Monthly Archives: January 2016

Discussion in Your Women’s Studies Class

The premise: gather together a bunch of educated, politically active millennial women to have a lively discourse on the issues of today, and the competing opinions will be fascinating! As a professor, you salivate over the possibility of contentious exchanges over sensitive issues. Your spine tingles with the thought of the abortion debate…

But if after several hours you find your hunger for debate and discourse still not sated, it is quite possible your women’s studies discussion is going nowhere.

Here is a handy list to help you ascertain if the discussion has slipped into an irreversible and possibly dangerous state of mind-numbing dullness.

1. Students are running out of phrases to express their agreement with one another.

You have blasted through the straightforward “I agree with Samantha” and “Like what Hannah was saying…” to the more creative “To piggyback off of what Miriam said…” and “In the same vein as Sara…” and students are now clearly scraping the bottom of the agreement barrel, beginning their thoughts with such phrases as, “To augment the most recent statement by adding all of the key phrases I learned as a women’s studies major…” and the overtly truthful  “I know Lauren just made exactly this point using different words but…”

2. You have run out of topics and students are forced to draw meaning out of the minutest of pop culture details.

If you’re having a discussion on the meaning of the quarter-inch difference in Beyoncé and Adele’s high heels, it may be time to end the lecture.

3. You are running out of affirmative encouraging responses to your students’ sundry observations.

When “What an educated, insightful response, Taylor!” becomes “The plants appreciate your CO2 output, Taylor!” it might be time to assign some silent reading.

4. Students have finally tired of attacking the patriarchy.

If the mention of Donald Trump, Texas, Catholicism, or abortion wait times ceases to elicit a visceral, teeth-gnashing response, it is likely the repetitive banality of the discussion has finally lobotomized your students.

5. Students begin to lose their carefully cultivated sense of political correctness.

An early warning sign of this is a reduction in affirmative nodding when issues of race, class, and sexuality are brought up. Additionally, it is dangerous if students start using shorthand when referring to different racial and ethnic groups. When “African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islander, and Asian American” begins to be replaced by “Blacks, Mexicans, Indians, Other Indians, and The Chinese,” you may be well-advised to steer the discussion back to the patriarchy.

A more subtle indicator that the façade of acceptance has begun to expire: when you’re forced to field questions such as “But isn’t racism against white people also a thing?” and “But isn’t it their choice to be gay?” and “But conception is when life begins isn’t it?” At that point, class needs to end before you discover that not all of your students are actually liberal democrats.

6. Front-row-girl is becoming less obnoxious.

The garrulous women’s studies major in the front row has stopped prefacing all her comments with “This is just based on my experience, and I know these issues affect everyone differently but in my (insert 4000 level Women’s Studies class title) I learned…” Although you may be relieved to be free of her extra 20 seconds of yammering, it’s a good sign that the rest of the class checked out hours ago.

Made-Up Indie Bands You’ll Never Hear This Year

They’re new, they’re obscure, they don’t even exist. But that doesn’t stop me from sharing them with you.

1. Porcine Fingerhut Damage

If you’re looking at the name and thinking, “Guided By Voices meets Neutral Milk Hotel,” then BINGO! No, actually PFD are closer to an unholy (and very entertaining) 3-way marriage of Das Racist, Fleet Foxes, and Neil Diamond—with a pinch of Neu and maybe Boris thrown in.

Plus, the upcoming self-titled album’s reported cover art (which can only be described as “fluid” by words alone) is kind of a mindblower. Definitely worth the reported $42.50 cost of admission. Add the limited-run babyshit brown/green vinyl, and BAM! Instant aesthetic masterpiece. You may not like it, but you’re supposed to (new album and title TBA).

2. Sheldon Roth and the Papal Cuts

When you “take on pretension as theater and concept,” as Sheldon Roth is wont to do in his live shows, you had better damn well do it right. And that he does. The ubiquitous grand piano is oft lounged upon but never played; the spotlight dwells upon an empty stool. Roth’s shadowy backing band, the Papal Cuts, never fully reveal themselves but for gauzy silhouettes posing behind a backlit muslin curtain… hell, they might just be mannequins for all we know.

But Roth’s wildcard always was and remains his distinct vocal warble, which falls somewhere between Tiny Tim, John Cale, and Paganini. If his latest disc, “The World for You is Now My Soul Inside the Mouth of a Thousand Elephant Suns Awash in Static Silent Orgasm, or How My Heart Has Won the War of Lost Pawns Upon the Bloody Meadows of Singing Silver Magi” (still streaming at is any indication, Roth will be a rising indie star to watch. In fact, this quirky-yet-accessible artist is a shoo-in to get snatched up by a major and turned into the next Antony.

Ignore him at your peril, people.

3. dRtyPhalngeZ

What can you say about a newly anointed dubstep dynamo who insists upon total anonymity, has never released a note of music to the public, and refuses interviews? I say, this is maybe the most anticipated artist of the year.

His/her/its TBA debut, rumored on an unofficial Facebook page to be tentatively titled “…” (or, as some in the know have already mythologized, “The Ellipses Album”), promises to be a breakout hit among dubstep, trance, krunk, and ambient fans alike. Reliable messageboarders have also posited that a limited-edition version of the album will be issued on a glowstick-mounted USB thumb drive. Once we find out where this will be made available (or if), we’ll let you know.


4. Pitttsburgh

Their bio points out that this 22-piece (!) combo hails not from Pennsylvania but rather from Regina, Saskatchewan. Point taken. Indie cred granted for nothing else if not the fact that Pitttsburgh features a drummer, a single synth player/singer, and 20 backup singers who all sing the same part in unison. And, believe it or not, it’s even more electrifying in person than on Pitttsburgh’s debut album, Possibolices (March 15).

5. The Loam Sunshine

Beard Rock, depending upon your hipster level, is making a real comeback. You may remember Jakib Justin Williams, the facial hair behind The Loam Sunshine, from his rowdier days in emo-shysters The Piss Klub. Well, gone are the purple body paint and the crying jags. Also behind Williams are the fanny-pack-littered stages (well, he did ask for it) and loud guitars.

Once Williams grew out his fire-red facial finery and began writing pastoral instant classics like “A Home Is a Place for My Cuddle Bear” and “Ode to Merlin Olsen,” the game changed. Now, Williams finds himself the soft, yielding, pillow-like spearhead of a new indie-folk-platonic-hug movement that can’t be denied by even the hardest nosed Pitchfork 4.4-star-doler-outer. All signs point to his upcoming “Willow O’er Valley Mine, Aye” double album (one side with gentle acoustic accompaniment, the other a’capella) taking Williams to an even higher (albeit cushy, calm, and soft) peak (April 1).

America’s New Favorite Dick Is Richard

By day he dons his mask and hides out under the un-assuming name “Penisman.” He drives around incognito in a van called the PeePeeMobile (at least until his lawsuit with Oscar-Myer is settled and he can go back to calling it the Weinermobile) and stops at local high and junior high schools to warn innocent children of the dangers of pre-marital sex.

Dick Peter Johnson roams the streets of skid row, the halls of the prisons, and the cul-de-sacs of suburbia in search of the scum of the earth.What nobody knows, however, is that this mild-manner pseudo-superhero is actually the mysterious and powerful Dick Peter Johnson, dark vigilante.

Loved by the public, hated by the police, and always stalked by television reporter Holly Hyman, Dick Peter Johnson roams the streets of skid row, the halls of the prisons, and the cul-de-sacs of suburbia in search of the scum of the earth. The rapists, child molesters, the animal bonkers.

By night Dick Peter Johnson travels in his 1989 Yugo dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. Nobody has ever seen him this way. Nobody would believe a superhero would fight crime with his own birth image and conceal himself in a costume. It’s always supposed to be the other way around. But it can’t be, because being “Penisman” is the only crummy job our hero could get in this economy.

He began as a sign spinner for an abortion clinic and worked his way up to costumed spokesperson for Planned Parenthood. It was then that he decided to take the law into his own hands. It was then that he decided to wear the costume all day long. Since he had no friends anyway, there was no worry about people finding out what he really looked like, and that made for the perfect disguise. Glasses-wearing, mustache-sporting, Aqua Velva-splashing Dick Peter Johnson.

His methods may be a little on the crude side, but that’s because they work; and they work because no one expects them. The Giant Dildo—best blackjack in the world. Whips and chains courtesy of Golda’s Sex Shoppe, Dick’s trusted supplier of weapons. Bondage tape, handcuffs and hangman’s nooses. Ohhhh Golda, where would America’s Superhero be without you? And with the stupid Penisman costume he can walk right in and go on a total shopping spree without anyone asking questions. For who, dressed as a giant dick, wouldn’t go on a shopping spree at Golda’s.

It’s perfect, Dick thinks. Everyone knows me as the giant dick but no one knows that in fact I am the Dick. I am the Dick alright. Dick Peter Johnson. Un-costumed Superhero. (Oh, you got it? Sorry. Didn’t mean to hit you over the head.)

In one episode he sneaks into a prison and stops a shower rape by handing the rapist a radio. ZAP!

In another he saves a bride from being “consummated” by her new husband by tearing open the motel’s water bed and drowning the so-called groom.

And in a very controversial issue that’s sure to win me one of those animated storytellers awards, whatever they’re called, he stops a minister from raping his own daughter by shoving pages from the bible down his throat and choking him to death.

That’s right, Dick Peter Johnson doesn’t turn these scumbags over to the police. He is a Dark Evening (I don’t want to get sued for using the word “Knight”). He kills these vermin. He is a tortured soul. He is, after all, a Dick.

Every superhero, regardless of the comic book line he comes from, must have a nemesis. Superman had Lex Luther, Spiderman had Doc Ock, and Batman had two—Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Dick Peter Johnson has the always evil, never holy, sometimes pious, Father Lester the Molester (he leaves that last part out on his business cards) of the St. Mary of the Blessed Candles/129th St. Catholic Church.

Of course, there’s a dark beginning to this story, but I haven’t thought it up yet. (Maybe Dick was molested by Father Lester when he was an alter boy many years ago, but I don’t see how that would work since I decided to make him an ex-Amish.) (Perhaps there was a time when, driving around in the PeePeeMobile, he stopped at the church for directions and the priest misunderstood his intentions because he had the goddamed Penis suit on. That would make the rivalry rooted in a simple misunderstanding which would add to the darkness of the theme, I dunno.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, so anyway now I have the evil nemesis who for one reason or another can never be caught by Dick Peter Johnson. And that drives our darkened hero down the road of madness. He won’t quit until he finds and nails to the cross—and I mean literally nails to the cross—the evil Father Lester.

But until that faithful day when the two do battle for the final time, Dick Peter Johnson will be among us, fighting crimes on behalf of the innocent. And when his Yugo breaks down you can be sure he’ll put a tarp over the PeePeeMobile and drive it real slow with the headlights turned off so no one will know that the unassuming Penisman is in fact a Real Superhero. The one the police want to grab. The one Holly Hyman wants to bonk. The one Father Lester wants out of his “special place” once and for all. The one, the only, dark lord of the dark places of the human soul: The Dick.

Michael Phelps Can’t

The U.S. is in the midst of gathering Olympic medals like a mosquito collects blood. Michael Phelps, the half German/half shark “Baltimore Bullet,” has continued to dominate the pool as always, bringing his total medal count to a record 1,673 gold, 1,219 silver, and 2½ bronze. Though his superior respiratory system includes a combination of larger than normal lungs and gills located behind his earlobes, making him the perfect specimen in and out of a Speedo, there are, however, still some things I can do that Michael Phelps can’t. Here are six of them.

1. I can dance the “swim.”

Phelps may be able to cut through the water like a barracuda on crack, but can he stand in the middle of a dance floor, plug his nose, and wiggle himself down until he’s resting on his heels? I dare say his lanky arms would make him look downright foolish. I, on the other hand, am built like a sea star, allowing me to dance the 1960’s craze with grace and agility. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that I could best Phelps at a “mashed potato” contest either—dancing or eating.

2. I can look my kids in the face, comfortable knowing I did not name any of them “Boomer.”

As the son of an Olympian and a former Miss California, Boomer Phelps possesses the genes of a Greek god and whatever mere mortal Poseidon chose to mate with. I’m sure whatever profession that boy wanted to pursue, he could succeed at. However, a name like Boomer puts constraints on a boy’s potential careers. Might I suggest pro-wrestler or 1980’s hair band drummer?

3. I can smoke weed and not end up on the cover of a tabloid.

I also am not contractually obligated to get the munchies at Subway afterward.

4. I can run my fingers through my luxurious arm hair.

As a recreational swimmer, I am not forced to shave my arms before I enter the pool. While Michael must remove all that drag-inducing forearm fuzz, I am free to let mine grow wild. Note: Many of our other areas go through similar hair-removal, however.

5. From this day on, I can wear a hoodie without people saying, “Remember when you wore that in the Olympics and people made fun of your game face?”

Which is a good thing, because I wear hoodies all the time, frequently giving my opponents the stink-eye at the same time. Of course, most of my adversaries are the people who take my favorite table at the local coffee shop, but because I never have an array of cameras on me, I will not become a meme while doing so.

6. I can float on a noodle without getting a single look from anyone else in the pool.

Imagine, if you will, Phelps walking down the steps of his hotel’s pool, grabbing one of their noodle floats, sticking it in his armpits, and leisurely floating off into the deep end. Every phone in site would immediately be aimed at that beautiful Olympic body lounging on a child’s flotation device. Me, however, I can paddle around all day with a noodle (maybe even three) under me without a second glance. It’s that believable.