Tag Archives: anger

Breaking out is hard to do

I am in an abusive relationship, and I need it to stop.

We’ve been together for a long time. It showed up when I was about twelve, all excited about life and ready to start my teenagerdom, which I would, without a doubt, totally win. I was very much looking forward to this new adventure, which, I was sure, would bring a boyfriend, and the ability to fill out a tank top like no one’s business, and a new cutting-edge teenage attitude.

However, I woke up one morning with a huge red swelling to the right of my mouth. I’m not talking about some cute little blemish. No, sir! Not me! Everything about me has always been very go-big-or-go-home. So I’m talking about – well, have you seen those photoshopped photos, the “before” photos in the late-night acne product commercials? I mean, you can tell they’re photoshopped. The eyes always look like they’re on the wrong level, and the acne looks cartoonish. Well, I looked like one of the cartoonish acne before-photos on late-night television.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren't very good.

I have my doubts about Proactiv. I think if you need to market on television at 3 am, you probably aren’t very good.

Mom and Dad were all “uh-oh, sorry for the genetics, kiddo” because there are very few photos of them from high school, but the ones there are show a couple of pretty miserable teenagers with really rocky complexions.

Well! This was not acne’s only appearance. Oh, no! It decided once it arrived, it’d set up shop. It was like those disgusting phlegm-monsters in that cough medicine commercial that makes me disgusted. It packed little greasy suitcases and moved on in. My face was its resort town, and it decided to live it on up. No part of my face was exempt, either! Forehead and nose and chin and cheeks! Once, close enough to my lip so it swelled up as if I’d been stung by a bee! Sometimes, right on TOP of each other, like it was living in little apartment buildings! Sometimes? In my ears, so my ears would swell up like a boxer’s! And sometimes it’d take little vacations and move onto my back or chest! And it HURT. Imagine huge swellings on your face and back and chest, sometimes more than one in the same place, as if you’ve been stung by a number of angry wasps. OUCH.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

Ugh, seriously, I hate these commercials. STOP MAKING MUCUS TALK.

It got so bad at one point, someone stopped me in the hallway at school and asked me what had happened. “With what?” I asked. “Were you in a fire?” he asked, in a hushed tone. In a fire! Well. Isn’t that nice! YOU MADE ME LOOK LIKE A THIRD-DEGREE BURN VICTIM, ACNE. What the hell did I ever do to you?

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

Thanks for the reminder, helpful sign!

My parents, who’d suffered through the same thing, finally were grossed out enough that they brought me to a dermatologist, who visibly recoiled when I walked through the door. Nothing ups the self-esteem like having a doctor who DEALS with such things for a LIVING recoil as if you’re Frankenstein’s MONSTER.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it's my next patient, come on in, then.

BACK! BACK I SAY CHILD OF SATAN! Oh, it’s my next patient, come on in, then.

Back in the late 80s, if you had terrible skin, they prescribed you Retin-A. I don’t know if they still do such a thing. (Apparently they do, but don’t have babies while using it, or their skulls will be too soft, and I assume babies with Play-Doh skulls are bad. Also don’t get waxed, or it will PULL YOUR TOP LAYER OF SKIN OFF. Good grief.) I also got this…I don’t know, alcohol solution I had to dab onto my face. These things had to happen every morning and every night after I washed my face. Also, I wasn’t allowed to go out in the sun, or if I HAD to go out in the sun, I had to wear like SPF 1,000 sunscreen. (Retin-A thins the top layer of your skin. Somehow this stops your acne. I am not a doctor. I don’t know how that works. But this skin-thinning thing also makes you burn in the sun, and you can’t get waxed, and your face gets really, really red when you first start using it.)

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who's your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

Good grief, it still looks the same 20 years later. Who’s your PR person, Retin-A? Time for a packaging overhaul!

I was somewhat skeptical, but at that point, I would pretty much try anything.

Well! Come to find out, RETIN-A WAS MADE OF MAGIC. I don’t remember how long it took, but one day I woke up and although my face was a little red (and I had to hide in the shadows like a vampire-person) I HAD NO ACNE. All the acne had taken off for sunnier climes. I LOOKED LIKE A HUMAN AGAIN. At one point, I even got a – GASP! – BOYFRIEND. (A few of them, actually. Well, not at the same TIME, I wasn’t a teenage WHORE. They were nothing to write home about, in retrospect, but at the time I felt like this was the BEST THING EVER.) One of my mom’s friends, when she and my mom were talking about my skin problems one day, said, “Amy has skin problems? You’d never know! I was just saying to my husband the other day she has just the most beautiful complexion!”

I HAD WON! I HAD BEATEN ACNE!

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn't turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

Yes, I looked JUST LIKE THIS! Oh, wait, no, Retin-A doesn’t turn you into a model. Sorry. Sorry.

I stopped using the medication in college – my doctor didn’t think I needed it anymore, and it was very expensive on our prescription plan – and all was well for quite some time.

Until probably four or five years ago.

Acne! YOU TRICKED ME! What IS this shit?

Apparently, what this shit is, is ADULT acne. It is ACNE that appears when you are an ADULT. It is the ghost of terrible complexions past COMING BACK TO HAUNT YOU.

Oh, stop. I had to.

Oh, stop. I had to.

It’s not as bad as it was when I was younger – oh, thank goodness – but it’s very hard to be almost 40 years old and have the occasional breakouts of a teenage face. It’s very embarrassing. I mean, yes. Odds are good that people aren’t going to make fun of you now (what kind of asshole mocks you for breakouts when you’re an adult? we know better now) and you know (hopefully, at least, if you’re female, although I’m sure men can use cover stick if they want to) tricks with makeup to downplay the fact you’ve got a gigantic blemish on your chin or your cheek or whatever.

And NOW, adult acne, you complete wanker, you have decided to pop up OVER ONE OF MY EYES and I’m waking up with ONE EYE SWOLLEN SHUT EVERY MORNING BECAUSE OF YOU and it takes like TWO HOURS for that swelling to go down and I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE BEAT ME UP or maybe THE ELEPHANT MAN. Dude, I have to go out in PUBLIC like this. SOMEONE IS GOING TO ASK ME WHAT IS WRONG. “Oh, just a gigantic pimple above my eye, like normal almost-middle-aged women get all the time,” is a thing I will not love to say at all.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

I look a little like Rick from the Walking Dead after he got all beat up, which is nice, right? Very classy.

My mother’s still getting you adult acne. SHE IS IN HER 60s. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Somehow, my dad avoided this and his torment ended when he was in his late teens, but me and my mom? We’re still sporting the skin of teens. Sad, sad teens who don’t get asked to the prom.

Acne, you’re going to have to take a hike. I think I’m too old for Retin-A (and at this point in my life, if I don’t get waxed, I’d have a whole other problem to deal with, called My Eyebrows Have a Mind of Their Own and Would Make Me Look Like a Yeti) but there must be another solution. And I’m calling a dermatologist. Tomorrow.

You don’t get to win, bub. I have an excellent prescription plan this time, and I’m a lot angrier than I was when I was a teenager. If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to kick you out. I’m changing the damn LOCKS this time, acne! I am not going to my grave with you still in my life!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out the best eyeshadow to go with one normal eye, and one eye swollen 3/4 of the way shut. I’m thinking a kicky bejeweled eyepatch. Arr, matey. Walk the plank.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.

Pretty sure everyone would just think it was a fashion statement and not ask me what was going on, right? Right.


Mom always told me my big mouth would get me in trouble someday.

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.” –Bette Davis

This week, I was VERY controversial.

I met with friends for dinner early in the week. When I arrived, J. said “I don’t know, should we be having dinner with such a controversial person?” and I was all, “Whaaa?” and they all giggled and then got serious faces because they assumed I’d heard and now they were tasked with letting me know what was up.

Heard what, you may ask? What exactly WAS up?

Well! Apparently, I angered some people with a review I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Angered them enough that I got two – count ’em, two – letters to the editor written about me, and a comment on the review itself, and a private message on Facebook.

Whoo! Look at me go! Angering people all OVER the region!

A little background, I suppose, is in order.

I went to the show. It starred some of the area’s best actors. The kind of actors that, when you say their names around here, people take notice. The set was gorgeous. The costumes were perfect. The acting was quite good; the direction couldn’t be faulted.

That having been said, it was the second-worst show I’ve seen all year. And I’ve seen a LOT of shows.

It was the show itself that was the problem. It was extremely dated; it had very little to do with anything contemporary, so it was very hard to relate to. It was abnormally long; almost three hours, including intermission. It was extremely talky; a good hour could have been cut from that script and not sacrificed a single bit of the action. Sorry – “action.” That needs ironic air-quotes. Nothing that could be described as action happened in this show. Like, at all. It was painful. I wanted to leave at intermission but I was getting paid to review it so that wasn’t an option.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

VERY close to me during Act II. Not quite, but almost.

I’m not saying I need, like, a shoot-out scene or a huge sex scene or anything. (Well, not EVERY time.) But something needs to HAPPEN, dammit. And nothing happened in this play. There were some scenes that I think were supposed to be shocking, but they were just yawn-inducing. Maybe they were shocking in the 30s when this was written, I don’t know. The characters were written so flimsily and ridiculously that only a couple of them were at all believable.

It was a TERRIBLE show. It wasn’t terribly acted, directed, set designed, or costumed (or even lit or sound designed); it was just a poorly-chosen show, and poorly-written, and it was so hard to watch.

Now, I realize this is just my opinion…and you know what they say about opinions, right? Yep. Just like…elbows. Yeah, that’s it. Elbows. Everyone has one. (Or two, really, if you’re going with the elbow thing.) Thing is, I get paid for my opinion.

I don’t like to be mean. I really think there’s something to be celebrated in every piece of work, no matter how much I dislike it. I wrote a review saying how much I liked and admired the actors, set, and costumes; I even gave the director kudos (although I did say he could have cut some of the script, for our sake.) I did, however, excoriate the script. Listen, I’ve read a lot of plays. I have a decent handle on what’s out there; I have a somewhat informed opinion. That’s why the paper hired me, and not some yahoo who’s never been to the theater before.

I ended the review with the following, which I think I can share without being fired for sharing something that you’re all supposed to pay for:

“It’s a shame that, with such powerful actors on stage, their talent is being wasted in such a lackluster play. With so many shows in the area currently in production, audiences are — and I say this with regret, as these actors alone are worth the ticket price — advised to give this one a pass.”

I’ve ended a number of reviews with a similar sentiment (as have other area reviewers) – either that I recommend the show, or I don’t. It’s usually clear, from my review, whether or not I actually SAY I recommend it or not, whether or not I do. (I think that’s the point of a review, isn’t it?)

Apparently, it’s this last paragraph that upset people.

The comment on the review said they “felt (my) review was unfair-especially your final comment” because it “probably kept many people from attending.”

The first letter to the editor said the author took “exception to one of (my) comments” because “(e)veryone has the right to their own opinion; however, to come out and tell people not to see a show is going too far. People should be able to read a review if they need to, and decide for themselves…a comment (like this is) hurtful and detrimental to the company.”

The other letter to the editor said (in short; it was a VERY long letter) “Amy…advises potential patrons to give it a pass. I disagree with that.” (She then went on and on about how flawed the script was, but that the show was so relatable, and then broke down my review point by point to say why she was right in her opinion and I was wrong.)

Oh, and I also got a private message from an aquaintance on Facebook, asking me to explain myself – why did I advise people to not attend a show he’d PERSONALLY enjoyed very much?

OK. Here’s the thing.

First: I didn’t write that review to hurt anyone. I actually went out of my way to NOT hurt anyone. The only one at fault was whoever chose the show, and a lot of factors go into choosing a show. I’m not going to pick those apart; I wasn’t part of that selection process.

I stand by that last paragraph. I couldn’t recommend the show. (And I’m not naming names, but I spoke to a number of theater friends who saw the show over the couple weeks it was playing. Not a single one recommended it, either. And I got thanks – thanks for writing a review of a terrible show in such a way that it highlighted the positive, and didn’t hurt anyone. I take their praise over these letters any day. They matter to me. A great deal. These letters? Meh.)

When you read a review – a movie review, a theater review, a book review – do you read it thinking it’s an encyclopedia entry? Or do you (as you should) read it thinking it’s the author’s opinion, and when you see/read what’s being reviewed, your opinion might differ? As it’s an opinion? And what worked for one person might not work for another?

As I said, I’ve said “I do recommend this show” or “I don’t recommend this show” before. As have other reviewers. (And I don’t want to play the sexism card, here, but I’ve seen a lot more Letters to the Editor/mean comments on the reviews written by the female reviewers in the area than on the reviews of the male reviewers – and there are two, maybe three, female reviewers in the WHOLE AREA and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a dozen or more male reviewers – I just have to think that maybe men having opinions, that’s ok, but women? GAH WHAT DO STUPID CHICKS KNOW WITH THEIR STUPID CHICK BRAINS.) I don’t see anyone complaining when I DO recommend a show. So I’m allowed to recommend a show – because that INCREASES their box office – but I can’t NOT recommend a show, because that would DECREASE their box office. Because people are JUST THAT STUPID. They will read my review and walk, all zombie-like, to the theater…or they will STAY FAR AWAY.

Listen. I worked at a local theater for 8 years. We weathered both good and bad reviews. Did they have an effect our box office? Sometimes, yes. An excellent review got more people in; a bad review did tend to keep some people away. But that’s just the way the game is played. Sometimes the reviewer has an axe to grind; sometimes the reviewer only likes comedies or dramas; sometimes the reviewer is just extremely negative all the time; sometimes you luck out, and the reviewer loves the show, and you read it and you just grin. It’s just a review, in the grand scheme of things, really. It’s a quick flame of either helpful or hurtful.

But these letters and comments and private messages…

Listen, people. It was my opinion. As I say, I stand by this opinion. If I had it to do all over again? I’d write it exactly the same. (And, just so you know, my editor read that review, and ran it exactly as I wrote it. She had no problem with it, either.) Amy the reviewer couldn’t recommend that show; Amy the PERSON couldn’t recommend that show. If I’d just seen it for fun, I wouldn’t have recommended it to people. To be honest, I texted a friend while the show was in intermission who I knew was trying to find a way to squeeze it into his schedule with “DO NOT SEE THIS. DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF. TALK TO YOU MORE ABOUT IT WHEN I SEE YOU ON MONDAY. DO NOT DO NOT DOOOO NOOOOOT.” And that was Amy the person, not Amy the reviewer.

I could have left that last paragraph out. Sure I could have. Thing is? Not to be too horn-tooty, people, but I’m a decent writer, and from the rest of the review, you’d know exactly where I stood. I came out and said I couldn’t recommend the show, but without saying it, I said it all through the rest of the review. That last paragraph was really just a summation of what came before. Take umbrage with it if you must, but the rest of the review said the same thing. Also? If you want a rainbows and sunshine review, and the show’s not (in my, as stated, OPINION) good? You’re not getting that from me. I don’t lie. Even if I have people I care about in the show, which has happened in the past. I will not lie in my reviews. It’s a promise I made to myself when I started, and it’s a promise I have vowed to keep to myself. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye if there was something published in the paper I didn’t 100% stand behind.

And, much as I have the right to my opinion, those people all have a right to theirs. I’m so very glad they enjoyed the show; I have to say I can’t exactly understand HOW they did, but I do understand that everyone’s respective cranks are turned in different ways, and this show turned theirs, and it left mine completely frozen in place. (THE CRANK IS NOT A EUPHEMISM.)

However: I do believe I’m completely in the right, as a reviewer, to say IN THE REVIEW that I recommend or don’t recommend a show. How this affects your ticket sales is not on my shoulders. As a friend who will not be named said when I told him this story: “If you don’t want bad reviews? STOP PRODUCING CRAP.”

Also, I’m pretty sure once you start getting hate mail, you’ve totally made it, right? I’m a wicked big deal now, yo. Look out, world, I’m like the next Michiko Kakutani. It’s only upward from here. Today hate mail, tomorrow LETTER BOMBS. Whoo-hoo!


Well, could I have her spam, instead of the baked beans, then?

Humor me, just for a minute, ok?

This is only going to work if you’re reading this post on my blog. So if you’re reading this via email, or in a reader, you’re going to have to do me a solid and click through to my blog. I KNOW. I AM SUCH A PAIN IN THE ASS.

“Aaaaaamy, it’s SAAAAAAAATURDAY, I don’t WAAAAAANT to.” Urgh, just HUMOR me.

OK, so you’re here. Scroll on down to the bottom. Ooh and aah over Andreas’ pretty blog redesign while you’re there, no one’s stopping you.

Are you there? Awesome. Right there in the middle. See that? See my follower count?

2,336 followers. (Well, that’s what it is NOW. Who knows what it’ll be when you read this, at the rate things are going.)

Now, if you’re new to blogging, or maybe not a blogger, this probably seems pretty spiffy. And if you’d told me when I started blogging I’d have that many followers? I’d totally have laughed at you. I was thinking the other day how funny the idea of blogging would have been to the me I was ten years ago, and how, if now-me went back and talked to then-me and told her what I’m up to, then-me would tell now-me she was a crazypants. She’d admire her kicky new glasses, though.

Now, you can break this statistic down further, if you get behind-the-scenes in the dashboard. I’m not supposed to show you this, probably. This is probably breaking all kinds of blogger rules.

Eh, don’t care.

Now, first I added these all together and didn’t get the 2,336 and was all WHAAAA? but then I realized they’re not counting the comment followers so that’s alright.

As you can see, I don’t care about Tumblr enough (I know, I suck, I really only use it to post blog posts and never, ever click over there, Tumblr has always confused the everloving hell out of me) and probably I should use my blog Facebook page more (listen, there are only so many hours in a day, people, I do what I can.) Twitter’s ok, even though I’ve been really terrible at the Twitterz lately. I keep saying I’ll go back eventually. It never seems to happen. I HAVE NOT YET GIVEN UP HOPE, HOWEVER!

The blog-follower count looks nice, though, right? Impressive? Look at all my readers! I’m like a legitimate blogger!

Well, no. Not really. And let me tell you why.

That follower count?

About 75% of those people are spammers.

It’s a dirty little secret WordPress doesn’t want you all to know. Or doesn’t CARE if you know, actually; they’re doing nothing, absolutely nothing, about it.

How do I know they’re spam followers? Well, I’ve clicked through to their blogs. Or, at least I used to, before I started getting probably ten of them a day and I just got tired of it. Some don’t have blogs, just Gravatars with shady non-name names. Some have blogs, but with only one post, and it’s in really broken English. Some have blogs with just reblogs. Some have blank blogs. Some have blogs with links to things like “free vacations now” or “iPad giveaway.” sj had one the other day with posts about boxes. No, not the euphemistic kind, which would kind of be an awesome, if porny, blog. Cardboard boxes. Posts like “Boxes vs. Cartons.” Because THAT’S a real blog. (Side note: it wasn’t.)

ZOMG SO COMPELLING BOTH CARTONS *AND* BOXES YOU GUYZZZZZ!

ZOMG SO COMPELLING BOTH CARTONS *AND* BOXES YOU GUYZZZZZ!

I’ve tromped with my kickass Doc Martens all through the forums trying to find out a why, and a how, and a WHAT THE HELL CAN I DO ABOUT THIS, and the answer, per WordPress?

“Meh.”

There’s no option to delete spam followers, once they’ve chosen you to target. (And it seems they’ve chosen all of us to target.) WordPress says they’re “looking into why spammers have increased lately.” These threads go back to April, and that’s when I started seeing the spammers – March/April.

WordPress also added the option to “like” a post straight from the Reader not too long ago, when they updated the Reader, which means you get likes on your posts IMMEDIATELY upon publication. Well, if you only published a photo, there’s a possibility a like happened that quickly. But if you write at length as much as I do, odds that someone named “trueerectionpillz4u” read and liked my 2,000 word post in .0005 seconds are pretty slim.

WordPress doesn’t seem to think this is a problem. And I suppose, for them, it’s not. It inflates their user count. They can then use that user count to sell ads, to recruit new bloggers, etc. And some of the new bloggers (me, for example) pay for this service, so they make money from us. No, these spam followers aren’t a problem for WordPress.

And, technically, they’re not really a problem for us bloggers, are they? Not really. They aren’t DOING anything there. Sometimes they randomly reblog our content on their shady blogs, and their weird Gravatars show up in our likes, and they’re there inflating our follower counts, making us look fancy and popular. And who doesn’t like to be popular, am I right? I mean, when I started blogging, I’d look at that follower count on other blogger’s blogs and think, whoa, THIS person knows what’s up.

But they’re lies. That follower count is lies. Most of our followers aren’t real people; they’re not reading our content. They’re not interacting with us. They’re just kind of…there. Weirdly lurking. Sometimes they hit “like,” which I assume they think maybe would get someone to click their spammy blog. Sometimes they don’t do ANYTHING. And that’s a little disconcerting, isn’t it? It’s like having this weird silent army stalking you all the time. You don’t know what the hell they WANT.

Now, WordPress has been oh-so-helpful in telling us that we can report each and every one of these spammers to them, they’ll “look into it” and “maybe delete the accounts.” Well, if it was just one or two spammers, fine. But who the hell has the free time to check up on, and report, probably 700 or so fake bloggers? And why is it MY job to do this? Shouldn’t these people have to prove they’re not spammers on WordPress’ end?

Another end result of this? Some of you new followers, who very well MIGHT be real people? Well, I wouldn’t know. Because I no longer have the time to weed through all the spam to get to the real blogs. So I might be missing some awesome new blogs I should be reading. I WOULDN’T KNOW. I used to be able to check out all the new blogs that followed me, and now I can’t do that. So, new bloggers, if you ARE a real blog, say hi. Comment, or say hi on Twitter, or send me an email. SOMETHING. I can’t promise I’ll follow your blog – I read a LOT of blogs, and my time gets more and more limited daily – but I can promise if you’re a real blogger, and not a creature made of spam, I’ll at least check you out.

I’ve also stopped following other blogs in the WordPress reader. I used to do a courtesy follow every time I followed a WordPress blog. Why courtesy follow? Well, I hate the WordPress reader. I refuse to use it. So I use an alternate reader. (Feedly, if you must know – it’s no Google Reader, but nothing is. Sigh.) But I *used* to click the “follow” button on any WordPress blog I was following in my reader; that way, the blogger knew I was following them, and maybe they’d return the favor, and we could all go ’round the mulberry bush. NOT A EUPHEMISM. I don’t bother anymore. I assume most WordPress bloggers aren’t bothering to even check out new followers anymore, so why should I do the extra step? I follow on the sly; if I like the blog and have extra time and feel I have something worthwhile to say and am not too daunted, I comment, and then they know I’m reading, I suppose.

What’s the solution to this? Well, there isn’t one. Not until WordPress creates one for us – and they’ve shown no interest in doing that whatsoever. And like I said, this really shouldn’t bother me. And I know I’m kind of biting the hand that feeds me by even blogging about it here – WordPress doesn’t like you to complain about them on their own service. (Or at all, actually. Too many complaints, I’ve noticed, they stop responding to you in the forums, or their most vocal volunteer, whose name I won’t mention but I’d be willing to bet anyone who’s come in contact with this person knows EXACTLY who I’m talking about – will snark at you, seemingly in the hopes of making you…I don’t know, quit asking for help? Quit WordPress? I’m not really sure.)

(Side note: as I was writing this, I just got another spam follower. Don’t think I didn’t note the irony. I’m like a magnet for such things.)

So, you either move to Blogger (terrible service, terrible functionality) or you self-host (and lose the community you have on WordPress, because there really are real people in there, among the spammers) or…you, I don’t know, go to LiveJournal? Start writing furiously in notebooks and taking photos of the pages and putting them up on Instagram? Your options, they are somewhat limited, friends. WordPress is by far the best blogging platform, and they know it. And when you’re at the top of the food chain, you don’t have to listen to the little guys saying “help, help, I’m being oppressed,” now, do you?

I don’t have an answer for you. I don’t have anything. I just have a huge cloud of spammers following my blog, is all. Like gnats. Like pesty, pesky gnats. I’d ask them to stop following me, but we all know they’re not reading these posts, so there’s no point.

I can tell you, based on the way this, and many other things, have been handled, if another comparable blogging option ever opens up, I’d be one of the first ones to jump ship. Hell, it’s either that or the random scribbling in notebooks.

Which, sometimes, seem like a very good option.

Shoo. Shoo, spammers. Shoo.


They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman; he can be the outcast.

OK, so yesterday we talked about how non-outraged I was about Miley Cyrus. From the comments, it seems most of you were about as meh on that as I was (or maybe you were super-outraged but too shy to speak up. FEEL FREE TO SPEAK UP! I promise I won’t bite. I only get mad at tornadoes of constant negative energy, passive-aggressive ragemonsters, and trolls. If you want to disagree with me, I’m cool with that. Hell, Jim used to disagree with me on the regular, and I still think he’s just the best, even if he’s dead to Dad and Dad called him “that cigar-chomping fancyman” last night.)

Let’s see how offended you are that I WASN’T offended by the other thing that didn’t offend me recently.

Yes.

It’s true.

I am not at all offended by Ben Affleck being chosen to play Batman in the new Batman vs. Superman movie.

I KNOW. TAKE AWAY MY GEEK CARD RIGHT NOW.

I have many reasons for this decision.

REASON THE FIRST: I WON’T WATCH THE MOVIE ANYWAY

I don’t care for superhero movies. When I was young, I’m sure I watched some. I think I watched one or two of the original Superman movies. I liked Michael Keaton as Batman; Clooney and Kilmer, not so much. As an adult, I watched The Avengers because Joss Whedon (and honestly didn’t get most of it because I hadn’t seen the movies it referenced, except for Iron Man.) I’ve watched the first two Iron Man movies, because SHUT UP, is why. I’m crazy in love with Robert Downey Jr. and I love him in that role. He makes me so happy. I might have accidentally watched some of one of the X-Men movies but I didn’t care. I watched the first two Batman movies (the Christian Bale ones, I mean) because I wanted to see the second one (because I’d heard so much about Heath Ledger’s Joker) so I wanted to know what was going on so I watched the first one. Was there a third one? I feel like maybe there was. I didn’t care enough to watch that. They were fine. I liked the dark grittiness and the lack of camp. But superhero movies and me – eh.

Those EYES. The FACIAL HAIR. The SNARKERY. I am head-over-heels for this man. Sincerely.

Those EYES. The FACIAL HAIR. The SNARKERY. I am head-over-heels for this man. Sincerely.

Thing is, I like superheroes. I don’t know why, exactly, I don’t like superhero movies. I think I like them in the abstract more than in the flesh, or something. Because the special effects are usually silly, and what seems noble just comes across as cheesy.

So right now you’re like, “THEN WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?” I’m a loudmouth with a blog, and I’ve had to listen to you all screaming about how terribly Ben Affleck’s going to ruin the WHOLE WOOOOOOOORLD, is who I am. So I get to judge, just as much as you do. Back off, grumbly.

REASON THE SECOND: PEOPLE HAVE WAY TOO MUCH DAMN FREE TIME

Seriously, you all got SHOUTY. Like, BEYOND shouty. It was kind of frightening to watch. People immediately fell into two camps: the “Affleck? AFFLECK? IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD!” people, and the “Meh, give the guy a chance” people.

You guys. YOU GUYS. You know it’s just a movie, right? Like, yes, I get it, people get all invested in their stories. I get it. I guess I just don’t have that in me. I mean, I was super-sad when the movie version of A Prayer for Owen Meany was THE WORST THING EVER ZOMG, but I didn’t go online and put up memes about how we needed to murder Ashley Judd, either. THERE ARE MEMES ABOUT MURDERING BEN AFFLECK. OVER A ROLE IN A MOVIE.

THIS IS NOT OK. This is a MARRIED MAN WHO HAS CHILDREN. What the hell is WRONG with you people?

THIS IS NOT OK. This is a MARRIED MAN WHO HAS CHILDREN. What the hell is WRONG with you people? Yes, I KNOW it’s a movie quote. THAT IS NOT THE POINT HERE.

Guys, I’m all for geeky passion. I totally am. I am one of you. I AM ONE OF YOUR CROWD. I am passionate about uncool shit. I was a geek back when that was an INSULT. But there’s geeky passion…then there’s taking the express train to crazytown. I think a few of you took the express train to crazytown when the Affleck announcement came out. I’d like to say I’m not judging you? But that’d be a lie. I totally am.

(You do know that Ben Affleck is a real person with FEELINGS, right? And that by screaming how much you hate him and how terrible of an actor/person he is ALL OVER THE INTERWEBS, his feelings are probably getting a little tender? “WHO CARES HE CAN DRY HIS TEARS WITH HIS MILLIONS!” Yeah, shut up. People with money have feelings, too. And it’s shitty to be that mean to ANYONE.)

OK, here’s the third point, and here’s where you all start yelling at me; I don’t even care. I stand by this one.

REASON THE THIRD: I THINK BEN AFFLECK IS A GOOD ACTOR

Shush. JUST SHUSH.

Yes. I am aware that he’s done some questionable movies. Can you think of a single actor who has a long resume who DIDN’T do some questionable movies? I can’t think of a single actor who’s only been in hits his or her whole career. Acting’s a tough game, kiddos. Sometimes you take roles because you need the money; sometimes you take roles because you owe the director or producer or production company a favor; sometimes you take roles because going into it, it seemed like a different role/movie/production/play than the final product proves to be; sometimes you take roles because you’re guaranteed exposure, or because you want the opportunity to work with a certain actor/director/producer and don’t know when you’ll get that chance again, or because if you do this project, the Powers That Be might look kindly on you for another (good) project.

I’m the first to admit I haven’t seen everything Affleck’s been in (I mean, seriously, the guy’s been in a lot of movies) but I’ve seen more Affleck movies than a lot of other actors’ movies…and that’s saying a lot, considering I don’t watch movies much anymore. I have enough to do to keep up with all the television I watch.

I just looked at his IMDb. I’ve seen all of his Kevin Smith movies. I’ve also seen Pearl Harbor, 200 Cigarettes, Shakespeare in Love, Armageddon, Phantoms, Good Will Hunting, and Dazed and Confused. I have Argo sitting here, but I haven’t seen it yet. I also saw Gone Baby Gone, which he directed. I’ve seen him every time he’s hosted Saturday Night Live.

No, I didn’t see the movies people like to shout about when they’re all “OMG NOT AFFLECK!!1!” like Gigli and Daredevil and Reindeer Games. I know people point out Jersey Girl as one of the bad movies. I didn’t think Jersey Girl was one of Smith’s best films, but I didn’t hate it like most people did. I thought it was fine. A bad Kevin Smith movie is still, for me, leaps and bounds above a lot of other movies.

Here’s the thing, you guys. I’m a fan of Affleck’s work. I think he’s come a long way. I think he was good to begin with, if a little raw; I think he’s matured into a very poised, talented man, and his directing proves this. His acting has also matured.

(I also think he’s come a long way since the Bennifer days, and I didn’t think he’d bounce back from that. Good for him.)

Thing is, I liked him before. I liked him when he was a goofball in the early Kevin Smith movies, and I think he has one of the single most affecting moments in my favorite Smith movie, which is Dogma. You’re all probably going to say “WHATEVER! CHEESY!” but the scene where he meets up with God (yes, the Alanis Morissette God) and he realizes she’s forgiven him, and is going to send him home, and he apologizes with that little catch in his throat, and thanks her, and just breaks down?

This scene. This one RIGHT HERE.

This scene. This one RIGHT HERE.

Every time, you guys. Every damn time. I don’t care what you think about the movie or that scene or Affleck as an actor; I find that tremendously powerful. When I think about Affleck as an actor, that’s the scene that immediately comes to mind. That scene cemented him in my mind as someone to watch.

I also think he does tremendous work in Shakespeare in Love. It’s not the lead role, but when he’s on-screen, you watch him. You can’t help but. He commands the screen. He’s funny and brash and intelligent and he’s a damn MOVIE star. You can SEE that in him.

I also sometimes get "Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage...are you a lady, Mr. Kent?" stuck in my head in Ned Alleyn's sing-song and it makes me grin EVERY TIME.

I also sometimes get “Gentlemen upstage, ladies downstage…are you a lady, Mr. Kent?” stuck in my head in Ned Alleyn’s sing-song and it makes me grin EVERY TIME.

And as we all know? He was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.

(And shut up, I LOVE ARMAGEDDON. It makes me cry. IT MAKES ME CRY SO HARD. No, not because of the Affleck parts, because of the daddy/daughter parts, but I don’t hate Affleck in that, either. I actually like that movie quite a bit, when I’m in the mood for an end-of-the-world type thing or when I’m flipping channels and it happens to be on.)

I think the guy can act; I think the guy can direct.

Do I think the guy can play Batman?

I DON’T KNOW. And neither do you. NEITHER DO ANY OF YOU.

Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

For everyone who’s ever played a superhero, there have been people who screamed, “NOOOOOO!” Those people are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. As people are.

(And if I’m remembering correctly, the internet was pretty split on the performance of the new guy who’s playing Superman, right? Henry Cavill, or whatever? So a lot of you are going into the movie not even liking SUPERMAN, for the love of Pete!)

I sincerely hope that Affleck turns in a kickass performance in this movie. As mentioned, I probably won’t watch it. I just don’t care about superhero movies. (I do, however, love me some Affleck, so there’s the chance I might watch it on DVD or Netflix or something someday.)

But in the meantime?

PLEASE TRY TO KEEP YOUR NERDRAGE TO A REASONABLE LEVEL. Wait until it comes out, and judge the movie RATIONALLY on its MERITS. Don’t go in all pissy-faced and PREPARED to hate it. That’s the sure way to hate something. I’m a REVIEWER, you guys. You need to go into something all clean-slatey. It’s the best way to judge something. I’m telling you. It’s only fair. I GET PAID TO REVIEW THINGS ON THE REGULAR.

Let the guy ACT, you know? It is not life-or-death. He has not been tasked with operating on Betty White or coordinating a tactical strike on Yemen or something. IT IS A ROLE IN A MOVIE. I know it’s a BELOVED role, but it’s also a role played by THIS guy…

(Sigh, Kilmer…you will always and forever be my Tombstone boyfriend, but this made me laugh so hard I cried.)

So…seriously. Not at all life or death.

Calm it down, ok? Thanks.

Because it’s not going to change anything. Affleck knows what’s up.


On Wednesdays, we wear pink.

I survived high school.

I assume most of you did, too. Or you wouldn’t be here reading this. Well, some of you might still BE in high school. (If so, you have my most abject apologies. You’ll make it out. Just keep your head down and remember: it ends eventually.)

Once you’re out of high school, if it was bad, you breathe a sigh of relief. The worst is behind you; the rest will be cake. Right? I mean, you survived high school. You survived being shoved into a building with people who wanted to destroy everything you were on a daily basis for four very, VERY long years. What else could the world throw at you that could compete with that?

What no one tells you is, the bullies don’t always grow up. Sometimes, they just move onto another building, be it actual or metaphorical, and continue doing what they do best: making others feel small so they can feel big.

Lately, I’ve noticed the building they’ve moved into is the blogosphere.

And blogging, lately, has been like attending the school in Mean Girls.

You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, J.V. jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, Varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don’t eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active band geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst. Beware of Plastics.

Blogging attracts all kinds of people. That’s honestly one of the cool things about it. I mean, if we were all the same, what fun would that be? On any given day you can read about life in Europe, the latest tech news, a humorous take on a trip to the laundromat, a serious piece about the nature of grief, a post about motherhood, a post recapping the latest episode of True Blood, a book review. All without leaving the comfort of your living room (or your office chair, if you’re reading at work, I suppose. Keep an eye out for your boss.)

It’s great because it’s open to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. It’s equal-opportunity. If you have a voice, and words to express yourself? Welcome to the community.

Except, as we learn in Mean Girls…beware of Plastics.

In the movie, the Plastics rule the school. They’re mean to everyone they don’t like (and even people they do like, sometimes.) They have rules; how you can act, what you have to wear on certain days, and where you can (and can’t) sit, depending on what you’re wearing.

In the blogosphere, the Plastics are…well, pretty much the same. Only they’re hiding behind a computer screen, so they feel their anonymity brings even more power. Let’s call them the Web-Plastics.

The Web-Plastics think their writing is better than anyone else’s; therefore, they rip apart everyone else’s writing.

The Web-Plastics think certain topics (mommy blogging, book blogging) are lesser-than; therefore, they run those bloggers down. They depreciate anything they do. They try to make them feel small, because their writing isn’t as important as whatever they’re doing.

The Web-Plastics steal ideas and posts from “lesser” bloggers, then when they’re called out on it, turn it around on the one who was stolen from: “You’re just trying to hitch a ride on our popularity. You’re no one. We’re someone. Shut up and stop whining.”

The Web-Plastics think they’re the only ones doing anything worthwhile; if other bloggers aren’t doing it the way they would, they mock them, and shame them, sometimes even publicly, so that sometimes those bloggers become so disheartened they stop writing altogether.

The Web-Plastics think that “funny” equals “cruel,” and write posts tagged “humor” in which they mock…anything. Whatever they feel like mocking. But usually people that are just trying their hardest to get by.

Best of all, the Web-Plastics have minions.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

As numerous as these minions, but nowhere near as adorable.

These minions are other Web-Plastics, or wannabe Web-Plastics. Who will like and comment on everything they do; who will go to the posts of the people who are out of favor with the Web-Plastics and troll them with mean comments and insults and sometimes skate the edge of threats; who will say or do whatever the Web-Plastics tell them to, because it’s easier to go along with the dictator than to become one of the people who’s being bullied. And believe you me, that’s who you become, if you buck the Web-Plastics. You get the full-frontal of their wrath. And their petrified minions’ wrath, as well.

The Plastics and the Web-Plastics have many things in common, but it all boils down to this:

On Wednesdays, WE WEAR PINK.

And if you don’t wear pink, you can’t sit with them.

Social (media) suicide.

There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of being told I need to wear pink, and I’m tired of being told where I can and cannot sit, and I’m tired of seeing evil stuff being done and not trying to stop it. I didn’t go through 8 (yes, 8, the bullies started early at my school) years of hell just to be told what to say or do or be now.

I’m tired of seeing mean posts about fellow bloggers. And mean slightly-veiled Facebook statuses. And snarky comments on other bloggers’ posts that they obviously worked very hard on. And don’t think the irony has missed me that the minute, the MINUTE, anyone says a word about any of the Web-Plastics, they run crying for sympathy, or run to their minions crying “vengeance shall be ours! You’re all my best friends until I no longer need you, and when that happens, I will ignore you as if you never existed.”

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

They had no idea they were going to be jettisoned so quickly. Look at their sad little faces.

Or, even more delicious, the irony that the Web-Plastics would be the first ones to come out as anti-bullying, because NO! THEY would never bully anyone! And anyone that WOULD, my GOODNESS, hang ’em up by their TOENAILS! Bullying is, like, just so WRONG!

Because what they’re doing, see, it isn’t BULLYING. They rule the internet, you see. They’re just running it the way it needs to be run. Who better to make the rules for the rest of us?

Here’s a rule I like to live by on the internet.

If you don’t like someone’s blog: don’t read it.

It’s very simple.

Take it out of your reader. Don’t click on it. Don’t click on people’s links when they tweet about it.

If the blog is offensive, if the blog is openly offending you, or a large group of people, or it’s just flat-out wrong about something – fine. I get it. I do. You want to fight against injustice.

But if the blog is, in your opinion, poorly-written, or about a topic that bores you, or a topic you consider beneath you and your perfect sparkly rainbow taste: just don’t read it.

There. I’ve freed up precious moments in your day to do whatever it is you do. Kick puppies. Berate your children for not being better at sports. Scream at your spouses for not getting that perfect crease in your slacks. Masturbate until you weep about your empty, sad, lonely life.

Today, I unfollowed fifteen blogs that I noticed were getting meaner and meaner; that had gone full-on Web-Plastic. Going around doling out attention to people they wanted to join their cults, but not too much attention; it wouldn’t be seemly. Writing posts telling others how to behave, and how not to behave. Calling out others for not doing it right. Calling out others for not being them.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I'm finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There's no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

Join me. Love me. Want to BE me. Until I’m finished with you. Or decide to make you my target. Either way. There’s no escape, otherwise. Just so you know.

It’s metaphorically Wednesday, and I’m wearing black. I’m wearing green, blue, yellow, white. I’m wearing anything but pink.

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

Bloggers: we’re all worthy. We’re all writing our truths. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. I’m not talking to the Web-Plastics. I’m talking to the rest of you. If we join together, we’re a bigger group than they are. If we support one another and refuse to let the negativity into our lives – if we just flat-out refuse to participate, be it by reading, commenting, or being sucked into the maelstrom of drama these people need to survive – they will eventually wither and die. Because they need the drama. They feed on what’s created when they’re mean. They’re psychic vampires.

If we put out all the good we have, if we refuse to accept it when it is addressed to ourselves or others, if we support our fellow bloggers…

…THEN we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

It’ll be like pouring a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Lots of screaming. Lots of fizzling. And, best of all, lots of disappearing.

On Wednesdays, they may want us to wear pink.

I’m here to say on Wednesdays, as on any day of the week, you can wear whatever the hell you want. And you’re going to look FABULOUS, darling.

Keep writing. Keep doing your thing. Because I can tell you from experience – there’s nothing a bully likes less than someone standing up to them. Unless it’s being ignored. They’re not too keen on that, either.

And hey, you guys? You’re welcome to sit at my table.

It’s a huge table.

It’s the size of the whole fucking internet.

(Special thanks to Emily at The Waiting, whose blog is wonderful and whose post earlier in the week – and the conversation with her I had in the comments – helped bring this post, which was percolating at the time, to the page. Emily, you are always welcome at my table. No matter what you wear. I’ll save you a seat and one of those little milks.)


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