Jokes and Sass

The Sound of Music (1965) is great and some people are wrong

February 7, 2021

“some people” here is playing the role of “my husband”

No, I didn’t just write this to dunk on him, but I wrote it a little to dunk on him. He’s wonderful but, like us all, is flawed, and one of his flaws is not liking The Sound of Music (1965).

This post is in honor of Christopher Plummer, of course.

And in all seriousness, The Sound of Music is phenomenal. Fight me. Okay, don’t fight me, because I’m conflict-averse and have very weak arms, but also this opinion is right.

Christopher Plummer, may his memory be a blessing, is perfection in his role as Captain Georg von Trapp. The small facial expressions, whether they are a smile or a frown or an exhausted sigh or the smirk you give a Nazi sympathizer when you’ve eviscerated him at a fancy ball, are all diamond-encrusted acting of the highest caliber and that image of him tearing up the flag gives me more patriotic zeal than our national anthem. Watching him fall in love with Julie Andrews is pure, unadulterated delight.

And Julie Andrews? Don’t talk to me? Like??? This woman could do nothing mediocre and every moment she is on screen is a ray of sunshine to which I am not entitled but for which I am eternally grateful. This woman sings a song titled “I Have Confidence” while strolling down a rich dude’s driveway swinging suitcases and my depressive self somehow doesn’t hate it even a little??? What magic do you weave, Fraulein?

And the kids??? How are these precocious little nightmares all universally adorable and talented? Who cares? They all are great and in tune and look excellent in clothes made of draperies and “oh that isn’t realistic”? Go walk into the Volga or whatever river that is that they all fall into all cute-like. This movie gives us 7 children from ages 5 to 16 and they are not insufferable nor are they interchangeable and this is a miracle but because it is The Sound of Music it is also to be expected because everything this movie does is perfect even when the nuns are sassy to Maria.

SPEAKING OF WHICH. THIS MOVIE. This movie has a bunch of nuns singing a diss track about JULIE ANDREWS and it works. Do you know how difficult that is? Like this group of nuns set up a roast of 1960s Julie Andrews who is like if an angel were somehow more of an angel and it still hits. They call her a clown and you’re like “ha, yeah, fair, she did just get lost in the hills instead of doing chores what a goof” instead of “HOW DARE YOU COME FOR JULIE ANDREWS” because they love her and that’s how you do a good roast, you know your subject. And then they use the song AS SHE WALKS DOWN THE AISLE GO OFFFFFF

Even the smaller characters are perfect! The Reverend Mother has perfect Old Lady Energy and a perfect solo and you can’t come for “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” if you’ve never caught yourself humming it while doing a chore you hate like “existing while not watching The Sound of Music” (it’s also really good for parody songs). You’ve got Max, who is sassy and a perfect foil for the Captain, because who else is gonna give him a hard time? And you’ve got the Baroness, who possibly invented beauty and bows out gracefully in the face of true love and gives us the iconic “or at least needs my money desperately” line.

And the kids! The KIDS! Liesl being 16 and having a song that is one of the biggest *WINK*s in musical and cinematic history and she sings the song with a Not Good Youth and we are still like “look how cute these two kids are” which is just a remarkable thing. The parade of children into Maria’s room during the thunderstorm is the most adorable parade ever captured and Friedrich and Kurt running in like “oh we’re not scared just uh checking on the girls just kidding sing to us Ms. Andrews please”??? When you’re watching as a child??? Find me a more relatable scene, I dare you.

And the MUSIC! You currently have at least one song on loop in your head as you’re reading this, because the songs are earworms that are actually earcaterpillars that become earbutterflies and fly off into the joyous feel of sunshine on your face on the first warm day of spring. There’s a whole song about solfege and it legitimately opens “let’s start at the very beginning/a very good place to start” and we love it and have no problem with it because it’s catchy and you’re learning and it’s Julie. The opener I’m not even going to talk about because watching the zoom into Maria on the hill is like how I imagine jumping off a cliff into a hug must feel, and then we get to go pretty quickly into the aforementioned diss track. “My Favorite Things” is a bop and you know it. And “So Long, Farewell” also goes in the camp of “I cannot believe they made a song about something this simple that works this well”; it’s literally a bunch of kids going to bed and you’re sitting there doing the choreography (which is just waving) before you realize it.

And the slower and softer songs? Just let me lie down for a year because oh my God they’re perfect. “Something Good” is an objectively perfect love song and especially for a former nun and the concept of trying to explain to someone that you don’t deserve them in song is EXTREMELY RELATABLE DON’T ACT LIKE IT ISN’T. And “Edelweiss”? Try to listen to the reprise when he’s singing to like, Austria, and gets choked up, and try to not get choked up yourself, trick question, trick statement, you can’t, you’ll get sad, and that’s good and fine because BLESS MY HOMELAND FOR. EV. ER.

The movie is funny; the moment where Plummer accidentally calls her “Captain” is just about the best “oh I would do anything to take back what just came out of my mouth” moment on Earth, and the Captain dunking on his kids who can’t lie about berries well enough to save themselves is *chef’s kiss* the best. The movie is romantic; the Captain and Maria performing the Landler is a masterclass in romantic tension. The movie is triumphant; seeing the nuns pull out the car parts for the Nazi cars is basically the happiest I ever was watching a movie as a kid. This movie is the best, and it is not too long, okay, I hear you, and you can shush.

The hills are alive with the sound of my being right.


Be a better person through romance novels, or something

February 1, 2021

I’m not telling you what to do, but I am strongly encouraging certain behavior. Okay, fine, yeah, I’m telling you what to do. Do it.

What should you do? Read some romance novels.

I used to dodge these things like they were being not-adorable and I was Bailey. That sentence is atrocious, dear God; I used to go out of my way not to read them, that was the point I was trying to make. I thought they were cheesy and poorly-written and “not real literature” and whatever other stereotype has ever existed for the quality of these books. I’d also assumed that they were not feminist, that they showed women being attracted to nightmare humans, and that they were all basically Ms. Perky from Ten Things I Hate About You and I would die of embarrassment if I were ever caught even walking through the section of the bookstore on my way to Serious, Real Books. These things were for sad, lonely, misguided women, and I was… okay fine I was and am all of those things (depression!) but I had Standards, or something.

You can and should note that during this I was still extremely into fantasy and into science fiction which are both genre fiction and yet those didn’t get my snobby treatment and you would be correct and then you would say “is that because of internalized misogyny?” and yes, yes it was. Thanks for playing the part of Question Asker for this paragraph, reader, I appreciate you a lot, and the last few sentences went entirely off the rails.

ANYWAY, I’ve got some specific suggestions to make you join me in my trash habits. Minus the Bridgerton books, these are all contemporary romances, and maybe I’ll do one of historical romances too, idk. Yeah, I should. Hold me to it, readership, would you?

Bridgerton series

Hey, wanna be cool as heck and know what’s gonna happen on the new show that Shonda Rimes made for Netflix? Of course you do. So go read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels and you can be cool like me. Or something.

As it was before, is now, and ever shall be, books without end. Start with The Duke and I if you wanna begin where you “should” and then read Romancing Mr. Bridgerton if you love Penelope as much as I do which you should if you have good opinions.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

This is also going to make it to the big screen, and honestly, that doesn’t even matter, because this book is so good it could exist in its one state forever and ever and just be perfection. This is the best enemies-to-lovers romance I’ve ever read and yeah that includes like Much Ado About Nothing fight me I ain’t scared. Josh and Lucy are both assistants to the co-CEOs of a publishing house that exists as a result of a merger, and as I’m typing it, none of that matters that much. They could be assistants to co-CEOs of the company that makes Henry Cavill’s wig for The Witcher and it wouldn’t affect the story and that’s a good thing. You’re so wrapped up in these two flawed humans with very human reactions and emotions and worries that you realize you’ve read several hundred pages and have no idea what city or country they’re in, and that’s great. This book is first-person present via Lucy, and I know that’ll bug some people, but like, get over it, or something, idk, just please read this book it is so good.

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Hi hello don’t talk to me about how good this one is or I’ll start crying. As you may know (HA) I didn’t particularly like the end of Game of Thrones and that goes double for Jaime’s plot and this book borderline fixed that for me. This is April and Marcus’ story but it is also the story of anyone who has ever read or written fan fiction or wanted to fix what is technically canon.

The leads met online in a fanfiction forum where they write about their favorite books that have been made into a show. April is a soil scientist, and Marcus… well, Marcus is on the show that he’s writing fanfic about. DUN DUN DUNNNN. April posts a picture of herself doing cosplay because she’s trying to fuse her fanfiction life and her “real” life a bit more, and because she’s plus-size, she gets destroyed online because people are horrible. Marcus sees this, someone challenges him to ask her on a date, and he does. When they meet, he discovers that she’s his best friend in the fanfic community, but she doesn’t know this.

I KNOW, RIGHT? Read this book now. It does such a good job with the idea of found family, and loving yourself, and even if you’re not involved in reading or writing fanfiction, you’ll still love this beautifully written book. And if you are? Boy howdy is this a delight and a half. Also if you just wanna get a little more Thrones angst out of the way, this is the way to do it.

Also in general, read fanfiction? It’s great? Like some isn’t, okay, but that goes for everything? I dove in after asking the internet “other people think Jaime and Brienne need to get married, right?” and the internet said “duh” and I was better for it.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This is a romance that is also a book about writing, and a book about women’s writing, and it has the honor of making me genuinely laugh out loud, which almost never happens when I read (not that I don’t find things funny, I just very rarely vocalize a laugh, I’m dead inside, don’t worry about it). This is a story about January and Gus, who met in college in a writing class, and then meet again when they’re staying in houses across from each other at a beach. Gus writes **serious literary fiction** about horrible things or whatever and January has written a series of successful romance novels with happy endings. I’d probably read both of their stuff.

And this isn’t a spoiler, so I can share my favorite line in the book that isn’t a spoiler. They’re reintroduced in what might be my favorite meet-cute/meet-angry? and after Gus asks January “which do you find more fascinating to write: love-struck pirates or love-struck werewolves?” January replies with “what’s it like writing Hemingway circle-jerk fan fiction? Do you know all your readers by name?” and I don’t know how to express the joy I felt at this line because I’ll never write anything that deliciously cutting. I cannot hope to match it and I’m okay with that – reading this line was like watching someone speed-debone a fish, and the whole book is like that PLUS you get to eat a delicious meal. I’m shit with words; please just read this book.

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Kate Clayborn is a menace and a goddess and her work makes me so upset because it is everything about writing that I cannot do and it makes me envious that I can’t do it and it makes me happy that at least someone can. She’s an artist, that’s all there is to it, and I can whole-heartedly recommend her romance trilogy The Luck of the Draw (three best friends win the lottery in a life-changing but not life-ruining amount and the books follow what each does with the money).

But that’s not this book: this book is somehow even BETTER than those books, and I am a disaster even trying to convey how good the writing is it’s like experiencing your favorite comfort movie for the first time, it’s like iced coffee on the first good day of spring, it’s how it feels to chew Five gum or something idk idk please just read it.

This is a book about Reid and Meg, and they meet when Reid and his fiancée hire Meg to do the calligraphy and art for their wedding invitations and program. (I could not remember the word “calligraphy” and just had to Google “fancy letters synonym” why do y’all read this blog). The wedding is called off before it happens for incompatibility reasons, but not before Meg subtly highlights the letters M-I-S-T-A-K-E in their wedding program. Reid notices, and goes to meet with her about it. I. KNOW. What a beginning. They are both reserved sweethearts who are trying very hard to figure out what the future looks like (Meg’s career is taking off, Reid doesn’t want to live in New York City anymore) and I don’t know how to explain how much of a hug this book is. It’s a long visit from a friend you haven’t seen in a while and all the stories and your friend is doing well and then you both go to sleep and then wake up and go to the most delicious brunch. My metaphors need work; this book needs no corrections it is perfect please read it.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Did you know you needed a romance novel set at a Renaissance Faire? Now you do! Because you need this book! It is so great! So! Great!

This book is about Emily and Simon. After a breakup, Emily recently moved into her sister’s house to help her sister out with her teenage niece and other household stuff after her sister got into a car accident. Her niece wants to do the summer Renaissance Faire, but to be able to do it, she needs an adult to volunteer with her. Emily shows up and meets Simon, who is running Faire and whom she immediately dubs the “RenFaire Killjoy.” He is bananas uptight, and understandably so – Faire was started by his brother, who passed away several years before the summer of the book’s plot. He doesn’t like things to change, and Emily is a fixer, so they fight constantly and it’s just really, really good. Simon dresses as a pirate for the Faire itself, and is flirty and hilarious towards Emily in-character, and the author is just very talented at weaving all these threads of emotion together and not letting any of them fall. It’s also just so flippin’ cute, the whole thing.

There’s a sequel that got released last year and a third book coming, and you’ll see why as you read: the supporting cast just begs for their own books and then you get them. Everything is adorable and nothing hurts and if these books don’t make you want to go become extremely dusty and warm at a local Renaissance Faire while you watch some jousts and buy a handbag I don’t know what to say other than you’re wrong. Huzzah.


I’m definitely forgetting some books because it’s impossible that I wouldn’t, so forgive me on that front in advance and if you’re like “but what about ____?!” YEP YOU’RE RIGHT I’M SORRY THAT BOOK IS ALSO GOOD.

Plus, I will probably need to do a second post about the historical romance books I read and their authors (Rose Lerner! Lisa Kleypas! Courtney Milan! Tessa Dare! Sarah MacLean! Cat Sebastian!) and just how many of them are former lawyers. It is bananas, it’s like all of them, they’re all lawyers, it’s a riot.

Please read romance novels. They are so good and they do not hurt you and if they do they’re very sorry and they apologize well. If you need specifics come to me and I will help you find your book happily ever after.

The heavier stuff

Give away your money

January 15, 2021

Hi there everyone. I initially started off this post with a whole bunch of stuff on recent news items of 2020 and 2021. I could spend my time here explaining why no one is getting First Amendment arguments correct, or why it’s pretty normal to be scared of the stuff happening right now. I could explain my anger over everything that led us to this point, or I could talk about how I’m worried about a Biden administration being more of the same. I’m not going to, because you’re all very tired, and because you don’t need me to, since smarter and better people are making these points and you should read those people’s work. Of course I will never ever say no to someone who wants to learn more about any of these things from me, specifically (especially since I love talking), but I’d much rather direct you to the experts and amplify their voices instead. There’s no valid authority in me to seize this moment and yell “my voice is what’s necessary” other than like, the human condition and needing attention and validation to survive. However, in These Times, at this point, there’s one thing I do feel like I can write about.

I can tell you how to give away your money.

And if you’re like me and have any cash to spare (like your stimulus check), you absolutely should be giving away some money. Let me use this post to encourage you to let that giving look a little different.

(sidebar, you’re probably all thinking “hey, is she just writing this to talk about how great she is for donating money? what a conceited ass

  1. yep, I am literally the most selfless person who has ever lived, I donated my own heart recently, I’m legally dead
  2. it is also true that I am also very much a conceited ass who loves the sound of her own voice/keyboard clicking but in fairness to me and like 2a. I blog which is a self-centered activity in and of itself so yes I knew this and so did you
  3. I’m enormously aware of this sounding like “Trumpet Voluntary” for my own generosity, but believe me when I say I am not nearly as generous as I could be, and also I’m hoping the helpfulness of this post outweighs the amount you’ll hate me at the end of it for being a self-righteous jerkwad)


There’s a very good chance you’ve already participated in some form of charity in your life time, whether it was buying Girl Scout cookies from your coworker, or dropping off cans at a food bank, or giving money to a friend running a marathon on behalf of a health organization. You rock. No, seriously! You gave your time or money or effort or concern when it wasn’t required and that’s great. I was a Girl Scout; I know those boxes cost like a million dollars for six cookies and I appreciated every sale.

However, there’s an equally good chance you haven’t expanded your thoughts on what charity/donating/helping means, especially if I am any kind of benchmark. I didn’t know most of this until recently, and I got taught by people much better than me, and I’m really just trying to make it straightforward when you think about how to help people. Notice how I said “recently” and not any specific amount of time? I did that on purpose because I’m embarrassed about that timeline! I’m also apparently self-flagellating this whole post. Sorry, and please forgive me. I’m still not the right person to say this, but if I reach someone it was worth it to be a grandstanding punk.

I’ve got some tenets for giving here that are basic in theory but complicated in application, and I genuinely appreciate your time in reading them.

Give what is needed

Cash. It’s cash. It’s always cash. Unless an organization or individual says “hi, yes, that specific thing is a thing we want” just give them money. Like, okay, yes, not always, but kinda always, yeah. Wow, I am exceptional at words.

Food banks can make your dollar stretch farther than you can because of their arrangements with food suppliers. They can buy what is depleted, and they don’t have to worry about negotiating transport of what you decided to donate. That huge pyramid of cans looks good and feels good and seems in every way more substantial than writing a check or entering your credit card info online, but it probably isn’t doing the most good. Write the check; put in your card number.

This can apply to any place that takes donations of physical goods. For example, there are organizations that send reading materials to people in prison, and they’re frequently the best way to get items into prisons because they are very familiar with the regulations and they have an existing relationship that will keep donations and mail from getting rejected. Books through Bars is my local one, but there are plenty across the country. And they don’t need your discarded gross paperbacks that aren’t even good. They ask for new donations, and the imprisoned people who get them deserve new and good books, including ones you have to buy to be able to donate. They need GED prep books, and you’ll need to buy those new.

Books through Bars describes their standards as “please do not donate a book to us that you would not gift to a loved one,” and that about sums it up. Your donation is supposed to show love, so make sure it does.

Give what you can

You’ll see a lot of famous people on your social media post receipts of a hundred, two hundred, a thousand dollars that they donated to a cause you believe in. You have ten dollars. What’s the point.

NOPE. Ten dollars from you is ten dollars that the organization or individual did not have previously. It’s not going to buy a house, but it might buy a meal, or a prescription. Twenty might buy diapers. Thirty might buy someone’s overdue water bill. This is straight out of Jesus’ mouth, widow-with-two-coins basic stuff. There is no such thing as a donation that is too small to matter. And if you’re donating online, if you’ve got a small donation and can cover the transaction fee, do that. It’s a really small but really easy way to stretch your donation. Plus, if people see what you donated and they were also in the “my $5/$10/$25 cannot possibly help” group, they’ll be inspired to contribute too.

Give without assumption, judgment, or what’s been “earned”

If you are a millennial or regularly eat at restaurants (used to regularly eat at restaurants? phrase this as if we are not mid-pandemic, I guess?) with a millennial, you’ll definitely notice that even the worst possible service still results in an 18-20% tip from that millennial. A server would have to hit me in the face and eat my dinner in front of me while laughing about how I did my makeup (yeah my eyebrows are weird today okay I GET IT) to not get this amount and I’d still probably leave 15%.

Yep, tipping in the States is odd and usually bad and should be revamped, but today, right now, your server is earning their money through your not being a jerk. Is your bill fifteen dollars total? Tip ten. Are you on like a fancy night out that you do twice a year? Discuss with your partner and plan to eat and drink 90 dollars and tip 50. Is it close to the winter holidays? Tip big. Is it a slow weeknight and your server is just with your table? Tip big. Doing carside pickup for food? Tip big. Delivery? Tip enormously in 2020 and 2021, at least, especially if using an app that takes some from each delivery worker. Don’t assess whether they’ve “earned it,” just tip them like their livelihood depends on it because it does.

And the concept of ignoring what is “earned” goes for personal behavior too. Say there’s a family drowning under medical bills and they are mostly paying for their own groceries but they each have an older iPhone so you say to yourself “they could definitely pay for their food if they got rid of the iPhones” and you walk away without giving. Plus, healthcare should be free, why should I pay an insurance company?

Sure, but getting rid of that extra $30 a month payment doesn’t get bills paid, or enough food purchased to feed everyone, and to say that those in poverty don’t deserve anything nice (to say nothing of the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get or keep work without a functional smartphone these days) doesn’t absolve you of the absolute necessity it is to get money to them.

And in line with that, my next point is

Give without strings

I think my favorite comment about this concept is the probably-apocryphal quote from a young white male professional who gives a twenty to a homeless man and gets chastised, because the man is “just going to spend it on drugs,” and the young guy replies “who cares, that’s what I was going to spend it on.”

Treat whatever you’re giving as not yours any longer. You have handed off property or funds, and it is no longer owned by you and you cannot control its use. Yes, someone busking or panhandling might turn down your offer of a sandwich and ask for cash. Give them cash.

Don’t do the “if they were really homeless they wouldn’t turn down food” thing, because that’s not true. Maybe they have food, or aren’t hungry at the time. Maybe they need tampons, or maybe they need socks. And maybe it’s going to drugs, sure. But even then, give them cash. Anyone that deep in addiction will find a way to get drugs, and that way will be less healthy and more dangerous than paying for them.

And you can argue that if they were really needy, they’d have food stamps, or rent assistance, or disability checks, or help from the VA, or Medicaid. And maybe they have that, but it’s insufficient (because those payments are insufficient across the board). Maybe they had them but the government cut the program. Maybe they’re in line for housing vouchers through Section 8 and they’re scheduled to get them in 15 years. Maybe they did something against the rules of the program and lost it. Or maybe they don’t have the time, energy, or ability to jump through every single hoop they have to in order to get an offensively small amount of money.

And maybe this person you’re helping, whether homeless or disabled or sick or incarcerated or unemployed, maybe they suck! They might really suck. They might have been a horrible parent. They might have stolen from a friend. They might have cheated on their spouse. They might have committed a crime. But their poverty is a separate issue from that, and punishing them for a transgression by leaving them in poverty is both cruel and ineffective.

It took me a while to get “give without strings” through my head and into my heart. And then the next section came in and was like “now that you’ve done the basics, it’s time for the advanced class.” So here we see –

Give directly

Literally hand people cash. This gets a little more indirect with covid-19, but it still has the same principles. In non-pandemic times, hand them bills. In pandemic times, Venmo them cash. Give to a mutual aid fund or a bail fund and have them give it directly to people. Look on GoFundMe and give to a random one. Check the Twitter feed of people like Shea Serrano, look at the replies, and pick a person’s Cashapp to give to.

This has been the scariest part for me, but I’ve been doing it steadily for a bit now. Mostly through Twitter, but a bit in person as well, and it’s involved me just straight up Venmo-ing or Paypal-ing people money, or handing them cash. Yes, without “vetting” them. Yes, without knowing them. Yes, without requiring proof.

No one rich is on Twitter or Instagram or the street or the food pantry line asking for help. They just aren’t. That goes for the person in the “nice” car in line at the food bank – no rich person is waiting 4 hours for food. That goes for the person asking for cash from a smart phone: no one rich is dependent on internet strangers for paying their medical or school bills. That goes for the entire economy of informally asking for funds – people ask because they’re in need. And, frankly, it’s January 2021. If you don’t believe that people are in need right now, the cave you live in must have incredible soundproofing.

“What if you get scammed?” Well, honestly, to start, that’s on them and their heart, but even more honestly I don’t give a shit. Anyone trying to “scam” me out of $20 needs it more than I do, full stop, so they can have it. And the only “scams” I’ve seen so far in direct aid have been things like “this person said they have 4 kids but they only have 1” so it’s slightly less tragic. Just people trying to sound desperate enough to deserve the kindness of strangers.

Am I too naïve and stupid to live? Yeah, probably, and maybe some of my money has gone places I didn’t expect. But I know that it went to someone who was happy to receive it, at the very least, and at the most I know I’ve helped pay off utilities bills and get people out of pretrial detention and gotten prisoners prep books and covered a copay and got someone inside for a night. And I’m happy to help you start to do it, too.

Donate your money with abandon and recklessness. Donate your money uncarefully. Donate with the love you’d hope to see reflected back at you. People are in such pain, and you can help relieve that pain, directly. So go do it. You got this.

Jokes and Sass

An Honest Christmas Newsletter: 2020

December 18, 2020

(author’s note: those year-in-review things that families send out? you know those? that, but not lying? anyway please know that I care sincerely about your struggles, this year has been varying degrees of challenging to absolutely impossible, you are seen and you are loved, therapy is important, please forgive me for my pretty messed up sense of humor)

(I also kinda hate myself for putting “author’s note” but I thought it was funny idk on to the actual post)


Dear friends and family,

This year has been such a difficult one, and we wish we could spend it with you: we miss you! Well, that is, we miss some of you. The rest of you, we’re actually thrilled that the pandemic gives us an excuse to not have to be around you over the holidays, and we’re currently brainstorming excuses for next year. It has been really great to keep up with you all on Facebook as much as possible, especially when we see you in huge groups without a mask! Yes, specifically you, Aunt Eileen!

Given that so many families this year lost so much, we’re doing our best to remember that we still have so much to be grateful for. Our best is nowhere near sufficient, though, and despite knowing that we’re living in a comfortable home with a stable income, each member of the family spends every waking minute suppressing a scream. #gratefulthankfulblessed

Bill’s coming up on his twelfth year at his job, and he learned quickly how to transition to that WFH life! “Quickly” here is, of course, relative, and he still forgets to mute his microphone on at least half of his conference calls. His colleagues are increasingly fed up, but he’s got a fun way of diffusing the situation: he reminds them all he’s not a millennial and not “techie” like most of his team! Oh, how they laugh every time he says that. The best one so far was when he gave a ten-minute presentation to a client without turning on his camera OR his microphone! That little oopsie lost the company a client and lost him the respect of his secretary, but we’re all adjusting to “the new normal,” ha ha!

Sandy’s been learning how to manage online school for the kids, which is, for some reason, yet another responsibility that’s fallen on her shoulders, just like nearly everything else! Someone could use a quarantini, ha ha! She’s been switching the kids’ computers between the kitchen and the basement every day, because apparently the basement is the better spot, despite the WiFi consistently failing to reach the laptop down there for fifteen consecutive minutes, and Bill somehow loses the ability to hear any time the kids are yelling for help! What a goofball!

Sandy is seeing an individual therapist to help normalize therapy for the family and because a close friend posted a maskless selfie in Target captioned “I am an American, I am FREE.” As a family, we’re seeing Dr. Schrader every week nowadays (we’ve been working together as a family to address what he has us call “The Incident”) and he’s been very helpful, especially after we deleted the TikTok app from the kids’ phones and drank a bottle of wine each.

Jacob is missing his classmates, and isn’t adjusting well to online classes at all, and the absence of structure has been causing him to withdraw from both his friends and his family in stages, and one of the few points of agreement between Bill and Sandy is their worry for him, but he recently got a Nintendo Switch, so he’s doing Minecraft, or something! His newest hobbies is looking up obituaries for people with his last name and asking his grandfather for the names of Vietnam War protest songs. He’s asked for a drum set for Christmas, so there’s no good solution here! #pandemichobbies

Olivia is still Miss Smiles, as you’ll remember from last year’s card! Except, of course, when we had to tell her that she couldn’t go to her friend’s birthday party because they were having a maskless, indoor party, we were ready for a sobbing meltdown, but instead, she got a flinty look in her eye and called her friend a “selfish bitch.” We have no idea where she learned that! We found her in her room later cutting up the unicorn Squishmallow pillow she received from that friend. Did we mention she turned the big one-oh this year? Ha Ha!

Speaking of milestones, Bill and Sandy celebrated 15 years of marriage this summer, and celebrated by letting the kids watch six straight hours of TV and DoorDash-ing Chipotle. The evening was thrown off course a bit by a phone call from Bill’s parents wishing us a happy anniversary that they used as an opportunity to ask why we weren’t going out to a restaurant to eat. Bill (such a jokester!) told them “because we’re not ******* stupid” and Sandy had to ask the kids to turn up the volume on the TV so they wouldn’t hear their dad screaming “do you want to die?! because it sounds like you want to die!” at Nana and Poppy. The Mandalorian sounds great on our sound system, by the way! Ha ha!

And last but not least, our dog Waffles has developed some kind of separation anxiety that’s manifesting even when we walk down the driveway to the mailbox. He’s very good at barking while the kids are in online class, and earlier this fall, he found a nest of baby rabbits and murdered them. Olivia was the first to find him covered in blood after, and she got a quick lesson in “the Circle of Life,” and not the Beyoncé kind! LOL!

We’re excited to see what 2021 has in store for all of us, and hopefully it’s seeing more of you “I.R.L.” (that’s “In Real Life,” for all you “boomers” out there, ha ha!) instead of on our screens. Please excuse the quality of the picture, but it is the one photo we have of all of us this year, and we didn’t realize that the dumpster was in the background when we took the picture. Kind of fits the 2020 theme, though, doesn’t it? Ha ha!

Let us know how you’re doing, if you get a chance! If your Christmas newsletter is filled with any kind of happiness, though, it’s going directly into a fire.

Happy Holidays!

(enclosed picture shows four grimacing people and a blurry dog)

Jokes and Sass

So you’re gonna watch a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie

November 30, 2020

TO BE CLEAR: I love these. I am ride or die for Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, and you can kindly go off to your home on Sadness Island if you’re gonna make fun of me for enjoying them. I get to poke fun because there’s an element of the ridiculous in them, but this is very much a “no one can make fun of ______ except for me” kind of post. This is the same way in which I get violently defensive of the Fast and Furious movies: they’re silly, but they are certainly not the canary in the coalmine signaling the fall of civilization. They’re ridiculous and harmless at worst and they are THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD at best. (*sitting impatiently waiting for F9*)

Back to Hallmark movies: I love them. They began in actual October, because the Hallmark Channel does what it wants, and on the Hallmark Channel the Christmas season would begin in June of the previous year if the fates allowed. Hang your monthly streaming bill upon the highest bough. Did I make Andrew add Sling so I could watch these for 2 months? You bet your ox and lamb keeping time I did. I wanna watch as many cable-knit, twinkly-lit, perfectly-coiffed people as I possibly can fall in love in extremely odd circumstances using a formula.

“But they’re all the same!” I hear you cry. Right, yes. Yes, they are. They are pretty and chilly and sparkly and cozy and they will not hurt me, which is more than I can say for the rest of this year and like, life in general. I love the formula. The formula works. They’re all the same and that’s what I want. And I want it for all of you, too. So here it is: the Guide to Every Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie.

This outline is also, to be fair, no longer completely accurate. The channel has been making an effort to show gay couples and black couples and multiracial families and increase diversity across the board, and while it is far from perfect, the effort is there. But I am **feelin’ sassy** and where’s the fun in mocking a wholesome channel striving for equality? Nowhere. There isn’t any fun. So hop aboard the Willful Ignorance train while I give something I love a hard time. There’s a new movie nearly every night and definitely on weekends. BASICALLY EVERY. DAY. J O I N MEEEE

The guy

Straight out of the L.L. Bean holiday catalog, Mr. Tall, Medium Brown, and Handsome is the bergamot-scented, cozy-sweater’d smolderhunk that Hallmark thinks we want and okay they’re not entirely wrong. They come in two main varieties: Earnest Goober and Very Serious and Important.

The Earnest Goober is smiling and happy and generally into Christmas-type things, and will almost certainly be found playing in a snowball fight or other kind of youthful merriment before the end of the film. A patterned scarf is guaranteed, and an ugly Christmas sweater or hat or antlers headband or Rudolph nose or some other festive accoutrement is almost guaranteed.

The Very Serious and Important is a professional profession who works workingly all the time and Cannot Be Bothered with This Holiday Nonsense, as he has Things to Do Right Now. Definitely owns a patterned scarf as well but in a more muted plaid. Not a big smiler, until and unless the heroine is around, and then he smiles like smiling is his new professional profession.

Regardless, he is warmth, he is plaid, he is Kind Eyes, and he is going to help his true love decorate something at some point. Usually a tree, sometimes a baked good (gingerbread house, cookies), sometimes an entire event space.

The girl

An actual Sugarplum Fairy of Christmas Cheer or a model for Gucci’s suiting line who probably moonlights as a knife thrower or something; there is no middle ground. The heroine is either full-bore sparkle princess or a sentient pencil skirt who cannot remember her own birthday and would take a call from work during her niece’s Nativity play when her niece is baby Jesus. She’s in no way bad, though: like, if she took this call, she’d make up for it by depositing twenty grand into the kid’s 529.

She either is the meaning of Christmas or is going to find the meaning of Christmas, and sometimes both; do not ask me to explain this sentence any further as I SHAN’T. She does not have short hair, and she will do something absolutely bananas during the course of the movie like bake a batch of cookies in her work clothes, or wear high heels to babysit three children. Her apartment is the size of Grand Central Station and it is clean and gorgeous and no I don’t hate her why would you say that. She’s at least partially made of sunshine and in all seriousness I’d absolutely hang out with her, she’s nice to people and at worst she’s just very busy and at best she’s sugar and spice and skating on ice.

The guy’s best friend

Or roommate. Or coworker. Or brother. Just some vaguely manly presence whose existence we do not analyze in depth. In one Hallmark movie I watched this year, “The 12 Dates of Christmas,” this man’s wife went into labor in the first ten minutes of the film, and we did not hear from him again. Ever. I am hoping everyone is okay and they didn’t name the baby Khrynzleigh, but I must become comfortable with disappointment. Another one was a firefighter at the same station as our hero, who was with our heroine working on electrical safety for an event. The friend dropped “so you’re saying that there’s an opportunity for *sparks to fly*?” with the smuggest grin ever and reader I fell in love with a Hallmark Channel SIDE CHARACTER.

This dude is here as an exposition factory to ensure we know what our Mr. TM-B&H is about, and whether that thing is 1. work or 2. who am I, Hedwig? what am I? I feel kind of bad for these guys since they nearly always seem to have lovely, functional families and want the best for our hero and will at least never call our hero asking him to support their small business that is just Herbalife. I’d watch a movie about the best friend in a second. Sometimes they are allowed to be funny, but usually this is reserved for our next person.

The girl’s roommate

Could be roommate, coworker, sister, friend from college, cousin, whatever. This person is the funniest and best human on Earth and is somehow not the star of the show. She does, however, make the heroine do stuff she doesn’t want to, so actually? No, I lied about her being the best, she’s out here making people **improve their lives** and shit who wants that? A friend who wants what’s best for you even if it makes you uncomfortable? Gross. I am kidding, I love every one of my friends who has made me a better person except for when it’s against my will like every time.

My personal favorite was a girl’s roommate who dunked on her for her attendance at a kids’ fundraiser for their music program – not because it’s bad to be there, but to pretend like she’s not there for the cute dude is just lies. Another one kept her friend from returning to her shitty fiancé who told her three weeks before they were due to get married that he wanted “to put a pin in it” re: the wedding. These women are Good People.

Both of their families

First, I have to point out that there is nearly always a tragedy of some kind that explains the absence of at least one family member. Probably only Disney has a worse track record of “the mom’s gone” because holy God why are all the moms gone???? And families can look any kind of way that they are but it is just like a weird removal of a person in a lot of these. This was a sad paragraph and I will stop. The guy and girl usually have their parents (or a parental-type figure) floating around somewhere. And by “somewhere” I mean “in the movie for a weird amount of time.” They are going to mention how proud they are of the hero or heroine “no matter what” at some point and while I don’t always buy it, it is always consistent.

There are also a lot of grandparents, and the grandparents are pulling some Benjamin Button shit or something because they are all like “oh my darling I missed you!” to the late-twenty-something main characters while looking like they just came from the spa and being born in 1970. Millennial grandparents are not young, stop lying to us, Hallmark, even people in their late twenties now look fifty because of this year.

The designated adorable

There is a character in the movie whose job is to be cute beyond all sense. Sometimes, this is a dog; it might be the guy’s dog or the girl’s dog, or just a dog that shows up whenever the spirit of Christmas needs a boost, or something. His name is probably Jingle. (This goes without saying, but I would die for Jingle and any other Jingle-esque iterations.)

The character could also be an elderly neighbor: this one is usually male, and they are consistently sunshine and do something like run a reindeer farm or harvest sugar cookies directly from the ground idk. They’re very cute but also make you anxious in a “let’s not ask for their opinions on Black Lives Matter or the whole thing is ruined” way.

But the most common and most popular designated adorable is a kid. Either the hero or heroine might have a smol angel as their offspring, but more frequently this is a kid or kids that they can just be like vaguely orbiting for festivity and Zuzu’s petals or something. They are usually just shy of “this is unrealistic and unbearable precocity” and are always well-behaved.

The setting

Okay, this one has some variation. There are some bigger cities that have been featured in these films: New York is the obvious one, but I’ve also seen Chicago and (I think?) Atlanta or another bigger Southern city. And I watched a movie this year that took place in Vienna. It was called “Christmas in Vienna.” It was Christmastime, and they were in Vienna. I wanna go to Vienna. *****vIeNnA*****

HOWEVER, nearly all of these bad boys end up in a flippin’ adorable small town in a quadrilateral-shaped state, and everyone in them is nice, cute, and well-moisturized (hashtag couldn’t be me) and I resent them all for having nice hair and glowing skin and apartments that are clean all the time even during the holidays. The whole place looks like Small Business Saturday, and it is somehow always snowing or has recently snowed (snown?), yet everyone can wear their coats open and their scarves unwrapped and just dangling from their necks like a fashion accessory rather than a hypothermia-preventer.

That last part is true of the big cities, too, and while I haven’t been to Chicago in the winter, New York in December is frequently just gray and sad and cold. Not always, it’s frequently gorgeous, but definitely not snow-globe pretty every day, and PEOPLE BUTTON THEIR COATS, DAMMIT.

The traditions

*Tevye voice* exposition

There’s at least one, usually like a half-dozen, sometimes like twenty, things that the characters’ families do every year. And there’s a definite sweetness to it, like their grandma makes them an ornament every year because she loves them, or they have recipes that involve everyone, or they went to pick out the tree together and let the kids get one that’s like way too big for the house. Earnest, heartwarming, festive shit that I adore.

However, they do tend to get really specific with some of these, and the emotions associated are also specific and intense, and somehow the tradition replicates itself in the movie a lot? And it’ll be something like “we’d always drink hot cocoa with 4 (four) marshmallows and sit on the floor in the position of the cardinal directions at exactly 5:37 on December 12th and sing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ but not the right lyrics just ones we made up” and that’ll somehow happen in the movie so our hero and/or heroine will be in their feelings about it. In their defense, I’m in my feelings about everything all the time, it doesn’t take much, so I support this weirdly specific nostalgia.

The empty coffee cup/mug


every. single. movie. has this: they get coffee or cider or hot chocolate from a stand on the town square or whatever and then they wave around the cup and it is so, so clear that there is nothing in that cup and it makes me so upset. Put something in it, anything, anything with mass, water, sand, the receipt for the film’s sweater budget, ANYTHING, PLEASE. Just make it look like a cup with something inside of it.

My anger at this one thing really sums up my experience with Hallmark Christmas movies: yes, sure, this wedding planner has to fly to Alaska to get her bride “jingle bell flowers” and gets stuck there but falls in love and saves the town and Christmas and I buy it like the last scarf in the store, but you’d better put some damn hot chocolate in that cup.

Jokes and Sass

Comprehensive list of face masks: a 2020 guide

September 4, 2020

In case anyone would like to read into this as “ooohhhh look how difficult it is to wear a mask, we shouldn’t have to, see, she agrees with me,” lemme just cut you off right there, she does not agree with you, wear a dang mask, we live in a society

But I will allow this: there are infinite kinds of non-medical face masks out and about, and I’ve tried to identify most, like a very odd ornithologist, and I’ve done this by wearing them, like a very odd… ornith. Bird. Whatever, I have a pretty prominent nose and every mask on earth likes to remind me so I feel both like a toucan and like a scientist who studies toucan plumage.

No, I also don’t know what just happened there BIG NOSE WEIRD MASKS MOVING ON

I haven’t worn all of this list but I’ve worn quite a few, and I’ve definitely observed them all in some fashion, and I don’t even know where I was going with this other than to lie down for the rest of 2020. Be good to each other.

the “slow down there, McDreamy”

This mask is one that looks like, vaguely medical, but you’re not at all associated with the medical profession and everything else about you shows that, because you’re dressed in a sleeveless Eagles tshirt and you’re messing up the lines at the grocery store, Seattle Graceless. Stand on the goddamn stickers on the floor, bruh, it’s not hard. Did this sound personal? It was. The mask has that kind of light blue-green color and a fabric that looks like a tarp and they always seem to be worn by someone you’re frantically praying is not actually in charge of anyone’s health.

baby’s first mask

This mask was probably donated to you or given as a gift or ordered from Etsy in the same way Dick Cheney fires a shotgun (the first thing you see; aim for the face), and it is either still pretty pristine because you used it for a day or two uncomfortably and then discarded it in favor of masks you picked out, or it looks like the skirt of a Les Mis barricades extra at the end of a six-month revival tour because you took way too long getting any other masks and wore only one until the mask was more makeup and dirt than mask.

definitely didn’t happen the second way for me haha nope absolutely not lol (it was light gray once yeah I still have it)

the vaguely inappropriate one

This doesn’t mean that the mask is TV-14 or anything, or that it looks like you bought it for a bachelor/ette party (I HOPE YOU AREN’T HAVING THOSE RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD), it’s just that it’s a little too… something, for everyday use. My personal example is unfortunate, because I love the dang thing so much, but it is a Fiona the Hippo mask. It is soft, and comfortable, and a friend sent it to me, and I cannot wear it at work because the front is designed to make you look like Fiona the Hippo. This is not Fiona’s fault in any way, she is a flawless big baby who can swim and doesn’t let anything stop her because she is fearless and who run the world? girl hippos, but if I’m at work, a client at some point could be like “why do you have a hippo on your face” and then I’d have to fight them and that’s just not good for anyone. Especially not Fiona. She’s a blubber, not a fighter. My perfect large child who has the little ears doing the wiggle thing!!!

Wilson from Home Improvement

Yeah, I remember this show, I’m old, shut up. Yeah, the dude at the fence, whose face you never saw. Yes, him, okay, I made the reference, let’s move on.

This mask doesn’t have anything structurally flawed but it is very, very much the wrong size for your face. The top edge of the mask is attempting to protect you in the same way you applied eyeliner in 7th grade (“on your waterline, until it hurts”) and the bottom edge basically hits your collarbone. No one knows who you are. And yes, I know, don’t threaten you with a good time, but the downside is that you frighten kids and dogs.

the glasses-fogger

No, you know what? I’m not even gonna talk about this one any more. My glasses have looked like that car window in Titanic for months now, and I’m grumpy about it, and I tried the soap thing, and I didn’t try very hard, and I don’t wanna hear about your product recommendations, and I would prefer to remain annoyed rather than exert any effort, and I’m gonna stay grumpy. I lied, I do want product recommendations, but only if they’re like, newborn-level effort because I’m tired. I’m so tired, you guys.

the bank-robber

Not that this one has to be a gaiter, as bank-robbing can be done with any face accoutrements available to you (I encourage the overthrow of banks through whatever means necessary, I’m kidding if law enforcement is reading this, or am I, anyway), but gaiters seem to be the big one here. The darker the color, the more robber-y, in general, although I have to imagine a deep red would have fun Elektra vibes and could feel glamorous. Please do not read that article as “gaiters are worse than no mask” as that is not the case, it is not what that article means, wear the thing until we get an actual comprehensive study with more than one data point, I’m not even going to link to it in this post because then you will read it and decide bad things and I’m not gonna be responsible for that.

Gaiters have been great for me while hiking and doing vaguely athletic things, but even though my go-to one is a nice periwinkle with a fun pattern of shapes, I still feel very much like I’m on a casting call for The Town. That’s what you look like, too, I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules, whose cah ah we gonna take?

the ear elastic made of steel wool

For this one, the mask itself is okay, like the fabric is fine and no issues, but somehow your poor delicate ears are red and wrecked by the end of the day because the manufacturer had leftover garroting wire and used it for the ear loops. Sometimes you don’t find out that the loopies are made with leftover Lasso of Truth until you’re out and about with no other options and that big time sucks.

“Couldn’t you just buy one of those that ties around your head?” Yeah, I could, but then I’d have nothing amusing to complain about, and this site would get as dark as the world around us. So loopies complaining it is and was and forever shall be.

the mid-life crisis

My guy, you are a partner at your marketing firm, you own a BMW 4-series, your Black Sabbath mask is fooling no one.

You’ll sometimes see this one with new-ish fathers too, where they are pushing the stroller through the dairy aisle with a Slipknot t-shirt and a black mask with a mandible on it, and like, dude, just go watch Paw Patrol or whatever, it’s a pandemic, we are literally all at home listening to the saddest and angriest music we can right now, you’re not special.

Jeremiah was a bullfrog

This mask might be one of your favorites. It’s light, it’s soft, it’s not giving you horrible chin zits, you’re not conscious of its existing every waking second, maybe it’s even in a color you like. But it cannot withstand the force of air that comes in and goes out of your body. The fabric constantly moves in and out even when you’re not exerting yourself, and despite the fact that you are doing nothing more difficult than sitting on a Zoom call, you look like an angry toad.

wyd? nm, just buccal pumping, it’s whatever

and did the beginning also sound like this is a personal one for me? it is, the mask is a nice dark teal, and I look like a very elegant, jewel-toned amphibian but an amphibian nonetheless.

the all of them

Apparently the same makers of skin care face masks have decided to overrun the world with similarly-small-nosed models and I am sad about it. I’m speaking here mostly to my fellow Cyrano de Bergeracs who could drive a freight train through the space between your face mask and your inner zygomatic bone (Roxane / you don’t have to listen to Christian) but there’s plenty of other issues that people are having with this one-size-fits-all-poorly thing. Ears in a different spot, a thinner or wider head, your chin doing a thing, the mask sliding down or sideways, we’ve all got our nose to bear. Sorry, this got weird; if you find a mask or gaiter or bandanna or diving bell that works, get like a thousand more of them. You don’t know you’re beautiful. Yes you do. What am I saying. Faces are weird, bodies are weird, when can I upload myself to the cloud, the hardware sucks.

well that’s a choice

Just not a mask, it’s not a mask, and you’re wearing it as a mask, and I don’t know why. Like, that’s a snorkel, or it’s a Halloween costume head, or it’s just your t-shirt pulled up over your mouth. That last one is one you see so flippin’ often, and I have no idea why people are doing it. It’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, and makes you look like a Yip-Yip. Okay, that last one is a plus, my mistake. But people are giving masks out for free, and you’ve still chosen to look like an absolute buffoon. Like, Old Navy is selling masks, fire up your laptop and do it. Or better yet, go outside, and walk in a straight line until you end up at a business that is selling them.

And for the love of 4th-grade science class make it go over your nose. Your chin doesn’t breathe. We live in a SOCIETY.

Jokes and Sass, The heavier stuff

Transcript of Gov. Tom Wolf announcing the new mitigation measures in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections

July 17, 2020

****author’s note: some of the Wolfie words are actually what he said so if they look familiar that’s why, I’m not his speech writer or anything, anyway, I’m being a little punk because I’m tired and the governor is tired and we’re all tired, enjoy

****author’s second note: if you don’t live in PA, you might not know about the Wolfman: he is a Dem in a split state, he put us on lockdown early and seriously, he’s not a particular fan of DT, and I like him, which might tell you nothing or everything idk

July 15, 2020 press conference

background murmuring and sounds of photographs being taken

Gov. Tom Wolf walks out to the podium, adjusts microphone. Gov. Wolf is wearing a non-medical mask with a plaid pattern like a jaunty Scottish clan’s tartan.

GOV. WOLF: Good afternoon, everyone. This press conference has been called to announce the two new state Orders that are being put in place today, one from the Governor’s Office, and one from the Department of Health. Dr. Rachel Levine, our Secretary of Health, is here with me today.

Dr. Levine nods to the crowd.

GOV. WOLF: During the past week, we have seen an unsettling climb in new COVID-19 cases. When we hit our peak on April 9, we had nearly two thousand new cases that day, with other days’ cases hovering around 1,000. Medical experts looking at the current trajectory are projecting that this new surge could soon eclipse the April peak. With our rapid case increases, we need to act again, now.

Gov. Wolf looks over to the back right corner of the press room, eyes narrowed

GOV. WOLF: I’m sorry, Dave, was there something you’d like to share with the rest of the class? Yeah, are you shocked I heard you? The mask goes over my mouth and nose, not my ears, but sorry, that might be too much **science** for you. Yes, Dave, we need to act again NOW. If it’s all right with you, I’m going to continue governing the Commonwealth? You’re done? Thank you EVER so much.

The governor takes a deep breath in and out

GOV. WOLF: As I was saying, in April our cases reached unacceptably high levels, and if we don’t put immediate restrictions on certain industries and behaviors, we could see infection rates surge even higher than our April peak. This is of course very frustrating to have to do so soon after we reopened the state, but the science supports our actions and these measures will hopefully save lives.

Gov. Wolf steps back from the podium, shakes out his arms, and rolls his head in a neck stretch

he then returns to the podium; the microphone picks up a mumbled “I hate this”

GOV. WOLF: Beginning tomorrow, all nightclubs must close, and bars that do not offer sit-down, dine-in meals must close. …okay, did you all seriously just go “awww man!” like a bunch of college kids getting told the rager at PhiPsi is cancelled? Shut up. Anyway. Oh, restaurants and bars must drop to 25% capacity for indoor seating as well. …yeah, no, okay, stop doing the “awww man!” thing, none of you even OWN a restaurant?! And I see, in the grand tradition of my being unable to have a moment’s peace, that we have a question already. Yes, you, with your hand up on the left, here. Go ahead.

PRESS: Governor, is outdoor dining and takeout food still permitted?

GOV. WOLF: …thank you, whoever you are. I’m sorry that I don’t know your name, but you just gave me a softball question, and you didn’t have to, and I apologize for my shortness with you. *voice cracking* Bless you, my child; may you fly like the Eagles. Hey, Kevin? *gestures to one of his staff off-camera* can we get this angel some Rita’s gift cards, after? Great.

*silence, beat*

GOV. WOLF: Oh, sorry, the answer! Yes, takeout is permitted, both of food and alcohol, and outdoor dining is permitted subject to the standards of social distancing and masks, of course. Don’t you roll your eyes at me, front row, don’t you DARE. Yeah, you still have to abide by social distancing, why would you think you don’t? I’m sorry, was the masked waitstaff; who earn below minimum wage and must rely on you to tip them appropriately for risking their lives, by the way; walking around serving you and your unmasked stupid face because you absolutely needed to eat mozzarella sticks in the 89-degree-with-95%-humidity July air and making sure your Bud Light Lime never runneth dry, somehow not enough for your extremely privileged life? Look, I also love mozzarella sticks, but your server is playing Minesweeper every time they go to work, and you can suck it up for an hour. Your Margaritaville cosplay is not a priority here.

Dr. Levine hands up a stack of paper

GOV. WOLF: Speaking of Margaritaville cosplay, Dr. Levine has just handed me the most recent nationwide numbers, and the same states you keep hearing of with soaring infection rates are still in very bad shape. Our thoughts are with the citizens of these states, and we do not want to become Florida. We don’t want to become Texas. We don’t want to become Arizona. We have got to act now. We’ve done this before, and it worked, and we can do it again.

Wolf gestures to a raised hand towards the back of the room

PRESS: Governor, why do you continue to change your position on opening and closing the state? Why are you flip-flopping? Are you trying to make it difficult for business owners to make money?

Gov. Wolf places his hand over his microphone and gestures to one of his staff

the microphone continues to pick up some of his speech

GOV. WOLF: *sotto voce* is that fucking Dave, again, asking that dumbshit question? No? oh, it’s Carol, yes, of course, the two horsepeople of the apocalypse of ignorance, fuck me

clears throat

GOV. WOLF: As I said, it is certainly frustrating to have to close businesses so soon after being able to reopen them, especially for many of the counties in the southeast of the state, who were hardest hit by this disease and only recently went “green.” There are other states like us who reopened many businesses and had to close again, as a reaction to the current data. Because that data indicates a change in the current spread of the disease, and like an intelligent adult human who is in charge of anything, I am making my decisions based on the goddamn current FACTS, Carol. You know how in January, it snows sometimes, so the state closes down for safety and deploys snow plows? And then in August, there’s no snow, so the state DOESN’T close down, and there are no snow plows? Am I irresponsibly flip-flopping re: snow plows, Carol? Or am I adjusting course to utilize state resources efficiently and save lives? Jesus Christ. Here, you take the ship’s wheel for the Titanic, you clownheads. *mocking voice* ‘well, there wasn’t an iceberg there earlier, why is the captain flip-flopping on directing the ship?’ *normal voice* no, you’re right, Carol, I just absolutely hate businesses and my goal is to bankrupt my constituents.

staff member walks up to say something in Gov. Wolf’s ear

GOV. WOLF: *sigh* I have just been informed by my staff that I should indicate that my previous sentence was sarcasm, and that I do not hate businesses, and I would like my constituents to have money, because otherwise you will use that quote out of context and I’ll end up a meme.

the governor rubs his temples for approx. 15 seconds

GOV. WOLF: Now, back in the land of actual grown-ups, I want to address a few other specifics. For fitness centers and gyms, if at all possible, please prioritize outdoor fitness activities, and be vigilant about distancing. And as for private events, indoor gatherings of more than 25 are prohibited, along with outdoor gatherings of more than 250. And that 25 number applies to restaurants and other food service as well. I also need to mention, in my continuing lecture on “waitstaff are people,” that the 25-person limit includes staff, I cannot believe I just had to say that sentence, but shockingly people count as people for a 25 people limit! I know! Wild! What will our wacky governor think of next?! Okay, you right there, blue blazer, you’re looking at your phone so I regret this already, what’s your question?

PRESS: Sir, I have a question coming in from a Republican state senator: he asks, why is this new order statewide and not targeted? Why do you hate rural counties?

GOV. WOLF: *curls hands more tightly on sides of podium* This IS targeted, on INDUSTRIES, and geographically most counties are seeing an increase! Why do you think a crowded bar in north-central Pennsylvania would be less likely to be a source of infection than one in Delco? There are selfish dipshits all across the state who are traveling to Florida and holding barbecues for their six hundred closest friends and, I don’t know, holding coughing contests in Dave and Buster’s? Whatever you’re doing? Can you, y’know, stop doing that? Because it’s exactly those actions that are causing this resurgence. And it’s not like there’s some impenetrable wall surrounding each county so that the specific dipshit behavior doesn’t hop along from Schuylkill County to Dauphin County. It does, with your dipshit help. And I’m responsible for all of the counties, so let’s just all behave for a little bit and not die, please. I’m asking nicely. *pinches bridge of nose* I’m so goddamn tired, all the TIME I’m so TIRED

Dr. Levine eases Gov. Wolf away from the podium, gently pushing a large silver flask into his hand

DR LEVINE: The actions the governor and I are taking today are designed to be surgical and thus precise to prevent from repeating the cycle we saw in the spring. We have gained a great deal of experience since the start of this outbreak and have learned from best practices from other states as well as counties right here in Pennsylvania. No, it’s not fair that we have to restrict our activities again, but we have the tools and the structures in place, and if we all work together we can stop this increase in infections. Yes, you, in the green shirt? Go ahead.

PRESS: Dr. Levine, a question from Twitter from a user with the handle @libztearzPA69, they wish to know why they have to wear a mask when they go to the gym if they aren’t sick, since it gets really hot and they breathe hard?

Gov. Wolf enters abruptly from out of frame and aggressively seizes the microphone


audio cuts here

three more seconds of visual show the governor pushing over the podium and taking a swig from the flask

Jokes and Sass, Lawyering

I’m working from home and so is my dog

May 15, 2020

Friends, you are doing great, even if you are not doing great. I’m very proud of you. Many of you are doing things that should be impossible and that you shouldn’t have to do and you’re still here. I am not a parent, nor am I on the front lines of any healthcare operation, and our household still has incomes, and I’m able to do nearly all of my job from home. We’ve got space and good internet and we’re very blessed. That being said, yeah, of course we’re going a bit stir-crazy and are always somewhat-to-significantly on edge because the world is falling apart (well, I am; Andrew remains the coolest of cucumbers). A few weeks back, John Oliver mentioned in an interview that “it’s a suboptimal time to be a human being; it would be a great time to be a dog” and I agree with that statement. And if Bailey could understand it, I think she’d agree with me.

I love Bailey. So much. Just an absolute ton. But we are seeing each other nearly every waking minute of every day, and because she is a dog and doesn’t understand pandemics, she just thinks we are home to hang out with her whenever the mood strikes. This is especially true for me, because my “office” for now is at the kitchen table and she hangs out on the couch near it. She’s a 75-pound dog who isn’t allowed to say hi to other people or dogs right now so I am pretty sure she’s at least a little mad at me all the time. Stuff is weird, and your pets can sense tension and angst, and she’s a lot of dog.

Because I find myself amusing (and because everything hurts real bad rn find the light if you can) I have been referring to her as my coworker. Unfortunately, she has managed to be every bad coworker you’ve ever had at some point in the past two months.

Just to be clear: I love her, and for 95% of the day, she is a soft floppy pooch who is quiet and nice and I routinely schedule breaks in my day to go pet her because it is like holding on to a warm cloud that gives you kisses. At night she will cuddle up next to you on the couch and I get to pet her head and belly and I feel like the best pet parent in the entire world because she wants to be next to me. My dad has jokingly started calling her “Killer Dog” because nothing could be further from the truth. She is a big, scary-looking muscle-y block-headed black dog and yet she is sunshine and would only hurt you by stepping on you to give you face kisses. She eats spaghetti more delicately than I do. I would carry out a mob hit for her, but she would never ask, because she is the GOODEST GIRL. And again, I am exceptionally lucky and blessed to be able to work from home, to have not been ill, and to not have to take care of children. However, where is the fun in being satisfied with your lot in life; how could I possibly be inspired to write unless I am annoyed?

Therefore, The Night Is Dork presents: Bad Coworkers That Are My Dog

That one who sends an email and then comes to your office to tell you about the email

This punk will start whining about nothing (absolutely nothing, like the dog equivalent of someone sending a chain letter joke to the whole firm) while staring out the window, and if I don’t immediately say “Miss Bailey, what’s going on?” she will come over and shove my arm with her nose. I got your email, doggie. It isn’t urgent. Nothing is urgent. Time is a flat circle. Go back to your office, which is the couch.

The reply-all disaster

Oh, did a child outside accidentally scream so loudly that it reached everyone? And that bothered you? And now you are reply-all woofing to the reply-all to ask to be taken off the list? And now other dogs and children are replying-all? STOP IT. EVERYONE STOP.

That one who eats and drinks way too loudly

Breakfast is like, if your coworker had baby carrots and kettle chips for every meal. It’s so much crunching, dog, just, SO much crunching.

Can you, at your waterbowl, be like a thousand percent less? The slurping is out of control, our house is effectively an open office plan, and I can hear every sip. Get a Hydroflask or something, jeez.

The “whatcha workin’ on?”

“Hey there. Hey. Hey. Hi. Whatcha workin’ on? What’s that on your screen? Some emails? Wild, that’s so many emails. Is it a project? Do you need to focus? Do you mind if I sit right next to you as you work on it? Is that okay? Is this bothering you? Am I breathing too loud? Do you need me to go away-” BAILEY I SWEAR ON A THOUSAND TENNIS BALLS IF YOU DON’T GET OFF MY LAP RIGHT NOW

The one doing something very personal at their desk, something that should be done in private

Not even gonna discuss what you decided to lick right now, and stop biting your nails

The one who takes like eight servings of whatever is in the break room and meant to be for everyone

Bailey. You already had breakfast. I already gave you several treats. I already gave you a small amount of turkey while I was making my sandwich. You cannot have the entire goddamn sandwich. That is unreasonable. Stop looking at me like that, like you’re saying “is anyone gonna finish this?” before half the office knows that there’s cake. Even if you walk over there I can tell you took something WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS

The thermostat of our discontent

Are you cold? Is that why you’re curled up like a donut? Are you too warm? Is it because you’ve been lying down with your belly directly in a patch of sunlight for two hours while still being very covered in very dark fur and now you’re panting because you overheated? Are you gonna flop down on the kitchen floor because it’s cooler than the couch? Could you pant any louder? Bring a goddamn cardigan to the office like everyone else the world doesn’t revolve around you

The one you always gotta be like “per my last email”

Yeah, just like ten minutes ago, when I said you aren’t allowed to chew on the blanket, that is still the rule and you still can’t chew on the blanket. I know you’re doing it because you want to feel important, but PER MY LAST EMAIL, PUPPO, CUT THAT SHIT OUT IMMEDIATELY.

The one who leaves their office door open while they take really long personal calls

I know. You have. A tennis ball. Or a bone. Or an itch. I chime in with a “haven’t you doggies ever heard of/ closing the goddamn door”

I’m glad you’re psyched to be chewing a bone but the scraping noises are starting to pinball in my brain and it is no bueno, poocho

The “always wants to go out to lunch, never offers to pay”

Instead of that kibble from home how about you go out and get me a steak and then a larger steak whoops my wallet must be in my other fur my bad I’ll get you next time I promise

The one who takes a walk at lunchtime 

Overachieving punk-ass

Congrats on your “health” or whatever

The one who emails something “urgent” and you reply and they don’t get back to you for 5 hours

Okay, you want to go out. Right now. Okay. I get it, right this second, it is an emergency, you’re very uncomfortable, and I need to get you on a leash and out the door immediately. Got it. I’ll just get your collar and your leash and head to the door and- why are you still standing at the top of the stairs? Why are you just LOOKING at me? You told me this was urgent you little twerp I swear you had better- oh good you ran down the stairs like a dozen bowling balls that’s not disruptive to everyone’s life at all, BAILEY

The one who looks like this

Okay doggie you can have whatever you want oh my word look at your FACE

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Jokes and Sass

Things to Do While Staying Inside: Part 2

March 26, 2020

Here’s part 2 in “if you’re looking for stuff to do while being responsible and safe at home,” and while this one is obviously less new I can certainly recommend it still! Stay well, stay home, *stay home*, if you can stay home and you aren’t doing that I am upset with you.

Yep, you guessed it, I finally watched The Witcher a month or so ago and if you yelled at me to watch it and kept yelling I owe you an apology if I ever snapped at you because it is great, you’re great, and I am sorry to my bone marrow that I didn’t listen immediately. You were right it was marvelous. Andrew watched it almost as soon as it came out, and then rewatched it with me.

The big question gets answered here: nope, I haven’t read the books. (It’s not the big question, you don’t care, I’m just incredibly conceited.) For once in my life, I consumed a piece of media before having read the source material. It went against every smug cell in my body to not buy all of them at once and devour each so that I could act superior to everyone else. This was healthy for me, it really was. Personal growth. I’m better for it.

…she says to herself every night, while anxious, trying to tamp down the voices that say stuff like “can you really analyze something if you haven’t consumed every facet of its being”

I’m fine guys, really

And I loved this show. I loved it so much. I loved the silly names, I loved the White Cliffs of Dover that is Henry Cavill’s hair and being, I even loved “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” that song that everyone has stuck in their head. My dog has even gotten a version of the song because my interests are exclusively goofy fantasy shit and Bailey. (I lied; I also care deeply about the Fast and Furious 9 trailer we received that will now have to sustain me till 2021. #JusticeForHan)

The song in its entirety is below

*toss a treat to your Bailey, yes she is a doggie, she’s just the best doggie*

So remember how for Thrones eps I used to split things into stuff I liked and stuff I didn’t and I was polarizing as hell and emotional? Not really the case, here! There was some stuff I could have done without, and that’s all the stuff that made the show TV-MA. I don’t particularly love that one sword sliceyyy boi move that every show seems to have where you’re facing the person and you do a throat cutting move and there is an arc of blood and the person drops and then the hero person staggers away gasping for breath like that balletic weirdo move was all they had energy for and then looks around and there are no other enemy soldiers close by? You know what I’m talking about, don’t lie. I’d like less of that. Save some money on the blood budget and let people get sliccey’d less dramatically.

And this is me repeating myself, but I’ve never found a show enhanced by the nudity of the actors or a particularly detailed sex scene. Props to this show for not putting any plot points directly behind a butt or anything, and I know I’m a prude, but my brain is always kinda like “oh no way people wanna bang Henry Cavill? no way that’s absolutely shocking to me” and I ruin things for them. The world’s collective thirst for Charles Superman Brandon is not going to be tamed by his having unusual hair and eyes, and to make his appeal any kind of plot point is absurd. The show did not do this a lot, thank you show, but it did do it a little, and just… sigh.

Oh, I can also ruin most romance/sex scenes by thinking too hard about the details! For example, if people sleep in the same bed and then wake up and make out I want to die so hard oh my God you have medieval morning breath and no amount of Being Henry Cavill is sufficient to get past that go brush your teeth. Toss some Crest to your Witcher. I’m a delight at parties you should invite me.

Otherwise? Show’s good, guys. Watch the show. Toss a coin to your Netflix.

Some stuff I particularly liked:

No weird or stilted exposition

You meet these people and they just dive right the heck in to whatever stuff they were doing without pulling some “as you recall, it’s been 78 years since our queen, Aloysiaseus, was killed by the BeastMan, and an unstable regency rose from the ashes, and due to internal squabbling and assassinations the true power lives with the High Priest Marcellinavan who requires a sacrifice of ten thousand egarons or your firstborn child as a tax every ten years and the last tax was nine years and eleven months ago”

“indeed I do recall, how’s your horse feeling”

“she’s feeling much better thank you for asking”

Basically none of that! I love it! You might very well get a bit lost at the beginning and especially when they are throwing around proper nouns but I put on subtitles (again, here’s my requisite subtitles plug for everything always) and that helped a lot: I wasn’t thinking they said something I should know when they are just referring to something the audience hasn’t seen yet. There are unusual place and people names, but it’s never really thrown around as “nyah nyah nyah we know something you don’t know” it’s just “hey we’re going to [place name]” and then they go there. The one exception is referencing “the spheres,” but every fantasy story gets a pass for having some kind of event that was a while ago. It’s worked in fine, though, and you can tell it’s just “oh wow long time ago cool” and you can move on.

Second thing!

Realistic reactions to stuff

Geralt responding to things going badly with “…fuck” is amazing and should be in every fantasy show and movie forever. Yes, the ones for kids, too. They need to learn. I’m kidding. Maybe.

I’m not kidding

There is no character, especially a hero/protagonist, more real to me than one who can admit to themselves and the camera that boy, howdy, are we in the shit. I will never not love a Return of the King “for Frodo” moment and I will cry the whole time and love it and rewatch it unto forever, but for the every day plot moments, let me hear my characters note the garbage situation in which they are standing.

It’s mostly Geralt who does this, but the other characters also have a pretty good read on the pulse of things. And when they are being dramatic? They know it. “for Frodo!” does not require that the characters know they are being watched. In The Witcher, a character called Calanthe walks into a banquet still in her armor from a battle, with blood in her hair and dirt on her face. She knows she’s being extra af and it’s on purpose. It’s not the directors or writers trying to say “look how badass and dramatic she is,” it’s her trying to tell the room “shut up, fives, a ten is walking” and it kinda rules. Her smirk during the scene is A++++.

And in that vein

Actual humor and laughter and joy?

I think I’ve been absolutely bludgeoned into pessimism and doubt due to Game of Thrones but any time someone did a nice thing for another person on this show, I was like NO DON’T YOU WILL PAY FOR THAT LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF YOU’LL DIE AT A WEDDING etc etc and yeah sure some people do not make it but the show lets characters (including Geralt! especially Geralt!) do nice things to help when they very could do no things and not help and those characters get to live. They are not Ned Stark chumps for being honest and kind.

One of the important characters gets taken care of by a stranger near the end of the season, and I kept looking at my spouse and asking “what is she gonna do to her oh God or is the nice lady in trouble no does the nice lady die” and he very kindly and calmly said that they are both fine, because not everyone dies for no reason, you Thrones weirdo. (Not that last part.)

There are jokes, and not Bronn bullshit, like actual funny scenes and lines and plot points and it’s great. There’s mud and death and pain and fire and betrayal and cruelty and blood, but it’s also a place you could conceivably be a good person and not die immediately. And Jaskier is a joy at all times. He sings the song. The song is fun and good and so is he.

This is a tough one to do without spoilers, but it’s also not like a show-ruiner if I say it, but I do want to give it praise, bleh, here, short thing

Really flippin’ cool stuff with timelines

Usually I am not a fan of flashbacks or things that trick the viewer. As always, I do not like it when art thinks it is smarter than me; it is probably true, but I don’t wanna hear it. But how they do it in this show, which is both of those things and neither of those things, is just good and cool and they let you in on the secrets steadily, at the right time, and without a sense of “a HA! we got you! we are so TRICKSY and CLEVER” because when people do that I just wanna scream directly into their eyes because of course you can trick us, you are making the damn show, you inherently know more things, that isn’t impressive at all, you twerps, no I’m not coughing Benioff and Weiss why do you ask

Just trust me, it’s pretty fly for a timeline, hang in there.

Oh and this is a big one:

Women done well

I really should change that subtitle, it makes them sound like steaks. They are not steaks.

They are great, though. You know that stereotype of “complex female character” that a lot of writers seem to think means “ice-cold killer with a revenge motivation?” It actually happens here. There are so many women in this show, everywhere, who are a mix of good and evil, just like real people are. They are motivated by real things, they are responding to cruelty and hurt in the way that people do, and every one of them who is on-screen for more than like a minute feels fully thought out.

And yeah, the bar is on the floor, in a basement, but there are no rape scenes, so it’s got that going for it. Hooray? Anyway, specific ladies.

Ciri, the blonde in all the promo stuff, is a mystery to us still, but she’s so interesting and smart and not smart and young but also acts old and she keeps it together during bad stuff but also doesn’t?? It’s great? I love her? I’m psyched for season 2 because we will get to see more of her doin’ stuff. She’s in some of those scenes with Calanthe, who I mentioned above, and just… dammit, I don’t wanna do spoilers. See me after class; class is Season 1.

There’s also the requisite “evil” witch, who is only kind of evil, and gets a back story, but also gets to be interesting in a non-*manic cackling* way. She also orchestrates the coolest magic battle I’ve ever seen on TV in the last episode, it just rules. We also have our teacher character to young women who is evil but not evil and cares but not always in the right way and she’s a mother to her students but also a bully and she’s proud of them and scared of them and just AHHHH. It’s a lot, I am a mess.

And then we have Yennefer, who is apparently somewhat polarizing among people who have watched the show, and I don’t get that at all, she is my queen and she can have my sword and my bow and my axe and my undying love. The show lets her be so interesting I could write a ten-thousand word post on the first three episodes. Yen goes through Some Shit, and then she also causes Some Shit, and her causes are sometimes for the good of others and sometimes for her own good and sometimes not even for her own good it’s just because she wants the option, and she’s selfish and giving and ashamed and confident and powerful and weak and admired and hated and just *makes fist* this is IT, kids. She’s great, I love her, she’s a messy mess who could also rule the world, watch the show so I can yell about it with you.

ANYWAY, TEAM, that’s all I got. Go watch it if you haven’t. This rec is obviously a little bit less of an insider’s tip for stuff to do while self-isolating, but I had most of a post drafted about this show and needed a reason to post it, so here we are. Be good to each other.


Things to Do While Staying Inside: Part 1

March 20, 2020

Hello friends from weirdly warm PA, where all non-life-sustaining businesses are closed and the announcement made it extra clear that this includes professional services like accounting and legal, and tbh I’m pretty sure they said that because we’d get all “but SURELY they cannot mean MEEEE” and then Governor Wolf is like “did I stutter” and it’s a whole thing. So yeah. Home and working from here and socially isolating because I’m a good citizen and also starting tomorrow morning it’s against the law.

Mostly, for this post, I just wanted to write about a show that I’ve been enjoying, but considering that many of you/us are working remotely, or asked not to come in, or simply just quarantined based on symptoms or exposure, here’s a show you can spend some of your time on. Post title reflects this. Stay healthy and safe if you can and watch this in your down time if you can’t or won’t leave the house. Holding you all in my hearts, and if you’d like prayer on something specific please do reach out. Any way, here we go.

I am not what you’d call a “car person.” The extent of much of my automotive knowledge is “that certainly is a car, wow, look at it go” and I can barely drive stick (like I *probably* won’t stall it instantly and I can get you from one end of a parking lot to the other). Loud noises stress me out. Danger stresses me out. The only thing I know about engines is that the War Boys in Fury Road did that V8 thing with their hands and also that V8 is a rarely-delicious beverage. Cars, to me, are get-my-body-to there-machines with some very needed padding. I know just enough about cars to not get totally screwed over by an unscrupulous mechanic (if you try to tell me that my 12-year-old Camry needs a new flux capacitor I will bid you an uncomfortable goodbye and leave the premises) but not more. And, sure, I’ve watched a decent amount of Top Gear and The Grand Tour but boy howdy do I zone out on the tech stuff big time. My expert analysis when they test out a new supercar is “wow fast” and scene. I still hear the awful Sascha Baron Cohen French accent from Talladega Nights say “Formula uuuhn” when I read it. Now you are doing the same thing, and I’m not sorry.

Anyway, all of this is the lead-in to “please go watch Formula 1: Drive to Survive right flippin’ now” because it is great and it is so great that I am now a person who cares about Formula 1. The first season of this show was released in March of 2019 and I watched it all almost straight through having had no idea about anything. Definitely go watch the first season, and then come along with me and watch the second season which I’m halfway through. And if you’re wondering, yes, it covers the previous year’s race season, so the first season covers 2018, and the current one covers 2019, and the 2020 season is, well, on hiatus. Races are postponed, and they are trying to set up a virtual race series, and I am getting way ahead of myself sorry ANYWAY

“Wait, what even is Formula 1,” I hear you saying. “I really want this lady with basically negative amounts of car knowledge to educate me on its finer points,” you say. I hear you; let’s go.

Formula 1 is the highest level of open-wheel (tires do the sticky-outie thing to the sides vs under the car like your Hot Wheels probably were, like the car is a lizard rather than a moose, I am incredible at automobile mechanics) racing in the world, and there is a bonkers amount of money in it. Throughout a season, there are 21 Grands Prix, and the goal for everyone is to win points at each of these races. There are ten teams, each with two drivers/two cars each, so there are 20 total drivers at any given time, no more. The championships for which they are competing are both the driving championship, and the manufacturers’ championship. So, for example, last year (and a whole bunch of years before) Mercedes won the prize for being the best car maker, and Lewis Hamilton, on the Mercedes team, won the prize for the best car driver.

The way they do that is by earning points, and you earn points for finishing the race fastest, and I can feel you rolling your eyes at me, it’s fine, I know, just give me a goshdarn second to explain details, okay? Each race has trials the day before, which is where you (either by yourself or with not as many cars) get to go around the track and try to set the fastest time, which earns you (stop giggling) pole position. That gets you the best spot on the track for the real race. You can also lose spots by doing dumb shit, like hitting other cars or cutting corners or not parking your yacht correctly (that one is only at Monaco and I think I’m joking but I cannot confirm). When that happens, even if you were fastest, you get knocked down some spots. It’s not impossible to win from a very far back spot, but it sort of ends up a self-fulfilling prophecy: you did worse at trials because you are worse so you start worse and you stay worse.

And the points available aren’t like 20 for first place, 19 for second, 18 for third, all the way down, etc. Nope. You gotta be in the top ten to earn any points, so if you zoom around forever and cross the line 11th, that is unfortunate and you stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks and you get nothing, you lose, good DAY, sir. And it’s not even a straight shot for those top ten places: you get 25 for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, then 12, 8, 10, 6, 4, 2, and 1. You can see how those podium finishes can just catapult you comfortably to the top and you can stay there. Sometimes the drivers’ championship is wrapped up with like 3 or 4 races still left in the season because no one can catch the guy in first. OH, and if you’re in the top ten and get the fastest lap, you get an extra point. It’s like a little extra bonus award but if you aren’t in the top ten you can’t get it because they don’t give points to losers. I’m kidding. I think. But seriously I think it is so that you don’t go careening off the track in an attempt to get the fastest lap? You are not here for my editorializing, it’s like the zoomiest guy can have a little a point, as a treat, no I cannot stop being Extremely Online sorry not sorry moving on

You get those points for you and for your team, so while each team’s best interest is to have two good drivers, the drivers themselves are frequently trying to edge out the other guy on their team since there’s a championship just for them. Like, sure, it’s good for Mercedes to have a one-two finish regardless of which driver gets which place, but it’s good for Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes to be in that first spot.

So yeah, the sport is fast cars and lots of money and very good-looking men (I genuinely don’t know if there’s like an in-writing requirement but a number of the drivers have model-level good looks and can you please leave some beauty for the rest of us, no really, go look up Carlos Sainz, he drives for McLaren and his eyelashes deserve a sonnet where was I) but why should you watch this show, specifically? Here, you can get some additional reasons that I like it, which are the correct reasons.

Cool thing number 1 about this show

The races are really, really cool to watch in the way that Netflix filmed and edited them. Really. And again, even if you are not a car person and the idea of watching a motor go around a track a bunch of times sounds awful, they only put the best and most exciting parts on-screen. Their film crew is amazing and the shots are all amazing and they ZOOM SO FAST, GUYS. SO FAST. It’s easy to like any sport when you only see the exciting stuff, and that’s what happens here.

You also have a lot of shots from the driver’s point of view, and while the film isn’t as high-quality, it’s still very much like you’re a screaming terrified passenger along with the driver for the race. That’s me, I’m the terrified passenger.

There are also aerial shots of these tracks and some are like, rolling hills and sunshine and some are twisty-turny streets and it’s like that joy you felt when picking a map in MarioKart in N64 that was a thing right sorry I only ever played at friends’ houses Monaco :: Rainbow Road I think

Cool thing number 2 about this show

It is multilingual as heck and yes a large number are European languages but there are also a bunch more (a few teams use Honda engines, for example, so there’s some Japanese) and it’s delightful to listen to and yet another plug for my using subtitles. It also just Smackdowns you to the floor re: your level of accomplishment and while that might not be your thing, it is mine!

It is a nice reality check for me/most Americans that we are absolutely atrocious with language. Leaving aside the gross nationalistic “speak English” stuff that your least favorite cousin does, we are so flippin’ lazy it is borderline humiliating, and basically every minute of this show is a strong reminder of this fact.

All these dudes speak at least two and sometimes three or four languages. The drivers from France and Denmark and Spain and Monaco and Germany and Finland and Brazil and Italy all do their interviews in English, and very good English, at that. The Brits and the Australians are kind of like us, so we aren’t alone in our monolinguality, but it is just comical to see these extremely talented people who are already so impressive at driving and managing the press also switch flawlessly between entire languages. I took like 8 years of French and my skills include “that fuckin’ r sound” and “saying French words really pretentiously in the middle of English speaking, i.e., Grands Prix.” Charles Leclerc, for example, is an infant who is allowed to drive a car worth a million dollars and can speak to Netflix about his emotions surrounding being partnered with a four-time world champion on the Ferrari team when at the Italian Grand Prix in English despite it being his third language after French and Italian.

It’s fine, go drive your little Hot Wheels or whatever, I’ll be over here resentfully pronouncing Lacroix as “lah-CWAH” and forgetting I’ve left the parking brake on

Cool thing number 3 about this show

The speed at which these drivers and teams do anything is also just staggering. Their average pit time is two seconds. TWO. SECONDS. I can’t even remember the last time I had a thought that only lasted two seconds, and these people take off one set of tires and put on another one in two goshdarn seconds. There’s a segment of the Mercedes episode where one of the cars is pitted for almost a minute, and the announcers are treating it like they’re announcing the Hindenberg crash. It sounds ridiculous until I remember that a minute is thirty times longer than the average, and that these races have gotten down to thousandths of a second, and a minute is basically the Hundred Years’ War being fought mid-race. Everything is fast, all of it, even these drivers with their little go-karts they drove as kids. When I was 12 I was an incompetent little doofus trying my best to not fall over when I got up from the dinner table. These kids get the keys to the rocket launcher.

Cool/mildly depressing thing? number 4 about this show

Not joking, they are all infants. Infants! One of the drivers that is winning all the time is 22 and he won the very first race he entered and he was EIGHTEEN. ONE. EIGHT. At 18 I tried to find a whole-ass cookout during college orientation and failed. This kid maneuvered a ground spaceship past 19 other ground spaceships in his first spacerace.

That kid I mentioned above, Leclerc? They have a scene with him and Sebastian Vettel, his Ferrari teammate, driving up to one of the races in the same car. Vettel, who is 32, my age, turns on music, and “Come Out and Play” by The Offspring comes on, and Leclerc has no idea who they are, and then I remembered he said his birth year earlier in the episode, and it’s 1997, and then I looked up the release date of the song, and “COME OUT AND PLAY” IS THREE YEARS OLDER THAN HE IS. I appreciated Vettel very much in that moment for lightly ribbing his teammate for not knowing anything because instead of a dried-up, irrelevant skeleton shouting “you gotta keep ’em separated!” I was a cool, relevant beacon of maturity like 4-times Formula One Champion Sebastian Vettel. And then I remembered that they were about to race against Max Verstappen, who made his Formula One debut at age 17, and then my decrepitude pulled me horizontal once again.

Yeah, watch the show

It’s interesting, it’s fun, it has soap opera levels of drama, it has guys you love to hate and guys you love to love, it has interviews, it has zoomies of the highest caliber, and you’ll be able to use it to make European friends, or something. I don’t know.

Stay safe, stay home, I’ll post another couple of things like this while we’re all trying our best.