Category Archives: Entertainment

I Loved And Needed “Jojo Rabbit” Today

One of the main things they teach you about writing film reviews is hey, maybe don’t blow the ending. But, god, do I wish I could tell you just how much I needed the last few minutes of Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” on today of all days.

Besides, I always err on the side of personal essays anyways. Let’s not pretend I am in anyway a film critic. I aimlessly left my apartment to go for a walk in the pouring rain this morning, trying to tire myself out because I didn’t sleep a wink. I zoned out and walked about four miles.

Candidly, the droplets on my sweatshirt were a mixture of rainwater and tears. Realizing I walked too far to turn back, I sought shelter in the nearest theater. “Jojo Rabbit” happened to be starting right as I arrived, so it was fate, really.

Taika Waititi is an accomplished filmmaker responsible for one of the greatest cult films ever made, “What We Do In The Shadows,” among lesser important things, like “Thor: Ragnarok.” (Sorry, one of the Hemsworths.)

It’s no surprise that I’d be drawn to Waititi’s buffoonish take on dark Nazi Germany. Jojo, played by Roman Griffin Davis, is a 10-year-old Hitler Youth during WW2, whose hopes to become a soldier are thwarted after an accident.

Jojo’s imaginary friend, Hitler, played by Waititi himself is a caricature of  the fuhrer that does silly rumor-based things like eat unicorn meat.

As a literal child, Jojo is a scared boy who wants to belong and loves his mommy (Scarlet Johansson.) He wants to fall in line and thinks love is gross. A development at home challenges his entire belief system and forces the plot along.

Not without its sad and horrific moments (there are literal Nazis after all) the movie still ultimately punches up.

“Jojo Rabbit” has a a lot of heart, humor, and hardship. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say that I left feeling like I had been given a sign to keep going, no matter what. For that, I am really thankful.

Me, fangirling that one of my favorite composers acknowledged my gratitude.
Me, fangirling that one of my favorite composers acknowledged my gratitude.

 

This is It: Why You Should be Listening to The Greeting Committee

On May 22nd, 2018 I walked into Boston’s Royale. Passing the merch table for Jukebox the Ghost, my eyes caught a glimpse of a t-shirt in the far right corner plainly stating “The Greeting Committee.” I pushed myself into the crowd eager to see one of my favorite bands perform. But before the main event, I had to sit through another opening act.

Voices bubbled as the lights dimmed and three men walked out on stage. They hit their instruments hard. Guitars wailing, the bass shaking me. I could feel the drums behind my eyeballs. I rolled my eyes.

“Great, another punkish popish three piece boy band* here to sing the same sad songs I’ve heard a million time-”

I never got a chance to finish my snarky comment as a young woman bounded onto the stage in a red jumpsuit.

In my memory it was a single twenty foot bound that carried her to center stage. Descending like The Phantom from the rafters. A poor stagehand had to follow after with her mic cable to make sure she didn’t clothesline her bandmates.

All thoughts of snarky comments left my head.
There were four of them on stage that night, Lead Singer Addie Sartino, Pierce Turcotte on bass and saxophone, Brandon Yangmi on guitar, and Austin Fraser on Drums.

The crowd that night was tough, but they put performed as if a whole stadium was screaming their names.

Personally the emotional peak of the set was the first time I got to hear Dancing to Nothing at All. Halfway through the song their bassist Pierce hands off his bass to Addie and breaks out into a Springsteenian saxophone solo the song crescendos into this wonderful cacophony of sheer emotion. What starts out as a relatively slow and sparse song swells into an absolute wall of expression. I was floored. I was in tears.

Dancing to Nothing at All exemplifies so many of the reasons you, yes you, should be listening to The Greeting Committee. Throughout the song you get to hear each member of the band shine and bounce off each other. From Brandon and Pierce riff together on guitar and saxophone respectively. To the way Austin’s drums support, yet elevate the playing. And at the end when Pierce tempers his saxophone to Addie’s yearning refrain:

If you’re gonna love someone, let it be me.

It’s been a really long time since a band has captured such a specific feeling about love and life that resonates with me so deeply. They make grand declarations feel incredibly intimate. Dancing to Nothing at All is such a huge song about such a simple moment. Two people, young and in love dancing alone in a house. And through that song, they bring you there. It’s not some generic song about some generic person who the singer is generically in love with. It’s this vivid moment with real people, in a real world. Not some generic vacuum.


On the song Elise we’re once more brought into a love song full of intimacy and grandeur, yet incredibly grounded in reality. You can really feel these moments happen, the world building in these songs allows for such an easy empathetic connection to be made. Pulling the words out of you that you never knew you needed to say.

In a back car seat, reminding me
That even in a wreck,
I’ve got someone for holding.

And they’re able to bring this intimate grandeur to pain and heartache as well. On the track I Don’t Mind we play witness to a breakup:

Comfort can’t exist
I never felt it in your lips
You used your skin as weapon
When the right words wouldn’t fill in

Their ability to make tangible intangible moments through both lyricism and musicality. The playing so beautifully matches what the lyrics are portraying.

They weave in and out of difficult topics so beautifully and gracefully, such as in Birthday Song. There we are painted a portrait of a broken home. With dashes of negligent parents. Streaks of broken promises. And the contrasting shadows of the pain and suffering that comes from a home that falls apart. Live it’s just Brandon and Addie on stage. Sitting there. There’s no theatrics, there’s no jumping anymore. No shouting. Just the song speaking for itself. The song ends with the audience singing together, all kinda teary eyed. As intimate as if you’re gathered around the cake in the song.

The Greeting Committee isn’t trying to be too cool for their emotions. There’s no glib irony in their songs. It’s the pure empathetic transference of emotion. Even on their poppier tracks like Don’t Go still bursts with earnest expression of love and bickering. The song wonderfully addresses the difficult push and pull of a relationship without any snark or snide. The song is full of vulnerability without feeling weak of begging. The strength of the music behind it gives power to the vulnerable nature of the subject.

Don’t go
I know I pushed you to before
Don’t go
I’ll never make it on my own
Don’t go, don’t go, don’t go, don’t go

I can’t say that all the songs are autobiographical, nor do I want to. But to me the beauty of The Greeting Committee is that they feel autobiographical.

I remember being very very young and listening to Rosalita by Bruce Springsteen and my father having to explain to me that it’s not real, there isn’t actually a Rosalita Bruce is searching for.

Maybe that’s where so much of my fondness for The Greeting Committee comes from. Not to make everything about Bruce Springsteen, (even though I can make literally anything about Bruce Springsteen) but so much of what I love about Bruce Springsteen, especially early Bruce Springsteen, you can find in The Greeting Committee. The world building, the yearning, the intimacy, the grandeur, the feeling that somewhere at sometime this happened to somebody. The ability to turn abstract concepts into songs that express everything you’ve ever wanted to say.

The Greeting Committee are brave, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Opening for bands with rabid fan bases who might not know them. Rabid fan bases who resent the idea of an opening band purely on principle, just like I did. But every night they’re showing people why they should love them. The Greeting Committee is one of the most fun, energetic, and honest bands I’ve ever encountered. Once their given the full stage to headline their own tour they’re going to rule the world.

I was lucky enough to meet Pierce and Addie when they came to Boston last Monday. I was able to tell them how much I loved them and how much their music means to me.

I hope this essay convinces you to listen to them, and go see them on tour. I hope then you can feel the things I’ve felt and more and tell them how much their songs mean to you. Because I don’t know if I know of a band right now that deserves to be loved as much as The Greeting Committee.

You should be listening to The Greeting Committee because for my money no one is writing songs as consistently visceral or empathetic as they are. For my money no one is putting on as fun of a show as they are. Time after time I can go back and listen to the same songs by The Greeting Committee and I can feel just as much as I did that rainy night standing in the Royale.

Your Fool and More,

Bailey F. Olmstead

P.S. Here’s a lil playlist to show you some of my favorite songs by them, some not even mentioned in this essay!

 

*I’m aware of the irony of saying this at a Jukebox the Ghost Show, a band that is piano punkish popish.

I Don’t Give a Hoot About What You Think: A Love Letter to Weezer

Weezer, the ever uncool. Weezer the awkward nerds with guitars, synths and a strange affinity for KISS. Weezer has been producing music for 25 years. And according to a large percentage of their fans, they only have two good albums.

I think I was 14 when I was first told there were only two good Weezer albums. Before that I just enjoyed Weezer. In particular the Red Album. I thought The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived was a masterpiece. I would listen to the whole album all the time. Troublemaker would play as a 12 year old me cut behind the elementary school on my way to go hang out at the library for several hours as I waited for my parents to finish work. I listened to Hurley a lot and had a great time. My first introduction to Jackass was Memories. It’s also probably the most time I spent watching Jackass. I don’t have a stomach for these kinds of things.

But I was sitting in the living room of my best friend Erik’s house when he told me that there were only two good Weezer albums. And that Pinkerton, the one I never cared much for, was the best one. I was floored and upset. I walked back to the library to meet my dad while listening to If You’re Wondering if I Want you to (I Want you to). I felt conflicted.

I then did my best to get really into Pinkerton, stopped listening to the Red Album, and wrote a really long note to a girl confessing my love for her while citing songs from Pinkerton. It was a dark and greasy time.

I grew out of that, thankfully.

One fateful day Everything Will Be Alright in the End came out. I listened to it constantly. I loved it so much I made it my computer background. A friend, Brendan, saw it and asked what it was,

“It’s the cover of Weezer’s new album.”

“Weezer still exists?”

The White Album came out at a time when I was in love and I loved it even more. I mean, I couldn’t get my girlfriend at the time to listen to it. But the songs made me think of her and I was young and everything was alright. (in the end).

I actually found out about the White Album in my high school’s locker room. My father had texted me asking me what the hell my little band Weezer thought they were doing, when the real White album was already released by the Beatles.

Time passed and I became weirdly wary of Weezer again. Maybe it’s because I went to art school and had the volume of “Pinkerton is the only good Weezer album” cranked to 11.

When Pacific Daydream came out I listened to it once and wrote it off completely.

A few more years passed and I began to solidify my own opinions on Weezer. I still feel like the popularity of Weezer’s Africa overshadows the fact that the campaign to get them to cover the song in the first place was huge. And it was reaching a fever pitch as the rumored release date for Weezer’s long anticipated Black Album was supposed to originally drop. And you know what they did? They released a cover of Toto’s Rosanna instead.

Fucking hilarious.

And two days later they released Africa. And nothing Weezer-wise was ever the same.

Weezer blew up in a way they hadn’t in years. Bigger than they ever were before, singing someone else’s song, getting radio play and late night appearances, They were on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve Hosted By Ryan Seacrest. But now Weezer were the ones who weren’t happy. Rivers talked to EW about the struggle of being a songwriter for 25 years and having your biggest hit be off of someone else’s song you covered as a joke.

Weezer’s Africa amused me, but didn’t hold my attention.

Summer came. One morning on my way to my old job I decided to go back and revisit The Red Album. That cool 5am Boston morning reminded me why I loved it so much in the first place. Later I heard some songs on Pinkerton and remembered why I never cared for it that much. They’re such different albums. Much of Pinkerton is full of these weird and unsettling emotions that I don’t really enjoy listening to anymore. It seethes with a mix of emotions from high school I no longer wish to revisit. It quite literally feels like a sophomore album. On the other hand Red is just wall to wall with bangers and ballads. It also holds a reference to Bruce Springsteen, so it gets a 10/10 in my book. Also the video for Pork and Beans is one of the greatest pieces of internet culture ever released.

I revisited the Weezer of my youth. A band full of awkward angst and optimism. A band trying to have a good time, a band in love with the Mythical Land of California. A band that you had to defend as you were talking about liking, or even loving them.

SNL released a Weezer sketch that was sent to me so many times by so many people saying “look it’s you” when Matt Damon screamed that “Pork and Beans is better than Buddy Holly!” It happened so often that my dad sent it twice, forgetting he sent it the first time. I felt strangely validated.

Then SNL was like “It was a joke, we had no idea people had these opinions.”

That was a little invalidating. I choose to ignore that.

It was in Maddie’s DC apartment in bed around 2am when I heard about the Teal Album. At first I thought it was a joke. Rivers is infamous for letting other people write shitposts for his tweets. But it was real. After I stopped crying and laughing out of fear and amusement, I listened.

And listened.

And listened.

And actually really enjoyed it.

This time around Weezer’s Africa felt more impactful in the full context of the Teal Album. It lingered. The album had a lot of fun and heart put into it. And some really cool interpretations of songs, my favorite being Happy Together. Hearing Weezer have fun on the Teal Album made me realize how much I loved Weezer, and why I loved Weezer. They’re just some guys trying to have fun.

I enjoyed it so much that I went back and gave Pacific Daydream another try. And actually liked a lot about it. Not everything, but a lot. Mexican Fender is one of their best songs in recent history.

I went back and listened to Raditude again and enjoyed it. I fell back in love with Weezer.

As a writer and a Weezer fan I will be subjected to years and years of Weezer discourse. A lot of it negative and boring and bad.

A lot of headlines you see about Weezer’s exploits seem to be punching down. Sure, is it very weird that there’s a Weezer island in Fortnite? Yes. Absolutely. But somehow it feels perfectly Weezer. It’s so cool to hate on Weezer, yet Weezer’s Africa charted. People are listening to this stuff, a lot. And Despite the fact that it’s ‘cool’ to say that no one has cared about Weezer since 2001, they’re still drawing crowds. They’re still having article after article written about them. And they’re still putting out albums, each one different than the last. Some of them weird, some of them straightforward, but each one different than the last. Each one something new.

Why we can’t just let Weezer have fun? They’ve been trying so hard to have fun for nearly 30 years and every time they seem like they’re having a good time, all their fans are doing is complaining it’s not what they wanted. But the whole point of Weezer, their whole persona and mythology is that they’re oddballs and outcasts who no one wants. The fans reaction to Weezer’s output just reinforces the mythos of Weezer. They’re just gonna do the things that they wanna do.

Weezer never was cool and Weezer never will be cool. They’ve been proudly uncool ever since the beginning, with that wonderfully awkward first album cover. One headline by the Brooklyn Vegan says they’re “Confused and Out of Touch on the Black album.” But that’s always been Weezer. That’s what In the Garage was all about. They’re just some nerdy weirdos trying to have fun. They’re not going to fit in whatever molds the larger world tries to constrict them to.

And sure they don’t always hit the landing. I’d be relieved if I never had to hear the album version of “Feels like Summer” again. But at the same time I’d rather have Rivers, and Weezer as a whole try something new and weird and maybe even too poppy than release more songs like Pink Triangle. Rivers and Weezer are always working on albums. Even now they have two more albums in various stages of completion. Unlike other darling bands of the era, Weezer is producing new albums consistently. Meanwhile I’ve been waiting five years for a new OK Go album.

With the release of the Black Album Weezer fans have found more and more to complain about. As they will continue to do long after Rivers has run dry, so to speak. And maybe that’s the way it’ll continue to be. A strange push and pull, a back and forth. A yin and yang.

I suppose I’ll continue to unironically believe that the Red Album is the best Weezer album. Miss Sweeney is one of the greatest songs of all goddamn time.

Just, let Weezer have fun. They’re not hurting anyone.  They just want to have a good time with the people who have been their fans for nearly 30 years.

Having listened to the album while editing this essay, the Black Album is really good. I like it a lot! It’s poppy and upbeat and a little weird. It’s a logical evolution from the White Album, with a lot of feelings of the Green Album, and maybe a little Raditude thrown in there. If that doesn’t sound like your speed and you wanna wallow in some angst, I hear Gretta Van Fleet has a covers album or two.

Thank you for your time. All hate mail can be forwarded to my Beverly Hills address.

All my Love,

Bailey F. Olmstead

(Ride or Die, Baby)

 

Oh No Love, You’re Not Alone!

I remember the first time I heard Life on Mars by David Bowie. It changed my life. I had never heard a song like that before. Bowie is wailing. The piano is crashing. The guitar is crying. It’s so beautifully haunting. Very few songs hit me like this one. When I hear it sometimes it’s like being struck like a bell. I hear it and I can feel myself ringing. A little while later I would hear Rock n’ Roll Suicide. As Bowie screams “Oh no love, you’re not alone!” I would be flying down hills of my small hometown on my bike. The summer hot on my back. I was maybe 12. That song was everything I had dreamed of, yearned for. It was life changing. It was life affirming.

I’m from Newfield, New York. You’ve never heard of it. When people ask I say that I’m from Ithaca, New York. Which isn’t entirely a lie. I spent a lot of my life in Ithaca, but I grew up in the small town just outside of Ithaca. I had a class of maybe 54 other kids, give or take. I felt very alone. But Bowie would call me ‘love’ and tell me I wasn’t, so it’d make the days a little better.

I remember being in the car with my father when I first heard Space Oddity. I was young I was obsessed with the narrative. The fact the song could tell a story like that. He told me there was a follow up. I was very sad when I heard Ashes to Ashes.

Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low

I ran into his room. I cried out, “Dad! Why?” and he explained the context for the song. How a lot of astronauts turn to drugs after space because nothing on Earth could match that. I still get a little sad when I hear that song.

Because of my obsession with Space Oddity my father gave me a David Bowie cassette. It was Changes, a lot of great songs on that hunk of plastic. It was a prized possession. When I was much younger than I am now, but older than when I got the cassette I gave it to the girl I lost my virginity to. It had Heroes on it and that was ‘our song.’ I was in high school, and in love and I gave it away because I thought that’s what you did for love. Maybe I still do.

I got older and more into Bowie. I heard the lyrics to Young Americans and I realized how that first verse was more or less exactly the story of me losing my virginity.

They pulled in just behind the bridge
He lays her down, he frowns
Gee my life’s a funny thing, am I still too young?
He kissed her then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows, she’d have taken anything…

What a young little Casanova I was. What a  fool I was. Around the time I discovered Young Americans I was beginning to question my sexuality. I think I was 16. I didn’t know how to talk about it or who to talk about it with. I didn’t know any bisexual males that I was aware of. My sister had just come out, but I didn’t want to talk to her and seem like I was trying to steal her thunder. I was alone in my anxiety and my own sexual ambiguity. I was afraid to declare anything. I wrestled with it for nearly two years.

Three years ago when David Bowie turned 69 (nice). I had decided I was done hiding from myself. If David Bowie could be so wonderfully flamboyant and incredible and bisexual and beloved then why the hell couldn’t I?

Three years ago  I came out as bisexual. I came out as bisexual in a small lil podunk town who didn’t fully understand who or what I was. They still loved me all the same. But there wasn’t anyone there who could show me the way to claim this part of myself. But that’s what I had Bowie for. And when the younger boys who called me faggot weren’t calling me faggot because of my sexuality, they said it because they didn’t know what else to call me. But it didn’t matter when they did. I was myself.

So come on
Come on
We really got a good thing going
(Well) Come on
(Well) Come on
If you think we’re gonna make it
You better hang on to yourself

Coming out was one of the best things I ever did. I felt this weight come off of my shoulders and I felt more genuinely me than I think I ever had before.

Two days later David Bowie died.

In retrospect I find it a little funny. You finally find a bi icon, a Bicon if you will, and then as soon as they give you the courage to truly be yourself, they die. I was devastated. I still am devastated.

I got in contact with my ex and got my David Bowie cassette back. Reclaiming a little bit of what I gave away.

My relationship with David Bowie would continue. Just as one sided as before. The following Halloween I was Aladdin Sane. That was my first Halloween in college. That was also the time I learned a lot of important lessons.

1)Wearing a full suit and face makeup to a dance club is a mistake.
2) When boys and girls tell you they like your costume responding with “Thanks, I did the makeup myself,” is not usually a turn on.
3) When you do finally get over enough of your social anxiety to go onto the floor. And someone decides she’s okay with making out with a man in full face paint, some of that face paint will rub off. You’ll then be able to identify all the men she makes out with after you step away to go to the bathroom. That’ll kinda hurt. Even though you never learned her name.

Two years have passed since that night, and I look back on it with a lot of bemusement. I do a lot of things to try and be more like the people I idolize. I bought a pair of boots because I saw an old promotional picture of Bruce Springsteen where he wore similar ones. French 75’s officially cemented themselves as my favorite cocktail because a book said they were the most similar to the persona of David Bowie.

I didn’t know what I was going to write when I started writing this. I just knew I had to write. The anniversary of David Bowie’s death is today. He would have turned 72 on Tuesday. I’ll never meet Bowie, or tell him how much he meant to me. I’ll never be able to tell him he gave me the courage to be more myself. He gave me the strength to come out as bisexual. He gave me the courage to dress weirder. To be More. More flamboyant. More ostentatious. More grand. To be more myself.

Often times when I’m at work and I get to play music I’ll put on David Bowie and let shuffle handle the rest. Song after song I’ll be delighted.

Maybe this piece is more about me and my relationship with an icon than it is about the icon himself. Maybe that’s narcissistic.

As I’m sitting in my chair writing this, my Changes cassette sits next to me. I’ve set the Bowie discography to shuffle. Dancing out in Space is playing. I miss him.

No-one here can see you
Dancing face to face
No-one here can beat you
Dancing out in space

Some days before work I’ll be stressed. Worried about what the night will bring. And I’ll queue up Bowie’s performance of Heroes from Live Aid. I’ll listen to all the hope he has in his voice. I’ll hear the optimism he’s exuding on that stage. I’ll listen as he dedicates the song to his son. I’ll stand a little straighter. I’ll walk a little more confident into work.

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing, will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

A few weeks ago I was a little drunk and strung out on anxiety. I stumbled down the front steps of my apartment, lighting my cigarette. Wandering in the cold. I was stressed, I was tired, I felt alone. I put my headphones on, and those first few chords of Rock n Roll Suicide flooded my ears. I exhaled the smoke. I felt a sensation as some of the tension left my shoulders. Bowie was screaming and the music was swelling and I found myself choked up, lightly crying in the dark of a cold Boston night.

Bowie told me that I wasn’t alone. And ever since then, I haven’t been. I’ll always have my headphones, I’ll always have Bowie to keep me company.

Oh no, love, you’re not alone
You’re watching yourself, but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up, but if I could only make you care
Oh no, love, you’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone

With Love, You’re Not Alone
Bailey F. Olmstead

Learning To Love My Least Favorite Song.

Sir Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” was probably the cheesiest 80’s pop song that wasn’t George Michael’s. Though my love for Sir Elton John runs so deep (a fact most people in my life know) this particular song was an always immediate skip in the playlist. As a listener, I couldn’t possibly start with emotional “Daniel” about a Vietnam War veteran, or my go-to karaoke jam “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and transition to an upbeat, nonsensical “I’m Still Standing” and it’s ridiculous diss: “And if our love was a circus, you’d be a clown right now.”

Quite literally “I’m Still Standing” stood out as something trivial and silly. I’ll be the first to admit it’s because as much as I constantly try to fight it, I am an innately snooty music snob. This song wasn’t “deep” at the first listen, or even the first 30 listens, so it was out. Until recently if a person were to come up to me and mention they loved Elton John only to reference “I’m Still Standing” as their favorite, I’d probably internally scream, “Sure, Jan.”

Listen to this without telling me it’s cheesy.

It wasn’t until I learned a lesson about resilience that I really understood “I’m Still Standing.” It’ll never be “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” But it isn’t trivial, and my many years of disdain for it were misinformed. I had to learn that there’s so much power in just saying, “Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?” That seemed to be a major theme of 2017 for me. I’m still here. Despite everything.

For the same reason, I personally clung to P!nk’s latest album, Beautiful Trauma. Specifically the blatantly named track, “I Am Here” and it’s’ line, “I can make anywhere home.”

A year ago I wouldn’t have imagined where I would be now. I’m sure many feel the same about 2017 both politically and not. I have many new faces in my life. That’s a weird way to put that, but I’ve got a lot of new company. I’ve strengthened older friendships, too. I went from someone who had a lot of acquaintances they never hung out with to a person who cackles with them over drinks. I didn’t know that I’d live in my favorite neighborhood in Boston. Mostly, I didn’t, and still don’t really know, how to manage that mental health thing people talk about.

I also don’t have to disclose much about that. I constantly remind myself I don’t have to share that. I don’t owe anyone anything, in that regard. Brevity is a virtue.

Recently, I was talking post-grad plans with my dad, about where I may take a job. He said maybe jokingly, maybe seriously, “You couldn’t even survive living alone in LA!” I shot right back, amused, “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

That’s the thing. I’ve survived 3,000 miles away from everything I knew. I’ve survived heartbreak. I’ve survived loss. I’ve survived every single day that I’ve ever doubted myself. Nothing and no one can take that away from me.

A week or so goes by, and I’ve left what was supposed to be a normal doctor’s appointment worried. I was laying on my bed, pondering and listening to Elton John’s latest album, “Diamonds” staring at the ceiling, as one does. Teary-eyed, I heard the stupid beginning to my least favorite masterpiece. I reached for the skip button, almost laughing, “Dear god, not this stupid song, not now” but I stopped myself.

It took a mixture of crying and laughing for me to understand this silly song. I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m still standing, better than I ever did.

Ridiculous Halloween Costumes That Will “Oh…Wow” The Party

I thought of a few of absurdist Halloween costume ideas, so you don’t have to. These are not for the last minute draw-whiskers-on-your-face kind of person, rather these are for the individual that wants to win Halloween.

You have approximately 21 days to get this together. Allow me to help.

1.) You could go as Beyoncé’s Ultrasound. We all know that the announcement of Bey’s pregnacy was a momentous in this year’s history. Twins Rumi and Sir Carter will probably be the first twin presidents someday, so it’s important to start honoring them early. I know what you’re thinking, “Maddie, how am I going to pull off being an..ultrasound…?” Well, allow me to explain with this concept art. Obviously, you’re going to need two people for this one.


2) You could go as Baroque Obama. Dress in Baroque period clothing with a puffy collar and as #44.

3) To really spook your friends, go as Ann Coulter.

4) Get a motorized scooter, some cardboard, and remove your spine to become Sean Spicer with a moving podium à la SNL.

5) Lastly, are you one of those people that wants a costume your friends, “just won’t get” ? Or are you afraid that you’re running out of sexy costume ideas? Impress yourself with an original, *quirky* sexy version of the best Guillermo Del Toro film to date. All you need for these ones, is well, professional help.

There you have it. Which one of these amazing ideas are you going to steal? Please, don’t all thank me at once.

 I became a little more human with “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too.”

 Reading @jonnysun’s “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” is the cutest existential crisis I’ve ever had. If you’re a creative, introvert, included in the 1 out of 4 average that suffer from mental illness, or a combination of all three; this book will feel like a hug. I was genuinely sad I finished it. Luckily, sadness is fleeting.

If you don’t believe my hype, take Lin Manuel Miranda’s, “Read this book if you want to feel alive.”

Jomny is an outsider alien sent to earth to study humans. His journey to find friendship in a world that is so confusing to him gets deep, cute, and insecure. Before you go spellcheck crazy on me, remember that aliens, or “aliebns” shouldn’t be expected to fully understand how to spell. I believe that Jomny is simply doing his best.  


While at earth Jomny meets many woodland creatures he assumes are humabns. Notably, he meets: a tree, an egg, a bear, a ghost, a hedgehog, a puppy, and casually, the concept of nothingness. Each of these characters, whom have never really had a chance to open up before, find solace in stumbling across someone who’s willing to listen. 

The bear is surprised Jomny doesn’t run and questions fear. The puppy cannot communicate with Jomny for some reason, and ponders its frustration over the inability to communicate just how happy it feels. From an outside view, Jomny is jealous of how happy the puppy appears.

The egg, very relatable, questions both its future and present.


Same. I am not crying over an egg, you are. 

The tree struggles with stagnancy as others come and go. The ghost claims there’s nothing to fear beyond. The hedgehog manages creativity as an introvert, fight crippling self-doubt. Nothingness gets fed up.                    

There is so much here I want to say, but I don’t want to ruin anything. I want everyone to experience this intergalactic journey on how to be more humabn as authentically as possible. I came out of reading this with laugh lines, life lessons, and feeling like I now have some sort of celestial son I must protect at all times.  Beliebve the hype. “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” is the cutest, most thought-provoking and heartwarming cartoon to have on your coffee table this summer. 

Fact: Our Brains Can’t Handle So Much BS At One Time

Does Twitter give you a skull-shaking headache these days? It seems that nowadays there is always a lot to take in. Take last week: the disgusting Transgender Military Ban, Scaramucci’s WH meltdown, the fight for the Skinny Repeal, and now ballistic missile strikes from North Korea. How is it that I nostalgically miss when Twitter was just everyone freaking out over Amanda Bynes asking Drake to murder her vagina. Those were simpler times.

Now, the minute two events happen simultaneously, people are so quick to yell, “Distraction! This is a distraction from [insert clusterf*ck of the week here].” I’m sure another one is happening right now as I type this.

Please.

The amount of information we now have thrown at us in our fingertips all day is too much for one brain to fully comprehend. No, really.
A couple of months ago I read a book called Thank You For Being Late by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Ignore how snobby that sentence sounds, and focus on this. The only thing enlightening and relevant thing I found in its 461 pages was a concept known as Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is a theory from 1965 from Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, and it was used to exponentially chart the growth of both speed and processing power in a microchip. Moore theorized that about every two years the speed and power of the microchip would double, and so on. The accuracy of Moore’s law in the course of the next 50 or so years, led it to be a term used to describe exponential growth in a changing landscape, and essentially the rate of which the market churns out things, that in which, we process.

Maddie, what the f*@k do microchips have to do with anything right now? Let me explain.

In the book, Moore’s law is best illustrated by an annoyingly repetitive metaphor about a king and a peasant wagering on some grains of rice. A king meets a peasant, who is conveniently the inventor of chess, and is so amazed at the game that he bets the peasant he can win. The peasant agrees, but says he only wants to feed his family, so he bets that the king reward him with a grain of rice for each square of the chessboard, except double the amount on each square moving forward, so one on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, and so on… The king agrees without realizing that double yielding the rice over 63 times, actually adds up to about 18 quintillion grains of race. Well, Friedman asserts that we have now entered a “second chessboard” of innovation/acceleration, meaning that the “rice” we now have at our disposal is beyond quintillions of what we once started with. Stay with me. I’m getting there. Friedman met with Eric Teller, the CEO of Google’s X research and development lab, to discuss Moore’s law and its relevance to acceleration in technology and social movements. Teller, who rode into their meeting on roller blades, enthusiastically created a graph to illustrate the how accelerations in Moore’s law and in the flow of ideas are together increasing the pace of change that is challenging the ability of humans to, well, adapt.


What we are seeing here in Teller’s graph, is that, “even though human beings, and societies have steadily adapted to change, on average, the technological change is one accelerating so fast that it has risen above the average rate at which most people can absorb all these changes.” The result, is well, cultural angst and those Twitter-induced headaches. We simply cannot adapt as fast as what is being thrown in our direction. It is impossible to wholeheartedly and fully focus on all of these concepts at once, in a news cycle, on a Twitter feed everyday.

So, if you’re feeling like you’re constantly playing catch up, you’re probably just operating at an average level of adaptability. Next time you’re at a party and someone complains how “they’re so out of the loop” explain Moore’s Law to them, maybe even bring some prop rice for some showmanship; you’re welcome.

Comedy 👑 Amanda Bynes

Most people recognize the queens of comedy as Ball, Rivers, and modern Fey/Poehler types — but there’s a certain throne in my heart reserved for the woman whose jokes raised my wit — Bynes.

We need to talk about Amanda Bynes. Amanda Bynes was an early 2000s queen, the nonsensical teen on my TV with all that, and my first introduction to women in sketch comedy.

The lengths of which she entertained a generation are enormously spread. I dreamt of being as funny as her, being as cool as her, being able to pull off a midriff like her.

Everyday when I got home from school I would grab a granola bar, plop myself down on the ugly dark green carpet in my childhood bedroom and glue my eyes to the low-def glowing television screen that sang, “AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA-AMANDA SHOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”

In recent years, the media has done her real dirty. The Hollywood Reporter declared the end of her career. People Magazine chronicled her “fall from grace” in just 5 pictures. They also wrote that she is “impossible to help” at this point. In grocery store mags she’s the “hot mess” and “Lohan 2.0.” Harvey Leven and Perez Hilton pretend to be nice now with reports like “Amanda Bynes Is RECOVERING and we’re so proud!” when the truth of the matter is that they were on the frontlines of a spiral for years exploiting addiction, abuse, and sensationalizing mental illness for profit. Frankly, it’s disgusting how profitable tragedy has become to these sick f*cks.

As I type this I feel similarly to how Chris Crocker felt defending Britney.

Yesterday was Amanda Bynes’ 31st birthday and I want to celebrate her and all she has done to shape my young mind. Her plethora of characters still make me laugh and her wit never falters. Millennials truly do need to celebrate what she has done for us.

She was Ashley, a rude tiny-person with a help hotline in All That.

She was Judge Trudy, a no-nonsense nonsense judge who called in the dancing lobsters in The Amanda Show.

She worked at Blockblister, an off brand Blockbuster – god, how old of a sentence?

She taught us what to do when Hula girls attack.

She took us into The Girl’s Room and introduced us to Debbie, her friend who liked eggs.

She was Candy, girlfriend of Tony Pajamas, one of the Al Dente brothers. (“What’s that for?” “For being an idiot!” “Okay!”)

She marketed commercials with consumers like us in mind.

She would tell physically painful knock knock jokes during a hillbilly moment.

She introduced us to her friend Kyle. (Sorry for this one’s video quality but I HAD to include this iconic moment, you know the one).

Lastly, I saved the best for last, she gifted us with the most important melodramatic short series of all time: Moody’s Point. (I could write a whole other blog post about Moody’s Point alone – in fact, I think doing a react and recap for each episode would be pretty cool? Would anyone want to read that? Me rewatching probably my favorite parody drama series for the first time since the early 2000s? Let me know if this would interest you and I might do it?)

Basically, I owe Amanda Bynes my childhood and a large percentage of my sense of humor. In a world where women are constantly told they aren’t funny, I am glad that as a little girl I had Amanda Bynes to prove critics wrong. I continue to wish her all the happiness and laughs, just as she’s given me for all these years. We should all bow down to comedy queen Ms. Amanda Bynes.

Lena Dunham Out, Sharks In

Women are powerful. Sharks are powerful. Women sharks are very powerful. I think it’s time we paid homage to the female shark community and see them for what they truly are – feminist heroines.

I know you’re reading this thinking, “She’s lost her mind.” Correct. I lost my mind a long time ago and she’s not coming back any time soon. You know what’s also correct? I can name 3 female sharks in the past week that have inspired me. Let’s do this.

#1. This female shark in Seoul that isn’t putting up with any bullshark bullshit.

She was just a happy 8-year-old-tiger shark, swimming along when this 5-year-old male shark started bumping into her in the tank. So she ate him. Then proceeded to parade around with his lifeless body in her mouth for the next 21 hours.

Why I respect her: She doesn’t put up with toxic males in her life. She takes control of the situation and shuts it down. This fool was probably some frat dude that was bumping all up on her and she’s giving him that side shark eye like back off. Of course he didn’t listen and keeps bothering her, probably going to brag to his alpha acai trenta epsilon bros that he was able to touch some fin – but NO, she won’t allow it. She eats him and shuts his shit down. Good for her.

#2 Leonie, the Australian zebra shark that doesn’t need a man.


After being separated from her mate 2 years ago in 2014, Leonie the zebra shark has lived a lonely life. Well it was lonely…up until recently when she gave birth to three pups asexually. She shocked scientists by possibly being the first shark ever to make the switch from sexual to asexual reproduction. When they checked the DNA of her babies, they had expected to find she had been saving sperm. N O P E. All three babies only had Leonie’s DNA, and it was clear that she was miraculously the sole parent. No custody battles here.

Why I respect her: Nothing is impossible for Leonie. She decided that she wasn’t done having kids even though there was no man in her life. She was too good for men. Nothing could get in the way of her motherhood. Now, she has three new babies to love. What a good mom.

#3 Deep Blue, the biggest and baddest mommy in the ocean.

Her name is Deep Blue and she is the biggest Great White shark ever captured on film. I first saw a video of her on Tumblr with all these positive comments like, “Who’s a big pretty girl?” Someone else commented this picture of her high-fiving a diver. They added, “Not only is Deep Blue big, but she’s super pregnant too.”

http://killermemequeen.tumblr.com/post/156004402190/k-lionheart-fieryartemisproductions

Why I respect her: Deep Blue is thicc, confident, and killing it. She is a big pretty girl. She’s the ocean’s top predator and still has time to high-five the peasants along her way. Deep Blue is slaying the ocean game, literally, rip to all those seals she must now eat for two. She is the ocean baddie we all need to see.

I don’t think there is a predator that’s a feminist icon yet. Are there animal/mammal feminist mascots already out there? I’m not sure. I do know that feminine animals in TV and film are depicted as cute and small. Female animals are often characterized as mice, does, bunny rabbits – basically small woodland creatures that bat fake eyelashes and help princesses get dressed in the morning. I think it’s time to reconsider. Females are more than capable of carnage. All of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and Jurassic World are female. Sharks could be the new symbol of female power. There is more than enough evidence to support this claim. Take it from someone who admires sharks when they eat toxic males, reproduce asexually despite the odds, and flaunt their way through the ocean.