Archives For Unfair

So yeah, I haven’t been around for a while. This is why.

Over the past several months my dad braved a massive onslaught—the evil ravages of severe COPD, liver disease, bladder cancer, and a handful of other medical problems. He had an astonishingly strong constitution but he was so tired from fighting such a difficult battle. Dad died on Saturday morning, October 11th, 2 months and 13 days short of his 76th birthday.

I was with him during his final days. We talked, we even laughed a few times, and I told him everything I wanted him to know. I also said I’d be pissed if he didn’t stop by every so often to haunt us and fuck with our lights.

We weren’t with him when he died—I think he wanted to check out on his own, without us hovering. I know he’s happy to be free of all that illness bullshit. I know because when my mother called to say he had just died, I felt a cloud of energy wrap itself around my head and shoulders like a shawl—it was full of happiness, relief, love, and peace. It was Dad, without a doubt, letting me know he was fine now. I couldn’t stop smiling for several hours after that. That was his final gift to me.

Everything looks strange, as if viewed through a filter or from a warped angle. I can look at something blue and know that it’s blue, but the color doesn’t look right somehow. Objects appear closer or further away than they actually are. My normal surroundings look familiar but foreign. The reality sometimes slams me out of the blue: Dad is really gone. It helps me to know he’s okay but it doesn’t keep me from crying.

Anyway, enough about me. This is about my dad. And in honor of his 100% Irish ancestry, his twisted sense of humor, and his fondness for the occasional cocktail or two, I’m holding a virtual Irish wake for him, where we’ll eat, drink, celebrate his life, and tell some stories. He’d like that.

So help yourself to some refreshments, mingle with the other guests, pour your favorite tipple—gin, tea, soda, beer, whatever—and let me tell you a few Dad stories.

For starters, Dad had the best poker face of anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a shame he didn’t actually play poker because he could have cleaned up and retired early. Between the poker face and the gravitas in his voice, he could have you believing almost anything he said.

When we were at restaurants, he liked distracting me during dessert so that I’d look away. When I looked back, my dessert would be gone. As I got older I became wise to this ploy. Mostly. One night he sat across from me and stared behind me. With a perfectly straight face and a calm voice he said, “Isn’t that strange…a three-headed man just walked in the door.” Mind you, I wasn’t a little kid at the time; I was about 16 and knew there was no such thing as a three-headed man. I said to myself, I am not turning around, he’s just messing with me again, I am NOT turning around…  But his expression of curiosity and confusion would have convinced even a seasoned FBI profiler to check it out. What choice did I have? Of course I turned around. And of course there was nothing there. When I turned back, Dad had my chocolate pudding and a shit-eating grin on his face.

Then there was the time he had Army recruiters calling me. Those of you of a certain age will remember those business reply cards inserted in magazines, where you could send away to the Army, Navy, etc., for information on enlisting: Yes, please send me some materials on joining the United States Army. Dad filled one out with my name and contact information. I was 12 at the time. He figured they’d send me some brochures and it would be a good laugh and that would be that. Little did he know then that the gag would go even better than he expected; one night I received a call from a sergeant at our local Army recruiting office. I stammered through the call, trying to discourage the sergeant from having any further interest in me without disclosing that, you know, I was only 12 and my dad was just fucking with me. Dad was tickled pink that his prank yielded a bonus prank. He would talk about that sergeant for years. “That poor bastard…” he’d say.

Like most dads, mine had many words of wisdom. One of my favorites was the way he explained why he didn’t put any stock in UFO sightings:

“Think of the advanced technology required to travel light-years to earth. Now if you’re an alien that advanced, why would you fly all the way over here just to fuck around and play UFO??”

He was nothing if not practical.

Dad was a good-natured guy and very charming when he wanted to be. The nurses in the ICU said he was their favorite patient because he was pleasant and funny and never complained unless he was really in discomfort. That’s how he was. He didn’t make a fuss and he didn’t need anyone fussing over him.

Two days before he died, he said Mr. Weebles and I should have some fun while we were there (my parents retired to Florida, as all New Yorkers are required to do). He told us to go to Universal or Disney but urged us to avoid the new Harry Potter rides at Universal because he heard they were still ironing out some mechanical difficulties. Unbelievable. The Grim Reaper was pulling up to the curb and there was Dad making theme park recommendations. As if I’d leave him to go stand on line with a bunch of sniveling kids, obnoxious adults, and teenagers wearing TURN DOWN FOR WHAT t-shirts. As if I’d leave him to do anything.

For as long as I can remember, every phone call with my dad concluded with both of us saying, “Okay, talk to you later. Hug.” I don’t know how it started but it lasted right up to our last phone conversation—with him being 75 years old and me 46, we still said, “Okay, talk to you later. Hug.”

Here’s to you, Dad. Here’s to everything you were, and are. I love you, and I miss you. Talk to you later. Hug.

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I don’t want the comment thread to turn into a pile of maudlin. I’d rather continue the celebratory vibe, so I invite you to share a funny anecdote about one of your dearly departed loved ones.

Also, what’s that fragrance you’re wearing today? I find it especially provocative.

I’m infuriated by how things are at the moment.  Politicians who support legislation that suppresses women’s rights.  Corporate officers who maintain their own profits—and those of their shareholders—by cutting jobs left and right and manipulating the financial system at our expense.  Religious zealots who would drag us all into a new Dark Age if they had their way.  The destruction of the environment across the globe.  Violence against women, children, and animals.  I could go on and on and on.

Social and political problems are nothing new.  But I’m so fed up with how the Powers That Be are failing to address them despite the wishes of the general public.  Look at how the Senate rejected the bill that would require background checks prior to gun purchases.  Public support for gun control is at a record high, yet these fuckwads still voted against this measure.  Women make up 50% of the workforce, yet the Equal Rights Amendment remains unratified, the glass ceiling is still firmly in place, and misogynist douchebags are as vocal as ever.  Despite the number of Americans who expressed their disgust during the recent fiscal cliff talks, Republicans and Democrats couldn’t work together to find solutions to our economic difficulties because they were too busy having a dick-measuring contest.

Carl von Clausewitz, the famous military strategist, said, “War is a continuation of policy by other means.”  I believe its inverse is also true: policy is a continuation of war by other means.

I realize that I’m overdramatizing and oversimplifying much of this.  But you get the idea, hopefully.

We can protest, sign petitions, write letters, boycott, and try to vote shady politicians out of office.  But there’s not much hope of success; corporations enjoy “personhood,” politicians are beholden to lobbyists more than to constituents, and companies don’t care about consumers until their bottom lines are adversely affected.

Typically, petitions are effective only when small, specific goals are involved.  A petition to keep one animal from being euthanized, for instance, can be successful; a petition to abolish wholesale animal killing won’t be.  Although I like how in the UK they have e-petitions, where petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures are considered for debate in the House of Commons.  There’s no guarantee that a petition with 100,000 names will be chosen, but it’s an interesting way for British citizens to get their voices heard. [Note: Since writing this, I’ve learned that the US has a similar thing in place—I suppose I didn’t know this because our politicians seem hellbent on remaining deaf to us  Color me shocked.]

Protests can help to shine the spotlight on problems, but in themselves they don’t change anything.  Occupy Wall Street was—and still is—a vital voice for the 99% of us who are getting shafted by the 1%.  But nothing in corporate America has really improved.  Corporate leaders and shareholders are still making money hand over fist while houses are still in foreclosure and the job market continues to languish.  And to date, not one brokerage CEO has been sent to jail for his part in destroying the financial market.

Writing letters to your representative or senator?  One constituent voicing displeasure with a certain policy isn’t going to make much of a difference, unfortunately.  Same with boycotting certain retailers or other companies.  What’s one less consumer to a franchise or a multi-national corporation?  Nothing, really.

Voting idiots out of office can be effective, but government is like a hydra—a multi-headed clusterfuck.  You cut one idiot out, there will surely be two more to take his or her place.

Negative publicity (or what I like to call “public shaming”) can sometimes serve as an impetus for change.  Just a few weeks ago, Disney was slammed for its “I Need a Hero” t-shirts for girls.  News of these shirts spread like wildfire, sparking multiple online petitions and news stories.  Shortly afterwards, Disney removed those shirts from their website.  It’s hard to know whether they would have lost a lot of revenue if they hadn’t—I suspect they wouldn’t have—but it was refreshing to see that corporations can respond to public sentiment and do the right thing.  There are other examples of the power of the consumer backlash, like the New Coke debacle and the Tropicana branding fiasco.  But they largely involved products, not policies.

It often takes years, even generations, for sea changes in attitudes and practices to occur.  At times it takes acts of civil disobedience (e.g., Rosa Parks, the Woolworth’s sit-ins) or rioting (e.g., the Stonewall Riots) to get the ball rolling.  But those daring, drastic acts aren’t ones that most of us have the cojones for.

Power and money are the two things most likely to influence people and organizations to change.  As long as their current practices are lucrative and/or keep them in power, they won’t have any reason to change the status quo.

In one of my favorite acts of civil disobedience, loss of both power and money led to a policy change.  In 1989, Margaret Thatcher instituted the Poll Tax, which set off a series of riots in London, and more importantly, it inspired a massive non-payment campaign.  An estimated 20-30% of the British public refused to pay the tax, and it was abolished by Thatcher’s successor, John Major.  Such protests can succeed because of the sheer number of people involved; what were they going to do, throw all of those people in jail?

So what can we do?  We can write blog posts and use Twitter and Facebook to broadcast information about the injustices we see around us.  And I’m not talking about the impassioned-but-utterly-futile “Share this status if you think child abuse is wrong!” posts on Facebook.  Social media can be immensely helpful in spreading negative publicity, raising awareness, and promoting thought-provoking dialog.  But individually, we can do only so much.  (But if a blog post alone could generate change, then this post would have worked wonders.)

I don’t want to be powerless anymore.  I’m tired of sitting here sputtering with impotent rage.  I want to ACT.  The old saying goes, “Think global, act local.”  Today, with people, countries, and economies being so inter-dependent, we can think globally and act locally AND globally.  I want to make a genuine, tangible difference.  I bet a lot of you do as well.  Now we just have to figure out how to go about it.

Fuck you, bullies

Madame Weebles —  October 17, 2012 — 218 Comments

NOTE: I had hoped to make this a regular Friday thing because I like the alliterative quality of Fuck You Friday, but I haven’t been able to stick to a regular schedule so far.  Therefore, I declare today to be Fuck You Fwednesday.
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Hey, assholes.  Yeah, you.  The scumbag who likes to belittle people.  The stuck-up bitch who trashes other chicks right to their faces.  The mean kid who makes fun of his classmates.  I’m talking to you.

You people are everywhere.  You’re a fucking plague.  I’ve read too many heartbreaking stories about children and teenagers being bullied for one reason or another.  Do you find it rewarding to pick on those who are smaller, weaker, or different?  Is it that much fun to gang up on someone and spread nasty rumors about them?  Does it truly satisfy you to taunt a person until they cry?  Or worse, until they have a nervous breakdown or commit suicide?  Do you think it makes you powerful?  It doesn’t.  It makes you vile subhuman filth.

The same goes for your adult counterparts. Internet trolls who get their rocks off by posting rude and insensitive remarks.  Facebookers, bloggers, and tweeters who target and mock others for entertainment.  Mean-spirited fucks who enjoy embarrassing their colleagues publicly.  Toxic bosses who are verbally abusive to their staff.  The foul vermin who bully their spouses or partners. What the fuck is your problem?  Obviously you haven’t grasped that you can’t become superior by cutting someone else down.  Here’s a news flash for you: not only does it not make you superior, it also makes you lesser people, you fucking cowards.

I was bullied when I was young.  I was shy and I was afraid of a lot of things.  I was also not an attractive child.  To make matters worse, I was the tallest one in my class, and the only one who had glasses and braces at the age of 9.  I may as well have had a bullseye painted on my forehead.  Terrible things were said to me.  My classmates teased me unmercifully.  Grownups made cruel, judgmental comments.  I was physically confronted by bullies a few times too, and it sucked.  Being a target because I was funny looking was bad enough; I can’t imagine how traumatic it is for kids who are victimized because of their color, religion, socio-economic level, or sexual orientation, or because of a handicap or other physical differentiation.

I’m not that shy, scared kid anymore.  As an adult, I feel very strongly about about confronting and stopping bullies.  You’re like cancers—you spread everywhere and you need to be cut off in your tracks.  I’m not a mother, and you should be glad about that because I would be your worst nightmare if you ever picked on my kid.  As it is, I am insanely protective of my friends and family.  If you take a potshot at someone I care about, I WILL COME AFTER YOU.  If you so much as say ONE WORD out of line about any of my loved ones, you will hear from me. I’m not kidding.

I don’t care if you had an unhappy childhood.  I don’t give a shit if you feel powerless and frustrated.  Under other circumstances, I might have compassion for you.  But if you choose to take out your misery and anger on someone with even less power, you forfeit any right to sympathy as far as I’m concerned.  Justifying your actions by blaming your home life or your upbringing makes as much sense as serial killers who target victims who look like their mother, or wife, or the first woman who ever dumped them.  The problem is YOU, motherfuckers.  Look at yourselves for a change, you spineless losers.  Look at what your actions have wrought.  Nothing good, right?  Think about that for a while.

Fuck you, you hate-filled jackals.  Fuck you and your twisted need to hurt others.  I don’t even have to wish ill on you—all I have to do is hope that you get what you deserve, because karma will be a vicious bitch.

You’ve no doubt heard of Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the bowels.  My heart goes out to people with Crohn’s because it can be very debilitating and difficult to live with.

However, there’s another condition with a very similar name, and this is the one I want to talk about today.  It’s not easy to discuss, but I need to face my fears and tell my story.

My friends, I suffer from Crone’s disease.  I don’t have full-blown Crone’s yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Medical literature on the subject is scant; patients generally present with very vague signs and symptoms.  Because there are no tests for Crone’s, proper diagnosis can be made only when the disease is already advanced.

I vividly remember when I noticed the first symptom.  I was at a bar and the music was really loud.  Probably no louder than the music at other bars I had been to, but on this night the volume really bothered me.  I was seized by the overwhelming urge to tell the bartender to “turn down that fucking noise.”  This was accompanied by a strong desire to reflect loudly and at length on how much better the music was when I was in high school and college and how “bands today all sound the same.”

I had never experienced anything like that before.  It scared me.

Several years later, another alarming symptom reared its ugly head.  I was out with some friends.  We had a great time carousing but after so much debauchery I needed to call it a night.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11pm.  That can’t be right, I thought.  It’s got to be around 4am.  My watch must have stopped.  How could this be, that after only a few hours I was tired and wanted to go home?

I didn’t know it then, but I was in the early stages of Crone’s.

Other symptoms emerged recently. Not long ago I used the phrase, “Kids today have NO IDEA.”  I sometimes mutter under my breath at loud groups of young’uns in their 20s and 30s.  And when people discuss celebrities, I frequently have no clue who they’re talking about.  Blake Lively?  Who’s he?

I babble about how U2 was really great “back in the day.”  I bemoan the fact that people born in the 80s and 90s are co-opting The Breakfast Club and calling it a movie for their generation.  Yeah, well, I’ve got news for you, you little punks:  you can’t possibly know what it was really like back then.  I was there, bitches.  So why don’t you just run along and play with your Xbox or something?

Doctors don’t talk about prognosis when it comes to people with Crone’s.  But I’m not stupid.  I know what’s in store for me.

“Get off my lawn, you rotten kids!”

I’ll start saying “I’m too old for this shit” more often.  My joints will make odd cracking noises, like an old house settling.  It will take me ten minutes to get up after sitting on the floor.  Certain foods will no longer agree with me but I’ll insist on eating them anyway and complaining when my stomach hurts and I can’t sleep.  My glasses will crap out and I’ll be forced to read stuff by holding it either really far away or right in front of my eyes.

I won’t even get into the visible manifestations of Crone’s disease because they’re too numerous and horrifying.  But I will say this: grey hair is associated with an increased risk of Crone’s.  As you know, I already have a touch of hag.  My future is grim.  Eventually I’ll have to accept my fate.

For those of you who think you might have Crone’s, please know you’re not alone.  You shouldn’t suffer in silence.  Instead, you should bitch and moan to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.  It’s the only way.

List of Characters:
Madame Weebles, your performer and insomniac
Mr. Weebles, who can fall asleep just thinking about sleep
Cupcake, a beautiful, un-declawed, 18-pound kitty

Setting:
The bedroom, in the middle of the night.  It’s dark.  Mr. Weebles is asleep.  My alarm clock is taunting me with those giant glowing red numbers, pointing at me and snickering.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I can’t believe this is happening again.  I’m so tired.  Why can’t I just go to sleep?  It’s 2:00am.  If I get to sleep by 3:00, that’s still four hours of sleep.  I guess that’s not too bad.

I could read but I’m too tired for that.  And I’m too tired and lazy to get up and go to the computer.  But my brain is spinning.  I don’t get it.  How can my brain be spinning when I’m this tired??  Maybe I’ll try that deep breathing thing I read about.  Innnnnnhaaaaaaaaaale.  Exxxxxxxxhaaaaaaaa—forget it, this is boring.

What’s on television?  Hey, Law & Order: Criminal Intent is on!

Ooop, someone just jumped on the bed.  It’s Cupcake.  Hi Cupcake!  Such a good girl.  Come here, let me pet you.  Ow, don’t stand on me, you’re concentrating all 18 pounds on one paw.  It really hurts.  Just lie down, pumpkin.  Come on, lie down.  No—please, don’t walk on me.  Ow, the claws.  Oh no.  Please, not there, Cupc—oww, NOTTHERENOTTHERENOTTHERENOWOWOWAWWWWW, look at you, you’re so cute!  See, isn’t this nice, lying down?  Yes, this is much nicer.

4:00am.  If I fall asleep in the next half hour, that’s two and a half hours of sleep.  Sigh.  At least it’s something.

Uh oh. There’s that poor limping dog—it’s that ASPCA or Humane Society commercial again. I need to change the channel.  What did I do with the remote?  Dammit, now I have to grope around for it with my eyes closed, I can’t watch these animals, it’s too sad.  Where’s the remote??  WHERE IS IT?!?!  I have to switch channels immediately!!  Lalalalalalalalalalalala I’m not listening lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala oh here it is.  **click**

4:30am.  Yay, I’m finally getting really drowsy.  I should be asleep pretty soon.  What a relief.

BRRRRRROOARRGGGGGGGGGGHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!

Fucking motorcyclist.  I hope he wraps his bike around a lamppost and it bursts into flames.  Asshole.

5:15am.  My heart is still racing from that motorcycle scaring the shit out of me.  I want to find that motherfucker, tie him to a stake, baste him with honey, and set fire ants on him.

Look at Mr. Weebles, sleeping so soundly.  That smug bastard.  How does he do that?  He looks so peaceful and cozy.  I really hate him.

6:00am.  If I fall asleep RIGHT NOW, that’s an hour of sleep.  That’s barely even a nap.  Fuck my life.  Is it possible to smother oneself with a pillow?

I want to make a voodoo doll of that biker and puree it in the blender.

6:45am.  Sonofabitch.  I can’t believe I haven’t slept all fucking night.  This is BULLSHIT.  I may as well just get up now since my alarm is going to go off in fifteezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

A Touch of Hag

Madame Weebles —  July 8, 2012 — 95 Comments

I’ve written a few uplifting/poignant/maudlin posts over the past few weeks.  Now I have to let out the snark because it’s been backing up on me and seeping out of my pores in a most unsavory manner.

Today’s rant is about this product:

You’ve no doubt seen commercials or ads for this stuff. Men can use this dye to get rid of most of the grey (I prefer this spelling, I don’t care how it’s spelled on the package) in their hair, to give them that distinguished look. Because if you get rid of all the grey, you might not be taken seriously.  And if you have too much grey, you probably won’t get a lot of hot young tail.  Touch of Gray gives you that happy medium—the look that says, “I’ve been around the block a few times but I’m not too old for another few laps, if you know what I’m saying.”

You’ve also no doubt noticed that there’s no Touch of Gray for women.  That will never fly.  They’d have to call it a Touch of Hag.  Maybe they could market it to women who are tired of getting hit on all the time or who want to be taken more seriously at their jobs.

Because grey isn’t usually considered hot on chicks.  You don’t hear a lot of women say they don’t mind the greys around their temples.  Sure, there are women who have no qualms about letting their greys show—some even flaunt them.  But they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

Yours truly has been going grey since she was 18.  If I don’t touch up my roots regularly, I get that white/grey halo effect that really isn’t attractive on anyone who hasn’t been beatified by the Catholic church.  If I went all grey, I’d probably look something like this:

On the other hand, men who are all grey fare much better.  Look at these smokin’ hot Silver Foxes:

 

One might argue that I’ve bought into society’s beliefs about what’s attractive/not attractive on women.  It’s true, I probably have.  I’ll probably keep coloring my hair until I’m too lazy or just don’t care anymore.

Maybe that’s when Touch of Hag would come in handy: when you want to look like you’ve been flying on the broomstick for a while but aren’t too old for a few more rides.  If you know what I’m saying.