Noun

MAGAlomaniac: (n.)

One who would destroy everything to demonstrate their own superiority.

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55 years ago, we very nearly entered into nuclear war with Russia. And we avoided such calamity because the smart people in both our government and theirs outmaneuvered the crazy, stupid, and wretched ones.

And because we were lucky.

Mostly because we were lucky.

This last week, Donald Trump brought us closer to the brink of nuclear exchange than we’ve been in decades. And for no discernible reason beyond the sleazy garbage heap of his own derangement, stupidity, and ego.

It boggles my mind that anyone would need further reason to lift him from his highchair behind the resolute desk and banish him from office. The last half-year of brainless blunder and hateful pig vulgarity should have been enough. To say nothing of Russia, his administration’s collusion, and the fact that he’s lied more times than he’s had a hot bath.

But now his removal from office is becoming an existential necessity.

 

 

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Noun

Eturnity: (n.)

The endless turns one takes while searching for a parking spot in the city.

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I spent nearly an hour trying to park my car the other night.

We’d returned from dinner with my Dad. I dropped L. off at home, chimed a sweet “love you!” and set myself to parking.

Left at the light. Nothing on this block.

Left at the next. All booked up.

Left at the light.

Maybe a right.

It went like this.

Left. Left. Right. Left. With every turn I felt more of myself slide away… my sanity fraying like a windblown flag. Left. Left. Left. On and on until the last scraps had eroded finally away.

Hope. Was there ever such a thing? Certainly not.

For the world is barren. A dead place. Bereft. A corridor of parked and empty cars. No life. Nothing stirring. Young couples loved, once. They walked their dogs and jaunted happily through the streets in well-tailored, seasonally-appropriate jackets. But that time had passed. Now dawns the age of rubber and glass.

I was born to die in that car… lost forever… left behind. Left. Left.

Left.

And then…

Abruptly, without any reason or purpose… I found a spot.

And everything was alright again.

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Noun

Oddler: (n.)

A creepy, ghoulish, or otherwise disturbing looking child.

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Look, I don’t hate kids.

Far from it, actually. I’m happy to report that I’ve become a man who rather likes them. They’re wonderful, and strange; they’re hungry little ids who run around all hopped up on fudge, asking uncomfortable questions and occasionally pooping themselves. How can you honestly not appreciate that?

These behaviors are the proud marks of a free creature, flaring gloriously through the black misery of the Cosmos. Kids are great. They should be celebrated. Hooray for kids.

That said…

There’s a time in every child’s life… somewhere around three, I think, when they take a turn.

They get spooky looking.

Eerie.

Their parts start growing at varied paces, making them physically syncopated and rangy. Suddenly afire with curiosity and wonder, mind overrides mien… so, when unoccupied by iPads or juice-boxes or coloring books, they often appear vacant and expressionless… leering about and gawping… their mouths faintly reddened by juice, their smiles a mushy handful of baby teeth.

I like kids. I do! But zoiks can they look damn scary sometimes.

NB: I feel it’s very important to point out that me at 8 was a SPECTACULAR example of this word.
Woof.

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Noun

Vaguean: (n.)

A person who hasn’t yet decided what they’re morally opposed to eating.

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Two young women sit debating the dwindling ethics of sustenance.

Chicken’s out. They’re kept in those awful cages.

Beef! Ooh, but methane is a greenhouse gas. Worse than cars, I’ve heard.

Pork? But pigs are super smart; they’re basically people without any clothes on.

Soy. Wait, doesn’t that cause breast cancer or something?

Fish? … Eh. Fish.

Any act of consumption short of actually sitting outside and photosynthesizing lunch ends in an ethical cul de sac.

I over hear them while I wait for my own order. They trace their refusals back to girlhood, when they’d eaten the food their parents had insensitively plopped before them (perhaps lovingly prepared after a long day of working in a miserable job).

“Ugh,” the one says to her partner, “so gross.”

When the waiter approaches.

“Ladies? Any thoughts?”

Oh… many, Waiter. So many thoughts.

They look up from their menus and shrug.

“We’re gonna need another minute.”

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Noun

Freebawling: (n.)

Crying fully, cathartically, wildly, and without restraint.

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The Leftovers aired its finale last night, and I lost 20 pounds of water weight directly through my face.

The Leftovers is, among so many things, a lachrymal diuretic. An ipecac for the heart. It’s an enema applied directly to the feelings.

And I loved every last goddamn drop of it.

Last night, while L. dozed beside me, I sat and watched, rapt in weepy silence – a pillow clamped in my arms, my nose a drippy faucet.

Oh, I adored The Leftovers.

I loved it so, so much.

I loved it with the same immensity I have for certain novels, or poems, or those pieces of minor key classical arrangement that detonate me into saline hysterics… like a fragile aunt at a graduation party.

I can’t think of a single piece of popular culture that’s even attempted to do what The Leftovers did, let alone accomplished it with this level of elegance and deftness and style. The Leftovers lovingly examined our most primordial anxieties – the ones we used to fashion out of stained glass, or etch into marble, or paint on cathedral ceilings. It’s a modern tale about Renaissance preoccupations – love, death, sex, and god (or his abject and crushing absence, as it were).

It’s the oldest story, told in the newest way. And I’ve spent 36 years failing to express what The Leftovers gorgeously conveyed in – all told – just under 28 hours. I cannot thank the makers of that show enough for their contribution to our culture, and to my own personal experience as a human being.

Also – it introduced me to Carrie Coon, upon whom I shall moon and pine and flutter and die until the day of my own departure. Oh, Carrie Coon. Let me sing of Carrie Coon. One of the most exciting, challenging, intense, heartbreaking actors I’ve ever seen.

And sweet. jesus. what. a. dish.

❤ Carrie Coon ❤

Okay, I’m done gushing.

Let’s get to the point, shall we?

This should surprise no one… but, I’m a crier.

I love it. I love a good cry. I’ll put on sad music, or watch a sad movie (or entire television series) just to whip myself into a lachrymal froth. I find the whole thing massively satisfying and even kinda fun.

Not about life, of course. If ever confronted with hardship or sorrow, I tend to veer all Western Philosophy and negotiate, argue, and berate myself back into relative comfort. I’m a grouchy, Liberal Arts educated rationalist all the way down to my fingernails. It’s probably my greatest emotional failing – I think I can think my way through a feeling.

But that’s about real life. Now… fake life – movies, books, music, theater (my god, theater) – that splits me open like a rotten melon. I can’t keep it together when it comes to the cultural sads. All I ever want to do is watch a tragedy and weep about it in the aisles.

So! To honor said weepiness… and The Leftovers which provided me so many nights of beautiful, sink-grappling, red-faced, hide from your girlfriend, “I just need to pee, I’ll be right back!” bathroom sobbing – here’s a list of some of those things that make me cry.

Openly.

Wildly.

With great drama and gesticulation:

Videos of dogs greeting their returning soldier parents.

Cochlear implant activation videos.

The scene where Connery dies in The Untouchables

The entire movie Summer Hours.

Same with the Clouds of Sils Maria

Every scene from The Leftovers… 

The movie/play Wit – specifically designed to make me die

The scene where John Proctor refuses to sign his name.

The song rainbow connection – I once cried while reading the lyrics aloud, and in fact, started crying almost immediately upon finding this video.

The scene where Emma Thompson loses it and puts herself back together in Love,Actually – yeah, I like that movie. Deal with it, you hipster toad.

Any scene from Certified Copy (it’s so French…)

Any scene from The Thin Red Line

This one from The Tree of Life

This one from The New World

This one from Paris, Texas

This is but a smattering. I have such an immense collection of little sobby clips.

Watch a few. Cry at work.

I do it all the time.

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Noun

Adiposture: (n.)

The arrangement of one’s parts so as to hide the greatest amount of chub.

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I shaved the other day. This was a mistake. I say this literally.

I’ve been wearing a facefull of fuzz for a long time now. Not a beard, per se… in today’s age of wool-faced, Rabbinical sheik the best I can muster is a wispy arrangement somewhere between a sunparched lawn and a shabby bichon frise.  It’s been a half-hearted stylistic decision if ever there were one – more a lack of will than an act of it. But still… it’s been my look.

But then, a few nights ago, I decided to clean my face up a bit. What had begun as some light touchup work quickly unraveled into complete whisker teardown. I had knicked a bit too much from one side… so I had to edge a bit from the other… and on and on like this it went: left, right, left, right, buzz, buzz; trimming more and more from each hemistache until only a wee Hitlerian puff remained… bunkered, quivering and desperate, under my nose.

Naturally, it had to go.

My face is a freer place without it, for sure. Everyone’s very pleased. So pleased, in fact, it makes me wonder just how bad I looked when I had fur on my face. But it also revealed something terrifying: Good god have I have gained weight. Not an unmanagable amount. I’m not a butterball. But all of that weight lives almost entirely in an adipose halo around my face. Age has sent me shambling into an entirely new phase of decrepitude – jowliness. There’s more chin now, more throat, than my face requires. I have an overabundance of countenance. And it means only one thing – a dull thudding truth that hammers against my heart.

I have to fucking exercise.

I’ll do it. I swear. There’s a sweet muscle-boy who works at my agency who’s been just dying to help usher me into the world of athletics. He’s 23 years old – a fetus with shoes on – who “lives at the gym” and can help me “get swole.” Once I realized that adjective didn’t refer to my genitalia, I decided to find it charming. He’s offered to draw up an exercise regimen for me. “We’re gonna shred your abs, man. It’s gonna be great.”

Alright. Yes. I relent. Let the shredding commence.

I will buy sneakers. And shorts. I will wear them while I lift heavy things. I will shred my abs like so much boiled chicken. I will work my chest and trunk until it resembles a pan of muffins. I will feel the burn and shred the gnar… or whatever.

But until that time when I have lifted myself from the blobiform gutter in which I currently writhe and into the highest glittering strata of hardbodied swolness… I’ve got to do something about my goddamn face.

When I turn it, it vanishes into my neck, you see.

So for the next few weeks, I will posture myself accordingly. I will suck in my gut and photograph myself ONLY from an approved, Myspace bathroom angle circa 2003.

I will act thin. And work fat.

And I will appear, if not swole, than at least to have swelled less.

So shall it be written. And so shall I run.

 

 

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Noun

Neurotica: (n.)

Sordid tales of sexual anxiety, misfortune, and embarrassment.

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Okay. I’ve got an idea for you. Hold on to your butts. This one’s a doozy of a humdinger.

Open-mic… stick with me… Therapy Night.

Once a month – maybe twice – I’ll post up at some dingy bar or event space, and encourage society’s broken and bereft, demented and depressed to share their insides with strangers.

Five minutes. Open mic. Have a drink and tell me about your dad.

I’m convinced it would slay.

But then, I’m big on catharsis. Doubly-so if it’s public.

Triple if it’s pubic.

In full candor – it’s not my idea. It was a throwaway gag in a teeerrriibllee (see: wooonnndeeerrfulll) romantic comedy from the late 90s/early ’00s about a neurotic dweeb who falls in love with his best friend. It’s called “Let it Snow” and I’ve seen it probably five thousand times because my mother raised me to be a doily.

It was the maudlin opus of the implausibly named Kipp Marcus – who I’m 98% sure composed his own Wikipedia page. Bernadette Peters plays his mother and is, in accordance with every conceivable law of existence, absolutely perfect.

A then-unknown Stephen Colbert plays a minor but brilliant role. Seriously. Find this movie. Watch the whole thing. Twice. You’ll be better for it.

Extra knowledge, no charge: I adore shitty romantic comedies. Especially the vein of schmaltzy, meet-cute pap that flourished from the mid-90s to the early 00s. I consider it the height of the depth of American binnable pop culture. If you’re looking for a map to the labyrinth of my heart… look no further than what played on HBO at four in the afternoon, circa 2002.

Anyway. Back to Open Mic Therapy Night.

Here’s the thing – it scratches a bunch of my itches.

For one, I think it makes for great theater. Bad news makes always makes for the best stories. Any success I’ve had at storytelling (and I’ve had a bit) has owed to two simple and conjoined precepts:

  1. When you’re being ugly, you’re being honest. And honesty is what makes people lean forward, listen, and care.
  2. There is nothing more boring than someone else’s good news.

So as a form of public theater and entertainment… I think it’s a peach.

But I also think there’s something potentially healing about it.

There’s something cleansing about getting on stage and being as ugly and honest and raw as you can to a room of boozy silhouettes. Everyone gathered to swim in each other’s uglies… not celebrating our accomplishments – to dance, or sing, or tell jokes, or strip and wiggle… but our failures. The things we’re ashamed and afraid of.

Failed in love? Let’s hear it.

Got some warped sexual urges? Spill em.

Hate your kid? That’s okay, too.

Feel sometimes that the whole world is a crushing black nothing, and that we’re all just kicking around, waiting for something tragic and awful to happen if merely to confirm that you’re not crazy for feeling that way in the first place? The mic is yours.

I just love it. Everyone there, together… listening. Nodding and mm-hmm-ing. Judging. Celebrating. Commiserating. And ultimately, applauding.

It’s the ultimate catharsis.

It’s Jungian karaoke.

Guh. Sign me up.

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