The Mother of Convention

 

I picked up a newspaper the other day–hah! No, I didn’t. This is 2016, not 1996, and I’m not some time traveling cyborg, wandering around reading newspapers because I’ve been sent back from the future to prevent a horrific tragedy from destroying our country.

Would that I were.

No, this is what I really did the other day: I scrolled through the news feed on my robot phone and discovered that here in the United States we have a presidential election going on.

“Hmm,” I said to myself. “How did that happen?”

I imagine that’s the same question more than a few of you have been asking yourself as we wind our way through this very strange political season.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 7.51.49 AMHere in Philadelphia we’re rounding up the homeless and hiding them until this whole thing is over ramping up for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, slated for the Wells Fargo Center on July 25-28.

If you head over to the Democratic National Convention website you can find out all sorts of interesting things, including how to request media credentials, although the deadline has passed, so it looks like I am SOL. Had it occurred to me before the drop dead date (whenever that was, the website doesn’t bother to say, sorry not sorry), I can’t imagine my request would have been successful.

An Overworked DNC Volunteer: Got a request from some blogger for media credentials. Can you look up Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please?

Another Overworked DNC Volunteer: Here it is. It says it’s about “Humor and Sex. Mostly Sex.”

An Overworked DNC Volunteer: Oh, boy! Any good pictures?

Another Overworked DNC Volunteer: Nah, doesn’t look like it. Posts about how to get rid of ants in your kitchen. And orangutans. Here’s one about a ham and cheese sandwich.

Overworked DNC Volunteer: None of that sounds political. So, no politics, and no dirty pictures. What’s the point of that blog?

Other Overworked DNC Volunteer: Who knows? Just stamp that request “rejected” and let’s move on.

Overworked DNC Volunteer: Ok, here’s the next one. Look up Nigel and His Naughty Friends for me . . .

As I clicked around the Democratic National Convention website, I wondered how I could work this all into a blog post about the state of American democracy. Then it occurred to me that the political convention, scheduled to take place so close to home, provided yet another “teachable moment” for my two young daughters.

I ran the idea past my husband.

“What do you mean?” he asked, his voice cracking as beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. He’s heard my ideas before, like the time I wanted to learn a foreign language and made him watch an entire season of Friends in Spanish (¡El Uno Donde Ross y Rachel se rompen!). Or that time I suggested we raise chickens, if he was willing to wring their necks (he wasn’t). Or that other time I wanted to try anal sex (in the end, I turned out to be unwilling). “You’re not going to ask me to dress up like Hillary Clinton, are you?”

No, I assured him, my plan did not involve any cross-dressing (at least, not this plan). Instead, it involved ordering a pizza and sitting around the dining room table, explaining to the girls the role political conventions play in American democracy.

“We’re going to play a sort of game,” I said as I passed out slips of paper. “This will be fun.”

“That’s what you said about the play with the people in that room,” my older daughter said without looking up from her cell phone. Last year, I’d bought season tickets to a community theater that chose to perform, alongside Charlotte’s Web and Bye Bye Birdie, Harold Pintar’s The Room. “I had nightmares three nights straight.”

Deep Dish Pizza 6:29:13

Everyone supports pizza.

“That’s right,” the younger one said. Right now, she’s more focused on decontaminating her pizza from the scourge of sliced green peppers than what we’re discussing. “You told us that would be fun, too.” She flicked away a piece of the offending vegetable. “But it wasn’t fun.”

“This is different,” I said, although who can be sure the political conventions won’t resemble an absurdist drama?

“It sounds like fun to me,” my husband said. He finds it easier to support my ideas when they don’t involve embarrassing him. “What do we do?”

My husband already knows what we’re going to do because I briefed him about it last night in bed, elbowing him awake to explain it all, so my instructions were for the benefit of the girls.

“This summer, the two political parties are going to hold their conventions. The Republicans will get together in Cleveland, and the Democrats are meeting here in Philadelphia. They’re going to pick their presidential candidates, and they’re also going to vote on their party platform.”At this point, I held up my slip of paper. “And that’s what I’d like to do. Create a sort of family platform.” I chose a pencil from the pile collected at the center of the table and pantomimed writing on the paper. “For example, I could write ‘Respect One Another’ because that’s important to me, and it’s a goal I believe we should all work toward in this family, so I want that to be part of our platform.” I put down the pencil. “After everyone fills out at least one slip of paper, we’ll vote on which ones we want to include. That’s called ‘adopting’ or ‘approving’ the platform.”

My younger daughter’s hand darted across the table to grab a pencil. “I’m voting for Trump!” She plays the trumpet in the elementary school band and somehow the presumptive Republican nominee’s name and her musical instrument have commingled in her brain and turned her into a vociferous supporter.

I wrestled the pencil from her grasp. “We’re not voting for the candidates. We’re trying to create a platform, the things we believe in, as a family, just like the political parties will at their conventions,” I explained, again.

“And if we were voting,” the thirteen year old looked up from her phone long enough to cast a withering glance at her younger sister, “we’d vote for Bernie, not Trump.”

My husband coughed. When I met him, he was a registered Republican. Six months later, he told me he had switched party affiliations (to Independent, but still . . .). I think that meant more to me than when said he loved me.

“I don’t know if we’d all vote for Bernie, but definitely not Trump,” I said. “And if you keep saying you’re voting for Trump, you’ll be playing the flute next year. Is everybody clear on what we’re doing?”

They nodded, except the thirteen year old, who put down her phone and picked up a pencil in silent acquiescence. I set the kitchen timer for five minutes.

Five minutes later, I collected the slips of paper and read them out loud.

“‘Respect One Another,'” I read. That one was mine.

I picked up another slip of paper. “‘Tolerate Different Opinions.'” I recognized my husband’s hand writing, and suspected this is his way of telling me he’s voting Libertarian in the fall.

The next slip of paper said, “‘No Green Peppers.'” I looked at my younger daughter. “Really?” She nodded. “Green peppers are good for you,” I said. “I don’t know if I can support ‘No Green Peppers’ as part of the family platform.”

Finally, I came to the last one. “‘Moratorium on All Mom’s Fun Ideas,'” I read aloud.

As with much of what my older daughter says and does these days, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m disappointed that she doesn’t enthusiastically support family activities the way she did when she was younger. On the other hand, I’m really proud that she knew how to use the word “moratorium” correctly in a sentence.

In the end, I kicked them all out of the dining room and told them they didn’t deserve a democracy, let alone pizza, and we’d all be supporting Hillary in November, or else.

IMWH-magnets_large

And you are, too, goddammit.

The image of the DNC logo and the “I’m With Her” button come from their respective websites and are believed to comply with the Fair Use doctrine. The picture of the pizza is my own, and so is the pizza. It’s my attempt at a Chicago style deep dish from a few years ago, back when I had time to cook and write blog posts, too.

 

 

 

 

No Comment

While I can prattle on endlessly about orangutans, sex robots and Applebee’s here on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please, I often find myself at a loss for words when I’m reading your blog and fail to leave a comment.

Part of my reticence comes from a fear of being embroiled in internet drama, as I have a couple of times in my blogging career, such as the time I told one blogger he was full of hooey and that other time I told another blogger she was full of hooey.

Another part has to do with my anxiety over turning into an internet crank, you know, one of those people who spend their time on different websites, commenting on every single godforsaken article, even the daily horoscope. Does anyone really need to know about that disastrous blind date you went on during the first phase of Venus retrograde? No, I don’t think so. I only came here to get my lucky numbers for the day, not to hear about some loser who made you split the check at Olive Garden.

cheesecake-1555634-639x606

It’s cake. No! It’s pie!

Next, I’ll blame my lack of comments on the fact that maybe I’ve matured enough to where I no longer feel the need to correct or confront people on the internet. For example, I’m happy to just let you go on thinking cheesecake isn’t a cake at all, it’s really a pie, even though you could not be more wrong, but, hey, it’s your blog, I guess, and, anyway, you just got 117 Likes on your “Cheesecake Should Be Called Cheesepie” post, so I must be the only person in the world who believes names matter, goddammit, and we shouldn’t call something one thing when it’s really another thing, so fuck you and your idiot readers.

Like I said, maybe I’ve matured.

Other bloggers have taken a different approach, such as the good folks over at Above the Law, who decided to turn off all comments, so even if readers are drama queens, or internet cranks, or immature, they won’t be able to display those tendencies all over that blog. In a post published a few weeks ago, the site explained its reasoning.

Today the comments are not what they once were. Although occasionally insightful or funny, ATL comments nowadays are generally fewer in number, not very substantive (often just inside jokes among the commentariat), yet still often offensive. They also represent a very small percentage of our total traffic (as we can tell because of the click required to access them).

After I read that post,  I started to question my understanding of blogging. I’d always thought the ability of readers to comment, to talk back to the author as well as talk to one another, was one of the unique features of blogging, and bloggers who did not want to engage with their readers would be better served by going to a public park and standing up on a soapbox than by this particular medium.

But what if blogging is not a conversation, like the folks at Above the Law have come to believe? What if blogging is just me droning on and on about cheesepie cheesecake and you saying absolutely nothing at all?

Can you blog without comments?

DJT_Headshot_V2_400x400

I’m sure he thinks his farts smell awesome.

While I was composing this post, the state of Indiana held its presidential primary. Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders won for the Democrats. Looking for some insight into the race, I turned to the blog FiveThirtyEight. If you’re not familiar with that blog, I’ll explain that it focuses on the statistical analysis of politics, economics and sports. Lots of numbers, lots of graphs and charts, lots of smart bloggers blogging smart stuff. Here’s a comment that was left over there.

Chris Valentini

Haha Hillary lost. You were wrong but you can’t admit it, because your farts smell so awesome.

 

After I read that comment, I reflexively thought, “The bloggers at Above the Law are right!” and everything that I believed about the free flow of information and ideas and the tolerance of divergent opinions on the internet went out the window.

And I know there have been far worse (far, far worse!) things said on the internet, and I’ve blogged about how women, especially, are attacked and harassed (here and here and here) but this stupid comment just struck me as the poster child for disabling comments.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject, other than I’ve enjoyed leaving comments in the past, and I always look forward to the comments left here, but now the Chris Valentinis of the world have got me wondering.

Anyway, what do you think?

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com. The image of Donald Trump is believed to fall under the doctrine of Fair Use.

Buy the Cow, Even If You Can Get Robot Sex for Free

Hello there, human! I am here to free you from the drudgery of daily life so you can binge watch

Do Not Have Sex with Me, Please.

Just for a moment, I considered joining the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

Here we are, fourteen months away from the 2016 US Presidential Elections and it seems like everyone else is campaigning, so why not me?

My only problem is finding the right campaign to join. I mean, running for President seems like a great choice: if I were elected, I’d get to dress up in fancy clothes and attend  fancy dinners all the time. However, it also seems like a lot of work: I’d have to dress up in fancy clothes and attend fancy dinners all the time. Anyway, I’m thinking leading the free world is not for me, even though I already picked out my Secret Service codename (Sapiosexual. Go ahead and use it, if you want, when you get elected President. I hate to see it go to waste).

So here I am, not campaigning for anything, while my In Box fills up with messages from candidates I’m never going to support.

All these flavors are an abomination against God.

Each and every one an abomination unto God.

And that’s where I was when I heard about the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

I can’t say I’m completely on board with the campaign because it seems a bit quixotic and a little like John Henry and the steam drill. First, I agree, yes, it would be wonderful if we all had fantastic, fulfilling sex with other real, live, squishy human beings, wouldn’t it? It would also be nice if the world were full of rainbows and unicorns. Second, you can’t stop progress, and while you might raise an eyebrow at my dubious suggestion that a sex robot is progress, has there yet been a technology invented for which humans haven’t immediately realized the sexual potential? I remain convinced that right after inventing fire, one early human turned to another and said, “Good. Now we can see who we’re actually fucking in the dark.”

Anyway, I’ve thought about sex with robots before (perhaps you have, too? Oh,  you haven’t? Wow, now I’m embarrassed) and I hope that given the choice between sexy times with robots or sex with real live squishy humans, we would all choose the squishy human, and connecting with other people is almost always a good thing. There are all sorts of reasons why you should have sex with a human rather than a bunch of wires and plastic programmed by some nerd in Silicon Valley. Here’s just a few:

  • I’ll fake an orgasm once in awhile. The Sex Robot will fake every single one.
  • I’ll have sex with you in your old bedroom at your parents’ house when we go their for Thanksgiving, even after the big fight we had about whose family to see over the holiday. The Sex Robot doesn’t care where it spends Thanksgiving. The Sex Robot will feel the same about spending Thanksgiving sitting on a curb in the parking lot of the Seven-Eleven as it will sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table with your parents.
  • I’ll laugh at your jokes, or lean in to touch your arm or face to let you know I’m interested in sex. The Sex Robot will stand there in the living room even when you want have sex because you forgot to re-charge it.
  • I’ll tell you I want you and mean it. I’ll also tell you I love you and hate you and how stupid and wonderful you are and I’ll mean every word.

Royalty free stock photos including the image of the robot in this post can be found at freeimages.com. The image promoting the Do Us a Flavor contest from Frito-Lay is taken from the company website and is believed to comply with Fair Use Standards under US and International copyright law.