I bought a tin of Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment in December of 2009. How do I remember that? Well, 2009 was the year that I got my last formal jobby-job. My last salaried 9-5 M-F regular-person job. It was terrible but not without its perks: free coffee, internet access, and of course, health insurance. Health insurance as a perk of selling your soul to a horrible job?! Yes, kids, there was a time before Obamacare where you had to have a formal jobby-job to be able to get medical care. But I digress.
The end of 2009 came and I had left over FSA dollars. Such a stupid use-it-or-lose-it system that makes you spend $200 on “approved” drug store supplies in December. Tampons? No. Condoms? Yes. Sleep aids? No. Viagra? Yes. You get the idea. But anyway, when looking for ways to spend $200 on things I might actually use, I saw that Burt’s Bees Res-Q Ointment was for some reason approved. I bought a tin with pre-tax dollars.
It got good reviews and people said it was amazing and that the tin lasted a really long time. It didn’t really work to heal my skin of all its ails, but I decided since it smelled lavendery, I would keep it by my bedside and use it as a nightly lip balm. By now, I have a Pavlovian response and it just smells like bedtime.
2009 was seven years ago. My tin lasted through three boyfriends and a (very-secret) number of I-still-got-it flings. It’s been to Japan and Korea. It’s lived in two apartments. It came with me on my first real comedy tour. It’s seen one horrific and one not-as-bad-but-still-a-huge-bummer break up. It’s seen me too drunk to use it. It’s seen me use it twice when I get up and eat something after not being able to sleep. It saw Osama bin Laden die. It saw marriage equality become the law of the land. It lasted through eight versions of iPhones. It saw the death of its creator, Burt Shavitz.
And now, after seven years of daily use, it’s done. Empty. When I finally admitted it was empty, I thought about my options. Should I try another product? Do I want to look at that weird woodcut of Burt in a hat every night before bed for another seven years? Will a new tin be the same? The answers were these: No, yes, no.
I am a creature of habit. I bought another tin. It looks the same from the outside and it smells the same but the ingredients are different and it doesn’t feel the same on my lips. Notably, the ingredients list is longer and beeswax is no longer the first ingredient. I have to apply a little more before it feels like it’s there at all.
Where will I be with this tin runs out? What might the next seven years have in store for me? Will this tin come with me to the Emmy’s? Will I be buried with it? Will it be used to heal the paper cuts I get from rolling around in my money? Hopefully: Yes, no, yes.
Anyone who’s spent any kind of time with me knows I am a huge fan of the original. I saw it in theaters in 1984 and it sparked a love of comedy that has embedded itself in my DNA. It was the funniest movie I had ever seen and I was deeply in love with all the characters. I know every single line (just ask the poor souls who sat next to me when I watched it at Bryant Park last summer). As I got older, I would study the movie as an example of impeccable comedic writing, chemistry and timing. To me, the original Ghostbusters is the perfect movie.
So when I heard another Ghostbusters movie was officially in the works, I was devastated. Why mess with perfection? Why tarnish the legacy of the best movie ever made? Ghostbusters II already sucked so hard I had to delete it from my memory. Hadn’t they learned from their mistakes? And then I learned that it was to star four ladies. Holy shit. This will be a disaster and the morons who claim women aren’t funny will view it as validation.
Determined to keep an open mind, I avoided the hype for months. I would see headlines and hear chatter and actively ignore it. People would ask me what I thought about the fact that it stars female comedians. “I’m holding my opinion until I see it.” (Alas, the internet was not so restrained.) So to say the stakes were high for me would be an understatement. They weren’t just redoing my favorite movie, they had to make it good under the weight of insane misogyny in an industry I hold dear. How on earth were they going to pull this off?
Earlier today, a few of us lady comedians gathered together, crossed our fingers, took a deep breath and bought tickets. The reviews seemed to be good based on glimpses of headlines that were impossible to ignore. I had hope.
It was impossible not to compare it to the original so I stopped resisting. And indeed, it hits a bunch of the same marks. It gives a lot of nods to fans of the original. But it’s so not like other movies. Normal action movies have female characters who are either sexy idiots or evil bitches – occasionally they will throw in a sexy young scientist as if to say: see ladies, here’s your smart female character, a scientist lady who has perfect hair and wears a tight dress three inch heels to the smart person lab where she works. Ooh, I’m placated. Finally, a character I can relate to. I wonder if she’ll take off her glasses and be naked soon. Yawn. Then there has to be a love interest to motivate the main dude character. This movie flips that script with such incredible grace. All the male characters are either morons or evil geniuses. How does that feel, gentlemen?
As a little girl, I didn’t have a lot of female characters I could try to emulate. You know who I looked up to when I was little kid? Marion from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Her super power was drinking dudes under the table. And she owned a dank bar. I hadn’t seen that in a movie. Definitely not ideal but she seemed so much more badass and capable than say, Willie from Temple of Doom, which was the female character I was more used to seeing. Ghostbusters is a movie that gives little girls someone to emulate. These chicks are smart and strong and funny and they’re not catty, mean or existing for the pleasure of men. These are the women we want our daughters to be. I want little girl Ghostbuster costumes to be the number one seller at Halloween. We need this.
They never mention having boyfriends or husbands or romance at all. What? They are just smart and capable on their own? Yes. They even hire a hot guy because he’s hot. What’s that, boys? You don’t like being objectified and ogled? You must not have a sense of humor. Relax, it’s just a joke.
There are a few meta lines in the movie about reading hateful internet comments but the fact that they are all women is never mentioned by the main characters. They never say “Hey! We saved the city and our periods all synced up. LOL.” There’re no stupid lines about being women because you don’t need stupid lines about being women. There are no jokes about spanx or how hard it is to hold a purse and a proton pack. There’s no mention of lipstick or periods or pregnancy. The only lines that are clichéd stupid women jokes are from male characters who, as mentioned, are either evil or stupid. The actresses in this movie follow a fantastic formula: Work hard. Be funny.
Other notes about the movie: It’s action-packed and yes, the plot is kind of ridiculous, but name me an action movie that doesn’t have a few plotholes. I was more distracted by it taking place in NYC and being so obviously not shot in NYC. They could have probably edited out 10 minutes of the action sequences and it would have been fine.
The filmmakers made some incredibly smart choices for this movie – the best of which was the casting. It was an inspiration to see women in comedy doing the kind of comedy I want to be doing. We’re funny and we’re going to keep being funny. Yes, as funny as the boys. And it will be okay, I promise. We need to live in a world where we can all be funny together. Fellow female comedians: this one is for us. Men, if you see this movie as a threat, you have no idea what you’re actually afraid of.
We left the theater so pumped. It’s just pure fun. I am so relieved and happy. It’s a different movie from the first and my heart is big enough to love both. One launched a lifelong love comedy and the other made me proud to be a woman in comedy. And Ghostbusters II never happened.
The writers’ retreat is going well. In a remarkably short time, the seven of us have fallen into an easy routine — coffee gets made, dishes get done, garbage gets taken out. Dinner on the second night, last night, was amazing and made use of a grill that we collectively had to learn how to use. These are smart creative types, not afraid of challenges or learning new things. Everyone is very cool. Very cool but for the critters of the natural world.
We are in a big house in the woods so there will be spiders. I have a super power which enables me to handle spiders. My insect phobia is a different other-bug, one whose name I shall not speak, lest I think them into existence. And since my other-bug phobia is so strong, I have over-compensated by forcing myself to be less afraid of regular bugs. The logic being that if I’m nice to spiders, karmically, they will keep the other-bug away from me. I hope the universe sees it that way. Anyway, on this trip, I’m on spider detail which fires up my protect-my-clan DNA and makes me feel useful.
Last night, after dinner, we were sitting around having wine, and I was being the drunken attention whore that I assume is very charming. People eventually started to peel off and go to bed. Suddenly, there was a hubbub from downstairs. Word of a mouse traveled upstairs. I went down to investigate and see if I could make myself useful and protect my clan.
The mouse was brown and no bigger than a clementine. He was so cute. But he wasn’t acting very mouse-like, as he was sitting in the middle of the floor while several humans stood around screaming at and about him.
“I got it. I was a psych major,” I said. I will explain this statement now: One of my favorite classes in college was experimental psychology. For the class final, we created a Skinner box, or taught a mouse to press a lever to get food. It was mad sciency. And the moment the mouse “learned” to press the lever thus proving the theory, we cheered and high-fived each other. I think it was 3am. It’s a really dorky reason to high-five someone but it was exciting, I tells ya. Over that semester, I learned to handle our smarty-pants science mice with great ease.
As my professor put it at the time: “They come with built in handles.” It might seem cruel, but the safest way to pick up a mouse is by the base of the tail. They are so fragile that if you pick it up any other way, you can break his little ribs and ruin the experiment.
And so it was that I ran downstairs to handle the mouse while reminding everyone that I went to college. There was mouse poison around the house that we can only assumed fucked up his little mouse brain into thinking that sitting in the middle of a well-lit room with screaming humans was a good idea. Poor little guy.
I yelled for the back door to be open. Someone obliged. Make sure the screen is open too. That would be hilarious but tragic for this thing to bounce back into the room, so make sure the screen door is open too. Yes, the screen is open. I picked up the mouse by the base of his tail and unceremoniously flung him outside. Everyone was very impressed and I tried to act nonchalant. I chuck stunned mice out back doors all the time, you guys. No biggie.
And then the guilt hit me. He was already unable to defend himself in a house. Outside, in the wild, a friendly owl would see an easy meal and swoop down to eat him — circle of life and whatnot. But the mouse is poisonous so the owl would get sick and die too. Then a passing family of raccoons would eat the owl and get sick and die. Then a nice bobcat couple out on a second date would see some dead raccoons and eat until they got sick and died. And a wolf out on a late night nature walk would see a delicious bobcat meal and get sick and die.
There would be a straight food-chain line to the top when the human hobo rejoices because wolf meat is a delicacy of hobo cuisine. But then he gets sick and dies. And the vultures and bugs that eat the hobo meat all die. And the spiders who eat the bugs would die. And on and on until the entire ecosystem is jacked all because I wanted to show off. Sorry global ecosystem. My ego needs to eat.
One of the many reasons I love doing stand-up comedy is that I get a chance to learn the secret lingo. And since comedians are a distinctly depraved subset of the population, the double entendres abound.
Below, I have written the comedian lingo, the actual meaning and the double meaning/innuendo implied. Enjoy!
Comedy phrase: Nice set.
Actual meaning: Good work on the time you did on stage.
Innuendo: You have nice boobs.
Comedy phrase: Nice bits.
Actual meaning: That particular bit of material on stage was humorous.
Innuendo: You have nice genitals (unspecified).
Comedy phrase: Do you have a spot I can fill?
Actual meaning: I am looking for time on stage.
Innuendo: I would like to fill your vagina with my penis.
Comedy phrase: You perform well.
Actual meaning: You have a good stage presence and the audience liked you.
Innuendo: You are good at oral sex.
Comedy phrase: Open Mic.
Actual meaning: A casual performance space where comics work on new material.
Innuendo: Open Mike. I would like to open a guy named Mike and do sexual things to him.
Comedy phrase: Can you open for me?
Actual meaning: Can you be my opening act and warm up the crowd for me?
Innuendo: Can you open your legs for me so I may have sex with you?
Comedy phrase: How many times did you get up last night?
Actual meaning: How many times did you perform stand-up comedy last night?
Innuendo: How many times did your penis get hard last night?
Comedy phrase: If you let me ejaculate into your mouth, you can perform here.
Actual meaning: I am insecure.
Innuendo: I am intimidated by your talent.
I know I'm missing some. Comment in the comments section and I'll add them to the list.
I’ve never been a morning person. My mother remembers that when I was three years old, I was so sleepy in the morning that she had the impulse to offer me coffee. Don’t give coffee to a three year old, as a rule, she knew, but the impulse was there. I remember the smell of coffee fondly when I was child. Mom would drink it and it would make her happy. At bed time, she would read to my brother and me and the smell of it, both in the cup and on her breath is something I associate with comfort and affection.
I started drinking coffee on my own my first year of high school. I would order it from the coffee cart on the upper west side of Manhattan on my way into school, where I felt very cool and grown-up sipping it during first period. “Oh, I need my coffee to wake up,” I got to say in a very adult way. I’m not sure if was more awake from the caffeine or the idea of being an adult who needed caffeine, but either way, the love affair had begun, the pendulum set in motion.
In college, I had a little boiler pot in my dorm room. I’m almost ashamed to say it now, but I would make cup after cup of the International Foods instant sweet mocha flavored crap. My sophomore year, I dated a guy over the summer who unabashedly described himself as a coffee snob. He made gourmet French-pressed coffee every day before work and put it in a fancy thermos. After a few months of basking in his coffee prowess I couldn’t go back to instant. At the end of that summer, I drove back to school and stopped at my grandparents’ house in Texas. They offered me coffee in the morning and I accepted. It was instant. That was the last cup of instant I ever had. I choked it down to be polite, but I was forever turned.
My junior year in college, I lived off campus and bought a coffee pot with my roommate. We made pot after pot and would wake each other up with coffee. One of us would bring the other coffee in bed. Once again, coffee would be associated with friendship and affection. When out with friends late at night, we’d be those assholes in the diner, ordering nothing but cup after cup of endless coffee, annoying the wait staff and the patrons around us. Ah, youth. Sleep patterns are so irregular in college that I’m not sure the effects of the caffeine even registered with me.
My senior year I got a job in a bakery with the sadistic clock-in time of 5am. As a night person, it was easier for me to stay awake all night, shower at 4am, head into work and drink coffee all day. That, combined with my schoolwork and an active social life, I have no recollection of ever sleeping. I don’t even recall my 21 year old body being that upset about it. After all, I had coffee.
After graduation, I got an office job. Like many offices in the world, the coffee was plentiful and free. It was one of the many “perks” of my first-ever salaried position. It was around this time, with a regular schedule and normal-person hours, that I noticed something horrible was taking place in my body. I stopped being able to sleep. When you start researching articles about insomnia, one of the first recommendations is to stop drinking coffee and alcohol. That seemed so silly to me. That advice is for other people, I reasoned, people who don’t need coffee. I kept not sleeping and I kept reading articles. Apparently, caffeine can stay in your system for 13 hours. I did the math: If I could cut myself off by 11am, I could get to sleep by midnight. So I tried that but I really missed that 3pm cup. I looked forward to it as a little treat/break in the afternoon. It powered me through the long busy afternoons.
So I did the unthinkable: I switched the 3pm cup to decaf. I didn’t tell anyone. Since I made the cup myself, no one had to know. I didn’t have to order it or say the word “decaf” out loud to anyone. I would just quietly make the cup and shamefully pretended it was real coffee. It didn’t taste quite the same but the approximation was acceptable. The smell and the comfort were still there. And I did indeed start sleeping better almost immediately.
Over the years since then, my sensitivity to caffeine has only increased. My body added other quirks that I started noticing. Coffee on an empty stomach was suddenly a terrible idea. Coffee would arbitrarily make me lightheaded or hurt my insides. Coffee turned on me and gradually went from being my best dependable friend to being a weird-sometimes-mean moody friend. It took years to admit this to myself. I’d be sweaty, shaking, dizzy, having unpleasant digestion issues, painful stomach cramps and insist on another cup. It got to a point where one cup would make me feel terrible. And since giving it up was not an option, I slowly reduced the amount of caffeine in each cup until it stopped hurting. Even decaf has a little caffeine so a cup of decaf could still give me a little perk-up without as many of the side effects.
So here I am today. A half-caf person. I buy two enormous tins of coffee from Costco – one of each and I mix them together. I have to make sure I eat something within a reasonable amount of time from the first sip and it has to be protein. I should also drink some water with it. I can’t believe I’m this high-maintenance about my coffee intake. But it was either careful maintenance or nothing. If we went out to enjoy a cup of coffee together, I doubt you’d notice anything was amiss. After 3pm, there’s no coffee, not even decaf. I get weird looks from ordering decaf at 11am, but that’s what it takes.
I was at a morning social function a few days ago and there were a few large vessels of coffee available, one of which was decaf. Someone standing near me said, “Heh, decaf. Why do they bother?” and I jumped in to explain/defend the decaf. I said, “I’m in for the marathon, not the sprint. I love coffee and if I want to drink more than one cup, I have to cut it with decaf or I will faint by 10am.” He said, “So you’re one of those annoying people who order ‘half decaf’ at Starbucks?” He said it so sneeringly that I wanted to say, “Fuck you! You have ear hair! We all make choices!” But instead, I said, “That are a lot more annoying orders at Starbucks than “tall half-caf.” I’m not ordering “a grande extra hot soy cappuccino with extra foam, with a squirt of sugar-free vanilla and chocolate sauce drizzled on top.” – please tell me, Starbucks workers, if I’m right in this. At least with my order, no one asks for my name.
The judgey guy seemed to nod, but I kind of understood him. Decaf seems counter to coffee. It seems like an affront to all that coffee is about. But it’s all I’ve got. I’m not giving up on coffee and if I can find a way to enjoy it without hurting my body in the process, I’m going to jump on it. At brunch, with a full meal, I drink the real thing and it is sublime. As the day ticks on, I will cut it with decaf and by 3pm, I’m cut off. It’s how I live and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not giving up on my moody mistress. I’m in it for the marathon.
This recipe has been tried and true. I'm passing it along to my readers. Enjoy!
- Buy two (2) bell peppers: one red and one yellow.
- Refrigerate bell peppers for two (2) hours.
- Slice them up lengthwise and arrange them artfully in a bowl. Go for “playful” rather than “attractive” in the arrangement (see Figure 1).
- Put bowl of arranged bell peppers on coffee table or side table.
- Pretend that company will be over any minute for a party. (Vacuum, dust and light candles if necessary to convince your brain that company will really be here very shortly.)
- Walk in and out of the room, look at bell peppers each time and say to yourself: “No. You cannot eat these delicious, cold, crunchy, juicy bell peppers, they are for company only. You have to wait for the guests to arrive. You can’t have any. No.”
- Repeat #6 until your craving for bell peppers has rendered you powerless.
- Eat all bell pepper slices.
And you're done! Enjoy the health benefits of peppers any time!
Every now and then, I come across an internet list entitled something to the effect of "Top 10 Foods That Will Make You Live Longer" or "Top 10 Most Unhealthy Foods to Avoid." This is my reaction while reading those lists.
Top 10 Most Healthiest Best Foods You Should Definitely Eat All the Time
Food 1 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 2 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 3 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 4 (Something I don't eat): Nobody tells me what to do. I'll do what I want.
Food 5 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 6 (Something I don't eat): Who writes this shit? Is there a study to back this up?
Food 7 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 8 (Somethign I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
Food 9 (Something I don't eat): Pffff. Who gets health advice from Buzzfeed? Idiots.
Food 10 (Something I eat): I already eat that. I'm a genius.
And that's how I read the internet!
A few weeks ago and without any warning, #BadStripClubNames appeared on Twitter. People were writing names like "Chlamydia" and "Ugly Girls." I felt I could do better and the challenge resulted in quite a day for me on Twitter. If that's a real thing.
I'm proud to present to you now, 10 better bad strip club names:
- Jimmy's Non-sexual Anus Pounding Station
- Cousin Nate's Squirmy Genital Farm
- Grapple Peanut Funkytown Clinic
- Ye Olde Sexy Biological Curiosity Shoppe
- Slappy Von Stroodle's Prison Palace
- Pink Eye
- Booby McSquizzlestein's Naked Emporium
- Yeast Infection Poop Pimple Heaven
- Scram Farthington's Nipple Fiesta
- Penis Blender
Investors and perverts and perverted investors, you're welcome!