Archive for the ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Category

You Don’t Need That, Either

May 20, 2019

In the past few years, I’ve read myriad lists of what you NEED to buy for a baby, many written by people who claim expertise for one reason or another (they have kids, they write about having kids, or both).  This latest, by writer Emily Gould, attempts to once again be the last word on what you need when you have a baby, and she does a good deed by naysaying some of the things people believe are essential but aren’t really (like baby monitors, particularly if you live in small dwellings) and yet it, too, includes a number of things that are not necessary.  I know no one will read this, but allow me to be, once and for all, the most minimalist of all minimalist parents and tell you what you really and truly need:

  1. Baby clothes.  Ideally kimono-style onesies.  ZERO pairs of infant socks.  They will inevitably fall off.  Burn all the infant socks you get on a tiny bonfire.  Zutano-style booties are only option for infants.
  2. A baby carrier.  It doesn’t really matter what kind.
  3. A carseat
  4. A bassinet or crib.
  5. ZERO SLEEP SACKS OR SWADDLES OF ANY KIND.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  You can swaddle your baby in little blankets until they start fighting them, and then you can wean them off swaddles as early as four months.  I actually think these swaddles are doubly egregious as a “must have” baby item, because so many basically guarantee they’ll put your children to sleep and of course, no product is magical like that.
  6. You don’t need a baby bathtub.  Use the sink until they can sit, then use a regular bathtub.
  7. Some kind of seat for the baby: we have a Bjorn bouncy chair, and it’s great.
  8. NO BREASTFEEDING PILLOW.  Use a regular fucking pillow, it is the same thing. 
  9. Bottles.
  10. For mom: at least one pair of shoes you don’t need to bend down to put on or lace up.

THAT IS LITERALLY IT.  Don’t even make a registry.  You’re welcome.

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Rage!

May 10, 2019

A few years ago, I wrote about how Tennessee Williams’s brother refused to honor his last wish to be buried at sea.  This week, while reading Assia Wevill’s biography, I learned that Ted Hughes also refused to honor her wish to be buried in a small country cemetery in England, and for her epitaph to read, “Here lies a lover of unreason and an exile.”  But of course Hughes the SCOUNDREL had her cremated.  Okay, so he did apparently spread them in a churchyard in Kent somewhere, but that isn’t good enough!  Since there is no body to be recovered here, I suggest we erect a gravestone as a memorial.  If I were a conceptual artist I would do this.

I know it’s cliched to hate Ted Hughes but I do, I really do.

This post brought to you by someone who one night this week downed a glass of port and cried copiously about the untimely end of Shura Wevill-Hughes.

True Crime

March 21, 2019

You know how true crime is big?  Of course you do!  And true crime podcasts are the BIGGEST!  You are definitely plugged in enough to know that.  Well, while researching an article about an Amish thing, I came across this old news story, and I’m convinced it’s the next big true crime podcast subject (it’s basically a solved murder, but they’ve made well-reviewed podcasts about Charles Manson, so I don’t think knowing who did it is that much of a deterrent).  I would love to do some of the work on this, but the thing is, only some of it: pitching it, organizing interviews and travel, arranging for advertising, etc., I’d prefer someone else do.  Do you think Sarah Koenig is free?

A trailer:

The break came in 1987, when Reader’s Digest published an article about Little Boy Blue. A woman in northern Ohio, a member of an Amish community, read the story and wondered whether the mystery boy was a relative who had not been seen for several years. She contacted authorities, who, in the days before forensic DNA testing, used a fingerprint to confirm the identification.

Little Boy Blue was Danny Stutzman, a 9-year-old from Dalton, Ohio. The sheriff and Nebraska State Patrol investigator Jack Wyant furiously searched for the boy’s father, Eli Stutzman. They found him in Azle, Texas, almost two years from the date of Danny’s discovery in Nebraska.

I mean, it’s a gay Amish murder story.  Gold, Jerry!

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Privilege-O-Meter

March 7, 2019

I’m having one of those days when I’m obsessing over the fact that everyone seems so careless and self-centered––and I have those days a lot, which says more about me than it does about people––so I keep trying to do the whole “this is water” thing.  You know, the David Foster Wallace speech?  Where he talks about how you shouldn’t assume people acting like dicks are dicks because they could be dealing with something way worse than you are?  Herewith, a (long) bit of the stuff I’m talking about:

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

So of course, today while I was trying to convince myself not to burn down the whole damn thing and doing my “this is water” TM mantra thing, all of a sudden it occurred to me: what if some of these people really are just dicks?  Or what if they’re not, they’re just normal people, but their lives are actually easier than mine and therefore they should be all “this is water”-ing me?  Am I still supposed to give everyone a pass for not holding the door of the bodega open for me while I try to wheel out my mammoth baby buggy with my toddler yelling inside MOMMY, MELON and my baby strapped to my chest starting to wake up and root around to suction on to me like a hungry barnacle?  Or is that millennial on her iPhone really just a lazy POS who didn’t see me struggling because she was texting about Kylie Kardashian’s lip balm?

I have an idea for the dystopic disruptors out there (I know there are a lot of you!): make some kind of program or app or something, that gives everyone a privilege rating, so that if you come into contact with someone who treats you poorly, you can just look up their number (or see it in your eyeballs or whatever Google is up to these days) and then you’ll know if you should forgive them or street fight them (or, let’s be real, just curse them in your mind).

In the words of Ken Jennings: BOOM, I just made a Black Mirror.

WHAT

February 28, 2019

How did I not know that Jordan Peele had confirmed that Get Out was a sequel to Being John Malkovich?!

Via Wikipedia:

Following the financial and critical success of the 2017 film Get Out, varying fan theories arose delving into the social horror themes of the film. In December of that year, the film’s writer/director/producer Jordan Peele had an interview with Vanity Fair in which he discussed the major fan theories surrounding the film, confirming which of the most popular were true and false. Peele stated that he and Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonzehad discussed the theory that Get Out was a secret stand-alone sequel to Being John Malkovich, and, although admitting that Get Out was never conceived as a sequel to Being John Malkovich or thought of as such until after the film was released, Peele stated that since hearing the theory both himself and Jonze viewed the connection as both films being set in the same continuity, saying that “as far as I’m concerned, it’s true”.[47]

The theory states that Catherine Keener‘s “Maxine” in Being John Malkovich is the same character as “Missy” in Get Out; Being John Malkovichconcludes with Maxine and Lotte raising a child fathered by John Malkovich, but unbeknownst to them, the spirit of Craig is trapped inside the child’s mind. With the portal to Malkovich’s mind officially closed, they sought out other avenues for mind-transplant experimentation, eventually coming across Roman Armitage (Richard Herd), a neurosurgeon. Lotte entered the body of Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), Roman’s son, and Emily, combined with the spirit of Craig, living in his own “Sunken Place”, grows up to become the malevolent sociopath that is Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), all completely complicit in the scheme.[48][49][50] Regarding his video about the theory in the January 2018 issue of Empire, Peele expressed interest in casting John Malkovich in a Get Out sequel, stating that it would be “cool” to “do the full trilogy”.[51]

Envy

February 15, 2019

I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day about this story––I liked the documentary, but I was so into this story I’d like anything about it, no matter how poorly done.  Anyway, they briefly interview a detective from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office who was in charge (I think) of the investigation into the deaths (I tried and failed to take a screenshot of him).  He says, AND I QUOTE, “I’d never even heard of the self-help movement.  I didn’t know there was a self-help movement.”  Never in my life have I envied and pitied someone so much in equal measure!  Ross Diskin might be the most accidentally enlightened man in the universe.

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(This post is categorized as “It Could Be Worse…” because of course it could be worse: you could be James Arthur Ray.)

Anonymous Advice

February 6, 2019
My husband and I are on a huge local parenting listserv––thousands of subscribers, thousands of pages and multiple groups and sub-groups, etc.––and we both get a daily dispatch from the Advice section.  Mostly it’s people asking for pediatrician referrals or the name of a good roofing guy, but occasionally someone writes in anonymously because what they need advice on is sensitive.

Early on in the days of this most recent maternity leave, I was super bored, so I read through all the old anonymous posts, and boy was it entertaining.  There were a lot of repeat issues (fertility problems, requests for therapist recs, nannies being assholes) but some really out there ones.  This is probably my favorite:

Hi – I have a situation with my nanny that I can’t wrap my head around.  She is claiming a spell was put on her a long time ago and it is causing her to not sleep, get sick & be all around miserable feeling.  However, she still comes to work and is doing a good job, always has & my daughters adore her.  She is in the midst of trying to get help through spiritual guidance.  To date I have not worried a second about my children.  My perspective is there is some mind over matter going on and maybe some mental issues?  However, this is a perspective that doesn’t believe in spirits & black magic.  Has anyone been through this? How understanding as a employer should I be?  I wouldn’t get fired for seeing a therapist, but after what happened on the UWS I am a bit nervous.  Any advice would be much appreciated.  My nanny is from Trinidad. Thank you! 

Honestly, though, the best part might have been how half the responses were like “These beliefs are part of indigenous Caribbean cultures!” and the other half were like, “I think it’s offensive to assume Caribbean people are unsophisticated and still believe in witchcraft!”

 

Being Woke Never Solved Shit

January 7, 2019

Remember when you were a child and you just read funny books about animals and you didn’t really think much of it?  But now it’s 2019 and you’re an adult and aware of things like colonialism, and then you read Babar and Curious George to your kid and you think, “Hm, the white man captures the animal from his happy jungle home and forces him to conform to societal norms he doesn’t understand, and fetishizes him or locks him up when he fails to follow the rules?  Is this just a veiled commentary on the history of white oppression in foreign territories?  Is Babar just a stand-in for Pocahontas, who was paraded throughout 17th century England as the ‘civilized savage’?  If George––human name, btw––were a person would he end up in a human zoo?  Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Liberalism is why we can’t have nice things!”

babar-civilized

ICYMI, it says “In the evening, after dinner, [Babar] tells the Old Lady’s friends all about his life in the great forest.”

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Curious George’s curiosity gets him fucking POACHED.

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Sure, it LOOKS innocent and fun, but the white man runs the zoo.

 

My New Favorite Website

December 23, 2018

Two reasons why I have a new favorite website.

1. In 2012, the high school football team in Gypsum, Colorado, rallied around a young fan suffering from leukemia, who lived nearby in the mountains.  A family friend of the boy, a woman in her twenties named Briana, was the intermediary: telling the football team about him, giving interviews to the press, moderating a Facebook page for him, etc.  When he died, the whole town mourned.  But then––surprise!––it turned out the whole thing was a scam.

This is just one example of “Munchausen by Internet,” but it’s one that’s always stuck with me, for reasons I can’t explain.  If someone gave me a few thousand bucks with the stipulation that I had to use it to satiate some longstanding useless desire, I would hire a private investigator to find Briana and Treva Throneberry and just show up at their homes and be like, “Yo ladies, WTF?”

2. When I’m bored, sometimes I will scroll through GoFundMe and try to do a little hypothetical empathy math.  Who deserves my imaginary extra thousand dollars?  The woman with colon cancer, or the man with the brain tumor?  The family who lost their home in a flood (aha, but did they have insurance), or the couple desperate to raise funds for IVF?  The website’s mere existence basically begs a million ethical questions, and I have considered writing about it at length before, but then someone else got there first, which would have pissed me off if the article wasn’t so damn good.

Anyway!  A few weeks back, a friend of mine and I were talking about illness on the Internet, and she gave me the greatest gift of all, which was a link to website called GoFraudMe: a snarky news site that tells you whenever someone commits fraud via crowdfunding!  It’s hilarious, galling, informative, and thought-provoking all at once!  Wanna hear about the nurse accused of killing his patients who took to GoFundMe to raise money for his legal fees?  Sure!  Did you know that Whitney Houston’s sister tried to raise funds to get people to investigate the “foul play” in Whitney and Bobbi Kristina’s deaths?  I did NOT know that!  What about the woman who not only faked cancer for money but said she was a veteran despite never having served? Sign. me. up!

Point being: this website is a trove of great stories (and as an aside, was a great distraction when I was recently in the hospital).  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been updated since September.  All I want for Christmas is MORE GOFUNDME FRAUD STORIES!

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This is why we can’t have nice things.

Psychic Autistics

November 1, 2018

“As [Hugo] Gernsback became wealthy, he cultivated the air of a bon vivant, packaging himself as adroitly as he packaged his crystal sets by dressing in bespoke suits and silk ties.  But he inevitably struck people as odd, rude, self-centered, and even callous.  On train trips to Chicago to pick up parts for his company, he would stop off in Cleveland to visit his seven-year-old cousin, Hildegarde.  The entrepreneur would terrify the girl by launching into winding soliloquies about a society in which domed cities in orbit, robot doctors, and retirement colonies on Mars were commonplace.  (Meanwhile, horse-drawn carts were still plying the streets outside.)  If a ringing telephone interrupted him in mid reverie, he would raise na admonishing finger and say to his cousin in his bristling Germanic accept, ‘Hildegarde, fix your hair.  It won’t be long before the caller can see your face over the wires.'”

~Steve Silberman, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity