble bastion of journalistic integrity, has posted pictures of “the girl who made him do it” in a bikini. As if she had anything to do with someone buying automatic weapons and letting loose in a spray of narcissistic self-indulgence, feeding on fear and pain like only a human really can. I am not giving them a link. They don’t deserve one second of our attention.

The people who do deserve our attention—the dead women, the dead men—are next to faceless and nameless, overshadowed by blond and slutty Everywomen who is so keen to have sex with people who are Not Him. He’s a true gentleman. He’s a Nice Guy. He is Duckie Dale, taken to his logical end. And by god, if this fleshbot made flesh does not up and offer him sex, he’s going to kill everyone. She didn’t, because she is imaginary, but the real people are still really dead.

So now that I’ve proven myself a hypocrite by talking about him, let’s remember the fallen. They are not heroes. They are normal people who should be spending today at barbeques and beach parties. They should be going to class tomorrow.


Katherine Cooper


Veronika Weiss


Cheng Yuan Hong


George Chen


Weihan Wang


Chris Martinez Cooper

I’d also like to remember the 1300 American women who died in the last 365 days at the hand of a domestic partner. We don’t have their pictures, because this is so prevalent as to be unremarkable.

This is rape culture. This is misogyny. This is Not All Men. This is the glass ceiling. This is gender bias. This is “you shouldn’t have been”. This is purity balls. This is The Game. This is under-representation in the media. This is an impossible beauty standard. This is the NRA. This is ‘slut’. This is never using women in medical studies. This is criminalizing abortion. This is Hobby Lobby and birth control. This is street harassment. This is martial rape. This is headless mannequins. This is American Apparel. This is revenge porn.

This is what happens when you treat women as if they are disposable and you treat men as if their gender is normal and woman is abnormal. This is what happens when you teach men that they have a right to women’s bodies. This is what happens when you devalue human life and you teach that power belongs to the person with the biggest stick and and the least empathy. This is what happens when you gut the mental health care system.

I am over it. I am done. I am not making anything easier and I am not backing down. American culture is killing us and I don’t want to die. Join me.


Other thoughts and resources:

#yesallwomen on Twitter

Sally Kohn on The Daily Beast

The Guardian

The American Prospect

 The WHO Factsheet on violence against women

Images via and

[Citizen Filter] John Hughes Created the Neckbeard, and I Want to Know Why

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Recently (and by recently, I mean tonight when I remembered it was Thursday instead of Wednesday and I had a column due), I was trolling through Netflix in a Two Buck Chuck and heat wave daze, and it came to my attention that “Pretty in Pink” is up for streaming.

Now, everyone knows that “Pretty in Pink” is the absolute worst of all the John Hughes movies, including “Home Alone”, which is awful. (Seriously. Horrifying–do you want your kid committing acts of sociopathic violence just because you can’t catch a goddamn flight home?) PiP does not feature that kind of amoral disregard for human life, but it does feature a worse form of violence: the glorification of assholery and the beatification of the Nice Guy (TM).

Second things first: The Nice Guy (TM). Now, agency and privilege are hot topics of discussion these days, what with politicians realizing that women may be people and all, but back in ye olden days when Ronald Reagan ruled the roost and was gutting the American middle class for many years to come, women were still… Well, they weren’t people, I’ll tell you that much. These days, the 10,000 families in power at least pay lip service to the concepts of agency and respect, but that’s been literally in the last twelve months. PiP was made in 1986. You can tell because everyone looks like they walked off a yacht in someone else’s clothes, and/or they combine patterns at random and wear John Lennon glasses. (May we continue to forget his history of domestic abuse. Amen.)

Anyway, people have been pissed for years because Andie, our beautiful if misunderstood proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl, ends up with the hot (by 80s standards) rich guy instead of her loyal friend Duckie, the goofy sidekick with a Secret Love for Andie. We know he has a Secret Love for her because he calls her every five minutes after her work shift ends. (I am not exaggerating.) She is also Very Smart, as was legally required for all poor kids in movies made between “Blackboard Jungle” and “Stand and Deliver”. (Which begs the question: if she’s so smart, why is she hanging around a guy who doesn’t understand commute times, or more importantly, healthy boundaries?)

For Duckie, “boundaries” is a four-letter word. Considering his grades, he would probably actually spell it with four letters. He not only stalks Andie at school, although she is just shy of rude to him in public, he follows her to work, deliberately sets off the burglar alarm, ignores her when she tells him she does not want to see him, tries to get in with her slacker dad, and throws a tantrum when she follows through on her original Friday night plans. Duckie. Honey. That is creepy and weird, and a perfect template for all the neckbeards who bitch about the friendzone today.

And listen, folks, Andie is not a catch. She’s judgmental, inflexible, and (here’s that word again) rude. Here’s the thing: her father refuses to be the adult in the family, what with the only taking part-time work, making his daughter wake him up and prepare meals. So I get that she has several walls of defense up against…

Sorry, I just got distracted by “The Breakfast Club”, which is a much better movie.

Anyway–Andie goes to this party with Hot Rich Guy and after about thirty seconds, makes it clear that the chip on her shoulder will not be filled up with rich guy beer, makes the nice young man feel bad about including her in his circle of (admittedly jerkwad) friends and makes a beeline for the local Alternabar. Naturally, she acts like an asshole there, too, when Duckie has hurt feelings and she decides to really lay in, meanwhile ignoring Hot Rich Guy, who happens to buy two drinks that they never get around too. Naturally, drunk Duckie forcibly kisses her boss in an attempt to make Andie jealous.

Cut to blah blah blah PROM when the movie takes a turn for the better and Andie chooses Hot Rich Guy Who Just Wants To Hang Out With The Girl He Likes over I’m A Creepy Stalker And Eight Years Of Friendship Does Not Mitigate That. And all the fans are angry.

Which brings us to the point (and the theory I have jacked from my indomitable friend Kate): Duckie Dale is a template for dudes who believe in transactional relationships between men and women. Considering these values are not so clear in “Sixteen Candles” and “Better Off Dead”, one has to ask why, John Hughes, why would you tell people that eight years of friendship means that you get to creep on your friend? Stalking never enhances a relationship. Just say no. Why would you try to make us feel bad for Duckie, sitting alone and sad on a coin-operated newspaper rack, because Andie told him she had plans and followed through with them? Why should we feel empathy for a guy who routinely ignores the agency of the woman he ostensibly loves? Why did you give all this fuel to the neckbeards and Nice Guys (TM) among us? Why would you cast young James Spader (who is ridiculous and gorgeous, especially compared to bland Hot Rich Guy Andrew McCarthy), as the villain, when he is the only direct and honest character in the whole damn movie? Why did you punish clear communication?

Unfortunately, the answer boils down to the unsatisfying “reasons”: “the 80s” and “patriarchy”. We know better now. Now we know that women are people with thoughts and feelings, who like being paid the same as a dude, who can advocate for themselves and be aggressive in life and at work. We know that they make decisions that are just as valid and reasoned as a man’s, and when they say “I’m going out with this person because I like them”, we know that the decision will be respected. We know better now. Don’t we?

Don’t we, Jill Abramson?