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I don't have the right kind of friends. I know this because not one of them has traveled in a bus through the United States arguing against Obama's socialist takeover of the country or burned Nancy Pelosi in effigy. Or burned Obama in effigy while traveling through Nancy Pelosi in a bus. Not ONE of my over-educated liberal elitist pay-what-you-can-theatre loving, The Wire-watching friends has sent me the hilarious email mentioned by Michael Goodwin in his timely and incisive opinion piece on foxnews.com: "Good News - The 'Move the Mosque' Movement is Growing". Tell me you don't feel your sides splitting because of all the mirth after reading this:

I just applied for a building permit for a new house. It was going to be 100 ft tall and 400 ft wide with 9 turrets at various heights and windows all over the place and a loud outside entertainment sound system. It would have parking for 200 old cars and I was going to paint it snot green with . . . pink trim. The City Council told me to f--- off. So I sent in the application again, but this time I called it a mosque. Work starts on Monday.

Get it? Your average (i.e. Christian, Obama-care hating, and rotund) American wants to build a giant hideous building somewhere and stupid bureaucrats will not let him, but a MUSLIM wants to build a giant hideous building and he's allowed to because bureaucrats love Muslims almost as much as they love screwing over populists. As Michael Goodwin states, 

"It's a joke, one of those mass Internet mailings that gets a laugh and captures the spirit of the moment."

What concerns me is something I just quoted. That's right. The "mass Internet mailings" part. I use the internet. I check my email regularly to read the messages amazon.com has sent me confirming my order of the most recent Madeleine Albright memoir or This American Life CD compilation. Not ONCE have I found that humourous mosque email waiting for me in my inbox. I can only conclude that I don't have the right kind of friends. 

I do, though, have a plan to remedy this situation. What I'm going to do is the following: convince a black or Middle Eastern-ish man with some ambiguous form of head-covering to walk through a crowd demonstrating against the mosque planned for the neighbourhood of Ground Zero. The first person who starts yelling at him and calling a coward? I'm giving that person my email address. Then Michael Goodwin and I can enjoy a good laugh in "the spirit of the moment" together.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.

 
 
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Dear Catastrophizer:
I am 62 years old and retired. I keep adding up the numbers of my budget to see if I am likely to outlive my money. Until yesterday it seemed safe to assume I would make it through my dotage without having to eat cat food, even once. But yesterday when I added up the same numbers I discovered an error in logic that I'd been making all along. Can you tell me where I can buy discount cat food? Would pellets for rodents deliver the same nutritional punch at a lower cost? 

Thanks, in advance, for your advice. 

Yours truly, Aging woman. 

P.S. I know you're too young to be worrying about this kind of stuff

I've said it before and I'll say it again: you're never too young to worry about penury, infirmity, and death. That said, those fortunate enough to have lived for a while in consecutive years might be in a better position to appreciate how nice money, "firmity" and life are, and to suspect that they are probably not now or ever going to be discovered on Johnny Carson.

Allow me to answer this while also getting to talk about something else that's been thrilling me and to do so by discussing a scene from The Golden Girls. In a scene more bizarre than any shakily-filmed drug-using sequence from a motion picture, the girls host a talent show at which Bob Hope makes repeated jokes about Ronald Reagan. I was, of course, appalled, because no one is permitted to make light of Ronald anymore. He is a conservative icon, even though it turns out that the very conservatives who venerate him today would probably colour him red for commie if he were still around. He was in favour of reducing the number of nuclear weapons kicking about, after all. Hippie.

But let's get to the whether-to-eat-pellets portion of this entry. I mention The Golden Girls because their example could well prove to be instructive. Why did these golden girls ends up rooming together? Not because they wanted to giggle girlishly and pretend they were undergraduates. It was made clear intermittently on the show that Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose lived together because they could not afford to live on their own. They were forced into cohabitation by the reality of an empty wallet. One of the earlier episodes features Rose desperately trying to find a job and finding it difficult to do so because she's old and has no work experience. 

A side note: when Rue McClanahan started on the show, she was 51. When Kim Cattrall starred in the last Sex and the City movie, she was 54. I know that only because I checked imdb.com and not because I saw the film. Even though the idea of three lovely white ladies going to Abu Dhabi and acting like great big sluts is HILARIOUS.

So here's my advice: find a woman who's sex-loving, a woman who's dizzy-headed, a woman who's sharp-tongued, and another woman who's sharp-tongued AND extraordinarily tall and move in with them. With all of you splitting costs, it should be possible to survive not by eating pellets of any kind, but by sharing beans from cans.


Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.


 
 
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By now, you've probably heard about Steven Slater. You might not recognize the name, but when I add that he's the flight attendant who launched into a tirade on the PA system of an airplane, activated the emergency chute, grabbed some beer, and then slid away, you'll probably remember hearing about him. 

He's been a flight attendant for years. But on this fateful (for him) day, he'd had enough. A passenger hit him with a bag and swore at him, and the resentment of decades could no longer be ignored. 

Now he's everywhere:


CNN calls him "a folk hero of sorts". Why is he being embraced so passionately? Well, said some woman on CNN, he did what so many of us dream of doing: quitting in a spectacularly public fashion. Many of us understand what it is to be gradually beaten down by a thankless job, and we can live vicariously through him.

Fair enough. That makes sense. We all relate to the poor sod who's been repeatedly trodden on by an uncaring public. One question, though: who, then, sees him or herself as part of that uncaring public? Because there are lots of people in that group. Steven Slater may have been driven to escape via chute by one particular person, but it's clear his revolt was the product of years of ill-treatment. When we hear this story, we're so quick to align ourselves with him, with the underdog, but what if we're the reason he hated his job? What if we are the repugnant, selfish, unrepentant public? 

It reminds me of the "I just give too much" people. You know them. They say things like, "I just give too much to other people. I have to learn to put myself first." Invariably, these people are the most selfish, irritating, self-righteous prigs around. And also invariably, when one hears one of those prigs trumpet his or her self-abnegation, one thinks, "That's so eerie. That's just like me. I totally give too much, too." Does anyone ever say, "You know what? I absolutely do not give too much. In fact, I take too much from other people. I have to stop being such a selfish jackass"?

It's easy to identify oneself with the mistreated, the overlooked, the beaten down. But don't forget, someone's also doing the mistreating, the overlooking, and the beating. That someone could be you. It can't be me, because my problem is that I give too much.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.
 
 
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Dear Catastrophizer, 

I have recently rented a new apartment in a downtown neighbourhood of a major North American city. The neighbourhood is mostly populated by the city’s vibrant gay community and known for its bon-amie and joie-de-vivre. Earlier this week when visiting the building to sign my lease, I noticed that instead of the standard rainbow-coloured “Pride” flag, the balcony of the unit next to my soon-to-be new home was adorned with a “Gadsden” flag (named for the American revolutionary figure Christopher Gadsden) which bears the motto “Don’t Tread on Me”. I have since read that the Gadsden flag has been recently adopted by Tea Party movement in the U.S. 

My question is: what sort gesture of hospitality should I extent to my new neighbours? I initially thought I would prepare them a basket of vegan baked goods, but now I am uncertain. Any guidance you can give me in this pursuit would be greatly appreciated. 

A Faithful Reader 
I'm not going to lie: you're in an unenviable position. Allow me to explain (at length). 

You may be aware that various French men from the 1970's had adorable theories about how things like the clothes we wear are actually systems of signs invested with profound social and philosophical significance. We "read" the outfits of other people and then use those readings as the basis for invariably harsh, albeit fancy, judgements. 

And it doesn't just have to be clothes. Think of the posters you put up when you were a teenager. They defined you; they were outward manifestations of your taste; they were like a mating call that might be answered by a like-minded individual if you'd ever been fortunate enough to have such an individual in your room.

So your neighbour's flag is important. That flag Says Something. The problem is, what? What, so help me Wikipedia, is that flag supposed to be saying?

The Gadsen flag has indeed been adopted by the Tea Party movement. However, it has also been adopted by a number of other suspicious and rebellious groups. For example (and I quote, as is my wont, directly from Wikipedia):
  • Athletic apparel company Nike uses the image of a snake coiled around a soccer ball for an ongoing, patriotic "Don't Tread On Me" campaign in support of the United States men's national soccer team. The phrase has become a rallying cry for American soccer fans and the Gadsden flag can occasionally be seen at national team games.
  • The Boy Scouts of America frequently fly this flag at campouts, ceremonies, and jamborees.
  • The flag appears in the Disney animated television series Recess, raised above the home of the character Gustav, whose father is a Marine. It is seen in the first episode's segment titled, "The New Kid," which addresses individuality and tyranny.
  • Metallica later used the flag on their self-dubbed "Black Album" as a song name ("Don't Tread on Me"), and on the cover of the album, the snake from the flag is in the lower right hand corner. 311's eighth studio album is titled "don't tread on me" released 2005, and also of significance is the Cro-Mags' track of the same title. 
  • The New Jersey based punk rock group Titus Andronicus features one on the cover of their self-titled album, and the flag is frequently seen with them on tour. 
  • The flag has also been used as a critical prop in several movies and TV shows, such as in the final episode of Jericho, where it was flown to signal the titular town's independence. The flag also hung on the wall of Sam Seaborn's office in the television series The West Wing. Inspecting Sam's flag carefully, you will notice the prop was constructed in error. The bottom stripe is white instead of red.
So. What do all these bullets I couldn’t figure out how to double-space tell us about your predicament? Your neighbour could be: 
1) a rabid fan of American men’s soccer 
2) a proud and public supporter of the Boy Scouts 
3) a rabid and public fan of a Disney child named Gustav 
4) a lover of a) Metallica b) 311 c) Cro-Mags d) Titus Andronicus (hope for this one - they’re really good)
5) a worshipper of the West Wing, or 
6) one of those people who sent all those peanuts to the TV networks to prevent the cancellation of Jericho

If the flag-hanger next door is 1, 4d, 5, or 6, there’s a good chance your vegan treats would be greeted with heart-felt gratitude. If, though, your neighbour is any of the other things, vegan treats would enrage him/her. Boy Scouts and Gustav hate hippies. 

I am ready to speak decisively on this matter, having made lists involving numbers AND letters. Be sly. Manage to run into your neighbour and be spy-sneaky when conversing. Say things like: “It’s funny - that terrifying blond woman from CSI: Miami was really good as a Republican on the West Wing” or “Some Kind of Monster was the reason I started going to therapy” or “I love boy-scouts” (which could backfire, given). Watch your neighbour’s response carefully. If you suspect you might learn to like this person, give him/her vegan treats. If you suspect you'll learn to desperately try to avoid this person, give him/her vegan treats. There. That was easy.



Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HEREI will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough. Also, I'm not very good at copy-editing, so if something looks wrong, it was put there by accident.