Elephants on Parade

Let’s take a deep dive into the realm of tourist attractions. And we’re not talking roller coasters or the teacup ride. This rant is centered around an animal encounter at the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge in Bali. Ostensibly, Mason Elephant Park & Lodge is an elephant conservation park… but they seem to do an awful lot of what I would call sketchy touristy stuff with the elephants they’re supposed to be helping. Elephant chauffeurs, bathing with elephants, elephant treks on safari, and more. Seems a little counterintuitive if you ask me.

One intrepid vacationer embarked on what she probably thought was a good idea at the time. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? In this case, a series of bad decisions made by one Beth Bogar involved, you guessed it, the world’s largest land animal. The excursion in question started with an aquatic bonding experience with an elephant followed by a majestic ride on its back and an up-close photo op at the end. Little did she know, the elephant had a biting sense of humor. Okay, yeah, so that was an insensitive joke. I don’t even care.

Now, let’s take a moment to reflect on the mysteries of life. We live in a world where humans voluntarily hop aboard the backs of wild animals and expect nothing but rainbows and sunshine. It’s truly a marvel that the elephant in question didn’t whip out a “Welcome, Ride Me!” sign instead of biting our daring traveler. The woman required extensive surgery from what I understand, but it’s not surprising considering it was an elephant. They’re kind of on the “big” side. I mean, when you think “what would I rather get bitten by today?” one doesn’t ordinarily think “elephant.” Because again. They’re big. And powerful. And don’t take kindly to being exploited.

Before you start saying “aww, how terrible!” it’s important to note that these animal encounters raise a few ethical eyebrows. If yours aren’t raised in solidarity, then I just don’t know what to even say to you anymore.  You may not know this, but elephants are not born with a predisposition for carrying humans on their backs or posing for photo ops. Surprise, surprise! They prefer to live their lives free from the clutches of capitalism.

But, dear readers, let’s delve deeper into the dark underbelly of these seemingly innocent attractions. For instance, where do you think they find these elephants? It’s not as though you can just pick them up at the pet store. No. These businesses usually get their elephants as babies by either stealing them from their mother in the wild or unethical breeding programs. Rather than a heartwarming story of compassion where the calves (baby elephants) are trained with kindness and empathy, it’s more like a tale of horror with the young elephants being subjected to cruel and abusive practices to instill fear and ensure obedience.

Naturally, it should come as no shock that an animal who has endured a life of fear and manipulation might snap. Or maybe, you know, it simply didn’t like a human in its face, and it did what a wild animal does if its space is being invaded.

Now, here’s where the fun part begins. While Ms. Bogar doesn’t blame the elephant, she does blame the Mason Elephant Park & Lodge – because, and here’s the funny bit, they should have known the elephant might bite her and the guide let her arm get too close to the elephant’s mouth. I guess it never occurred to her that the elephant might bite if you’re up in its face. Wild animal and all that, but no, the thought apparently never crossed her mind. So, anyway, she thinks they should pay for her ordeal. I mean, I guess I agree, and one could say that she’s been punished enough for her bad decisions. But, come on. Everyone involved in this situation is in the wrong, except for the elephant. And it’s hard to muster up any sympathy. Except for the elephant. Because really, dear readers, what did they expect? When you choose to get up close and personal with a wild animal, one that is likely abused and fearful, the universe doesn’t always reward you with a good time.

Of course, I can’t vent about this topic without stating the obvious: if it weren’t for people like Ms. Bogar who condone and actively participate in exploiting animals in this way, there would be no demand for such attractions, and the animals would be left alone to live their lives instead of being “trained” to cater to the whims of tourists. Another plus side to this is that there would be no biting of said tourists.

You know who probably paid the biggest price in this fiasco?  Yep, the elephant. No word on whether the animal was euthanized, punished, or released. But I would bet good money that one of those things is definitely not in its future. Can you guess which one?

Rant over. But I’ll leave you with this last thought… call me cliché, but it’s true. And important. We need to look beyond our selfishness and work together to create a more compassionate world for all living beings.

Okay. Rant really over this time.

Finding the Answers

We live in a golden age.

Sure, there are still people who die every day from hunger, despite there being enough food in the world to feed everyone. Okay, yeah there always seems to be war breaking out. Russia, we’re looking at you. You’re right, political corruption seems to be at an all-time high. Yes, we seem to be slipping back to a time when Nazis were running wild. But at least we live in a golden age where information and answers are at the tip of our fingertips. What a time to be alive!

Let me give you a prime example. Have you ever wondered how peanut butter is made? Buckle up peanut butter cup, ’cause it’s a breeze:

  • Step one: Fire up YouTube.
  • Step two: Search for “How is peanut butter made?”
  • Step three: Watch as many videos as your heart desires until you’re a peanut butter-making pro!

Or, if you have a lot of time on your hands:

  • Step one: Summon the mighty Google.
  • Step two: Search for “How is peanut butter made?”
  • Step three: Dive into a sea of articles until you’ve absorbed all the peanutty knowledge you crave!


  • Step one: Just ask ChatGPT, the wizard of all knowledge, “Tell me how to make peanut butter in the simplest and quickest way!”
  • Step two: Voila! You’re whipping up homemade peanut butter to sell at the farmer’s market like a boss.

It’s that easy.

Did you know that when Betty White was still alive (sadly she didn’t live forever as we all hoped and thought she would) she was older than sliced bread? Literally. I’m not making a “she’s so old joke,” but if I were, it would be funny and factual.

You know how I learned this? I wondered what year she was born. In less than ten seconds I had my answer: 1922.

When was sliced bread created? 1928.

Where am I going with this you may be asking yourself. Well, the point is, nowadays if you have a question or you’re not sure about something, finding the answer is so unbelievably easy. A few keystrokes and you’re there at the doorstep of your answer.

“Back in my day,” said in an old folk’s voice, if you wanted to know something, it was a much harder task.

Again, sticking with peanut butter (hope nobody is allergic) if you wanted to know how it was made you had to:

  • Open your phone book.
  • Find the number to the nearest peanut butter plant.
  • Call the plant’s office.
  • Ask if they give tours. Phew, they give tours! Fantastic! Note down the date and time.
  • Wait till the day and time they’re giving tours.
  • Go to bed early.
  • Wake up early.
  • Wake up the kiddos.
  • Get everyone in the car.
  • Unfurl your map and trace out the quickest route to the factory.
  • Realize that you need a magnifying glass to see this godforsaken map.
  • Retrace the quickest route to the factory.
  • Start your road trip.
  • Halfway there, get a flat tire.
  • Lose interest as you wait for a tow truck.
  • Yell at the kids for getting on your nerves.
  • Yell at your spouse for getting on your nerves.
  • Decide you don’t really care how peanut butter is made.
  • Get a divorce.


  • Go to the library.
  • Sign up for a library card.
  • Go searching for books related to peanuts and the process of making peanut butter.
  • Hope that this type of book isn’t already taken, forcing you to wait for someone else to return it.
  • The book is there! Read it.
  • Answer found.

Maybe even…

  • Ask that pretentious cousin who brags about canning their own vegetables.
  • Spend over two hours on the phone with said cousin.
  • Take copious notes and equal shots of vodka while navigating through the family gossip you’ve thus far been able to avoid just to get to the needed recipe.
  • Spend the next 10 years wondering why your peanut butter always comes out wonky.
  • Finally realize that your cousin doesn’t know how to make peanut butter.

What I’m trying to say is, there’s no excuse to not know things nowadays, especially things that you can easily look up for yourself.

The other day I saw this post in my Agatha Christie Poirot group on Facebook where some young person was confused when a movie star was mentioned in an episode because… they didn’t think there were televisions in Hercule Poirot’s time. So how could they watch a movie?

I digress here for a moment to say that Agatha Christie wrote the Hercule Poirot stories from 1920 to 1972 and, for the most part, they were set in the year in which they were written. The televised adaptations (with the incomparable David Suchet, pictured) were all set in the 1930s (for whatever reason). Now, the TV was invented in 1927, but movies have been around even before then with the first moving picture dating back to 1895. You may not know this (but you should cause…Google), but film and television are also two different things. You don’t need a television to watch films (no, really, it’s true), and they certainly didn’t need them back in the day.

Luckily, someone with much more patience and understanding than me chimed in to explain that yes, there were movies back in the day, but they were called films and they were shown in this thing called a cinema. The original poster ended up laughing at themselves and saying “obviously I’m from the streaming generation.” As if that explained it all away.

I realize that the Facebook group is meant for socializing and whatnot, but why not look up something like this before posting a question for public critique? I mean, for the love of Pete, you have the knowledge of the world at your fingertips. Another person, equally as kind as the first – and loads nicer than me – said there are no stupid questions. Really? Are you sure about that?

All I could think of were the America’s Funniest Videos clips where parents watch their kids struggling with a rotary phone or a rolodex. Rather than feeling “smart,” my having the knowledge that films did and can in fact exist without the need for a television somehow made me feel… old. And that was unexpected.

Don’t Go Changing

Let’s talk about makeovers in movies – the ones where a girl’s entire self-worth is determined by how she looks to a man? Yeah, those. It’s like watching a horror movie, but instead of a chainsaw-wielding maniac, it’s just a basic dude with a fragile ego. What brought this to mind, you ask? The Breakfast Club. An iconic John Hughes flick that up until recently was a guilty pleasure. I watched it again this week and it just didn’t hit like it used to.

Then I came across this. Because you know, the internet is spying on us.

nobody asked you, Malcolm

Of course, the lovely Ally Sheedy played the equally lovely Allison Reynolds in The Breakfast Club. But like so many movies geared towards young people, there came the dreaded “makeover” scene. There’s usually an upbeat pop song playing over a montage of trying on new outfits, putting on makeup, straightening or coloring hair, or the most magical transition of all – taking off the glasses!  Sure, the character may not be able to see now but at least she is finally seen by others, especially whichever guy she has her sights set on. And yes, I meant to make that pun.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against a character going through some self-reflection and making some personal changes in a movie. Hero’s journey, and all that jazz. But why does it inevitably fall to the female character to change? And if she were altering her appearance for her own personal wants, desires, or goals, that’s one thing, but to do so just for some arrogant dude’s attention is disappointing. That’s why the transformation scene like the one in The Breakfast Club is so frustrating. Because just like all the other ones, the jock or stupid boy crush has no interest whatsoever in making any real changes in himself. Just another entitled dude who thinks the world revolves around him, and well, to be quite frank, in these movies, it does. And apparently in real life too, hence the meme.

What’s more frustrating is that young people are the target audience of these movies. We’re continuing to tout this nonsense to the next generations. We’re teaching, or rather, trying to teach young women that they must adhere to contemporary beauty standards to be liked or loved. Worse, they need to subjugate themselves to a man’s whims. But you know what? Young women these days aren’t having it. They’re a force unto themselves and I’m glad to see it.

You know what movie had a great makeover scene? Grease. The main characters both changed because they wanted to be more of what the other wanted. They cared about each other and were willing to do whatever it would take to make the other one happy. Both of them. We need more of that and less of this one-sided crap. But it’s not surprising that Grease is the superior take on this trope. After all, Grease is the word.



A Legacy Diminished

Have you heard about Nakano Takeko?  She was one of the last samurai who formed an all-female battalion to defend her shogun during the Boshin War. Yeah, this woman was a freakin’ badass. She even took a bullet to the chest and then had her sister behead her so that the enemy couldn’t take her head as a war trophy. Incredible. The stuff of legends, really.

But you know what’s not so impressive? The fact that a history site decided to lead with “she was good-looking, well-educated, and came from a powerful samurai family” in their post about her.

Now let me get this straight. She was a proficient fighter, led a group of warriors into battle as a female in one of the strictest male-dominated cultures of the time and they lead with “she was good-looking?” And then followed up with a shout out to her family. Want to bet on whether a man wrote this caption or not? You should just give me your money because we both know the answer.

Let me tell you about Dorothy Hodgkin, a brilliant chemist whose contributions to science, and specifically chemistry, were astounding and deservedly won her the Nobel Prize in 1964. But guess what the newspaper’s headline was? “Nobel Prize for British Wife.” Seriously? They couldn’t come up with something a little less sexist like “Nobel Prize for Deserving Chemist?” Nope, they had to go with the woman’s marital status. I mean, can you imagine if a man won the Nobel and the headline read “Nobel Prize for British Husband?” It just wouldn’t happen. Wouldn’t have happened then and wouldn’t happen now.

But that’s not all. In her Nobel Prize biography, they didn’t just talk about her accomplishments, oh no. They also devoted paragraphs to the accomplishments of her father, husband, and children. Meanwhile, male biographies just mentioned their family in a sentence or two, with their own accomplishments rightfully taking center stage. Women are routinely reduced to their family and relationship status rather than being recognized for who they are and what they’ve achieved. And sadly, this kind of bias still happens today.

Imagine a doctor who has worked their entire life on finding the cure for cancer, and they’ve finally done it! After many years of giving their blood, sweat, and tears to their work – all to make the world a better place, they’ve accomplished something no one else has ever done. Their work will change the face of humanity as we know it. They should be hailed as a hero. They’re a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize. However, the subsequent news headline reads, “Woman sacrifices having a family just to find cure for cancer.” Or “In finding a cure for cancer, woman’s biological clock has run out.” Or “Accomplished accordionist, John Doe, proud of wife’s scientific contribution.” Or “With her long-suffering husband by her side, this fresh-faced wife discusses contribution to cure for cancer.”

Can you imagine if these types of headlines were written about men? Here are a few rewrites to give you an idea.

Man Finding an American Lion Tooth Fossil in Shallow Mississippi is “the biggest of Deals” to Scientists

Rewrite: Breaking news: Man discovers ancient American Lion tooth, claims it’s the biggest accomplishment since he last found his car keys. Scientists impressed by his ability to find something in plain sight.

Jeff Bezos Just Gave $100 Million to Dolly Parton for Her Charity as the 3rd Winner of His “Courage and Civility Award” Prize

Rewrite: Clingy Much? Bezos Gifts Dolly Parton Huge Sum of Money to Be Friends

Obama Joins Republicans to Sign STOCK Act, Outlawing Congressional ‘Insider Trading’

Rewrite: Michelle’s Husband Does His Job

World’s Sexiest Doctor Raffles Himself for Date to Raise Money for Charity.

Rewrite: I’ve got nothing.  He IS sexy.

It’s time for us to shift our perspective and recognize women for their accomplishments rather than their relationships. Rather than headlines like “Mother of three wins Nobel Prize,” let’s focus on the achievement itself and celebrate the individual for their hard work and dedication. We need to move away from the outdated and limiting view that a woman’s worth is tied to her marital and maternal status, and instead celebrate their individual achievements and contributions to society.



Aging Like Fine… Cabbage

I just made myself some fried cabbage. Yep. At 10:00. At night. Fried cabbage at this hour is like playing a rigged game of Russian roulette with your digestive system. It’s not a matter of if, but when the rumbling and gurgling will start. So forget about enjoying that delicious goodness without paying the price later. It’s like our stomachs have become traitors in our golden years. It’s enough to make you want to cry into your bowl of bland, flavorless oatmeal. Oh, the joys of aging. Who needs roller coasters and bungee jumping when you can live on the edge by eating fried cabbage at 10 pm?

As we get older, our bodies betray us at every turn. We used to be able to eat anything we wanted without giving it a second thought. We could chow down on a giant burrito at midnight and be ready for a marathon the next day. But now, even the thought of a spicy meal after 7 pm can send our digestive system into a tailspin.

It’s not just about food either. Remember the days when we could stay up all night partying with friends and still function like a normal human being the next day? Now, just one glass of wine can leave us feeling like we’ve been hit by a truck. That’s our bodies telling us, “Sorry, just give it up, those days are over. You’re officially old.” If you need any confirmation at all, just go to the grocery store. Our music – the music we listened to as we danced the night away – is now playing on the speakers. Talk about adding insult to injury.

And don’t even get me started on the aches and pains. It used to be that we could bend over and touch our toes without even thinking about it. Now, we have to carefully stretch out every muscle just to tie our shoes. It’s like we’re slowly turning into the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz.

But perhaps the cruelest irony of aging is the toll it takes on our love of food. The days of devouring an entire pizza without batting an eye are behind us.  Now, we have to think twice before indulging in anything remotely spicy or greasy… weighing the risks against the deliciousness of the meal. Is it worth it?  Is it really? And even if we do give in to our cravings, we know we’ll be paying for it later.

No matter how much we fight it – with some of us kicking and screaming all the way to the plastic surgeon – aging and all the downsides that come with it, is inevitable. So, we might as well find humor in the absurdity of it all. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Or so they say. Even if it doesn’t do much for our digestion.

And who knows, maybe someday we’ll stumble upon the elusive fountain of youth and be able to enjoy our favorite foods with reckless abandon once again. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with the blandest of meals and the earliest of bedtimes. Blech. But hey, at least we’ll be able to laugh about it over a shared tub of Tums.

The Problem with Cats

I have a literal pet peeve that I just have to share, mainly because it confuses the hell out of me more than it annoys me. Actually, no, that’s not true. It annoys me a lot.

Obligatory disclaimer: I love my cats. They’re my furry children…okay…well not quite… but they ARE my fuzzy confidants, my purring comrades. I love, love, love them.

At the same time, I hate my cats. Okay, now hear me out. Any cat lover will understand this paradox. What I specifically hate is when I find them staring at nothing. I’ll be reading on my couch or thumbing through a magazine in bed and I peer over to see them sitting docilely facing what?  An empty corner, that’s what. Or they’re perched as stoically as a Buckingham Palace guardsman gazing intently….and I mean INTENTLY… at a blank patch of ceiling.

The obvious thing to think is that maybe they’re looking at something really tiny. But I get up and check. Not once have I found the object of their scrutiny. I would expect a tiny bug stuck in a spider web or a piece of fluff dancing in the breeze. Nope. Just empty space. Sometimes, after I have paused the movie or put down the book, climbed up on a chair to peer at the ceiling like a demented Mr. Magoo and I’m sitting back down, they are done staring at whatever it was and are now looking at me, with dare I say, humor in their eyes. As if to say “ha! gotcha!” But I can never be sure. So every time, I’m back up on that chair, checking out the ceiling. Like a fool. 

And then there are those times when they’re happily playing with….nothing. Absolutely nothing. So what is drawing their undivided attention? And just who or what are they playing with!? It vexes me and then I get annoyed because I often get frustrated when I don’t understand something. Not to mention it’s just plain creepy.

What’s even worse (and something else I’m sure cat owners can attest to) is when I wake up in the morning — or worse yet in the middle of the night — to find their huge dilated eyes only inches from mine as their feline vision bores into me. I have no clue how long they have been there staring at me. And regardless of that, it bothers me to think about what could be going through their heads. Something tells me they’re not thinking, “Wow, I’m so glad Wendy takes care of me. She’s so, so good. She’s the best.” More than likely they’re hatching some fiendish plan to overthrow me as head of the household and becoming their own cat powered sovereign state. 

It’s said that many of our domesticated animals have a sixth sense; something that feels a presence that we humans can’t pick up on. Maybe when my cats are staring at “nothing,” they are actually being entertained by a ghost or some invisible demon or entity that I just can’t see. I simply refuse to go down that path because I just do not have time to worry about unpaying house guests hanging about the place along with everything else I’ve got on my plate. All I can hope is that if they are seeing spirits maybe, just maybe, those invisible beings like me and will tell my cats not to stage a coup. But knowing my luck, they’d probably just team up to take me down.

Don’t let that pretty face fool you.



Survival of the Not-So-Fittest

Ah, staff meetings. The bane of every introvert’s existence. There’s nothing quite like being stuck in a room with a bunch of extroverted folks you barely know, all vying for the spotlight. I’ve had my fair share of staff meetings, and let me tell you, they’re not my favorite thing in the world.

First, there’s the whole “small talk” thing. As a group introverts are not exactly known for our ability to chitchat with strangers and I’m the queen of not-having-the-ability-to-chitchat. But in all-staff meetings, it’s expected. And did I mention that I hate chitchat?  While everyone else is talking about their weekend plans or the latest TV show they’re obsessed with, I’m sitting there silently, wondering when we can get down to business so I can go home.

Then, there’s the inevitable moment when someone asks for my input. I always try to come up with something intelligent to say, but half the time, I end up stumbling over my words and sounding like a complete idiot. I mean, I guess it’s better than fact-dumping on serial killers of the Midwest or Bigfoot sightings around the world. Which, as you can see, is why I normally keep myself to myself. My coworkers think I’m quiet and demure when in reality, I just don’t think they’d appreciate my contribution to the “what did you watch last night” conversation.

Oh joy, there’s a group brainstorming session. No mention of that in the agenda. You know the drill – someone writes a question on a whiteboard and then everyone else starts shouting out ideas. I find this process incredibly overwhelming. Even when I’m familiar with the subject – experienced even, I need time to think and process information, and the pressure of coming up with ideas on the spot is almost painful. I find that I can survive this part of Hell the meeting so long as we stay in one large group… it’s when we’re forced to break off into subgroups that the situation turns dire. Because the smaller the group, the more you have to participate. Despite appearances, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. My brain is full of ideas, whether for good or bad, it’s just that I’m not overly fond of fighting the increasingly raised voices of my A-personality colleagues clamoring to impress the meeting facilitator.

After lunch – which for me consisted of a makeshift salad made from the dry lettuce, tomato, and onion meant for the burgers that were served buffet style, because the event planner forgot to order a vegetarian meal – there was a team building exercise with an all-new meeting facilitator. Just what I wanted to do on an almost empty stomach.

As we all gathered in the conference room, I tried to shrink back into the shadows, hoping no one would notice me. You know, as one does. But of course, the team building leader spotted me at once and called me out, asking me to “start us off” by introducing myself to the group. I stuttered out a few words about my job title and some hobbies that I absolutely do not take part in, but remembered hearing about somewhere, feeling my face turn bright red as all eyes turned to me. In these impromptu autobiographical open-mike moments, I can never seem to recall anything whatsoever about myself, which is amazing really, considering I’ve known myself for forever.

Once they broke up into groups to make their way around the various “escape room” style activities that had been set up around the conference room, I made my own escape and nicked off to the bathroom.  I may have stayed there a bit longer than necessary and then I may have taken a detour past the vending machine.

Unfortunately, I had obviously misjudged the time, because instead of getting back in time to say our goodbyes, I slipped into the room just as the facilitator announced that we would be playing a game of “Two Truths and a Lie,” where we would each share three statements about ourselves, and the group would have to guess which one was the lie. Much more socially acceptable than truth or dare, but not one of my favorites, mostly because of the aforementioned problem with remembering anything about my life. And quite honestly, this is usually the sort of icebreaker that plays out at the start of a meeting, not at the end. Well played, Mr. Facilitator. Well played indeed.

So of course, I did what anyone would do, I panicked. What could I say that was interesting enough to grab the group’s attention, but also not too revealing? I racked my brain for ideas, feeling the pressure mount with each passing second. Just as I decided that this would be the prime opportunity for another bathroom break, it was my turn. I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, here are my three statements: I once competed in a national chess tournament, I once partied with the members of Metallica, and I have a pet tarantula named Steve.”

The group stared at me in shock. Was I really a chess champion? Did I really have a pet tarantula? No one questioned the Metallica story… I’m not sure how to feel about that. As they deliberated, I started to feel a twinge of regret for making my statements so outlandish.

Finally, someone spoke up. “I’m guessing the lie is the tarantula,” they said. I let out a sigh of relief and nodded, grateful to have survived yet another staff retreat. I did learn one thing from all of this, though, and that’s to plan ahead. I can already feel myself getting sick this time next year.

Dress to Distress

I don’t know why in the world Facebook’s algorithm thinks I can afford a pair of $275 shoes… or that I would pay $275 for a pair of shoes even if I could. But here’s an ad I received in my newsfeed recently.

The concept of “distressed” shoes selling for an outrageous price of $275+ is unbelievable. Although to be fair, I’m shocked when any shoes sell for more than $200. They’re shoes for goodness’ sake. The fact that people are willing to pay such an exorbitant amount of money to have shoes that look like they have been run over by a mountain bike is perplexing, but people are doing it.

Back in the day, Reeboks were among the most expensive sneakers out there at “just” $65, and yes, I admit that I bought a pair. I was young, what can I say. But I tell you what, we did everything we could to keep them as fresh and clean as possible. There was even a cleaning solution especially for sneakers that was a hot item in the shoe department. Clean shoes were all the rage. No matter what we put those shoes through the night before, the next morning we were there scrubbing away with a toothbrush to remove the evidence. The idea of spending three and a half times that amount to buy shoes that look like they’ve already been on someone’s feet for a year is absurd.

Now, I get the appeal of well-worn shoes — like my beloved Chuck Taylors, but that appeal comes from the fact that they were worn to the point of being raggedy through constant use. Those shoes are loved. It’s the repetitive wear that gives the shoes character and makes them unique. They’ve seen things. But buying already distressed shoes? It’s like buying a ticket to a concert and just getting the cassette tape.

And these shoes aren’t made to be comfortable either because that would be a whole different thing. I’m not saying I’d be down with it, but a comfortable shoe with modern footwear technology that replicates that old retro look makes more sense. But that’s not the case, you know it’s not. People are willing to pay top dollar for shoes that are downright uncomfortable. Shoes are supposed to be comfy, especially if they cost $275. Buying shoes that look like they’ve been dragged through the mud or were found in a storage unit that hasn’t been opened since 1986 is a complete waste of money.

Why not buy a pair of new shoes that are comfortable and will last for years to come? Then drag them through the mud yourself. I mean, come on. They’re sneakers. You’re supposed to at least walk in them, if not exercise, so do some walking… or run them over with a mountain bike yourself. You’ll get the same distressed aesthetic and they’ll already be comfortable. But you know these shoes aren’t going to be comfortable. They’re too fashionable to be comfortable. Can you imagine having to break in a pair of shoes that already look broken in?  How confusing would that be every time you slipped them on?

The concept of already distressed shoes is not just a trend in the shoe industry but also in the fashion world. Jeans with holes in them are also popular. So popular in fact, that intact jeans are hard to come by. Trust me, I know. I was just recently shopping for jeans and finding hole-less jeans was a quest worthy of Zelda.

What happened to buying nice jeans and feeling the pride of ruining them through long summer nights, wild adventures, and things you had to keep from your parents? There was a sense of accomplishment in wearing a pair of jeans that were well-worn and had stories to tell. The same can be said for shoes.

You know, I just had a crazy idea. I’m going to check the back of my closet this weekend and dig out some of my old clothes. I might have a pair of Reeboks I beat the living hell out of in the 90s that could buy me some of that fancy top-shelf wine. Or better yet, the first person to Venmo me $200 gets the random pair of old shoes in the Payless box under my bed.



Faith for Sale

Okay, so I know this happened a while ago, but do you remember this past Super Bowl™? More importantly, do you remember that Jesus commercial that aired?

When it first came on, it was quite moving and it had me from the jump, wondering which company’s ad this would be. I thought, wow, this advertising firm really did a hell of a job. As it continued to play, it really had me wondering which company’s logo was going to show up at the end. A litany of ideas ran through my mind. Some person announcing that they’re running for President? No. A Kia ad? I mean, nowadays the best ads don’t have anything to do with the actual product or company, so I thought this was as good a guess as any. But then, the end of the commercial came and I was shocked. It was Jesus. It was an actual ad for Jesus. Jesus just ran an ad during the Super Bowl™. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Jesus usually isn’t interested in or moved by the Super Bowl™ despite what fans desperate for a win might think.

Am I wrong in thinking that if any church or faith-based group has the millions of dollars needed to buy airtime during the Super Bowl™, they shouldn’t do that. I’m not religious – like at all, and I’m definitely not a gazillionaire, so I don’t know what it’s like to have that kind of money, but I feel like the millions of dollars this group just threw at a marketing campaign should’ve been used for things that Jesus would actually condone.

I don’t have the Bible memorized word-for-word, but I sure don’t remember a passage like this:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son five million dollars to advertise on national television during the Super Bowl™.”

Seriously, how about housing the homeless? Feeding the hungry? Giving everyone clean drinkable water? More money and humanitarian aid for countries that start with the letter U? You know, good Christian things? Things that will help make the world a better place.

Jesus doesn’t need an ad campaign. You know how I know that’s true? Any time you ask someone, who is Jesus, it’s a solid bet that they’re going to know just who Jesus is. Whether they believe in him heart and soul or whether they don’t believe in him just as strongly, they’re gonna know. And likely have a lot of opinions that they’ll happily share with you. The one thing Jesus doesn’t need is a brand recognition campaign.

And… AND… here’s the sketchy part. The progressive messaging in the ads seems to be at odds with the conservative beliefs of those who actually funded it, which leads me to really question the reasoning for these ads in the first place. The campaign has connections to far-right ideologies, not least of which are anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion laws. They’ve donated tens of millions to an ultra-conservative legal group who is working diligently to curtail LGBTQ rights and promote legislation that would allow for discrimination of marginalized communities. Hobby Lobby is one of their largest contributors. Enough said, if you ask me.

So why then, are they spending millions on Super Bowl™ ads espousing trumped up messaging like “He gets us. All of us?” Is it some convoluted plot? Are they pretending to be a part of the progressive movement to somehow discredit it? Maybe they hope to drive good people who are rightfully incensed at this frivolous spending by a presumably liberal group more towards the alt-right party? Or maybe it’s just all an elaborate scheme to garner donations for programs that are the exact opposite of their televised messaging. Using good folks to fund bad legislation. The irony that what I’m claiming sounds like an alt-right conspiracy theory is not lost on me, but things like this really make me wonder about ulterior motives.

If I’m even a little bit right, the fact that so much money was spent on such a thing is disgusting. If I’m wrong and this is purely a religious group trying to spread the word of God, the fact that so much money was spent on such a thing is disgusting.

Condescending Is As Condescending Does

Today I want to talk about a topic that gets me angrier than your grandmother when the mailman is running late: gatekeeping hobbies. I know I’ve talked about this before, but gatekeepers annoy the hell out of me, and since I was thinking about it, I thought you should too. This is kind of a long one, so strap in.

If you’re not familiar with the term, let’s get nerdy for a minute. “Gatekeeping refers to the act of setting arbitrary rules or standards around a particular activity or interest and then using those rules to exclude others who don’t meet those standards.” And boy, do some people take it seriously. These folks are the kids who became hall monitors – back in the day when hall monitors were a thing in school – and fell in love with the power. They were so taken with their own righteousness that they were giving out demerits willy-nilly and burning bridges at the same time.

Back then you couldn’t go to the bathroom without a note. Now, you can’t like something or do something as a hobby, until you prove yourself somehow worthy.

You’re not a “real” fan of a particular band unless you know every single song on every single album. The ones who sneer at your attempts to learn a new skill because you’re not a “natural.” The ones who insist that the only way to enjoy a particular hobby is to spend a not-so-small fortune on equipment or materials. You know, rich assholes.

This isn’t just annoying.

When people start gatekeeping hobbies, they’re not just saying that certain people aren’t welcome. They’re saying that certain people aren’t good enough. They’re reinforcing the idea that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to enjoy things, and that if you don’t do it their way, you’re doing it wrong.

But here’s the thing: there is no “right” way to enjoy a hobby. What if my hobby is to watch seasons of Friends out of order from the last season to the first. Are there rules? Is it allowed? Do I give a shit what your opinion is? No. Yes. No. Those are my answers.

“You can’t watch the show like that.” Why? Will the universe collapse on itself? If so, I think we need to ask ourselves, do we care? I mean, have you seen the state of the world today? I digress. But the truth of it is, I have done this, and we’re all still here. So there’s that.

Side note: Oddly enough watching the show backwards, the cast somehow goes from young looking to old looking. Figure that one out.

Another example. Twitter adults (yes, adults) were roasting the young people who had just discovered Metallica through the show Stranger Things. Now personally, if you’re gonna roast anyone, it should be the adults who never introduced their kids to Metallica in the first place. The very same adults who are now on Twitter gatekeeping Metallica’s music. Kudos to Metallica for jumping in and shutting that shit down.

from Metallica’s official Twitter account

Sadly, gatekeeping is not alone… it has an even more self-righteous little cousin – what I call Virtuous Judging. And this is what got me started on this rant today.

random meme that found its way onto my social media feed

Are you judging someone in what you think is a positive way? Yeah, that’s still judging, people! Plus, it’s not positive – it’s condescending, even if you’re not saying it out loud. I get that you might have good intentions, but how about you go about your day without always thinking about what other people are doing. Condescending thoughts are still condescending because they give you the illusion that your opinion should matter to the people you’re judging.

The person who wrote this meme is probably patting themselves on the back for having such altruistic thoughts, but why do they even care why anyone’s at the gym? No one cares what you think. People are just trying to live their lives in relative peace. Their existence doesn’t need to be judged by you. They don’t require your validation. Mind your business. Leave. People. Alone.

Whether you’re judging and gatekeeping someone out loud or just in your mind, stop. I mean, it’s easy enough. Just don’t do that.

We need to just do ourselves and not in a “that’s what she said” way. If we worry about ourselves, and everyone does the same, then we’d all be responsible for ourselves and it would be so much easier to take care of ourselves with no judgment, even from ourselves.

And if you were playing a drinking game and every time I wrote “ourselves” you took a shot, you need to give your keys to someone now. Maybe go lay down.