Tag: politics

Review – Eggnog Cake Rolls

eggnog-cake-rolls
Pictured: A very subtle metaphor.

I mean, honestly, why should I even care what I put in my body anymore?

Okay. Deep breaths. Focus. This isn’t about that other thing. This is about Christmas infringing so far on the rest of the calendar that I bought a box of limited edition festive Swiss Cake Rolls a week before Halloween.

Or…maybe I don’t want it to be about that, either.

Where was I? Right. As much as it might surprise people, I’m not eating horrible junk food every moment of every day. Since I fancy myself a rather good cook, I tend to be full by the time dessert rolls around. Combined with my habit of grabbing limited edition flavors the moment I see them, it often leads to a cupboard full of garbage that I ignore for weeks or months on end. One day, I assume, they’ll name the disorder, which will at least make it easier to explain.

It was because of said filled cupboard and unsaid thing that happened that I recently turned to junk food as a way to handle the stress.

Eggnog Cake Rolls are the best kind of theĀ  worst sort of snack. Like eggnog ice cream and fried butter before it, it took two horrible things, shrugged and then mashed it together. Then, it looked at consumers and said, “I mean, nobody lives forever, right?”

So I had some. Four, actually. Because I wanted to feel something other than what I was feeling at the time, even if it was far worse.

Or, at least, that’s sort of how it happened.

In reality, common sense was putting up a good fight against eating it. “We just got your body to a good place,” it cautioned. “You don’t have to stop and rest after washing your hands. If you put this in you now, it’ll do damage that might take months or years to sort out. Don’t do this. We’ve come so far.”

Meanwhile, my self-destructive side just shook its head, interjecting a “wrong” or “not true” every so often as common sense was making its point. “Where did you hear this?” it wondered angrily at the end.

Another part of me was simply tired of things the way they were. And while it acknowledged that eating a box of snack cakes would probably destroy my body, it was tired of so much rational thinking. “Thinking out every decision just means fewer new experiences,” it argued. “Are some of them bad? Sure. Are some of them unhealthy? Absolutely. But there are so many fried foods you haven’t tried.”

Inevitably, in a move that shocked everyone, I ate Eggnog Cake Rolls until I was sick.

It wasn’t the best idea. But it was what my body decided on. Though, not entirely. Because while over half of my body decided not to make me throw up, there was some strange math involved that I still don’t fully understand. And well, next thing you know, I’m staring at a bunch of empty cellophane wrappers wondering how this all happened.

As I sat there, feeling sicker and sicker, parts of me urged to wait it out. “Sure. The nutrition information looks pretty bad, but you’re acting like you’ve already thrown up. You’re just a bit nauseous. That’s perfectly normal.”

“I don’t know,” I reasoned. “I’m pretty sure no human being is supposed to eat so much of something with so many five-syllable ingredients in it.”

“It sounds like you’ve already decided you want to be sick from eating these snack cakes.”

“I don’t know. I feel like they’ve given me good reason to expect to throw up. Stuffing snack cakes with solid eggnog is objectively bad for you.”

To which the dissenting parts replied, “Look. Are you still going on about this? It’s been almost thirty seconds since you ate them. Whatever’s going to happen, you just need to calm down and work with your body to get this all sorted out.”

I brought up that my body had yet to forgive me for eating a salad with no dressing eight years ago. There was name-calling. I’ll spare you the ugly details.

I’m writing this before I know what the outcome of stuffing my face with enough processed food to kill a mid-sized cow might be. I don’t want to throw up. Nobody does. But I fear that’s the only possible outcome from a snack cake that does everything but say exactly that on its packaging.

I fear I sacrificed my health for the promise of something that would taste good for a small moment compared to the time I’m forced to deal with the consequences. And most of all, I fear that no matter how badly things go, there will still be parts of my body that refuse to learn why I can’t eat things like this, all the while still blaming that salad I ate years ago for why I don’t feel well.

I’m not sure what to do now. Because I can’t un-eat what’s already been eaten. And while I hold the small shred of moral victory in knowing that I, on the whole, didn’t want to eat that whole box of snack cakes, I will invariably still have to deal with the results.

They were good. And it’s hard to deny that some parts of my body will revel in that taste and pleasant fullness up to the very moment before I empty my guts into the toilet. But I doubt I’ll look back on it in four years and think it was a good decision.

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Well, this happened.

Writer’s Note: In fact, this is all one big Writer’s Note. There’s no column here. (Though there is a link to the actual column below.) I just wanted to have this act as a splash page for it to make a few things clear.

On Wednesday, some things happened.

I won’t go into great detail about those things aside from saying they involved a certain election in a certain country where I happen to live. Though, I will note that the results left me devastated in a way I’m unfamiliar with. And despite my not-at-all-best efforts, those feelings of devastation trickled into my writing the following day.

When I looked back on what I wrote, I immediately put it aside and vowed it would never see the light of day. It was too political. It was too bitter. And while I still think it was very funny, I avoided posting it for the same reasons I avoided posting any articles directly relating to politics – that isn’t what I want this blog to be. In the same way that I’d hate a simulator that accurately portrayed just how crappy working and paying bills can be, I feel that people read comedy writing as a way to escape hardship, not be reminded of it.

I came back to it again and again before finally deciding that I should, in fact, post the article. And not just to keep my Monday, Wednesday and Friday posting schedule. This is bigger than that.

I’ve spent most of the past three days seeing people being very upset. And some being total assbags. But mostly very upset.

As I said in my very first column here, I’m a writer. I write things. It’s how I entertain. It’s how I share my views on the world. It’s how I relate to others. It’s even how I put my own fears and insecurities into manageable perspectives. And, when I can, it’s how I try to make others feel better. Even if it’s just giving them a tiny chuckle when they didn’t think they’d ever be able to laugh again.

In that same vein, I wanted to show people that I, too, am still broken. I wanted to show that grief is a process. And I feel the best way to do that was to show everyone myself at my most raw – my most emotional. Because even if I can’t make you feel better about any of this, the least I want to do is let you know that I have these feelings. You aren’t alone. And your feelings are okay, too. At least insofar as they relate to this topic and aren’t super-weird.

So with all that out of the way, please enjoy my surprisingly political review of those Swiss Cake Rolls they filled with eggnog.

Children’s Shows are Weird (Part III)

Writer’s Note: If you want to know where this all came from, check out the first part here and the second part here. If you want to read the third part, just crane your head slowly downward.

With that out of the way, on to more weirdness.

daniel-tiger2
“This is food to you guys? Weird.”

“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” I can’t believe I went so long without hearing about this show. Surprisingly, it’s a side continuation of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” – a show many adults now grew up watching. The only real difference is that it’s a cartoon, is set in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and is objectively terrifying if you think about it for more than a few minutes.

Sure. It seems harmless enough. And as a parent, I appreciate a show that focuses a lot on feelings whereas most are telling kids how to use objects or learn numbers or letters. Except, you know, the feeling they should be talking about is fear. Of tigers.

Half the episodes I saw involved one inconvenience or another befalling Daniel Tiger. And every time he was kept waiting when he wanted to go to the music store or scraped a knee or told to be quiet, I just kept expecting him to lose it and start killing everyone around him. Because that’s what tigers do when various meal-sized piles of meat try to teach them life lessons through adversity and hardship.

And yeah, yeah. I know. “It’s just a children’s show! It’s not meant to be taken seriously,” you say, rolling your eyes at my third column in a row on the same subject.

“Who are you? Show yourself! Why can I hear you!?” I call back. “And why is our conversation being dictated in my column! I’m starting to get really weirded out by all this,” I say, because I enjoy a good bit of meta-humor as much as the next guy.

Constant interruptions aside, though, that’s not how kids see it. My kid, in particular, is generally shielded from notions like the fact that most things in nature would like to kill him or at least give him a solid mauling. That’s why when we went to the zoo I didn’t tell him that the gray wolves could be bloodthirsty killers (especially if you tried to teach them to calm down by singing). And then he promptly brought home a stuffed wolf from the gift shop that he named “Puppy” and regularly gives kisses.

But okay. Let’s forget all that pesky murder. Luckily, there’s another particularly weird aspect of the show – politics.

As you may or may not remember from the Mr. Rogers’ era, the Neighborhood is run by King Friday. In the Daniel Tiger era, he’s still King (though no longer a hand puppet) and has two sons. In short, he’s built himself a strong dynasty despite living in a Kingdom the size of a Wal-Mart parking lot. With similar wildlife.

Daniel Tiger regularly plays with the youngest Prince like he’s just another kid. And sure, it’s nice that the royal family would rub elbows with the common folk. You know, until the Prince stays over for a slumber party, trips, cuts his cheek and the host family is put to death for causing harm to a Prince.

Except maybe not, since the host family is tigers.

The two major problems with the show intersect quite nicely in the episode where a group of children are playing a version of musical chairs with a smaller and smaller number of sleeping bags. Another bag is removed at the end of each round until, finally, everyone is left with a single sleeping bag to leap onto when the music stops. The result is that the Prince and Daniel Tiger end up on the bottom of a dog pile. And while there were no negative consequences whatsoever, I expect a horrible outcome every time that episode comes on.

daniel-tiger

And if anyone survived, they’re tried for treason by a very angry King.

See what I mean? The King who’s willing to walk among his subjects seems great. But if history tells us anything, it’s that the best way for commoners to stay on the King’s good side was to stay as far from him as possible. Preferably on the opposite side of a wall. Or at least a very tall bale of hay.

The only reason half the people in Europe weren’t offending one monarch or another was that they were never within walking distance of one another. Now imagine your King is always just hanging out and chatting with you. And you’re just nodding and smiling and trying not to mention how you wish he’d address these constant tiger attacks by doing more than just making them wear people clothes.

Also, I’m skeptical of even fantasy worlds where people regularly break into song, random strangers seem to know the words and no one thinks it’s strange. But in the grand scheme of this show, I suppose it’s a minor quibble comparatively.

sesame-street
Not Pictured: Smoke.

“Sesame Street.” Since I’m pretty sure they turned on the first television and this show was already in its sixth season somehow, there’s a lot of ground to cover here. And rather than do an in-depth look at every single troubling thing about this show, I’ll just distill it down to a single point, save myself six months of writing and you half that in reading.

The cold days are coming soon and I must gather wood for fire.

What’s the deal with the Count, anyway? I’ve heard a lot of excuses ranging from “he’s a friendly vampire” to “there’s no proof he was actually meant to be a vampire at all.” And to at least one these I say, “Well…no.”

He’s clearly a vampire. He’s not just really, really Eastern European. For one, our skin is more olive than purple. For another, he’s got vampire fangs. And for…nevermind. I’m not doing this. He’s clearly just a vampire.

And yes, obviously, he’s friendly. I don’t have any real curiosity as to why he doesn’t regularly devour other members of the cast to feed his insatiable blood lust. It’s a kids’ show. By which I mean…I assume he’s held onto to a tiny shred of his humanity and refuses to give it up by killing those he loves.

All I’m really wondering is how he can just stroll around in broad daylight. Since he already doesn’t do anything else a vampire does, having him be one and not avoid sunlight is kind of the last straw. At that point, I can only picture Jim Henson showing off some character sketches to a producer who asks why the Count has a to be a vampire at all. And Henson just sort of shrugs and say, “I don’t know. I sort of like the cape, I guess.”

Having someone be a vampire without any characteristics of a vampire is like me claiming to be an Olympic medalist. And when someone asks if they can see the medal I’d just shake my head and say, “No, no. I’m not that kind of Olympic medalist.”

No Comments for Old Men

NoComments

Okay. So I’m in my very early thirties and more or less grew up with the Internet, social media, YouTube, Facebook (and to a far lesser degree, Myspace) and, as the children call it, electronic mail. Strictly speaking, I’m not exactly an old man.

But the comments section is starting to confuse me.

I understand why people wouldn’t even bother scrolling down these days. (“I just watched this insightful video. Now what does the Internet’s asshole think about it?”) There’s quite a bit there not to like, and it can be off-putting to some. (“That was a really cute baby video. Let’s see how many comments it takes before I see a racial slur.”) In short, I started this paragraph defending why I even look, and I’ve already forgotten.

The best I can say is that you’ll occasionally find a diamond in the rough, as it were. While 99.9% of what you read is the waste material that’s accumulated from the worst parts of human nature, sometimes you’ll see, you know, a funny joke or something.

The only trouble is, outside all the racism, offensive hate speech and other, more horrifying kinds of racism, it’s starting to get weird down here.

Here are few of the weirdest examples:

Why are people posting comments as celebrities? Every now and then I’ll watch a video and find Joss Whedon posting about how much he loves a particular Nightcore song. And that’s all well and good. Joss Whedon is free to enjoy any sort of music he likes. Only, it isn’t him. (I refuse to believe the real Joss Whedon has only two subscribers and a channel consisting of techno music played over anime fight scenes.)

Some random guy is just using that name and picture. Sometimes they’ll say something like, “This is a great song! Almost as good as Firefly! Lol!” Other times, it’s more along the lines of, “I’m Joss Whedon, and I approve.”

Is this some new, lame form of live action role-laying, or what? I don’t get it. And Joss Whedon wouldn’t explain it to me.

Why are people posting comments as random characters? It’s sort of the same as the last one. Only, someone is just posting as Naruto. No explanation as to what he’s doing there. No backstory. It’s just Naruto…commenting on a video about Boko Haram.

The weirdest part is that these people randomly show up to respond to comments about their show or character. How do they find these? Is there a hidden comment search function I don’t know about? Or is someone really just reading the comments on every single video ever made looking for mentions. You know, between educating himself on militant groups in Nigeria and stuff.

Okay. And here’s just a comment from the show “Knight Rider.” Seriously? The show is commenting? Sigh. You know what? Let’s just move on…

(Note: I stopped it here, but I honestly found someone commenting as the memory expansion pack from the Nintendo 64 shortly thereafter.)

If your only contribution is a picture or GIF, could you not? I realize that not everyone has anything insightful to add to a conversation. That’s okay. What’s not okay is saying nothing at all but putting in a random meme that’s only vaguely related.

“I don’t think the Hunger Games was a good adaptation. They should reboot it.”
“Ugh. Enough with these three-year gaps between reboots. There are too many as it is.”
And then some genius comes in with:

Meme

The only thing worse is the person that does the same, except every captioned picture is an attempt to sway the conversation to politics. I get that you think you’re being insightful when you post a picture that says, “Vote Hillary – And You’ll be Seeing the Hunger Games up Close in Two Years.” But you have to understand that this sort of behavior in the real world is literally the reason our species developed throat punching in the first place.

If anyone could explain this to me, I’d appreciate it. Then again, it would require using the comments section. And then people might start getting clever.

For now, I’ll just keep private messaging Joss Whedon.