April 18, 2014 § 28 Comments
Sometimes, it’s better not to spell out the exact thing you mean. In that case, it helps to use words that put a fuzzy-sunrise filter on the issue instead.
Euphemisms can be a real life-saver in social situations when you don’t want to hurt feelings or offend anyone. You know, like how “she was a bit tipsy” is a cute way of saying “she got so hammered, she tried to use a Sharpie as lipstick.” Or how “unfortunately” is a polite way of saying “fuck you,” as in, “I would love to come to your party, but I’m busy that night, unfortunately.”
Euphemisms can also be useful for maintaining the element of surprise. For example, if I see a movie, and you ask me how the movie was, and I say, “It was… interesting,” and then you go to the movie and discover that it’s about robotic, bloodthirsty aliens time-traveling back to the gunslinging days of the wild wild west, well, didn’t I do a nice job of not spoiling the plot?
Perhaps nowhere is euphemism quite so powerfully employed as in the real estate business. I’ve discovered this lately while doing some house-hunting, and I’ve quickly learned to decipher what some terms really mean.
- “Old-world charm” = “the doorknobs come off in your hand”
- “Sold as-is” = “asbestos in the walls and a skull of indeterminate origin in the attic”
- “Cheery and bright” = “crayon on the walls in every room”
- “Very open floor plan” = “oven and shower in the living room”
Also, “Tudor-esque,” “Spanish-style,” and “Italian countryside, right here in the city!” all mean “a bastardized cross-cultural mashup owned by a person with delusions of grandeur whose initials you’ll find permanently rendered in the ironwork over the driveway gate.”
Perhaps the very best, though — I mean the super-duper-totally-awesome best — is “historic property with original fixtures.” Do you know what that means?
It means the house comes with a rustic yet convenient murder station in the basement.
Wait, what? you say. Yes. Let’s take a closer look at what I actually found in one home I visited.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a large, petrified stump in one’s basement. I am, however, questioning the decision to carefully ACCESSORIZE IT WITH AN AX and LIGHT IT UP WITH A SPOTLIGHT. Like, welcome to this lovely home that hearkens back to a gentler age… a time when gentlemen wore hats… ladies held luncheons… and recalcitrant staff had their limbs punitively removed in the basement.
It’s just… interesting. That’s all I’m saying.
April 10, 2014 § 18 Comments
Do you have any hidden/weird talents that are just waiting for someone to call them out? I bet you do. Like, maybe you walk around every day, hoping that just *once* someone will say, “Hey, Mike — do you happen to have a great impression of Beaker from the Muppets?” so you can finally do your Beaker act for an audience. Something like that.
Well, several months ago, I got that call. Amy Vansant was putting together a humor anthology called Moms Are Nuts. Much to my surprise and delight, she had invited me to contribute an essay to the collection (more on that in a sec). Anyway, we were chatting one day about the book, and she said, “We haven’t settled on a perfect cover yet. I just wish I knew an artist who could, like, bring a bunch of peanuts to life and make them have a little conversation.”
Me: “I’VE BEEN PRACTICING FOR THIS MY WHOLE LIFE!”
Amy: “Oh, so are you saying you could…”
Me: “I’M ALREADY ON THE WAY TO BUY MORE HOT GLUE!”
And that is how this scene unfolded:
Which leads us to this book cover:
Moms Are Nuts is a collection of humor pieces by some hilarious writers (plus me) about the wonderful, weird women who raised them. As you can imagine, it was important to represent a diverse group of mothers, grandmothers, and mother-figures.
The photo shoot was lots of fun. In fact, the camera kept rolling on set between takes, which enabled us to capture some rather tragicomic outtakes on film. (More from the blooper reel here.)
Anyway — I could not be more delighted to be included in this collection alongside some really funny people. Fellow contributors have written for Comedy Central, The Tonight Show, US Weekly, VH-1, and The Onion, and include actors, stand-up performers, and alums of comedy programs such as the Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Critically acclaimed comedian Abbi Crutchfield contributes, as does comedy writer Gloria Fallon, plus some of my Internet friends, such as Nancy Kho and Wendi Aarons, and… well, there are 26 total. Here, you can see the list on the back cover:
I contributed the chapter, “Cursing With Style.” People have asked before if I’d publish that piece, and I’ve always meant to look into it… Thankfully, Amy came along and took care of it, so now it’s available in print for the first time. (Remember, kids: Never do work yourself if you could wait for someone else to do it for you.)
Moms Are Nuts makes a great Mother’s Day gift for anyone. It’s not about being a mom, it’s about having a mom. Many of the writers — dudes and ladies included — are not parents. But we all have beloved moms who are wonderfully colorful characters.*
Here’s a link to the official press release. I’m really tickled to be included in this project. Thanks, Amy and the Moms Are Nuts team!
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(* As always, a special thanks to my own mom. We’re just like those Proctor & Gamble commercials where the mamas get up early to help their little Olympians lug their skates and get to practice on time, but with cursing instead of skating.)
April 7, 2014 § 6 Comments
(This post is reblogged from Wordpress.com…What a nice little nod! I’m going to check out these other sites, too. Thank you for the kind support, WordPress.)
Originally posted on WordPress.com News:
Mary Laura Philpott , an author and the editor of online literary magazine Musing , often reserves her funniest material for her blog, I Miss You When I Blink .
Last month, she wrote a piece for the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, “Raising, and Understanding, the Class Clown,” where she talked about humor, parenting, and how both she and her son use laughter to cope with stressful situations.
Kenan Malik, who blogs at Pandaemonium, teaches, writes on culture and politics, and is a presenter on BBC Radio 4. In a blog post published last Fall, In Defense of Diversity, he discussed the recent history of…
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March 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Hey, funny people.
Many of you crack me up in the comments on this site — which makes me think you might appreciate this, so I’m going to share. It’s an essay I wrote for The New York Times about humor: where it comes from, how we develop it, and how it helps us get through life. I’m turning off the buttons and comments here, but feel free to click over and visit it there if you’re so inclined:
I was a tiny bit nervous about this, because I almost never write about my kids. I feel strongly about their privacy. Plus, they have so many stories to tell in their voices (not mine) one day. So this is unusual territory for me; but I wrote it because it’s been brewing in my head for quite some time, this thought on humor.
My little guy is one of the most wonderfully complex human beings I’ve ever met, and I’ve learned so much from him. He did read the article, and he’s cool with it. (He’s also a total pre-teen and has angst about being teased at school, so please, if you happen to know us in real life, don’t mention it to him. He’d be all, “GAH, MOM, GROSS, STOP TALKING ABOUT ME, GO STAND OVER THERE.”) We had a sweet little discussion about this in which we got all real and vulnerable and deep. Then we made some armpit noises and went on with our day.
Anyway. Thanks for the support, friends. Back to the usual jackassery next time.
March 5, 2014 § 22 Comments
You know how this goes. The new season’s magazines land in the mailbox, and lo, we are blessed with important and enlightening images. Let’s jump right into what the latest fashion ads have to teach us about living, shall we? Take note.
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1. Be Unpredictable
For the last 100 years, Chanel has been the standard of classic chic. Little quilted leather bags on chains, tastefully boxy tweed jackets, elegant Hepburn-esque sheaths. Well, you can’t stay the same forever. That’s boring. Chanel has decided to mix things up this season, and we all should, too.
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2. Embrace Your Face
Designers are reaching out to women with a message of inclusion and acceptance by putting faces on everything. Eyeballs on shoes, foreheads on dresses, lips on skirts. The meaning of it is this: Don’t be insecure about your face. Your face is beautiful. Your face is so great that you should replicate the image of your face and wear it multiple times on your body. Get up in everyone’s face with your face. And when that happens, we’ll finally understand each other and attain world peace.
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3. History Repeats Itself – Might as Well Accept It
I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’m just going to come right out: Crop tops are happening. Again. It’s a new thing, but an old thing at the same time. You know how you pat yourself on the back sometimes for putting old habits behind you? Yeah, stop patting. The fact is, what happened before will happen again. Your stupid past is about to be your stupid future. It’s just a matter of time.
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4. Trying New Things Won’t Kill You
This is probably the biggest change of the season. As we’ve discussed multiple times before, the reigning show-off-the-handbag position has been front and center and low, right over the ladygoods, for several seasons now. Well, guess what? No more. Look at all these gals, breaking out of the old routine. Freeeeeedom. Here, let’s trace the evolution of this crotch emancipation:
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5. Take Your Cues From Nature
Here’s what hot right now: plants. Leaves, petals, thorns, bark, stems, etc. All over the place. As colorful and as textural as you please. What does it all mean? It means be yourself. Life is a garden. Thrive where you’re planted. Reach, like a sproutling, for the sky. Blossom into your true self. From the tiny acorn grows the mighty oak. Don’t be like poison ivy and transmit a substance that makes others itch. Plants: They’re a metaphor.
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6. Life Would Be Easier If You Were a Fanning Sister
No deep symbolism here. Just pointing out that if you were Dakota or Elle, you’d be rolling in it right now.
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7. Expect the Unexpected
You think you know how life is going to go, but you can’t predict the actions of other people. That’s the thing. You might think you’re just going to go into the ladies room and relax and touch up your lip gloss in peace, but no. There’s some strung out girl you knew from high school sitting in front of the damn mirror. You couldn’t have seen that coming. But now you have to react. And that’s what life does. It surprises you. Sometimes the surprise is good. Sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes it’s someone’s butt in the sink.
Know someone who deserves to have a great spring? It’s as simple as following these examples. Pass it on.