Archive for June, 2016


June 30, 2016

In light of Rita Ora’s terrifying ordeal culminating in her admission to the hospital, we at the National Center for the Awareness of Exhaustion have determined that the time is ripe to bring greater attention to this little known malady. Though it is often overshadowed by more serious ailments, exhaustion has been the worm at the core for a small but significant sector of our population for two entire decades.

What is “Exhaustion?” Exhaustion is a disease that might include the following as symptoms: sleepiness, nausea, dizziness, public passing out. In many patients, it presents as similar to a hangover. No one knows its exact cause, but symptoms are often preceded by periods of bad or no publicity. Researchers have also determined that attending concerts for multiple nights in a row or having an openly secret drug problem heightens one’s susceptibility to contracting exhaustion, though medical professionals are encouraged to not link the two, as that would amount to party-shaming the legitimately ill.

Exhaustion is most common among those who work in the entertainment industry and have incredibly generous health insurance policies. Within this group, white females are particularly at risk. Celebrity sufferers include Lindsay Lohan, Demi Moore, and token this-disease-does-not-discriminate sufferer Dave Chappelle. Exhaustion never affects the following: Hasidic mothers of ten, long distance truck drivers, introverts, or people suffering from diagnosed, medically-recognized terminal illnesses.

Treatment for exhaustion may include a brief hospital admission documented by numerous selfies; often, follow-up care is needed, and can be received at exorbitantly expensive rehab centers with ocean views and sushi chefs on-staff. In order to prevent a recurrence of the illness, the sufferer is urged to hire more hands-on representation who can scrub their hospital stay from celebrity gossip websites.


June 30, 2016

The Telegraph has a handy list of fifteen travel destinations with little threat of terrorism.  One of their suggestions is… North Korea.

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June 29, 2016

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: British people are absolutely insane about Friends.  When we first moved here, I was cooking one day in our corporate apartment and I turned on the TV as background noise, hoping to find something mindless that I’d seen a million times before so I could tune in and back out at my leisure.  As there is no USA Network here, sadly there was no SVU, but there was Friends on Comedy Central.  “It’s Friends Week!” an announcer joyfully exclaimed at the commercial break.  How lucky was I!  Hours of exactly the kind of no-attention-required TV I was after.  Hooray!

Two weeks later, we moved from our corporate apartment to our real apartment, and I sought out the same kind of televisual soundtrack to accompany my unpacking.  There, again, on Comedy Central, was Friends.  I looked at the guide––it was Friends as far as the eye could see (well, straight on through until six or seven PM.)  I was confused––surely a week had passed?  I counted the days on my fingers, confirmed it had, then shrugged, and left it on.  Nearly a year later, I’ve learned that if you turn on Comedy Central at virtually any time of day, you will find Friends.  Put another way: every week in the United Kingdom (eek, that stings to say right now) is Friends week.  The nation’s fervor for the show gets more intense, too, in late August, when a roving tour of sorts called FriendsFest begins.  Last year, the festival featured a recreation of Monica and Rachel’s apartment, where visitors could get their pictures taken.  This year, they’ve one-upped themselves: sets from the series will be erected in stately homes like Blenheim Palace, and there will also be table tennis and something ominously called “Smelly Cat Karaoke.”  Last year tickets sold out in thirteen minutes; this year, my guess is Britons will need even more escape, so passes will fly off shelves even faster.
In my experience, New Yorkers tend to prefer Seinfeld, because Friends presents a too-easy view of life in NYC for natives to really stomach (the gorgeous apartment inhabited by a waitress and a chef who never seem to be at work, for example.)  So I wondered if perhaps Londoners loved it for that exact same reason: it was a picture of a happy, idealized New York.  I asked a friend why people in England were so obsessed, and she gave me a blase reply: “We just love it.”  I’ve read the articles on why millennials are improbably smitten, including Adam Sternbergh’s lengthy one in New York Magazine.  Sternbergh chalks it up to a kind of nostalgia for a simpler time the youth of today never knew (no Facebook, no student debt, etc.)  But his view is limited to Americans experiencing a very American-centric nostalgia, as is evidenced by his description of it.  “The show that feels, in its way, as iconic a relic of the 1990s as do Nirvana, Pulp Fiction, and a two-term Clinton presidency that the Onion later cheekily described as ‘our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity’?”  So what do the Brits get out of it?



Did You Write Your Memoirs by Hand?

June 28, 2016

Apparently I saved a draft of a post with this title three months ago.  Maybe it was about Amish memoirist Marlene Miller?  Or maybe about something else?  I hope the latter, because I’m having fun imagining what that something else could have been…

Brexit Cometh

June 22, 2016

I really felt like there was a lack of Brokeback Mountain-inspired Brexit memes so I enlisted a friend to create one.  The luck of being close to people who are trying to improve their Photoshop skills



June 19, 2016

Isn’t it fun to get used books and see what the previous owners wrote in them?  This morning I finished Caroline Blackwood’s The Stepdaughter, which I have been wanting to read for ages (but found a little disappointing.)    A former owner underlined single words, perhaps ones he or she wanted to look up, throughout the text, which together comprise a very macabre description of Caroline Blackwood’s personality and her fiction.  Here goes:





























petard [pretty sure this is a typo and was supposed to be “retard”]












Also, sort of strange––this book was the property of St. Mary’s Library, and was taken out four times in 1978, and then not again until 1992.  And then once after that in 1999.  On my birthday!  What do these numbers mean?

Am I Alone or…

June 16, 2016

have catpchas really jumped the shark?

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Snuff Films/Writer Problems

June 15, 2016

So a few days ago, I was working on a piece in which I wanted to insert a little joke about the terrible nineties flick 8MM starring Nicholas Cage, and then I decided that in order to make sure the joke was accurate, I had to re-watch 8MM.  (But I didn’t, really.)  Then, halfway through the film, I was hit with one of those urges to Google something inappropriate.  We all know that feeling: you’re watching Law and Order: SVU, and you think to yourself, “Is NAMBLA really real?!”  And then you go to type in “North American Man Boy Love Association” into your search bar and realized, “Oh shit, what if someone thinks I’m actually looking for NAMBLA as opposed to just, well, verifying that NAMBLA is a thing?”  Or perhaps you’re trying to write a short story about someone who builds a bomb, but you have zero idea how to build a bomb yourself, so you go to the library, but then remember that checking out The Anarchist’s Cookbook might get your name on quite a few government lists.

But the other night, my inhibitions lowered by lack of sleep, and also comforted by the fact that probably a million people have Googled “snuff film” before, I went for it.  And one of the first hits was this random story on Reddit, which I thought, in my delirium, might be true but of course it’s just the ramblings of a horror writer trying to drum up a few readers by pulling the old “it’s true, really!” card.  Still, someone should consider making a movie of it.  Nic Cage could star.

Please, please believe me.

My Dad was an odd man, quiet , reclusive and with a weird sense of humour. But it was a safe strangeness, a slight eccentricity that I assumed all aging fathers had.The strangest thing about him was the fact that his left hand only had a thumb, a forefinger and a little finger. He never explained what happened, and the one time I was to ask – when I was nearing 16 – he very calmly stared at me and told me to never ask again. It was the type of calm that chills you, the type of calm that’s only formed through utter, utter rage. I’d asked my Mum about it and she’d always quietly replied “Ask your father.”. Apart from that he was relatively normal.

My Dad used to stay up late, watching old VHS’ in the attic whilst we (my mother and I) went about our business downstairs, me playing on the computer and her cooking, or whatever she got up to. The room at the top of the House, essentially a converted attic was his domain. My Dad didn’t ask much, but that room was his and only his. My and my Mum were never, ever allowed in. I took it for granted at the time, assumed everyone had their ‘me’ place, and for the most part brushed it off. I was never allowed into the top room – I assumed when I was younger it was because it was his secret lair, though as I grew older I thought he could be watching porn.

The truth is far more sinister.

My Dad never left the house except for working whilst I was at school, he didn’t seem to have many friends and so I never had a chance to see what he was really hiding. I tried once to look for Christmas presents, and once more when I was older… for porn. Both times the door was locked, firmly and the thought of my Dad finding me looking made me terrified. His temper flared rarely, and nastily.

After bunking off school after lunch to finish a project at the fine age of 19 to finally conquer the room, driven by a desire for independence and to satisfy my endless curiousity. I got in today. My Dad was at work, and judging by the half finished bottle of whiskey sitting on the stairs, he’d been drinking. He forgot to lock the door, which was a rarity. The past times I’d tried the door was double locked, but I assumed that in the rush my Dad had simply forgotten to lock it- assuming I’d be out all day. On opening I was assuming something dark and dangerous would appear, I’d see a dead body – or something hiedous, but instead all there was was a box of old VHS a faded armchair, and an old, large TV.

I instantly leapt to the videos, knowing I didn’t have much time and that my Dad would be furious if he was to find me looking through them. I found a large amount of old movies, old taped TV shows – I was about to give up – until I found a tape simply labelled, in childish, scrawled hand ‘PACT’. The reason I noticed it was that it was clean, the white case it was in was dog-eared, but clean. All the other videos were dusty but in pristine condition, and this film hidden at the bottom seemed to have been watched over and over.
Taking a deep breath, and listening to hear if the door unlocked I slipped it into the TV.

This is where it gets weird…



June 8, 2016

I was reading an interesting article in the New York Review of Books yesterday (because I am a very serious intellectual person) about two recently translated German novels.  One, by a writer named Jakob Wassermann, chronicles a particularly unhappy marriage.  Check out what the article’s author had to say about it:

“Unfolding in fin-de-siecle Austria, the book is socially and psychologically fascinating, a furious, baffled portrait of what has to be the worst marriage in the history of literature––yes, even worse than that one, the one you just thought of when you read that sentence.”

From the context, it’s slightly unclear if the writer is talking about Wassermann’s actual marriage or about the marriage of the fictional characters in the book, but I think it’s the latter.  In any case, I can think of numerous marriages that could compete for most miserable in either category.  So––which one do you think she was talking about?

Glad to Know Most People Are Sane

June 7, 2016

Although you’d never know it after a visit to the Louvre…

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