A brief note on the racist, homophobic attack of Jussie Smollett, an actor I hadn’t heard of until a few days ago, but whose severe beating by a pair of “MAGA country” assailants has left me no less horrified, no less outraged, no less fearful of the real-life implications of our prevailing political discourse.
We aren’t born wanting to hurt people who look and act and love differently than we do. We learn that shit. And it’s taught to us with words.
Words breed hate. Hate breeds violence. Violence breeds tragedy.
So let’s not pretend that words don’t matter, that the only things words can hurt are feelings (as if feelings also don’t matter). Because what you might deride as “political correctness” I see as an urgent defense of people’s lives, a fight for their very humanity. It’s life and death, it’s self-preservation, it’s trying not to let one person’s words get another person killed.
Batman & Robin; Woodward & Bernstein; Sonny & Cher
Laverne & Shirley; Bert & Ernie; Mac & Cheese
The pantheon of legendary duos is a little more crowded today, because today the incomparable Berger & Curato have blessed the world with their stunning new picture-book masterpiece, “What If …”
Sam and Mike, aside from being super-besties, are a bona fide kidlit dream team. Watching these two creative powerhouses collaborate has been truly awe-inspiring, and the product of their partnership – their gorgeous book about the power of imagination and the indomitable will to create – is in every way spectacular.
I’m so excited for you all to get your eyes on a copy of “What If …” You’ll be delighted. You’ll be moved. You’ll be wowed.
Happy book birthday to the fabulous, unstoppable duo of Berger & Curato. I am so proud of you both!!!
Please stop telling me that gun control “won’t solve gun violence.”
Because no shit. I know it won’t. And I don’t know anyone who thinks it will.
But gun control works. It reduces gun deaths, and when done right, dramatically so. This isn’t speculation. It’s an empirical reality. Lives will be saved. Not all of them. But a hell of a lot.
In addressing the social ills that feed America’s gun-violence epidemic, access to guns should be low-hanging fruit. Good gun control makes it harder for the wrong people to get guns.
I realize gun control won’t zero out gun deaths in this country; I realize a determined-enough killer can find a way around the law. But “this won’t 100% eradicate the problem so why bother?” is a bad argument.
The harder it is to get a gun, the harder it is to kill someone with one.
Despite being the third-worst school shooting in US history, I’ve heard some discussion about how much worse yesterday could have been, about the countless lives that were likely saved by the proven evasive tactics in which the students and teachers were trained, as if we should be proud of this, as if we should find solace in the fact that there’s enough relevant data to develop effective life-saving strategies for these things, as if we should feel good that our schools now hold routine mass-shooting drills and that so many children knew exactly what to do to save themselves, as if it’s a relief that we’re so well trained for these attacks that “how much worse it could have been” is the miraculous testament we pull from once-unthinkable tragedy.
I am beyond grateful for all of yesterday’s survivors. But I am bewildered by the cost at which their lives were spared.
Great news, everyone. The president is fine. Better than fine, in fact. He is in excellent health.
That’s the word, anyway, from Dr. Ronnie Ronny Jackson, the navy physician who administered Mr. Trump’s annual physical last week, and who reports that the exam went “exceptionally well.”
What exactly made this routine checkup exceptional isn’t clear. Maybe past presidents’ exams were at best uneventful, and at worst had Dubya chasing the doctor’s flashlight like a cat chasing a laser-pointer. Maybe Bill Clinton was a little too dodgy about his history of substance non-inhalation, and Barack Obama wouldn’t quit stanning a health plan so thoroughly government-controlled that Chuck Schumer would personally administer prostate exams. I don’t know.
All I know is that everything Donald Trump does is, by definition, superlative – he makes the biggest deals, surrounds himself with the best people, takes the most beautiful shits – and last week’s visit to Walter Reed Medical Center was no exception.
Wait, I mean it was an exception.
Wait, I mean … EXCEPTIONAL, DAMMIT.
The exam came amid growing concerns over the 71-year-old president’s mental and physical health. With his outward appearance and public behavior echoing the symptoms of ailments you wouldn’t wish on your worst POTUS (whoever that may be), speculation about Trump’s medical condition – and thus his fitness to hold office – has been rampant.
But now, with the results of his physical in, we can safely set these worries aside. Mr. Trump remains the HEALTHIEST PRESIDENT EVER– aone-man #resistance to all known maladies, the very picture of robust, youthful vigor. His body’s as fit as his nuclear button is large; his mind’s as sound as his motives are (racially) pure. Unencumbered by the frailties of a low-energy mortal, President Stable Genius is the tip-top, forever-winning Adonis we need to Make America Great Again.
To help us understand the great relief this news brings, I have compiled a list of illnesses that the president’s exceptional, outstanding, five-out-of-five physical exam has ruled out. After years of sneaking suspicion and nagging worry, of praying each ostensible symptom was but a benign Trumpian quirk, I believe this list – this dossier of diseases Donald Trump definitely doesn’t have – will reassure us all that the fate of the free world is in strong, vital, totally normal-sized hands.
1. Super herpes: Because regular herpes just isn’t good enough, super herpes are the biggest, most beautiful herpes, and can only be contracted by the very best people.
2. Donorrhea: Being a paragon of male sexual dominance is not without its risks, and this pesky infection, if left untreated, can lead to erratic genital spasms that doctors call “unstable peenius.”
3. Hair cancer: A disease that gives the hair a stale yellow pallor and a straw-like texture suitable for the nesting of migratory birds (although the most MAGA-lignant form of the disease wants those birds deported).
4. Pout: When the accumulation of chemical preservatives from an all-McDonald’s diet freezes one’s lips in a terse, unsightly pucker.
5. Covfefe fever: When the daily barrage of fake news causes a fire-and-fury-level spike in one’s temperature, leading to bizarre hallucinations, wild delusions, and delirious tweeting of inscrutable nonkitten in the dead of hat where now in llama pill the bigly quiet to oprah expialidocious wantfofo qeelhalsklf yyy %4#@J&.?
6. Diagreedes: A chronic condition where one’s health depends on daily infusions of ill-gotten wealth. Treatments include stiffing contractors, swindling college kids, bilking taxpayers, gaming bankruptcy laws, laundering mob money, and peddling a “luxury” brand of gaudy crap.
7. Mar-a-Laria: Found exclusively in the tropical climes of South Florida, this disease comes with a $200,000 initiation fee. Symptoms include profuse vomiting of a tacky slime (that blends right in with the décor), and a distinct orang-ing of the skin known as Dondice.
8. Klanish flu: Usually found in the Louisiana fever-swamp where David Duke goes to spawn, this disease comes with a whole basket of deplorable symptoms, including a tendency to retweet known white supremacists, the urge to berate uppity Black athletes, and an outspoken affinity for crusty Confederate monuments. Left untreated, the disease can result in an extreme narrowing of the urethra some call “very fine peep-hole.”
9. Misogynist swine flu: Symptoms include compulsive pussy-grabbing, the urge to spit petty epithets at threatening vagina-havers, feelings of profound sexual inadequacy, and profound sexual inadequacy. On the upside, one may discover an uncanny ability to surpass infinitely better-qualified rivals and rise to positions for which he is grotesquely unfit, simply because he has a penis.
10. Irritable scowl syndrome: A reflexive, peevish grimace that occurs whenever the afflicted is reminded that a woman beat him by 3 million votes.
11. Alt-rightis: A chronic disorder where one experiences searing physical pain whenever the faintest whiff of “social justice” is detected. Common triggers include all-female reboots, people who refuse to get over slavery, people who ignore all the good things Hitler did, men who look like feminists, non-self-loathing gays, all-gender restrooms, poor people living into their 40s, Beyoncé, Muslins, her emails.
12. YUGE-pox: Basically, the body becomes one giant, festering boil that discharges a stream of putrid slime 12 times a day – usually on Twitter.
13. There’s-a-Tweet-for-Everything Tourette’s: A disorder where the afflicted constantly engages in – and loses – arguments with himself due to an uncontrollable urge to blurt statements his own copious Twitter receipts will unfailingly demolish.
14. Bowel Obstruction of Justice: When one’s desperate attempts to shit on the rule of law are blocked by the stone-cold special prosecutor climbing straight up their ass.
15. Putin sensitivity: When exposure to the shifty machinations of a glorified international crime boss leaves one susceptible to blackmail, criminal indictment, and impeachment. Sufferers are advised to collude with their lawyers to determine the best defense, but a daily dose of congressional ambivalence has proved to be a highly effective check on the most serious symptoms.
16. Peebola: I’m not gonna describe this one. There’s a videotape.
17. Shithole: A foul, racist diarrhea of the mouth. (Whatever. He totally has this one.)
It’s been over six years since I last donned a Halloween costume. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve gotten too old for that kind of thing. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too lazy these days to put that much thought into an outfit.
Or maybe it’s because I’m sure will never, ever be able to top this sexy, scruffy, scoundrel-chic masterpiece of a Halloween ensemble from 2009:
When I was in Seattle last spring, I had a chance to take in the “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibition at the EMP. The show featured an exciting array of original costumes from across the Star Wars saga, along with some memorable wardrobe pieces from a few other fantasy-cinema classics. It was awesome.
Of course I was totally geeking out in the presence of these iconic costumes – outfits actually worn on-screen by the likes of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader. I mean, you could practically smell Chewbacca’s enchanting Wookiee musk. And what a thrill to meet the dark, helmeted gaze of Boba Fett as he stares you down like the Empire’s put a price on your head.
So naturally, I took a lot of pictures, the highlights of which I’m now happy to share with you here (and please forgive my sub-par phone photography). Hopefully they’ll give you a sense of just how sweet this exhibit was, and help you appreciate what incredible works of art these costumes really are.
And who knows, maybe this post will inspire me to up my Star Wars costume game for Halloweens to come.
There are clubs in New York where this look would totally work.
Apparently those Empire guys were giants.
“Look, sir. Tourists!”
“Someone who wants to have your son even though he’ll grow up into an angsty, obsessive emo-guy who will abandon his Jedi training for a path to the Dark Side, fall in with the evil First Order regime, wreak bloody havoc across the galaxy, and eventually murder you in cold bloo … I mean, someone wholoves you.”
I feel like this one would eventually transition from “costume” to regular beach wear.
I could just quit manscaping. No costume needed.
Dan or the mannequin: Who wore it better? (Answer: Harrison Ford. Always.)
OMG. Totally the droid I was looking for.
I’ve got mad Force-choke skills.
And here are some highlights from the other films featured in the exhibit.
The Princess Bride:
I do not have six fingers on my left hand. I do, however, have two belly buttons. (Childhood surgery. Long story.)
“I used to be a sailor. I worked the pastry deck on the USS Michael Vale. Life could get pretty stale after a month at sea, and it was hard not to grow a bit salty out there. But I got to travel the world, and there was nothing like a warm dip in the Java Sea to make it all worthwhile. And we did have our fair share of excitement: One day there was a man overboard, and someone mistook me for a life ring and tossed me in after him. We all had a hearty laugh after that. Oh, and you see these spots? Let’s just call them my ‘souvenir’ from a wild night with a bagel I met during Fleet Week. Anyway, I eventually grew tired of that lonely, dough-madic way of life, so once I was back in the city, I re-ordered myself to stay. And it was for the best by then. My shipmates had started taking bites out of me. They thought it would prevent scurvy.”
I generally try to avoid the Nonsense Internet and its way of infecting our mind grapes with meaningless viral inanity. Frankly, I’ve got better things to do online. (Also, I was totally right about the color of that dress.)
But last week, a startling headline appeared in my Twitter feed announcing that an inexplicable meme sensation had FREAKING DEMOLISHED my first name. No warning. No hope of revival. No remains. The name Daniel was over.
The culprit was a video called “Damn Daniel,” and if you’re of the mind that life is just too damn long, you can click here to check it out.
Now, it’s one thing to let some viral nonsense slowly melt my brain into pink porridge. But to allow this merciless wrecking ball of a meme to swing away at my poor, defenseless name – a noble appellation shared with he who faced down the lions in their den, who commanded American discourse with his soaring oratory, whose mighty family dynasty once ruled all of Hollywood? Too far, kids. TOO FAR.
So I decided to strike back and reclaim my good name the only way I know how: with a storm of brilliant parody tweets.
For your convenience, I’ve compiled all these tweets into one tidy blog post, and I now invite you, as a special Leap Day treat, to revel for a few moments in my mad, meme-crushing wit:
Me: “How does one block a river?”
The internet: “Dam, Daniel.”
Me: “What’s the name of that famous canned lunch meat?”
The internet: “Spam, Daniel.”
Me: “How does one politely address an older woman?”
The internet: “Ma’am, Daniel”
Me: “What would you call David Bowie’s signature style circa 1972?”
The internet: “Glam, Daniel.”
Me: “What was the greatest Brit-pop duo of the 1980s?”
The Internet: “Wham! Daniel.”
Me: “What should I do when I haven’t studied for tomorrow’s test?”
The Internet: “Cram, Daniel.”
Me: “What’s the deal with all that money the Prince of Nigeria promised me?”
The internet: “Scam, Daniel.”
Me: “Remind me, which is my least favorite of all edible tubers?”
The internet: “Yam, Daniel.”
Me: “What should I use to stroll my baby around this London park?”
The internet: “Pram, Daniel.”
Me: “How can I see the world from the top of a mountain if I’m too lazy to climb it?”
The internet: “Tram, Daniel.”
Me: “If I ever decide to storm castle gate, what would be the best tool for the job?”
The internet: “Ram, Daniel.”
Me: “What was the most memorable one-word catchphrase of late-90s celebrity chefdom?”
The internet: “Bam! Daniel.”
Me: “If Jim Halpert married a can of cooking spray, which one would it be?”
The internet: “PAM, Daniel.”
Me:”What would you call me after the overwrought performance I gave in my fifth grade Christmas pageant?”
The internet: “Ham, Daniel.”
Me: “What’s the best way for me to showcase my highly performative poetry?”
The internet: “Slam, Daniel.”
Me: “What was once defined as ‘the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a meter, and at the temperature of melting ice’?”
The internet: “Gram, Daniel.”
Me: “What should I do when I’ve taken out one of my rivals with a trident to the heart?”
The internet: “Lam, Daniel.”
Me: “What’s that one type of rock band I really don’t care for?”
The internet: “Jam, Daniel.”
Me: “How would you describe my professed heterosexuality circa 1998?”
The Internet: “Sham, Daniel.”
Me: “I could go on with these for days, but should I?”
The internet: “Scram, Daniel.”
Apropos of absolutely nothing but the fact that today is President’s Day, I was reminded earlier that it’s time for my annual perusal of Article II of the U.S. Constitution.
During this year’s reading – again, for reasons entirely unrelated to any events that might have transpired over the weekend – a couple of clauses really grabbed me:
Section 1: [The President of the United States] shall hold his office during the term of four years …
Section 2: … and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court …
Straightforward enough, right? The president gets to be president for four years at a time, and it’s the president’s job to appoint new Supreme Court justices. Two simple but all-important mandates from the majestic scroll that governs this great republic.
But why did these clauses, in particular, stand out to me?
Well, I kinda lied about it having nothing to do the events of this past weekend. You see, despite my usual aversion to hard drugs, it seems that on Saturday evening I slipped into a feverish crack dream in which a sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court drove America insane.
In this dream, a pack of crazed, power-hungry horror clowns shrieked at the prospect of the sitting president nominating a new justice. He should wait, they snarled between gnaws of each other’s flesh-stripped clown bones, for one of them to take his place so they could fill the vacancy with their Dark Lord Pennywise.
Meanwhile, Senator Jowly McChickenjowls tried to convince America that Article II was little more than a flight of whimsy dreamed up in a sappy Aaron Sorkin drama. He claimed that executive power goes limp after three years, and vowed the Senate wouldn’t advise and consent to the president’s Netflix queue, let alone any judicial nominee he had the stones to field in an election year.
The argument went that only a mad, ruthless tyrant would seek to fill a high court vacancy before the people (no, not those people– some other people) had had their say. These opponents claimed that doing so would shatter a precious American tradition that had stood for millennia, and swore on the holy shrine of their sainted Spirit Father that the exact same transgression definitely hadn’t occurred 28 years earlier.
For his part, the tweedy Constitution-nerd of a president stubbornly refused to heed these concerns, ignoring, as usual, those who only asked that he relinquish all power, admit his election(s) had been a freak accident of history, and hurl himself into the fiery abyss. Instead, always the lame-ass stickler, he promptly announced his intent to keep on doing president stuff and comply with his Article II, Section 2 directive.
At this, the Senate’s Meathead Caucus – while confessing that none of them had ever actually gazed upon the Sacred Parchment (but promising they would totally get to it at some point) – howled that this outrageous power grab was SOOOOO not cool, and threatened to run President Poindexter’s court-packing shorts up the filibuster flagpole.
Yes, they were ready to risk a republic-torching constitutional crisis just to show that goody-goody buzzkill in the White House what’s what. Because patriotism.
Now it’s Monday, and what a relief that I’ve awoken to sweet, serene reality. No cynical hacks selectively voiding Article II clauses. No nakedly partisan attempts to diminish the president’s effective tenure. No IDGAF denial of the chief executive’s right to nominate Supreme Court justices. Because that’s the kind of insanity that can only be conjured in the fog of a psychedelic night terror.
Thankfully, we exist in a world where responsible Constitutional Conservatives are running the show – righteous guardians who would never subvert a single clause of our cherished founding document, or ever dream of shirking their own constitutional obligations.
So, reassured in the knowledge that Article II of the Constitution still stands, and that the unbridled fuckery of a constitutional showdown isn’t upon us, it’s time for me to go online for the first time since Saturday morning and see what news, if any, may have broken over the weekend.