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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. <- This came preformatted in the AR summary that WordPress recommends posting to your site. However, instead, the idea of helper monkeys just killed any motivation I had today.

I first learned about helper monkeys through, where else, The Simpsons:

All started well

All started well

 

Still working...kind of.

Still working…kind of.

 

But...

But then…

 

No comment necessary.

No comment necessary.

 

Pray for Mojo

Alas, Mojo couldn’t hang.

Ironically, about five years ago, I was editing a booklet of charitable organizations federal workers could opt to donate to. And, low and behold on my page – Helping Hands. It was like a sign from God. I dropped everything (much like right now) to google this amazing organization, and spent the remainder of the day giggling uncontrollably over the pictures on the site. It doesn’t hurt that my favorite author, David Sedaris, at the time was also smitten with the idea of helper monkeys, and donated his time to promote this charity.

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Helping Hands does great work, but gets very little recognition. Thus, I’d like to introduce you, one of my seven readers, to a nonprofit worthy of your last minute donations:

Meeting Monkey and Human Needs

We are a non-profit organization that helps adults with spinal cord injuries and other mobility impairments live more independent and engaged lives. We do this by providing them, free of charge, with a unique service animal: a highly trained capuchin monkey to help with their daily tasks.

Small Hands, Big Hearts!

With an attentive and affectionate monkey helper, our recipients are defined more by what they have gained than by what they have lost. It is impossible to calculate the value of this transformation. No price can be put on the independence, self-respect, joy, and sense of empowerment that our monkey helpers bring to their human partners.

Why Monkeys

The most obvious difference between capuchin monkeys and other service animals is their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills. This enables them to perform tasks such as:

Turning pages
Scratching itches
Retrieving dropped objects
Inserting straws into bottles

Is a Monkey Helper Right for You? Apply for a Monkey

180494712.336.255

Something about this hundo doesn’t taste right

BAH! I’m going to hell b/c I’m dying writing this, particularly b/c it’s an actual organization doing great things. But the premise is just TOO.FUNNY. Ok I’m done.

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Ok, I’m just going to put this out there – Lena Dunham reminds me of the childhood picture book character Little Critter. Don’t ask me why I think this, I just do. And I spent a solid 45min googling 90s books trying to remember what it was called. I now have the closure I need to begin watching GIRLS again.

Please note – this is nowhere near close to a ding on Ms. Dunham. For the most part I think she’s fabulous. She just happens to look like an anthropomorphic animal character created by Mercer Mayer.

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No?? Am I on my own on this one? That’s ok. I’ll just post more cover photos and geek out ‘cuz the week’s out.

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Two of my favorite books are going to be (re)made into movies this year – The Great Gatsby and Anna Karenina. Both are period pieces and are set to feature fabulous jewelry – TGG will be outfitted by Tiffany and AK by Chanel. Needless to say I’m beyond stoked. Tiffany is celebrating its 175th anniversary this month – it first opened its doors September 14, 1837 in New York’s lower Manhattan. Get this – the first day’s sales totaled $4.98; a far cry from today’s standards.

I love all things fashion, but particularly how certain brands have managed to become iconic, both in America and worldwide. Images representing Tiffany and Chanel continue to be some of the most easily identifiable, both through marketing campaigns and 20th century PR. When I think Tiffany I automatically think diamonds, and when I think Chanel, it’s straight pearls. Back to my original point, Chanel is outfitting the cast of Anna Karenina because Keira Knightley is playing the lead, and she’s currently the face of Chanel.

Ms. Knightley starred in a movie I saw over the weekend – Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. As the title suggests, it’s a bit of an unsettling concept; Earth is set to be demolished in a couple of weeks’ time, and society has basically ground to a halt. Flights are canceled, televised news casts/print periodicals/basic sources of information are no longer available as everyone wants to be with their families, and rioting reigns supreme. Amidst it all, two people who have been neighbors finally meet and become friends in their search to find a way to reunite one with an overseas family and the other with a high school sweetheart. Left alone, they await the end of humanity together and finally realize what life is all about.

So – here’s the kicker – the movie is saying that basically it takes a life shattering event to finally come to some semblance of an idea of the meaning of life. That’s depressing as hell. It took everything I had not to start sobbing uncontrollably, simply b/c it’s just such a dark idea. It speaks to our most basic existential crisis (at least mine) – what’s the damn point of it all? And, if we do ever figure it out, will it only be at the very end when there’s no time left to sit back and be relaxed for once? I’m not looking for pure bliss here, just an even-keeled contented existence. Sitting back and just being for once – no racing thoughts, no worries about money or careers or the endless suffering of others. I guess until that time comes I’ll continue to try to lose myself in movies and books, per the usush.

I’m not in the mood to be witty today, so I’m just going to lay it out how it is. Apparently, according to Stuff White People Like, I’m 22.6% white. I suppose that’s not a bad percentage – nearly a quarter, and really only where it matters – like being non-confrontational (confrontations are trashy) and liking marathons.

To the second point, I’ve had it in my mind to run the GW Parkway classic for a few years now, but have never gotten around to it. But this year was the year! At a doable 5k distance, it would truly be ‘the most beautiful run this side of the Potomac’.

I mentioned it to a friend, thinking he might be interested, and boy was he. Him: “the 10mile option? Might as well challenge ourselves if we’re going to do it.” Me: “yayyyyyyy (weakly)” I mean, who would ever want to choose the option that’s actually achievable?! I, for one, like setting myself up for failure.

Needless to say, my friend and I finished the entire 10miles* – along with about what seemed like 2,000 of our nearest and dearest WHITE friends. SWPL hit it dead on with this one.

#27: Marathons: In life, there are certain milestones of physical activity that can define you: a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds, a 40-inch vertical leap, and so forth. To a white person, the absolute pinnacle of fitness is to run a marathon. Not to win, just to run.

White people will train for months; telling everyone who will listen about how they get up early in the morning, how they run when it rains, how it makes them feel so great and gives them energy.

When they finish the marathon, they will generally take a photo of themselves in a pair of New Balance sneakers and running shorts, with their marathon number held in both hands over their head in triumph. (Seriously, look it up, this is universal).

They will then set goals like running in the Boston Marathon or the New York City Marathon.

If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately. Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth noting: the more competitive white people prefer triathlons b/c Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles. If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players. It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.

*I recognize that this is not an actual marathon distance. Don’t be douchey.

Wow. I have been more than incredibly negligent when it comes to maintaining this blog lately, and for that I’m sorry. Although, I guess the only person truly affected is me ha…ohwellz, so much for my lucrative career as a cutting edge blogger.

I’ve finally caught up on a perennial favorite of lit snobs everywhere – The Handmaid’s Tale and let me just tell you, it freaked the bejeezus out of me. Not b/c of any of the events are so foreign (the stripping of women’s power; the revert to religious zealotry; the secret police), but because it really highlighted just how quickly revolutions can take place.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise – Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge…

There was one passage that really got me, where the narrator relives the time ‘before’ when she goes to buy a pack of smokes, and her card is declined. She protests that she used it successfully the day before, but to no avail. Come to find out that all assets belonging to women have been either confiscated or combined with their husbands’. Women are to have no means of self-reliance – no jobs, no money, no identity. All in the span of 24 hours.

In 1986, when Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, Ronald Regan had declared “Morning in America,” and society was going to renew itself by returning to the old values. The Christian right, in its infancy at the time, was only just beginning what would eventually lead to the crazies of the TeaBaggers Tea Party*.

The disaster at Chernobyl happened shortly after the book was published, and even now the earthquake in Japan has surely sent toxins worldwide—a reminder that even the air is not safe. I can imagine it was not hard at the time to extrapolate the ultimate end that this cocktail of fundamentalism, conservatism, violence, disease, and disaster would bring, but what Atwood could not know, is how much of her novel would become reality in the world.

Amazingly, thirty years after it was written, there are elements of the story that have become true—perhaps not in the United States, where the story takes place, but throughout the world. The most obvious first connection is with many of the issues regarding women’s rights and religious fundamentalism that are taking place in the Middle East.

It was shocking to read in the book that the initial attack on the US Government was blamed on Islamic Fundamentalists. While this kind of terrorism was only in its infancy, Atwood’s insight is almost prophetic in the book. When the OKC bombing occurred, the initial reaction by the media was to blame Islamic terrorists, when in fact—like the novel—the terrorism was homegrown. The scale of the attack that took out the US Government in the novel is also eerily similar to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Reading this novel in the post-9/11 world can send chills down one’s spine: the novel includes suicide bombings at checkpoints, restrictions of rights in the name of safety, blind patriotism, and an overwhelming belief that there is only one true religion, and deviants from this should be killed.

While George Orwell’s 1984 is often referred to as an insightful perspective on modern society whenever someone puts a video camera on a street lamp, or the government begins referring to negative events with positive doublespeak. Orwell’s world never materialized in full, and likely never will materialize to the degree he created. Instead it is Atwood’s dystopia, seemingly outrageous at the time it was written, that became reality.

Reading The Handmaid’s Tale so soon after The Hunger Games is a bit of a downer, but it’s important to think critically about current events and what’s at stake, rather than burying one’s head in the sand. Sometimes the truth ends up stranger than fiction.

Oh yea, happy Friday! Bring on the noxious blend of margaritas and mint juleps!

I found my Adele cd on the way into work yesterday (‘I can’t find my Cranberries CD. I gotta go to the quad before anyone snags it’) and listening to it I was reminded how good some break up songs can be. Soul scratching and piercing, they percolate into your inner depths and bring forth memories better off bottled forever.

The feeling of love lost is probably one of the most universally-recognizable feelings – that smothering grip of panic born from failure; the realization that something or someone once comforting is indescribably foreign. A reflection of how ubiquitous this pain is can be found in the closing pages of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I know, you’re probably thinking ‘holy hell! Where did that even come from? I’ve heard more than I ever wanted to about this fad’. And I completely agree. However, to be fair I have to treat all read material equally.

You all know how I feel about The Hunger Games series (ps – saw the movie – not so much), well, this is really not as good. If The Hunger Games are like crack, then the Fifty Shades trilogy is like meth – equally addicting, but somehow just so much trashier. This revelation came about 4 pages in, and after the first book I’m completely good on ever reading any more.

No, it’s not because I’m a prude, or the sex is just too gratuitous. It’s more the fact that the books are so poorly written. There’s hardly any character development or plot – but I guess that’s the point. Sex sells. End of story.

I will say though, that once you get past the S&M and copy/paste sexual descriptions, I suppose the premise has some merit. The protagonist must grapple with how much of herself to compromise for someone she ‘loves’. After a tumultuous relationship filled with guilt, suspicion, stalker tendencies, make up sex and jealousy, she finally realizes that she’d rather be alone than with someone incapable of loving her back. Girl power! (This after she suffers physical abuse b/c ‘it’s what turns him on’.)

There was a clip on one of the Hollywood ‘news’ shows of a middle aged ladies book club who had recently finished the series. Half were talking about how sexy it would be to have a young billionaire with rock hard abs find them attractive – at any cost. The other half were going on about how much they liked the books, but would never let their daughters read them b/c they were too ‘mature’.

Um, eff that noise. They should be more concerned that younger, impressionable girls don’t read them b/c they’re drivel and condone selling oneself short all for the sake of some dude. Today’s sure sign of the apocalypse – not only are Fifty Shades books on the NYTimes Bestsellers list, but I’m pretty sure a movie is in the works. I wonder if Ryan Gosling would be interested in the role?!

A coworker and I had a shouting match discussion* this am about what constitutes mid-twenties and how thirty is the new twenty. First of all, this jibberish about 30 being the new 20 is a blatant falsity. Mayyybe if you’re just now getting your masters and feeling the relative liberation of post-collegiate life forays; otherwise, by 30 your life should most likely not even remotely resemble the one you held at 20. Not to alienate any potential readers, but if you’re still at the same job or binge drinking eight ways from Sunday, you may have peaked too soon.

Now for the second argument – early twenties is 21, 22, and 23; mid-twenties is 24, 25, 26; and late twenties is 27, 28 and 29. See? It breaks up evenly. That’s how you know my logic is sound. I’ll deal with the fact that that will place me squarely in my late twenties (gah!) come October.

Point being, you’re never too old to enjoy the Hunger Games trilogy. (See what I did there? That’s called a non sequiter. It’s what all the mid-twenty year olds are doing these days. Google it.) No joke, I tore through all three books last week – they’re so damn easy and entertaining to read!

The only prejudiced feelings I had going in were that I didn’t want them to be lame love stories like Twilight. Don’t get me wrong – I read Twilight too – but it was too vomtrocious and bosom-heaving for my tastes. More than anything, I wanted to read the books before seeing the movie. Plus, I wanted to see how they could make a(nother) movie out of a gladiator-esque theme.

Turns out I was wrong – it’s not a gladiator scenario at all. I mean, it is kind of, but there’s more to it than that. As I explained it yesterday, it’s a dystopian future where teens are routinely delivered as tributes to the capitol as retributions for a war waged decades earlier. Once there, the tributes must fight to the death in an arena (a dome over various natural settings), all of which plays out on nationally-mandated live TV. The winner gets to live, and is supplied with a year’s worth of supplies for their district.

In my friend’s words: ‘Woah. Deep. Shit.’ Factt. It’s pretty heavy social commentary. I told him to read it this week so I have someone to chat it up with. I could give two less if it’s considered ‘young adult’ fiction – entertainment is entertainment.

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