Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.

Archive for the ‘Personae’ Category

September 17th, 2013 by Mere Smith

SURPRISE!

Welcome to the new Evil Gal Productions!

 

Yea, O my people, I have seen the promised URL, and it is good, and beautiful, and a shitload easier to read than the last site.

The new digs are, of course, all due and thanks to the efforts of my webmaster-slash-bitch (W/B), Eric Sipple (@saalon) – who built the place — although I’d like to point out that I chose, like, two fonts and said, “Move that thingie to the right – no, I mean the left” a bunch.  So I was totally involved. From a theoretical standpoint.

Feel free to take the new tour, check out a couple of my favorite posts, hit the oldies but goodies by winding your way through blogs organized by AN ACTUAL COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT ERIC WROTE OUT OF HIS HEAD WHAT THE FUCK, and maybe explore some Evil Stuff, where you can cruise through the GallerSquee, browse the Creepy Evil Wall of Shame, then, hey, do me a favor and look in on Regulatory Panda; he feeds on oversight, y’know.

So this is great, right?  A brand spankin’ new website I’ve barely fucking profaned yet! But wait – it gets even better!

Because it’s #WOTSWEEK!

Besides launching the new blog today, I have TWO awesome things to accomplish in this post, the first being:

 

WOULD YOU JUST

LOOK AT THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE

 

cowfacecoverblog

 

Cover reveals of my two new books!

(which come out on Amazon Sept. 24!)

 

bloodroomcoverblog

 

These covers for Cowface And Other Hilarious Stories About Death and The Blood Room were created by the amazingly talented Karen J. Wellenkamp (@quotergal) of RagtagDesign.com, specially for the Word On The Street Festival – as was our indie-pub mascot, Demoncow!

 

DemonCow

LOVE DEMONCOW! LOVE! HER!

 

Now, this would have been crazydriving enough for any mere mortal, but then Karen went above and beyond – above and beyond any hint of sanity, anyway – and also designed all the neat-ass swag we’ll be handing out from our booth in Toronto (that’s booth 181, folks!): bookmarks, postcards, and magnets. (The magnets are only available with purchase, though – ‘cause those shits are solid cool, and if they’re free, we’ll be out in an hour.) Honestly, if I’d known the stuff was gonna look this good, I would’ve said to the hell with all the book mishegas and just gone up to sell the swag.

But… but where IS the swag, Mere?  Where are all the pretty swag pictures?

And oh, you adorable little Bambis.

This place ain’t called EVIL Gal Productions for nothin’.

 

You don’t get to see the swag yet!

Queen-Elizabeth-II-Giving-The-Finger-420x215

 

Until tomorrow, that is, when Eric will post a salacious blog on his site starring our most gorgeous indie-pub marketing beauties in all their au naturel glory.  (Every model guaranteed to be at least 18 days of age.)

Meantime, only one more announcement to make:

WHO WANTS TO WIN A

MOTHERFUCKIN’

GRAND PRIZE?

You do?

Goddamn right you do!  Who doesn’t want to win a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize? Commies, that’s who! So don’t be a commie! Or at least, if you’re going to be a commie, be a commie who wants to win a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize! Because in honor of #WOTSWEEK and the new site, we’re gonna have ourselves a drawing, and here’s the haul, y’all:

  • One signed paperback copy of Broken Magic
  • One signed paperback copy of Cowface And Other Hilarious Stories About Death
  • One signed paperback copy of The Blood Room
  • Free e-books for all of the above – transferrable, if you like to share!
  • One signed paperback copy of You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth
  • One Demoncow magnet
  • One Magic magnet
  • One Cowface/Blood Room postcard
  • One Broken Magic postcard
  • One Evil Gal bookmark
  • One Broken Magic bookmark

Seriously, look at all that stuff!  That’s a lotta fuckin’ stuff you can regift! And you can be eligible to win the entire Word On The Street Deluxe Set if you do just one thing:

Succumb to the dark forces, put your email address in this box, and join my subscribers’ list!

 

(Rest assured, there’ll be no spam here, muchachos — and your email address will be kept Super Seekrit. You’ll be notified about new blog entries, gain access to subscribers-only discounts, and perhaps — once in a blue moon — get some new scripts or fiction shoved up your inbox. But that’s it! No more! Stop being so grabby!)

YOU GOTTA ACT FAST, THOUGH! The Word On The Street Drawing is only open from the time this blog is posted until 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, the day of the Festival — when a random winner will be chosen from my subscribers’ list, and then announced via live-tweet from the booth! Maybe I’ll even take a humiliating picture of Eric to tweet with it. (Ha! “Maybe”.)

So slap your addy in the box and take a shot at winning a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize — and know you’ll never miss a thing from me or EGP!

 

Tomorrow:

Eric’s Emporium De Swag

 

July 16th, 2013 by Mere Smith

#innershelf

This blog entry started in highly unusual fashion.

Highly unusual in that, when I woke up on Sunday morning and heard the news about the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, I was so fucking thermonuclear pissed, I immediately wanted to spew righteous (and self-righteous) venom all over the internet.  I mean, fuck those Florida rednecks, man! I grew up down there! I know what kind of shitball bigots that state excretes like smelly pus!

RARWWWRARWWHRRHHRR(incoherence).

And these days, that urge to vent on the net is not so unusual. In fact, it’s pretty much SOP for anything that pisses us off now: you take to your blogs, your Twitters, your huddled Tumblrs, yearning to scream free.

But here’s the problem: the hell good does it all do?

Other than:

A)   make you feel better for a while

B)   probably piss off some assholes, which, admittedly, will also make you feel better for a while

C)   add to the cacophonous maelstrom of fury and distrust that blasts everyone into their separate corners, hurt and wary and more sure than ever that humans in general are hateful, stupid creatures at whom evolution will eventually look and go, “Oops! Let’s start over!”

So, fleeting relief – but a smidge counterproductive in the long run, you might agree.

Then I remembered this quote from Neil Gaiman’s book, Make Good Art (derived from his 2012 keynote address at The University of the Arts):

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. 

Make good art.”

It made me wonder: how in the world could I turn this swirling, black hole of rage-suck into good art?

In the beginning I didn’t think it was possible. It felt like my brain was made of liquid vicious, my bones made of knives, my fists of rock. I wanted to hurt and shriek and maim and kill – but violence is what got all this fucking mishegas started and so now I was right back to Square Zero. Try again.

So I tried again.

And at first it was difficult to let go of all that anger, to put it down, to turn to something – to “art,” whatever the hell that was gonna be – to turn to something that wouldn’t satisfy that innate craving I nurtured for revenge. I had to rise above myself – or sidestep myself – or basically just avoid my murderous, blood-thirsty troll-self – and focus on something that would bring people together rather than drive them apart in the maelstrom.

But what would I do?

What could I do?

I was just some useless TV writer sitting in her useless office surrounded by useless books on their useless shelves…

…except even in my hate-spiraling I never really believed the books were useless.

Throughout my life, books have saved me more often than I can remember. They gave me something to do while the bullies laughed and subway creepers creeped; gave me characters who showed me I wasn’t alone in my weirdness (even as a kid I realized I couldn’t be all that weird if an author had written about the exact thoughts I was having); books showed me ideas, new ways of thinking about the world… including a book that told me to take life’s ugliness and alchemically transform it, through art, into its own kind of beauty – even if I was the only person who found the art beautiful.  (Which again, with 7 billion people in the world, is statistically next to impossible. Reassuring.)

So I stared at my shelves and thought: all those books, all those ideas, they’ve all gone into making me who I am today. In fact, I’ll bet everyone’s bookshelves give you a glimpse into who they are, into what they’ve learned, into how they see the world. Instead of allowing ourselves to be driven apart by anger and fear, I wish we could all come into each other’s houses and just look at each other’s bookshelves—

–and there it was.

Turns out if you stop being so fucking angry for a minute, you might actually be able to make good art.

So I took to Twitter and asked my readers to tweet pictures of one of their bookshelves – any bookshelf would do, but we’d call it their #innershelf — and, if they felt like it, to tell me a little something about their books and what they meant to and/or about them. (Some readers, who shall remain nameless but is totally @QuoterGal, wanted to show me EVERYTHING on their INFINITE shelves – which I took enormous pleasure in browsing privately – but for the sake of blog-length, I had to narrow it down to one photo each.)

So instead of falling prey once again to our sense of ferocious outrage – a ferocity I believe the media (mainstream and otherwise) encourages in us like the owner of a pit-bull at a dog-fight – let’s do something simple together: let’s just look at each other’s books.

Let’s say to each other, “Oh I’ve read that!”

Or, “I always wondered how that was – what did you think?”

Or even (if we must), “That book there? I was not too fond of that — why were you?” and then listen to the other person’s reasoning.

In other words, instead of closing ourselves off from each other, let us open each other up like books… and read.

 

@cabri

@cabri

.

A few titles: Soon I Will Be Invincible (fuck yeah you will!) by Austin Grossman; The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer; Radio On by Sarah Vowell

Other cool stuff: matches, Tic Tacs (?), a coin, a stick, a rock

.

cosmicbob55

@cosmicbob55

.

A few titles: Just about everything J.R.R. Tolkien has ever written, apparently, in several editions.

Other cool stuff: I like how he stacks his books horizontally on top of his other books. Because there’s always room for more books!

.

countmystars

@countmystars

.

A few titles: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater; Story by Robert McKee; A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz

Other cool stuff: It’s a Kindle bookshelf, y’all!  A CYBER #INNERSHELF! (Insert Singularity joke here.)

.

dondrennon

@dondrennon

.

A few titles: Building Better Grammar by Gina Hogan; Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer; Electronic Principles by Albert P. Malvino

Other cool stuff: Love the juxtaposition between Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and An Hour Before Daylight, the memoirs of former President Jimmy “I’ve committed adultery in my heart” Carter.

.

Yep, that Finance

Yep, that Finance

.

A few titles: Do You Remember? The Book That Takes You Back by Michael Gitter and Sylvie Anapol; Artistotle by G.R.G. Mure; The Pocket Book of Quotations by Henry Davidoff 

Other cool stuff: Yes, the Finance likes to read things until they literally (in both senses of the word) fall apart. It’s part of why I love him.

.

@girl_onthego

@girl_onthego

.

A few titles: Um, it’s a shelf of a kind. So I see some memos, and little clippy things, and possibly a greeting card.

Other cool stuff: PLASTIC DINOSAURS ON PARADE. OBVIOUSLY.

.

@haunt1013

@haunt1013

.

A few titles: Led Zeppelin and Philosophy: All Will Be Revealed, Ed. by Scott Calef; The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin; Navigating the Golden Compass: Religion, Science, And Daemonology In His Dark Materials by Glen Yeffeth

Other cool stuff: Note that Batman and Philosophy (Ed. by Mark D. White and Robert Arp) sits on the shelf right above Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno

.

@imaginepeace

@imaginepeace

.

A few titles: All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots Of Middle East Terror by Steven Kinzer; A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran by Trita Parsi; The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future, Ed. by Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel

Other cool stuff: I have to confess, I imagine this is what my #innershelf would look like if I were about 100 IQ points smarter.

.

@irrationalitv

@IrrationaliTV

.

A few titles: Angel: The Casefiles by Jeff Mariotte, Nancy Holder, and Maryelizabeth Hart (kinda partial to this one for some reason; can’t figure out why)(!);  The Return of Merlin by Deepak Chopra; Native American Religions by (I’m guessing here) Sam Gill

Other cool stuff: Bonus doorknob and cat tail!

.

@kukkurovaca

@kukkurovaca

.

A few titles: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead; Sewer, Gas, and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy by Matt Ruff; The Jennifer Morgue (A Laundry Files Novel) by Charles Stross

Other cool stuff: This is definitely the only group of books that came with a face attached.

.

@Lionnesss

@Lionnesss

.

A few titles: Marlowe Admired by Marilyn Garabet… and that’s about the only one I could make out.  Wanna fill in some titles in the Comments, @samatwitch?

Other cool stuff: There is nothing more satisfying than a well-stuffed bookshelf. Which sounds really dirty.

.

@MerryLandOfAus

@MerryLandOfAus

.

A few titles: Backwards by Rob Grant; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith; Back to the Batcave by Adam West

Other cool stuff: This is a very neat bookshelf. I, too, own neat bookshelves. For about a week a piece.

.

@mightybattlecat

@mightybattlecat

.

Actually only one title that I could make out: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (looks like maybe Sixteenth Edition? In which case it was edited by Adrian Room, John Buchanan-Brown and Terry Pratchett).  More titles always welcome in our Comments section, @mightybattlecat!

Other cool stuff: A little white bowl of… what’s in there? I can decipher the world “VooDoo” on a book on the same shelf… should I be worried?

.

@MisterGreggles

@MisterGreggles

.

A few titles: You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black; Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet by Sherry Turkle; V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Other cool stuff: Over on the far right, I couldn’t pass up mentioning Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, which is a great read… if you like having all your illusions crushed. And hoo boy, do they really not like Chevy Chase.

.

Monique

Monique

.

A few titles: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory; The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (I couldn’t see the translator); My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young

Other cool stuff: Can I get a “VAGINA HOLLA!” for an almost exclusively female-penned #innershelf?

.

@MoxieSix

@MoxieSix

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A few titles: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman; Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander; Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

Other cool stuff: Autographed William Gibson to top it all off!

.

@NYPintA

@NYPintA

.

A few titles: Spunk and Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik; The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; The Starflight Handbook: A Pioneer’s Guide to Interstellar Travel by Eugene F. Mallove and Gregory L. Matloff

Other cool stuff: The best thing about bookshelves is when you have so many books, the shelves start to sag in the middle.  Well done, @NYPintA!

.

@philogden

@jphilogden

.

A few titles: The Great Movies by Roger Ebert; No Place For Truth: Or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology by David Wells; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Other cool stuff: I’m seriously starting to get a bookshelf Napoleon Complex, y’all.

.

@jphilogden added: “On one level the idea of letting the image say a thousand words is enchanting to me.  Yet, like Matthew Weiner, I can’t help but give some context to what you’re seeing.  It is my heart’s desire to change the conversation between Christians and Non-Christians/Atheists through the art form of television.  For as long as I can remember the conversation (from both sides) seems to always devolve into, “I believe this therefore you are wrong and I don’t respect you”.  What I feel is always missing is how similar and, on some level, bonded we are because we’re human.  So I’m always looking for books that help me understand things from both sides and learn how to listen with confidence.  
 
Thanks for the opportunity to share.
(Side note: It’s complete coincidence the ESV bible and The Wire books are together but both have influenced me in powerful ways)”

.

@QuoterGal

@QuoterGal

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A few titles: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Other cool stuff: I’m pretty sure the Angel action figure is taking an axe to Bart Simpson and a nun. Which is definitely the coolest sentence I’ll write today.

.

@QuoterGal added: “Even as a kid, if I saw a movie based on a book, I wanted the book immediately. I first bought ‘The Bad Seed’ when I was eleven. This shelf represents a lifetime of movie vs. book obsession.”

.
@saalon

@saalon

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A few titles: Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay; Foundation by Isaac Asimov; A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Other cool stuff: I’m seeing lots of Catch-22 and 1984 on y’all’s shelves… and I’m like, “Yeah, dystopian absurdism — or absurdist dystopianism — sounds about right for my readers. Or maybe they just like books with numbers in the titles.”

.

@Saismaat

@Saismaat

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A few titles: The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes; DSM-IV-TR – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition); Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese Internment by Erick K. Yamamoto, Margaret Chon, Carol L. Izumi and Frank H. Wu

Other cool stuff: Remind me never, NEVER to break the law when I’m with @Saismaat. Or, wait — maybe I should wait until @Saismaat is with me BEFORE I break the law. I can’t decide.

.

@samatwitch

@samatwitch

.

A few titles: Illuminata (can’t tell which version) by Marianne Williamson; Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss; Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi (I think — it may be Backlash by Lydia LaPlante)

Other cool stuff: Shiny green things on top! And stuff on all the shelves! Also, Creepy Baby, aka Phronsie (so I’ve been told), is chilling out in the lower right corner, just waiting to strangle someone in their sleep while laughing.

.

sawilcox28

.

A few titles: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling; Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gould; to say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Wills

Other cool stuff: When I read it several years ago, Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy made me laugh out loud about 26,000 times. Okay, maybe a little less than 26,000 — but more than 14, for sure.

.

@track7grrl

@track7grrl

.

A few titles: Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell; This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison, Dan Gediman and Studs Terkel; Lost Encyclopedia by Tara Bennett (@TaraBennett, and a kickass friend of mine) and Paul Terry

Other cool stuff: What looks like a simple ball of twine in the corner… or IS IT?

.

@track7grrl added: “I might have cheated on the assignment. My bookstack is from my ‘belief’ room. I designed that stack specifically so visitors could see who I was from the books/topics I believed in most. So in some ways, it’s an aspirational, communicative stack more than a random shelf.”

.

@xoac

@xoac

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A few titles: Broken Magic by Eric Sipple (@saalon; sort of a kickass friend of mine, except for the “kickass” and “friend” part); World War Z by Max Brooks; Lunatic Heroes: Memories, Lies and Reflections by C. Anthony Martignetti

Other cool stuff: THIS PICTURE IS FROM A FUCKING FANTASTIC INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE IN PITTSBURGH CALLED ELJAY’S BOOKS.  VISIT THEM!

 

April 4th, 2013 by Mere Smith

The Gospel Of Matthew Smoot And XKCD

A totally true story.

.

hoodie_3_1024x1024

This is by far one of the best hoodies I’ve ever owned. Comfy, soft, and geek-infused! And I confess, I judge people by whether or not they know what xkcd is.

from:  Mere Smith
to:  orders@xkcd.com
date:  Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 12:40 PM
subject:  navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
hey xkcd!
i ordered your navy blue hoodie a few months ago, and since then have cherished it like a small child…
…until this morning, when i was doing laundry while wearing it — and spilled an open bottle of bleach on it.
believe me, i would’ve been less upset if i’d spilled the bleach on a small child.
i promptly went online to order another, only to find that it’s no longer in stock.
i am crushed.
PLEASE bring back your navy blue hoodie, so i can order one, and possibly two just in case i pull another boneheaded maneuver like this one.
i love this hoodie.
more than small children.
PLEASE.
-Mere Smith
*************************************************************
.
from:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
to:  Mere Smith
date:  Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
signed-by:  xkcd.com
Hi there Mere,
Sorry for the minor crisis, we plan to have them back in stock very, very soon!  If you let me know your shipping address and what size you need I’ll have a placeholder order set up for you :).
As far as small children go, they make a lot more noise when bleach is spilled on them and generally have a higher repair/replacement cost than a hoodie.  I’m glad I don’t have any around.
Best,
Matthew Smoot
xkcd order wrangler
*************************************************************
.
from:  Mere Smith
to:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
date:  Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 2:32 PM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
hi Matthew Smoot, Order Wrangler! (and if that shows up on a TV show any time soon, i’ll deny everything.)
oh good.  i can stop funneling anti-anxiety meds down my gullet.  i would’ve been worried… except for all the anti-anxiety meds.
yes, *please* set me up a placeholder order: TWO extra-large hoodies for me this time.  i’ll be damned if i’m caught without a pristine xkcd hoodie again.  *damned*, i tell you!
my shipping address is:
[redacted]
(though if you need the billing address to match my credit card, i have a bookkeeper [thank ye gods, or i’d be sending you sacks of poorly-counted-out tuppence], whose address is:
[redacted]
) <– i knew i needed to close the parenthesis, but it looks so lonely all by itself…
as for small children, while yes, replacement costs are higher, i think the noise level is pretty standard, with or without bleach.  i’m quite pleased i own none myself.
thanks again!
-mere-
*************************************************************
.
from:  Mere Smith
to:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
date:  Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
my dearest Matthew Smoot, Order Wrangler —
THAT. WAS. STUPENDOUS.
when i returned from out of town on Sunday night, i found a little box in our mail and thought, “huh. i haven’t ordered anything recentlyohmygodBOMB!”
but after the SWAT team left — a tad irritably, i must say — i was stunned to see two glorious xkcd hoodies tucked into that box and i positively *swooned*!  well, i mean, if i’d been a 19th century literary heroine squeezed into a whalebone corset, i would’ve swooned.  as it was, i yelled, “HOLY SHIT I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I’M SO FRANGIN’ EXCITED!”
slightly less ladylike, but much more evocative of my inner feelings.
i can not thank you enough — and believe me, i’ve tried.  this is my fourth draft of this email, the initial three having been tossed due to (respectively) grateful but pathetic digital weeping, appalling obsequy, and a rather “The Shining”-esque repetition of the phrase, “All work and no play makes Matthew Smoot MY GOD.”  so in this, the fourth iteration, i hope my appreciation comes through and leaves the outright crazy behind.  except that’s pretty much impossible for me so i’m just going to cut my losses here.
you, Matthew, are amazing, and so is xkcd.  never — *never* — did i expect to see those hoodies so soon.  i was absolutely floored, as well as touched.  please let me know if you’re comfortable with me spreading the Gospel of Matthew Smoot And XKCD with everyone i’ve ever met — though i’d understand if you’d rather keep it on the quiet side, too, lest you’re inundated with a bunch of grabby hands.  it’s completely up to you, and i’ll abide by your wishes, of course.
now please let me know how to throw my money at you.  i can send you my credit card number, or i can go through PayPal, whichever is better for you and xkcd.
and Matthew?
thank you.  thank you SO MUCH.
-mere-
*************************************************************
.
from:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
to:  Mere Smith
date:  Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 11:37 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
signed-by:  xkcd.com
That was by far the best e-mail I’ve gotten ever, of all time!  I want to share it with all the people I know and wish I was up to writing the response it deserves.  Seriously, I was giggling like a pyro in a firework factory for minutes :).  I think there is a gospel of Matthew already, but grabby hands might be nice and the gospel of xkcd would be freakin amazing so feel free to spread the crazy word.
As far as throwing money, it’s hard to catch it from here so it might be better to use PayPal rather than try to build a trebuchet that can hit the east coast.  Our address is orders@xkcd.com.
So nice to read e-mails like this, thanks so much for your response!
January 28th, 2013 by Mere Smith

Lady Gaga And The Angry Dancing Smurf

Last week I told you how I finally figured out that being uncool was actually cool: an epiphany that allowed me to attend the Lady Gaga concert as myself (uncool = cool) instead of as Lady Gaga (cool = well, still fucking cool).

gagaticket

As it turned out, going as myself instead of Gaga was a great idea, since:

1) I can’t sing

2) Or dance

3) Or play piano

4) Or the keytar

5) Or fit into any of Gaga’s outfits without a crowbar and a vat of Astroglide

But perhaps the best reason for going as myself was:

6) Everyone ELSE was dressed up as Lady Gaga

And I mean everyone, except maybe the boyfriends reluctantly accompanying their dressed-up girlfriends.  The boyfriends of the boyfriends, on the other hand, were sporting every Gaga iteration from the bikini bottoms in the “Telephone” video…

gagatelephonebikini

(Don’t ask me where they tuck their Tootsie Rolls in this thing. Man’s gotta preserve a little mystery, right?)

…to the latex nun costume in the “Alejandro” video…

gaga-alejandro-jaiden-rva-james-500x375

…to an Asian kid – 15, tops – wearing the cigarette glasses…

lady-gaga-cigarette-shades-telephone-video

…two Latinas in leather jackets and beer-can hair curlers…

alg-lady-gaga-telephone-jpg

…at least a dozen Mary Gagadalenes of every flavor…

images-1

Yeah, see that dramatic face-paint? That’s like Amish Quaker Sharia make-up compared to my pre-epiphany eyeliner.

…and more wigs and weaves than you’d find in Beyonce’s closet.

No, I am telling you: it is possible.

But I suppose if I had to comment on the one extraordinary wardrobe item I saw in teeming abundance, it would have to be:

THE SHOES

(“It’s gotta be the shoes.” — Mars Blackmon)

(If you have to click the link to understand that reference,

GET OFF MY BLOG!)

As mentioned in my last entry, I was originally going to wear my combat boots to the concert.  They’re battered, worn, and – hands down (feet down?) – the coolest shoes I own that do not make me want to commit ritual seppuku inside the first five minutes.  Because I do own a few pairs of dress-up-real-nice heels, but frankly, instead of using them to dress-up-real-nice, I’d rather stab puppies to death with them.  And I’m only a little bit kidding.

All the other fans were wearing FOOT-INQUISITION DEATH MACHINES.

It was a bit like watching wee old Chinese women hobble around me on their tiny fucked-up lotus feet, only these old Chinese women were all tall fabulous black men and suburban white teens (who’d obviously shoplifted a pair of hooker shoes from the Galleria, not realizing this meant they would never run again without prosthetics).

Believe me, I understand.  Lady Gaga wears shoes like these:

ladylobster

Not to speak ill of the dead, but… FUCK YOU, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN.

And if you want to emulate your idols, you usually wear some version of what they wear (see ridiculous last post).  But you have to remember that Lady Gaga is at the very least 1/Ω alien, and I’m pretty sure her leg-appendages just liquefy into protoplasm and mold into the shape of whatever shoe she happens to strap on that day.

Human folk, however, have these things called “bones” and “tendons” that don’t really like to be “broken” or “snapped” – even in the name of fashion.  (I know. Assholes, right?)  But that didn’t stop these Little Monsters.  They wore heels I’d use to bludgeon a cougar with, if I ever happened to need to bludgeon a cougar.  And if I didn’t feel short before – they call 5’4″ “average,” though I question whether “average” people need to climb on top of their kitchen counters like chimpanzees in order to reach the highest shelves of their cabinets (wow, cougars AND chimpanzees in the same paragraph; maybe I should ditch my “Big Book O’ Jungle Animal Metaphors”) – which meant I was staring at A LOT of ass during the show.

A. LOT.

OF. ASS.

And not just guy ass (which I’m kinda used to by now) – but shapely girl ass – in fact, it was nearly fucking Amazonian ass, since all these women were now 6’2”.  Don’t believe me?  Take your smallest friend – the shortest, itty-bittiest, fit-in-your-pocketest one you have – and shove her into these:

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Now stand behind her.

Hence, here was my viewpoint for much of the night:

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This, my friends, is an ass.  No joke. It’s a real photo.  This is what it looked like in my camera when I shot directly in front of me.  Oh, sure, which ass I was staring at varied from time to time with the movement of the crowd — boy ass, girl ass, nongendernominational ass — but the sight was pretty much always the same.  It was only when I stood on my very tippy toes and reached my iPhone as high as my miniature T-Rex arms could stretch that I got shots like this:

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And before y’all get all “HA HA HA SHE GOT HER FINGER IN THE SHOT!”, that is not my finger.  That is an arm.  Someone else’s arm.  Arms and asses, asses and arms, all night long.  Arms and asses and the Jumbotron.  That’s how I saw Lady Gaga, except for one brief moment when she walked aaaaalllllll the way to the very front of the stage and stayed there for five minutes while I ducked and crouched and tried to find some nook or cranny or crotch to shoot through, used the zoom on my camera, and finally came away with THIS, my prized photo of the evening:

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Clearly this hairy thing on the left is ALSO not my finger, but an arm. My fingers aren’t *nearly* this hairy.  And the guy in front of me seriously needs to back off the gel.

My only saving grace, souvenir-wise, was that The Finance is much taller than me, and so could take kick-ass photos like this:

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(FYI: if you’d like to see these photos non-squooshed, just click on one,

wait for the next page, then click on ’em again.) IMG_2831

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See?  We really weren’t that far back — it was only that I AM SO FUCKING SHORT.  And if you’ve ever gotten to a concert just to find that your seats are disappointing because you’re behind a pole or a pillar, or further off to the side than you thought you’d be — imagine how irritating it is to find out you can’t see the performer simply because you’re a goddamn fucking Smurf.

In the spirit of Lady Gaga’s themes of compassion and tolerance, I didn’t start toppling over the Outrageous Shoe People like giant, unstable dominoes — but ooh, did I want to.

And if you haven’t noticed, karma has a nasty way of biting you in the vagina.

* * *

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This is how the Staples Center looked when we showed up.  (If you peer closely, you can see two “Crime Scene” tape headbows in the foreground, one guy in suspenders with no shirt on at the lower left, and one girl in a yellow leotard/tutu combo just above him and to his right — next to the guy carrying cotton candy.  I’m pretty sure the cotton candy guy was just selling cotton candy, though.)  In other words, we got there early, despite my last minute epiphany/entire-wardrobe-renovation.

There was a damn fine DJ (Madeon) playing when we got in, and I danced in public for the first time since… what century is this?  (I’m just saying, if he could make me forget my agoraphobia for five seconds, the guy is that good.  You should check him out.)  Having already stood on line for an hour, and knowing we had at least four more hours of standing in front of us (gotta love General Admission: a dicktruck of money and no seats to sit in), I smugly looked down at my Nikes before glancing at all the Outrageous Shoe People, thinking “Holy shit did I make the right choice.  Even my combat boots wouldn’t have been comfortable for four more hours.  You, Outrageous Shoe People, are FUCKED.”

Well, guess what else isn’t comfortable after standing in them for five hours?

Nikes.

Also?

Feet.

After two and a half hours, I’d lost all feeling below the knees, and the only way I could get my blood recirculating was to jump straight up and down for five solid minutes.  Luckily, this isn’t too difficult to accomplish during a pop concert — except whenever I was about to collapse in agony, and so began my PogoStick CPR®, that’s when Gaga thought it’d be a great time to play a slow, acoustic ballad on the piano.  I must’ve informed The Finance of my impending foot-related demise about a thousand times.  I’m almost positive we’ll never go to another concert again.  (I mean, he probably will, but I doubt he’ll be asking if I’m free.)

By the time Gaga had finished her (third) last encore (and never in my life did I ever think I’d be chanting in my head, “Please leave the stage, Gaga, please oh please oh please just leave the stage and don’t come back”), it seemed my feet had eroded to the point where I was just balancing on the ragged stumps of my tibias.

Fuck the combat boots — if my beloved Nikes couldn’t support me for five straight hours, I felt sure the Outrageous Shoe People would be getting free amputations on the way out, and now I was just pissed that no one was going to chop my feet off.  As people started the usual shove-and-sidle toward the exits, I told The Finance, “If I can’t make it back to the parking lot on my own, you’re going to have to drag me.”

He assured me my hair was long enough for that.

After we’d climbed back in the car and I’d spent the first five minutes moaning, “My feet are dying, no, you don’t understand, they’re actually dying, they’re going to turn black and fall off from footgrene hey, why do they call it gan’green’ when your parts actually turn black, huh? — oooh, my feet!” The Finance turned to me.

“So, did you have a good time?” he asked.

I didn’t hesitate.  Just grinned.

“The BEST.”

January 23rd, 2013 by Mere Smith

Lady Gaga and the Zero Spare Fucks

Dear Lady Gaga,

I get it.

Finally, I get it.

And I don’t mean like all those other times when I “got” it intellectually, or emotionally, or intuitively.  Boil those adverbs down and they’re just fragments of true comprehension – kinda the same as my “understanding” of quantum physics.  Which is to say, I grasp the concept, but not the underlying math that makes it possible.

But this time?

No, this time I really get it.  Math-wise.  Down in my brain and marrow and what passes for my shriveled heart and soul.  Sure, it took 38 years and more angst than I’d like to cop to in order to get here, but at long last it’s truly sunk in and…

…I finally fucking get it.

I know you’d be proud.

* * *

Thing is, I have a penchant for female singers whose art mostly revolves around Officially Not Giving A Fuck.

Vis-à-vis rock’n’role models, my life can be timelined thus: Madonna → Tori Amos → Ani DiFranco → Nina Simone → Lady Gaga → Amanda Palmer.

So this Christmas, when The Finance gave me Lady Gaga concert tickets, I was ecstatic.

And at the same time, terrified.

I won’t go into minute detail about my preferred hermiticism, raging agoraphobia, or how the idea of standing in an arena surrounded by 20,000 people makes me want to shred my own face off with a cheese grater – but suffice it to say, I had some “issues” to deal with just to make it to the Staples Center in the first place.

Yet when I saw those tickets – not just e-tickets, abstract tickets – but real, physical tickets I could hold in my hands, I vowed I’d be goddamned before missing my chance to see a woman whose main claim to fame – besides great pop/dance music – involves telling bigots and misogynists and homophobes and bullies to fuck the fuck off.   And actually using those expletives to do it.

In other words, a woman after my own heart.

But here’s the main difference between me and Gaga:

 

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photo by Nick Knight for Vanity Fair

 

Yeah, that outfit?  I’da tried that on when I was 16.  Maybe.  In a dressing room.  By myself.

I would’ve shimmied into that bodysuit, squeezed my feet into those 8” heel-less boots, and – if you wanna know the horrific truth – probably executed a couple of vaguely titillating Vogue-like dance moves in the mirror before crashing into a wall, no matter how much circulation my toes weren’t getting, or how deep those Swarovski crystals were slicing into my nips.

But as mentioned, all of that would’ve taken place in a dressing room.  By myself.

I never had the – what I imagined at the time was “courage,” though now I think of it a tad differently – let’s say, “wherewithal,” to sport maxi-strange-lithe-and-sexy ensembles out in public.

Don’t get me wrong: sartorially speaking, I could do strange.  Even back in high school, “strange” was my forte.  Using eyeliner every day to draw Egyptian ankhs by my eyes helped. (Fucking little emo thieves – I started that shit, and in rural Florida, no less!  Where you could be bodydumped in the Everglades!  Urban copycat pussies.)

In my early 20’s, I could even do the lithe-and-sexy thing (it helps when you work out two hours a day, six days a week, and your boobs only point forward).   But never – never – could I quite get the nerve to pull off Gaga-levels of sexyweird fashion.  Frankly, I don’t think anyone can come close – or ever has, unless you count Grace Jones in her heyday, or Madonna and Gaultier’s brief fling with the cone-bra in the 90’s.

But that’s why it works for Gaga.  It’s just who she is.  She’s into haute couture, artpop (not the other way ‘round, oldsters), multiple personae.  And because she’s being true to herself, all that sexyweird works.  Even this, while not high on the fuck-me scale (unless you’re a furry) –

 

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photo by Markus Klinko & Indrani

 

– is just as authentically Gaga as this:

 

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photo released by Lady Gaga

 

See, when I was younger, the problem with me (as I perceived it), was that I was NONE of these desirable things: sexy, brave, willing to suffer the slings and arrows – and blisters and bruises – for style.  I could fake it for a while, but it was my fault my ovaries weren’t brass enough to carry me through the day in outrageously odd-yet-smokin’ outfits without eventually crumbling under the stares and catty comments and lewd come-ons and thence crawling back into my overlarge hoodies and socks with cartoon owls on them.

In other words, I was giving way too many fucks.  Okay, so maybe less fucks than the average bear, but all the same, more fucks than I wanted to be dishing out.

Which is probably why I’ve always been attracted to female performers who possess ZERO SPARE FUCKS.

And two hours before the Lady Gaga concert, at 38 years old, much to my chagrin and embarrassment, I still had a few fucks to give.

* * *

I wish I could’ve taken a picture of my costume for you.

A long black cocktail dress, combat boots, my studded leather motorcycle jacket, and some extremist Goth make-up that put my high-school ankhs to shame.

No kidding, I’d just spent an hour in the bathroom mirror applying foundation, powder, incredibly detailed and dramatic eyeshadow – and then taking my liquid black eyeliner and drawing flowing lines and curlicues and stars around my eyes until I looked less like an artist who’d created something beautiful, and more like a four year-old who’d gotten into Mommy’s lipstick without knowing it’s called lipstick for a reason.

And as I stared at that girl in the mirror, that four year-old trying so hard to be a grown-up, trying so hard to imitate her idol, trying so desperately to be anything other than what she really was, I had (you guessed it) an epiphany.

Seriously.  Right there in the bathroom.  Naked, barefoot, eyeliner in one hand, vague sense of “What the fuck?” in the other.  I blinked rapidly, scanning my face, trying to figure out what felt wrong.  I was going to a Lady Gaga concert, for Christ’s sake – it’s not like there was a “right” way to look.  Gaga’s run through every physical manifestation on the planet (as well as a few off-world) so it’s not like I would’ve – or could’ve – stuck out in a crowd of Little Monsters.

Then what was it?  Why was I feeling so off?

Was it because, since I can barely play Hangman, my hand just isn’t steady or trained enough to create designs as magnificent as I envisioned them?  Was it because I’m not used to wearing make-up at all anymore, and I was only feeling baseline uncomfortable?  Was it because the look was So Weird – and not just So Weird – but SO BALLS-OUT WEIRD – I was just having trouble adjusting to it?

And that’s when the epiphany punched me right in the mouth:

This is not who I am.

* * *

I hadn’t conjured those words on my own.

That’s the creepy part about epiphanies: they seem to appear out of nowhere, fully formed, at the forefront of your consciousness.  Actually, that’s how you can tell if something’s truly an epiphany: it lands on you without warning, almost like some unknown Whatever is whispering in your ear, and you get the feeling like, Hey, you know what?  It’d be really, really good if I listened to this.

I stood there for a second, still looking in the mirror, and let the words hit me again:

This is not who I am. 

And as usual, that unknown Whatever was right.

Fucking Whatever.

* * *

As I ran the hot water in the sink, I yelled out to the living room, “Honey, how much time do we have before we leave?”

“Thirty minutes!”

“Perfect!”

“Perfect?” his voice rose.  I heard the couch cushions shift.  “Why perfect?”

“Because I’m taking this stupid shit off and not trying so hard and I’m just gonna be me because that’s what Gaga’s really talking about, see?  She doesn’t want us to be these little Gaga clones, she just wants us to be us – whoever we really are and that’s what I want now, too!  I mean, Jesus, look at me: I’m nearly 40, I have a fucking pooch belly!  I’m not this chick – I wasn’t this chick when I was 20!  I’ve never been this chick, with the boots and the dress and the fucking stupid eyeliner!  Even when I was pretending to be that chick, it’s not who I was!  I just had an epiphany!”

“You…” A slight pause.  “Are we going to be late?”

The Finance had seen the Goth face-painting (and said nothing, the doll).  He’d genuinely liked the cocktail dress, wanted to make sure the boots were comfortable – wise veteran of Shondaland – and said something nice about the jacket.  Showcasing one of the many reasons I love him, he said he didn’t care what I wore, so long as I liked what I wore.  (Which is probably why he got me the cartoon owl socks, too.)

As I lathered up my hard-earned Day Of The Dead face, he appeared in the doorway and tried to hide his surprise.

“Wow, so… you’re taking that… and what’s happening again?”

“I had an epiphany.”

“Okay.”

“This is not who I am.”

“Uh-huh.”

“That clrbblbil dress and jackblrtbbrl and fucking makeublrrblp—”

“You wanna wait ‘til you finish?”

“Yeh, gimme a crbbll sec—”

Of course it took more than a couple seconds to scrape off the mortar and paste I’d just spent a careful hour layering on, but when I finally looked up, cheeks and eyelids scrubbed raw, the Finance was still leaning against the doorway, waiting patiently to hear what his psycho Financée was doing completely reversing fashion course a mere half-hour before we were due to leave.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I’m awesome,” I grinned cheerfully, drying my face with a towel.  “This thing with the outfit and boots—”

“Which are comfortable, right?  ‘Cause we’re gonna be standing—”

“Fuck the boots, I’m not wearing the boots.  I’m wearing my Nikes.”

“With the dress?”  He looked confused.

“Fuck the dress, fuck all of it.  I’m wearing my baggy pants.  Because those?  Those are me.”

“Yes…” he trailed off, his voice going, If there’s a right answer here, I am totally missing it.

“I’m telling you, I just had an epiphany.”

“I got that part.”

“And all the clothes, and weird make-up?  I mean, I haven’t worn those combat boots since—” I slathered on some moisturizer.  “When’s the last time I was in fucking combat?  I wear Nikes.  Every day.  Those are me.  Baggy pants are me.  And I’m going to wear one of my Sherlock t-shirts because I’m a fucking nerd and that’s who I am and I’m finally, finally fine with it!”

I may’ve grown a little overly emphatic at that point, as he lifted his hands and said, “Whoa, not fighting you!”

“That’s the thing, though!  The thing I just realized!”

“That you’re a nerd?”

“Yes!  No!  Sort of, but yes!  I mean, Gaga’s always saying be proud of who you are – and with the cocktail dress and fuck-all, who is that?  None of that is me!  I looked like a fucking corpse – a poorly painted corpse – and none of it is really who am.  I mean really, really who I am!”

“And this is the epiphany.”

“Don’t you get it?  I was trying to dress up like Lady Gaga – but I’m not Lady Gaga!”

The Finance kept staring at me, like, I sure as shit hope she didn’t think she was Lady Gaga, ‘cause then we’d be in a whole new world of crazy.

“And yet here I am trying to look like her, trying to look like some girl that coulda been my daughter if I’d been knocked up in junior high.  Fuck that!  I’m me, and I like this me, and I’m not gonna be afraid to be me, nerdy and all.”

“So no dress.”

“No dress.”

“Baggy pants.”

“Fuckin’ A.”

“Nikes are comfortable.”

“GOD, YES.  And my socks that say, ‘Admit it, psycho is hot.’”

“And a Sherlock shirt.”

“That is my single Gaga concession,” I admitted.  “I’m wearing the one that says, ‘Ordinary people are adorable.’”

As I reached for the powder to tone down the shine on my nose (something that really is me; me and my fucking oily skin), the Finance came in and kissed me on the top of the head.  I’m pretty sure he was just thrilled at the prospect of not having to walk around with a poochy Morticia Addams, but what he said was, “I like you nerdy and all, too.”

* * *

So I get it, Gaga.

I finally get it.

I love the way you look.  I love that you’re a motherfucking rock star who dresses like a motherfucking rock star.  I love your music, and your message, and I love them even more now that I’m starting to love who I am, and have stopped feeling inadequate, like I’ll never be as cool as you.

Because I’m not a motherfucking rock star.

I’m a motherfucking writer.

I’m a motherfucking writer who wears baggy pants because they’re more comfortable for marathon sessions behind my computer.  Who wears nerdy TV show shirts because I’m a giant TV nerd.  Who wears Nikes because high heels cause me such pain they make me Hulk-out angry.

A motherfucking writer who wears cartoon socks because I think they’re hilarious.

And while I love you, I honestly don’t give a shit if you, or anyone else, thinks my socks are funny.  Because after spending my entire life listening to you and other strong women tell me to be myself – and to be happy being myself – I can definitively tell you:

Me and my pooch have ZERO SPARE FUCKS to give.

 

UP NEXT

Tales from the Actual Concert

With Cool Photos Like This:

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November 23rd, 2012 by Mere Smith

Me and Neil and AFP

Last week my W/B (Webmaster-slash-Bitch), Eric —

Yeah, no, seriously, this is Eric.

 

— went to see Neil Gaiman read from his novel, Stardust, at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures.

Since I am not only a huge Neil Gaiman fan, but also a rabid Amanda Fucking Palmer fan (for those of you residing in underground bunkers: she and Neil are married), I asked W/B if he’d pass on a little something special from me to Neil, before asking Neil to sign my copy of American Gods.

Naturally, this made W/B extremely nervous.

Why?

Probably because he knows me.

Oh, and also because this is what I asked him to give Neil:

 

(FYI — those three stick figures that look like they’re playing ring-around-the-rosy?  Were intended to be three stick figures making out.  I know.  Mmm, ze art skillz, zey are sexy, no?)

Thus unsurprisingly (for a Disney store Viking), W/B handed off this task to his wife, O She Of The Titanium Balls.

For which I will be forever grateful, as it produced this priceless Neil Gaiman autograph:

 

And to think, before this I never even knew I was capable of multiple writergasms!

.

(In all seriousness, a hearty thank-you-go-round

to Neil, W/B and Titanium.

I’ll treasure this book always.) 

.

UPDATE!!! – 11/24/12 – 1:25 p.m. PST

So as I am wont to do, I posted the link to this blog on Twitter yesterday — and when I finally rejoined the grid this morning, lo and behold, look what I found in my Inbox!

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In case anyone’s wondering, I’ll be in my bunk.

November 1st, 2012 by Mere Smith

Things What I Learned From Halloween 2012

Alas, another Halloween gone by.

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The sad morning-after dregs.

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Excuse the premature nostalgia, but Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.  Absolute favorite.  It even beats out Christmas, because at least with Halloween I don’t have to pretend for a whole month that I’m going to send out holiday cards when I know damn well – again! every year! – I’ll never get my shit together enough to actually buy and sign and address and mail a bunch of fucking cards and so consequently every card I get is like another brick being laid in the foundation of the new wing of my guilt complex…

Anyway.

Here are a few more

 

REASONS WHY HALLOWEEN IS AWESOME!!!

 

1)   It’s the only day of the year we celebrate what I consider my primary skill: “pretending” to be evil.  (I don’t know.  Maybe you don’t use quotes.)

2)   Enough chocolate to gag a Snuffleupagus.  Though come to think of it, it’s possible Snuffleupagi are like dogs, and even a tiny amount of chocolate kills them.  Which, you gotta admit, would be pretty Halloweeny in and of itself: dead Snuffleupagi strewn up and down suburban sidewalks in costumes, crying out for their moms or Big Bird with their last Snuffleupagian breaths…

3)   I can wear comfy pants and a tank top – standard slovenly writerwear – and get credit for a “yoga instructor” costume.  (Though I do have to strap on a bra instead of tucking my boobs into my pants like normal, so that part kind of sucks.)

4)    Scared two year-olds being shoved in front of strangers and forced to parrot something they don’t understand, like “Happy Hawowee,” with no idea why, all while wearing uncomfortable fake identities.  It prepares them for Life.

5)   Getting to give away candy like I’m the Donald Trump of candy.  Except I actually give it away.

.

***

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The Finance and I had 103 kids come to our door last night.

I know.

“103?” you’re thinking.  “C’mon, how could she possibly know it was exactly 103?”

And I’ll tell y’all.

Because I write this shit down.

Seriously.  I am not kidding.  This is my favorite holiday.

I make The Finance help me, too, though at this point I think he’s just found it easier to float along the River of Crazy rather than fight against the current.

I even try to keep a scribbled list of all the costumes the kids wear – y’know, to see if we can spot trends and test our pop culture knowledge (The Finance’s is zero, by the way – he called a kid in a Transformers costume a “robot” last night and I was all, “Uh, hello?  Optimus Prime?” and then felt super-self-satisfied for, like, hours) though when the Front Porch Superhighway gets clogged like a fat man’s arteries, I have been forced to just scrawl something like “MF’ing load of MF’ing princesses.”

But the numbers?  Oh, I get the numbers right.

Because there is nothing worse than buying too little candy.

Nothing worse than having a five year-old girl come to your house dressed in Army fatigues and combat boots and having to tell her, “Sorry, sweetheart, but I’m unable to support your strong and daring anti-Whore-a-ween feminist protest because I was too fucking stoned or lazy to pick up that extra bag of mini-KitKats.”  Oh hell no.

So I count how many kids we have each year, and make sure I get enough candy to cover 150% of them.

 

How much we needed this year.

 

Halloween 2012

Things What I Learned*:

How To Get Candy

At The Evil Gal/Finance Household

 

1) DO… be under 30.  No shit.  If you show up at my door in plain old jeans and a hoodie sporting more tattoos than I have?  You can just fuck right the hell off my porch, dude.  Wait a day, then buy your own goddamned Halloween candy at CVS for 75% off.  This house is not a candy-welfare state.  I paid good money for those Mr. Goodbars, and if you think I’m just going to share them with you for noth–

Oh my god, I totally went Republican there for a second.  It was like my soul flashed before my eyes.

Here, take some of my candy.  I have plenty.

2) DON’T… pretend you’re trick or treating for more than one person.  Last night I opened the door to find a girl – pfft, “girl” – this chick was 17 if she was a day – holding SIX DIFFERENT BAGS on her arms.  And I’m not talking Halloween bags, or plastic jack o’lanterns.  I’m talking three tote bags, a kid’s backpack, a paper sack, and a plastic grocery bag.

She said she was trick or treating for “the ones in strollers.”  Now, I don’t know if that’s some sort of charity I’m unaware of – The Ones In Strollers – but I didn’t see any strollers in the vicinity – nor do I think that if kids are still riding in strollers, they should be trying to choke down anything as small as Gobstoppers – but of course I gave her candy for each of the bags anyway.  Mostly because if she was hungry enough to eat six bags’ worth of candy, she might’ve been hungry enough to eat me.  I’ve seen “The Walking Dead.”  I’m not taking any chances.

3) DO… be under two years old and dressed in a Yo Gabba Gabba costume with a funny headpiece that keeps falling down over your eyes.  You will get a lot of candy from me.  Like, a lot.  I will literally give you all the candy we have.  In fact, I will go down the block and beat up some other kids and give you their candy.  I’m not joking.   I’ll do it.  You want me to?

4) DON’T… come back twice.  You really think I’m that stupid?  Yet sure enough, this swaggering 12 year-old boy dressed in a golf shirt – I’m not sure if he was pretending to be a golfer, or if he just happened to wear a golf shirt to school that day and was like, “Fuck it, I’m a golfer.  Let’s go trick or treat this bitch.” – came back about 30 minutes after his first visit, bold as brass.  He just stuck that bag out and hollered, “Trick or treat!”  And because I really am that stupid, I grinned and hollered “Happy Halloween!” before it even registered that this was the same Golf Shirt who’d swaggered up earlier.

By that time he’d already grabbed some candy and thrown it in his bag – and he knows damn well I’m not gonna reach in there and take the candy back, right?  With all the neighbors watching?  I’ll suddenly become that crazy mean lady whose house mysteriously burns down on Christmas Eve.  Because of arson.

Evil fucking kid.

I may go as him next Halloween.

Just need a golf shirt.



* A tip of the blog to @louisebrealey

August 30th, 2012 by Mere Smith

Fucking Egregious Sexism

In my last post we discussed everyday sexism, both the concept and the website.

Today we talk about Fucking Egregious Sexism: the moments that are so outrageous, they stick with you for years as your most salient representations of the actual practice of sexism.

Whether these instances stick because they scare you, anger you, make you feel small or stupid, or in any case alter how you act or think about yourself – Fucking Egregious Sexism is something all women encounter from time to time, and though we’ve mostly learned (wrongly) to accommodate/overlook everyday sexism, Fucking Egregious Sexism is where you just sit back and go, “Whoa.  Seriously?  Did that just really happen?  In the 21st century?  Seriously?”

Now, working in white-male-saturated Hollywood, I could immediately rattle off at least five (ten) (twenty) of these incidents – easy – but as the light bill must still be paid, I’ll be keeping those under wraps in order to remain employable.

(As I always tell my mother: Just you wait for my memoir, lady.)

Thus, this story is non-business related… and one of the only reasons I’m telling you about it at all is because it changed how I saw myself (see the previous post), as well as forcing me to admit that the way I’d been handling this type of Fucking Egregious Sexism wasn’t proactive, as I’d fooled myself into believing; it was reactive, and meant only to protect myself from further danger/damage.

In other words, I wasn’t really standing up for myself – I was only fending off something potentially worse.

And I want to be better than that.

Stronger than that.

And maybe sharing this story with my readers will help me feel as though I’m accountable not only to myself, but to others, as well.

* * *

Two weeks ago, I went to lunch with a male friend.

We were sitting in a booth, eating hamburgers and chatting, when an elderly man walked by.  Just after passing us, this man suddenly stopped, about-faced, then wrapped his gnarled hand around my forearm, saying, “You know these things don’t wash off, young lady.”

I have prominent tattoos, so I’ve grown used to hearing this kind of thing from the white-haired set: both men and women who seem to feel utterly entitled to inform me what a terrible mistake I’ve made.  (I’ve even had women shake their heads and tsk-tsk me about not being “marriageable” anymore.  As if I’ve somehow been sucked into a Jane Austen novel and can’t embroider or play the pianoforte well enough.)  Though over the course of two decades I’ve become much more tolerant of this behavior, the smartass in me (which is, okay, about 98% of me) always wants to snap back, “And you’ve gotten so wrinkled!  Why did you do that to yourself?  Goddamn you look ancient!”

But having grown up in the Deep South, I was taught to always be polite to my elders.

Even when they’re complete assholes.

So, “Yeah,” I laughed, removing my arm from this man’s unasked-for and unwanted grasp, on the pretense of reaching for my napkin.  “I’ve heard soap and water just doesn’t cut it.”

Without even consciously knowing why, my laughter-as-a-defense-shield had just been deployed, and I found myself thinking, Go sit down, you judgmental old man.  I don’t want to get into this.  And what “this” was wasn’t even clear to me yet; I just felt criticized and uncomfortable and knew that I wanted this exchange to end.  Even his invasion of my personal space – him, a total stranger, grabbing me without asking – hadn’t set off my Big Alarms, but I think it was because he was old, and like I said, I didn’t feel consciously threatened.  Only annoyed.

“What does this one mean?  What language is this?” the old man asked, replacing his hand on my left arm, swiping his finger across the tattoo in the crook of my elbow.  Meantime he’d shuffled in even nearer to me, and leaned over the booth so close that had I wanted to kiss him, all I would’ve had to do was turn my head.

I swayed away from him enough to avoid touching him – but not enough to seem rude.  (And why?  There’s a great line in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”: “The fear of offending is stronger than the fear of pain.”  I can tell you from experience that this “fear of offending” is inculcated in women from the time they’re young.  It’s partly why the term “good girl” is so loaded.)

“It’s English,” I answered patiently.  “It says ‘Buddha Time.’”

“‘Buddha Time’?  What the hell does that mean?”

I smiled through gritted teeth.  “It means that everything comes in its own time.  You can’t make something come faster than it’s going to, and you can’t make something go slower than it’s going to.”

“Hmph,” replied the old man, unimpressed, his finger still brushing across my skin, back and forth.  “Maybe I should get that tattooed on my ass.”

It took maybe a half-second for this remark to wend its way from my ears to my brain, but once it landed, my eyes flicked up to my friend’s as if to ask, Did you just hear that?

And my friend’s face said, Yeah!  What the fuck?

“Sure,” the old man continued.  “I could get ‘Buddha’ on one cheek, and ‘Time’ on the other cheek, and then I could do this—”

He stood upright, turned his back, then mimed pulling his pants down to moon me.

Literally, his ass was eight inches from my face.  I could see pinpoint stains of some unknown origin splashed across the seat of his blue polyester pants.

And what did I do?  Big strong feminist that I am?

I laughed.

Not because I thought it was funny.  To be perfectly honest, I felt like spewing burger.

I laughed because that’s what I do when my Big Alarms start ringing.  I laugh to protect myself, to ward off The Bad.  I laugh so the other person won’t lash out at me.  I laugh because the only other alternatives are to either start fighting or run away.  And here I was stuck in a booth with an old man’s blue polyester ass looming over me like a vulture.

Realistically, what was I going to do?  Scream “Ass!” and knock him over?

The old man turned around again and leered, “You know, if I was forty years younger…”

You’d what? I thought, suddenly furious.  If you were forty years younger, you’d what?  You’d fuck me?  You’d turn me over your knee?  You’d forbid me to get tattooed?  You wouldn’t date me if I had them?  Awww, sadpanda, what a huge fucking loss YOU GIANT CREEPER.

“Well thank god you’re not,” I said, a small concession to my seething.  

And then laughed again.

What a wimp.

“I hope you know,” he went on, “a lot of men don’t like that kind of thing.”

Asshole, asshole, asshole.

I said, “Well, lucky for me, my fiancé does.”

“Oh!  Is this him?” the old man backed up a step and pointed at my friend, causing my friend and I to crack up in earnest.  He and I are known for our epic insult-slinging contests, not for being touchy-feely.

“Uh, no,” I answered.  “This is my friend, —-.”

And then the Big Alarms started blaring.

Because after being told that my male companion was not my fiancé — in other words, that I was even geographically single — the old man got even closer to me.  His arm crept around the back of the booth behind me, his other hand landed on the table, he leaned his chest forward, and suddenly I was surrounded.  The only way he could’ve gotten any closer was to sit directly on my face.

“Reeeeeallly?” asked the old man, sounding delighted.  “Then maybe I could get your tattoo in my bathing-suit place.”

He made a clicking noise with his tongue.

And I thought, Okay.  This is not good.

“Hey, is this old man bothering you?” came a voice from over my friend’s shoulder.

I looked up, thinking, Oh thank fucking god.  Someone’s come to drag this old sleazebucket back to The Sex Offenders’ Rest Home.

“This is my son,” said the old man, his voice tinged with both irritation and regret.  Whether it was because the guy was his son, or because his son was interrupting his molesting me, I couldn’t tell.

“Are you bothering this pretty lady?” the son, clearly a surfer in his early 40’s, asked his father.

“Her tattoo says ‘Buddha Time,’” answered the old man.  “I’m going to get it tattooed in my bathing-suit place.”

“‘Buddha Time’?” asked the son.  “What are you talking about?  There’s no Buddha in the Torah!  Besides, you’re Jewish — you can’t get tattooed!  Go sit down, wouldja?”

As the son brought their food toward his father, the old man grumbled something about his son spoiling his “fun,” then slid into the booth directly behind me.

My friend watched him sit down, then rolled his eyes and murmured, “Greeeaaaat.”

At which I laughed.

But honestly this time, as I thought my troubles were over.

.

I had no idea.

* * *

I want to take a second here to say that I did not need nor want rescuing.  Had I had my shit together enough and simply reacted the same way I felt, this nonsense would’ve been over the second the old man grabbed my arm.  I would’ve told him — okay, let’s be frank — I would’ve asked him — to stop touching me (fuck, I would’ve even said “please” — you can take the girl out of the Deep South, but…) — then he would’ve gotten pissy — most men do when rebuffed, I find — maybe called me a “bitch” — and he would’ve left me the hell alone.  But I didn’t do any of that.  I retreated into my learned-helplessness mode — laugh! laugh, laugh laugh! your sliminess is so funny! — so as not to offend him, and let him get away with everything that came after.

My male friend asked me later if there was something he “should’ve” done during the previous — and the next — section of this story, and I told him what I’m telling you:

If I had wanted help, I would have asked for it.  As it was, I felt as though I was “handling” things at the time — poorly, I’ll admit now — and I would have interpreted any attempt to “rescue” me as a rather insulting sign that I couldn’t deal with the situation myself — and I would’ve resented it.  Would him stepping in have changed how everything went down?  I’m sure it would have.  But I wouldn’t have learned the lesson that I did, now would I?

I think good, feminist men often get screwed in this kind of deal: they know what’s happening is jacked, they want to help, but they truly trust and believe in their female companions’ ability to take care of themselves, and don’t want to act like the stereotypical White Knight rushing in to save the ditzball damsel.  Because truthfully?  I think they know that we — or at least I — find that almost as offensive as sticking your blue polyester ass in my face.

So to my friend, and to all good, feminist men out there: when this sort of thing happens, I think the best recourse may be simply to ask your female companion if she wants (not “needs” — “wants”) any help removing the thorn in her side.  It preserves her choice, her agency, and lets her know she’s not alone in thinking this thorn is actually a massive douchenozzle.  Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can give you the strength to do what you should’ve done in the first place.

* * *

Now where were we?

Oh, right.  After the son had corralled his father (albeit a little too close for my comfort, but at least he wasn’t leering at me and saying “bathing-suit place” anymore), my friend and I finished our meal.  We stayed in the booth yammering for a while, as we rarely get to see each other, and in fact, yammered so long, the old man and his son finished their meal before my friend and I even got up.

“You wanna see something?”

Fuck.

No, I do not want to see ANYTHING from you, Grandpa Creeper. 

The son was taking their trash to the can, and meanwhile the old man had resumed his position standing next to our booth, leaning over me, his crotch at eye-level.

“I got a tattoo, too, you know.  You wanna see it?”

And had I learned anything from the previous encounter?

Had I at least gathered enough guts to say, “No!  That’s enough!  Go away!”

Yes.

Yes, I finally had.  And that’s exactly what I did.

I waved my hand at him and said, “No.  I don’t want to see anything.  That’s enough.”

“Aw, c’mon,” wheedled the old man.  “I got a tattoo.  You wanna see it?”

“No. I’m done.  I’m finished.  It’s over.  We’re done.”

And that’s when the old man gestured at his crotch — like I said, this couldn’t have been eight inches from my face — and crowed, “It’s my tattoo!  A one-eyed snake!  Look!”

“Oh my god,” I shook my head, while my friend stared at me like, How are you not punching this guy in his shriveled old nads?

Thing was, inside my head I was mulling that very idea, when the son came up and said, “Dad!  Quit doing that!  Get outta here!  She doesn’t want to see that!”

And this was the point where I considered, Hey, maybe the old guy has Alzheimer’s or something.  Maybe he’s not a creeper.  Maybe his frontal lobe — the part that controls impulsivity and decision-making and the knowledge between right and wrong — is just moth-eaten or plaque-covered and I’ve been hating him this whole time for something he can’t control.

Even though I didn’t quite believe it, ’cause the old man sure seemed to have all his marbles — he wasn’t confused or inarticulate or full of rage or violent or yelling, the way people with Alzehimer’s sometimes are.  He seemed just like your garden-variety sexist-pig sicko, getting his kicks by touching women without asking and thrusting his ass and junk in a woman’s face and talking about his one-eyed snake.

But whatever.  Either way I was over it.   And apparently so was the son.  He told the old man to go wait for him by the car, and with a few more crotch-pointings and cacklings of “One-eyed snake!”, the old man eventually left…

…only to wind up standing outside the restaurant window right next to our table, where he continued to crotch-point and yell, “One-eyed snake!  Wanna see it?  Huh?”

The son apologized for his dad, and finally — FINALLY — waved him off to the car, which threw me back on the side of well-maybe-it-is-Alzheimer’s — until the son started asking me about my tattoos.

I felt a vague mix of dread and deja-vu as I explained what a few of my tattoos meant, when apropos of nothing, the son said, “Yeah, I used to have a nipple ring.”

The dread/deja-vu thing started hitting a little harder, like hurricane waves up against a seawall, as the son went on: “It was great for the ladies.  They liked to pull on it and bite it, and I loved it, boy, that was great, but I just didn’t like the way it chafed against my t-shirts.”

You know those moments that are, like, six years long in your head, but only a couple seconds on the outside?

Yeah.  That happened.

All at once I started visualizing this guy’s whole life.  Thinking, Well how else is a boy raised by Grandpa Creeper gonna turn out?  What must that childhood have been like?  What must that old man have taught his son about women?  About respect?  Did he ever even put those two words in a sentence together?

And on the outside I heard myself answer, almost like a robot, “I have a bellybutton ring and it doesn’t bother me like that at all.”

While on the inside I was screaming at myself, WHY ARE YOU EVEN TALKING?  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!  AND WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT YOUR BELLY RING FOR JESUS CHRIST’S SAKE?  DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR BODY!  DON’T EVEN MAKE HIM THINK ABOUT YOUR BODY!  DON’T TELL HIM ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF!  YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT!  YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT!

(Looking back, I think that may be the moment I regret most in the whole debacle.  Telling myself I was “asking for it”.  It makes me sad to think that I could internalize such bullshit so concretely.)

Which is when the son noticed my nose ring.

“Oh, you have a nose ring, too, huh?”

No, you dumbass, I’m just holding it for a friend.

“Oh, let me tell you,” the son grinned, “if you and I had sex, I’d grab ahold of that thing with my teeth and just–” he made growling sounds — grrrrr rrrrr!  — tossed his head back as if he were yanking on it, “and you would mooooaaann.”

I couldn’t even bring myself to look at my friend.

By then I was wondering, Does he think I bring this on myself?  That I attract these weirdos?  That something I’m doing just draws these freaks in and then allows them to do this to me?

 And suddenly a light went off in my head.

This is not my fault.

These sickos?  These freaks?

This is not my fault.

FUCK this.

Fuck nipple-ring guy, fuck his creepy father, fuck all these fucking fuckwad fuckers.  FUCK IT.

“Go away,” I told the son.  “Get out of here.  Go.  I’m not listening to you anymore.  Get out.  Get out!”

But?

I was laughing as I said it.

* * *

And I was still laughing as I yelled it, when the son stopped in the exact same place outside the restaurant, in front of the window next to my friend and I, miming having sex with me while biting and yanking on my nose ring, growling the whole time.

I could hear him.

“GO!  GO!  LEAVE!  GET OUT OF HERE!  GO AWAY” I yelled.

Laughing.

* * *

I’m not laughing anymore.

 

July 30th, 2012 by Mere Smith

The Crap We Non-Olympians Eat

Holy balls, you guys!  It’s the Olympics again!

Yay!  Yay!  The Olympics, the Olympics!

The Opening Ceremony!

(pause)

Hey, y’all, I think Danny Boyle dipped into my stash.

(pause)

Like, deep into my stash.  Look inside there, do I even have any left?

 

**

So the summer Olympics have returned and – unlike the winter Olympics, when everybody’s bundled into their Gore-Tex sacks – we get to see every inch of these athletes’ ideal bodies.  I mean, this is what these people do for a living: activities that sculpt their physiques into shapes that verge on blasphemy, so closely do they approximate divinity, if “divine” is to be defined as absolute perfection.

 

Adonis. Oh, no wait. Matthew Mitcham from Australia.

 

Not a single undulation where there shouldn’t be, not an extra ounce to be found.  They are only and exactly as much as they need to be to perform their task – no more, no less.  They do not exist in excess.

Now, NBC, when not consistently spoiling my viewing experience by forcing me to shun all other media (including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, the print newspaper, the radio, and the local TV news on any channel) for fear of learning results before I’m allowed to watch the event, has been airing this commercial from Citi:

In it, you hear the (ostensible) voices of athletes acknowledging the sacrifices they’ve made in order to reach the acmes of their respective sports.  But the one that’s stuck with me over the two dozen or more times I’ve seen the commercial, is the voice of a male gymnast saying, “I haven’t ordered dessert in two years.”

Can we all just think about that for a second?

“I haven’t ordered dessert in two years.”

 

Crazytalk!  Just CRAZYTALK!

 

Clearly the gymnast knows what dessert is, so it’s likely he’s had dessert before.  Obviously he thinks of going without dessert as a sacrifice, or he wouldn’t be mentioning it in the context of this commercial.  So the guy likes dessert.  It’s not like, given a choice, he’d be shunning dessert.

But dude.   Gymnast dude.   You’re telling me you haven’t had one day – just one day – in the last 730 days – where you let yourself have a fucking M&M?

Who could live like that?

(And on a sidenote, can you imagine the uproar it would’ve caused if they’d had a female gymnast say that line?  Oh!  Oh!  Oh, it almost makes me wish the Citi marketing people had been that just that side of stupid.  And I’m usually the last person in the world wishing people would get stupider, for Christ’s sakes.  We’re barely not blowing everything to shit as it is.)

That spirit of asceticism – combined with the Greek statue builds of the athletes – naturally sent me screaming in the opposite direction – more fatty food, more, MOAR! – which called to mind a blog Margaret Cho wrote a few days ago about one of her disgusting comfort foods: cinnamon raisin bagels smeared with a mountain of cream cheese – topped with Doritos.

And that got me to thinking: unlike Half-Step-Shy-Of-Anorexic-Gymnast-Guy, I’ll bet we all have those Secret Disgusting Comfort Foods, those things we’d usually never admit to eating.  That combination of tastes that would likely seem repellent to the general populace – and yet their mixture imparts a sense of personal satisfaction to us that none of the individual ingredients would offer on their own.

I have mine, and now I want to know yours, no matter how repulsive!  (Human flesh excepted.)  (No, that’s not true.  I especially want you to comment if you like human flesh, because that’ll make it much easier for the police to track down your ISP so I’ll eventually be able to sleep again.)

But of course, I am a woman of integrity.  Mostly.  Okay.  I have some integrity most of the time.  So I know I can’t possibly ask you to show me yours without me showing you mine first.  At least, those are the rules I learned in preschool.

Thus, here’s my confession – my Secret Disgusting Comfort Food:

I like to pour Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch, and chocolate chips into a jar of peanut butter, then eat the whole fucking mess directly out of the jar.

I know.

I know.

It’s revolting.  That’s about 150,000 calories per spoonful if I’ve got my shame-weight calculations right, and even after four years, The Finance has never seen me eat this.  I would be horrified for him to see me eat this – it’d be like him walking in on me sacrificing babies to yard gnomes.  In fact, I think I’d prefer the babies/yard gnome thing because at least then The Finance wouldn’t see my hips expanding in real time.

That’s why it’s called Secret Disgusting Comfort Food.

So speak up, bloggos!  Even if you have to sign in anonymously!  I know someone out there can top me in Disgustingness – some of y’all eat kale and shit and you’re not even joking.  (Though I warn you, if you just make up something gross for the sake of being gross – like, “I eat dog vomit with a sprinkling of cous cous” — I will publicly and repetitively call BULLSHIT on you until you post a picture.  Then you’ll be doing your Secret Thing out in the open, and that won’t be very fun, will it?  In other words: don’t fib, you fucking fibbers.)  So how’s about it?

What’s your Secret Disgusting Comfort Food?

 

UPDATE:  Apparently binge-eaters (like myself, occasionally, much to my shame and chagrin) are experts in Secret Disgusting Comfort Foods.

June 13th, 2012 by Mere Smith

I Carry Sherlock In My Heart

Now, I don’t wanna shock the shit outta y’all, but…

…I am not an 11 year-old girl.

.

What? No! SRSLY?

.

Seriously.  I’m not even double an 11 year-old girl.  In fact, I’m more than triple an 11 year-old girl.

Which is why I keep telling myself that it’s okay to be crushing on Sherlock (the BBC TV series) three times harder than I crushed on Jon Knight from New Kids On The Block back when I was 11.  Before I found out he was gay.  Not that this would’ve mattered when I was 11.  At that idyllic age, I would’ve been convinced he’d only be gay until he met me.

(You have to love tween-ego – it blossoms into such lovely thirtysomething megalomania.  Because for the record?  Once I rendezvous with Anderson Cooper, it is ALL OVER for the rest of y’all gays.  Sorry.)

**

So I’ll admit, I came late to the Sherlock party.

Many of my friends and assorted Twitterati had been extolling the show for ages, but I refused to watch because… are you ready?

I adore Sherlock Holmes.

Hell, to be honest, “adore” doesn’t do my feelings justice.

Here, I’ll just plain out say it:

I love Sherlock Holmes. 

Every anti-social impulse, every withering bon mot, every brain-melting flash of brilliance: they are my perfectly-cooked steak, my sparkling diamonds, my sleepy-slow sex on a rainy Sunday morning.

I’ve read every short story and novel Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote about this genius detective, and had begun planning my own movie about him – right down to highlighting passages in my two-volume set and taking notes in the margins (a blasphemy I’m generally loath to perform, but… Sherlock!).  I’d even called my manager and told him to expect a script in a few months.

However.

Not two weeks later, I heard that a Sherlock film had just been greenlit starring Robert Downey Jr.

It was soul-crushing.

I felt as though someone were taking away “my” guy and making him date someone else.  And when I finally saw the movie, all the things I wanted Sherlock to be: he wasn’t.  Sure, he was a version of glib, a version of arrogant, a version of a prodigy.  But not the version I’d carried in my heart since I’d read my first Sherlock story.

And my main problem?

Robert Downey Jr. was just too damned likeable.  Not really his fault, I suppose, I’ve heard he’s an affable guy – but he was also too funny, too pretty, too slick, just too, too everything.

No one seemed to get what I believed to be the core of Sherlock’s character: that he is a sociopath, that his moral compass (if indeed it can be proved he has one) is entirely self-defined, and that the only thing preventing him from turning into Moriarty himself is the steady, humanizing influence of Watson.

As Conan Doyle writes in “The Sign of Four”:

“ ‘Schade dass die Natur nur einen Mensch aus dir schurf

Denn zum würdigen Mann war und zum Schelmen der Stoff.’ ”

– Goethe, Xenien

 .

“It’s a shame that Nature made you only one man;

there was material enough for a worthy man and a rogue.”

.

Sherlock has his own code – he doesn’t always turn in the “bad guys” (see “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot,” or “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”).  And that ethical ambivalence, that willingness to ignore the law, that dangerous tipping-of-the-scales – which way will Sherlock go? – was what hooked me, made me ravenous for the next story, crazy to know the answer – if ever there would be one…

…all of which played as cartoon in the film.  It made me feel sick to my stomach.

In the movie, Sherlock was just another superhero – another Iron Man, only without the shiny flying suit – because that’s what Hollywood wants at the moment: superheroes.  And who knows?  Maybe it’s fabulous, but I’ve yet to see the second movie… because goddammit, my Sherlock is no superhero.  He’s not even an antihero.

He is Sherlock, and no single label could apply.

But when the Academy screener of the BBC’s Sherlock showed up at my door – a DVD of “A Scandal in Belgravia,” the fourth episode in a run of six – I finally succumbed to peer pressure (and my own wishful curiosity) and watched it.

Now, usually I try to see all episodes of a series sequentially – being a TV writer, I know creating and following characters’ emotional arcs is one of the most gratifying things about television’s extended storytelling – but after experiencing the Iron Man Edition, I didn’t think it possible that anyone would ever see Sherlock the way I saw Sherlock, so what was there to lose in watching an episode out of order?

I settled myself on the couch, hit Play, and when the DVD ended, I hadn’t moved for ninety minutes.  I hit Menu, then Play, and then did not move again for another ninety minutes.  Had the Finance not come home after the second showing, I would’ve remained motionless for another ninety minutes.

I was torn between ecstasy and lunacy.

Someone had found my Sherlock Holmes.

The real Sherlock Holmes, the one I saw and heard in my head.  He was, in a word: extraordinary.  A savant, insensitive, acidic, asexual, amusing, immune to pressure (who else would show up at Buckingham Palace in a bedsheet?) —

.

— and – above all else – detached.

At an almost-insurmountable remove from the mortal condition, making you yearn for a connection — because he will never return your yearning.

This was the sociopath I’d been looking for.

Not to mention that suddenly Watson became a real man, not merely a cipher through which I entered the stories.  And not only did I care about Watson, he opened up a way for me to care about Sherlock, too – as a human being — a way Sherlock, the character, wouldn’t allow.  Likewise, Molly Hooper and Mrs. Hudson also offered me proxies through which I could love Sherlock the same way.

And though my introduction to Sherlock began on the tail end of Moriarty’s entrance into Sherlock’s world, even he offered me a way to understand Sherlock: as a mirror of Moriarty himself.  Later, in “The Reichenbach Fall,” Moriarty expresses a vicious delight when Sherlock agrees, “I am you.”

“Brilliant!” I kept saying to myself.  “Brilliant bloody fucking brilliant!”

Immediately I DVR’d all the episodes of Sherlock I could find, and in the past month, I have watched every episode.

Five or six times each.

At least.

Obsessive?  Oh, absolutely.  But when you’ve carried a person around in your heart for most of your life, and all of a sudden someone gives you that person to hold in your hand, how long do you stare?  How often do you check just to make sure they’re still there, that they remain as beautiful as you remember them, that every gorgeous thing they’ve said and done is still as gorgeous as you recall?

How do you feel when someone reaches inside you, removes one of your most precious treasures, then gives it back to you, unconditionally, polished and shining?

Grateful.

Even Sherlock Holmes could tell you that.

 

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Benedict Cumberbatch

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Batch