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[California Seething]- Hurray for Donald Pumpkinhead

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Look, pumpkins are gross. They’re like Donald Trump’s head- orange, bulbous misshapen things filled on the inside with disgusting slime. And, just like Donald Trump’s head lots of white people are obsessed with them. Sure, there are a few differences- pumpkins don’t insult war widows, throw paper towels or Tweet. And no matter how popular pumpkins were last October, they were all gone and forgotten by November 8th. But the big difference is that not everyone who likes pumpkin is a loathsome sack of shit.

See, I may not be a big pumpkin fan but if you like them, I’ve got no problem with that. Get your ass down to TJ’s and buy every damn thingCal Seething- Oct 30- TJ in the October Fearless Flyer (the Fox News of pumpkin propaganda): pumpkin cheesecake muffins, pumpkin chai spice cake, pumpkin cream cheese, Greek pumpkin yogurt, “Pumpkin Walks in to a Bar”, Joe’s Pumpkin O’s cereal, pumpkin tortilla chips, pumpkin salsa, pumpkin beer, pumpkin butternut squash bisque, pumpkin rolls with pumpkin spice icing and yes, even pumpkins. If you want to hit Starbucks five times a day for pumpkin spice lattes- go nuts. Get down with your yoga pant self. I may think they taste like caffeinated vomit juice – but I don’t judge you. When it comes to pumpkin spice lattes- it’s hate the sip, love the sipper.

And at this point, Republicans are gonna say- “well, why can’t politics just be like pumpkins and we can agree to disagree over Trump”- because of course they set such a good example of civility by screaming for Obama’s birth certificate, chanting “lock her up” at political rallies and losing their goddamn minds six years ago when the President wore a tan suit. Cause CLEARLY it was just the tan suit they objected to and not the black skin that happened to be underneath it. But, OK, all that aside- you want to know why I can’t just treat Trump lovers like pumpkin lovers- I’ll tell you:

Pumpkins aren’t stripping away healthcare from millions out of spite, greed and malice.

Pumpkins aren’t undermining environmental protection using the goddamn Environmental Protection Agency.

Pumpkins aren’t stoking the flames of racism and xenophobia

Pumpkins aren’t deporting children who’ve grown up in this country to satisfy the blood-thirsty howls of a deranged mob.

Pumpkins don’t ban people from traveling to America based on their religion.

Pumpkins don’t rip away the civil rights of people I love.

Pumpkins don’t joke about lynching people I love.

Pumpkins don’t speak in front of known hate groups that target people I love.

Pumpkins aren’t alienating our allies.

Pumpkins aren’t taking us to the brink of nuclear war

Pumpkins don’t try to squash peaceful protest.

Pumpkins don’t try to intimidate the press into complicit silence.

Pumpkins don’t blatantly lie to the American people with every word that comes out of their jaggedly carved, slime crusted mouths.

Pumpkins haven’t made our nation a global disgrace.

Pumpkins don’t represent a terrifying threat to American democracy and the very continuation of life on this planet.

Oh- and – one more thing- Pumpkins aren’t using the Presidency to cynically enrich themselves and their soulless, dead-eyed, repulsive family members. Yup- that’s just one more difference between pumpkins and Trump’s kin.

Much like pumpkins, there are a lot of subjects I can agree to disagree over The Lakers vs the Celtics, the Patriots vs the Good of Humanity, Cris Collinsworth vs Jon Gruden vs the voices in my head telling me to KILL CRIS COLLINSWORTH AND JON GRUDEN BEFORE THEY SAY ONE MORE ASININE INCOMPREHENSIBLE THING, books, movies, music, which House Hunters would be most fun to punch in Cal Seething- Oct 30- PBthe face (uh- Tiny- duh), which Property Brother’s mangled corpse would be most fun to feed to a pen full of blood thirsty pigs (oink oink chomp chomp- there goes Drew!!), whether subjecting a fellow human being to Lottery Dream Home is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention (HGTV is the only channel on DirecTV’s Guantanamo package.) I can even agree to disagree about politics- assuming that we share a mutual respect for the values this country was founded on and not merely the symbols that represent us. A shared commitment to the equality of all people and to the idea that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights- even for aliens. If we’re both committed to this idea then, sure, I’ll carve up a political pumpkin with you all day. But the minute you start carving out certain groups of people as being inherently less equal than others- I’m done with you. You can gourd fuck yourself.

My best advice to you, Trumpeters is to take a lesson from Pumpkin Heads. No matter how beloved your repulsive, bloated orange lumps are in October- they will fade to insignificance and rot in November….although, sadly, not this November but a November coming soon…right? Wait- what? Three years??? Are you kidding me? WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

OK, well, three more years. Sigh. Until then, if anyone needs me, I’ll be in solitary confinement watching Flip or Flop: Fort Worth. May the Great Pumpkin have mercy on us all.

Cal Seething- Oct 30- GP

 

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A Walk Through the Store

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In 1987, I spent the summer in Israel with my middle sister and my Dad. We’d lived in Israel from around 1978 to 1983 in Arad, a small town in the middle of the dessert that was far enough from any armed conflict to be safe for seven year old kids to walk home from school alone. After 1983 we moved back to the States to the leafy green and profoundly disappointing suburbs of Albany (Smallbany), NY- specifically, the town of Delmar (Dullmar).

My Dad was still a partner in a small apparel company with a factory in Arad, so we spent summers and holidays and every week we DadPost-Aradcould in our apartment there. I loved that apartment. The cool tile floors and big balcony window from which I could see past the end of town to the blue mountains of Jordan beyond. So much better than our US brown two story carpeted house which overlooked nothing but the construction sites of our Dullmar development and the high school that would someday form the backdrop of all my grown-up anxiety dreams (for the love of God, when do I stop panicking about failing French???)

Anyhow, the summer before my Freshman year in High School in 1987, my mom and oldest sister stayed back in Dullmar while the rest of us went back to Arad. It was probably the greatest summer of my life. Not because of all the touchy-feely lovey-dovey family bonding crap we did- but because my Dad worked all the time, my sister and I were teenagers and he left us THE HELL ALONE. The only time we HAD to be home was when my Mom called so that we could reassure her that he was doing the bare minimum to keep us alive. Though, of course, there was the one week I missed that call because I was hiking up north. When she called, he just said I was “outside…somewhere” – which was technically true- I was, in fact, outside…six hours away, straddling the fence to the Lebanese border, rappelling down a dry waterfall and eating lunch on an overturned tank in a river. I don’t know how the rest of that conversation went, but I do know that no simple phone call would suffice when I came home- NO SIR! I had to sign an affidavit as proof of life and fax it to her post-haste. I’m surprised she didn’t make me take a picture holding the newspaper.

Of course, we did do some stuff as a family- like when my Dad took me and my two best friends to Jerusalem and made a brief pit-stop in the West Bank so he could pick up some Hebron wine glasses. He made each of us memorize three items on his to-do list of the day. I suppose in the days before Siri, taking three freshly bar-mitzvah’d boys to an incipient war zone was the next best thing.  Naturally, the Hebron glass guy knew my dad. Wherever he went, everyone always knew my dad. There was one time, several years before this amazing summer, when we were hopelessly lost in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. We drove around in circles for what to a restless 10 year old seemed like FOREVVVVVVVER until he finally stopped at a restaurant to feed his weary and hungry family. How noble. How heroic. He positively insisted he had never been there and we believed him completely right up until the owner greeted him with a convivial “Shalom Alan!” as soon as he walked in and the waiter brought him a big bowl of Ful Medames right after we sat down. His Ful made fools of us all.

I thought of this recently when we went to his favorite ice cream place, “I Scream for Ice Cream”- or “Bill’s” as he called it- referring to DadPost-IceCreamthe owner’s name, a few days after he died. He loved that place. In fact, during one of the very few conversations my Mom and he had about the afterlife, she asked “where do you think we go?” and he said without hesitation “Bill’s.” Anyhow, we all walked in dreading the moment that Bill, would smile broadly behind the counter and ask “where’s my friend?” But he didn’t. Bill came out from behind the counter and hugged my mom. We didn’t run an obituary but somehow Bill knew, just like the owner in that long ago restaurant knew my Dad’s name and favorite order. That’s just who my Dad was.

It may come as a surprise to those that met my Dad later in life that so many of my memories involve him being in motion. Walking, driving, flying, playing racquetball. Either that or working. He was always working until Parkinson’s made him stop. I didn’t think about it then but as I get closer to the age he was when he was diagnosed I find I work like he did- wrapping myself in my work like a familiar scratchy blanket. And so the thought of just giving it up is as unimaginable to me as I’m sure it was to him. And yet- he did- without a moment of regret or remorse. He just gracefully moved on to a new phase of his life as he gradually pursued what would become his longest standing occupation- working with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students on their D’var Torah, or as it’s more commonly known “speech”. When I was a Bar Mitzvah student there was a simple formula to follow – all platitudes, no insight. The Torah portion wasn’t something to be digested- simply regurgitated to the tune on the tape the Cantor made. But he expected his students to dig deep into their Torah portion- to savor it in all its richness and share the complex flavor with the congregation. So many of his former students came up to us after his Shiva services at Congregation Albert, the Albuquerque temple that became my family’s spiritual home. Time and time again they said the same thing “your Dad was the best teacher I ever had.”

Everyone who met him after they moved to Albuquerque knew him as this inspiring guy in a wheelchair spreading wisdom. The Yoda ofDadPost-Yoda Torah. A wise and spiritual man. Funny, patient and infinitely generous of spirit. And, to be sure, he was all of those things. But one of the things he and I were talking a lot about as his days were winding down, was the way in which Torah refuses to make saints of our teachers and leaders. And as so many people told me how amazing he was, I kept thinking about the other side of my Dad- the guy who could be exasperating, stubborn and infuriatingly single minded- especially when food was involved.

In 2002, I directed The Lonesome West at the Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica. It was my first show in LA and my parents came. Even back then, it was challenging for them to travel and I was extremely grateful that they had made the effort. It was an older theatre, and our idea of ADA accessibility was getting the whole cast out to carry the guy in the wheelchair up the four steps from the small lobby to the back row.DadPost-Powerhouse

Anyhow, once we got my Dad situated, my friend Julie sat next to him in the back and I went to the front with my wife, and my Mom so she could hear better. I was pleased we had gotten him in and proud to share this play that I felt I directed so beautifully. I thought rather a lot of myself then.

What I didn’t know as I moved to the front row, was that he had brought with him a GINORMOUS bag of jelly beans. To this day, I don’t know where he had those hidden and how he smuggled them in. Now, it’s one of the mysteries of the universe.

Anyhow, about halfway through the play was my favorite scene. It was a quiet conversation shared by a young girl and a priest in torment. I thought it was some of the best work I had done, subtle, nuanced and suffused with the pain of unrequited love. And half way through, as the audience sat in rapt attention and the theatre was absolutely silent… CRASH!!!!! The whole bag of jelly beans came splattering to the ground. And I was in the front row just fuming- where did the jelly beans come from? How did he sneak them in? Why did he bring them to the show? Who, who WHO eats jelly beans at the theatre? And WHY IN THE NAME OF EVERYTHING THAT IS HOLY did he have to pick this exact, beautiful, perfect moment to drop them all over the ground???

And then, while most people would have just left them on the ground quietly and gone back to focusing on the UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL FREAKING SCENE THAT I DIRECTED – he started rustling around and picking them up and I was sitting in the front row going out of my mind silently screaming at him to CUT IT OUT. One jelly bean….rustle rustle rustle….. Two jelly beans STOP IT! Three jelly beans…rustle rustle rustle….four jelly beans….JUST LEAVE THEM! My friend Julie leaned over to him and said “Mr Sims, what are doing? Just leave them on the ground.” But he wouldn’t. He wanted those stinkin’ jelly beans and nothing was gonna stop him. Five jelly beans….rustle rustle rustle….six jelly beans…and then…. CRASH… One jelly bean….rustle rustle rustle.

And the best part was, later on that night, my brother-in-law told me that the best piece of advice he ever got from my Dad was “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby” And I thought, of course, yes, that’s great advice! Why drop your candy in the lobby when you can drop it RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE QUIETEST MOMENT of the show and then try and pick it up again piece by piece by piece AND DROP IT AGAIN. Oh yes. OH YES. CLEARLY THAT’S MUCH BETTER.

And there you have my Dad. If there was something in life he wanted to taste, he wouldn’t just leave it lying on the floor. He would try DadPost-GardenPicjpgand try and try again to experience the full sweetness of life and wasn’t going to let anything stop him. And I thought of that when I saw a picture of him sitting in the garden after being in bed for three months, about a week before the end. I’ll admit, I didn’t think he would ever make it outside again- but then I realized- ah! There was one more piece of candy left, and with all his might, he managed to eat it.

The last time my Dad was in the hospital, he started working on a book called Walk Through the Store. It was his guide to common-sense leadership inspired by role models in his life and biblical figures. The title came from his experience at Jordan Marsh as a very young manager. Every Saturday, store Vice-President Cameron Thompson would walk through the whole store engaging with employees, hearing their concerns, observing customer interactions and making notes to share with his fellow executives. This made a profound impact on my Dad. While I don’t remember him ever talking about it before he started working on the book- I certainly observed the impact of this experience on his leadership style.  He got to know the people working for him, talked to them with respect, got involved in their lives. When we were in Israel, that crazy summer of ’87, we had dinner at the home of one of his Bedouin employees- though it was really more of a compound than a home. A large, sparsely furnished concrete structure with beautiful rugs on the floors, a kitchen swarming with women covered in head scarves making pita bread, some windows with glass, some just rectangular openings to the outside, kids everywhere running around and playing soccer and a permanent tent where his older parents lived. They had come to terms with staying in one place, but living encased in concrete was more than they could adjust to. We sat in the tent drinking mint tea and eating watermelon. My Dad’s employee was so proud to share his world with my Dad- and my Dad asked questions, engaged with the whole family, made sure they knew what an honor it was for us to be there. I remember thinking “this is pretty cool. I’d like to be the kind of boss my Dad is. You know, Someday- after I retire from the Boston Celtics.” Anyhow, I guess that’s what he thought when he saw Cameron Thompson walking through the store. And fifty years later, as he lay in bed eating pureed food, he was determined to convey this message to future generations.

As my sisters and I each came to visit, we would sit with him, talking as much as his energy and Parkinson’s would allow, taking notes on our conversations, inching the book forward like a relay race of mismatched penmanship, with mine being the worst of the bunch. He and I talked a lot about Abraham as a biblical role model of leadership, and I encouraged him to include Moses as well since there are a lot of tricky aspects to Abraham’s story (e.g. the whole “Sarah? Oh no, she’s not my wife, she’s my sister” bit.) A couple of weeks before he died, my Dad asked me to think of examples from Moses’ life that we could use in the book. I took that as a win. Luke scores a point on Yoda.

I was scheduled to fly out on Rosh Hashanah- Thursday, Sept 21. The night before, my Mom called. It was a call I had been expecting for almost a decade. Every time she called at an unusual time, a small pocket of dread would open up in my stomach. Usually, it was nothing and the pocket would close up again releasing a sweet cloud of pink relief. Sometimes there was serious news- emergency room trips, hospital stays, falls, new symptoms. Each of these developments was like a step down on a ladder of wellness- and after each step, they would fight their way back to a new version of normalcy. But this time, there was nowhere left to go.

He talked to my sisters first and then me. He couldn’t really say much on the phone, so I did most of the talking. I talked to him about Moses. I reminded him that, at the end of Moses’ life, he couldn’t enter the Promised Land. He could only see it from the mountain top. I told him that he too was at the mountain top- and from there, he could see his legacy carried forward. He could see his kids, his grandchildren, his students, his friends. All of us that learned from him. All of us that were touched by him. All of us who were better people for having known him. He might not finish the book- but he could see from the mountain top that his lessons were secure and a new generation would carry them forward. It wasn’t fair. It never is. It wasn’t fair for Moses and it wasn’t fair for him. But at least he could see his promises fulfilled. At least he could see us walking through the store.

And so he spent Rosh Hashanah on the mountain top while his body struggled for breath in bed. I arrived on Thursday. He slept a lot. He couldn’t eat or drink. When his eyes opened, he looked up at the ceiling towards a fixed point. I hope it’s a long time before I know what he was seeing. He couldn’t talk, sometimes he gasped and we thought….and then he would start breathing again. CNN was on TV but the sound was off. So when no one was talking, there was just the oceanic rhythm of the oxygen machine endlessly pounding the surf.

On Friday night, we welcomed Shabbat in the bedroom standing around him. We lit LED candles, so as to not blow up the oxygen tanks, and did Kiddush. He hadn’t spoken or even really verbalized all day. And then- as I finished the blessing on the wine we heard “Amen”. It was the clearest thing he said in days. It was the last thing he said. He died on Saturday morning, holding my mom’s hand while she talked to him about the lesson plan she was preparing for Sunday School about the High Holidays. A team to the end and beyond.

At 7:30 AM on Saturday morning, September 23rd, the 3rd of Tishrei, she called me into the room.
“I think he stopped breathing”dadcoverpic-crop
I put on shorts quickly.
I entered the room.
His eyes were closed.
He lay still.
We said our first goodbyes.
We talked about what to do next.
Who to call,
When to call,
What to say.
She turned off the oxygen machine,
And the room
went
quiet.
It was jarring,
how quiet the room was
then.
It’s jarring,
how quiet the world is
now.

There is a line in Hamilton- in the song “It’s Quiet Uptown”, which is sung right after Alexander and Eliza Hamilton have lost their son Phillip to a duel:

“If you see him in the street,
Walking by himself,
Have pity.
He is working through the unimaginable.”

When I saw the show, three weeks after my dad died, that line broke me open, weeping.
Because that’s how I feel.
Nothing in my life has changed.
Everything is fine.
I’m just working through the unimaginable.
I’m just working through the unimaginable.

I love you, Dad.
I miss you.
I hope that you saw me from the mountain top.
I hope you were proud.
I hope you’re free now.
To go where you want eat what you want do what you want.

And if you see me by myself, talking to myself.
walking through the store,
Don’t worry.
I’m just working through the unimaginable.
I’m just working through the unimaginable.

Enjoy Bill’s. I’ll see you at the mountain top.

DadPost-WheelchairPic

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[California Seething] 2016. Ugh.

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Once upon a time, when I was a ambitious young know-it-all moron in New York, I worked at the Strand Bookstore. The slogan for the bookstore was Eight Miles of Books (no cal-seething-010317-strandrelation to the Eminem movie. I know, I was disappointed too). My job was to shelve books along with an army of other ambitious young know-it-all morons. The Strand was constantly buying used books for resale. Every day New York’s Desperate Class would line up with hungry eyes, hoping to trade books for cash and, like an eight-mile long coiled python, the Strand would spit out loose change, devour the books and deposit them in some corner of its endless belly. Our job was to help the serpent digest.

Every day we walked in to work with dreams in our hearts and crumbs in our beards and were assigned a section of the store. No matter what the section was, there was a waist high stack of books lining the aisles. Our job was to find room for these books in the alphabetically correct position on the already bulging shelves. After a few hours of this, when we were about half way through the stack, we’d go to lunch. And when we returned 30 minutes later, the stack was exactly as high as it had been in the morning and while there were more crumbs in our beards- the dreams were gone. When I asked my boss if I could put “Sisyphus” on my nametag, her cold, dead eyes told me that she’d heard that joke. A lot. I didn’t last.

Anyhow, I bring up this unpleasant chapter of my work history as way of explaining why I haven’t written much in 2016.

Every day last year, I woke up with my head crammed full of information in various sections- Family Tragedy, Syria, Celebrity Death and, of course, Election.  And just as I was in the midst of formulating a coherent (by my standards) reply- another load of horrible news would be dumped in the section I was working on, and I had to start over. And so my mind is filled with fragments of posts that chart the mood of 2016- grief, numb horror, outrage, frustration, exhaustion, cautious optimism, fleeting hope, crushing disappointment, grief, daily mortification, rage, terror, grief, grief.

And now I find myself wanting to write something funny and wise or at the very least comprehensible (again, by my standards) which will wrap up this terrible year- but what to say? Usually, one can rely on Top 10 lists in these situations- but what kind of list would suit 2016? “Top 10 Deaths that Ripped the Heart Out of My Chest Still Beating Temple of Doom Style”? Or maybe “Holy Crap! These 10 People ACTUALLY Survived!” or maybe the “Top 10 Totally Inappropriate Tweets that Demonstrate the Terrifying Degree to Which Trump is Not Suited to be President Sent Since 3:35 This Morning”?

cal-seething-010317-heart

I mean, sure- all good- options- but I think I’ll cut right to the chase and go with the “Top 10 People or Groups in 2016 Who Can Seriously GO FUCK THEMSELVES”cal-seething-010317-trumpcave

  1. Who Else? The most dangerously underqualified person to ever be elected to any public office in the entirety of human history since Og beat Zog by a landslide promising to “make cave not stink again.” Even though Og failed to keep this promise by constantly farting in the cave, his supporters called his shameless flatulence “refreshing” and said “his butt say what people are thinking”. And he was still soooo much more qualified than the brainless hateful demagogue who won. And so before he fucks the country like he wishes he could fuck his daughter- he should go fuck himself.
  2. The idiotic idiot racist idiots who voted for Trump and are also idiots. Now – I know that you Trump voters resent us coastal liberal elite types for looking down on you and thinking you’re dumb. But the only reason we  think you’re dumb is that you actually are.  And the way we know for sure you’re dumb is that you’re TRUMP VOTERS.
    Also – I know that you get upset when we accuse of being racists- but….I mean…..you did vote for the dude who was endorsed by the Klan. Which cal-seething-010317-fluttershyis….you must…admit…kinda racist. I mean, if he was endorsed by My Little Pony, I’d say you were Futtershy fans, but it’s the fucking KLAN. And it wasn’t just some half-assed, obligatory “oh, I guess he’s the lesser of two evils for the white race” kind of endorsement. No- they gave Trump their full throated, whole hearted support. Hell, if the Berniecrats supported Hillary like the Nazis supported Trump we would have WON THIS GODDAMN THING. So- yeah- I’m calling you racists and worse. Cause if you walk like a duck and quack like a duck and Sieg Heil like a duck and degrade women like a duck and support conversion therapy like a duck and rip of Hijabs like a duck and deface synagogues with feces and Swastikas like a duck AND VOTE LIKE A DUCK then yes, yes you’re a misogynistic, xenophobic, gay bashing, hate mongering, anti-Semitic RACIST ASSHOLE DUCK and that’s exactly what I’m gonna call you (also- I’d like to apologize to ducks- not sure why I dragged you guys into this). Oh- and- yes- as I mentioned earlier- you’re also quite dumb.And don’t give me any of this cutesy-pie “Alt-Right” nonsense. This isn’t “Alt Country”. You’re not Wilco fans- you’re Nazis and you should all go fuck yourselves. Oh- and- right- did I mention already that you’re all very dumb?
  3. Anyone over the past few months who uttered the phrase “Clinton and Trump are basically the same”- especially if you didn’t vote or voted third cal-seething-010317-cokeparty.I know that in America we’re often asked to choose between two products that are basically the same- but let’s be very clear- Clinton vs Trump was NOT Coke vs Pepsi. No- Clinton vs Trump was Coke vs shoving your face over a streaming geyser of raw sewage and holding it there with your mouth forced open by Kellyanne Conway for four years – taking breaks only to go bobbing for bullshit in a tub full of Mike Pence’s puke. Boy – I bet that can of Coke sounds pretty refreshing right about now doesn’t it, sugar, carcinogens and all? Well- it’s too bad- you didn’t think it mattered- so it’s sewage for everyone! So- yeah- thanks a lot. When nobody has healthcare, Russian tanks roll over Europe, Exxon is drilling in Yosemite, Muslims are rounded up, Planned Parenthood has been replaced by a wire hanger and a punch in the gut and you shake your fist at the heavens (Facebook-wise) and say “oh- if only there was something I could do to stop all this!” – just remember- there was – and you didn’t. So go fuck yourself.
  4. Hillary bashing liberals. Hey guys- remember the Primaries? Weren’t those fun! Posting all those memes about how lame Hilary was, spreading right-wing Clinton basing propaganda repurposed for the left, crucifying her on Facebook because she gave a couple of speeches to stock-brokers and GASP helped raise money for Malaria drugs, cal-seething-010317-hilarymemelambasting the DNC for being annoyed with your petulance. Sigh. Good times. So many fine memories to look back on between waterboarding sessions at the internment camp. Oh- but wait- I forgot- you’re a white, straight male- so you won’t actually experience any consequences for the reckless role you played in destroying American democracy. Why your 401(k) might even go up! Hell, the closest you’ll come to internment camps  is reading about them while you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for the free physical that comes with your employer sponsored health insurance. But boy you sure will be outraged when you find out about them! You’ll sign all sorts of petitions on Change.org and share links from USUncut and DemocracyNow! And all your little Bernie Bro Buds are just gonna be so impressed with you that they won’t be able to resist responding to your post with Outrage Face Emoji. There’s sticking it to the man! The power elite is simply shaking in their boots thinking about how many Likes you get from your skinny-jeans friends and I can’t wait to hear all about it while I’m busting up rocks in Jew Camp and thinking just how much you should all really go fuck yourselves.
  5. The thieves who steal email, the crooks that put them up to it, the sleezeballs who publish the emails and us suckers for lapping it up. So- you know how like 44 years ago a couple of burglars broke into the DNC headquarters to steal some documents and the nation was so aghast when we discovered the President was involved that he had to resign in shame? I know right- how adorable we were! Clearly we hadn’t yet learned that the right way to react when confidential information is stolen cal-seething-010317-julianis to scrutinize it for petty, irrelevant nonsense scandals while totally ignoring the criminality of the act committed and rampaging corruption behind it.
    Let me put this differently- let’s say your credit card number was stolen and used fraudulently. Which of these two responses would you prefer?

    1. Bank contacts you immediately asking to confirm charges. If you can’t, the account is closed and flagged in case there are any future uses, the fraudulent charges are reversed and a new card is sent out with an apology.
    2. Credit card thieves publish your entire purchase history which is promptly scrutinized by everyone in America. Outraged imbeciles share click bait headlines with fake scandals (“These FIVE purchases by Eric will PUT HIM IN JAIL FOR SURE!” like there’s some law in this country against a 44 year old man visiting the American Girl Store and Build a Bear Workshop which of course there only is in North Carolina and we’re hoping it gets repealed). The credit card company does nothing cause they don’t want to seem like sore losers and the scumbags who ripped you off are hailed as folk-heroes and “whistle blowers.”
      Oh, shut up, you would pick A and you know it. But that’s not the choice we made during the election, is it? We chose to be outraged by the stolen emails so now we get to be terrified by Donald Trump’s tweets- lucky fucking us. And for that we should all go fuck ourselves.
  6. James Comey. Oh, go fuck yourself
  7. Vladimir Putin. Oh- you- SERIOUSLY go fuck yourself
  8. Jimmy Fallon. This one hurts. I really liked you but you just couldn’t stop humanizing Trump. I mean – bringing him on the show during the height of the campaign after all the terrible shit he said, so you can ruffle his hair like a lovable golden retriever? That’s like bringing Hitler on after kristilnacht and doing Movember bits about his mustache. And cal-seething-010317-fallontrumpI know you don’t want to live in Trump’s America any more than the rest of us – you just can’t help yourself. Ass kissing is heroin to you. So now make it up to us- use your show for the next four years to spread the message of love, equality and acceptance. Show us with joyous enthusiasm how great this country can be when we celebrate our diversity and play together. Or just bring Billy Ocean back on. That would be cool too. Meanwhile, I’ve sadly got to ask you to go fuck yourself.
  9. Colin Kaepernick. So let me get this straight- you kneel during the anthem to protest injustice but you can’t even be bothered to vote? Fuck that. It means nothing to be “woke” when you sleep through election day. You want to be a leader- lead to the polls. Now you might as well take pride in your choices and stand tall during the anthem- cause  like it or not- this is the country YOU made through inaction. Thankfully you’re a terrible quarterback and nobody’s gonna care next year if you kneel for the anthem while you’re eating Cracker Jacks in the stands. Meanwhile, please go fuck yourself.
  10. The Grim Reaper. Dude- you were off the chain this year. How about giving us a fighting chance next year? Like maybe instead of chess, we could play vintage Atari? Cause you may be able to checkmate us into the grave- but we will kick your bony ass in Frogger.
    And I’m not just talking about all the beloved childhood icons you took or the artists and leaders whose voices will be sorely missed during the difficult years ahead. I mean, that all sucked, but I’m particularly referring to the two people I love that you took within a week of each other.
    Mike & Sheila – you each deserve a much fuller and more articulate tribute (by any standards) than I can give you right now 2000 words deep in this post. Suffice it to say that we love you, we miss you, and we feel you absence every day. The world is a better place for the time you spent here, but God, it could be so much better if you were with us still.
    And so Mr Reaper, for everyone you took this year and all the sorrow you left behind, you can seriously go fuck yourself.

So, yeah- that’s my list. There are a lot more people I could have put on- Kellyanne Conway (the answer to the SAT question _____ is to Ann Coulter as W. is to Trump), the Fox News Legion of Doom being considered for the cabinet, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for mostly sucking at her job and, of course, GFY list perennial Bill Belichick – Trump’s pick for the Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures.  But I’d like to wrap this up on a positive note and I need to finish before the end of 2017.

So….here we go:

Ending on a positive note!

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This past Hanukkah, I lit candles with my parents on Facetime every night. This may not seem like such a big deal- but my dad’s had Parinkson’s for 25 years, and this year was particularly difficult (cause of course it was.) There were times back in the spring that I doubted that on December 31st we’d be singing the blessings together.  And yet- there we were. And it was a miracle. That we’re lighting candles together while thousands of miles apart. That another year has passed and we’re singing the blessings off-key- thanking God for the gift of the candle lighting ritual, for making miracles, for sustaining life. And I was, in that moment, truly thankful for the miracle we were experiencing. And I will be thankful for it always.

Yes, there are many lights which are extinguished much too soon. But Hanukkah we remember: sometimes there’s only oil enough for one day but it miraculously lasts for eight. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Alright- so 2016- we’re done with you- go fuck yourself. Bring it on 2017- death, injustice, love and miracles. We’re ready for you.  No matter how bad things get- they could be a lot worse. I could still be working at the Strand.

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Ugh indeed.

[California Seething] The Very Best Part of a Very Crappy Year

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Look, who are we kidding? 2016 is a horrible fucking year to be an American. OK, well, to be more precise, it’s a horrible fucking year to be ANYONE. Seriously, 2016- what the fuck? One minute you’re cute little baby new year, the next you’re a moustache twirling black-clad villain tying our hopes and dreams down to the tracks so they can be run over by the freight train of despair. Fuck you, 2016. You want to know how we feel about you? Just take a look at this:

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And, while every county in the world has experienced it’s own brand of crappiness- in the US we’ve had to endure the sickening dread brought on by this god-awful presidential election. I was really struck by this a couple of weeks ago when the fires from the Santa Clarita valley were raging out of control. There I was- going about my business, running errands while the sky was darkened with smoke and lit with an eerie orange glow from the flames and I thought- yup, that’s being an American in 2016- trying like everything’s normal while a toxic orange cloud hangs over our heads.Cal Seething- 082116- trump

Now, he may be a Crypto-Fascist Oompa Loompa (“what do you get when illegals come in/killing and raping and dealing in sin/let’s build a wall and let’s make it real tall/and Mexico will pay for it a-a-all/Oh yeah, you’d better bet they will/ Truma lumpa drumphidie drumph/do lies sound like truth when you shout them enough?/Tumpa drumpha and Mike Pensey, too/ Jesus would never vote for you-oo-oo/he’d so be a Bernie guy”) but he certainly does have the crowds eating out of the palms of his tiny hands. And oh, what, fun they seem to be having! Frothing at the mouth, screaming “Mexico”, taking incomprehensible loyalty oaths, shouting down protestors- why is it any wonder that leftists decided to create a crazy pants movement of their own?

And so, Bernie or Bust was born! Now, for those that don’t know, the Bernie or Bust movement consists of Bernie Sanders’ most passionate and devoted followers- followers so loyal that they will do absolutely anything Bernie tells them to, except, vote for Hillary which is literally the only thing he’s telling them to do. These folks don’t care if they Nader the election and allow the most progressive Democratic platform in 50 years to be defeated by a hate mongering lunatic- they’re having too much fun! Complaining about how no one listens to them at the DNC while booing Cal Seething- 082116- throwmoneyElizabeth Warren so no one can listen to her, sharing links from Fox News about Hillary’s email, throwing money at cars as they drive to a Democratic fundraiser at George Clooney’s house- cause nothing says “I deserve higher wages and debt relief” like throwing your fucking money in the streets.

And now there are some Bernie Busters who insist their gonna vote Third Party- cause that just went so well  in 2000! Thanks, guys! How did you ever get so much student loan debt and stay so fucking dumb?

So- yeah- 2016 has been a terrible, horrible no good year, but that’s OK because the Olympics are here and the Olympics make everything better! That’s right- the Olympics- that magical event that occurs once every four years when the world comes together to Cal Seething-082116-lafingercelebrate peace and brotherhood by kicking poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues nobody needs. Which, again, is why LA would make the perfect host city- hell, we threw our poor people out of their homes to build wasteful sports venues YEARS ago. And if we need to build more- no problem- just say the word and the Boyle Heights Equestrian Center is DONE. And the Athlete’s Village- well shit, we can just give them any under occupied mixed use luxury mega complex in Downtown LA with more gastropubs than parking spots. I mean, no one can afford to live there- might as well give ito the Serbian handball team.

Still- I love the Olympics. It’s the only time I get to feel good about feeling good about being an American. Because most days, I just feel smug about how bad I feel about being an American (like when we’re bombing someone) or guilty about how Cal-Seething--082116--unclesecretly psyched I am to be an American (like when it’s not us getting bombed). But during the Olympics I’m as unabashedly happy to be an American as a NASCAR fan in Florida eating Chick-Fil-A and blasting Kenny Chesney in his F-150 on the way to the gun show before hitting the Trump rally and getting dinner at Golden Corral (but only cause it’s Jeff Foxworthy’s favorite) then pounding down an ice cold can of Belgian made America beer. And that’s because the Olympics is the only time America can beat the living shit out of other nations and nobody dies or joins ISIS. Hell, the only consequence of American victory is that we get to pose on a podium looking fierce in shiny new jewelry and mouthing the words to a familiar song. It’s how wars would be won if Ru Paul ran the world! Say what you will about the Iraq War- we all agree that the Middle East would be safer if Sadaam had been deposed using balance beam and floor exercise scores. Cause if point deductions could kill, they probably will in games without frontiers, war without tears.

Anyhow, the US has been kicking ass at the Olympics and all the other countries are swimming pool green with envy. But even when the Americans aren’t demolishing much poorer nations, the Olympics are pretty great. Because the Olympics aren’t just a sporting event- they’re a two week orgy of non-stop Inspiration Porn. Just look at how fucking inspiring everything is! The historic accomplishments of Biles, Ledeckey and Phelps (BOOM! Named the women first. How ya like me now, Jezebel? (they don’t)); Simone Manuel shattering expectations and boundaries; Fiji winning their first medal- a gold in their beloved national sport of Rugby which was last played at the Olympics almost 50 years before Fiji’s independence.

And then there are the profound moments of inspiration which transcend competition- the Refugee Team marching proudly into the Cal Seething- 082116- selfieOpening Ceremonies, the South Korean & North Korean gymnast sharing a care free selfie, showing the world how easy it can be sometimes to do the impossible.  Yes, it seems the Olympics are a time when political differences are put aside and everyone is treated with dignity and respect, except of course for the Israeli team which is snubbed and insulted by athletes from Arab nations at every event they go and no one on the IOC says boo about it. But, hey- anti-Semitism is the only prejudice that the left and right can agree on- so the Jews are just bringing the world together!

Of course, the problem with all this inspiring crap is that it makes us dumb. Wait- no- maybe “dumb” is too harsh a word- let’s go with “generous of spirit”…..which, you know, means “dumb”. You see, for advertisers, selling us products on TV is like feeding a restless toddler- so they see Olympic competition is like moving a spoon through the air saying “look at the diver. Look at the pretty diver flying through the air!!! Now open up the swimming pool, cause here comes the diver” and then, Bam! We open up our minds and they shove in a big spoonful of University of Phoenix messaging all pureed up with a Maya Angelou poem. Speaking of diving, if you’re wondering why the Olympic diving pool turned green, it’s cause one of Rio’s finest pool technicians (sadly I’m not being sarcastic- he really was one of the best) dumped 160 gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide in to the pool which neutralized the chlorine and caused algae to grow. And if you’re wondering who the hell needs that much Peroxide at the Olympics- well, maybe take that up with the Shelly Fraser Pryce. Go on. I dare you.

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Anyhow, for companies like Sea World, it makes sense to exploit the feel-good spirit of the Olympics to improve their brand image. Cause if you’re watching the Olympics with your family, and thinking about where to go on vacation, you’re much more likely to consider SeaWorld if it’s “America’s foremost marine mammal rescue center and theme park” as opposed to “Auschwitz for Orcas”.

Of course, McDonald’s was one of the pioneers of using the Olympics to boost their brand image. Sure they’re plugging the white meat nuggets and Apple Dippers now- but as soon as Michelle’s gone, it’s Big Mac time, baby- cause Bubba’s back!

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So- sure, I get why some companies would advertise. Like Subway, which is still trying get out of Jared’s pants with their Cal Seething- 082116- subway#SearchforBackgroundChecks…I mean….#SearchforBetter campaign. But the real head scratchers are companies like Exxon which has spent millions of dollars on their “Energy Lives Here” campaign. These ads feature self-consciously diverse mix of their most bright-eyed, earnest and not-evil-at-all employees talking about all the humanitarian, beneficial and totally not-at-all-evil things they do like studying biodiversity or fighting Cal Seething- 082116- exxonmalaria…none of which makes a damn bit of difference to me when I’m deciding where to buy gas. After all, if I wanted to do what was best for the planet, I wouldn’t buy gas at all- but since I need it to feed my car’s addiction all I care about it who’s closest, who’s cheapest and who takes damn Ralph’s Rewards points. What they are doing to combat malaria never enters into it- it’s like choosing a meth dealer for his 401k plan. Come on, Exxon, you’re a scumbag oil company- just own it. Don’t get all needy and weird. It’s like JR Ewing standing outside my house playing In Your Eyes on a boombox- not a good look for you. You want my respect- keep it real. Show me bloated executives lighting $100 bills on fire after dipping them in gasoline and tag it with “Yeah, we’re Exxon. Fuck you gonna do about it?” Or, better yet, skip the advertising altogether and TAKE MY RALPH’S REWARDS POINTS.

And GE is advertising a lot, which is really confusing because I never thought of them as especially evil…but now I’m starting to wonder what they’ve done! I mean, sure, there were all those kids who got stuck in discarded fridges back in the day, but that was when kids used to play outside and Apple solved that problem. And yet, still GE keeps running commercials to try and convince millennials that GE is a cool place to get a job while millennials are like, “dude- you had me at ‘job’.”

Frankly, I’m surprised Monsanto isn’t running commercials. They could show scientists working hard in labs inter-cut with gauzy, sunrise footage of Cal Seething- 082116- tomatofarmers in fields, happy kids around the world eating disturbingly oversized vegetables, then kids running in fields and city squares, then teenagers running on high school tracks, and finally adults running at the Olympics while a slowed-down, female-sung, acoustic version of “Feed the World” plays and a craggy American voice says “Get More Olympians with G.M.O’s”. Huh. That’s really satire. I swear.

But the most hateful ads during the Olympics are for NBC’s own programming. Look, you may think that the most powerful person in America is the President or the Chief Justice- but really it’s the NBC executive who can sit in a room full Cal Seething- 082116- kristenof otherwise intelligent people at the top of their field and say “hey- you know what we need- a snarky sitcom about the afterlife with Ted Danson and Kirsten Bell- where she plays a dead person who’s kind of a bitch and Heaven is just like the Grove!” and in the very long moments of dead silence that follows, not a single person in the room says “Are you out of your goddamn mind??? That’s the WORST FUCKING IDEA I’ve ever heard.” Instead they are all like  “I smell a hit!”, “Everyone loves Danson!”, “we can cram it down everyone’s throat during the Olympics!” Yeah- cause that strategy worked out soooo well for The New Normal. Remember The New Normal? No? OF COURSE YOU DON’T. NOBODY DOES. The only reason I do is that NBC spent two weeks trying to cram that ill conceived shit pile down my throat during the LAST OLYMPICS.

Then again, maybe the truly powerful person in this scenario is not the executive who greenlit the show, but the Svengali like producer who pitched it. I can just hear the pitch in TV-speak: “It’s like Cheers meets Touched by an Angel in a Samsung commercial” delivered in a peppy upbeat tone as if it’s not the most Cal Seething- 082116- pmbhorrifying combination of three things that the human mind has conceived since Puppy-Monkey-Baby. Just think of someone with these powers of persuasion could accomplish: bringing peace to the Middle East, reunifying North & South Korea, getting Republicans in Congress to do their damn jobs. And all of that miraculous potential wasted making terrible TV shows and earning lots and lots of money. I am horrified and disgusted and very, very jealous.

The other big show NBC is pushing is This Is Us- which appears to be a drama about people born in 1980 all turning Cal Seething- 082116- thisisus36 and finding themselves at a cross roads in their lives. And that means that….yes….wait for it…..millennials now have their own version of thirtysomething. As if Prince & David Bowie dying wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got this little nugget to ponder when contemplating our mortality at 4 AM. Thanks, NBC for making 2016 even more depressing. I’d consider killing myself, but I’m terrified I’ll wind up in a Kristen Bell / Ted Danson vehicle.

Anyhow- I’m not sure why I’m acting so shocked that NBC’s programming is terrible. What more can I expect when everyone involved with the network who’s not named Wier, Lipinski or Questlove is hot garbage (as the kids say) (the “kids” are in their 30’s) (goddamn it) pretty much all of the time.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Olympics, NBC is the only game in town. Mind you- there are a lot of different channels showing the Olympics- there’s NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Sports…uhm…NBC Basketball, NBC Soccer, NBC Universo- all sorts of options we can choose from to give ourselves the illusion of choice- late capitalism at its finest!  And because they have us by the balls, NBC has an interesting relationship with their Olympic viewers- it’s not as much “entertainer” and “audience” or “business” and “valued customer” as it is “bank robber” and “hostage”. They know we’re not going anywhere, so they feed us just enough Olympic action to keep us docile while they collect their ransom money from advertisers. And then, just for fun, they sadistically torment us with human interest stories and the inane blather of Al Michaels, Mike Tirico and Ryan Seacrest- the Three Amigos of Announcing Awfulness. And I know some of you are saying- “Hey wait- I love Al Michaels” but that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome talking. Cal Seething- 082116- alcrisThe only way to love Al Michaels is the way Patty Hearst loved the SLA- just ask Cris Collinsworth, if they ever get him deprogrammed.

Of course, NBC executives would deny that they are deliberately torturing viewers and would insist that they are just giving viewers what they really want. And, if these executives actually believe that’s the case- well, I have even less respect for them than ever.

You see, NBC’s research team discovered that more women watch the Olympics than men- and NBC wasn’t really sure what to do with this information. So they turned it over to their cracker jack team of all male team executives who brilliantly deduced that women who watch the Olympics aren’t actually interested in “watching the Olympics”. No- what they’re really interested in is the human drama- who the athletes are, where they come from, how much their moms had to sacrifice for their success, the extent to which having babies has changed their perspective on sports (but only if they’re women, natch- boys don’t change when they have babies, silly), the vital role played by their husbands/fiances in their success (also- only if they’re women or Tom Daley). Female viewers don’t actually want to watch “sporting events”- no! For those gals, the Olympics is just one big reality show, like The Bachelor with medals or the Real Athletes of Rio, so it’s important to cram the broadcast as full as possible of human interest stories, interviews and extended shots of swimmers between events sitting in the ready room – cause there’s nothing more exciting than watching the best athletes in the world at the Cal Seething- 082116- readyroompeak of their abilities sitting in folding chairs listening to Coldplay- can’t you just feel the drama?? “She’s sitting in a chair….She’s glowering straight ahead…wait…yes… she might be….YES…she put on her earbuds! She’s listening to music!!! She’s listening to COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD play.” And it doesn’t matter if they air events long after they end and the whole world knows the score. Everyone knows women don’t care about scores- why all those big scary numbers just boggle their scatterbrained little heads!

 

And what’s really impressive about these NBC executives is that they were able to gain such insight into the minds of female viewers without talking to any actual females. I’m not sure what, exactly, their stringent research protocol was to gain such a scientific understanding of the female mind- but I can only assume it had something to do with sitting in the parking lot of a gas n’ sip drinking beer on a Friday night saying “Bitches, man” (when asked why they didn’t consult any female viewers- they responded “by choice, man. Personal choice”.)Cal Seething- 082116- final5

Ironically, the real story of these games is that women- and particularly US women have been kicking huge amounts of ass which I’m sure NBC would notice if they weren’t so focused on their marriage proposals. I’m sure every young girl in America who watched the US Gymnastics team was totally inspired to follow her dreams and achieve greatness– that is, assuming her parents let her watch gymnastics at midnight- which a questionable timeslot for family inspirational togetherness viewing but a great one for lonely guys on the couch eating Pringles in their underwear and wondering when Beach Volleyball is coming on already.

Look, NBC- the Olympics don’t need you to make them great any more than American needs Tumpa-Lumpa. Trust me on this- I’ve been holed up in Palm Springs watching 12-14 hours of Olympic action each day subsisting on a strict Cal Seething- 082116- drinkregimen of breakfast cocktails and blender drinks (the Lochte diet.) And the daytime programming is way better because the focus is on the sports not inane blather, human interest schmaltz and inspirational advertising. I guess the evil corporations of the world figure that if you’re watching team table tennis in your underwear at 11 AM drinking pina coladas, then a lack of inspiration isn’t really as pressing a problem for you as, say, updating your LinkedIn profile or getting the hell out of Rio before the cops come for your passport.

But I think they’re just jealous- I proudly watched the Team Table Tennis finals and they were fantastic even though I had no idea which country was which or what gender they were or how many points were in a game or how many games in a set or how many sets in a match or why they kept switching between Singles and Doubles or how they would possibly know who won and when they won and how much they won by or how the hell Ping Pong ended up in the Olympics when the far superior games of Air Hockey and Skee-Ball still languish on the sidelines. And the announcer was no help- he just kept explaining the format by saying, “you know, it’s just like Davis Cup!’ – which is like giving directions to East Bumfuck by saying “you know, it’s just east of Bumfuck!” All I know is that it was crazy and fast moving and for that moment in time in that one place in the universe there was absolutely nothing more important than who came out on top. And as much as I love theatre- if I could produce or even see just one play that meant this much the people watching it or involved, then I could walk away happy except then I would have to get a real job and seriously, fuck that.

And it’s not even like I’m some huge table tennis fan. I much prefer Rugby 7’s – where, as my wife said, the whole game is like the last five Cal Seething- 082116- hockeyseconds of a football game when the whole thing just devolves into a crazy series of laterals – and who doesn’t want 14 straight minutes of the Music City Miracle (Bills fans excluded). And then there’s field hockey- where the field is as blue as the diving pool should be; and handball, invented by an alcoholic Yugolslavian gym teacher in the dead of winter who was running out of ideas for what to do inside and clearly getting desperate. Years later on his death bed, he was heard to mutter repeatedly “Goddamn it, Dodge Ball!! I forgot about Dodge Ball!!” And then there’s soccer, basketball, volleyball and all the running, jumping, twisting, turning, throwing, thrusting, stabbing, slashing, splashing, paddling, peddling, punching, rassling, riding, rowing, ribbon tossing, gun shooting and, I guess, whatever, golf. All of which has made of a terrific distraction from the floods, fires and fuckwads which have fouled up 2016.

But all things must end, except NBC’s contract with the Olympics. Just two weeks ago, the Olympics began with a festive tribute to slavery using a human hamster wheel and an earnest segment about how the earth is getting hotter because of the actions of man. Specifically this man:

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Holy crap! What’s Tongalese for “hubba hubba”? I hope you’re watching Exxon- Cause THAT’s an ad for oil!

In all seriousness, though, sustainability is an important theme of the Olympics which is why the medal winners are getting little Cal Seething- 082116- riostatueplastic statues of the Olympic logo instead of flowers. After all, flowers are wasteful cause they die and decompose but these plastic statues will last forever in a landfill! Oh well- at least the Olympic venues are sustainable since as soon as the games are over, they’ll be recycled into homeless encampments.

And that’s going to be pretty soon- because the games are just about over. The Closing Ceremonies are upon us, and Simone Biles will be carrying the flag for the US (Ryan Lochte was invited to do it but the invite came from the Rio police.) And the team she leads out reflects not only what is great about the Olympics- with their athletic prowess, sheer determination and mostly non-douchey behavior- but what’s actually great about America. Because it is a team that reflects the population of our country- and that in turn is a reflection of the entire world. And all of you that are composing angry messages to me in your heads about how that’s a load of crap because the team is still WAY TOO WHITE and all the power is in the hands of WHITE MEN and we still have a WHOLE LOT OF WORK TO DO- well- you guys also make America great since, like Subway, you’re always #StrivingforBetter and I totally mean that in the least patronizing way possible, no matter what Jezebel says about me.

And that gives us something to shoot for in 2020- or better yet, 2024 in LA! Just picture it- President Clinton enjoying the games as her second term winds down- and why shouldn’t she? She’s done a great job and once her granddaughter taught her Snapchat her presidency was scandal free. And she can be confident knowing that her legacy will be secure- after all Michelle is kicking ass in the polls- and while that may not be great news for McDonalds- it sure is great for America (not the beer, the country. You DO NOT want to hear Michelle’s opinion of beer).

And where will I be for the 2024 LA Olympics? Where do you think? In Palm Springs, of course, watching NBC and complaining about it (a Ted Danson / Elle Fanning sitcom about the Rapture? Are you kidding me????) with a pitcher of pina coladas and a mimosa.

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Oh yeah. That sounds pretty great to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[California Seething] Year End Wrap Up: Top Four Reasons I Avoided Reality in 2015

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Recently my dad’s been obsessed with watching Perry Mason. I’m not talking about some hip new reboot/prequel on the CW network starring Ben McKenzie as a young P-Mas in which the character is “updated” from the square jawed All-American defender of innocence to a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of himself. Nope- I’m talking about the original show from the 1950’s- black and white film, black and white values and all white cast.

I mean- how ridiculous is it that with all the hundreds of content streams to choose from, he’s watching a show that’s 60 years old? My wife and I laugh about it all the time while we’re watching Card Sharks in the morning on Game Show Network. Of course, we stop once $25,000 Pyramid comes on- cause that shit takes FOCUS. Trust me- you do not want to screw up- especially when you’re playing for the big money- because, if you do, once time expires, Dick Clark will come down from his mighty podium like a vengeful yet strangely avuncular God and force you to keep guessing meaninglessly until you figure outCal Seething- 010415- dick the category you missed just to rub in your face what a moron you are. It’s like- if you were a little smarter or a little quicker you could have guessed that when the gay neighbor from Webster was saying “an old photo, a shot in a movie, your chances of winning” the category was “things that fade” not “things that look good” – but you botched it and so instead of winning $25,000 you’re walking away with a measly $750 which in 1986 was just barely enough money to buy a medium sized house- and Clark’s gonna make sure you feel as lousy as possible about it. Gives new meaning to “Dick move”.

Look, I’m not naive enough to think the past was perfect. The 50’s was a great time, if you were a white guy (but has there ever been a bad time?) The 70’s had Cher, wide lapels and disco- and that was the good stuff! It was also a decade full of disturbing and unsettling developments- Watergate, Cal Seething- 010416- quincythe Iran hostage crisis, Jack Klugman being considered a sex symbol. And the 80’s? Hell, we didn’t think we would get out of the 80’s alive. We were positive that if it wasn’t crack or AIDS or Reaganomics then surely it would be the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb the bomb that would kill us.

But, of course, it didn’t. Turns out the Russians loved their children too (Putin doesn’t) and we managed to make it through the 80’s alive. And while this was a bit of a rude awakening for those of us who spent the decade not doing our homework and sneering at guidance counselors cause “what does it matter man?? We’re all gonna die!!!” it was probably all for the best.

And maybe that’s why we’re so drawn to TV from past decades. Because we know how the story ends. Look, we’re here! We made it! We can look back with a smile at those things that once terrified us and talk about them with bemused detachment like we’re telling the story of a turbulent flight at a warm dinner party with friends.

Or maybe it’s cause everything about 2015 was scary and horrible and the only way to maintain our sanity in the face of almost certain cultural and global collapse is to bury our heads in old game shows and black and white courtroom dramas. Yeah- it’s probably that.

Anyhow- 2015 has ended, and I have, despite my best intentions paid a little bit of attention- so here were the the four best reasons to avoid reality in last year.

Reason #1- The Dumb Shit that College Students Believe These Days Which is Even Dumber than the Dumb Shit I Believed When I Was a Dumb Shit College Student

When I was at SUNY Albany back in the early 1930’s, our school was voted as having the worst food in the country. We were also voted #1 party school- which gave rise to the popular joke “the food’s not nice but you taste it twice!” (NOTE: this joke was never popular). Anyhow, things got particularly dire towards the end of the semester when they were running short on cash- having blown their budget on sumptuous feasts like hot open faced Oscar Mayer turkey sandwiches with beige mucus gravy and toxic cranberry goo, and they began to get creative… or rather, moreCal Seething- 010416- taconug creative. And one of the byproducts of their creativity was the “taco nugget”….which is…exactly as terrible as you think it is. Now, at the time, we were not as enlightened as college students today, so we simply thought of these taco nuggets as “gross” or “grody” or ” nastachious to the extreme” but now, looking back on it from a more fully aware view point I recognize that what was truly nastachious about taco nuggets was not the flavor, but the implicit racism.

Clearly the white supremacists who ran the SUNY Albany cafeteria  appropriated the authentic food of the Mexican people, colonized it into a nugget and served it up to us with a micro-aggression baked right inside (the micro-aggression is what gives the nugget it’s zip. Who knew that racism could be as tasty as MSG- and as toxic!!) If only we had been as culturally aware as the students of Oberlin College in 2015, who raised their Tweets in protest when their university served culturally inauthentic Asian cuisine- including Banh Mi sandwiches on CIABATTA BREAD (SHOCKING!), sushi with UNDERCOOKED rice (OH, THE HUMANITY!) and, most disturbing of all, General Tso’s chicken with….STEAMED CHICKEN instead of fried. Can you imagine??? They might as well just serve a burning cross on a plate (with Cal Seething- 010416- chickenundercooked rice). How dare the fascist oppressors running Oberlin’s food service COLONIZE this proud, traditional, authentic Chinese dish which dates all the way back to the Old Country (New York’s Chinatown) in the 1960’s. Don’t they realize what a threat this type of blatant cultural appropriation poses to the safe space which today’s sensitive college students so desperately need for their intellectual development so that they can do bong hits, puke blood and fuck each other raw in an accepting and culturally sensitive environment (dorm shower)? What’s next? Orange Drink chicken? Egg Beaters Drop Soup? Chicken McNugget Chow Mein? Will the rape of cultures never cease???? (SPOILER ALERT: No. Also- Chicken McNugget Chow Mein sounds kind of amazing. Does that make me a racist, too???? (SPOILER ALERT: Kinda))

Look, I think it’s great that you college kids want to get involved in politics and I seriously mean that in the least patronizing way possible. Hell. I was sort of an activist in college myself and I firmly believe that none of the social change we’ve witnessed in the last century would have transpired had young people not raised their voices in protest. But you’ve gotta be smart about it. When you raise your voice in protest, you don’t want to sound like an idiot, cause nobody wants to listen to a loud idiot who isn’t running for president. So- focus on the issues that matter- climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality- you know the MACRO-aggressions. Because when you raise your voice in protest over being served a sub-par banh mi at the prestigious private liberal arts college which your mommy and daddy are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for you to have the privilege to attend and you claim that you’re being oppressed by food service workers who make less in a year than you spend on weed…well, you sound like an idiot. A big, dumb idiot. Just like when you shut down a yoga Cal Seething- 010415- emokyloclass for disabled students because of “cultural genocide” or you insist that your professor provide a trigger warning when teaching The Great Gatsby because it portrays misogyny (both true stories). You’re a tortured little whiny, millennial Emo Kylo Ren version of an activist and nobody takes you seriously. Which is a shame- cause you’ve probably got a lot of stuff to say about the world that we really do need to hear. But we won’t. Go drown your sorrows in cafeteria sushi.

Look, it’s very simple. When deciding whether to raise your voice in protest just follow this rule- black lives matter – General Tso’s chicken doesn’t. Seriously, not even General Tso would think that was worth fighting over (especially because he would have had no fucking clue what General Tso’s chicken was). Just stick to this little guideline, kiddies and you’ll be just fine- and I seriously mean that in the most non-patronizing way possible.

But even the dumb shittiest of all dumb shit college students can never hope to compete with:

Reason #2- The Big Dumb Shit

Here’s the problem with talking about Donald Trump. Whether you’re praising, criticizing, lampooning, lambasting, Cal Seething- 010416- trumpskylauding, dismissing, condemning, wringing your hands over, skywriting about, pontificating about the significance of or shaking your head in disbelief at the unabashed loathsomeness of Donald Trump- you are still TALKING ABOUT Donald Trump- and talking about Donald Trump is the worst possible thing you can do. Because Donald Trump is like a bloated, fascist Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon and words are the helium that makes him rise up in the polls. And so the best thing we can possibly do, as Americans is STOP TALKING ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

And I know that those of you in the mainstream media are gonna say that’s impossible- and I know where you’re coming from. Look, I don’t hate you media types- I know that you’re just people trying to do a good job, same as me. And I totally understand that because you’re a bunch of lazy, superficial, star fucking, fame whore click bait junkies (and I seriously mean that in the most empathetic way possible) you feel compelled to talk about a noxious celebrity billionaire Mussolini knock-off with a mouth like toxic waste dump (and I don’t actually mean that empathetically at Cal Seething- 010416- bernieall cause fuck that guy) So I have a tip for you- whenever you feel compelled to talk about Donald Trump- just talk about Bernie Sanders instead. It’s the perfect solution! Just think of Sanders as the Methadone for your Trump addiction.

And I know you’re gonna say that you have to talk about Trump because you’ve got some sacred duty to report the news- but that’s just one more reason why you should be talking about Sanders. Because Bernie Sanders- not Donald Trump- is the real story of the 2016 election and if you ever bothered to pull your well coiffed heads out of Trump’s pompadoured asshole, you would know that. Because- yes- a lot of us in America are angry, we do feel like we’ve been getting a raw deal and we are fed up. And yeah- a lot of us do feel sick at heart when we look at what’s become of our once great nation- and we want to make America better than it’s ever been- AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WE’RE VOTING FOR SANDERS. That’s why Bernie raised $33 million from over 2.5 million individual donors in the fourth quarter of 2015, that’s why he crushed Donald Trump in an online poll conducted by FOX NEWS, and that’s why he has come from total obscurity to force the whole conversation in the Democratic party to the left and has forced Hilary Republican Clinton to pay lip service to progressive issues- AND ALL OF THIS WITHOUT ONE WORD FROM YOU FUCKERS. You’re so busy falling over yourselves to breathlessly cover Trump’s latest burst of racist flatulence that you don’t see the revolution taking place right under your wet, brown noses.

But, of course, that’s exactly the way the DNC likes it. If the GOP was really serious about getting rid of Trump, they Cal Seething- 010416- debbiewould fire Reince Priebus and hire Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Hell, if she were running things over there, Trump would be as talked about as Martin O’ Malley and JEB! would have a double digit lead.

Not that Dear Leader Debbie would ever actually own up to squelching dissent. Why she would be aghast at the very thought! “How can you say that I’m insulating Hilary by not providing opportunities for opposing candidates to confront her in a debate. I scheduled SIX WHOLE DEBATES! And one of them is on the biggest TV viewing night of the year- the Saturday before Christmas! Surely everyone in America watched that debate. OK, so sure, a FEW people might have been going to holiday parties. And I guess there was just a teensy tiny portion of the population that might have been traveling to see family. Or preparing to travel. Or preparing to receive family traveling from out of town. Or cooking. Or shopping. Or decorating. Or out seeing the Nutcracker. Or Christmas Carol. Or A Christmas Story: The Musical. Or- oh yeah – fucking STAR WARS. But certainly there were still a lot of Americans at home watching TV who could see the debate. You know, unless they were watching Frosty the Snowman. Or college Bowl games. Or, oh yeah- fuckingCal Seething- 010416- frosty NFL FOOTBALL. But certainly it was the PERFECT debate viewing night for football hating Jews with no friends or family who think Star Wars is dumb- and, hey- those sound like Bernie Sanders’ people to me- so, there- you’re welcome! Of course, Bernie won’t have any way to reach these people when I take away his access to voter data due to some bullshit data breach- but, you know, rules are rules! Can’t be making exceptions- after all- you know how seriously Hilary takes data integrity!”

You really have to admire her style- she’s the Passive Aggressive Commandant of the Clinton Secret Police. Hilary should really keep her around if she comes to power. “Gosh- I’m sorry you’re stuck in Guantanamo Bay with no due process. The good news is that we’re planning to have a trial for you…on the Saturday before Christmas. Assuming of course, we can find a judge who isn’t traveling, or attending a holiday party, or watching football, or….”

But despite Data Breach Debbie’s machinations and Il Duce Trump’s blustering, Bernie continues to gain momentum. And so, if you Mainstream Media Whores are looking for a New Year’s resolution- how about covering the fucking Sanders campaign in 2016 and NOT TALKING ABOUT TRUMP ANYMORE. If you do that, I might just stop watching GSN in the morning and might actually watch the news.

But, of course, as soon as I do- I’ll see something that will scare me right back to Card Sharks like:

Reason #3: Crazy White People with Guns

I’ve covered this one pretty well in my last post– so really, all I want to add is that if 150 armed black people took over a federal building, the media would call them thugs and the cops would shoot them dead, and if 150 armed Muslims did it, the media would call them terrorists and the Army would invade Syria. But 150 armed white dudes Cal Seething- 010416- bundystorm in and take over a federal building- and the media calls them “protesters” and “patriots” and the government is all “well, let’s wait and see what happens here. I don’t think they pose any real threat- after all, it’s just an armed insurrection against the U.S. Government – it’s not like they attacked a CVS or something.” It’s like no matter how batshit crazy they are, we’re just incapable as a nation of thinking of white people as a threat – we just call them YallQueda and pinch their bearded cheeks and think the whole fucking thing is cute. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if TLC is developing a reality show around these maniacs- they can call it the Bundy Bunch (It’s a story/of a man named Bundy/who would graze his cows on land that’s not his own/and his son thought that the fedr’al gubment/it should be overthrown.) Don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I want this thing to escalate and get violent- I’m glad we’re taking a thoughtful, measured approach. I just look forward to us taking the same measured, thoughtful approach the next time Black Lives Matter organizes a peaceful protest at a shopping mall, or a 12 year old kid is seen holding a toy gun.

Also- I was sorry to see that they were so desperate to get snacks. I guess if they want crackers, they’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

Anyhow, I think you’ll agree that these were three perfectly good reasons to avoid reality in 2015, but by far and away, the best reason of all was:

Reason #4: Fear of Exposure to Star Wars Spoilers

For the love of God- I’m only human!

Actually, I’ve already seen it- so we’re all good with this one. And, I have to say- if you haven’t seen it yet- it’s chock full of surprises! C3PO coming out of the closet, Luke finally gets to Tosche Station to pick up those stupid power converters and, of course a reunion between the two lovers whose fleeting relationship was so touchingly portrayed in the original movies and sadly cut short (Leia and Jabba the Hutt)- and, of course, the cameo by Run DMC in the Cal Seething- 010416- leiaCantina (It’s Star Wars time in Tatooine / Han’s shooting Greedo in the Canteen…a)

OK- so now that I’ve seen Star Wars, that’s one less reason to avoid reality- but, no worries- there are still so many more! Climate change, economic inequality, the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, police brutality and all the other macro-aggressions. I wish those college activists all the luck in the world taking them on- and I would gladly join in the struggle with them- but, you know $25,000 Pyramid is on- and that shit takes FOCUS.

Happy New Year! I think 1986’s gonna be a great one- that is, of course, assuming WE DON’T ALL DIE. I can only hope the Bundys love their children, too. Now- who wants Taco Nuggets?

Cal Seething- 010615- dick

[California Seething] A Modest Proposal

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It’s been quite common recently for Republican leaders to declare that there are people in this country who don’t belong here. People that are just here to make trouble- spreading violence and chaos, with no respect for the laws of the land. People who have different values then we do- who don’t appreciate the freedoms this nation was founded upon and wish instead to impose their own religious law. People who take advantage of the inherently permissive nature of this great nation and use it to perpetrate mayhem and destruction. It is the opinion of Republicans leaders that these people need to be dealt with- monitored, rounded up, tracked and maybe even deported. And I have to admit- they may have a point. There are people in this country who are crazy, violent, fanatical, destructive and up to no good- and they do need to be dealt with harshly.  I think you know who I’m talking about- and frankly, I’ve had enough. And that’s why I’m proposing that we deport all the white people.

I know that may sound harsh- but, come on, white people, we’ve been tolerant long enough and you’ve been nothing Cal Seething- 113015- firstthanksgivingbut trouble since the day you got here. You show up in this country as a bunch of dirty refugees from political persecution with weird clothing and customs. You have no jobs and no useful skills. Even though you make no effort to learn about the culture of your adopted land – or even to learn the language, you still gladly accept handouts from hard working native Americans. And then, as soon as you get settled, you so-called “pilgrims” start spreading disease, grabbing up all the land, killing everyone who’s already living here and imposing your twisted, puritanical version of religious law- like ISIS with buckles on your hats. And, on top of everything else, you have the audacity to create a holiday celebrating the fact that you suckered real Americans into helping you out so that you could butcher them and take their homes. It’s a little known fact that the Native Americans actually named the holiday “Thanksgiving”, but of course nobody realized they were being sarcastic.

Cal Seething- 113015- protectamericaThis is why white people freak out when somebody new wants to come to this country. They’re terrified that the newcomers will be as bad as they were. They’re all like: “On the one hand, the Syrians seem to be in a tough spot and could really use our help. Then again, I bet that’s exactly what the Indians said when they saw us- and just look how that turned out….so- sorry Syrians. No Thanksgiving turkey for you! Maybe you should try Germany- I hear they actually feel bad about their genocide.” So, yeah, it’s not foreigners that white people in America fear at all- it’s KARMA.

But all that is in the distant past, and it’s not the reason we’re calling to deport you guys now. Nor are any of the other terrible things you’ve done in the last 400 years including, in no particular order: Slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, Wal*Mart, the NRA, Salvadoran death squads, Thomas Kinkade, the rise of the Taliban, the Hollywood blacklist, Vietnam, inflatable lawn Santas, supply-side economics, segregation, sub-prime loans, the systematic racism and brutality of the so-called American “justice system”, and car-antlers among many Cal-Seething--113015--caranmany things. No- the real reason I’m calling for your deportation is that I’m afraid for my life. Practically every day there’s another news story about a terrorist attack by a heavily armed white guy on a school, church, Planned Parenthood clinic or other public gathering place and, frankly, I’m sick of it. Sure, sure you say- but those are just isolated incidents by extremists- surely not ALL white people are bad. And, OK, that might be true- but how am I supposed to tell the good ones from the bad ones? I mean, you do kind of all look the same- all pink cheeked and petrified- is it really worth the risk if I’m wrong? You say you don’t feel safe with Muslims on airplanes? Well I don’t feel safe with white guys in movie theatres. And- if these attacks are just isolated incidents committed by extremists- then why aren’t the so-called “moderate” white leaders condemning the perpetrators as terrorists? Instead, all I keep hearing is nonsense  like “oh, they shooter’s motivations are unclear.” Seriously? Cause dude was shouting “No more body parts” when he shot up a Planned Parenthood- that sounds pretty fucking clear to me. Or- what, you think maybe he was pissed he couldn’t get replacements for his Mr. Potato Head and he remembered there used to be a KB Toys on that site and then started shooting when he saw it had been replaced by a Planned Parenthood??  Or, even worse, you refer to the terrorists as “protesters” – because evidently when white terrorists kill innocent people that’s just a form of legitimate protest- which is funny, cause when black people engage in legitimate protest they’re pretty much treated like terrorists. Huh. Wait- that’s not funny at all. Anyhow- if you’re not acting all baffled by the motives of killers or downgrading them from “terrorist” to “protester” then you’re make excuses for them- saying stuff like “it’s not their fault- they’re just mentally troubled kids from messed up families” Well, that’s too damn bad- you know who else was a mentally troubled kid from a messed up family- Osama Bin Laden- and I don’t hear anyone saying we should have cut him a break.

Look, OK, so maybe we don’t need to deport you guys. Maybe we can just round you up and put you in camps or something. It won’t be so bad! You’ll have Fox News and NFL Sunday Ticket and we’ll make sure each camp has a Chick-Fil-A and a Hobby Lobby. Yes, I think you’ll find that Camp Trump is just like home. Well, almost.  You will have to work a lot harder than you’re used to- can’t have you freeloading off the government, after all. And while you may find 12 hours a day of forced agricultural labor to be challenging- you can take comfort in the fact that you’re finally taking  good, American jobs back from the illegal  immigrants who’ve been stealing them away. Oh- and I guess, you’ll need to learn Spanish. I mean, it’s not required or anything- but you’re probably going to want to be able to talk to the cop who drags you out of your truck and starts beating the shit out of you because you have a broken taillight.

But aside from the Spanish and the forced agricultural labor, it’s just like home. Oh, well, except I guess for the six hours per night of Mandatory Re-Education where you’ll learn all about Sharia law, gender neutral pronouns and spotting a racially offensive Halloween costume (HINT: they all are) among many other things. And I know that sounds like we’ll keep you awfully busy- but don’t worry- you’ll still get 6 Cal Seething- 113015- 2dadshours per day to sleep. Assuming, of course, that you can sleep with your eyelids pinned open watching the Campbell’s Soup commercial with the two dads over and over and over again.

But it’s not all forced labor and Re-Education (or Re-Edu-tainment as we like to think of it). There will be festive occasions as well, just you’ve always had. Well, sort of. Every December 25, we’ll bring all of you together to observe “Holiday” by gathering around a 40 foot tall undecorated red Starbucks cup and singing “Imagine” in Arabic to honor the memory of an unwanted Middle Eastern refugee who spoke out against violence, condemned rich people and had two dads. And, of course, on the fourth Thursday of every November we’ll all celebrate “Thanks-for-Nothing” by throwing you out into the woods with a Smallpox infected blanket and sorta hoping you die.

And, don’t worry, you won’t be held there forever- just until you’re able to pass a little loyalty test- which will include:

  • Changing your profile pic to show that you Stand with Planned Parenthood, support Marriage Equality or believe #BlackLivesMatterCal Seething- 113015- yoga
  • Using “white privilege”, “microaggression” and “cultural appropriation” correctly in a sentence. Bonus points if you use all the words in one sentence. Double bonus points if the sentence involves white rappers or yoga.
  • Listening to Colin Powell speak without saying “my, my, my – he’s so well spoken”
  • Listening to Straight Outta Compton in it’s entirety without once saying “I don’t know what this is – but it certainly isn’t music” or “All they say is N-word this and N-word that. But, of course, if I say the N-word- then everyone thinks I’m a racist.”
  • Memorize the rainbow alphabet- LGBTQQIAA (try using the ABC song! “Now I know my LGBT’s. Won’t RuPaul be proud of me”) and know what each letter stands for. When your kids tell you which one of these they are- listen carefully, then hug them and tell them they can always count on your love and support. And if you add “and I’ll be praying for your soul because you’re going to hell” I’ll come down to Camp Trump and beat you myself with the Tolerance Stick.
  • Saying “Thanks, Obama!” without being a total sarcastic dick about it.

And if you pass this little test, we’ll know you’re rehabilitated and ready to live among civilized people.

Or….you could avoid all this unpleasantness and STOP FUCKING SHOOTING PEOPLE. The choice is up to you. We can all come together and stand up to hatemongering extremists everywhere who pervert the teachings of their religion to justify their unthinkable brutality – or you can give them tacit approval by supporting politicians and pundits who fan the flames of destruction with the hot air that spews from their fetid mouths. It’s up to you, really- just don’t take too long, because we’ve got a warm bunk just waiting for you in the gender non-conforming dormitory at Camp Trump and we’re eager to Re-Edu-tain you. Don’t test us.

Hope you had a great Thanks-for-Nothing and wishing you all the best this Holiday season. Maybe try celebrating Cal Seething- 113015- shooteyethis year without guns. Cause, best case scenario, you just shoot your eye out- and worst case scenario….well, let’s make that a Christmas story we don’t have to tell this year. Crap! Sorry! I mean “Holiday” story. I guess it’s off to Camp Trump for me…

[California Seething] NFL Season Halftime Show

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LA ChargersRecently the San Diego Chargers (San Di-e-go…SUPER CHARGERS! Sorry. It’s very catchy) officially announced their intention to move to Los Angeles – just like the Rams and the Raiders. Oh goody- just what we needed! Three more middle aged losers running off to LA to get away from a loveless marriage with a city that won’t put out money for a new stadium anymore. Seriously- who do they think we are? The big breasted dental hygienist of major American cities? And, of course, they’re just setting themselves up for disappointment – expecting to move to a super-hip Downtown loft and winding up next to a Home Depot in Carson.

I mean, sure, it’s great to know that even in this era of skyrocketing rents and plummeting reservoirs, Los Angeles is still a place that the mediocre and talentless flock to so they can  pursue their asinine dreams- but that doesn’t mean I want to watch them play football- hell- it’s bad enough I have to watch them do theatre!! When I watch football- I want to see Broadway, Ahmanson or at the very least Geffen level competition. I don’t want to watch the Raiders and Chargers (San Di-e-go SUPER CHARGERS! Crap! Sorry) flounder around like an Uber driver and a barista doing True West at the Complex in front of the eight friends who couldn’t think of a plausible lie when they were invited to the Facebook event. 99 seat theatre may have a place in my heart- but it has no place on my TV on Sundays, and if all these teams move to LA- that’s all I’m going to get to see.

Of course, we already do have to watch these teams way more then we should, since they’ve all been based in LA before. So really, they’re not running away to follow their dreams, they’re coming home like college graduates who can’t make it in the real world and so they have to move back in with their parents. And the worst part is, they’re going to have to move into the basement in Carson because their old stadium was turned into a guest room for USC.

I mean, I guess it might not be so bad- maybe one of these new LA teams will turn out to be really good and they’ll serve as a rallying point for the whole LA region- bringing our sprawling and fractured metropolitan area together as a community and giving us inspiration to face the challenging years ahead. Or-  even better- these teams will suck, their games will be blacked out locally and we’ll never have to watch any of those fucking losers again…until they leave town again and we’re stuck with them again on TV. But hopefully they’ll move to London, and their games will be on at 6:30 AM, so we can just sleep through them.

But of course, that assumes that Roger Goodell wants to bring the NFL to London- and, I’m not really sure that he does- cause he’s sending mixed signals. I just wish that if he didn’t want to bring the NFL to London, he would come out and say so instead of being all passive aggressive about it. I mean, on the one hand, every year he schedules more games over there- but, then just look at the teams he sends over. Chiefs and the Lions???? Don’t the people of AndyEngland deserve better than seeing Detroit’s worst export since the LeBaron taking on The Mustached Tomato Andy Reid and his Kansas City Crappers?? That’s not a commercial for American football- it’s a cautionary tale. It’s like sending Trump to debate Carson in Iraq in order to promote democracy. Which, of course, would never happen cause it’s way hotter than 67 degrees over there- and those ISIS guys are almost as tough as Megyn Kelly. Speaking of mixed signals- gotta love NBC- first they make a big deal about cutting ties with Donald Trump and then they have him on the Tonight Show with America’s Favorite Klutzy Bootlicker, Jimmy Fallon – who’s literally falling all over himself to wedge his nose into whatever repugnant butt Lorne Micheaels sticks in front of him (no wonder he drinks) and guest hosting Saturday Night Live- oh but, hey look, protestors – he’s onstage with a black guy, so it must be OK! Disgusting! I’m officially boycotting Saturday Night Live, starting retroactively in 1991.

The only thing I can figure is that Goodell is taking the same approach to scheduling games in London that most dudes take to folding the laundry – you know- the old “if I do a really crappy job, maybe she’ll stop asking”. Which is brilliant- because that way if he’s ever called out on it, he can just be like  “What? You asked to give you games in London- I gave you games in London. I guess if you don’t want them any more, I can just stop…but only if that’s what you really want, England. I just want you to be happy.” And so, sure, that means Roger Goodell is just as shitty a husband as he is a commissioner- but, hey, I don’t see him doing dishes!

Sadly, my beloved Jets were one of the teams sent to England this year to reinvigorate interest in cricket. And while leveon-bell-week8kneeit does make me want to tweet a LeVon Bell sad-bumblebee-emjoi when I think of the Jets in the same category as the Lions and Cheifs, it’s still been a pretty good season for Jets fans. It’s not just cause Geno “Facepunch” Smith got hurt and we learned just how much better life can be without him- like when the office manager goes out on maternity leave and suddenly there’s Starbucks in the break room and the copier’s fixed. No – the real reason why this has been such a great season for Jets fans doesn’t really have anything to do with the Jets at all- it’s all thanks to the Colts.

You see, Last season in the AFC Championship, the Patriots beat the Colts by deflating the ball. This season, the Patriots beat the Colts by deflating Chuck Pagano’s brain- and I, for one, couldn’t be happier!

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not thrilled the Patriots are now Seven-and-Ugh and I don’t bear any ill will towards Chuck Pagano- though, like most Americans, I cared about him more when he was sick (he’s the Lamar to our Khloe). But I indianapolis-colts-fake-punwas absolutely tickled pink (in honor of breast cancer awareness month) when Pagano ran his terrible fake punt because from now on, whenever commentators talk about the worst play ever in NFL history- they won’t be talking about the Butt Fumble! Woo-Hoo! We’re not the worst anymore!! Not The Worst! Not The Worst! This is the greatest feeling ever!!! If I was a German sausage- I would be notwurst!!!! This must be what Lincoln Chafee felt like when Jim Webb dropped out; what the Ewoks felt like after Jar Jar Binks; Robert McNamara after the Iraq War; W after hearing JEB! Speak; Warrant after Nickleback; John Madden when he watches John Gruden; and what Chicago Cubs fans certainly must have felt like on Oct 21, 2015, just as Marty McFly was coming back from the future.

I shouldn’t pick on the Colts, though- they’ve had a rough season. They had to start the re-animated corpse of Matt Hasselbeck when Andrew Luck suddenly contracted Cancer of the Neck Cal Seething- 110915- luckBeard- which marks the first time in NFL history that a quarterback who looks like a Civil War soldier was replaced by a player who actually lived through it. And they aren’t the only team that’s had to start a backup QB- the poor Steelers lost their starter and their back up and had to resort to starting a QB who isn’t a felon. Denver has had to start the Over the Hill Erratic Peyton Manning Who Has Cable over the Real Peyton Manning who has DirecTV. And, of course, in Dallas, Tony Romo is looking like the MVP in absentia thanks to the comedy stylings of Weeden and Cassel. How bad is Brandon Weeden you ask? He actually got benched IN FAVOR of Matt Cassel. For those of you that don’t follow football, that’s like picking Ben Carson because Trump is too crazy…..or picking Donald Trump because Carson’s too crazy. Works either way! Of course, now Dr. BenCal Seething- 110915- ben is practically conscious with rage over the fact that “secular progressives” keep using “facts” and “evidence” to disprove all of the crazy shit he says. The problem here is that, being a brain surgeon, Carson just isn’t used to having any one contradicting him. I don’t know about you but if I’m in the hospital talking to some dude who’s about to cut open my head and mess with my brain, I’m pretty much gonna agree with EVERYTHING he says. Ancient Israelites built pyramids for grain storage? Sure! You turned down a scholarship at West Point? Wise choice!! You stabbed a whole bunch of other kids when you were younger? Alrighty then! I mean, it’s a little bit weird that you feel the urge to share that little anecdote with me right before cutting my head open but, okey dokey! Whatever you say Mr. Brain Surgery Man.

I mean, when did we reach the point in this country where a candidate lies about attempted murder in order to be MORE electable? It must have been right around the same time that we started interpreting a red cup at Starbucks as a secular attack on religion. I know I’m offended by them! Why every time I go to Starbucks I insist on giving my Cal Seething- 110915- redname as Happy Hanukkah. Ha! Take THAT Mr. Progressive Secular Barista Man! Why don’t you let Judah Maccabee motivate you when you’re doing True West tonight??

No wonder Ben Carson is so religious, BTW, he understands what a miracle it is that a doctor can learn so much about the human brain while not actually having one himself.

Now, I don’t know how religious Brandon Weeden is- but I do know that if I were an NFL QB and my coach sat me down after a game and said “Son, I really appreciate all the effort you put in our there- but I’m gonna go with Matt Cassel”- I would take that shit as a SIGN. Move to a condo, sell the Bentley, update my LinkedIn profile and finish that degree at ITT Tech- because the End is motherfucking near- and I’d damn well be ready. Unless, of course, I was Matt Hasselbeck- in which case I would just graciously retreat to my coffin in the basement of the ESPN building (Bristolvania) and wait for the next sucker to pick my dead ass up.

Alright, well, those are some of the big stories in the NFL this season as we pass the midway point. Though, wait, there’s one I’m forgetting- oh what is it? Is it how all of us who watch football are giving tacit endorsement to a sport which nurtures rage and brutality in young men, is rife with domestic violence and leaves former players physically broken, unable to function and suicidally depressed? No, no that can’t be it. I mean, why on earth would we want to talk about THAT? Oh- wait- I’ve got it- Women. The NFL loves em!! Sure there used to be all those domestic violence issues I just mentioned, but the NFL ran a PSA with Eli Manning and now there’s no violence against women at all. Problem solved (Greg who?)! Is there nothing that Eli Manning can’t do- except get a tan in his brother’s shadow? Anyhow, it’s clear that the NFL values women- just look at all the pink uniforms they made the players wear during Brand Awareness Breast Cancer Awareness month. Why for every pink uniform they sell, the NFL donates 10 seconds of lip service to giving a crap about breast cancer. Wow! Who needs Planned Parenthood’s boring old cancer screenings- I feel closer to a cure already! And, the NFL Cal Seething- 110915- goldiemay not have any female coaches or executives but Roger Goodell did just give Wildcats a 5 star rating on Netflix- so that’s progress, right! I mean, every time Goldie runs around the track, that glass ceiling cracks a little.

Alright- that’s it for the first half of the season- but we’ve still got eight more weeks of watching Fan Duel and Draft Kings commercials briefly interrupted by penalties to go! Not to mention the Playoffs- and that’s when the commercials get really interesting. And, of course, it all culminates with Superbowl 50- or Uberbowl 5.0 as it’s known this year since it’s taking place in epicenter of tech douchebaggery. And of course – we’ve got great Monday night match-ups like the Bears vs the Chargers (San Di-e-go SUPER Chargers! Crap! Sorry. This is worse than having an Alanis Morisette song stuck in your head- and that, BTW, is NOT ironic #90’shackcomic.) Huh. That’s a terrible matchup. Jeez, Goodell- if you don’t want to have Monday night games any more- just say so!

[California Seething] Stuff Happens

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As many of you know, I’m not licensed to drive a car. It’s not a question of age- I’m more than old enough- 2.6875 times the legal minimum age but, you know, who’s counting? (Me. Sigh.) In fact one of the worst parts of not driving is that I have no easy way to express my midlife crisis. Seriously, what am I supposed to do?? JC Penney doesn’t carry Arizona brand red leather pants in husky sizes and a tattoo would be absolutely pointless with all the body hair unless it’s Jungle explorer hacking through the junglean old timey explorer hacking through the jungle saying “Dr Livingstone, I presume.” But let’s keep it real- my pain tolerance pretty much tops out at flossing and the threat of popping zits makes me turn state’s evidence, so I hardly think I’m tattoo material.

Anyhow- the point here is that even though I’m more than old enough to have kids who can drive, I don’t do it. It’s not a question of means- I could certainly afford a reasonably priced car commensurate with the glamorous lifestyle of a non-profit arts middle-manager (mo’ money, mo’ reasonableness), my credit rating is great (thanks to my wife) and my police record clear (thanks to blind, dumb, stupid luck – and the delightfully lax attitude of the Albany PD towards public intoxication. I suppose between the State University and State Legislature, the tax payers of Albany figured they were spending enough to subsidize the lifestyle of Long Island douchebags puking on Lark Street and didn’t need to shell out more dough to look em up in the county jail. Thanks officers! And also my wife. Let’s keep it real. I’d have been in jail a long time ago for something.)

So- yeah, it’s not an age, money or background thing- the reason I don’t drive is that the state won’t let me. Specifically, the state of California- though the state of New York wasn’t too wild about the idea either. It’s not (just) because they’re anti-Semites – I’ve been given numerous opportunities to prove to each state that I’m capable of driving and have failed every single time. I won’t go into too much detail about why I failed- suffice it to say that, if you’re wondering, hypothetically- you CAN fail the driving test for driving too slow…and also too fast….and too Cal-Seething--100515--busrecklessly…and too timidly….and for blowing past a parked school bus which was in the process of disgorging children and lit up like a medium sized casino with red flashing lights and stop signs so that any passing motorist or low flying spacecraft would know that America’s future was streaming out of the bus and to please FUCKING STOP. Remember, this is back in the dark ages when children could actually be transported to school in buses like livestock or poor people before they were required by law to be wrapped in bubble wrap and hand deliver in their parent’s SUV’s like Fabrige eggs with Asperger’s in age appropriate car seats and THAT’s why I can’t get a fucking intern who will file. Kidding! I’ve had some amazing interns- but it doesn’t really matter what I write here because millennials can’t read. Kidding! Millennials are perfectly capable of reading as long as plenty of Emoji are used. Not kidding Cal-Seething--100515--sad

Anyhow- until recently I just accepted the summary judgement of the nanny state (well, two states actually) that I wasn’t a suitable driver for the road- but now I realize that I’ve actually been oppressed all this time and that the Left Wing Nazi DMV Stalin-crats were actually stomping all over my precious FREEDOM. Hell, I don’t have to take no tests or get some fancy gubment license if I want to buy a gun- I don’t even have to get IN-surance. I can just pop into Dick’s Sporting Goods and pick up an assault rifle on sale- the way God and George Washington intended, and I ought be able to get a car the same way! I mean, I realize that cars aren’t the same as guns, like, when a car kills Cal Seething- 100515- waynesomeone- it’s an accident. But it’s the principle of the thing! And who’s fighting for my rights? Where’s my Wayne LaPierre? Why if AAA had just one of the NRA’s balls, I’d be riding down Venice Blvd in a brand new Hummer (or tank) right fucking now! Who cares if I weave all over the road or freeze in terror when I have to turn left or blow past a school bus while it’s discharging blind kindergartners – THIS IS AMERICA AND I HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO ENDANGER THE LIFE OF ANYONE I CHOOSE!!! And if the other drivers don’t like it, they can run me off the road- after all- the only one who can stop a bad driver with a car is GOOD driver with a car- and if I just happen to kill a bunch of kids who are coming home from school, well, you know, stuff happens.

Yup, that’s right, “stuff happens” – the words of a man who would be leader of a Cal Seething- 100515- jeb2nation uniting his people during a time of grief. “Stuff happens”- 9 people dead and he reacts like the airline lost his luggage on the way to the NRA convention- and these victims were white!  When it comes to guns, no lives matter. But- hey- that’s the GOP for you- life begins at conception and ends when you’re shot. And if Republicans do condescend to talking about mass shootings, they insist it’s a mental health issue. So, hey if you want to get Republicans to pay attention to mental health issues- just start talking to them about guns!

We don’t actually even know how serious the gun violence problem is in this country because the CDC has been forbidden to study it. Brilliant! If we’ve learned one thing from climate change is that the best way to make a problem go away is to obstruct every effort to understand it. Now excuse me while I go lick sweet precious rainwater off the shit covered streets. Drought happens!

Honestly, I’m not even sure how to talk to Republicans anymore. If I had to host the next GOP debate (oh please, please, PLEASE let me host the next GOP debate) the only question I could think to ask is “how do you live with yourself?” Seriously- tell me. I want to know- how do you Republicans do it? How do you look at yourselves in the mirror after brushing your teeth in the morning with extra whitening toothpaste (you like your toothpaste like you like your Cal Seething- 100515- trumpfallonimmigration policy) and say “Yes- I’m a good person. I do good things. Today I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure psychopaths have the weapons they need to kill children. I’m going to stop women from getting cancer screenings or shut down the Government trying. I’ll send young men to war and cut benefits for veterans, I’ll steal from the poor and give to the rich, I’ll fight to make sure those who love each other can’t marry, I’ll make sure police departments have the weapons they so desperately don’t need and none of the oversight they do, I’ll find those who risked their lives to come to this great country so they work tirelessly in pursuit of the American dream and THROW THEM THE FUCK OUT OF THE DOOR and then build a wall so they can’t come back. Yes! That’s right! I’m a good person. I deserve to be President. Jesus FUCKING LOVES ME- HALLELUJAH!!” Seriously- tell me- how do you people live with yourselves? It’s not a rhetorical question- I’m dying to know. Cause if I was one one-hundredth as evil and corrupt as you, I would have bought one of those perfectly legal cheap and easy to get handguns, stuck it in my mouth and let stuff happen.

But then, self awareness has never been a quality that Republicans look for in their candidates. After all, the front Cal Seething- 100515- benrunner just said “I’ll apologize when I’m wrong” (ahhh- the words of a man who’s been married three times). Of course you can’t blame Trump for being cocky when his closest competitor’s greatest achievement is eliminating “brain surgeon” from the lexicon as a synonym for “smart person” forever (to the smirking delight of rocket scientists everywhere) and as for Jeb!- well- after raising over $100 million in two weeks, the highlights of his campaign are apologizing to his mom for smoking weed and earning W the nickname “the Smart One”.

But back to guns- look, I’m fully aware of the Second Amendment- how could I not be? It’s every Republican’s favorite amendment cause it’s the highest one most of them can count to. It was also named the Non-Biblical Text Most Often Misquoted by Idiots by Dance Like Nobody’s Watching Magazine. But, OK, sure- it’s in the Constitution, whether we like it or not. So if you want to bear arms- go ahead- just let me know when you’ve joined a WELL REGULATED militia. You want to carry a Cal Seething- 100515-opencarryhandgun in a holster to your daughter’s soccer game like John Wayne with a dye job and capris on the off chance that a bunch of crazed Mexican rapists sneak into the country and try to steal your halftime orange slices? NO. Sorry but no. You’re just gonna end up shot to death, and then I’m gonna have to feel bad about myself for being totally smug about your tragic death and neither of us really wants that. Yeah, yeah, constitutional right, blah blah. We all have rights- and the way we exercise those rights is governed by laws which protect the greater good. I have the right to operate a motor vehicle but the state of CA has tested my skills and determined that I shouldn’t be entrusted to exercise that right. And you know what- they’re right. IT SUCKS- but they’re right. (it’s ok, motorists of Southern California, go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief. I won’t be hurt. Sigh) And the more you insist and kick and scream that it’s your right to stockpile weapons like David Koresh (old school!) and that no one should impinge on that precious precious right with common sense regulation- the more convinced I become that you’re the last person the state should entrust with the responsibility of bearing arms- in fact- I’m gonna send Obama to your house to take all your guns away. Ha- if only! I don’t know who this socialist gun seizing Obama is that the Republicans keep talking about but he’s fantastic! Let’s get him to run for President in 2016- oh, wait- he already is #feelthebern #notsomuchwiththegunthingthough #dudelikeshuntersiguess? #stillmostlyfeelingit

And speaking of our next President whom I have to believe is going to be a Democrat or I lose all will to keep living- the first Democratic Presidential Debate is next Tuesday and, if I were moderating (oh please please please please please can I moderate??) I would have a lot of questions to ask- but the first one would surely be “so what are you gonna do about all the guns?” I may not agree with everything the candidates say- but I know for sure none of them will say that “stuff happens.” And that’s just one reason why it’s so important to vote next year- assuming I can find somebody to give me a ride.

[California Seething] Getting High on the High Holidays – 5776 Edition

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Yom Kippur was last week, and so, in observance of this most sacred holiday I’m recycling a dumb post about how I used to get stoned on it. Sigh. Good times.

Post is pretty much the same as it was in 2011 (5772) with a bunch of random updates. Enjoy!

The Ancient Greeks didn’t worry about whether God loved them. They didn’t wring their hands over the fact that God allowed evil to thrive in the world and didn’t struggle with the way that God permitted the righteous to suffer while the wicked prospered. That’s because, in Ancient Greece, the Gods were dicks. It’s like someone based an entire religion on the New England Patriots. Speaking of which- you’ve really got to admire the Patriots commitment to being loathsome these days- first the cheating, then the Trump loving- and this past week, pointlessly running up the score against Jacksonville Next week, I hear, Tom Brady buys an AIDS drug and jacks the price up.

Anyhow, Zeus was particularly nasty. He was far less concerned with the meek inheriting the earth than he was in changing into a swan and boning the meek’s wife (they had a pretty loose understanding of zoology as well.) The rest of the gods were no better- just a bunch of mean spirited, petty, vindictive, narcissistic, spiteful bastards who absolutely didn’t give a shit about humanity. It must have been wonderfully liberating in a way- like having a Republican president. After all, when Bush and co. were in power, we didn’t wring our hands and wonder WHY they were leading us into one pointless war after another for the sole benefit of their rich cronies or WHY they were making disastrously short-sighted fiscal policy decisions. We knew perfectly well why- they were dicks. They did irresponsible, self-centered, evil, destructive, selfish things because they were irresponsible, self-centered, evil, destructive selfish cocksuckers- plain and simple. All we had to do was fear them, loathe them and mock them. Good times.

With the advent of Judaism, though and the election of Obama, things became more complicated. Now we have to wrestle with thorny and difficult philosophical questions like WHY does God allow bad things to happen to good people, WHY does God turn his back on his supposedly chosen people as they are persecuted and killed, WHY did Obama extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy or WHY does Obama continue to order drone attacks on civilians around the wold. It’s a far more complicated world to live in as these questions fuel our doubts and erode our ability to believe.

But then, much like a new Presidential Election restores my faith in the Democrats by showing me just how terrifying the alternative might be, the Jewish New Year draws me back to synagogue by threatening me with DEATH if I don’t show up and repent my sins. Yup, that’s right DEEEEAAAAAAATTTTTTTHHHHHHH. We Jews don’t fuck around. We observe our New Year with a prolonged period of repentance, contemplation and prayer- exactly the way that Christians don’t. Scholars agree that this is the single most boring and painful way to celebrate a new year with the possible exception of watching Ryan Seacrest host the Countdown (Dick Clark’s face moves more than Seacrest’s and he’s been dead for four years). It wasn’t always this way, though. Back in the days of the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem- you know, the good old days Before the Crappy era (or B.C. as it’s typically known) majestically robed priests would ritually slaughter thousands of animals as burnt offerings to God while throngs of ancient Israelites stood silent in the Temple trembling with awe and wonder and the tangible presence of the Divine deep inside the Holy of Holies. Plus- tickets were free! Beat that Congregation Beth Bite Me!

Nowadays, synagogues charge $300 a head and open up the partition wall that separates the Holy of Holies from the Synagogue Multi-Purpose Room (hail to thee o Accordion Wall- for Modern Judaism would be lost without you) so that they can pack in Israelites on colossally uncomfortable metal folding chairs (the Seats of Repentance) all the way to the rear of the Multi-Purpose Room stage and pray at them mercilessly for hours on end as if to punish them for buying tickets in the first place (like LA Opera did with the Einstein on the Beach.) The Israelites, meanwhile, gaze with awe at how fucking slowly the Cantor is singing and the sheer number of pages remaining before the end of services and wonder just how long the Synagogue President can tell corny jokes and babble on about Judaism and his iPad until he just gets it over with and asks for the goddamn money for the pledge drive so we can sing Adon Olam and go the fuck home already. And then, for an encore, we fast from sundown to sundown on Yom Kippur while we grovel before God for our very lives. Happy fuckin’ New Year!

The ritual slaughter of thousands of animals still plays a role in our worship, BTW, they are just converted into brisket and wrapped in plastic far from our sight. Not as entertaining as the old days, but significantly more delicious.

Clearly, then, holidays surrounding the Jewish New Year, typically called the High Holidays or Repent-apalooza (2015- Celebrating 24 years of hokey Lollapalooza puns- Happy Hack-apaolooza!) are not what you would call “fun” unless you are what I would call “crazy”- but, hey, I figure I’m stuck with them, so I might as well try and get something out of them. Here are some of the strategies I’ve tried over the years in order to get the most out of the High Holidays:

1. Better Fasting Through Chemistry

Look, I didn’t intend to come home stoned for Yom Kippur the first time I did it. It’s just that I was in college and it was a Tuesday so naturally I was smoking up with my best friend and that guy Ed with long hair and a tan who was either Native American or Chinese or possibly Italian and sold high quality weed to only the best potheads on the downtown quad first semester sophomore year. You knew he was cool because he cut out the part of the cracker box that said “Baked not Fried” and Scotch taped it to the outside of his dorm room door, much to the tittering delight of us all. Stick it to The Man, Ed! (“The Man” being the R.A., Stacey). Anyhow, by the time it came to head over to my parents’ house for dinner and the evening Kol Nidre service my friend and I were quite impressively stoned. On the one hand, this was good, because it meant that we had a significant appetite and ate heartily of my mother’s World Famous Unbelievably Dry Chicken and Twice Microwaved Potatoes (shit. I’m going to have to atone for that joke next year. Sorry, mom.) On the other hand, less than an hour into our fast we were starving again and giggling more than is, perhaps, considered acceptable in Temple on the most serious night of the year, much to the consternation of my very unstoned and very jealous sister.

With the sun down and a long day of fasting and prayer ahead of us, we realized that  we had no other option but to man up, buckle down and smoke our way through it, just like Playwriting class (the play I came up with was called Dude and it was about a couple of stoned guys who are basically stuck in a really bad play and trying to come up with shit to say to each other. Then, a bunch of people get shot and the whole thing turns out to be a super-violent Scooby-Doo joke with Nazis. God I miss the 90’s. Just me?)

It may seem like a bad idea to use a drug that causes dry mouth and increased appetite on a day when you can’t eat or drink anything- like treating impulse control with Jager bombs but it turns out that weed and fasting go together like hamburgers and fries, peanut butter and jelly, bagels and lox and a whole bunch of other food combinations that sound really fucking good to me right now because I’m fasting as I write this and hungry as hell. For one thing, being high makes playing everybody’s favorite game, “Man, I could really go for a ___________ right now,” a lot more fun- case in point:

Unstoned person#1:
Man, I could really go for a burger right now.

Unstoned person#2:
Yeah, I could really go for a sandwich right now.

Stoned person#1:
Totally. I could seriously go for like, a HUGE bag of Combos.

Stoned person#2:
Yeah, and a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia milkshake

Stoned person #1:
Fed to me by a crazy-hot Viking chick

Stoned person#2:
With a huge metal bra

Stoned person #1:
Riding a lion

Stoned person #1 & #2:
A Flying lion! (break out in hysterical giggles)

Stoned person #1’s Sister:
(seethe) (rage) (gurgle)

Perhaps it was all this fantasizing over food that allowed us to resist the temptation of eating actual food- because we ended up resisting some serious temptation. Halfway through the day, someone had the insanely masochistic idea to go apple picking. There we were- surrounded by ripe, juicy fruit, ice cold cider and the sweet hot fat smell of fresh cider doughnuts . As the non-stoned among us broke one by one and gave into temptation, only the stoned stood strong and ate nothing (my sister didn’t come.) Is it any wonder this became an annual tradition?

2. Take your fast to go

Sooner or later, weed will always betray you. Sooner or later, instead of coming up with goofy jokes and imagining cool things to eat fed to you by Valkyries, weed just makes you think about how everyone hates you and your boss wants to fire you and your landlord wants to evict you and the cops are outside ready to burst through the door because you could have sworn that you saw a red and blue light flickering through the apartment window for a second and that suspicious black sedan parked across the street hasn’t moved in a couple of days so clearly the FBI is on your ass for telling the doctor that you have a back injury so he’d give you a Medical Marijuana card when your back is actually totally fine and you’re just a filthy, stinking, worthless liar who’s letting everybody down. At this point, it’s best not to smoke anymore and to find other mechanisms for coping with Yom Kippur and life in general. Travel is a great one. Not only is it mind expanding, but if you start feeling paranoid it’s probably because the gypsies are really trying to rob you. Stupid gypsies.

When I lived in New York, I worked at a non-profit Jewish organization (NOTE FOR ANTI-SEMITIC JOKERS: “Non-profit Jewish” is not, in fact an oxymoron- and, yes, I’ve fucking heard that one before) with my non-Jewish soon-to-be wife. Naturally, we got the High Holidays off- a gesture which my wife and I interpreted differently:

Me: I’m glad that this organization gives me the time off required to properly observe these very important occasions.

My Wife: WOO-HOO! Four day weekend! ROAD TRIP!!!!

So, there I was, fasting in a rented Ford Aspire (it aspires to be a car!) which we picked up at Newark Airport, heading to Philadelphia. Of course, we couldn’t possibly waste a perfectly good trip through New Jersey in a rental car without hitting Ikea. Now, you may think that you have fasted before in your life or that you know what it is to repent for your sins- but let me tell you, my friend, you don’t know shit until you observed Yom Kippur in the cinnamon-bun scented Swedish amusement park of particle board and pain that is Ikea. After all, Ikea is an incredibly annoying place to shop for incredibly annoying things- like a torture chamber where you have to buy your own Iron Maiden and put it together before your tormentors shove you inside and slam the spikes in your face- which is totally fine by you as long as you never, ever have to use an allen wrench again. Anyone who can maintain their fast in the face of such colossal unpleasantness- and the omnipresent temptation of meatballs and the gooey goodness of cinnamon buns should be forgiven for pretty much anything.

Ultimately, we reached Philadelphia, known as “The City of Brotherly Love” or “The City With the Really Ironic Nickname.” As we drove around looking for the restaurant I had pre-selected to break my fast, we found ourselves caught in an endless loop by the art museum. Now, I love the “look kids, Big Ben…Parliament” gag from European Vacation as much as the next guy, but if I’m fucking starving and the stars are starting to come out it gets unfunny very, very quickly. Finally we exited our vortex of irritation, found a random charming restaurant in a random charming neighborhood and had a fantastic meal.

So- do I recommend travel for Yom Kippur? Hell, yeah! It was an adventure- and adventure beats sitting in Temple like steak beats hamburger; bratwursts beat hot-dogs; rich, thick slaps of strawberry covered delicious cheese-cake beats Jello cheesecake pudding (did I mention how fucking hungry I was?). In fact, a couple of years ago, I drove home from San Francisco on Yom Kippur after I hit morning services in the Mission at the Temple Beth’s A Lesbian. Good times. I sent my sister a postcard (OK, that’s a lie.)

3. Score Free Tickets

Look, I get free tickets to stuff all the time- and not just to artsy crap like plays and operas. I’ve gotten Dodger tickets, Kings tickets, Clipper tickets- hell, I’ve even gotten tickets to see teams that DON’T suck, like the Lakers (oh, wait, that was supposed to be an example of “teams that don’t suck” -HA! . But, until this year, I have never received the Ultimate Comp- free High Holiday Tickets. Normally, these are about as obtainable as tickets to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (sweet, delicious river of chocolate…drool…..) so I have to resort to hitting the Chabad House if I want free services and getting my Jew on with the Ultra-Mega-Super-Duper-Right-Wing-Black-Hat-Crazy-Pants-Orthodox in an overstuffed little sweatbox of a room. It’s a little weird and slightly uncomfortable — a bit like getting free vegetarian food from the Hare Krishnas — nourishing, warm and generous on one hand, but it doesn’t really taste like anything you’re used to. Everyone there is chanting and mumbling and wearing the same outfits and you can’t help feeling a little squirmy about the fact that you might be hanging out with a cult just to get a bargain — like joining the Moonies to save on your wedding, though fortunately, they can’t serve Kool-Aid on Yom Kippur (Went there!).

The past few years, though, thanks to my fancy-schmanzy, high-level, showbiz connections (I know a guy)- I was able to score some comps to a swanky Temple where I could repent in style and comfort. Hell, they even had a jumbotron in the back of the Multipurpose room, so you could see the Rabbi up close. I have to admit, I thought the Kiss-Cam thing may have been taking it a little too far but, you know, they’re Reform, so I guess it’s all good. And, the best part is, since they are Reform, there was no screwing around with the Service. It was like the NFL RedZone channel of prayer — just all the big highlights and none of that messing around and mumbling shit in the middle. In and out in under 3 hours!

Okay, so maybe it was a little too fast and efficient for me. I like a little ground and pound in my services, but it certainly beats hanging out with a bunch of aspiring West Bank settlers. It may even be better than watching my wife eat meatballs at a furniture store while I fast (OK, so she didn’t actually eat them in front of me. Call it “poetic license”- the only license I can get!)

4. Try taking it seriously for 5 lousy minutes

You’ve been an asshole this year. It’s okay. I’ve been an asshole, too. Probably a bigger one than you. Not as bad as Donald Trump or Tom Brady or Zeus, but definitely somewhere on the asshole spectrum. So, why not take a day and deal with it? Say I’m sorry. Forgive the people I wanted to stab in the face with a handful of sharpened golf-pencils. Think about being a better person- maybe not yelling at people so much on the phone when they turn out to be worthless morons who can’t actually help me- but, you know, they’re probably doing their best and not deliberately trying to give you an anger fueled stroke. Or maybe start actually giving a shit about Darfur or at least figuring out where it is on a map. Or…you know…something something Syrian refugees. I don’t know … anything to show that I’ve been thinking about repentance and I’m going to give it a little bit of a shot. Not so much because God cares or notices or even exists but because there’s a slim chance that not being so much of an asshole might in some infinitesimal way make the world a very slightly better place, so it may be worth trying.

I continue to find new ways of experiencing the High Holidays. In fact, the year I first wrote this, I observed Yom Kippur by fasting as I opened a heavy-metal, country and western, multimedia operetta with a huge cowboy shindig at intermission and an after party featuring chili shooters and Mountain Lion Margaritas — or as normal people would put it “going into the office on the holiday.” (aaah, I’ve Never Been So Happy- good times. And to think that back in 2011, I thought that was as wacky as things could possibly get! I guess I was about 3,000 boxes off on that one.) I guess our boring old religion still has some life in it, even if we don’t have animal sacrifices (sweet, delicious animal sacrifices. Goddamn it, I’m hungry) or a wicked cabal of evil a-holes controlling our fate (that’s Republicans are for.)

So…right, the whole atoning thing. Uhm…I guess I’m sorry to everybody who I might have accidentally offended last year. Except for Republicans….and Patriots fans….and Ryan Seacrest cause y’all can go fuck yourselves. (aaaah, the first appearance of the “I’m sorry…except” joke- since posted annually on Facebook. And to think I used it up this year on the morons who want to de-fund Planned Parenthood without even knowing that two days later there would be some colossal hedge-fund douche-bro who would jack up the price of AIDS medication. So many assholes, so few punchlines) . Oh, and Kobe Bryant really is a homophobic racist who should choke on a Cub-Scout’s dick (ahhh, memories. I’d almost forgotten how much I hated Kobe. It’s hard to stay so mad at him now that he’s old and useless- sort of like Ronald Reagan after he got Alzheimer’s). But, you know, I’m sorry to anybody who maybe didn’t deserve to be offended, like the makers of Lucky Charms. I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’s very good. I mean- hard marshmallows??? What the fuck??? (honestly, I’m not even sure what the hell I was referring to here. Seriously-does anyone remember?? Did I write something hateful about Lucky Charms four years ago? I have absolutely no recollection. Oh no- is this how dementia starts? Is this Karmic revenge for making an Alzheimer’s joke?? SHIT!!! Sorry, sorry, sorry- I’m barely even done with the fucking holidays and I’ve already got stuff to atone for next year. Plus it’s probably just all that weed – the Ghosts of Yom Kippur Past catching up with me.) Crap, I’m screwing this up already. Damn it. Maybe I’ll do better at atoning next year. I can at least aim for that. And, hey, I probably should apologize to my sister. We should have let her smoke with us.

So there you have it- Happy New Year- 5776! (That’s right- you read that correctly- Five-Thousand-Seven-Hundred-and-Seventy-Six. Our calendar could kick your calendar’s ASS.)

Originally published on October 10, 2011 on Fierce and Nerdy. Sort of.