Category Archives: Thoughts and Musings

Wholesome + Gay Families

Honey Maid is out with a new ad that takes previous companies’ efforts to include gay families as normal in their advertisements to a whole new level.

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What makes this ad so different?  Other ads feature gay families (in addition to the gay couple, the ad also features an interracial family, a single father, and a “punk rock” family).

The inclusion of a gay family in any ad says, “This is normal.” Honey Maid, though, goes beyond that and—explicitly—says, “This is wholesome.” Wholesome is an interesting word choice.  It means healthy, which goes beyond normalizing gay families. The message isn’t just “This is okay” or “This is acceptable.”  This isn’t a message of tolerance, or even acceptance—it’s a message that we should be striving towards what these families have.

Surely, some conservative’s head is exploding somewhere.

Oopsy Daisy: Saying ‘Sorry’ and Apologies

sorry parkers bros gameQuite happenstancely (is that a word?), I came across two articles about apologizing and saying ‘sorry.’

The first, “Sorry!” on Language Log, discusses the intersection between the frequency of “sorry” and culture, specifically the annoyance we might feel when we perceive people as apologizing too much. It’s important to note that what might seem to us as excessive “sorrying” is culturally appropriate for others. The distinction between Korean and Chinese cultures and their use of “sorry” is interesting and helps avoid grouping all Eastern cultures together as if they were monolithic.

The second, “The Key Components of an Effective Apology” on Lifehacker (which is about this post on Psychology Today), outlines five things you need in order to have effectively apologized:

1. A clear ‘I’m sorry’ statement.

2. An expression of regret for what happened.

3. An acknowledgment that social norms or expectations were violated.

4. An empathy statement acknowledging the full impact of our actions on the other person.

5. A request for forgiveness.

While potentially formulaic, these characteristics make sense to me. In other words, it’s not enough to say you’re sorry, you also have to be sorry and seem sorry.

In other words, it’s not enough to say you’re sorry, you also have to be sorry and seem sorry.

It’s a pet peeve of mine when my students do whatever the hell they want and then think it’s all better because they said, “Sorry.” That word has become license to do whatever you want to people, because if you say sorry afterwards, then you are in the clear. Never mind if the person saying sorry is even sorry at all, if they care about their impact on others, or if they would do the exact same thing later. I tell my students, “Don’t say sorry, just don’t do it again.”

I was in the elevator of my apartment this weekend, and this family crowded on with all their Christmas presents when it was clear that it would be uncomfortably crowded. “Sorry. Sorry,” they said. I wanted to say back, “You’re not sorry, because if you were sorry you wouldn’t be doing this!” But I smiled (okay, perhaps grimaced) and then had to squeeze my way off because—of course—they were going to the top floor.

I have a feeling LMFAO isn’t sorry at all (although, they really should be).

A random collection of thoughts about Peeta Mellark, the connection between which is that I hate Peeta Mellark; or, PEETA MELLARK, YOU SUCK!

6425d739aaff618b71e1aa29ac9b15d325152754587a2e58429e130336f6ee61You should really rethink your life when an old woman has to sacrifice herself to save you.

They should have left you in the Poison Mist of Death.

They should have left you to face the Evil Monkeys of Death on your own so those monkeys could rip off your stupid face.

At least you were captured by the Capitol, and we can rest assured that you are being tortured for information but are completely incapable of giving them any information because you are such a fucking idiot.

There’s a reason they don’t call you The Boy on Fire.  (Hint: It’s cuz you suck.)

Ultimately, I cannot respect Katniss for wanting to save you. Unless she plans on keeping you around as a court jester-type figure, which then would be a brilliant plan because she could throw banana peals at you. Then I respect the shit outta her.

Even your mom thinks you suck.  Take a hint!

I feel bad for Joanna who now has to spend time with you in captivity.  The fact that the two of you got captured by the Capitol is probably your fault.

You’re short.  Grow, motherfucker.

You threw a starving girl burnt bread, and it landed in mud.  You are soooo generous.

So, your big survival talent is throwing heavy objects and painting yourself to look like a moss-covered rock?  Lame.

How did you even make it off the pedestal?  Twice?



Now that my application is submitted to the co-op board, I’m feeling this . . .



[on the phone]
Hey. It’s Liz Lemon. This message is for the co-op board, I guess. This is the number you gave me, I hope it’s not fake… Cause you accepted my bid and I haven’t heard from you. But I’m doing great. I bought a German television studio today.
Does everyone know that you’re a bunch of liars, or should I tell them myself because I know a lot of people!
You know what? I’m fine. Because I know who I am. You! I feel sorry for you, co-op board!
[crying] I am going to the hospital. And I hope you’re happy.
I’m just confused. It seems weird to me that you would still be advertising the apartment after you accepted my offer.
You know what? I’ve moved on. I bought a whole bunch of apartments. I bought a black apartment, so…

- 30 Rock, 2×10

Time-tested techniques for ensuring no one sits next to you on the Amtrak train


I wouldn’t say that I’ve traveled extensively on Amtrak trains, but I have done my fair share of train travel. I don’t like flying when I travel, unless it’s necessary due to time or, you know, the ocean. So, when I get the chance to ride on a train, I do. You don’t have to arrive 2 hours early, answer a thousand questions about your baggage packing habits, wait in a cramped cabin, sit in a cramped cabin, wait for your baggage at the end of your flight . . . the list goes on.

One thing that makes train travel much better is acquiring your own double seat. On short distance train, this is harder but also less necessary. On longer distance trains, you want to sit by yourself—it’s not like the people who use the train are any better quality individuals than those who fly, and you want to get as much room as possible.

Here are some tips I’ve accumulated after many train trips and years being the kind of person who never, ever wants to talk to strangers (whether it be on a train or anywhere else).

Boarding.  Seating on Amtrak coach service is first come-first served, and as we will discover soon, getting just the right seat is vital. You want to get on the train as soon as possible. Here’s one place where size really helps. The rush to get on the train is immense and having long legs really helps. Sorry, short people, you are kind of screwed here. Do your best to initially locate yourself as close as possible to the gate, and then take those big steps and get to the train first.  Go to the car that is farthest away from the gate as possible.

Seating. This is hard. Once you get on the train, how do you pick just the right seat.  Here’s one place where psychology is important.  By getting on first, you guarantee that you have a pick of two empty seats by themselves. You may think that you want to get as far as possible to the front, but that would be a mistake. Once all the single seats are taken, there will be two types of people boarding. The first type will try their hardest to find a single seat and will thus go as far as possible until they are guaranteed that there are no single seats. They will find this out at the very front of the train and will have no incentive to turn back. So, if you are sitting at the front trying to defend your hard-fought turf, you’ll be screwed. The first type of boarder will give up and plop next to you. The second type of boarder after all the single seats are taken is the person that gets defeated early and just finds the first open seat.  So, you don’t want to be sitting right where people board. The sweet spot is dead in the middle of the car, as far to the front of the train as possible.

Posturing in your seat. Once all there are no double seats available, you need to adopt a defensive posture. This is another time where being taller and bigger is better. Spread your body out.  Don’t lean up against the window. You want to take up as much seat real estate as possible. I like putting my leg up on the other seats foot rest. You want the person to believe that sitting next to you is going to be an intimate affair.

Bag placement.  You’re trying to not have a seat mate, but don’t be a dick. Put all but your smallest bag above your seat.  Use your smallest bag as another obstacle to a person sitting, but by using your smallest bag, you are ensuring that you don’t look like you are trying to do this. A bigger bag doesn’t make a bigger obstacle; the obstacle for the person looking for a seat  is asking for you to move the bag.

Don’t make eye contact. This is actually a good tip for life, as well as for when you are trying to avoid getting your bag searched on by the NYPD on the NYC subway. The vast majority of people do not want to try to get someone’s attention. It’s science: it opens up the possibility of failing and having to repeat yourself or, worse yet, just being ignored. As social animals, we are wired to avoid negative situations (you should know this—you’re trying to sit by yourself on the train!). Making eye contact makes it easier for the other person to ask you to move your small bag.

Watch violent or explicit movies on your laptop. By sensible and use headphones, but if you watch something on your laptop that other people won’t want to see, you improve your chances of sitting by yourself. Warning: This could backfire as violent or explicit movies might attract a seat mate. Use with caution.

Techniques I’ve seen used but don’t use myself—I have standards.
Eating sloppy, smelly food.
Being a sloppy, smelly individual.
Dress weirdly.
Talk loudly on your cell phone (but if you get dirty looks, you deserve them—that’s your own damn fault).
Have a cold or other gross illness (I’m not opposed to this as a technique, but I’m not gonna go out and get a cold just to get a double seat).

The Journey, a poem










This is a journey I do not want to make
From one home
Too old to be new
But adopted nonetheless
To the other home
The one of my birth
Full of all the requisite pain and shame and regret
Of a chubby gay kid in the Rust Belt

But it is a journey I make
The train cutting through the landscape
The fall leaves ripped from their branches
By the speed of rail
Whether they were ready to fall or not
Whether they are still holding on or twisting to be free

The journey I made decades ago
From one to the other
One town to another town
One life to another life
One me to another me
This time, in reverse

The original journey cannot be undone
Even by the thump thump thump of the rail
This is another journey
Short-lived but long-lasting