Brave New World

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 6.02.16 PMI read an article in the Washington Post last week about How Twitter upended the relationships between comedians and audiences. The story highlights Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow which is a collection of interviews with comedians between 1983 and 2015. In part, the article states,

The earlier interviews are largely concerned with process: how a joke comes about, how a routine evolves. A frequent preoccupation in later interviews is social media, Twitter in particular. Given Apatow’s prominence on the medium (he has more than 1.2 million followers), that’s not terribly surprising. Nor is it shocking that many of his fellow comedians have embraced the opportunities provided by social media: These networks have given comedians new reach and exposed them to a wider range of opinions than ever before.

However, these new avenues have fundamentally changed the relationship between comics and their audiences. While the advantages for stand-ups who largely rely on self-promotion are obvious, the risks are equally great: Audiences’ newfound familiarity with the men on the stage and the intolerance the easily offended have for boundary-pushing work risk forever altering the workshopping process that Apatow and his subjects spend so much time discussing.

Social media has largely stifled a comedian’s ability to push the boundaries of social commentary. I shudder to think how the likes of

  • Mark Twain (“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way”),
  • Will Rogers (“Diplomacy is the act of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock”),
  • Lenny Bruce (“A lot of people say to me, Why did you kill Christ? I dunno… it was one of those parties, got out of hand, you know. We killed him because he didn’t want to become a doctor, that’s why we killed him.”) and
  • Richard Pryor (“I’m for human lib, the liberation of all people, not just black people or female people or gay people.”)

would be received today.

Before the advent of social media, if you were offended by a particular comedian, you could complain to your friends about what a jerk he or she was and choose to turn off the TV when they appeared. Not so today. It’s not enough to be offended. It’s not enough to tell all your friends and followers how offended you are. No, today we live in the world of the “perpetually outraged”, and the perpetually outraged must placate their anger by publicly calling for the end of the offending party’s career.

Social media has become a minefield, and not just for comedians. Much like getting behind the wheel of a car, there’s something about the presumed anonymity the internet provides that brings out the absolute worst in people. Unlike being behind the wheel of a car, people can actually hear you when you called them stupid *&^%$+#@!% and they are inclined to call you something worse in response.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The interwebs can be an educational, enlightening and enjoyable experience if you remember my secret of success to social media:

People don’t care what you think nearly as much as you think you do.

No really, they don’t.

You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Unless you are a close friend of mine, I’m guessing you don’t definitively know where I stand on any number of controversial issues. That’s completely intentional on my part. Why? Because if I follow you on Twitter or have friended you on Facebook it’s because I like you and I don’t want to fight with you. I can pretty much guarantee that you and I don’t see eye to eye on everything. Furthermore, no one has ever sought me out on social media and asked me point blank where I stood on the controversial topic de’ jour.

Why? Because they don’t care. They really don’t.

“But katdish,” you say, “this is an issue that I am strongly for/against and I think it’s important that people take a stand for/against this issue!”

I get that. I respect that. As long as you don’t take a firm stand on some hot button issue and then get–as my friend Jake Lee would say–all butthurt when someone disagrees with you.


You don’t have to sell out.

You don’t have to compromise your principles.

Just be nice and don’t feed the trolls.

I’ll be right there by your virtual side

Quietly judging you…

Dwight and Jim

Doing right for the right reasons

confederate flagOn Monday, June 22, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina called for the removal of a Confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds. I’m sharing a portion of her speech here, but you can read the entire transcript here.

We know that bringing down the Confederate flag will not bring back the nine kind souls that were taken from us, nor rid us of the hate and bigotry that drove a monster through the doors of Mother Emmanuel that night. Some divisions are bigger than a flag. The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper, much darker. But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us.

There are many who will say that removing the confederate battle flag from the statehouse grounds should have been done long before now, that it should not take the racially motivated murder of nine people in a house of worship to move people to act. I would be among those people. But I don’t believe it’s too little, too late. I’d like to think it’s the first step on a very long journey.

There are others who will say that the confederate flag does not represent racism to them, but rather a sense of pride and the history of the south. I respect that. I believe that. And I’m beyond weary of the PC police decrying anything and everything remotely traditional or faith-based being offensive, sexist, racist or homophobic. I get it. I really do.

But this is different.

Much like the Swastika, which once represented good fortune and well being, it has come to represent something deeply painful for millions of people, and it’s time to move forward.

Benjamin Watson expresses the heart of the matter more eloquently than I ever could when he writes,

“Displaying the confederate flag is not inherently wrong. This is not NECESSARILY an issue on which we can take a moral stance. It is not a simple right or wrong dilemma. I understand that for some, the confederate battle flag does not evoke sentiments of racism or supremacy; it is simply a tribute to their heritage, ancestors, and homeland. For others, including the killer, it means much more and for others it is a hiding place for passive racism and group “identity.” It is without a doubt, however, a litmus test, exposing our willingness to deny our liberty, our freedom, to fly the flag of our choice, for the sake of offending our countrymen whose SHARED HERITAGE is conversely stained with death, injustice, rape, terror and inferiority.”

Mr. Watson also shares a story of being new to South Carolina and visiting a teammate’s home his sophomore year in high school. Frank, a white offensive guard on his football team had quickly befriended him, welcoming him as the new guy when others weren’t so quick to do so. Upon arriving in Frank’s bedroom, he was shocked to see a confederate flag hung above his bed. Watson explained what the flag represented to him–how painful it was. The next time he visited, the flag has been removed. Because Frank cared about their friendship, cared about Ben, he “…empathetically removed the offensive banner on my behalf and maybe for the first time heard how painful that symbol could be”.

That is a great example of an open and honest conversation with results that last a lifetime. Ben and Frank are still close friends to this day.

But what of people whose feelings, while you might not intentionally offend, offend all the same?

My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. My father quickly remarried and he and his new wife and stepdaughter moved to Southern California. This was at a time when divorce was not nearly as prevalent as it is today. Needless to say, we were all devastated. My mother was granted custody of the four of us–that was never at issue. My dad just wanted to start over. We did visit him out in California during the summer, though.

I remember enjoying the beautiful weather, ogling over all the surfer dudes and spending time with my dad. But it was also awkward. His new wife was nice to me, and his stepdaughter was pretty cool. Still, I missed my mom. I suppose I talked about her without realizing that my new stepmother didn’t want to hear all about how great my dad’s ex-wife was. In my defense, I was an 11 year old child without malicious intent. I won’t say I was happy that my dad left my mom and his four children to marry her, but I didn’t hate her. Apparently, she thought otherwise. One morning at breakfast, I was sharing a memory about some family trip we took with my dad when my stepmother began screaming at me, “Will you just SHUT UP about your mother? Do you think we flew you out here so that I could hear you go on and on about HER?” I was completely shocked. Not only did her words sting, but her accusations were, to my young mind, completely false. It never occurred to me that talking about my mom would be seen as an insult to her. I just missed my mom.

Many years later, I would come to realize that all that venom she spewed at me wasn’t just about me. She had her own doubts, insecurities and pain. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have talked about my mother when she was around.

Her and my father have been divorced for over 30 years. If I saw her today, I wouldn’t even recognize her. But if I did, I would apologize for what I did. Just because the hurt wasn’t intentional doesn’t mean I didn’t hurt her.

Now I know better.

And when we know better, we do better.

South Carolina now knows better, so they’re doing better. Not to prove or disprove a point. Not to choose winners or losers, but to come together as a community. That’s what I call doing the right thing for the right reasons.


Editorial Note: I am not in any way suggesting that you don’t have the right to display a confederate flag, even if others find it offensive. Personally, I’m sick and tired of virtual strangers telling how I should feel and why. You might even display a confederate flag because it’s offensive. The First Amendment gives you that right. Others may argue that doing so equates to hate speech, but it’s not against the law to hate. As an American citizen, you have the right to free speech, even if it’s offensive. And contrary to popular belief on many college campuses these days, no where in the Constitution does it state that anyone has the inalienable right NOT to be offended. This post isn’t about politics, it’s about empathy.

Knowing how and what to feel


I awoke Thursday morning to a news alert via email: Nine dead in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooter had not yet been apprehended, but unless you’ve been on a media sabbatical, I don’t need to elaborate any further as to who was murdered or who the murderer is.

I’ll be honest–I didn’t turn on the news. I avoided social media for much of the morning. Because I knew that this would become what it had become: a fight about what this was and what it was not. We can’t even mourn the loss of human life without it becoming a political debate. Instead I prayed for the families, the church and the city of Charleston. I just needed to wrap my head around such a senseless and despicable act.

When I did steel myself enough to venture onto Facebook, one of the first things I read was a post condemning those who had not posted anything about the events in Charleston, telling me that if I hadn’t made my opinion known via social media that clearly I “did not give a shit” about what happened to the members of Mother AME Emanuel Church. That’s just not true. Not everyone posts every thought and opinion on social media. I would argue that sometimes it’s best to think and pray (if you’re so inclined) before you share your thoughts with the rest of the world.

But then something amazing happened. Rather than granting the wishes of the evil, despicable person who perpetrated this act to “start a race war”, the people of South Carolina joined together in mourning and in prayer.

“Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.” Psalm 21:11

They acknowledged the scourge of racism while turning away those who would use this tragedy to advance their own political agendas. I have always been proud to be a Southerner, but today I’m just a little bit prouder.

Which is not to say racism isn’t still a problem in this country. It most certainly is. As a friend of mine pointed out last week, every time some racially motivated incident occurs, the first thing you hear is, “We need to have an open and honest conversation about race relations in this country”, and then we don’t. We just express our own opinions, or retweet and share those voices we agree with. That’s not a conversation. A conversation involves listening to each other.

So here I am attempting to begin an open and honest conversation about race. I read an excellent post by Deidra Riggs, who paraphrased Randy Alcorn’s book Deadline: “For black people, race is like a marinade. It is soaked into us, all of the time. We cannot escape it. It infuses everything we do. But, for white people, race is like a condiment, If you want to deal with, you can. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”

I do not know now or will I ever know what it means to be black. Although I do know what it’s like to feel less than. I was born in 1965 to a white father and a Japanese mother in Virginia. My early elementary school years were spent at a public school in Charlotte, North Carolina, and while there were probably close to an equal number of black and white children at that school, the only faces that looked like mine were my siblings. I had friends. I didn’t identify them by their race, but I’m guessing my friends’ parents identified me as “the Chinese looking girl”. (As I said before, I’m half Japanese. But in the early 70’s, it was my experience that whites assumed Asian countries of origin were interchangeable for the purposes of describing physical attributes.) We did not talk about Japanese culture in our home nor did we eat Japanese food. We all just did our best to fit in with everyone else, with varying degrees of success.

But I’m not white. Legally speaking, I can choose to identify as either white or Asian/Pacific Islander, but I am not white. As so succinctly described in the above description of what it’s like to be a person of color, my heritage is soaked into me.

Here’s how I know that to be true: I cannot watch any war movies about Vietnam or World War II that depict the deaths of Asians. The famous black and white photo of the naked girl running in terror as her village is being bombed by Napalm? It rips my heart out just thinking about it. I have a knot in my stomach as I type these words. Not because I think Asian lives are somehow more valuable or sacred than other races–ALL lives are sacred.

No, it hurts because it’s personal. It hurts because she looks like me.

Am I correct to assume that even though the deaths of Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson are heartbreaking, that if your face looks like theirs, your heart breaks more?

I’m not saying any of this to be provocative. I’m trying to start an honest conversation. I need to acknowledge my own biases–not against anyone else, but for the people with whom I identify. I’ve shared this clip before, but I think it speaks to what we’re facing. I would like to face it together as a community acknowledging our differences while finding common ground.

Superbowl Commercial #FAIL

I know I’m just one of thousands of bloggers playing Monday morning quarterback to Sunday’s game, but not about the final outcome. There’s only so many times I can relive that horrible ending.
Suffice it to say that, much like talented guitarist Tommy Johnson in O Brother, Where Art Thou, Tom Brady has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for numerous trips to the Superbowl. Because nobody’s that lucky. (Okay, y’all. I’m almost done hating on Tom Brady. Bear with me–it’s a process. I’m sure he’s a great guy and my dislike of him is completely irrational.)

But I digress…

What was your favorite Superbowl commercial? Many would vote for the Budweiser commercial featuring the cute puppy and the Clydesdale horses.

Those sentimental Budweiser commercials are always great. We love the funny ones, the ridiculous and outrageous ones, but we’ve also come to expect the ones we can allow to unabashedly, unapologetically pull at our heartstrings.

GoDaddy thought they would score some points in the “ridiculous and outrageous” category by airing this commercial poking fun at Budweiser:

But when the ad aired early, public backlash on social media was so intense that they decided to pull it, offering this public apology:

“This morning we previewed GoDaddy’s Super Bowl spot on a popular talk show, and shortly after a controversy started to swirl about Buddy, our puppy, being sold online. The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad…. The net result? We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl. You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh. Finally, rest assured, Buddy came to us from a reputable and loving breeder in California. He’s now part of the GoDaddy family as our Chief Companion Officer and he’s been adopted permanently by one of our longtime employees.”

Instead, they ran this ad:

While the public apology may have smoothed over the feathers of animal rights activists and puppy lovers, for me, the replacement commercial seemed like a non-apology apology. Sort of like when a public figure says something horribly offensive then holds a press conference and says, “I deeply regret if the words I chose offended some people.” They’re not really apologizing for being douchy, they’re just sorry that they have to say they’re sorry. Because while the commercial does better reflect the services that GoDaddy offers, they still can’t help but take a dig at Budweiser’s puppy commercial. It comes off as sophomoric and petty, which for me, is pretty much par for the course when it comes to GoDaddy Superbowl commercials.

In years past they have run an ad featuring bodybuilders running towards a spray tan shop, including a freakishly muscular CGI’ed Danica Patrick (their spokesperson) among them and an ad featuring Danica Patrick (again) and a supermodel and be-speckled nerdy looking guy locked in a rather cringe-worthy kiss.

There are a couple of reasons why GoDaddy’s ads never work for me. The first is Danica Patrick.
Danica Patrick
Personally? I have nothing against her. She’s beautiful, smart and a savvy business person who also happens to be a race car driver. But if GoDaddy is counting on attracting the NASCAR demographic with her, they might want to hire a driver that actually wins races. She still has her supporters, but  many fans believe that Patrick did not deserve to be in NASCAR’s all-star race — which typically is reserved for race winners and the most accomplished drivers — and resent the fact that she got in through the Sprint Fan Vote.

The second reason the ads don’t work for me is that there is an underlying cruel mockery in them. Is anyone really buying that the supermodel is genuinely attracted to the nerdy guy? I certainly didn’t. It just left me feeling uncomfortable for both of them. The bodybuilders racing towards the spray tan place commercial only works if you think all body builders are a bunch of meat headed idiots who deserve to be made fun of.

Am I completely off base about these ads, or do the creators of these commercials remind anyone else of that cruel bully you went to school with who tries to get a laugh at the expense of someone else?
back to the future
That’s not funny to me.

To me, THIS is funny:

And I love that a regular guy won a million dollars for making it.

Au revoir, Sky Mall: A musical tribute

It’s over…

The Sky Mall has filed for bankruptcy.

sky mall plane

And the immortal words of Pablo Cruise come to mind:

No, I don't know why they're nekkid.

No, I don’t know why they’re nekkid.

“And all your friends
They calling you a fool
Cause you don’t know
A good thing when you’ve
Got it in your hand”

And speaking of musical truths, I felt the only way to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the Sky Mall for the bounty of blog fodder over the years was an homage set to music.

My first instinct was to create a video slideshow set to the haunting “I Will Remember You” as sung by Sarah Mclachlan, but I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t have that kind of time.

sara mclaughlin

So instead, I’m asking you to sing along with the following karaoke track of Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight by The Beatles replacing the more commonly known lyrics with ones I’ve provide for you below. (Work with me, people!)


Without further adieu, I give you my musical tribute to Sky Mall. Last (sniff), in a series.


You’re welcome…

Golden Sky Mall

Once there was a place,
to shop for Sasquatch,

sky mall big foot

Once there was a place,
to shop for combs

sky mall hairmax laser comb

Weep pretty darlings, go on cry

sky mall celebrity crying 1

There’s no more shopping in the sky…

Siamese slankets filled the skies

sky mall siamese slanket

Creepy Elvis sang and sighed

sky mall singing elvis

Weep pretty darlings, go on cry

sky mall celebrity crying 2

There’s no more mall up in the sky

Once there was a place,
with magic toilets

sky mall magic toilet

Once there was a place,
for endless pools

sky mall endless pool

Weep pretty darlings go on cry

sky mall crying celebrity 3

There’s no more dog beds in the sky

sky mall dog bed

Boy you’re gonna carry that weight,

sky mall sumo table

carry that weight for a long time

sky mall zombie

Boy you’re gonna carry that weight,

sky mall exerciser

carry that weight for a long time

sky mall skeleton gnomes

I never give you my pillow,

sky mall travel pillow

I only send you my invitations

sky mall cover

And in the middle of the celebrations,

sky mall celebration

I break down

sky mall ostritch pillow

Boy you’re gonna carry that weight,

carry that weight for a long time

sky mall neck brace

Boy you’re gonna carry that weight,

carry that weight for a long time…

sky mall luggage scooter


A fond farewell, Sky Mall. Your pages were scanned by millions.

sky mall autographed

Too bad no one ever bought anything from you.


Cheaters never Win

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.45.22 PM

Neither NFL team I was rooting for on Sunday won.

Not that I had any strong allegiance to any of the four teams playing for their respective division titles. It mostly came down to picking Green Bay for sentimental reasons and Indianapolis because the Patriots just bug me–the team as a whole and Tom Brady in particular. Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.03.24 PM

Now it turns out that the NFL is investigating allegations of cheating by the New England Patriots. The focus of the investigation is whether the team intentionally deflated footballs used in Sunday’s game, which to me seems incredibly silly considering that the Pats tromped the Colts 45-7. I hardly think properly inflated footballs would have made much of a difference. Indianapolis was simply outmatched and outplayed on this particular Sunday. If New England cheated, they didn’t need to, and if found guilty, the punishment will most likely be the loss of a couple of draft picks. They’re still going to the Big Game.

“Deflate-gate” is just the latest in a string of accusations of cheating by the Patriots and will likely come to nothing. What’s the big deal? Should we simply follow quarterback Tom Brady’s lead and laugh it off?

"I think I've heard it all at this point. That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this." --Tom Brady

“I think I’ve heard it all at this point. That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.” –Tom Brady

Maybe. But maybe not. I don’t know what will come of this latest investigation, but I do know that in previous controversies involving the Patriots the team wasn’t technically cheating. They stay within the rules, but many question whether they conform to the spirit of the rules and fair competition.*

That’s what bugs me.

It’s only cheating if you get caught.

Wait, check that. It’s only cheating if you get caught AND they can prove beyond any doubt that you cheated, in the meantime, quit your whining and accept that WE ARE WINNERS! I’m not picking on the Patriots, the world is awash in people taking short cuts, taking advantage and jumping through loopholes to get to the top.

Between 1999 and 2005, Lance Armstrong was credited to have won the Tour de France an unprecedented seven consecutive times.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 7.11.25 PM

He became a larger than life symbol of excellence and overcoming adversity, all the while consistently and voraciously denying any accusations that he used performance enhancing drugs. He even went so far as to sue journalists, friends and colleagues who accused him of doping. If he was cheating and getting away with it, there had to be a massive cover up involving numerous people, which is exactly what happened.

In the aftermath of his finally admitting that he was cheating all along, he not only brought shame on himself and the sport of cycling, but sullied the name of LiveStrong, his cancer awareness charity which has raised over 500 million dollars. (They have since cut ties with Armstrong.)

Cheating created an international superstar far beyond the sport of cycling, but Armstrong will forever be remembered for his deception, not his contribution to the sport. Meanwhile, a $100 million law suit and an arbitration for multiple millions more threaten to take away his considerable personal fortune.

Winning isn’t everything.
Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 7.02.10 PM
Especially when it costs you everything.

*One notable exception: The NFL determined that the Patriots illegally videotaped opponents from 2002 to 2007. Roger Goodell fined the team $250,000, and stripped New England of a first-round draft choice. Coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, the largest financial penalty against a coach ever.

Why I hate writing, Part 15: Experts, reviewers and other trolls

image courtesy of photo

image courtesy of photo

The novel got some good reviews, some mixed reviews, and some pretty nasty reviews. The New Yorker’s was literary water boarding: “…doesn’t even seem to have been written; instead it gives the impression of having been shouted onto paper…what remains is a debris of sour jokes.” (The author) dwells on that particular review in his memoir: “I am tempted to drown in my own particular gloating laughter even as I set this down. What restrains me is the knowledge that the lashings still smart, even after so many years, and if I ever pretend to be a jolly good sport about them, as I am doing now, I am only pretending.”

Catch-22The above quote was taken from a forward written by Christopher Buckley (novelist and son of William F.) for the 50th anniversary edition of “Catch-22″ by Joseph Heller.

To put this into context, consider that this debut novel is the 88th best selling book of all time and came in at number 74 on The Guardian’s 100 Greatest Novels of All Time.

Not that any such accolades matter much to a real, bonafide writer. Despite claims from people peddling self-affirming, Jack Handey-esque books that tell you you’re a writer simply because you write, I believe the universe has a way of weeding out those who are only attracted to the romanticized notion of being a writer. Anyone who tells you that being a writer is as easy as thinking/acting like one is trying to sell you something. Perhaps a book about being a writer. (Which ironically makes him a writer, but not you.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 2.25.11 PM

Which is not to say writers should not be encouraged. God knows they need all the encouragement we can give them, but if you consider yourself a writer and spend more time searching for validation than actively involved in the craft of writing, maybe you’re not cut out for this. On the other hand, if you live in fear that the world will soon discover the fraud you know yourself to be, you may just make a life for yourself.

“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

If it seems as if I’m attempting to discourage you from writing, I’m not. There are stories that need to be told in unique voices the world cries out for. But if you’re new to this you need to know that it’s not for the faint of heart.

Prepare to be lonely, discouraged, disheartened, ridiculed and rejected. Go forward with the knowledge that people with infinitely less talent and skill will be more successful than you, that the old adage “Life is Not Fair” is painfully played out daily in the world of publishing.

Equipped with this knowledge, do it anyway.

And if you beat the odds and make it, don’t rest of your laurels. Do it again.


Editorial Note: I am not suggesting that writers should not read books about writing. There are some great books (and blogs) chock full of information and instruction on all aspects of the craft–from plot and structure to editing to building successful platforms. But you probably already knew that…

Just for grins, I went back and read the first of this series: Why I hate writing, written way back in July, 2010. You’d think I would have matured since then. But really? Not so much.

Childbirth, Ice Skating and the Halo Effect

People who grow up in Southeast Texas do not ice skate well.

image courtesy of google images

image courtesy of google images

I’m sure there are some notable exceptions, but none come to mind.

Skating fail 2

When you grow up in a climate where the largest body of water to freeze over in winter is a birdbath, things like snowball fights and outdoor ice skating are activities relegated to characters in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

Which is not to say that the Houston area is devoid of ice skating.

Houston Galleria

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 7.56.01 AMIn the early 1970’s, visionary real estate developers built the famous Houston Galleria, with its overpriced retail establishments encircling the centerpiece of this three-story shopping utopia: the ice skating rink, because little rich girls have dreams, too.

There have been other Houston ice rinks in the 40-some years I’ve lived here, most of them fell victim to a lack of interest and downturns in the local economy. Only the Galleria rink has endured. Being smack dab in the middle of one of Houston’s most popular tourist destinations has helped secure its survival.

Fortunately there are a handful of other ice skating rinks in Houston, one of which is only 20 miles from my home on the outskirts of western suburbia. (Twenty miles may sound like a long way, but if you think that, you don’t live in Houston. Anywhere worth going to is at least 20 miles away from you. This city is HUGE. Also? The rink is actually 30 minutes from my house, not 20 miles. Because this is Texas, and we measure travel in time, not distance. But I digress.)

This other skating rink is also located in a shopping mall. Nothing attracts bored teenagers with a pocketful of gift cards on winter break like a shopping mall with a giant Starbucks and an ice skating rink. Which is not to say that any of these teenagers are particularly good at ice skating. As I mentioned before, people from South Texas do not ice skate well. But this does not deter them from strapping on rental skates in the misguided belief that they really are much better than past experiences would indicate. My 13 year old daughter has been ice skating with her friends on numerous occasions, and she will tell you that she is a “pretty good ice skater”. I’ve seen her skate. If by “pretty good ice skater” she means “I only fell down a handful of times”, then yes, she is pretty good. Much like women of childbearing age, teen skaters suffer from what researchers call the Halo Effect.

Halo effect

In both scenarios, hormones cloud the memory centers of the brain and block recollections of intense pain and humiliation. It is said that the Halo Effect in young mothers is to ensure the survival of the species. I can only surmise the phenomenon in teenagers is wholly for the benefit of the onlooking parents of said teenagers.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Hello again. Hello

I’ll give you a few minutes to get that song out of your head…

Neil Diamond

And if the Neil Diamond reference was completely lost on you, you’re probably too young to relate to me and I’m not sure we can be friends.

For those of you who used to read this blog back when people actually read blogs and not just snippets of information via social media, Hello again. For those of you who didn’t even know I had a blog, Hello. (See what I did there?)

2014 was a mostly silent year for me on the writing front. There were numerous times when I wanted to rant incessantly about any number of things–trust me, I have an opinion about just about everything. But lately EVERYONE seems to be ranting incessantly about something, and I didn’t want to be just one more cranky voice among the masses.

People were generally more pissy in 2014. The Chinese calendar may have denoted it the Year of the Horse, but let’s be honest. 2014 was the Year of the Grumpy Cat.

image courtesy of

She was a media sensation, her fame culminating into its predictable conclusion: a truly horrible movie meant to cash in on all the fuss. It wasn’t the cat’s fault, it was her people.

People ruin everything.

But since January 1 is a chance at new beginnings, I am choosing to begin anew; to see the good and share it with you via my little spot on the Internets. Okay, maybe not all good, but I’ll be sharing again in 2015.

As always,

Sorry/You’re welcome.

Happy New Year!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (and not in a good way)

I’ve posted this before, but clearly my message is going unheard and/or unheeded, because you people are still committing horrible crimes against fashion under the guise of holiday spirit. So, since you’re still pulling your ugly sweaters out of storage, I’m pulling this post out as well:

Breaking my Silence

Yesterday, I posted the following tweet:

I’m going to write a post tomorrow that needs to be written. It may offend some people, but I’ve got to take a stand.

About most things, I am willing to speak out, but on this particular subject I felt the damage might be too great; the cost too high. But then I received the following reply from @peacegardenmama:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968

Thank you, Roxane. Your tweet gave me the courage to finally end my silence; to speak out against what might be the greatest abomination of the Christmas season.

I’m talking about, of course…

The holiday sweater:

First introduced as a form of seasonal birth control in communist China, they soon made their way across the Pacific to Europe and the New World. But this still does not answer the question of why, in a country where its citizens have the freedom to wear anything they choose, people would voluntarily wear one of these things.

At first, the blight of the holiday sweater was only observed in the weakest of our society–those not in a position to make sound, educated decisions about their wardrobe choices. I speak, of course, of the very young:

and the elderly:

So what of the rest of society? I have a theory:

Having worked in the fashion industry for several years (and by “having worked in the fashion industry” I mean “I worked in the Junior Department of a local department store”), I know that home interior trends tend to follow clothing fashion trends. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

From the runways and red carpets of one fashion season:

To the trendy, overpriced furniture stores the following season:

I think it’s important to remember that this is a one way street. Clothing fashions can trend to home fashions, but when you try to flip this trend, the results are often disastrous:

As a Christian, I find it disheartening that Christ followers seem particularly vulnerable to the mysterious allure of the holiday sweater.

Attend any Women’s Ministry Christmas Tea, luncheon or cookie exchange, and I dare you to swing a wiffle bat without hitting an attendee NOT wearing a holiday sweater.

I think this particular phenomenon can be traced back to a misinterpretation of scripture. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you and treating your body as a holy temple. Perhaps in later translations it states, “the Holy Spirit shall come to dwell on your person. Maybe you should provide a comfy chair and a big picture window with a cat sitting in it.”

(Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part as I don’t own a copy of the New Living Translation Bible.)

I know I have focused on women’s holiday sweaters in this post, but in conclusion I want to urge men, women and children alike to think long and hard before the Christmas card photo this year. One hundred years from now, is this how you want to be remembered by future generations?

No, I didn’t think so…

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