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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n

Covfeferup: (n.)

A hasty, stupid social media blunder that conceals a much bigger and more important reality.

///

A few things to remember about covfefe-gate:

1. This is not the first time Donald Trump has tweeted mindless gibberish. He’s been doing that on a regular basis for years now.

2. While the internet has exploded with radiant squee at the “covfefe” tweet – memeing it to infinite proportion and snarking with abandon… media reports continue to posit that Donald Trump may well withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. A decision that, if made, will fray our already damaged relationships with our allies, and possibly irreparably damage an attempt to address the real and impending disaster that is climate change.

3. There’s no secret meaning to “covfefe.” If you look at the keyboard on your phone, and tap out the letters… you can decode it quite easily. Donald Trump tried to write the word “coverage,” but misspelled it as “covrege” because he’s fucking stupid, and he mistyped it because rather than human hands, he’s sporting the prosimian forepaws of a loris.

4. True Fact: Covfefe is Parsletongue for “bigly.”

Look.

I know memes are fun.

And I know that we’re able to do two things at once…

And that we can laugh while we wring our hands and that it’s important to remember what is best in life… and what is best in life is pointing out that Donald Trump is a copper-hued, prolapsed rectum… and that by pointing, in fact, we demonstrate not only the normal physiology of a human hand, but also the most rudimentary dexterity of pointing which, if he possessed it, would have prevented the typo in the first place…

But journalists are asking about this now. Real journalists. They’re asking the administration to clarify this mindless bit of puerile faff.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Trump tweeted.

The dummies pointed at the flames.

The smart people grabbed some fucking buckets and put them out.

Grab a bucket, people.

And covfefe while we work.

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Adjective

Smörgåsbored: (adj.)

Existential angst brought on by an overabundance of options.

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My first job after college was at a book store. I worked at a Borders (RIP) as one of those drowsy book snots who stood behind the center kiosk and directed you to the authors you just mispronounced.

This was in a reasonably wealthy suburb of south jersey – developments, soccer fields, landscaping trucks always parked against the curb. There was money and safety and all the dreary trappings of ideal suburban life.

One day, while rooting around in my manager’s office (I would snoop when bored), I came across some sales figures.

The most popular section in the store? In that nice, air-conditioned store peopled with pretty moms whose shiny bracelets rattled as they browsed, and powerdads who’d pop by to flirt with the baristas before heading to their next meeting?

Self help.

By a country mile: self help.

So much wealth and opportunity… and nobody’s happy.

Blew my mind.

Makes sense, of course. Western Civilization has reached endgame. And now it’s run out of things to do. I mean, it could commit itself to the principles it espouses, and work toward a just and free society… it could actively try to end poverty, racism, misogyny and hate… commit itself to solving the immense climate crisis that’s going to bake us right off the goddamn planet. We could tinker and invent our way out of oblivion. But instead, I think we’re going to just eat and fuck and play until we die.

Prove me wrong, Humanity. Prove me wrong.

 

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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.

///

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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Noun

Drivebye: (n.)

A rapid and indiscriminate farewell made while exiting.

///

You’re tired.

Your feet hurt.

You’ve partied enough.

You don’t even remember why you came to this party.

And there’s an uncomfortably good chance you were responsible for the toilet overflowing.

Time for a hasty exit. Are you actually going to shake everyone’s hand? Hug everyone you said hi to?

No way. Huggin’s for chumps.

Bye!Solong!hugandkiss!talksoon!Loveyou!Takecare!Gottago!NahI’mtired!Goodtoseeyoutoo!SayhitoBarnoldforme!HahaIknowBarnoldissuchagreatname!NoI’dlovetostay!Yeahlunchsoundsgreat!

Door.

Car.

Home.

Netflix.

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Noun

Generalismo: (n.)

One who speaks with absolute authority, while being the authority on absolutely nothing.

///

As a member of the human race with eyeballs, ears, and a functioning neocortex, I’ve developed many reasons for loathing Donald Trump. With any luck, if you’re reading this, you’ve got a few of your own. Just in case you want to borrow some, here are a few of mine. Ya know… just for kicks:

He’s a greasy flimflam man who’s conned, corrupted, and bilked thousands of people out of their money. He’s a low rent panic merchant, sowing fear and hate with abandon. He’s a hysterical, thin-skinned reactionary. A misogynistic twerp. A crooked huckster. An exultant failure. A wrath-brimmed bully. A gaudy dilettante. He’s a bigot. A brute. A sleaze. An ass. A fool.

During his candidacy alone, he:

Cheerfully advocated for torture; the construction of a border wall with no sane explanation how to fund it; he suggested our military should murder families simply under suspicion of their being related to terrorists; blithely stated that abortion should be criminalized; he’s mocked the disabled; banned journalists; he somehow remains in thrall to the misapprehension that dousing an object in gold renders it a veneer of elegance. Drunk on a cocktail of wrath, vanity, and good ol’fashioned racism he prolonged a fight with the parents of a soldier who died in service for his country; he actually called Hillary Clinton the devil, and kicked a crying baby out of one of his rallies. 

Class act, this guy.

Donald Trump is a man who stands in cross-armed opposition to the most basic civic virtues of this country. And grins.

He is a pauper of the soul.

Nothing about this is shocking. We all know about it. Because he’s been this way for as long as he’s been famous. And he’s been famous, I’m sorry to say, for my entire time on this planet.

But still… there’s something about Donald Trump that I loathe beyond all else. It rivals his vulgarity, his combativeness, his classless narcissism.

It’s his vagueness.

His sniveling, abject vagueness… and the cowardice that’s behind it.

Donald Trump has turned vagueness into the most devastating weapon of our age. Forget about the hats – vagueness was the brand of his entire campaign. And now that he won, it continues to be the grease with which he lubricates his bullshit machine.

It’s how he’s soared to such infamy… on the oily wings of sloganeering, bullshit, and innuendo.

Vagueness. It’s the sludge that’s toxified our discourse, threatened our civic order, and advanced his own personal agenda. It’s the act of a spineless, soulless twerp without purpose or conviction… and if we had even a sip of the quick spirit of our founders we’d have driven him and his nest of zealots, cranks, creeps, nazis, and goalongs into the sea with the rest of the bottom-feeders.

When Donald Trump speaks, facts evaporate. They are rendered irrelevant. Utterly. We need only know that with Trump, we’ll get the “best” of whatever’s there to offer. The very best. Better than you could ever believe. Many people say it’s the best. Many very, very smart people.

We joke about this.

Even America’s would’ve-been VP, and youth group talent show moderator, Tim Kaine has joked about this. We need not know the details of Trump’s plans. It’ll all be great. The best. Believe me.

Think of pretty much any Trump statement. He justifies every bizarre, racist, myopic, or invented truth by claiming to have heard them from, “plenty of people” or, “something I read” or, “people [who] tell me.”

When asked who he’d nominate to the Supreme Court, Trump responded: “really great legal scholars.”

When asked about his plan to cut corporate taxes in the face of our country’s $19 trillion dollar deficit, Trump said: “That’s right. We’re gonna grow the economy so much…”

In an interview with Scott Pelley, Trump mentioned how we need to “get back” jobs from Mexico, China, and Japan. “Everybody’s taking our jobs,” Trump explained. When asked how he would get these jobs back, Trump responded, confidently: “You get em back.”

Want to know about his economic team? “I have the smartest people on Wall Street lined up already.”

How will he finance civic improvements and his general attempt to “make America great again”? “We’re going to absolutely be able to pay for it. My economy will expand so rapidly– we’re going to take jobs back from other countries. And we will be able to pay for it.”

When challenged by NJ Senator (future president and captain of my soul) Cory Booker, Trump insisted: “I know more about Cory Booker than he knows about himself.”

Do you hear the innuendo? Do you see the circular logic? The bullshit. Can you smell it?There is no detail here. Not a jot. Not a comma. There’s no thinking. There’s no plan. No consideration. No dedication. No belief. There’s nary the flicker of a fucking neuron.

His every sentence is the rank exhaust of a mind unburdened by thought, consideration, or expertise.

He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And what’s worse… he doesn’t care.

Donald Trump knows about, cares about, and understands nothing. Nothing. He’s an idiot. And were this a different time, a different country, and I suppose were human beings not the dullards they seem so dead set to be… this would be an issue. But he wears his idiocy with gaudy confidence. Absolute, unquestioned, ironclad, fulminating confidence.

And this is what makes him so powerful.

Consider how cowardly this is. The cruelest cowardice. The kind of cowardice that, during wartime, would get you fucking shot. Trump uses this rhetorical vagueness to elide. To slither. To slime his way away from any responsibility for what he says or does. He’s turned the entire country on its head. He’s fomented racial, cultural, and religious fury. He’s urged violence at his rallies. He’s raging, insisting we tear the whole system down around us… yet is bereft of any plausible reason as to why, or any suggestion for what’s to be built after the rubble is swept away.

This is the linguistic equivalent of giving a pistol to an eight-year-old.

This is rhetorical terrorism.

And as such, it renders Donald Trump an enemy of this country, its principles, and its people.

He is a traitor to anyone who thinks, or cares, or loves.

Donald Trump is your enemy.

Let us be rid of him.

And soon.

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