Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Importance of Indie

Oscar night, the most loved and hated in the business of show. It’s the A-Listers dressed to impress, dawning the red carpet and talking to reporters. It’s the speeches, some where the recipient hogs the floor. Of course there is the crying, and the hope they wear water proof mascara.

However, never watch the Oscars in a room full of New York actors. Did I say actors? I meant unemployed wannabes kvetching about how it’s not them on the red carpet. How they are not working. How they went to college with so and so and they weren’t that good. How so and so has no talent. And then there is always the nut that cries mid-show about their dreams not coming true. New York actors have ruined Oscar night for me.

In the past I always left the party drained, depressed, and painfully aware of how broke I was. It got to the point where I would just skip the Oscars. That is, until recently.

Two weeks ago was one of those weeks where the wear and tear of the last several months have caught up with me. I won’t get into detail, but there has been a lot going on. However, at the same time I now have an incredible individual guiding my career and have had some of my dreams materialize. Still, the bad has been nothing short of a dark and lonely hell. It has made me wonder if my dreams would ever materialize. So when Tony, a guy I am dating, invited me to see some Oscar shorts the only thing out of my mouth was a bunch of swear words as I delayed answering his email.
It was a reminder that I had faced a retaliatory eviction. It was a reminder that I had a cancer scare. It was a reminder that through no fault of my own I had to replace most of my belongings. It was a reminder that life had seriously sucked. However, dating is a diversion and I decided to go see some animated shorts.

Tony ended up taking me for oatmeal at a niche eatery and we smuggled it surreptitiously  into the theatre. We watched various Oscar nominated shorts from around the world, many adorable and some sad. However, one name caught my attention. That was the name of Bill Plympton.

Bill Plympton is featured in the first edition of SPAZ comics with me. You see, Bill is a legendary and awesome film director. His strip is a few pages from mine, yes the one with May Wilson and I being a crime fighting ventriloquist duo. As I saw his name I felt a flood of emotions. I felt envy of course. Then there was the self-conscious realization that he was nominated and I felt slightly less than. Finally there was the damn, I am in a comic book with an Oscar nominee. This is freaking awesome.


All of a sudden I felt as if I was really cool for a wrinkle in time. Not just to share comic book space with such a talent, but also that perhaps an Oscar wasn’t as far away as I thought it was.
I nudged my date. “I am in a comic book with Bill Plympton!” I exclaimed.

“Nice.” Tony said. Of course, Tony holds a Guinness Book Record like I do. Bernie Goetz and Kristin Davis are personal friends. Nothing surprises him anymore.

The same feeling of pride swelled over me as when I saw my book on the same shelf as Junot Diaz, Ophira Eisenberg, and Anne Frank. It was published through an indie press. Yes, my little I Came, I Saw, I Sang on the same shelf as a MacArthur Fellow, a woman who sold her book to Hollywood, and a young diarist who’s words not only immortalized one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century, but one who never lost hope in humanity despite all she had to endure. Yes, it was all intimidating company, but it was also the realization that someday I might be just as good.

And now my company was someone nominated for an Oscar. WOW. I went from being in an awful mood to being excited about the Oscars. We all should be.

Around that time I was asked by my old station director to do a tribute video about BPTV. Apparently it was the 20th anniversary of the station. I was so young when I was there, just a kid. At the same time, it was a lot of fun and I learned how to even be on television let alone how to collaborate. It was a family.

The opportunities led me to send my VHS tapes of Storytime with April and Friends around the world in high school. On a shoe string budget, my show where my puppets and I read bedtime stories to children was aired in 36 states and 6 foreign markets. We also made the NYC TV Guide and were the first American program in the South Korean Public Television Library.

Even when I embarked on a career performing ventriloquism in the park, people who had come to New York to chase the same dream remembered seeing me on their public television stations and labeling my tapes. I kept some of those connections who were quite helpful too. Connections I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Not to mention I have been on television quite a bit not just in the United States but all over the world. Each and every time I have known what to do and people have spoken about how “professional” I was. Truth be told, I just had a good training ground. That’s all.

This past year, one of the blessings was my children and I got press around the world. Some of it was people knew who we were because of our time sending out VHS’s on a shoestring. Some of it was the dedication I have to my family and craft. Some of it is you never hear of a woman leaving a man for a bunch of puppets.

As the story hit headlines in every reach of the globe, I meant journalists from literally everywhere. Some worked with major press agencies, others for indie publications. The ones who worked for indie publications were just like me, those kids who’s mother’s were collecting their writing. And now here they were cracking a story in America. Each and every time I was blown away by their talent and command of description. (I don’t want to say English because it is arrogant and rather American stupid assuming everyone speaks English). I couldn’t help but compliment them. And let me tell you, each of them shyly told me it was nice to hear. One even admitted that he was currently trying to publish a novel and wanted to turn it into a film.

Another thing that happened this past year was The Break Up, I did puppet work for, was nominated for  a Project Greenlight Greenie Award. This was a big deal. Yes, it was a festival affiliated with HBO and sponsored by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. I remember the excitement we felt, because this was up there with Tribeca, Sundance, Independent Spirit. (Okay, not quite Independent Spirit but this was a big deal). This was my first big award nomination for anything I had ever done. Even though we didn’t win, it was still exciting and it still meant that something I was a part of mattered to someone. That something I contributed to was being watched. That I wasn’t just some dork who played with puppets.

The arts are a career choice like no other. It’s not like being a doctor where everyone is excited when you articulate your ambition. Rather they are biting their lip and hoping you grow out of your impulse like the Vans sneakers in your mom’s garage. Even teachers and professors you have teaching you give you the news that yes, you will probably fail. This is a career that if you embark on it, you know that your teachers are correct, failure is a strong possibility. Ten percent employment rate at any given time. So when people see that obnoxious kid who wants to be in front of the camera, that weird writer kid who has an idea for a book or script, or the annoying kid with the camera phone, they try their damnest to discourage them.

This is why each town needs a public television station. So that obnoxious kid can see whether or not they even like being in front of the camera. Where that weird little writer kid can make his script come to life and see if it even has life. Where that annoying kid with the flip cam can learn how to use a real camera and see if he really wants to do this. Where they can be supported and fail safely as well as succeed beautifully. That way, those kids have an outlet and those kids can have a plan.

This is why we need independent film festivals, too. That way the outgoing kids can be a part of a film as it comes to life, yes the one written by the weird writer kid. And that annoying kid with the flip cam can be the visionary who ties the whole thing in a pretty little package. When we see these ideas on the big screen, we marvel at their creativity. We gasp. But they were just youngsters who started out with a dream and a big idea.

Artists aren’t mere entertainers but storytellers. They need to talk about what is good, but what is bad. This is their way of reminding us of our history so we are not doomed to repeat the horrors of the Holocaust, segregation, or any other form of human failing. This is why the world needs artists. They make us laugh, they make us cry, they make us think, but ultimately they use their own unique voices to stop bullying in it’s tracks. Now what would the world be without the arts?

So tonight, as you watch the Oscars, do not think of it as a parade of the Hollywood elite. As a nonworking actor, do not grimace that it’s not you. Instead embrace the success of art and think if you keep going it might be you. Also know that each of them at one time was an obnoxious kid who wanted to be in front of the camera. That they were a weird writer kid who’s mother’s attic is still filled with their badly written angst poetry. That they were the annoying kid with the flip cam who everyone wanted to smack. Tonight is their night. They paid their dues. They were made to believe by a great many it would never happen, so much so that they spent a lot of time crying themselves to sleep. Their families prayed at every church and temple for the success of their lost artist son or daughter. And now they are here. So if you have an artist family member, watch and support for them.

But before all that they were indie. They were throwing an idea at a wall seeing if it would stick. And they kept going. Today’s indie is tomorrow’s mainstream whether it is a comic book, novel, film or television show.

That being said, good luck tonight, Bill Plympton. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Parents Are Groovy

Last night I did a show at a studio I attended in college. It was a good experience. The whole thing was a little trippy in a way because I was by far perhaps the oldest one there. Translated, the place was chalk full of Millennials. Yes, that is the name of this generation. I am not sure what my generation was, but I think I missed the cut by a few years.

There are some older folks who have nothing but destain for Millennials. However, my experiences with them have always been positive. I find Millennials to be creative, not afraid to push the boundary for change, but ultimately kinder than my very wicked generation. They are a softer, gentler version of us because they are the ones cracking down on bullying. All and all, not bad.
The show was good and the performers were all quite supportive. Plus the young woman hosting the show worked really hard. When I say she did a good job, she did a good job. I have produced enough in my life to know how hard it was.

Anyway, after the show I was talking to this brother and sister, Americans raised in London, trying to do the whole comedy thing in New York. The sister realized she had pit stains when she was performing which is like an “AHHHHHH!!!!!” for a woman. I had pit stains in my high school year book. Pit stains immortalized  forever. After a TV show I did a high school classmate said she remembered my yearbook picture. Was this the one with the pit stains……hope not.

Anyway, she told me in her high school year book her school mates did a mean thing to her. I reassured her that while people were mean in high school sometimes it was because they were going through things. And we all grow up. It’s weird telling that to someone who’s only 20, but as you get older, certain things just come to you.

However, one thing about young people is that they are pretty profound sometimes. I was talking to the brother’s girlfriend. The subject of parents came up as I was talking about my puppets saying they were like my children. While I am aware my puppets are not human, they need clothes et all. I said while I loved children, I was in no hurry to have any of my own. Then she said, “You know, as a teen I was such a brat sometimes and my parents kind of put up with it.”

We both agreed. We were probably brats as kids. And somehow, our parents put up with it. We both opined that kids are thankless creatures and our parents probably deserved a reward. However, because they were supportive, even when we were bratty, she summed it up, “Parents can be pretty cool sometimes.”

My parents are crazy. I will not lie. Yet at the same time they are also amazing. When I had to move in a hurry, my parents generously floated me the money, no questions asked. During my court proceedings with my landlord, my dad didn’t yell at me or blame me. Instead, he was right by the phone despite his busy schedule to answer my legal questions. The weekend after I moved, my mom flew up to help. Tickets were not cheap that weekend, but she was there anyway. She spent money I don’t know that she had getting me set up in my new place. Before she looked, my room went from box city to a small palace fit for a Princess Pan like myself.

That same weekend, I found out a yearly test I had came back abnormal, and there was a suspicion of cancerous cells. I was afraid, and I was cursing my mom for picking the worst weekend to come. But it was the best weekend actually. There were times I cried my little eyes out that weekend, and I just didn’t want my mom to stress me out. Actually, she was nothing short of supportive and comforting. We called my sister who’s a doctor and she told me it was going to be no big deal. The test turned out benign, but my mom was on the phone with me from that weekend until the test was completed. I don’t know what I would have done had she not come to town.

Mind you, I was nervous about my mom meeting my housemates but they hit it off famously, so much so they wanted her to redo their rooms and didn’t want her to leave. They say she is welcome back anytime.

Both my parents have been very generous with both my siblings’ weddings. When my brother got married, they rented a huge house and had mini parties in between the wedding and day after. During the ceremony, my dad found out that my brother and his wife had been ashamed to ask him for the money to cover the bar tab, and wanted to make it cash only. My dad, suspecting this was done because they were out of funds and didn’t calculate, covered the bar tab day of.  Not to mention he gave a funny speech day of the rehearsal dinner.

As for my sister’s wedding, my mom and I, assisted by my aunt’s, threw her a wicked bachelorette party. While her wedding is rather big, my parents are doing it out of love. My sister will be a lovely bride and we will all be there to support her, even if the wedding nearly kills all of us in the process.
As for me, not getting married anytime soon. But a year ago, this little reality star became eligible to join SAG-AFTRA. I didn’t know whether or not to join, but my mentor pushed me. She said it would make a difference, and it did. To join is a small fortune, and I thought about getting the loan which the interest rate was quite high. My mom kept offering the money but I dodged the question. I was ashamed. I was a big girl. I didn’t want to take her money. Until finally, I told her this. My mom said, “You are making something of yourself. We are happy to give you the money. You didn’t go to grad school and aren’t having a wedding. Take it.”

I did and have been grateful to them ever since. While my heart dropped after dropping $3000, and I got a giant bag of gummy bears to eat afterwards, I was grateful to have my parents.

Mind you they also put three kids through three elite colleges. They somehow have not killed us all, despite my brother’s need to be an eternal scholar and not provide grandchildren. Then there is my Princess Pan-esque life, fairy wings and all. Finally, you have my sister and the wedding, the current family joy and drama all in one breath.

Tomorrow I am doing a superhero themed puppet show for a little boy named October. His mother is doing this because he is 2 and loves superheroes. Her house will be filled with toddlers, but this is what he loves. Superheroes. It is just a testament to how eternally patient this woman probably is, and how dizzy she will probably feel by the end of the day. But we do these things for children because we love them. Even if it is at the expense of our own insanity.

Mind you, my landlord’s kids have been behaved lately. Both seem on track again, but he has to stay on them because they are of the age. They don’t like it now but will appreciate him later. Sigh, what headaches we give our parents.

My dad expressed interest in joining facebook. I'm scared. I hope he doesn't friend request me. Actually, it would be funny if he was my friend. He would leave snarky comments on all my posts and would probably be more popular than me. He would leave mean comments on my blogs, but  I would just have to let it go. My mom threatened to start commenting on my facebook threads. Oh what the hell. I don't want to complain too much because no one lives forever. 

Did I mention parents are groovy?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

52 Lines About 26 Men

Inspired by 88 lines about 44 women by the nails, I had to. It's the alphabet with the names of the men I dated. While I tend to roast my exes, they were all actually special in their own way. The truth is, we all make this journey into the continuum of life, and we never know what the next stop is because we aren't supposed to go until we get there. So why not laugh a little.

A is for Anthony, I fell for you bad. I cried when it ended, because I missed your Park Avenue Pad.

B is for Brandon, my 8th grade crush. Who turned out to be a used car salesman and a great big lush.

C is for Craig, the European history buff that I met at the library one night. You weren’t a great kisser, but you were incredibly bright.

D is for Derek, who I met in the park. On the first date you confessed, you became a werewolf after dark.

E is for Evan, the one I almost missed. You were unremarkable and boring, so you almost got left off the list. 

F is for Frank, I would have given you my heart and soul for sale. The relationship ended when you didn’t tell me you were going to jail.

G is for George Washington, my lawyer ex with the president’s name. Unlike your honest namesake you constantly lied, but weren’t very good at keeping up your game.

H is for Harry, you were always so much fun. That is, until you decided to go to the bank and slipped them a note stating you had a gun.

I is for Igor, the name says it all. He was from Moldova, and was 7 feet fall.

J is for the man I thought I loved so named Joe. When we broke up, I wrote a country song telling him Hell No.

K is for Kevin, the arrogant bad tipper who invented a weird kind of sprocket. Made millions but lost it, during the pop of the stock market.

L is for Larry, you said we would be soul mates for life. The whole realization was shattered, when I got a call from your wife.

M is for Mike, he was handsome, Harvard educated, and perfect, so the story goes. Third date he confessed he got abducted by UFOs

N is for Nelson, a handsome man with quite a situation. He had a plan to overthrow the government, and one for world domination.

O is for Omar, I fell for him hard. Until I discovered he was homeless and needed a green card.

P is for Paul, who was a lot of fun. Things ended unfortunately, because he was a fugitive on the run.

Q is for Quince, who pursued me then went all ghost. Well he married a controlling wench, got fat, and shows that God and I hate the same things most.

R is for Rueben, my freshmen fling from my floor. When the school year ended and you moved, I didn’t see you anymore.

S is for Sean, my former fiancĂ© oh gee. He kind of gave me an ultimatum, “Your puppets or me.”

T is for Travis, with the sparkling blue eyes. The date ended weird when he said, “Hitler was one of the good guys.”

U is for Ucal, who’s parents named him that in hopes he would be great. Turned out he had no job, and made me pay for the date.

V is for Vince, the sexy activist who wanted to find a solution. Thought he stood me up, but turns out he was jailed for starting the revolution.

W is for William, who was also a writer. When I made him cry after a disagreement, it was revealed he wasn’t a fighter.

X is for Xander, a man I met at 14 in AOL chat. If you’ve experienced the internet, you know nothing good comes of that.

Y is for Yahweh, he legally changed it, not my fault. It was a little interesting dating a man who wanted to form his own cult.

Z is for Zach, who wanted to legally change his name to Zach attack. He ended up homeless, because unfortunately drugs are whack. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

10 Things To Remember After A Break Up

This is for all the ladies out there. Yes, the ones who are learning the hard way that break up suck, that men suck, and that love outright sucks. It sucks worse than a night of bad feminist poetry and interpretive dancing.

But here are ten things we all need to remember. 

1. A man is like a refrigerator. He can be replaced. When one goes away, you can find a new one. Go on the street. Look in a travel book. There are only a few billion in the world.

2. All men have the same equipment and do the same 2 tricks. Trust me, he wasn't doing much. 

3. It's a break up because it's broken. Don't try to win him back. He was just a dude and probably a total loser and wash out. That being said get off his lawn. No man is worth a felony charge. (And prison orange is probably not your color). 

4. Of course he is bad mouthing you. All men are sore losers, especially if they were dumped. Even if he wasn't dumped he is still calling you crazy. Men have to win at all costs. It's an ego thing that goes back to the penis. Yes, battleships are a metaphor for penis. If he calls you crazy, it means you were a bitch with a backbone.

5. Other women will try to drag you down, especially so called friends. They will claim you "don't see your role in things." These morons are either dateless, or when they are they are nothing but scrap metal for the boys and overall doormats who relish in any attention a loser gives. They are the reason my people cannot get advancement in this country. Not to mention that yes, it took two to make this all go bad, but it does not negate the fact he lied, cheated, and tried to get over. 

6. Get off the floor and do something with yourself. As in pursue that passion, take that class, make your life about anything other than the idiot you shared a bed with. The best revenge is doing well......and trust me, he and his idiot friends don't know much about that. 

7. He slept with someone else did he? Well let him sleep with her. Let him have all the fun he wants. When she sees riding a bus with Ray Charles driving, and the man is blind and dead mind you, is a better decision, then you can wave as they both crash and burn together. Don't wave, that means you care......oops.

8. Fight back by ignoring. Ignore all pathetic cries for attention. I had an ex attempt suicide by trying to drink laundry detergent. HE TRIED TO DRINK LAUNDRY DETERGENT TO GET MY ATTENTION! If he wanted my attention, he should have taken that detergent and did my laundry. Bottom line, replying means you care and trust me, that subhuman who was a mere Neanderthal and hardly your intellectual equal took too much of your energy already. Don't give him what he doesn't deserve. 

9. Maybe he was friends with every ex he had, aka his pussy on reserve. You put up with it as he shoved it in your face, subtly letting you know you weren't good enough. But now they can have him back, especially the waste of flesh who left all those comments on his facebook pictures. Yes, the one who waxed :). She can feel superior because you had her sloppy seconds, but you just regurgitated her dollar store, pre-digested rainbow meat back in her mouth. Hope she likes the taste. (And she can say all she wants about you, but she's the pathetic loser going for the crumbs from a worthless man. Just remember that). 

10. Be prepared to have his friends try to sleep with you. While you are down, remember you don't hate yourself that much. While he was cat shit, they are feline AIDS. 

To all the former Mr. April Brucker's...........I'm still going and you are still wishing you were Mr. April Brucker. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

WW2: If The Main Players Had A Sleepover

If the main players in WW2 were high school girls and had a sleepover, this is who the players would be. Yes, imagine that. It would be one big old atomic pillow fight.

America-The most popular one in the room, you love her and you hate her all at once. She’s perky, perfect, and never has a hair out of place. America was born beautiful (bitch). Not to mention all the boys like her and want to talk policy as an excuse to get into her ports. Did we mention her teeth are perfectly straight and white? And she is the captain of The Debate Squad (of course she is), Powder Puff Football and became Student Body President because she felt it was unjust to be called queen. (Don’t hate her cause you ain’t her). Yeah, and she’s first in the class. It’s nice to see she messes up and gains weight… her feet. And she is a vicious gossip, always stirring the pot whenever she can, especially between Germany and Russia because she can’t help it, it’s so much fun. But even though you love to hate her, if she invites you to eat lunch at her table you are so there. As a matter of fact, you are cancelling all your other plans because when else is this going to happen for you?
Yeah, and she totally won debate, did a standing back tuck at cheerleading, and has the best grade in calculus. But she is so inflated right now......

England- America’s total bff. The two snap chat like you wouldn’t believe, and I mean all the time. Not to mention they are all over each other’s facebook, twitter, and Instagram. If you didn’t know better you would think they were speaking the same language! England is like America except more refined. However, England is not a gossip. She will put you down straight to your face. England wanted to be Queen of Student Government because it was her divine right but America took that away. And she was Queen Bee before America said it was unconstitutional. But after that dust up they became friends. England is an awesome soccer player. Not the best but really enthusiastic. But don’t go shopping with her. She takes over an entire dressing room like it is her empire, and she believes the world rises and sets on her time there. While England never bad mouths America behind her back, she does get a kick out of when her gossip bites her in the ass, when she messes up, and when she gains weight…….in her feet. That is, when she isn’t being a total friendemy to France.
America's bestie and the one who thinks the world rises and sets on her empire. It's like we all speak English?!

France- The first friend America made when she moved to town and totally introduced her to the in-crowd, inviting her to eat lunch with them. At first, England and America didn’t get along, and France was becoming America’s bestie. That is, until England got her rotten claws in America. Ungrateful bitch, when America moved to town no one would give her the time of day. However, America is friends with them both, and just as England is a friendemy to France, she totally returns the favor. When the two aren’t around, France totally bad mouths and gossips about them both. Moreso England than America though, because America is totally popular and France totally needs that friend. England is equally as shady to France. When they had the sleepover party, England was supposed to tell France but “forgot” to message her. So America mentioned it because she thought England told her, and France got pizzzzzzzeeeeedddd! But let it be known, France has the best hair and the cutest dog out of any of them. They can say all they want about her, but any lie is simply just Vichy.
Friend to America and Friendemy to England, she easily has the best hair out of the bunch and Germany always manages to ruin it!

Canada- Okay, kind of had to invite her. She’s England’s first cousin and America’ next door neighbor to the North. Although she hangs out with the pot smoking environmental hippie group and wears flannel, she’s loyal and kind. Canada is easy going and doesn’t care about the popular stuff. Plus she’s cool enough to be friends with everyone, including France in all fairness who is kind of a snob sometimes and totally is too obsessed with her hair. Oh and she gets along with Russia, and no one likes that shady biatch. In any event, Canada always brings great snacks and funny stories, and it offsets Russia and her depressing tales of winter and death. Canada’s Instagram handle is mapleleaf.
Quirky and a little out of the box but not totally a total obnoxious know it all demanding world domination. We like her. 

Poland- Oh this poor girl…..poor, poor girl. Poland is so beautiful but so dim witted. America’s 
mother made the bet she would graduate high school with child. And America’s mother suggested she do a nice thing and invite her. Poland isn’t a bad girl, just a hair twirling ditz on the lower track always cracking her bubble gum. But she is completely nice and works hard in school even though her marks aren’t high. Her outfits are always cute though and she is totally sweet, which is why England, America and occasionally France sticks up for her. (But France totally makes fun of her when she isn’t there). Germany and Russia are totally mean to her because they can be, but always shut up when America puts them in their place.
Nice and sweet, but everyone is always rolling over her like a war zone. 

Russia- Full name USSR, but she prefers her teachers call her Russia. She doesn’t like America, England and France and they do don’t like her. These eternal, spiteful friendemies have never said a bad word. However, they know Russia is totally shadily two faced. She is so your friend to your face but behind your back she is a different story. She’s not a gossip, but she’s always got some plan and it involves her getting over to get ahead. During the race for Homecoming Queen, Russia attempted to stuff the ballot box but lost. And then Russia started a coup to run for student government, but America wouldn’t recognize her campaign because her symbol was the hammer and sickle with the slogan Bolshevek, therefore making believe Russia didn’t exist, and Russia has never gotten over that. On occasion Russia, America, France, and England have been forced to work together on various school projects, and always with the highest grade in the class. But they are all so glad when it is over. Russia totally hates Germany, and no one likes that girl. Those two hate each other so much and go at it in every class because they want “world domination” and want to prove the other is “more superior.” Once in gym class the two got into a total catfight over Poland’s territory aka, Poland’s boyfriend. You see, Germany had invaded him first but then Russia had the same idea and it turned out they were both all over the same guy! Russia is a total downer, even though she is kinda pretty she tells depressing stories about winter and death at every party. And America had to invite Russia, she overheard America telling Poland about the party and you know how Russia can be.
Driven and intense, she just won't stop telling weird stories about death and world domination. 

Germany- Pretty, obnoxious, and athletic, Germany is a wannabe popular girl and like Russia will do anything to get ahead. Germany is more brazen than Russia, and has a chip on her shoulder that the popular girls won’t invite her to hang out, especially America. She thinks America is out of touch and knows nothing about high school politics. Germany wants to take over student government and believes in ridding the school of certain students, deporting these inferior beings to lesser districts, and even has said so when asked. She has a disturbing number of supporters, and even tried an unsuccessful Root Beer Hall Putsch to take over student government. Germany thinks she is better than everyone and even says it, something about her being “the master race.” The captain of the soccer team, she likes England, but England really doesn’t like her and promises her they will hang out but loses her number. Germany also kicks the ball in France’s face during gym class taunting her about always surrending, holding her hands up as she does so, and France always cries. Germany and Russia are total enemies as I said. Total enemies. They even had a twitter war last week. Germany said something about being a lesser being, and Russia said you are dumb enough to invade my personal space in winter. God those two never stop. Oh and the only reason she’s here tonight is because Germany totally invited herself.  
There she is, all about being athletic and Aryan

Austria- Germany’s first cousin, even though she only lives one town over the two are joined at the hip. Like America and England, they snap chat religiously and are always in each other’s business. The only downside is that Austria  goes to a different school, so those two can’t Nazi around as much as they want. But it never stops these two from doing what they need to do, and by looking at them you would swear they were so close they could just be annexed! Austria, like England, is more refined than Germany, and lives in a bigger, fancier house because her dad makes more money. She’s just as snotty, but less likely to say something brash and stupid. While she would never gossip about Germany, she does get a kick out of it when she makes a fool out of herself which is every 5 minutes. Austria and Germany’s favorite activity is making fun of France to her face and she makes it so easy, but most importantly, making fun of Italy behind her back. Despite the fact she lives one town over, Austria has organized their little effort by naming their clique The Axis Powers. She even has a secret facebook group for the friends to talk smack about others, especially Russia and America. The reason Austria is at the party tonight is because Germany told her as long as she’s going, Austria should come too. The upside of Austria, she brings some good, high class, rather expensive slumber party snacks.
Not as vocal but just as willing and complicit

Italy- Germany’s less popular but totally dedicated friend for life. Italy is actually a totally likeable girl, and America, France, and England would totally invite her, but they know she doesn’t make a move without Germany’s okay. And anywhere she goes, Germany is somewhere around the corner and we all know that nobody likes that girl. No one knows why Italy is friends with Germany. Maybe it’s because Germany knows how to throw a party, or she wants to avoid becoming like Poland. And Germany is so fake to her too, telling her she is awesome, all Roman Empire, but then totally making fun of her when she isn’t around with Austria helping out (and that girl is soooo fake). Italy is totally different when Germany is around, acting like her total hype woman, cruising all fascist to the mall. But she is so much prettier than Germany when she does her hair and makeup right, and the girl can cook. America and England totally thought of inviting her, and tried to but Germany was desperately listening in as usual. Alas, Italy is bringing some rockin, home cooked food to the slumber party. America doesn’t like stereotypes, but Italy has just fulfilled a good one.
I know you are all about the facist regime with no democracy, but you seriously need some new friends, girl. 

Japan- Germany’s bestie above all the rest. She kinda lives far away, but the two hang out on weekends. They met on Instagram and clicked because they had similar ideas. It was after Japan used the hashtag world domination for a selfie. Like Germany, she believes she is a member of the master race, so much so that it is her twitter handle. Japan has only met America once, but is super, duper jealous of all the attention she gets. Just to get even, Japan dressed up and tried to steal America’s boyfriend. Japan has never been mean to Poland because she doesn’t know her. She also doesn’t have a big mouth like Germany, and totally hates Russia because who doesn’t? (As we established no one likes that girl). Japan just rolls her eyes when Russia starts talking about her long winter……does she mean her period?! Actually, Japan never really gossips let alone speaks, but you know like Germany she has an opinion that she is the best. I heard she totally overheard Russia discussing an idea for a science project and stole it, winning first place in the competition. Russia was sooooooo pissed. But one could say Japan was a smash, almost atomic as a matter of fact.
She's a friend to Germany, Austria, and Italy but would so stab them in the back in a minute. But she has been shady to Russia all night. 

Friends of America, England, Canada, and Russia that could not attend: Yugoslavia, Norway, South Africa, Brazil, Belgium, Greece, China, Denmark and the Netherlands. (Each had reasons because of family stuff, etc. However, they are all keeping in touch via social media and jealous they are not there. They are also doing virtual eye rolls and gagging at how Russia is just so shady, not even smiling at the party, and Germany keeps acting like it is her night even though she went and crashed it, bringing her weirdo cousin weirdo friends. China really, really, really does not like Japan and is totally saying that outfit is like Nagasaki. But at least there’s Canada. Oh, and they are all kinda making fun of Poland, sorry, it’s a guilty pleasure).

Friends of Germany, Italy and Japan that could not attend: Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. (Like the others, family stuff, etc and are keeping track on social media. First and foremost, they are making fun of Poland and cannot believe Russia wore that outfit. But more than anything, they are so glad America is retaining water weight in her ankles. Finally there is something wrong with that girl. And of course they are going to lie and say she looks great the next time they see her. They are getting a kick out of the fact that Austria got an Instagram of Germany and Italy with magic marker all over there faces. It might have been Japan…….). 

But this party ends in all out war

Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Internet Tale

It's true and this story will tell you why
The other day, a weird thing happened. It was a facebook message I got out of no where. A message from someone from my past. I wouldn’t say a man from my past because we had no romantic history whatsoever. It was a guy I knew from high school that I will call Jake. We worked in the same supermarket bagging groceries as teenagers.

Jake attended the school at the district next door to ours. He was a pretty average looking, nondescript kind of guy. From what I gathered, Jake was an average student too, and I think he ended up at some sort of state school and majored in something not so spectacular, practical, and vague like business. We were friendly but not friends. Jake and I talked, but it’s not like we ever hang out outside of work.

Jake’s dad, Mr. Pines, was a store manager. Our store had several different departments. One was the front end. Then there was the deli. We cannot forget hot foods. And then there were the butchers. Lest we not forget video and stock. Oh I did. I forgot floral. Anyway, I think his dad managed stock. He was a nice guy as I remember and a little high strung. Prior to me leaving he actually had a minor heart attack.

But Mr. Pine was a good guy. At the supermarket where we worked, we had a sort of deal with a local group home and hired several of their residence. One young woman, Sally, was learning disabled and had a tinge of OCD. She was obsessed with doing go backs, aka putting items back on the shelf that people decided not to get at the register. Sally also told each customer what she put in each bag and would yell at other baggers when they put more than 5 items in a bag. Five was her limit, and there could be no more. Sally would count out loud, “1,2,3,4,5……” It drove everyone crazy, and front end managers would want to get rid of her. Mr. Pines, always stuck up for her though. Despite the fact she was hard to love, he knew she wasn’t right.

Another mentally disabled man, Steve, would often refer to himself as Donald Duck and would demand others did so. Whenever he felt the urge, Steve would quack at customers, and knowing he was “special” as they diplomatically pitched, they laughed it off. However, where Steve became troublesome was when he threated to get a bomb and blow up the store. Steve lived in a group home for those with special needs, there was no way he would have the means let alone ability to make this happen. But this was a terroristic threat, and it had to be taken seriously nonetheless since it was indeed post 9/11.

The bosses wanted to fire Steve, but he was simply suspended. This was largely in part to Mr. Pines who insisted Steve was who he was and that had to be taken into account. Afterwards, Steve was moved to stocking shelves at the suggestion of Mr. Pines. A job where he would not and could not interact with anyone.

One thing about Mr. Pines was he was extremely high strung, and had every right to be. We had a record number of idiot teens working the job. One Vincent Clamente, would smoke weed on the job instead of doing carts. Mr. Pines notoriously took his weed, threw it in the garbage, and told Vincent never to return. Thank God, we all hated that asshole.  

Mr. Pines would yell at some of the idiots we worked with and was also a heavy smoker. Being high strung and smoking a pack a day caught up with him and eventually he had a heart attack. These are the days of our lives.

In any event, Jake’s school district was next to mine. His high school was half the size of ours. We knew some of the same people, mainly because I had a brief childhood stint as an ice skater and did shows at a local summer theatre for children in the park.

Jake’s home town was the notorious place where my former classmates drank to the point of black out. It’s where the Paulo’s threw the “parents out of town” parties and then our kids scooted out before their local law enforcement who made Barney Fife look like he had it going on showed up. It also had groves where kids got into drugs and in each other’s pants. And it had parking lots where some brutal fights occurred. Alas, or as my mom says, “Too much leisure time.”

One time Jake and I bonded was in regards to our co-worker Don. Oh yes, Don. Or Don Juan as he came to be termed by the guys working front end. Don was no more than 21, and worked in hot foods. Barely 5’7” and having sandy blonde hair, Don fancied himself a ladies man. Desperate to get laid, Don cast his net and wide. I would say he was dragging the dollar bill through the trailer park but that would mean Don was somewhat selective. To be hit on by Don, you required a pulse and nothing more.

A man who recognized me from television took this photo. Don would have so hit on her. 
But I shouldn't be too proud, Don hit on that too. It's what we used to say he would screw but a little fucked up if you keep reading. Oh irony, you are a bitch. 

At the time, Don was allegedly having a regular sexual fling a ding with a woman who worked in the bakery. Mind you this woman who was “married and in her 30s” was never produced. It was Don’s story and he was sticking to it. Whenever Don would talk about his regular piece of action, Jake and I would exchange a look of knowing, knowing that she was a better piece of fiction than JD Salinger could ever write. Of course, real or imagined, this regular action was not enough for Don. So he kept on hunting, and with absolutely no success.

Don hit on me once. It was around the time everyone was beginning to suspect his conquest was named Palmela and located on his right hand. I was doing some AP European History homework, and Don approached, ready for action. He asked what I liked to do for fun and I knew what was coming. So I told Don I liked to study and I was focused on getting into college, focused on my future. I told Don my education and future came first, men second. Don was stunned not knowing what to do with this information, and stunned that he was shot down again.

“That is a point of view that is way too liberated for me.” Don announced and walked away. Granted, I think he wanted me to pull down his pants and go down on him right there, but that is not the way things typically worked. Alas, Don could dream, right? Jake and I looked at each other and laughed. Don……

Either way, a week later Don was dead. Apparently, he had been struggling with drugs for some time, specifically heroin. The poor thing had been in and out of rehab for the past 2 years. He had been clean until his overdose. Like so many addicts wanting recovery but not being able to get the solution, Don tried to fill the space with something else. That something else was women. What a bad something else, especially since he had no luck in that department. Plus from what I heard his family life was pretty horrific anyway.

Still, it gave me shivers that he hit on me and he was dead. There is a part of me that wants to make a joke that just as there are “lady killers” I’m a “man killer.” Don was so cheesy he would probably laugh too. But alas, it’s kind of disrespectful to people who have lost someone as a result of active addiction.

I was at the job a little after Don’s passing. It was more or less because I had to get set to apply for colleges, and the process was quite detailed. There were the auditions, essays, applications, and all else in between. I ultimately ended up getting accepted to and attending NYU. Shortly after getting accepted to college, my mom got a job at a local health club as the aquatics director, and I came to work as one of her lifeguards and ultimately as a water aerobics instructor.

Shortly before getting into NYU with Sweetie Pie. She has been with me a long time and through a great many adventures. 

Then I left for college and worked at the health club between semesters. Either way, I didn’t return to the supermarket and lost track of Jake.

Of course life happens as it always inevitably does, and social media makes the world a tad smaller. Several years ago I got a request from Jake and took it. Why not? From there we never said much to each other.

However, that is until the other day.

Out of nowhere I got a message from Jake. He told me I looked like I hadn’t aged since high school. While I am an eternal Princess Pan chasing the never ending rainbow of my pipe dream, I am well aware that time has passed. Old school friends are married and have kids. My own sister is even set to walk down the aisle. While it seems like yesterday we were all wearing mom jeans and scrunchies, I am know yesterday's gone with the wind.

On the same token, I have no desire for marriage and children really at this point. I’m happily single. I was engaged and that ended badly, very badly. Then there have been several guys I talked about getting married with. It didn’t happen and each time it has been for the best, and each time I went through a phase of happy before wanting to run towards my freedom. I love performing for children, and I love children in general. They are sacred beings. But being a mom is a different ball game entirely. Plus I love my being my own woman, a woman who is not forced to serve a man.

I do not envy the married. 

Jake told me I looked hotter than I did in high school. Now that’s funny. Granted, I was kind of a mopette in high school. My makeup always looked like I was a drag queen who met with an unfortunate hail storm. Not to mention I was kind of chunky. You see, I had been a gymnast as a kid but got injured. Then I tried the whole diving thing but never got used to entering head first and kinda sucked at it anyway. I even toyed with the idea of being a circus acrobat for a minute. But when I fell into the whole performing/writing thing, I cut down on the physical activity sports gave. So I had a little junk in my trunk. Translated, it wasn’t hard for me to be “hotter” than I was in high school.
I laughed it off. Jake was always a nice dude. He mentioned he lived in Miami. Apparently his family went after his dad’s heart attack and he followed. Jake mentioned he was at the beach whenever possible, which made me somewhat envious. In a short minute, Jake followed this by informing me I had a body made for a beach. If I didn’t know any better, I had a feeling he was channeling Don’s dead spirit for terrible pick up lines. Actually, Don’s were usually more successful, and Don always struck out.
They thought I had a bikini body in Guatemala. Perhaps this is where Jake got the idea......or not. 

Then Jake asked if I had ever been to a nude beach. I told him no. So Jake decided to invite me if I ever came to Florida. Taking it a step further, Jake asked me what my body would look like at a nude beach. Okay, it was official. Don, even dead, probably had more game than Jake.

Jake asked me what my body would look like at a nude beach. I told him to use his imagination. Jake then told me it would be like high school. He would show me his if I would how him mine. Now I was officially speechless.

Just curious to see what he was up to, I went to Jake’s facebook page. He was married with two kids. Jake’s wife wasn’t terribly beautiful, but she wasn’t ugly either. While she wasn’t a knock out, she was probably someone who didn’t have time to doll up because she was busy raising two kids as her moron husband was trying to see if he still had it on facebook. Despite my beliefs about monogamy being outdated, I had a feeling she would disagree with me. So much so that if this continued, I would get a nasty message from her and rightfully so.

Plus she was minding her own business. Boys will be boys, and it was apparent her husband had not matured since high school. Yeah, he probably still loved her but wanted to scratch an itch. He was probably in heat, feeling like he was getting old, and probably having such less sex because it was starting to produce kids. I am well aware men were created solely to cat around, it’s biology. So when I am with a dude, I tell him I know he’s gonna fuck around. But just be careful, don’t bring her or goodies home, and don’t tell me about it. Either way, she probably wasn’t as evolved as I was when it came to these things, and this was probably going to devastate her. While I am about being revolutionary in that sense, I am not about hurting other people who don’t deserve to be hurt.
If only men would adopt this principal, especially in being so cavalier about their exploits. But alas, when I got home I saw he had blocked me. WTF?! Where does this moron get off on blocking me?! What did I do?

Jake after his wife found out we had been talking. 

Then I knew exactly what happened. Jake, in his effort to get some pics for his spank bank, probably was not thinking with the right head and left his IM window open. His wife probably saw it, beat his ass, and made him block me. Jake, bored, sexually frustrated father of two’s fun is over. About now, he is probably taking residence in his backyard, and might be sleeping there until further notice. And maybe this isn’t Jake’s first infraction and he might be getting the burn notice.

Jake's wife 

Either way, Don is still the smoother of the two and his ass his dead. Still, it’s nice to know I am hotter than I was in high school, especially since as I mentioned I was a mopette chunkette. Did I mention that I do not envy the married? 
In loving memory of Don. We all shot you down when we lived but just as you got a kick out of the drugs I get a kick out of you. For the fun times we never had. And for Jake, knowing he is barred from ever contacting me again. Shame on his wife for ruining his party. Oops.....he kinda didn't just leave her out. But details, details.......

Friday, February 19, 2016

10 Types of People I Avoid

Yes, I avoid these people and so should you. Actually, I think we all should avoid disconcerting individuals like this. If we did, the world would be a better place.

1. Anyone who has an update on an ex in jail. (It's not going to be good, I don't want to know, and I am stopping this cause I don't care).

2. Anyone who starts a sentence with, "As a Christian....." (Cause you know something bigoted and  obnoxious will follow).

3. Anyone who is a constant gossip. You can't ever tell them anything at any time. (Bitch, mind yo shit).

4. Anyone who brags about being friends with celebrities when they aren't a celebrity themselves. (Just smells like dangerous wannabe).

5. Anyone who has a rational reason for voting for Donald Trump ('Nuff said).

6. Anyone who claims to make "a lot of money." (Usually those people are broke assed broke, or stupid like they wanna go the way of the Lindbergh baby).

7. Anyone who believes Reality TV is real. (Dear God, there are those people. I promise you that).

8. Anyone who reads and comments on Gawker religiously. (The bottom dwellers of the wannabe world).

9. Anyone who constantly corrects your grammar. (McKean's Law, if you are correcting my grammar you probably have a grammatical error yourself, Twat).

10. Anyone who starts a sentence with, "Hitler really was one of the good guys, you see, he just wanted to contain the Jewish problem...." (Yes, I have met people like this. EEEEEEKKKK!!!!)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

From Russia With Love (Matt Munro)

When I was barely old enough to walk and not quite old enough to start school, the former Soviet Union fell. The monolithic empire toppled down live on our television screens. It was a bitter sweet magical end for a people enslaved under what the Western World considered evil, Communism. Goliath had been stuck and now he lay death. The Cold War was over.

For years, the USSR, or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was the enemy of America. The Ruskies were the hammer and cycle loving red wearing beings. Although a shot was never fired, the Cold War was a vicious battle for world domination and supremacy, between two giants. It was a time the president supposedly had a thing known as the Bat Phone, a line that could go straight from the US to the Soviet Union.

It was a time of intense fear as the Rosenbergs had their jello molds and the traitorous trio sent to the gas chamber for treason. My parents practiced the duck and cover drills in school. Yes, you duck and cover because that is what will keep you safe in the event of a nuclear meltdown. Note, a metal desk has never kept anyone safe from being liquidated. So if they dropped the bomb, with this strategy, we would have all been shit outta luck.

The Soviet Union was akin to the girl you hated in school. Sure, she was pretty, smart, and you never said a bad word. Ya just didn’t like the bitch. Just as she was shady to you, you were shady back. And it’s tough to really say who was shady first. But it all went to a pinnacle when you saw her out with your buddy’s boyfriend and she was holding his hand like she owned him, tramp. She knew you saw her, and she made sure you knew. Either way, from day one, the shade was eternal on both sides.

Flag of the Former Soviet Union

In this struggle, the US was definitely the perky, more popular, prettier than the two and Russia just wanted to establish she saw that she gained weight……in her feet. You could tell by the antics of the notorious Cold War. The space race for instance. The Soviets sent a rocket. Then America sent a rocket with an animal. Take that. Well USSR had another trick up her sleeve. She sent a guy, kiss my ass America. Finally, America sent a mission to the moon. Oh Russia was screaming like a banshee on prom night.

We were merciless with our media as we took jabs at our enemies, letting Russia know we didn’t like her. Boris and Natasha were colorful yet simpleton foes, always duped by Rockie and Bullwinkle, or “Moose and Squirrel.”

James Bond, who was British secret service but worked for the CIA, went to Russia with Love. The Beetles even reached out there too. It was successful but awkward. It was a try though….

Supposedly, the CIA was as crazy as they say it was during that point. J. Edgar Hoover, the conservative, supposedly dressed in women’s clothing while working “undercover.” There are movies where they lampoon the former CIA head, and in one a comedian pretends to be a chair. Oh national security. Oh Cold War. You were quite a time.

The threat of War with Russia was real too. A contact of mine in Vegas, who was an ROTC officer in college and trained South Vietnamese soldiers during Vietnam, learned Russian in high school and college just in case. Mind you, this was during Bay of Pigs. The bungled mission of mercy was followed by an embargo.

In retrospect, we only focus on the wrong Castro did. However, we never discuss the racial segregation that was the rule in Cuba. We never discuss the supremacy the white Cuban landowners lorded over their Afro Cuban brethren. We never speak about how Castro, while an isolationist, created a society where equality and racial integration are the norm.

As I mentioned, my parents were coming of age during this time. There were many peace measures on behalf of the Soviet Union and US. One was a Khruschev trip to the United States. Khruschev made a trip to Mesta in Pittsburgh. It was where my dad’s father and his grandfather worked, as a master machinist and roller turner respectively. The reason for the trip was Pittsburgh was a center of industry. Mind you this was before the mills closed, and although I never met either they always got a kick out of telling this story. 

Khruschev was a colorful character. The Premier’s fiery antics raised eyebrows and made one chuckle. At a UN meeting, he took his shoe off and banged it on the table when he felt he wasn’t getting his point across. The Premier was wearing an expensive watch. At the time there was a man named Earl Stevens working in the mill. He was a half black, half Cherokee Korean War vet who had a drinking problem. Earl saw Khruschev walking through the mill and complimented the Premier on his watch. Khruschev took it off his wrist and gave it to Earl. The blue color guys who had only ever seen someone of Khruschev’s power on television ohhhed and awwwed.

Khruschev of course was making a statement. He had heard all the American talk about how the people of Russia were being oppressed and mistreated. He had heard all the talk about the evil of Communism. Yet he knew a man like Earl who worked and paid taxes was treated like a second class citizen. Khruschev wasn’t stupid. He knew about the Civil Right’s Movement. By giving him his watch, it was Ms. USSR letting Ms. America know she was reading her, and this was instant shade in her direct. This of course was perhaps inspired by Gary Powers and his U2 spy mission gone wrong as well. Oh history.

As I mentioned, Earl was a terrible drunk. While oppression proved rather lucrative in this case, booze can be expensive and this watch was nice. So he pawned it.

Khruschev banging his shoe at the UN

After these uneasy peace missions was a decade of more shade. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, America boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. Four years later, the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics in Los Angeles and produced The Friendship Games, a rival event. It was a war with no shots fired but jabs taken at each other on both ends. America and the USSR were the party guests who took cheap shots at each other but there was no physical violence. When both left the room someone else uttered, “Okay, moving right along….”

Some of this shade still exists on the part of the Russians today. Years ago, I was selected to do a land bridge because of some of my television exposure. Russians had questions for Americans, and Americans had questions for Russia. The Russians had heard stories of American children being adopted and abused, and they felt the United States was coming to Russia to steal the DNA of Russian children. This made me furious because I have cousins adopted from Russia, 4 to be exact, and all in good homes.

On top of that, the Russians were under the impression that we were a country where homosexuals were abducting children, because LGBTQ people are notoriously persecuted there. Not to mention they thought we dated online because we were always accusing each other of sexual harassment. Some of this was funny, and some of this was sad. This was all a part of the perpetual, no reason shade Russia and America threw at each other. At the same time, it was an education in how sheltered the people still were and how their media warped the perception of America. Mind you, while it is easy to throw stones at Russia, our American media perverts the truth, too.

Mind you, all this confusion and misconception came during the events that precipitated the Cold War. The trigger of course for the war where there was never a shot fired came as a result of Korea. Truman wanted to contain the spread of Communism, and because of the Domino Theory they feared that if one nation fell to Communism others would fall. Thus gave birth to The Marshall Plan.
Harry Truman, a well-intended fellow who had a lot to deal with, wanted to contain the spread of Communism so the Soviet Union couldn’t expand. He sent the US Troops to Korea. Known as Mr. Truman’s War, while he did contain he accidentally and unknowingly started The Cold War. In retrospect, given the feeling on both sides, perhaps this was the best solution with the least amount of lives lost. However, it created more bad feeling and more fear on both sides. It is safe to say Mr. Truman was in a lose/lose situation either way.

Either way, Russia had long since sought a national identity and found one, that of a Communist empire. Because of this, Russia, or Leningrad as it became, became a training center for Communist Revolutionary Trainees. One of the most legendary graduates was none other than Ho Chi Minh. First approaching Woodrow Wilson, Ho Chi Minh vocalized his want of a free Vietnam ruled by the Vietnamese people instead of the French and Chinese repeatedly victimizing his people. Woodrow Wilson dismissed the little Asian man, a move Americans would come to regret.

Hi Chi Minh, a true son of the revolution and hero to his people. Stop making him a monster, Western World. 

Ho became the champion of the peasants, their savior. For centuries, they had been at the mercy of landlords who oppressed them, demanding higher taxes, rent, and a share of their crops. These landlords feasted off the flesh and bones of their peasants, not caring that they and their families starved. So when Ho rose to power, he sought retribution on the demon landlords by starving them. When Vietnam fell to Communism, it was finally a free Vietnam devoid of Chinese and French influence.

While American history teachers do nothing short of making Ho Chi Minh akin to Satan, he was more or less a benevolent dictator who truly cared about the people he served. He was a true son of the Communist Revolution. He still has a postage stamp in his homeland, and you are penalized for trash talking the man.

All and all, because we were busy giving international dirty looks to the Soviet Union, we sent our boys to die in the jungle. And for what? Because we feared what might happen, and didn’t? Or we wanted to prevent the inevitable in a place where we had no business? Or we wanted to stick our nose in a place where Communism may have improved the lives of the peasants? And in the process, the generation that did not die was destroyed for a point that was never proven. Oh Russia and America, you have both behaved so badly here.

My father feels in retrospect Vietnam was a wise move. That if not contained the Soviet Union would raged out of control and a record number of countries would have fallen to Communism. It’s useless to debate about what did not happen, but history is never black or white, neither is war. Rather, it is a miasma of gray.

As an AP European History student in high school, I had an instructor by the name of Miss Garber. She was easily one of the brightest people I have ever come into contact with. A true genius and eternal, dedicated messenger of the record of events, I often wondered why she was wasting our time with us and not teaching in college. Unlike many history teachers in America, lazy because of time, she refused to give us a one dimensional, simplistic view of why the world was the way it was. For that, I will always be grateful.

During one class she posed the question, "Is Russian European or Asian?"

Since it’s land mass was so large, we came up confused for the most part. Some of the class said Europe. Others said Asia. I was in the group that said it was both. "The question is unanswered, and it is a question that people have been asking for centuries." Ms. Garber replied, half smiling.
Yes it was true, Russia was a country who, up to Communism had lacked a national identity and was desperately seeking one. As to whether it was European or Asian, it wasn’t even sure. When one thinks of it, because of Russia’s vast makeup, it’s more ethnically varied than the US could ever be. In the European part of Russia, they are all fair haired and fair skinned. As you go farther East, however, skin gets darker as do the eyes and hair. Finally when you reach the Asian part of the county, the people are very Asiatic looking.

Mind you, the people also live differently. In the European part are the cities and the universities. It is where the art and culture occur. When one gets to the Asian part, the people are more or less nomadic. They herd sheep and live in huts. They are of Turkic descent, having migrated in the Middle Ages. They are products of Mongul invasions and all that occurred there. And then there were the Korean migrants who came for work in the 19th century and just stayed.

To give you an idea, both Olga Korbut and Nellie Kim, both Soviet gymnastic stand outs and teammates at various points in time, are both Russian. And both women could not look more different.
Olga Korbut

Nellie Kim

Also, as I mentioned in Europe are where the big cities are. Once you leave the cities and hit the plains, you hit arid wasteland, and can drive for days at a time without seeing a soul. The winters are long and miserable and this is why Checkov was a hit. And then the winters are severe, and some places are near artic and uninhabitable such as Siberia. However, in other places, wheat can be grown rather successfully. As a matter of fact, Russia used to export wheat quite a bit.

Around the 15th century, the confused country began to take steps in forging a national identity. Peter the Great, destined to be Czar, decided to take a pilgrimage before ascending to the throne he was divinely destined to according to the principal of divine right of kings. He made his first trip ever outside of Russia and saw how the rest of the world lived. During his trip to Germany, he saw cuckoo clocks, and no such thing existed in Russia. He also saw boats and had never seen one let alone been on one during his time working with his hands in a shipyard. Growing fond of the work, he became an expert with knots.

Peter the Great also saw men were beginning to shave and also mixed socially with women. He also witnessed people eating with utensils. This was not even fathomable in Russia. Peter the Great took his discoveries home. Soon there were cuckoo clocks keeping time. Men and women mixed socially. Males shaved. And the steps began to found The Russian Navy. Thus he has gone down in history as the father of modern Russia.

Mind you, like all other countries in Europe, Russia wanted to emulate the Roman Empire. Thus the Russian ruler was known as The Czar, and the German ruler the Kaiser in reference to Julius Caesar. And both nations were grappling for a national identity at the very same time.

Russia’s quest for a national identity got a big break when the serfs were freed around the same time the slaves were freed in America. It was all irony and no planning. While not slaves in the technical sense, the serfs were part of the feudal system. They were forced to work for the Lord of the Manor and give him a portion of their crops, even if it meant they starved. Granted, they could technically leave if they wanted to, but could not afford to do so.

Around this time, Marx and Engle began to write. Their first words were, “Workers of the world unite.” Enter VI Lenin.  

Although Communism has gone down as destructive and proven unworkable, let’s talk about how the world became this mess in the first place, especially Russia. Yes, as the nobles feasted on the work of the middle class and peasants. These were people sick and tired of being sick and tired. Sick and tired of the "divine right." Sick and tired of not having the class mobility and sick and tired of working hard and still being poor. Actually, this is almost, ironically, what America is becoming now.
Sure, Lenin and Stalin may have been power hungry and evil. But perhaps the real bad guys are the rest of the world for ignoring the plight of these people as long as they did.

Around the time their national identity was coming to fruition, Russia was a strange bedfellow with the rest of Europe. While it was far away and sometimes distant, the Czar's grandmother, much like the Kaiser's, was Queen Victoria. However, there was also racial tension between Russia and Germany. For centuries, the Germanic people had long believed they were superior to the Slavs, and that the Slavs were inferior in every way. Hitler even said as much in Mein Kampf. However, this was nothing new. If anything, the Germanic feeling of racial superiority helped pull the Princip trigger that killed Archduke Ferdinand.

Yes, it can be said that it is a bad habit of the German people.

The Russians returned the favor. Because the Czarina was German by birth, they believed she was a traitor by default. They believed she was disloyal, a spy when the war broke out. They also believed she felt a comfortable superiority. While it has never been confirmed, one can ascertain based on European politics at the time they  were probably closer to correct than not.

For the first part of WWI, Russia fought as an Ally to UK and France. However, Germany wanted Russia out of the picture. Lenin, who was exiled, was put on a train by German officials and given a ticket back to Russia. A professional revolutionary and effective speaker, he would do what they wanted, rid Germany of Russia. Hence the Revolution began.
VI Lenin, in some Revolutionary action shot

It was a whole complicated mess, and no blog would do it justice, only a book. Russia began to invade neighboring countries and absorbed them. While it was cruel in some ways, these citizens had come to Russia for economic opportunities to begin with. Also, with the Russian system in place, people had academic and athletic opportunities they did not have previously. A gifted person's athletic and academic achievements could get their family a house from the state, something they may have never had.  Granted, it also meant being taken as a child, which was emotionally and mentally scarring for these proteges. Plus they had universal healthcare. So in many ways better, in many ways worse.

Any progress was at the expense of these states losing their individuality and national identity. Russian, a language hated by the former Republics in freedom, was spoken in schools. Religion outlawed as both a measure of national identity and security. Or as Karl Marx said, "Religion is the opium of the people." Now the identity was complete. Everyone was Russian.

Just as Russia was that shady acting girl, the United States was the high school cheerleader that loved to stir the pot in the girl's locker room by throwing shade of our own. During WWI, as Russia had exited in order to contend with the Communist Revolution, American troops marched into the USSR. Thus they were captured. Woodrow Wilson, rather than bargain, refused to do so because it meant recognizing the Soviet government. Thus we left 5000 of our troops to parish, all just to thumb democracy and capitalism into the nose of our Communist foe.

Around that time, Oliver Wendell Holmes, a well-known Supreme Court Justice, ruled that it was constitutional to sterilize  a mentally disabled young woman. In his decision he wrote, "One generation of imbeciles is enough." (Germany would later cite this, word for word). Also, conversely, there were studies about a family called the Kallikak’s in South Jersey, supporting eugenics.

Russia, long before Germany got the idea, began a long campaign of Jewish persecution because the Jews did not match the Russian ethnic picture. While Germany hated Jews, their Jews lived on the outskirts of town but worked and generally did not clash with their neighbors, they were just alienated. Russia passed anti-Jewish laws long before Germany. Russian Jews were not allowed to own land let alone go to school. When he got a chance, Stalin set up concentration camps of his own to exterminate them as well as anyone else who opposed his iron fist rule. However, because they were our Allies in WWII we swept this under the rug. Hitler was the big Jew killer. Meanwhile, Stalin killed more Jews and even more of his own people.

Mind you, just as Germany and Russia were desperate to find a national identity, so was America. After all, we had only just wizened the tiara of World Super Power.  Like three annoying college students with snot noses and big mouths, and so our journey's began.

While WWI ended, the Germans and Russians hated each other and with a passion. Many thought this would foolishly be the war to end all wars, but it only caused more conflict. When Europe was reworked, Czechoslovakia was created. It was a territory composed of Germanic and Slavic peoples. The Germans detested their forced countrymen, and likewise. During a census, a region of the country was classified as Slavic and their was a riot were several people were killed.

When Hitler rose to power, he wanted Germany to have it's chance to shine. He wanted to merge all the Germanic people's of Europe into one. However, it must be known that while the German's had a superiority complex, they also had a chip on their shoulder. During the days of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, they had fought the Roman Legion many a time and had never been defeated. They fought until the death, refusing to retreat then, and continued this practice until WWII. (Because their descendants settled in the Alps of Northern Italy, this is in part why Italy was an Axis Power). Despite the fact the Romans feared these people who even had their women fight, they were never able to achieve the level of greatness let alone organization that Rome did. The Kaiser had promised and failed. Now Hitler swore to make this dream come true, domination for the Teutonic peoples.

Hitler: Evil Nazi Maniac looking like the product of a bad one night stand between Chef Boyardee and The Pillsbury Dough Boy

Stalin had the same dream for Russia. Long since the dawn of time, they had been laughed at and gawked at by Western Statesman. They too wanted their shot at what was the closest they could get to a Roman Empire. Stalin sought to make Russia a great military power, and sought to destroy Germany or anyone else who got in his way. Like Hitler, he invaded countries like Poland simply because he felt like it. Like Hitler, he wanted to expand the living space for Slavic people everywhere. And this dark haired, bushy eye brow possessing poetry loving former safe cracker from the Baltic State of Georgia (a place where he is still regarded as a hero), sought to nationalize all Slavs by making Russia their language. Just like Princep before him, he was tired of the Germanic people oppressing the Slavs. He and his people too had a chip on their shoulder. They too wanted not only vocal nationalistic pride, but also world domination.

Stalin waving, happy after the weekly starving of the peasants

While both are evil and were mad men that slowly dragged their people to the pits of hell, it can be safe to say they were rancid dishes of tuna noodle casserole cooking in the oven of Europe for several centuries.

During WWII, Russia remained impossible to invade because of the land mass and unbearable weather. Due to the fact winter begins early there, just like Napoloen before him, Hitler invaded in the winter and stupidly so. It was a disaster, because the German's froze to death. Winter coats, women's winter coats, had to be expressed dropped, and therefore the Nazi's looked pretty glamorous as they got frost bite. Mind you, nothing is gayer than the goosestep or those uniforms. For a bunch of latent homophobes, this really sealed the deal.

 Russia were allies, but uneasy bedfellows. Churchill especially did not trust Stalin and was vocal about this. Meanwhile, Rommel, aka The Desert Fox, had been especially critical of Hitler. Rommel felt Hitler was a mad man who would drag Germany into the ground. While German troops did not traditionally retreat, Rommel was a career soldier and felt they were losing men unnecessarily. Not to mention he treated the men he captured fairly. A career soldier, he opposed the mistreatment of Jews. He only took the job because as I mentioned, he was a career soldier. While his son joined because all German boys did of age, Rommel was also not impressed with the Hitler Youth movement and said so whenever possible.

Rommell proposed assassinating Hitler, making peace with UK and America, and marching to Russia to invade. His plan was discovered and he was forced to drink poison. Rommel was onto something. Poor guy.

The war ended and Churchill's suspicion grew and he relayed it to Roosevelt, thus the seeds of an unspoken, cease fire conflict began.

While Russia and America never formally came to blows, there has been some Post-Vietnam discourse about POWs that were deserted not only by Nixon, but by the American government not just because it was c but they were impossible to find. There is talk of these POWs having been transported to the former Soviet Union to possibly serve out their prison sentence. While some of this conjecture is regarded as wild conspiracy, there might be some truth to this. The USSR hated us as much as we hated them, and they were looking to screw us as much as we were looking to screw them. Why not?

Either way, this was academic and media painted picture was the only reference I had to the former Soviet Union until I was a teenager. Mind you, there was the labeling of the 15 former Republics in Mrs. Pontist’s class before that, but then as I mentioned I have 4 cousins adopted from Russia. My aunt and uncle, unable to have children of their own, went to Moscow in the dead of winter to retrieve what would be 2 boys and 2 girls. Spectacular human beings, one is a champion fencer, another a science whiz with dreams of becoming a surgeon, another is captain of her silks squad, and the littlest one is a talented gymnast. Either way, these kids who began their journey in Russia have added greatly to the fabric of my family.

As a young comedian, I also did many spots in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. I met a lot of people of Russian descent. Blunt, outspoken, honesty, funny, and hardworking, they also proved loyal. Many like myself were not just living the American dream, but trying to live the comedy dream as their family members shook their heads.

These past few months, I have been receiving a lot of international press, and a significant amount from Russia. Friends of mine who speak Russian fluently have proudly translated and we have laughed out loud. Even if nothing comes of all this international press, at least I can say that I got to experience the world in a way many don’t get to, and got to learn a lot about the world I inhabit that I did not know.
The whole family in a Russian paper

Additionally, Laurel of Laurel’s sew shop who made my costume, got featured as well. As did Rik Sansone’s child of SPAZ Comics. Essentially, we all got a free trip to Russia.

A friend told me that puppets are popular in Russia. There is a popular show where a bunny puppet reads bedtime stories to children. Just like American parents, they too want to make sure their children are loved and cared for. Maybe by getting my press I did my part to bridge the gap. Maybe I will even get to be so lucky to perform their someday. My opening line will be, “Ivan, you are terrible…” Just kidding.

Either way, Russia, this history loving, puppet carrying dork who can’t keep a man wants to send you her love. 

May Wilson and I holding 2nd edition of SPAZ. Costume by Laurel of Laurel's Sew Shop.