(Hehe, “ween”.)

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays, dating back thousands of years to the time of the ancient Celts. Contrary to popular belief, it is not based on any festivals for the dead, but rather a kind of new year and harvest celebration called Samhain. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, marking the end of summer and the beginning of typically dark and deadly winters.

Celts believed the boundary between this world and the next were blurred on Oct 31, allowing the souls of the dead to return to Earth for a brief period of time. These souls not only caused mischief on the crops and villagers, but also allowed the druids – Celtic priests – to make important predictions about the year to come. Huge bonfires were lit, where the people gathered in costume to make sacrifices to their deities and draw protection for the coming winter season.

Freaky stuff, right? And shockingly devoid of sexiness, considering how this once-sacred holiday is celebrated in the modern age.

Quick, what’s the least sexy thing you can think of? Off the top, let’s say a watermelon. Well, apparently not. (I admit the bite mark is cute)

Sexy fruit costumes, including pineapple and banana varieties, are in season this Halloween. Sexy sea turtle (well, of course) is also available, as is sexy name brand chocolate chew candy and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Look, I don’t have any issue with people stepping out looking like a sexy telegram, sexy bowl of Fiber One or whatever pings your kink. I do have a problem with anyone being charged $70 for a cheap yellow dress that has no outside purpose beyond vaguely resembling a banana. There is a better way. Sexy can be awesome, and it definitely does not have to be cliche. This Mileena  costume, for example, is pretty sweet and actually rather tame if you consider the inspiration. (I personally preferred Katana, in game and in life.)

Dr. Girlfriend can be done with only a few minor adjustments, or more crafty costumers can try their hand at Dr. Mrs. The MonarchSatyrs are technically supposed to be male, but get the room drunk enough and nobody will be in any position to criticize; a few well placed fur bits or plastic flowers and you’re ready to roam. Fans of Arrested Development need only a baby tee, glitter paint and a blonde wig to be Linday Funke in her infamous SLUT jailhouse outfit. Instead of the same old Marge Simpson, why not do a spoof of her Playboy pictorial (nsfw)?

Or say fuck it and go as a nudie mag. (nsfw) The way the industry is headed, why not?


Happy Love Your Body Day! *

Loving your body doesn’t mean you have to love every minute you’re in your skin – we all have bad days, big zits, water weight or a regrettable hair coloring decisions to contend with. Now and again, we all look like a hot mess on a wet day and there’s nothing we can do about it, no matter what your mother or the commercials say. Entire industries are built on the idea that you’re not enough – not thin enough, muscled enough, manly enough, feminine enough, good enough – for the faceless Them. It’s enough to depress even the most esteemed of individuals.

I had another twelve paragraphs of rambling personal anecdotes and encouraging words, but then I stumbled across this:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ladies – just because the Miss Universe competition uses these characteristics doesn’t mean we all do. Someone out there loves you, you can be sure of it. [via]

Truer words are rarely spoken, especially on the Internet. Hey, I feel better already.

Perspective is important. In the words of Mary Schmidt: “You are not as fat as you imagine.” But remember, loving yourself entirely is just as, if not more, important than just loving your body. There is so much more to who we are beyond how we look. When others think or speak of you, the size of your heart and the way you treat others will weigh more heavily on their opinions than the size of your ass or the way you walk.

Need some guidance?

See also: The Society Pages: Love Your Body Day

Be free.

* Okay, Love Your Body Day was actually yesterday but I left my post draft on another computer, so here we are. Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to say Happy Birthday, Snoop Dogg! Snoop’s always been a big proponent of being yourself, living confidently and learning from your mistakes.

Baby girl wanna be grown
She got a Facebook page and a cell phone
Her daddy getting money her momma on the go
She moving too fast but she really don’t know
Life is a trip lil mama don’t drink that
They telling you it’s cool baby don’t take that
Cause if you do ain’t no telling
You’s a good girl why you fighting and rebelling
If you keep that up you gonna end up spread
Misled better yet sick in the head
So stop trying to be like them and be yourself
Stop look and see yourself

Sex trafficking: Won’t someone think of the children?!

Jezebel’s (blessedly now employed elsewhere) Irin Carmon asks: Do Anti-Sex Trafficking Ads Really Need To Be This Graphic?

Short answer: Yes, obviously.

Longer answer: For many in America, sex trafficking looks like this:

These two yahoos are behind The DNA Foundation, created to promote awareness and stop child sexual slavery and trafficking, using other celebrities, YouTube and ass kissing media articles to get the word out. You may have seen their PSAs online. Their website is vague and clearly self serving, but gosh is it all so nice and clean, attractive and funny.

DNA claims to be global but the PSAs make it clear this is a wholly American campaign. The “real man” stereotype is popular in US movies and TV shows, the videos are exclusive to YouTube and their “action plan” conducted entirely online.

No real screen time is given to why we’re watching all these well-known American movie stars bumble about for 45 seconds. The uncomfortable conversation of millions of children raped, kidnapped, killed and drugged is never broached. Americans, generally, don’t like actual sex or, to a lesser degree,  violence. Combining the two is a recipe for disapproval and complaint letters, so the otherwise explicit  subject becomes glossy and easily digestible; an unfortunate side effect of our collective delicate sensibilities is that it also becomes easily forgettable, like any other part of the media machine.

We prefer such shiny posturing over the much harder realities of life, so is it any wonder that’s what we get? Is it any wonder why nothing is ever accomplished, why nothing gets done?

No man, real or imaginary, should rape children, regardless of their grasp on the concept of cereal. Women should not only prefer but demand a man who does not engage in sex with prostitutes, especially underage. These are not radical words or ideas, so there is no need to soften their impact with fluff. Bradley Cooper is not realistically standing between a man and his final decision on if he is comfortable buying a child prostitute, so why involve Bradley Cooper at all?

Meanwhile, around the world, governments and non profits are working to show the reality and repercussions of sexual slavery – even on humorous but relevant levels – and America clutches her breast and gasps, “Is this too graphic?!”

No, it is not too graphic. I wish it were possible to make it more graphic. It isn’t easy to talk about, but it’s happening everywhere, and the victims deserve more than half baked gender jokes and a lot of lip service. Real men, and women, are facilitating this violence every day.

I bet some of them even know how to make a sandwich.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs

I’ve always been curious about the origins of ‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’ but never bothered to find it out. Turns out its a pangram dating back to 1885.

Firstly: a pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at once, making them ideal for testing typewriters, keyboards and selling you on fonts. They exist in almost every language and can be complete proper sentences, like the dog and fox, or a perfect pangram, using each letter a single time, ex: Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz, technically considered an anagram of the alphabet. There are even phonetic pangrams, focused on the pronunciation of the language rather than the letter itself.

It was first seen in The Michigan School Moderator in March 1885 as a suggested writing exercise. Since then, it has been redone (The original sentence began A quick brown fox, not The quick brown fox) and reused by everyone from Western Union to Microsoft. It maintains a firm place in American pop culture.

As I said, panagrams aren’t unique to English, and almost all languages have at least one popular panagram – even Klingon!  Sadly I am unable to reproduce it in the original Klingonian (?) characters, but it appropriately translates to: Because of your apparent audacity the depressed conqueror is willing to fight you.

If you’re bored to death of the fox and the dog, here’s a few other  pangrams to help test out your fancy new pen:

  • Jack, love my big wad of sphinx quartz!
  • My ex pub quiz crowd gave joyful thanks.
  • A quick chop jolted my big sexy frozen wives.
  • Watch “Jeopardy!”, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.
  • Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs (my personal favorite)

Women be misrepresented

Just last night I read a Cracked article about obnoxious and stereotypical traits given to nearly all women in Hollywood productions. This morning I woke up to a similar story in the New Yorker. Who knew the go-to guide for the cultured and sophisticated would be so in sync with your average college-aged stoners’ favorite website?

We’re really not that different, you and I. Got a light?

Shel Silverstein: Everything On It


I cannot see your face,
But in some far off place,
I hear you laughing, and I smile.

Years from Now

The estate of Shel Silverstein, my beloved companion throughout grade school and the first writer I ever fell in love with (followed shortly by Dr. Seuss), has released a new book of poetry called Everything On It.

The high cost of low opinions

Confession time – I used to look down on people who shopped at WalMart.

My own family shops there and I have friends who love it, but I was bothered by reports of the crap they pull on their employees and their hand in the decline of small businesses (which turns out isn’t actually true), and I was loathe to deal with the “type of people” who shopped there. The usual reasons. I also took it upon myself to share my views with anyone who asked or even broached the subject of the store itself, in person and online. I watched clips of The High Cost of Low Prices and was sufficiently indignant for years.

Getting married and moving your entire life across three states can do strange things to a person. Drain all resources and savings, for one, and (spoiler alert) the bills don’t stop coming just because you changed your address. When my husband first approached me about shopping at WalMart, I was adamantly against it. I probably gave him my usual spiel, accused him of being a Republican, and he gracefully let the topic drop. He’s sneaky like that.

A few weeks later, he brought it up again, and again I shot him down. As our finances crumbled, so did my defenses. We had so much we wanted to do in our new life, with so little to spare. When he asked if we could hit the Supercenter for some home improvement and gardening things, I reluctantly agreed. I complained my way through 12,000 sq ft of budget-balancing opportunities, grudgingly admitted we’d gotten a hell of a deal, and swore I’d never step foot in one again. Well, that mostly stuck. I still hate those massive warehouse stores.

But lucky us! We’ve got a Neighborhood Market just down the street, my husband helpfully pointed out several times until fate found me standing in the doorway, gripping our shopping list in one hand and his shirt in the other

I expected to have to find another place to buy fresh vegetables, but their selection and quality was fine. Rice is cheaper than anywhere else, the bagged apples are actually crunchy, beans are constantly on sale, and on and on I could go. It was an evening of thrills and surprises, and we’ve shopped there ever since. We’re able to afford more fresh produce than if we went somewhere else, so we’re eating more healthfully than we were before. The meat can be dodgy sometimes, but that’s about it.

No, this is not an advert for WalMart. Here is my point: a few weeks ago, while pretending to mind my own business, I overheard a conversation between my husband and someone else, and they were talking about WalMart. This person made a remark mildly chastising us for our decision to shop there. He lectured a bit like I used to do, then recommended the documentary I posted above. ‘Educate yourself,’ he was saying, in so many words, ‘because no half-thinking person would ever want to spend their money there.’

I couldn’t be annoyed, because I understand. After all, that used to be me. But what he, and I, and a whole lot of society doesn’t understand, is this: taking a stand is important, but sometimes circumstances get in the way. Now that I have been forced to get over myself and my own petty judgements, I can understand that sometimes food is food, and every life decision need not be political.

My little family needs to eat. The woman ahead of us in line with six kids under age 10 and a SNAP card – they’ve got to eat, too. As for the man parking his BMW as we wheel out our buggy, maybe he just knows a good deal when he sees it. There are other things to spend your money on. WalMart is not full of welfare queens, snotty children and cross-dressing old men. The employees are not all disenfranchised immigrants and senior citizens robbed of their life savings. Yes, there are still major issues with the way the company is run, but these and other problems exist in other, ‘better’ companies as well. Target is anti-gay. Whole Foods is anti-fat. Pedophilia is rampant in the Catholic Church. The world is full of assholes, and a lot of them are CEOs.

It’s called picking your battles, and knowing when to call a truce. If you stop to fight everything that crosses your path, you’ll end up exhausted without moving an inch. Withholding one’s money in silent protest accomplishes nothing but to stoke one’s ego; our monthly grocery budget won’t really affect anything at all, anywhere, except how much we have to eat and how many other bills we’re able to pay. Our pickles are no more evil than anyone else’s. We are still good people who love equality and puppies, and donate to NPR.

We all have to keep our heads above water, by any means possible. Whether that’s a food bank, the cheap brand of toilet paper for just one more month, or yes, even shopping there, so be it. Some may disagree; that opinion doesn’t make our shopping shameful, and pointedly avoiding darkening that doorway certainly doesn’t make you better than the rest of us just trying to get by.