The Oklahoma Legislature Blues, in the Key of D Minus

I am from Oklahoma. I love being from Oklahoma. I love its people. I love its grand land. I love its Oklahoman-ness.

But boy howdy, the state doesn’t make it easy on me.

Now, I normally don’t comment on the comings and goings of the worst thing about the state of Oklahoma, its Legislature, because it’s an exercise in futility. The state Capitol is a psycho ward whose only redeeming quality is its ability to self-sabotage, thwarting its own ambitions with astounding pettiness, hubris and disregard for, well, laws. What more is there to possibly say?

Well not this time. This time they’ve gone and cooked up a flamebroiled triple-patty dungburger smothered in awful sauce. This time they’ve messed with the nerds. This week, a legislative committee, comprised of honest-to-god elected officials, decided that those darned intellectuals were at it again. The House Common Education Committee, presumably chaired by one of the Smothers Brothers, voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. history classes because, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s of the devil and President Barack Obama, who to most of the Legislature are the same entity.

Their stated reasons for doing this offer insight into a worldview so dystopic and warped it would make M.C. Escher toss his cookies. First, and this should be no surprise for a conversation that included the esteemed Rep. Sally Kern, these fine servants of the state have conflated Common Core with AP curriculum, which I guess is as easy to do as confusing a democratically elected head of state with the overlord of eternal torment. (My favorite part of this is where Sally Kern says nonrequired, privately created AP curriculum is “similar” to mandatory educational framework Common Core, and thus null and void in a state that repealed the latter. Similar! They are alike! They involve books!)

(By the way, Oklahoma legislators hate Common Core not because of any of its actual failings, but because it is a standardized national curriculum. We do not want our pure heartland spawn learning the same thing as yankees.)

(I apologize for the excessive parenthetical thoughts.)

The other objection offered to allowing our students access to rigorous courses that prepare them and advance them on the path to secondary education? It makes America look bad. Criminitly, Trigger! You people aren’t going to be happy until you’ve got a flag lapel pin the size of a silver-dollar pancake, are you?

Quick fact check: The lib’ral academics behind AP curriculum (from free-wheeling, hippy-dippy institutions like Florida State University) didn’t make America look bad. America has been more than capable of doing that on its own through the years. Just like every other country on this planet. It’s history. If it were all sunshine and kitten kisses, we wouldn’t be teaching it. We’d all be frolicking naked in fields of tulips celebrating another consecutive year without the CNN breaking news ticker.

It’s probably important to note here that the patriot who deployed this “emergency” bill to cut off the head of the essay-test Hydra, Rep. Dan Fisher, is a member of an organization called the Black Robe Regiment, which has the distinguished honor of holding the website that disturbs me the most of all the things that are things. And which I won’t link to here because it scares me, but Google and you will find nuggets like this:

“The time has come that we must now arise and awaken to the danger of this hyper-progressive agenda that so permeates every aspect of our political, legal, and educational systems.”

Look, I went to one of the pretty good school systems in Oklahoma and still wound up with an uninterested assistant football coach teaching high-school AP government (U.S. and world). So let’s stop pretending the College Board has infiltrated America’s education system and installed pagan foreign Communist jihadi wood elves in positions of power. Not even rebel forces want to work for the pittance Oklahoma legislators deem appropriate pay for teachers.

I managed to have to read Hatchet three times in the course of three grades because of the stellar system we’ve concocted. And if I hadn’t switched to AP English in eighth grade? Who knows, maybe I could have slogged through Robinson Crusoe Lite once more. If a rebel alliance has assumed the role of propagandists for Oklahoma’s youth, good for them. I bet their system’s more efficient and less repetitive. They’d probably only make you do one project on their anti-America flag-burning manual.

But, of course, I did switch to AP English, and then managed to partake in a veritable buffet of AP courses, collecting them like badges on a Girl Scout vest. Because I was fortunate. I was fortunate to attend large schools with ample opportunities to earn college credit, the idea being I could then increase my efficiency at the university level, and maybe — just maybe — expedite the journey to a nice, fat taxable income.

I’m told efficiency and profit are big among the conservative community in my cherry-red home state. Isn’t it amazing that it took a bunch of pinko educational oligarchs to make it happen?

I never thought I’d pine the for those halcyon days of last week when everyone was talking about Jack White’s guacamole.


The One About Big Scary Feminism

As you might have noticed, I am of the female persuasion. I also happen to be lucky enough to live in a period of history in which the weaker, fairer sex is allowed to disseminate thoughts, opinions and troves of animated GIFs on the Internet superhighway.

What a time to be alive.

With those facts now established, let us come to the point. I am disturbed. I have been disturbed since this flashed across the screen of my computing machine. For those who’ve maxed out their free New York Times articles for the month, allow me to sum up, using words smaller than “lesson in semiotics”: Feminism, laden with decades of baggage bestowed on it by both genders, is a frightening term that has spooked some young womanly famous persons back into their hidey holes.

Coming on the heels of #YesAllWomen, this is troubling to me. It troubles me that there are childbearing humans who object to a descriptor of a movement designed solely for their benefit. Because to be clear, let’s just pause to define feminism.

Feminism (n.):

1) the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

2) organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

That’s straight from Merriam-Webster, which in these fractured times, I believe, is the only institution besides Bruce Springsteen whose judgment we still universally trust.

That is feminism’s definition, but it is not its connotation, which has become so burdensome its invention and evolution needs a Morley Safer expose. No, no, to a certain troublingly ample segment of the population, a feminist is as follows: a bra-burning, man-hating fembot bent on nothing less than the singular destruction of all that is holy and Hooters’ chicken wings.

Some women just want to watch the potpourri burn.

After much research, reflection and analysis of hyperventilating Internet commenters, I have come up with the completest picture possible of the image that the Statler and Waldorfs of social causes conjure up when presented with the term “feminism.”

Picture it: Season 1, Episode 9 of the defining sitcom of our age Boy Meets World. In “Class Pre-Union” Mr. Feeny is up to his unending-torment hijinks again when he asks the class to come up with what their life would be like in 20 years. The A plot is all about Cory vs. Feeny on his failure to plan ahead. The historical and sociological importance of this episode, however, comes from Topanga, as always. Here, kooky, pre-hair-straightener Topanga has shown up in a toga and declared herself president of a more utopian United States. Why? “We moved all men underground and use them just for breeding.”

This is the Faustian bargain implied: the rise of women must mean the demise of men. For we can make toilets play music and wild animals pick winners of our sporting events, but it would be impossible to conceive a world in which both halves of the populace were given the same shot at a college education or a modest, middle-class income without instituting quotas or relying on funded STEM initiatives. It’s probably because of boobs. Everything always is.

Heaven help us if those crazy broads ever get the vote: they might just start electing their own kind. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahahaha.

Capable, intelligent woman leading a major European country? Hack her phone. Next: spam her Pinterest boards! photo: Wikipedia

Are you ready to discuss what self-identifying as a feminist actually means? Sure, feminists are people who Lean In, but also people who Recline, who Totter, and those of us who coalesce under the banner of the Prone Woman. Notice I said people. Straight men are people and can be feminists too. In fact they should if they want to be considered dateable. (Gay men are, by and large, bra burners without my nudging.)

Feminists can get married (to whomever they choose in some states!*). Feminists can have babies (if they’re a female feminist or Arnold Schwarzenegger!). Feminists can even operate motor vehicles. All feministy women desire is the right to make decisions about our lives with the same freedom as our male counterparts. It would also be nice if mechanics deflated the dollar signs twinkling in their eyes when we walk in; I know my car does not need that much service. And maybe fewer cat calls, too. That’d be great.

Feminists can marry whomever they choose *who consents*
*Feminists can marry whomever they choose who consents

Here is where, if I had any, I would respond to some fan mail. Instead, I’m going to respond to the comments section of this pearl-clutching (yet worth listening to because we respect opinions that are punctuated correctly) piece from National Review. Shall we?

 “… female liberation is defined as guiltless promiscuity …”

I believe you’re mixing up the concept of “female liberation” with “the whole of human history.” If I’m remembering my methodic watching of The Tudors correctly, Henry VIII broke off the shackles of his papal imprisonment so he could wed, bed and ultimately destroy (mostly not in that order) as many women as he pleased. Dude had like 87 concubines and more than one decapitated wife. He was a man.

Julius Caesar? “Liberating” people right and left. See also: slut. Aaron Burr? Shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, shtupped everyone. Why shouldn’t Catherine the Great have the same opportunities with some stable boys without worrying about being stoned to death, beheaded or thrown into destitution? Fair is fair (is a veritable smorgasboard).

Next comme — No, never mind. I can’t bring myself to go down the rabbit hole. So I’ll just end it here.

Make love, not patriarchy.


Sexy Halloween Costumes for the Modern Woman

It’s almost time for pagan-palooza 2013! It’s the most wonderful time of the year when every night is Hocus Pocus night. Perhaps you’ve got your Halloween costume planned, your mischief managed. If not, this great nation’s retailers have stepped up to peddle their lewd and lascivious wares to you.

Sexy Zombie Barmaid from the above link may be one of the most niche costumes this side of Sexy Furloughed National Parks Employee, but really, Sexy Pink Ranger? The Power Ranger costume is already skin-tight spandex; it is inherently sexy. But high heels? Cleavage baring? Let me tell you something about Kimberly Hart. Kimberly Hart was smart and capable, with a body so nubile and limber she could pick your pockets with her feet. Kimberly Hart would not be caught dead in such an impractical, useless costume, and the whole thing deserves a ninjetti corkscrew kick to the solar plexus.

Granted, old-timey Halloween costumes were the stuff of actual night terrors, but we’ve got to stop this. This obsession with “sexy” or “sassy” — which is now apparently code for “lots of flesh” deployed only when “sexy” would make a particular outfit incredibly uncomfortable (e.g., Sexy Christopher Robin) — costumes would make sense as a feminist rebellion if every other day of the year women were forced to wear sweaters buttoned to their lymph nodes and Reeboks. The yearly inundation of tawdry outfits would be more equitable if men also had to be Sexy Iron Man or Sassy Calvin and Hobbes. The whole Hallow’s Eve kit and kaboodle would resolve itself if sex didn’t scandalize us, in the same way that we’ve compartmentalized (and put in an unopenable lock-box) violence in popular culture.

But none of that is the case, and what we’re left with is a women’s Twin Peaks Tigger ensemble.

I don’t consider myself a Puritan. Upon the shutdown of the U.S. government, I immediately fled to the Internet, waiting for this.


I do not sit at home in my dressing gown, sewing lace collars onto my T-shirts before pulling a veil of modesty around my bed and tucking in. I am relatively normal.


I am also not a women’s studies scholar. I don’t honestly know why Miley Cyrus was on the wrecking ball in the newd. But if I were her, I’d roll around nekkid in my piles and piles of money. (Side note: SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT BANGERZ MEANS.And I do not believe it’s taboo for the fairer sex to celebrate their hot bods and show them off. But turning a men’s costume into a women’s costume shouldn’t require the tailor’s snips to trim sleeves, pants and chest fabric automatically.

No one’s forced to buy Naughty Costumes, of course, and I don’t because dignity?

Photo, left: my own tragic life, 2011. Photo, right: Sears, for God's sake.
Well, maybe not. Photo, left: my own tragic life, 2011. Photo, right: Sears, for God’s sake.

The free market seems content to proffer this cheap, plastic trash till kingdom come, however. Ladies, we’re going to have reclaim what it means to be sexy and costumed for ourselves. Here are a few ideas for modern, sexy females.

  • Sexy Fed Chairwoman Who Doesn’t Think Your Interest Rates Especially High on Her Priorities
  • Sexy Ronald Reagan Ordering You to Tear Down This Wall of Patriarchy
  • Sexy Lady Gaga Realizing that Mimi Bobeck Wore It Better and that She Doesn’t Always Have to Shock You

Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 8.25.31 PM

  • #Sexy “Blurred Lines” Extra Who’s Just Shooting This Video to Blow Off Steam From Her Biomedical Engineering Exam
  • Sexy Super Appealing Debt Ceiling Raise

The employer’s guide to millennials

As you might recall, Time, in its yearly Get Off My Lawn & Garden issue, has declared that the millennial generation is filled with a bunch of no-good, entitled narcissists who wouldn’t know a hard day’s work from a kick in the pants.

Or at least that’s what I deduce from the cover and from dispatches by other journalists and writers because, as you may have guessed, incidence of Time subscriptions among millennials is minimal. (News flash: NOT ALL OF US HAVE THE MONEY YOU THINK WE DO … and neither do our parents.)

The Time cover story is merely one of the latest in a winding line of whistle-blowing generational missives penned by magazine writers, a group often known for its humility. And that’s coming from someone who has long wanted to be a magazine writer.

Regardless, let’s operate under the assumption that self-absorption of youths in their 20s exceeds the already excessive amount mandated by the human condition. (I mean, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I’ve touched Robin Williams’ elbow and Bob Stoops has winked at me. So TOOT.) How does one handle these creatures? Eventually, they may just luck their lazy, hapless way into the workforce. What then? As the expression goes, you can lead a horse to humility, but you can’t make it defer with reverence to older horses.

Keep them entertained

After being raised by television, video game consoles and later the Internet, in between meticulously cultivated after-school activities, millennials now have a constant thirst for stimulation. To keep them subdued you must keep them entertained. It’s the Mary Poppins approach: “For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” We already do this ourselves, to an extent. I’m a champion in the art of Recreational Peeing. This is the one where you get up to go to the bathroom because you just have to go and do something.

There’s science behind this: gamification, using game techniques in non-game contexts. You started this. What Sesame Street didn’t teach us how to spell, Reader Rabbit did. Welcome to the bed. Now lay in it. Every day is the Olympics with millennials! Make a points system for performing menial tasks. We love a good competition. Oh, and don’t forget to creatively fulfill them, or at least give them the sense they are being creatively fulfilled. Encourage cubicle-decorating competitions. That’ll shut ’em up for a while.

Chugga chugga choo choo. All aboard the whimsy train.
Chugga chugga choo choo. All aboard the whimsy train.

Appeal to their nostalgia

We have lived but 30 years at the most, but man, those first 15 were exquisite. The mine of childhood nostalgia has been so exhausted, it’s not even good sport anymore to wax poetically on your love of Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Disney Channel Original Movies. Pretty soon, because of millennial competition, we’re plumbing the entertainment depths to remember the name of Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Rock-a-Doodle. In truly desperate situations, you’ll even see people try to dredge up fond memories of Timmy the damn Tooth.

How can you capitalize on this yearning to return to simpler times? A happy millennial is a productive millennial. That’s why we’re going to need to start having Scholastic Book Fairs in the workplace. Maybe you have a non-Scholastic book fair, filled with adult books, or maybe you do the right thing and have Scholastic unload Captain UnderpantsI Spy and CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG ERASERS in your conference room.


I mean, my God, look at it. I’m getting all tingly. photo

Responsibility’s OK, we guess

Remember, most of all, these lazy, entitled millennials crave to be considered responsible adults, without any of the trappings of being a responsible adult. To keep your millennial happy, make sure you give it special projects to run. They don’t actually have to be important, but something with a lot of moving parts will really give the millennial something to lord over its friends at happy hour at the bar with the skeeball machine and giant Connect 4 board.

We demand to be taken seriously.
We demand to be taken seriously.

And, of course, all the basics still apply. Keep your millennial watered, fed and exercised. They really like to ride bikes to work and eat things with chickpeas. Best of luck on managing your still-many-years-to-live narcissist!