Friday, September 23, 2016

Horror Movie Classics: The Fog

[Editor's note: I watched The Fog several months ago and have not been able to get myself to finish editing and picture-captioning this post until now. Here you go, you ungrateful bastards.]

Guys, I've had some drinks. I'll be honest with you about that. But when else am I motivated to do this shit? It was the Super Bowl and the team I sort of wanted to win didn't win, but our friends brought over their 14 month-old little girl and she was adorable and really enjoyed being buried in a pile of all our stuffed animal buddies, so really it was a good night overall. My sleep last night was minimal because nocturnal schedule + morning soccer game. I napped for a bit this afternoon after cleaning the house, but for real I'm a bit tired. That's why I've decided to pour a new beverage involving the only (?!) energy drink I've got left right now, which is a Rockstar Orange Whipped thingy with vodka. And anyway, I'm sure this movie was on a list or something and Netflix eventually sent us the disc and here we are now it's time to drink more and watch it. For posterity. The Fog is a 1980 film (co-)written, directed, and scored by John Carpenter. I CAN'T WAIT.

Two young girls with awful Dorothy Hamill haircuts sit under a blanket in flickering light. A stopwatch hangs from something and some kind of ship sailor dude comes and tears it down and informs them that 11:55 is "almost midnight." Thanks for the heads up, brah. The skipper thinks he can fit in one more story before midnight, before the 21st of April. Beach campfire. 100 years ago exactly, Spivey Point, a small clipper ship. Fog rolls in. A bunch of '80s kids wrapped up in blankets. the ship saw a bright light. A campfire LIKE THIS ONE. Ship crashed against the rocks blahblahblah. All them bitches died. Some other ominous shit.

Now a VERY early morning on a small coastal town. A church bell tolls. Oh, I guess maybe it's still night, just the beach looked light. The radio says it's 12 midnight. A dude in a vest smoking cigs who just rang the bells turns off a radio and the lights in the church. WHAT--JAMIE LEE CURTIS IS IN THIS? Bless your heart, JLC. Vest tells the priest he's all done. Mustachioed priest pours himself a drink. Vesty McCoolGuy wants his paycheck. Father says come in later tomorrow. Vesty is "Bennett." Father goes to look for him, but he's gone. Something falls down in the other room and a radio starts to play. There's an old radio playing jazzy music and there's a hole in the rock wall. The priest has found the journal of another priest from the 1940s. He turns to an entry that I assume will mean something:
April 30
Midnight 'til one belongs to the dead. Good Lord deliver us.

I'M SURE IT'S NOTHING. CARRY ON. Antonio Bay, the town, is 100 years old today. OMG I'm still in the credits part of the movie but keep pausing for details because of how I'm already drunk. The drunkenness can go either way on these: increased intoxication can lead to me caring less and leaving unnecessary stuff out, but other times I get hyper-aware of everything I'm missing and pause it too much and then I'm a slave to the letter of the movie, not its spirit. (LIKE GHOSTS, GET IT?)

All the pay phones ring off the hook. A guy in tight jeans sweeps in a convenience store, drinks out of a bottle from the cooler, and just puts it back because he is awful. More sweeping. Glass breaking. All the bottles in the building shake and Jeans just kind of looks around. Wow, the tucked-in flannel to jeans where the fly kind of sticks out because they're so tight and a shiny belt buckle. Outside, the lights go on at a clearly-closed gas station. The handle hops out of the pump and starts to spill gasoline all over the ground. Behind some bars, a car gets lifted almost to the ceiling and alarms go off. Elsewhere, all the cars in a lot have their lights go on and their horns, too. A lady gets out of bed and looks exasperated, but somehow not creeped out. Her lights and alarms go off, a chair moves and she's but slightly perturbed.

This is fine.
12:06, Stevie Wayne on the radio says it's still the Witching Hour. A guy drives down a dark two-lane road. He sees a hitch hiker and decides to pull over. It's a young woman. JLC. The old-timey car driver offers her a sip of beer. She's says she doesn't hitch hike usually and asks him if he's weird. He says he is and she is glad. He's her thirteenth ride. She's come from at least Santa Barbara. Something breaks the back and driver's side windows. They reassure themselves that it's midnight, and I guess that's why. Radio Stevie's using serious creaky voice up in the obviously haunted lighthouse. Some creep named Dan calls her and asks if she's coming to a party later, but she's apparently the only DJ, so she can't. He's got a tip about a ship or something. Stevie's radio voice is dumb.

The dudes on the ship say there's no fog bank coming. Her kid plays little league with one of the sailors' sons. They were skeptical there would be a fog bank actually out there (because a lady warned them), but there is. They see it now and decide they're drunk enough for their ship jobs or whatever. Is this a maritime movie? Boat movies are dumb. We are not meant to be upon the seas, so really we deserve what we get if we linger. Up on the the deck, drunk flannel dudes see some kind of ghost ship maybe? Guys, it's the witching hour on the anniversary whatever, so I'm sure it's no big. Out of the fog they see the outlines of some men (& etc.). Then a noise, then some giant hook and also knife stabbings. Captain flannel falls upon the deck, his eyes still open. Other folks on the ship get big hook murdered, too.

Stevie with her dumb scratchy radio voice seems tired. She lights a cig. Apparently she owns the lighthouse. Dan calls back in. He claims that her fog bank is blowing the wrong way or something and tries to ask her out. In a house somewhere near the light house (the oscillating lights), truck driver and hitch hiker have clearly fucked. They're Elizabeth and Nick. She's from Pasadena. Her rich parents won't let her do what she wants. He's a lot older than her. Somebody knocks at the door. They've been looking through a sketch book or something. Nick put on pants and goes to the door. Somebody with a hook is knocking. The clock strikes one and the glass breaks. Nick opens the door, but nobody's there. Stevie's off the air until 6 p.m. tomorrow now.

Daytime beach. Looks cold. Is this supposed to be the Oregon coast? The Pacific Ocean is so cold, my throat starts to close up if I exert myself at all in it for longer than a few minutes (jumping over waves, etc.). That's how I found out I had asthma as a kid. HAHAHAHA FUN. A kid on this beach going fishing finds a chunk of  washed-up wood that says "JANE" on it. That is my middle name because I am classy. Oh, this is Stevie's kid. She sleeps in sexy nightgowns. He tells her that old Mr. Macon tells ghost stories and the kid loved hanging out with him. Oh, the wood says "DANE." Forget what I said before a few sentences ago.

Elizabeth and Nick come to the dock where a guy smoking and writing/drawing tells him he's overreacting, worrying the Seagrass hasn't come back in. Elizabeth's goal is to move on to Vancouver (eventually). Now, here are some ladies in a park looking at a statue under a sheet. What is happening? This station wagon has fake wood paneling, so that's always a plus. Stevie's driving in some topless orange jeep thing, playing (Beta?) tapes. She drives around a windy coastal road and hears that at 1:57 p.m., the Coast Guard still hasn't spotted the Seagrass. Elizabeth is out on a boat with Nick, who's looking for the boat. "She can get real mean." (Presumably "she" is the ocean.) The ladies are Mrs. Williams, whose husband is out on her faulty boat, and some much-younger chick, Sandy. Oh, it was her car alarm last night. Elizabeth's tan-colored leather jacket doesn't look unlike the sheepskin leather jacket from the '70s I inherited from my mother that I should wear more often.

Mrs. Williams wants to restore the local cemetery. They knock at the church for Father Malone. They call for him and of course he comes through to startle them. He decides to show them the old journal, which is actually from 1880, but I guess I just read some numbers before that I'm trying not to spend too much time on now. Oh god I better drink this caffeine quicker. Father Patrick Malone (this dude's illegitimate ancestor) wrote this. The old journal talks about political intrigue, I guess? Old Father Malone has discovered somebody with leprosy or something. Now in 1980, though, Nick and Elizabeth find the Seagrass abandoned. Apparently, fishermen drink a lot. Nick says it's like the ship's been turned over in the water now. Old Father Malone was involved in some kind of murder plot.

Nick tells a story about his dad finding an 1867 doubloon. In the meantime, a locker basically explodes and a dead body falls on Elizabeth, right after she announced she's on her way to Vancouver now. Old Father Malone, the current Father Malone's grandfather, confessed to being involved in the assassination plot or whatever. The living priest tells Mrs. Williams and Sandy that tonight's centennial celebration honors murderers. Father Malone says something about Antonio Bay's curse and the time the six conspirators met 100 years ago. The ladies want him to give a benediction at tonight's events, but he's obvi reluctant. Okay, but GRANDfather? Two questions:

  1. If the priest's grandpa was also a (presumably) Catholic priest, somebody released their little wigglers into an unauthorized zone (a vagina) back in the day.
  2. The priest here looks perhaps in his mid-40s. When I, one of the youngest children of the youngest child of my maternal grandfather,* am 45, it will be 100 years from the time my grandpa was, like, in kindergarten. Perhaps we'll get more info on this whole forbidden reproduction timeline that will help me with  my misgivings, though. MATH IS HARD. Oh, I paused for awhile. A problem. Stop drunken stop-jobbling, Mr. Drunkface (which is me) and watch the movie. okay again start thing

Mrs. Williams' peach turtleneck under an off-white pantsuit is a bold, very 1980 look. Stevie listens to her own station broadcast itself while the DANE board fills with water and starts to leak onto her counter, fucking up the tapes she's using. Now we hear creepy low voices and the board says "6 MUST DIE" now. She has a giant fire extinguisher, which she uses on a small fire but once it goes out, it seems clear that nothing really happened.

On a boat back to shore, Nick contemplates how that dead dude could've drowned when he's not all wet or seaweed-y.  Back onshore, Andy the kid answers the phone. His mom wants to know where he found the wood. He says first it was a gold coin, and now it's a piece of wood. She tells him to stay away from the rocks, don't pick up anything else, don't leave the house, and stay at home with the babysitter who just got there. Stevie's hair has an awful lot of volume for a seaside environment. In her dumb scratchy radio voice she talks about it being Antonio Bay, California's 100th anniversary and plays some dumb old-fashioned no-words music. Andy asks his babysitter about the clouds on the water.

A medical examiner records the injuries to the body Nick and Elizabeth brought back. He's always wearing flannel. PLAID PLAID PLAID. His wounds are covered in algae and shit. It's like the ship was underwater for a long time. Elizabeth is kinda freaked out, but she's determined to go through with this really long one-night stand. It's gotten really cold in the building. The body is doing a thing under a sheet now. Elizabeth's lil mullet-y hairdo and high-waisted bell-bottom-y things are pretty textbook.

DRINK REFILLLLLLLL (and other break)

Elizabeth is maybe gonna be attacked by a sea zombie. The coroner thinks the body looks likes it's been down underwater as long as some missing kids. She yells for Nick, but all they find is a "3" written on the floor. Sea horns blow, I guess. Not sure what those are for. Centennial celebration thing. Looks pretty lame. Horns blow. Talk of the town's charter. Mrs. Williams' hair is still helmet-y, nothing out of place. She keeps thinking of her dog barking all night and she wants her husband to come home. She won't cry, though. IT'S A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIOOIONIONOINIONON!

WHYYYYYYYYY is Stevie's radio voice so insubstantial? Like, I don't know much about radio broadcasting, but I know a bit about talking in a microphone for money (hosting trivia). The last think you want is to reduce sonorousness.

Nick calls the station to ask about the fog. Stevie says the Fog was (IS) glowing and flowing in. Something weird happened last night. Stevie says she’ll be consulting with the weatherman soon. Dan, driving in the dark with the radio on, refers to himself as “the weatherman.” Are there any attractive men in this movie? Listen, I don’t want to be a dick, but pale, doughy 40-something dudes with no discernible personality may be wonderful people in real life, but this is a movie. I expect a SUSPICIOUS number of sexy sailor-types in this town. None. NONE! So far. The glowy blue-white fog appears to have come to shore now. On the phone, Stevie tells Nick about the driftwood her son found.

THERE IS A BLACK PERSON IN THIS MOVIE! A dude in a navy blue cableknit sweater is covering the weather station or whatever. Nick arrives to take over. Elizabeth takes her unfinished beer with her to follow Nick to check out the lighthouse. Dan calls in to tell her there’s another fog bank rolling in. GOD THIS MOVIE IS DUMB. Fog horns blow and Nick pulls erratically onto a side road. Stevie’s still talking to Dan. She turns out the light and sees that the glowing fog roll in. It’s coming in past Dan’s window. His lights have gone out and his instruments are freaking out. He thinks there’s somebody shining a light in the window, calls her “sweetheart,” and tells her to stay on the line. A ramming sound at the door. He thinks somebody’s playing a joke. She yells for him to stay away from the door. So much smoke as he opens the door and asks if anybody’s home. He yells back to the phone (still connected, but the receiver’s sitting on the table) that some drunk asshole’s taking the anniversary too seriously. OBVI now he gets attacked by the Creature from the Black Lagoon guy while Stevie yells “Dan!” while engaging her diaphraghm over the phone.

Dumb fog and lights. Stevie listens helplessly while shitty lyric-less jazz-adjacent music plays. The glowing fog approaches the shoreline. Stevie stop the music? Back at the celebration. Are there ever moments when there are no foghorns? Stevie issues an emergency bulletin. Mrs. Williams talks about their "vital, thriving community." Somebody grabs the sheriff to call Stevie. Glowing fog envelops the telephone lines and breaks them, I guess. This citizens of Antonio Bay light candles for the dedication of the statue or whatever. But back at the POWER PLANT, the fog apparently talks the turbines or whatever into sparking and dying. At this point, Mrs. Williams encourages folks to proceed to the statue. NONSTOP FOGHORNS.

Blahblahblah something is happening. Stevie yells that her kid is trapped by the fog somehow. He and the babysitter are being surrounding. Why are you so bad at closing the curtains? The mysterious doorknocks. Do not answer. Stevie yells over the radio for them to run. ASK WHO'S AT THE DOOR, BABYSITTER LADY! The glow-y fog is all that's there. She tries to tell the kid to go to his room. As soon as he walks away, the guys in the black frog suits attack her. The fog leaks under his bedroom door. Door banging. DON'T ANSWER. Stevie keeps broadcasting that her son is trapped and their address. The kid helplessly says the babysitter's name while just SITTING THERE and one of the things breaks a hole in his door with the hook. Nick and Elizabeth arrive. Nick breaks a bedroom window and manages to pull the kid out. Elizabeth tries to pull out of the driveway quickly, but the truck's stuck in the mud. WOMEN DRIVERS, AMIRITE? Hook dudes approach the truck through the fog, they still can't get going. Suddenly, they're able to reverse away.

 Back at the celebration things seem to be okay. The sun seems to be rising over the hills? Stevie apologizes over the airwaves that she couldn't come for Andy. She has to stay there. "The Fog is moving inland, away from the beach, towards Antonio Bay." YA THINK? Back on the road, it's completely pitch dark again? Stevie is describing where the fog is now. Elizabeth and Nick are going to run into it again with the kid. They have no windshield. They reverse and turn around. Stevie tells everybody to close windows and lock doors. "There's something in the Fog." Whatsername and Mrs. Williams try to turn away from it. Stevie tells everybody to drive towards the old church. The ladies arrive just as Nick, Elizabeth, and Andy get there, too. They come inside. They ask the priest if there's a cellar. He seems to be mustachedly drunk. He claims they "can't hide any longer." IS YOUR MURDEROUS ANCESTOR STILL AROUND?

They close all the windows and shit. Why do some/half the outdoor shots of the beach make it look like it's dawn, but it appears to be the middle of the night elsewhere? Stevie tries to describe where the fog is going from her high vantage point. The priest says "Blake and his men" are here now and his grandpa's journal can't help them now. Nick goes to retrieve it from the sanctuary anyhow. Is this movie supposed to be either good or scary? It is neither. Stevie goes downstairs and the Fog has reached the lighthouse's first floor. At the church Mrs. Williams finds something about some missing treasure (guess I missed that part of the story before but who cares).

Stevie knows the Fog is there, but blockades her doors. At the church, zombie hands break through stained-glass windows as Nick and Father Malone break a larger hole in the wall. They pull something out of the cache. It's a gi-fucking-gantic gold cross. A zombie pulls that one lady's hair from a window. Father Malone goes into a closet or something by himself with the golden treasure-made cross, despite Andy saying he shouldn't do so. Back at the lighthouse, Stevie is cagey, I guess. Father Malone carries the cross into the sanctuary, where the Black Lagoon Fog creatures wait for him. He yells, "Blake! I have your gold!" The figures approach him. Stevie tries to climb on the lighthouse's roof in impractical heeled boots, sliding on the slippery surface. The priest says his grandfather stole the gold, but must answer for it. "I'm the 6th conspirator, I'm father Malone. Take me." He attempts to hand over the gold to the Fog Guy. Meanwhile, a Fog guy with some kind of lil scythe attacks Stevie. She tries to fight back as two come at her. She catches a glimpse to see that they have green, rotting flesh.

At the church, the figure grabs the cross. It glows while both the living and dead hold it, shaking and smoking. Nick pulls Father Malone off of it. Lights increase and things escalate and I think now they're gone?  Elizabeth hugs Andy. Nick is wearing a leather jacket. Father Malone has survived and the church is now empty. On the lighthouse roof, Stevie clutches one of the baby scythe things as the Fog quickly retreats. The Fog evacuates out of the town. It's still real dark. I guess the red over the hills I saw earlier wasn't sunrise, it was sea ghosts? Stevie says some nonsense into her radio mic. To the ships at sea, "Look for the Fog." Father Malone still has a mustache. I think he wanted to be taken by the Fog creatures? Fog and lights under his door still. Okay, here they are. One of them with red-glowing eyes chops his head. Okay, but I think there were already six of them? WTF? Would it have helped if I paid attention to the diary/conspiracy part before? I suspect not. But like, how did this become a movie? And more importantly, why? Did they really think anyone would get scared or even care about any of this shit at all? It's SO BAD. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BAD. What even.

*though admittedly Mormons/people in the past breed young.

33: The Jesus Year

GUYS, today is (was) my 33rd birthday. I spend a lot of time agonizing over my wasted youth (Stay out of school, don't do academia, kids), but if I were a half-deistic man this would be my greatest year yet. So I've decided this is going to be my Jesus year. Will I die for your sins? OF COURSE NOT, THAT IS UNPOSSIBLE. Also, I'm extremely selfish. However, 32 was a lot shitty, so I'm going to set some goals inspired by Jesus' last year (or so, records are not-so-accurate, shall we say). I consulted the first few hits on a cursory Google search and here we are with the bullet points of the best parts of Jesus' third year of ministry. (The part before betrayal/torture/execution/resurrection stuff.)

Jesus feeds 5000 people

BAKING! We've been watching a lot of the Great British Bake Off and everyone is so charming and kind and the food looks so good. I once did a decent bit of baking when I lived with roommates and such. I keep saying I'd like to get back into it and my fellow bought me baking books from adorable former GBBO contestants for my birthday and I am going to do some baking and invite friends over and bring baked goods to everyone. I have many times in the past given fudge or cookies or something as a gift with a thank you note. I used to say that if there was anything I learned growing up Mormon, it was that true gratitude is expressed through baked goods. I should do more of that. It is good for you to make things and good for us all to eat homemade stuff.

Jesus walks on water

SWIMMING! Or exercise! Or enjoying nature in general! Those are all wonderful things. I should do more of them. This is a great goal, even if I will probably not manage to walk atop the surface of water, personally. More cabin weekends. More soccer.

Jesus prophesizes his own death

SEIZING THE DAY! Now that I am about out of my early 30s, it's time to face up to the specter of death. While trying not to focus on what I haven't done yet, I'm going to try not to waste any more years. Step 1 was this spring deciding for sure not to write a dissertation. Now I just need to create, write, produce, and star in my own TV series before it's too late (35?).

Jesus is transfigured


Jesus talks about humility, Jesus talks about forgiveness

BE LESS OF A DICK, PROBABLY. Sounds hard, but it's a good goal.

Jesus heals people, raises Lazarus

HELP PEOPLE, I GUESS, UGH. I'M NOT A WIZARD, but I guess I could try.

Anyway, some of these should come true. I guess maybe my life is not so much like Jesus'. RUDE. To my most(?) Christlike year yet!

Friday, August 19, 2016

America's Killer New Epidemic: Secondhand Whiteness

[Editor's note: It should be obvious that white people are not actually the real victims of racism. Those horrors are large and small and you should go read the many smart people of color writing online and follow anti-racist activists and support them.]

A scourge is rampaging through our nation’s cubicle farms and family reunions. What once may have been described as some kind of “race-related social awkwardness among white people” finally has a name: Secondhand Whiteness™.

Firsthand or Primary Whiteness is, of course, a person of color being on the receiving end of ignorant white bullshit, but Secondhand Whiteness is another tragic side effect of white privilege. It occurs when more or less “enlightened” white people witness other, clueless whites doing embarrassing white shit re: race/ethnicity/nationality/religion. Secondhand Whiteness is not the same as being horrified by overt racism. No, it is that sinking feeling of shame you get when you see suburban white moms get “sassy” when “joking around” with the black lady who works in Accounting or when your father-in-law tells the Latino host at the (non-Mexican) restaurant that you need a table for “cinco.” You are mortified both for and by them. As a fellow white person, you feel somewhat responsible for your race’s ignorance and feel guilty about the unfortunate people of color caught in the crossfire. Speaking up may or may not be worth the trouble depending on the situation, but either way, you are incredibly embarrassed by proxy.

Goddammit, white people.
Some instances of Secondhand Whiteness could rightfully be classified as microaggressions. Others are just severe social missteps the offenders don't even realize they're making. Secondhand Whiteness is cringing at other whites who generally mean well, but just don't fucking have a clue that they don't have a clue. The precipitating acts that lead to Secondhand Whiteness are often directed toward people of color, but can also be statements made about them to other white people. 

Secondhand Whiteness may affect you in situations like the following:
  • A white bartender asks your friend “Where are you from?” when he sees an unusual name on the credit card. The server is confused when your friend says, “Here.” Bonus points of your friend has stopped trying to correct people after they can’t get the pronunciation right after a couple tries. 
  • You overhear your white coworker ask your black boss if she can touch her new hairstyle. 
  • An older white relative keeps talking about all the super-smart Asian kids he’s taught over the years ever since someone in your family started dating a Filipino. 
  • Your friend’s white mom pretends she doesn’t know where your friend’s little brother picked up those racial slurs. She’s got a black coworker at the store she’s friends with, after all, and boy is she a HOOT! 
  • A white guy in your improv class puts on a wincingly stereotypical accent in a scene. You can tell he thinks he’s being subversive and “not-racist” because he makes the character smart/kind. 
  •  In real life, white strangers come up to your mixed-race friend and ask, “What are you?” 
  • Your white family member won’t stop pronouncing it “MOO-slem.” 

Do you feel like climbing inside a rocket ship and launching it underground while reading these? If so, you may in fact be experiencing Secondhand Whiteness. While certainly the horrible effects of systemic racism and bearing the full brunt of Primary Whiteness is a much greater burden, let us not forget the more or less innocent white bystanders who are right now super-uncomfortable.

This is not happening.
Symptoms of Secondhand Whiteness may include:
  • Extreme embarrassment 
  • Bruises from your jaw dropping onto something hard 
  • Shame over one’s shared cultural/racial background with the offender 
  • Eye strain from rolling them too much 
  • Liberal guilt 
  • Jim Halpert Face 
  • General squirminess 
  • Muscle strain around raised eyebrow(s)
  • Feelings of smugness over knowing better 
  • Neck pain from excess head-shaking 
  • Financial loss when you feel like you need to go donate to an anti-racist cause to counteract what you just witnessed 
  • Incredulity that no one else seems offended 

Secondhand Whiteness is akin to those moments during any Ricky Gervais production when that “I want to crawl under a blanket to hide and also die from the awkwardness” sensation rolls over you, overpowering any comedic value to the situation. It’s pretty much like that, but for real people in real life and also with (more) casual racism.

Girl, for real?
Locations where you are likely to be exposed to Secondhand Whiteness:
  • Work 
  • The suburbs, in general 
  • Cable news 
  • Family get-togethers 
  • America 
  • Just anywhere white people are, really 

Now, those of us on the receiving end of Secondhand Whiteness are not perfect. We are all products of a racist society, and even if some of us have taught college level Ethnic Studies classes, we say and do stupid shit, too. We have almost certainly been accidental dicks to people of color and exposed others to Secondhand Whiteness. But we can all do better! And if the person white-ing all over the place is someone you know and will probably not punch you in the face for doing so, maybe direct your Jim Halpert Face directly at them to let them know they are being Not Cool. Or, pull them aside later and say, “Hey, not cool.” If somebody tells you that you are being Not Cool about a racial thing, try to take it in and consider that perhaps they are right instead of automatically getting defensive because you don’t want to be racist, because racists are Bad and you are a Good Person. Even Good People can do racist stuff. But Good People can also learn and change.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand, though: Please, other white people, consider whether you should make that “joke” that contains a “positive” stereotype. Maybe think twice before you get a little too invested in somebody else’s culture or take a Free Pass in All Social Situations to Make This Particular Joke because you have that one first-gen American friend and she thinks your impressions of her immigrant parents are hilarious. Yes, you’d be perpetuating a white supremacist culture--but also, think of the other white people.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

When Bennie Met Mallory: A Short Story



The two esteemed statespersons sat across from each other for the first time since the last of however many godforsaken debates they’d had. Right before I destroyed him in New York, thank god, thought Mallory Roadhouse Clemmons, former cabinet secretary, former senator, former First Lady, former also-ran. They both shifted in their suits in the not-very-comfortable chairs in the lounge area of a nice but not excessively nice hotel suite commandeered by the Clemmons campaign for its pre-convention headquarters. Mallory suppressed the urge to verbally crush him, the “indie” Senator Bennie Saunders, hero to idealists, revolutionaries, and also a bunch of assholes on the internet. She wanted to yell out, “Who’s unqualified now, bitch?” She didn’t fancy receiving one of his moralistic scoldings, though, so she decided to rely on her tact, AKA her hard-won battle to completely destroy her own gag reflex.

“Bennie, weren’t we once collegial colleagues in the United States Senate?” Mallory asked, a little too ambitiously.

“I suppose we were, Mallory,” Bennie replied, his voice suddenly rising to “Grandpa talking on a cell phone” volume. “Until your friends on WALL STREET bought you the Secretaryship of State-Funded Cronyism.”

“That’s really unfair,” Mallory said. Her castrating blue eyes glistened with tears. Hurt? Anger?

“I don’t mean to impugn your character,” Bennie said, lowering his tone but raising his Wagging Finger of Justice. “But, like, it’s true. Why do you think all the superdelegates are loyal to you? You’re all beholden to the same corrupt influences.”

Mallory composed herself and sighed heavily like she had to do every single fucking time she spoke to a man. “If that’s what you need to believe. But we don’t need to be friends, Bennie. We need to hammer out what you’re going to say when you endorse me next week at the convention.”

Now Bennie sighed, running his hand through what was left of his signature free-flying white Doc Brown-style locks. “IF I endorse.”

“You can’t NOT endorse me,” Mallory snapped. She wished one of her millennial media managers was here to call up one of those amazing gifs (jifs?) of her looking Exasperated But Presidential during that last 11-hour show trial hearing. “You at least have to concede. That’s how these things work. If you want to join in on party politics so you can get media coverage and into debates, then you have to PLAY party politics when the time comes. So. What do you want in the platform?”

Mallory sat poised with her pen ready at her legal pad, an aged Tracy Flick, finally Getting Hers. Bennie took a sip of seltzer water, savoring the brisk bitterness. For just a few months, he’d felt what it was like to be in the In Crowd, approved-of, popular, even winning at times, and he would Get His before he returned, tired but not trampled, to his Righteous Caucus of One. Mallory stared at him and picked at some nonexistent food particle in her teeth with her tongue.

“If I were to endorse you. IF... Slavery reparations.”

Mallory cackled. “Mmhm. Sure.”

Even Bennie had to smile. She knew he was fucking around. “JK, JK. But for real, we gotta break up these big banks. That’s my number one.”

“Bennie, you can’t even tell tabloid editors how we’re supposed to do that.” Mallory was unsurprised but still annoyed.

“You’re the policy wonk. You tell me.” Bennie’s eyes wandered to where French doors opened on a king-size bed strewn with beautiful mandarin-collar jackets in all the colors of the rainbow. Wardrobe planning for the Big Moment. One thing he could be grateful for: they’d told him in the general election, he’d have to get a haircut and start wearing new, non-rumpled suits or some bullshit. The General. The real beauty contest.

Looking up from her notes, Mallory offered dryly, “I’ve got an advisory group I can talk to about possible modest reforms we might be able to insert into our economic plank. I mean, we are going with the nationwide $15 minimum wage and can emphasize giving Dodd-Frank more teeth. We could probably punch up some of the bank stuff in there.”

Bennie knew she couldn’t realistically offer more than that. Still, he couldn’t resist. “You know these big banks you love giving speeches to are a real scourge! The middle class in this country...”

As he launched into his stump speech, in tiny letters, Mallory wrote “KILL ME” over and over again in the same spot until she tore the page with her pen, which was custom-made from Arkansas oak that an especially sexist and curmudgeonly old colleague had given her when she became their firm’s first female partner. She’d been buying expensive replacement ink for it all these years, dreaming of holding it in her capable hand when yet another powerful man would have to concede that yes, she could, yes, she DID do it after all. Her dreams had been dashed eight short (long?) years ago by that Chicago upstart. Terrible, awful timing. But they’d both moved past their bitterness over the nasty campaign and become something like friends. She knew the President would expect her to call him later and he’d laugh as she recounted the meeting in detail, leaving out none of the meanest jokes. He loved hearing gossip. Stored it all up, never spilling a word--too high-minded to indulge in that--but everybody knew that he knew all the dirt.

Mallory finally interrupted, “I’ve heard the pitch, Bennie. What else do you want?”

Bennie hesitated a moment. He knew he often came off as impractical, whimsical even, in his ideas, but this was important and he needed to plant the seed. “I want federal funding for an educational cartoon series starring me, but as a bird: Wrennie Saunders. You know, like that time a bird landed near me and everybody acted like I was fucking Snow White? That was the best day of my campaign. I think I could harness that joyfulness to inform the public.”

Mallory stifled a laugh. “You want, like, a PBS series?”

“Sure! Or a web series. On Netflix or whatever. You know, my campaign staff tells me a lot of young people don’t even own televisions anymore. I mean, I haven’t had one since I marched with MLK myself. But I’d do the voice. Of the bird. We’d teach kids about corruption and corporate greed and Citizens United and--”

“Yeah, okay. That’s going to be a tough sell with the other Dems after you refused to help fundraise downticket, but I’ll do what I can to help you get the funding in the next congressional session. We’ll tack it on to something bland. Modest infrastructure funding. But for real, what else do you want in the party platform?”

“That’s it.” He savored more of the room temperature bubbly water from the can he’d brought with him.

“Seriously?” Mallory was sure he was playing her. She pushed back a nonexistent stray hair into her impeccable blonde bubble.

“You’re running against a literal circus clown! Why bother pushing left?”

“But isn’t that why--” Mallory stopped. She stared and tapped her beloved pen on her notepad. “You’re not even going to show up to the convention, are you?”

The left corner of Bennie’s mouth betrayed the flicker of a smile. “I may have some urgent family business in my home state.”

“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” Tact Time over.

He really had considered falling in line properly, but that just wasn’t him. Always the contrarian. Happy to be unpopular. Principles are the most loyal friends, after all. “I’ll send a proxy endorser.”

“Who. Susan fucking Sarandon? You’re completely fucking me.”

“Well, like you, I’m not sure I’m even a Democrat.” He smiled to himself and finished the can.

Mallory tossed her pad and pen on the coffee table between them. So tired. So, so tired of this. “Get the fuck out. My staff should’ve taken this meeting for me to begin with.”

Bennie shrugged and got up to leave. “I wasn’t kidding about the bird show.”

“Go pitch it to Viceland, asshole.” (She could thank her daughter Kelsey for that reference.)

He looked at her, bemused, but quickly left, satisfied to be on the Establishment’s shit list once again. After all, he’d been in it to inspire, to provoke. He’d never really wanted to be the next Jimmy Carter. A single aide met him in the lobby--he was finally free of Secret Service detail--who traded him his empty La Croix for a full one.

Back upstairs, an exhausted Mallory went over to the bed and collapsed on top of her fine silk jackets, fingering the cuff of that gold one she loved so much but people told her she wore too often. She’d call in the team in a moment. She'd pretend to care what her husband had to say, call the President and talk it out, and just keep gritting her teeth through the next few months still between her and the throne. But right now she needed to just sigh for a bit. Men.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Energy Drink Review: V8 +Energy NOW WITH CARBONATED KINDS

So I often drink these V8 Fusion Energy guys in the mornings because mornings. A while back, I saw a few of these newly packaged 12 ouncers that are lightly carbonated, so I'm guessing they're some kind of new product. I decided to give them a shot. BTWs, did you know that V8 is owned by Campbells? Makes sense, both try to get you to drink/eat tomato juice or soup, which are objectively icky.* I have now tried all three flavors and taken to buying four-packs of some of them, so obvi I'm liking them, but here's an overview:

FLAVOR: The blackberry/cranberry is actually pretty tasty. Not dissimilar to a flavor they've already got in the juice ones, but it's lightly carbonated, so it's, like, better I guess. It's got a TOUCH of the green tea-ness that gives it its caffeine, but not so much that it bothers me. The orange/pineapple, unsurprisingly, I didn't like much because of how it has pineapple juice in it. Guys, I'm terrible at tiki bars because pineapple juice ruins things for me ALMOST BUT NOT AS MUCH as banana flavoring destroys otherwise tasty food and drinks. Okay, but the best one by far is the white grape/raspberry flavor. It is legit delicious and I've even used it as a mixer in a pinch and liked it quite a bit.

EFFECTIVENESS: These drinks have 80 mg of caffeine. According to a very useful webernets site, a 12-oz. Diet Coke has 46 mg and my drug of choice, a standard 16-oz. Monster Khaos, has 154 mg. So these V8 guys are more effective than a can of pop and are way less chemical-tasting. They're 34% juice according to the can, if you're concerned about that sort of thing. ("Probably mostly apple juice," says Isaac, like I care what's in my beverages.) They make me feel alert without pushing me into shakiness or borderline anxiety territory, which is good for a mid-morning cube-sitting situation. I usually end up drinking another energy drink after lunch sometime, but these are a good option for the morning when I am (somehow) less exhausted-feeling and don't want to crash too early or overdose on two full-caffeine 16 ouncers in one work day.

OVERALL: Guys, these are pretty good. I drink these. Recommended.

*Guys, I fucking love tomatoes, but I don't want to drink them. I don't even like soups that are tomato-BASED very much, even if there's a bunch of other stuff in them. I can't explain it.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Horror Movie Classics: The Innocents

Oh, here's a movie I put on my queue some time ago as a "classic horror film." 1961's The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr, who is an actress I've heard of. It begins with a black screen and a creepy singing child. A+ milieu establishment, film. Birds tweet. A lady's hands look like they're praying as she cries at the birds or something. Lady cries and whispers in her brain about wanting to save the children, not hurt them or something. Fade into:

Same lady? at a job interview. It's old-timey. Lady interviewed by a rich bachelor man. He's a "very selfish fellow." He's become "saddled" with two orphan children and he's like, "FUCK THAT." The children live at his country estate. She's the daughter of a country parson. Miles and Flora. She's going to be their governess. Miss Giddens. It's her first job. The dude doesn't want any complaints or to be bothered ever. What a dick. The former governess died and traumatized everybody. "It was all very odd," Mr. Dick says. Miles has been at school and Flora watched by the housekeeper since then. Dick wants to hire her so bad. She's got to handle everything on her own if she agrees to accept the position.

Now we're in the country. Horse and carriage nonsense. Picturesque pond. Giddens asks the coachman to stop at the gates to the estate so she can walk in past the pond and such. It must be the 1860s or so with those giant hoop skirts happening under there. Walking up to the house, Giddens hears some singing but also sees a fancy gazebo by the water. Giddens sees Flora and tells her someone was calling her name. Flora wants to show Giddens her turtle. His name is Rupert and he's adorbs. Mr. Dick is Flora's uncle. Flora's chatty and excited. She brings Giddens up to the house. The housekeeper is very glad to see Giddens. Giddens is amazed by the fanciness of the huge mansion. "It's a heaven for children." Housekeeper sets Giddens up with some tea. She wasn't the one calling for Flora outside. BECAUSE IT WAS THE GHOST OF THE DEAD GOVERNESS OBVIOUSLY. Giddens: "I expect to be here for a very long time."

So many white roses. The housekeeper says something about "the devil's own eye," but apparently wasn't referring to the master. Housekeeper (Mrs. Grose) has set up Giddens in another bed in Flora's room. Bullshit. I'd insist on my own room. How is she supposed to masturbate? Flora can't sleep next to Rupert because she might roll over and CRUSH HIM. Flora has prayer questions. She implies some people don't go to heaven, but just stay and walk around. Weird squawking outside. Mrs. Grose says they have to ignore such things. In the middle of the night, much wind in the curtains of the wide open windows. Flora creepily watches Giddens sleep. Flora looks outside and hums. Probably at a ghost.

Next day. Giddens' ruffles are OUT OF CONTROL. Flora holds Giddens' mail hostage because she's a bitch. Giddens has gotten a family photo from her sister. Dick uncle's gotten a letter from Miles' school. Giddens looks upset. Giddens asks Flora about knowing Miles was coming home before she did. She watches a butterfly being eaten by a spider. Giddens tells Mrs. Grose Miles has been expelled. Mrs. Grose is ILLITERATE. The letter says Miles is "an injury to the others." Mrs. Grose laughs at the idea that Master Miles could corrupt anyone.

Giddens and Flora pick the kid up from the train station. He's a creepy little charmer and gives her a nosegay. Miles says he's home for the holidays, but they're not holidays. He won't answer questions about the school term or anything else. Miles tells her she's too pretty to be a governess, and she gives him shit about it. At home, the kids run off to see the pony.

Giddens claims the school letter must have been a misunderstanding, but she'll talk to him about it later. Mrs. Grose is worried about there being "trouble." Miles is too excited to sleep at night. She asks what he thinks about while lying awake. Oh come on, he's clearly at wiener-pulling age. Not a good convo. She confronts him about being expelled. He knows his uncle won't give a shit. Giddens tries to make excuses for Dick uncle, but insists she cares about Miles. He cries a single tear, but won't tell her what happened back at school. "Trust me," she says. The window crashes and the candle blows out.  "It was only the wind, my dear," says a 12 year-old to a grown woman.

Daytime. Giddens cuts some of the billions of roses. The singing again. A creepy ceramic cherub statue. A bug comes out of its mouth and the music stops. Giddens looks up at a tower on the house and sees someone standing up there through some haze. It's silent for a moment, then he disappears. Then the birds and the singing start back up. Her clothes are so stupid. Good thing she works in a mansion with gigantic wide doorways, because her skirts have like an 8-foot diameter. She enters the stairs to the tower through an ivied wall. At the top, she finds Miles, charming all the doves. They're standing on his shoulder and head. He claims there was no man up there. "Perhaps it was me," says the creepy kid. He says she's imagined it or may need spectacles, though she's "much too pretty" for that. CREEP. He says Flora told him she makes groaning noises all night, but Flora makes up lies all the time, so who knows!

Mrs. Grose brings Giddens some scissors from the garden that she dropped earlier while investigating the OBVIOUS TOWER GHOST. She asks Mrs. Grose if there's "anyone else living here." OF COURSE NOT. JK, this is either a ghost or a clear Secret Garden/Jane Eyre crazy person wing of the house situation. Flora grabs Giddens to show her Miles riding around on the pony (too fast?).

OOPS I Skyped with an old friend for like an hour and half and now I'm not sure how long I can stay awake, despite the second energy booze I started at the beginning of this blog. LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Giddens' skirts are so huge and dumb. The kids draw pictures. Miles calls his sister "dear." He says he doesn't want to grow up. Giddens' old house was too small for secrets. The kids want to play hide and seek. Giddens will seek. How could you play this game at night without electricity? In the dark, Giddens sees a lady walk behind a curtain, but hears a voice calling her upstairs and ignores it. In a creepy attic, she finds creepy toys. An old dusty rocking horse and a bouncing clown doll. She bumps a CLEARLY HAUNTED music box, which starts to play. Inside she finds a cracked photo of a man. Miles busts out to catch her. "Now you're my prisoner!" She tells him to let her go because he's hurting her, but he doesn't care. Clearly he's a creepy sociopath.  Flora busts out to save her and insists Giddens hides this time.

She takes her gigantic skirts downstairs and hides behind some curtains as the kids creepily count in unison. At the window she's hiding behind, Giddens sees a man approach and then dissipate. She goes outside to look around, and just hears noisy birds. Mrs. Grose comes to check. It's the guy from the tower and the attic picture. Mrs. Grose says it must be Mr. Quint, the master's valet, who is DEAD. The kids laugh maniacally from the stairs.

Another day. Giddens looks at the little photo. Later, she has a nightmare and wakes to wide-open windows in a thunder storm. Guys, thunderstorms are the best. Now she's staring out at heavy rain while the kids are doing lessons. Flora throws her pencil. Miles yells that she's begging for attention. Giddens comforts her. Giddens says they'll pretend it's Flora's birthday and they're going to have a costume party. They're going to surprise her with their outfits. Mrs. Grose says the attic is no danger to them, but Giddens isn't convinced. Apparently Quint drunkenly slipped and hit his head on the icy steps outside. He had secrets. Miles discovered the body. (Sure, "discovered.") Quint was Miles' hero.

The kids come down in costume. The music box plays and Miles recites a poem, pacing in a crown, holding a candle. Something about his lord being gone. Giddens thinks there's something going on. Mrs. Grose says nothing is wrong. Quint was once in charge. The previous governess maybe fell in love with him? Mrs. Grose won't say. The kids yell at a convenient time. Okay, a man clearly invented hoop skirts. So, so stupid. So, so large.

Giddens sits in the gazebo by the pond. Miles rows out on a boat. Flora wishes she could row, too. She asks if tortoises can swim. Uh-oh, that means Rupert is dead. Flora is humming the music box song, but doesn't know where she learned it. Giddens sees a woman in black standing in the reeds across the water. Flora apparently didn't see her. Giddens is freaking out. She tells Mrs. Grose there are two "abominations." Mrs. Grose has a weirdly optimistic view of the kids, claiming Flora wouldn't lie about seeing the ghost. Giddens knows it's some kind of "indecent" game. Quint and Miss Jessel were clearly in love. Mrs. Grose thinks it was fucked up. Quint was violent and abusive. Giddens makes Grose tell her that they were fucking, I think. She's not sure what the kids saw. All the whispering. The framing is weird. Giddens thinks THE INNOCENTS have been corrupted by Quint. Miss Jessel stopped eating and sleeping when Quint died until she herself died OF A BROKEN HEART. Mrs. Grose doesn't want Giddes to talk to the vicar about the whole ghost situation at their house because of possible SCANDAL.

Giddens has a restless sleep. She sees Miles whispering to Flora about secrets. Something about the tortoise. The kids giggling in the woods. The man on the tower. A man's and a child's hands grabbing. Doves. Whispers. The music box. Flora dancing with a woman in black. Giddens prays. Church bells! Giddens tells Mrs. Grose she's going to London to talk to their uncle. Sure, they're well-behaved, but not necessarily "good." Just "easy to live with." She knows there's more going on. The ladies' capes are wonderful. She knows the kids are talking about the ghosts. Giddens insists she must know how Miss Jessel died. She apparently killed herself in the lake. Makes sense, actually. She doesn't go into church yet and sees Flora running through the churchyard. She finds Jessel's grave with flowers on them and whispers "Flora." Does she think she killed her somehow?

Giddens is insistent upon leaving for London, despite Mrs. Grose's protest. Giddens goes to get a book from the schoolroom and encounters the sobbing ghost of Miss Jessel. She gets to the desk and she's gone, but there's blood? on the slate. Mrs. Grose comes to tell Giddens the carriage is here. She says she's not going now. She says the children can't be let out of their sight. Okay, so Giddens claims that the ghost of Jessel is so hungry for Quint that they've both possessed the children so they can be together, I guess? So this is getting pretty incest-y. Cool. Obvs. Mrs. Grose wants to tell the master, Giddens won't leave them but wants to write him. She's going to try to make the kids confess the truth.

At night, Giddens has her hair down, reading (probs the Bible--BORING) by the fire. Okay, yeah. Bible. A white rose petal. "Always happening here." She pokes the fire. The piano makes a sound. A whisper. A giggle. Her nightgown is supes ruffly, unsurprisingly. She goes out into the hallway with her lil candelabra. Mysterious noises. Voices. Pre-electricity times must've been HAUNTED AS FUCK. I can only imagine. Giddens wanders around upstairs with her candles. Spectral giggling. A locked door. A door opening? "The children are watching," says the ghost. Lots of locked doors. The voices get louder. A creepy cherub carving. Giddens runs to the bedroom, but Flora isn't in bed. She's at the window. A bird call. "Somebody's walking in the garden," she says. It's Miles in his night shirt. She yells and he stops walking, but is seemingly possessed or something. Giddens runs off with her candles as Flora snuggles up with her doll in bed.

"I just thought he was quiet."
She pulls Miles into the house. He said he knew she'd look outside. Miles claims he'll explain everything now. He claims he wanted to pretend to be bad to amuse her. They planned it together. Under his pillow, it's a pigeon. A dead one with a broken neck. He says he'll bury it tomorrow and then kisses her HARD on the lips goodnight. She's all freaked out, obvs.

This is a pretty good nanny job, eh?
Next day, she wears all black and writes to Uncle Dick. Miles knows it's about him. He plays the same old tune on the piano. Flora disappears and Giddens freaks out, disturbing Mrs. Grose petting the cat. Flora knows she's gone out on the lake in the boat by herself, possessed. She spots Flora down in the gazebo, dancing to the music box. She's got to get these kids out of here. Writing a letter is NOT going to help. Giddens sees the dead lady across the lake as it starts to rain. She tries to make Flora admit she can see Miss Jessel across the lake. Mrs. Grose comforts Flora as she screams. Now Giddens is sadface in the gazebo.

Miles sits across from Giddens by the fire. He likes when the fire crackles. They both warm their hands. Flora screams elsewhere in the house. He's a pretty good creepy kid. Flora won't stop screaming. WTF? Mrs. Grose tries to calm her. Give her some booze or something, whatever they did back then. Apparently she's swearing and stuff. Mrs. Grose says she didn't see Jessel's ghost. Grose claims Giddens turned Flora into this by forcing her to face a bad memory. Um, okay, lady. Giddens wants everyone to go away except for her and Miles. Giddens tells Grose to tell the uncle the truth when she shows up with Flora in London. Grose is super freaked out, claiming she won't judge Giddens, but we all know Giddens is just going to fuck Miles because he's possessed by the HANDSOME, CHARMING, ENTRANCING Mr. Quint. Grose and Flora and apparently the rest of the servants have gone away.

Giddens hugs a doll in the schoolroom, waiting for her Man to come back from wherever he's wandered away to. Thunder. Wind. Creepy statues on the lawn. That lake would be a good place for Colin Firth to emerge from. Mmm yeah. At some point, Giddens hears a kid yelling, but then Miles just saunters into the sitting room. "I feel quite the master of the house," he says. He knows she's scared. He calls her "my dear." GROSS. "Don't worry, there's a man in the house." He claims he's happy after asking about Flora. Miles finds Rupert the tortoise in an arboretum.

Giddens wants to know why he wandered at night. He tells her she gets ugly when she's mad. Fuck you, kid. He tells her he was sent home from school because he's different. He admits he stole her letter to his uncle. He admits he "said things" at school. He heard things at night. He scared the other boys, but now says he made them up. She sees Quint in the window as Miles gets mad. He calls her a "hussy" and laughs maniacally. Miles then throws Rupert through the window and runs away. He trips in the yard. She hugs him as he says "forgive me."She says it would be over if he says the name. "He's dead!" He's very sweaty. "Where, you devil!" and then faints. Giddens strokes his head and says he's hers now. But then she realizes he's dead and screams. Bird chirping. Now she kisses his lips creepily. Her hands in a praying position as birds chirp.

Okaaaay. The end, I guess!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Some people like to pretend that politics isn’t just base emotions writ large. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have this Donald Trump situation on our hands. Facts are nice, but we all vote based on some sort of gut-level response to a candidate—in the primaries, anyway. Now, for the majority of my lived memory, I’ve heard nothing but shit about Hillary Clinton; from my (conservative) parents and other adults around me, from the media, and later, from fellow “progressives.” But I have come, since 2008, to really respect, admire, and yes, LIKE Hillary Clinton. I like her because she is a smart, accomplished woman. I like her because she’s a badass survivor. I like her because, yes, I can see myself in her. I like her because she puts women first. And in some ways, I like her because certain other people don’t. Oh, holier-than-thou liberal dudes think she’s too conservative? PLEASE SIGN ME UP. Actual conservatives become apoplectic at the mention of her name? YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU I’LL HAVE SECONDS. Society says an ambitious and ew, disgusting older woman is frightening and unpleasant and unattractive? SHUT UP HOLD THE PHONE LET’S GET BEST FRIEND NECKLACES. (See Sady Doyle for a smarter way to say all this.)

I imagine this is all many people will take away from this anyway, so might as well bring it back.
My radicalism might not look like your radicalism, but to me, admitting that I like Hillary Clinton is kind of radical. Admitting it in public so that dudes I know (and thought I was friends with) can tell me my politics are “terrible” and claim I only care that she has a vagina is also radical. In real life, I hate conflict! I am uncomfortable with debate and disagreement! But also, a woman running for and winning a major party’s nomination, if not the presidency itself would be TOTALLY RADICAL. And yeah, becoming a Hillary fan falls right in step with my love affair with not-quite-ironic internet-based misandry. I really could go the entire rest of my life without a man explaining something to me or being in charge of me in any way. I know that’s probably not possible, but yeah, a lady in charge of our country would be refreshing if nothing else. Ugh, at least women wear COLOR.

Each time I post something pro-Hillary, a subset of my Facebook friends, almost exclusively women, like it and comment supportively, sometimes admitting that they've been reluctant to say they're pro-Hillary, too. This is who I’m writing this for. All of us who believe we need somebody’s permission to like who we like and support who we support. Now, there’s no scientific way to prove a negative, but I feel strongly that if Hillary Clinton weren’t a woman, she might get some of the same (legitimate) criticism from fellow liberals about corporate ties, insiderism, unfortunate past votes, not-so-progressive policies she currently supports, etc. You know, substantive critiques. However, the vociferousness with which people IN HER OWN PARTY try to tear her apart is given its teeth by a certain amount of misogyny. Maybe you personally don’t think you hate women, but if you say, do, or even think sexist shit in response to Clinton’s candidacy, you kinda do. If you don't have that reaction but you see this tendency among your peers and say nothing, you’re part of the problem.

This is all to say that I’ve felt the need to defend my choice of candidate. I don’t come on your feed and yell at you that you only care about Bernie’s dick, so why you gotta get up in my face? Hillary’s qualifications are bonafide. Crazy smart. Experienced like a motherfucker. And a feminist who’s not afraid of the word. (Again, Sady Doyle’s got the scoop on articulating why women like me feel like “progressive” often doesn't include our issues.) Additionally, the symbolic value of a female president can’t be overstated. I won’t pretend that’s not a big reason I support Clinton. But I also support her because she’s used her status AS A WOMAN in politics to enact policy worldwide to improve women’s lives. Not every policy she’s supported is good. Some of them do hurt women and children and/or people of color and other vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, this is the society and the politics and government we live with. Por ejemplo: Is there any major party candidate who WOULD end targeted drone strokes? I think not. That doesn’t mean it’s not awful or that we shouldn’t pressure the people in charge to stop it, it just means that here we are.

"Women's rights are human rights [motherfuckers]."
However, I don’t think anyone can impeach the efforts Clinton HAS made: as First Lady, as a Senator, and as Secretary of State, to improve the lives of women and girls. And that brings us to what everybody brings up. What I joke about because that’s what I do: I joke. The more my emotions get pricked, the more I joke. Because that’s what I do. But so what if I have a VAGINA? So fucking what? You can have no idea what it’s like for the entire world to be obsessed with, hate, desire, want to control, and concurrently be disgusted by a part of your body if you’ve never lived with one. It’s exhausting. So sure: vaginavaginavaginavaginavagina. I’m not saying you have to have the “right” parts to be a good ally to women—and if you look at almost any female Republican politician, having them doesn’t always help, either—but I know Hillary Clinton has got my back (especially the lower part where I get horrible menstrual cramps) on women’s issues. It’s a pressing issue for her because she’s lived it. She’s spent her entire public career fighting for us. And by the way, if you think the “establishment” is happy with that, you haven’t been fucking paying attention.

In a world that routinely reduces my value as a person to my sexuality and reproductive capacity, how can you get mad when I decide that, yes, THAT: me, my body, the issues that affect my body and bodies and hearts like mine, that people in power who care about those issues and understand them and fight to defend our autonomy and value us as humans, that these are the most important things to me? Other things matter, but nothing brings me more fucking joy and pain in this entire world than being woman. Progressive men are fine. If they value reproductive rights and feel that yes, it does deserve to be mentioned during a campaign in 2016, the year after howevermanydozens of state legislatures attempted to reduce access to reproductive healthcare and we still only earn 77 cents on the dollar and paid parental leave is a fucking fantasy wrapped in a pipe dream and rape and stalking and discrimination are not only still an epidemic, but are LITERALLY a joke to so many people, great. But there’s no one I trust more with an egalitarian future than a feminist. Men can be and are feminists and feminist allies! Bernie Sanders is surely one of these men sympathetic to the cause. But it’s not a top priority to him. (He seems to think economic reform will end discrimination? Okay. It can’t hurt!) I’ll vote for him if he gets the nomination, but his deal is not my deal.

Because guess what? Feminism is my #1 issue. Hillary Clinton is a fucking feminist. Not only would her election be massively symbolic, it would be hugely inspiring to girls and women and everybody who dreams of a feminist future. And she would actively work to improve our lives. Us. Those of us fighting discrimination in our communities (including the comedy community, speaking of more stuff that is depressing me lately). Those of us who live with the reality of our humanity constantly being degrading by society, by politicians, by everything we watch on TV, by abusers and rapists, by gross dudes catcalling on the street, and by people we know and love who make carelessly sexist comments and underestimate us on the regular. To be real, I’m having trouble writing about this in a coffee shop without tearing up a bit, and it’s probably only 43% because I’ve gone off my anti-depressants again. But I won’t be ashamed that this is how I feel. I won’t be guilted or shamed into supporting somebody else because it’s the appropriately “progressive” thing to do. I can’t “correct” my feelings any more than you can.

I will admit: I am not an idealist. I don’t know that I ever have been one. Perhaps this is a flaw on my part and I’m sure we could draw a pretty straight line from being born into what basically amounts to a millenialist cult and my feelings now. If you think the world is going to end in the next decade or two, why bother trying to change shit? I’m also clinically depressed and have been disillusioned too many times and I’m pretty comfortable keeping it all at a distance with my snarky cynicism and also booze. But I can’t change my past any more than I can change the fact that Hillary EXCITES ME. She gives me hope, and hope is not a thing I take lightly. Her steely determination is something I admire and envy. How, after decades of not just the everyday discrimination thrown at women in a patriarchal society, but somebody specifically targeted by the media and society and her enemies and everyday people, can she still want to serve us?

It pisses me off just thinking about it, and I’ve been relatively sheltered from a lot of blatant harassment and discrimination in my life. I’m white and I’m middle-class and I’m attractive (TBH) and I can turn my anger into jokes. At least in the moment. When I get really angry, I cry, and I hate crying. The bane of my childhood was my brother deliberately provoking me for no goddamn reason except that he wanted to see me get angry, to make me cry. I was told to ignore him. I learned to not respond and then later to defuse the situation with a joke. Even later, I learned the art of an insult disguised as a joke. This is now my tactic of choice since being mean to men without at least the plausible deniability of comedy can be literally dangerous. But later, after I get home, after I reread that thread or relive the conversation, sometimes I get fucking mad. And sometimes I cry. And I hate myself and the world we live in that I can’t just be angry and emotional and let it all hang out. That this shit happens at all and I have to feel this way. Other times I think I handled it brilliantly; the joke put the gross harassing bar dude in his place or it was directed at somebody I know and maybe even like and people laughing at it made him realize he was saying or doing something shitty and now he's sorry and won't do it again. Sometimes it works and relieves the pressure for the moment. But there are so many horrible things that face us as women, jokes are not enough. So at the end of the day, the rage remains.

Hillary Clinton knows my rage. Hillary Clinton has felt a lot of rage, I bet. She’s earned it. I’m not just talking about the personal attacks, either. There gets to be a moment in which you’re just fucking sick of the sexism. It’s exhausting it’s outrageous it’s offensive it’s blatant it’s immoral and you just can’t deal with it anymore. I’m grateful that Hillary Clinton is stronger than I am. Sure, it takes a massive ego to run for president, to think you can do that job. But she has taken that rage, that hopelessness that all of us as women feel at some point (or at all the points) and channeled it into a laser beam of ambition. Fucking good for her. FUCKING GOOD FOR HER. And for us.

To be honest, I’ve got several thousand more meandering words written about why I support Hillary Clinton that are less about my feelings and are more about pragmatism and politics. But fuck that. Those are all great reasons and part of why I support Hillary, but they’re not the real reason, the one at the base of it all. Truth is, I’m an angry woman. I want another woman in office; one who gets me and my anger and can do something about it. Sorry/not sorry if don’t think that’s a good enough reason. Vote for who you want; this isn't a campaign ad. But if you really can’t understand why this is important to me and many, many, many other women and people of various gender identifications, then I don’t care. You don’t get it. You can’t get it. Go ahead and tell me my politics are “terrible.” Reality is terrible. Go fuck yourself.