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Monday, April 19, 2010


People used to send me the greatest letters. Remember those days? Let's relive them. Here's a tasty exchange from back in 2002, when I was unemployed and spent my free time with sulking roaches instead of sulking dogs and children.



The other night we were putting six-year-old Robert to bed. After I read him a short bedtime story he said, "You didn't just read that because of the cereal box, did you?" I assured him that it wasn't because of the cereal box.

Robert was referring to the Cheerios he's had for breakfast this week. On the back of the box, under the mail-in offer for some Star Wars racing cars, there's a section intended for parents which reads "The Nurturing Corner: Here Are Five Great Ways to Show Your Kids You Care: * Ask them about their day * Tell them your favorite stories about them growing up * Eat breakfast together * Give them at least one hug each day * Read them a bedtime story"

There's something about receiving family counseling from the folks at General Mills. Some are probably offended, some might take the advice. Most people don't notice it, I'm sure. Maybe that's why Cheerios cost five bucks; a dollar per box goes for the staff psychologist.

Here I was going to list some made-up tips seen on other General Mills packaging, like for Cocoa Puffs, "The Medication Corner: Ritalin, pros and cons," but I can't, because I've been outdone. Someone beat me to this topic and their sincere fury blows away any other smarty-pants comments I could write. Also, note their interpretation of "General Mills" not as a place where grain is ground into flour ("milled"), but as the title of a military man.

Bob "wilty little baby sunflower" Henderson

Dear Bob,

I went to that site and thought it was a joke, despite your use of the word "sincere," which I apparently ignored the way I ignore the words "lovely" and "inspired" and "good" and "bad" and "shut up" and "please, please stop talking" and "I'm leaving you" and "the sight of you makes my stomach turn" and "OK, you can sleep on the porch tonight, but tomorrow I want you and your teddy bear out of here!"

See what happens when children don't understand and embrace a full-orbed Christian worldview? They end up all drippy and weird like me. In fact, I often think, "If only I understood and embraced a full-orbed Christian worldview! Why, it would undergird my beliefs and actions in every sphere of life! Instead, here I am, all sullen and indecisive, high on caffeine, ordering pizzas to my door with excessive amounts of garlic on them, killing God's little rat-sized insect creatures with the heal of my shoe like some kind of a vagrant with no respect for life, then leaving the gut-smeared shoe in my bathroom, on the tub's ledge, no less, like some common junkie!"

Then the pizza gets here, and I forget what I was just thinking about.

Anyway. What?


9:31 AM

Friday, April 09, 2010


Wow. I woke up at 4 am and started writing about the early '90s, then stumbled on this great discussion over on 90s Woman about feminism, the '90s and whether or not it's embarrassing to love Alanis Morissette. It reminded me of how much I hated Alanis when she was first popular and sang that wretched song about going down on her stupid boyfriend in a theat-errrrrr. The sheer competitiveness of that terrible song bugged me, as did the notion that Alanis, of all people, was "alternative" in any sense of the word. Jesus, who cares who's alternative and who isn't? Anyway, then I got older and reluctantly bought the album with "Thank You India" on it, despite being mortified that someone might find out that I owned it, and then I listened to it over and over and wept every time. I had just started therapy for the first time. Up until that point, the idea that emotions could be anything but bad and inconvenient was totally lost on me.

Anyway, I wrote about the whole thing here eleven years ago.

Hooo doggie, eleven motherfucking years ago. And just last week, I threw that CD into my car's player, and now every time I get into the car, my 3 year old yells "THANK YOU INDIA!" And then we both sing about "dis-ILL-U-SION-meh-heh-hent!"

See young hipster ladies? No matter how long you fight it, eventually, you will be deeply uncool.

If you're lucky.

7:01 AM

Thursday, April 01, 2010


When you pull up Google to search for something, and the usual rainbow "Google" logo is replaced by the word "Topeka," what do you do?

You Google it. Or Topeka it.

That's when you learn that this is an April Fool's Day stunt by Google, a play on Topeka, Kansas's offer to rename itself "Google" temporarily, in hopes of being part of Google's broad fiber experiment, for which 1,100 towns and cities applied.

How many random people will be confused by this joke today? It's comforting, somehow, that a search engine would dare to sow the seeds of confusion, that there are still pranksters in the world, merry or not.

But things will only get more interesting now. It's just 4:41 am on the West Coast, 7:41 am on the East Coast: And what do you think will be the top search trend on Google today? And who will write about the "Topeka" prank immediately, in the hopes of tapping into that popularity?

Like Justin Beiber or Tiger's sexts, consider the "Topeka" prank a litmus test for the times. Watch how many people write about Topeka within the next few minutes. Huffpost? Drudge? Anyone else? Everyone else? How many words can they conjure on this topic? How fast do they do it?

And the more important question: Are these groundbreaking, fearless news sources, with quick resources? Or are these just the publications that hop on a story, no matter how stupid it is?

This post? Case in point. There is no there there. How could there be? It's a story based on a search trend. The original prank, like Justin Bieber himself, is innocuous enough. It's the dogpiling into the abyss that's unnerving.

The lesson? Every day is April Fool's Day on the new, improved internets, a nowhereland inhabited by copycats. Sorry, Topeka!

4:57 AM

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columnist for new york magazine & bookforum, author of disaster preparedness, co-creator of filler for the late, great suck.com

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