Adjective

Autocowrecked: (adj.)

When the text or message you intended to send is ruined by the intrusiveness of your smartphone’s autocorrect function.

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I received a photo of my newborn niece this morning.

Okay, hold up. I’m lying a bit. Full disclosure: she’s not my niece.

I have no siblings. I’m an only child. Hence the catastrophe of my personality. But still!

She’s my cousin’s daughter. But my cousin and I were born six-weeks apart and raised in social proximity, plus we’re Italian-American so we’re basically brothers. I’m claiming him as a brother. I’ve abropriated him. Boom. New word. Abropriated. Be impressed. In lieu of flowers, send flours. I’m into baking these days.

Puns.

Anyway.

So he sends me a photo of the little peepin’ spud… and she’s a cutie. A feat, considering that she’s a newborn caucasian… and not to make it a race thing… but white babies newborns are… rough. Mottled. Lizardish.

But she’s cute! So I texted him as much:

what a cutie

But that dreaded autocorrect function took that text, and interpreted its subtext:

what a chore

Words cannot capture the restraint it took not to send that message to him. Because… comeon. Imagine how funny that would be. Those would literally be the first words I’ve ever spoken about this child… to anyone, let alone to her father. That poor bastard, all sleep-deprived and proud of his most recent contribution to overpopulation… he sends over a salvo of pictures of his 10-pound-boucin-baby and what does he get? What a chore. That’s friggin hilarious!

But I didn’t send it. I corrected the autocowreckt. Because I’m an adult. And because sincerity is the order of the day.

So ducking annoying.

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Noun

White Wail: (n.)

White people’s obsessive persecution complex in response to multiculturalism an economic justice

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I try to avoid extreme positions. It’s not that I don’t have extreme feelings; nearly all of my feelings are extreme. Ask anyone who’s watched me talk to or about my cat. I’d compose arias to the little goblin if I could. But in nearly everything else, I strive to stay somewhere in the middle… for perspective if no other reason. I’m a centrist in my politics. A relativist in my morals. And a moderate on nearly every subject except Shakespeare (I know), astronomy, and sandwiches.

And my cat. He’s the best. 

But there is one absolute I’ve developed over the years – something ironclad:

Rich white people need to stop complaining about their own victimization.

Immediately.

I say this as a straight, white man of the upper-middle class born in the 1980s. When it comes to the span of human history, I’ve won the goddamn lottery. Everything has been handed to me. I’ve wanted for nothing. I’ve experienced personal pain and tragedy, of course. I’m human. But in nearly every respect, life has offered to trim the crust from my sandwiches from the moment I slipped into being.

Fellow white people, dudes mostly… here’s the deal: We’re not victims. Not at the hands of racial and economic justice, anyway. We can’t be – it’s fundamentally impossible for us to be so – because the very mechanisms of victimization were built by people like us long ago, belong to us to day, and ultimately turn and churn for our benefit. We are the beneficiaries of a broken, unjust system built on denying equal access to justice, money, land, and basic human dignity. For further reference, I urge you to either consult the whole of human history, or just look around the world right now. Both the past and the present are the footnotes to this concept. I urge you to consider them.

I’m not going to say someone can’t be rich – I don’t know enough about economics to really understand the ramifications of such a concept. And I’m not saying that a white person can’t be proud of their cultural heritage. I’m an Italian-American, and I’m super happy about it. I get to wear black and be neurotic and just fundamentally make better meatballs than you do. It’s tons of fun. But here’s the thing, y’all. White people can’t claim victimhood. Ever. That’s the cost of owning pretty much everything… you don’t get to whine when your ownership is criticized. We could dismantle the mechanisms of white supremacy. We could offer reparations for what our ancestors took through force. But we don’t. And therefore we can’t claim the dignity of victimhood. It’s that simple.

So stop. Stop debasing yourselves with the term. And please bring a swift end to the theatrics of it all. We’re not benighted. We’re not beset. And we’re not at war. Not yet.

It isn’t “class warfare” until your head is in a basket.

Until then, it’s just people trying to get their share of the pie.

 

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Noun

Repravity: (n.)

A horrific event that happens over and over and over and over again.

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I watched a few episodes of Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary this weekend – four of em, right in a row. It was a lot.

Today, I’m struck by an irritating sorrowful pang. A reminder of something I kinda already know – an exhaustion informed by the undercurrent of cynicism that grows as one gets older.

How much of our history – long and short – is just the same dumb story told over and over again? I realize this isn’t a new question – it’s already been aphorized into meaninglessness – history repeats itself – and so forth.

I know. We all know.

But still.

It’s a hard lesson to be reminded of – how all of life, history, and even the world itself so often seems a long, arduous, gorgeously told tale of utterly stupid and entirely avoidable tragedies.

Modern society is basically crappy, mid-afternoon tv reruns of old miseries…

Police officers shooting, harming, or otherwise abusing African-Americans, and then refusing to hold themselves accountable.

A seemingly endless parade of mass shootings, and the tepid irrational debates that follow, but never lead anywhere.

Idealistic citizens bravely taking to some city square to protest the crimes and injustices within their government, only to be met by tear gas, riot shields, and truncheons.

The utter disaster that is the American Electoral system.

The climate change debate, unfettered by scope, science, or sense.

The reminder that every war since WWII has essentially been the same war fought for the same lack of justification and without any perceivable end.

Santayana said we would repeat history if we don’t learn from it. But learning about history teaches me is that history teaches us nothing. Rather – we are learning – just the wrong lessons, is all. We learn how to do the same cheap, wicked, awful things more quickly, with greater efficacy, from a greater distance. We learn how to recycle the same abuses, faster.

I don’t want to think this way. I just do, is all.

Is this really the best we can do? Is this it? This is who we’re going to be?

How are we in the same species as the Mr. Rogers and the Carl Sagans and the Jim Hensons out there? Where have they all gone?

I’m feelin’ it today, you guys.

 

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Adjective

Invoterbrate: (adj.)

One who only stands for that which will get them elected.

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This week, Donald Trump sided with Vladimir Putin against the American people.

Whether or not he or his administration were associated with the hacking in question isn’t really the point right now. It is evident that a crime was perpetrated against the citizens of this country by Russian agents… a crime that the Trump administration has failed to address in any meaningful way… until Monday… when he sided with Putin – himself a despot and a murderer – against our own intelligence agencies and the FBI.

As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump now complicit after the fact.

The responses among Republicans ranged from tepid to salty – most notably John McCain (about whom I have harbored many conflicting opinions for decades) who came out swinging. He deserves credit for his rhetoric – it’s a strong statement. But that’s all it is. A statement. And when Republicans finally took action, they blocked an attempt to subpoena the interpreter who sat with Trump and Putin.

All their bluster this week. All their talk of patriotism. All their portrayals of love and fidelity to the country, and its laws, and its people – it’s all nonsense. They had an opportunity to hold Trump and Putin accountable to the people… and they didn’t. They chose political expediency over justice. Again.

Just as Trump is an accessory after the fact, so too is the Republican party. Every time they choose politics over the law, they reveal the truth of what they’ve become: a crime syndicate. They stand for absolutely nothing beyond the furtherance of their own power. They will do anything – ANYTHING – to keep it. However grotesque. However illegal. However false.

Time to go.

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expression, Noun

Carpe Denim (n.)

Ancient Latin Expression – “Seize the jeans.”

When one finds a pair of pants that flatters the bum, buy as many pairs as possible.

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Socrates famously stated that the only thing he truly knew for sure was that he knew nothing at all.

Well… far be it for me to claim a greater wisdom than Socrates… but there is one thing I know beyond the borders of my ignorance – and this be it:

When you’re fortunate enough to find a pair of jeans that fit well and sculpt your ass with kindness and flattery… buy two of them. Buy as many as your balance will allow.

Seize the jeans.

For who knows what spills or stains or crotch blowouts will come…

Life is short. And often ill-fitting.

So Carpe. Carpe denim.

Seize the jeans, friends.

Make your ass extraordinary.

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Noun

Anathelete: (n.)

One who is forced to play a sport, regardless of their loathing for it.

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Recently, while chatting with some guys at a party, I drifted into the dire shoals of sports-talk. The conversation had started innocently enough, reminiscing about youth and school and all of its attendant horrors. It was light, snappy party patter. Good stuff. But then a guy (who looked like a Brad but wasn’t a Brad) steered the topic toward his glory days in intramural soccer. I should have confessed my lack of interest and authority on the spot, but I was wine-soaked and foolish, and so I feigned understanding. This was an error. The more he went on, the deeper I delved for convincing lies, volleying through his remembrances with clueless chirps: Oh, totally. Tell me about it, man. Pssh, soccer… right? 

When the inevitable finally occurred, and he handed the subject back to me, I choked. Utterly.

Here’s a little free advice for you: When asked your position on the soccer field, “center-left” is not an acceptable answer.

I had outed myself as an anathelete – a tragic, grade school softboy – fellas who don’t take the field, so much as are taken by it… cajoled by well-meaning parents and concerned guidance counselors who, in my case, viewed my stubborn disinterest in group sports not so much as a personality trait, but as a problem to be cured via immersion-therapy. Despite a volley of protests, I was signed up for baseball and soccer, both the indoor and outdoor varietals. Gloves and shinguards were purchased. Ballcaps were donned. Back yard practice drills were run by my enthusiastic father, and scored to my own chorus of protracted, Victorian sighs. To this day, those temperate harbingers of Springtime – blooming dogwoods, sunparched dirt, the woody smell of fresh-cut lawns – make me anxious and itchy and inescapably sad.

For I am an anathelete. An inside cat. A scrabble player. A man more likely to attend a ball than hustle for one.

At the time I resented my parents for this – my enforced conscription into the dreaded boys of summer. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve developed enough empathy to understand how frightening it must be to raise any child – let alone a sour, solitudinous lump like me. I was an odd kid. I had friends, but not many. I lacked the easygoing nature required to play well with others. I was an only child… which is to say: a cerebral weirdo, more interested in chatting with adults over coffee than playing games with kids. It’s only natural that in their desperation they’d draw comparisons between me and the closest child they could find – which, in my family was my cousin, M.

M. is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a sibling. We were born six weeks apart, and thus our parents formed a social unit, spending weekends and vacations together, raising the two of us in tandem. There are photo albums chronicling our shared infancy – each of us strapped screaming inside our baby-carriers, beside our drowsy and exhausted mothers; M. and I as toddlers, costumed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles regalia, our postures frozen mid-kata, our hands flattened into pasty karate chops; our fathers possess the requisite blackmail photos of us in the bath, arraying our army men in an execution line along the tub’s porcelain edge, plunking them one by one into the suds.

As time wore on, M. and I began to grow in different directions. I mean this literally. Come the pubescent years, M. brototroped into a more traditionally male form. (NB: By “traditionally male form” I do not mean to suggest that I condone this particular view of masculinity. I merely mean to describe the thinking of the time. Gender is a fluid concept. The patriarchy is a cancerous system of dehumanizing power which must be torn down. Black Lives Matter. All that stuff.) M. took an intense interest in sports, becoming a capable wrestler and soccer player. He had the full scope of the athletic carriage – a muscular frame, a quiet, single-minded focus and dedication to practice, and an inherent team spirit. M. had the inexhaustible desire to hustle, to score, to raise his fist in the air and hold it aloft like a torch to light the way of his own athletic excellence.

My own career as a soccer player was spent sulking. If I did run, it wasn’t so much toward the ball as it was away from a bee. At this phase of my little-league career, roles of play were still democratized; Children were rotated from position to position, outfield one game, pitcher the next. My coach – a beardy Episcopalian of inexhaustible patience – did his damndest to keep me in right field where I belonged… but the time eventually came when I was called to service amid the infield. This poor man had to dress me in my catcher’s armor… belting the plastic carapace around my myriad bruise-and-breakables… explaining to me that, should a runner attempt to take the plate, it would be my responsibility to protect it with my whole heft. I don’t recall my exact response… but it was certainly some version surely you jest, only adjusted to the 4th grade reading level.

When I finally emerged from the dugout and rattled homeward, I was met with the politely stifled hysterics of the crowd. I don’t – and didn’t – blame them. I’d have laughed too at this shambling lobsterboy. I searched the crowd through the mesh of my mask and, spotting my parents, excitedly pointed to the oversized plastic jock that had been strapped on above my pants. MomI shouted… Look at this! And then proceeded to waggle my white codpiece to and fro. My father retold this story for years… pantomiming the waggle every time I brought a girl home.

I just never cared. Not about the game. Not about the score. Not about winning. It never mattered. That has always been my the biggest issue with sports – other than, ya know… the heat, and the running, and the shouting, and the overwhelming self-seriousness. I just didn’t think it’s important. Were we playing for money, or national pride, that would be another thing altogether. But we never were. Win or lose, we all got pizza.

These days, team sports are a distant memory. I’m in my late-30s. I am no longer culturally viable. Nobody cares that I’m even alive, let alone how well I play with others. But as I shuffle ever-farther into the mire of early-middle-age, the more and more essential physical activity becomes. If not to foster a darwinian appetite for competition, then at least to stave off my physical degradation from doughy, gentleman meatstocking to bloated corpse.

I have to exercise now not so much to build character, but to forestall death. And that’s a competition I can get behind. I’ve successfully avoided athleticism for 37 years. I had a great run sit. But the time has come to hike up my sporting apparel, don some ridiculous hat, and work up a bit of a sweat. So, this week, I signed up for a kickboxing class. I put on shorts. I ran and jumped and burpeed. I punched and kicked. I sweat and cursed and flailed around. For an entire hour I pummeled a bag, and sprinted, and melted in front of a room full of lithe, be-pony-tailed women. I exercised. I hated every goddamn minute of it. But I did it.

But here’s the rub: an hour before my class, I met some chums at a bar. Turns out this gentleman can kickbox with three glasses of wine in his belly and NOT throw up on himself.

So I got that goin’ for me…

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Noun

Rubble Standard: (n.)

When you blow it up, it’s evil. When we blow it up, it’s collateral damage.

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Donald Trump (I’m sorry, I’m as tired of writing his name as you are of reading it), has launched a missile strike against Syria. This was done to punish the Assad regime (a legitimately heinous clot of horror, itself) for its use of chemical weapons against its people. For the murder of his people, the Trump Administration will send over bombs.

It will not, however, allow in refugees.

This, in essence, is the Tump Administration’s foreign policy.

He is a human cloaca.

I’ve spent my entire adult life (decades at this point) listening to corrupt, self-interested nations justify the wholesale bombing of… everything. And here’s the thing:

There isn’t a justification for any of it. Never has been. Never will be.

Because bombs don’t really distinguish factions or flags or to which unhappy fiction you pray. That’s the job of the guy who pulls the trigger. And when faced with that choice, our collective failure to make the right decision over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again makes us just as awful as the regimes we’re trying to destroy.

We’re not the good guys. We’re just another version of the bad guys.

Out with nations.

In with stars.

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