The Haunted Coconut

The American Voter’s Big Damn Choice: Principles vs. Power

Confess it now, I am registered as a Democratic voter in America. And if you’ve ever loved a sports team that consistently chokes in the playoffs, then you understand what it is like to support a party that struggles with its conscience so acutely. For every apology and resignation, for every political bean that wobbles on policies to meet poll-tested expectations, the party grows more and more flaccid.

However, disappointing as Democratic candidates and officials may be, they are not solely to blame for the party’s crushing losses. The voters are perhaps the most complicit. Yes, you. You with the protest votes. You with the disgruntled Facebook posts.

You, the voter, are the worst.

And this is probably because you have not yet recognized the empirical truth that there is a binary choice in American elections that never changes–no matter the politicians, the party, the year, or the economy:

You can vote for power, or you can let your principles vote against power.

I shouted this during Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House. Yeah, she never figured out an inspiring message and she sounded like a robot most of the time. Sure, she wanted it so badly that there was froth caked on the edges of her mouth for the better part of a year. That was gross.

But I sat back in horror, absolutely agog that so many of my friends and cohorts were willing to give away their power in favor of their principles by staying home on Election Day. Or voting for Jill Stein. Or writing in Bernie or Tyrion Lannister.

They bemoaned, Bernie “should have” won (except that he lost). Hillary isn’t progressive enough. The DNC played foul with the primaries. Hillary has dirt under her fingernails (as if most voters could actually describe the dirt in detail). She hasn’t spoken out on [fill in the blank] issue recently enough. She’s going to win anyway…

Yes, you and your principles did the nation dirty.

Your heart couldn’t help it. You were swayed by some kind of notion of honor or rebellion or fantasy. And so you commandeered a luxury you had no right to–the luxury of voting for your principles with no regard for the cold, hard reality of power. And, really, how dare you?

It’s good to have principles. They are fine and good for journals and diaries. They are moving at dinner parties.  It is a worthy fight to assert your heart’s courageous burnings when encouraging candidates to run, shoring up votes, raising funds, or (more importantly) advocating legislative electoral changes between election cycles.

But once the ballots are finalized, the time for principles has come and gone. If you want power, you choose between the Democratic nominee or the Republican. One of those two will win. One of those two will nominate judges. One of those two will impact climate change. One of those two will alter your health care choices.

If your principles ache in denial of reality, then I feel for you. Nothing about politics is fair. Damn straight, there should be a viable multi-party system. Damn straight, Iowa shouldn’t get to caucus first. Damn straight, the Electoral College shouldn’t supersede the popular vote. Damn straight, you liked that other primary candidate better.

It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair!

I know.

But now that we’ve gotten that whingeing out of our systems, we can touch back down to earth and accept the bleak truth that if you want power, you have to vote in the election that is real. Not the one in your fantasies.

Let’s put it this way: Suppose you sit down at a table with a Monopoly game laid out and begin shouting “But I want to play Scrabble!” You kick your feet and line up letter tiles along the edge of the board. The problem, of course, is that you’re going to lose. Because the game is Monopoly.

Play the game. Win the game. Take the power, as imperfect and compromised as it may be.

I truly hope that your principles may always intersect with the sober choice of handing someone power. But if they don’t, suck it up, stash your letter tiles away for another night, and start mortgaging your red properties before Aunt Griselda gets her sweaty racist mitts on both Park Place and Boardwalk.

Democrats, don’t you let me down again. Your principles aren’t high-minded and sexy when health, safety, and equality are on the line. Play the game in front of you. Play it for power.

 

Stars Hollow Unhinged: The Dark Side of the Gilmore Girls

You’ll never look at Gilmore Girls the same way.
We all love Gilmore Girls, right? It’s sweet, peppy, and oh so innocent. Remember Rory’s first kiss? Jess knocking down a snowman? Lorelai sewing costumes for the school play? Yes, the WB/CW really had us believing that the streets of Stars Hollow were made of cotton candy and the Gilmore Girls lived in a house of Pop-Tarts and Brillo Pads.

I regret to tell you, it just isn’t so. Once you removed the WB/CW network filter and peel away the peppy “la-la-la-la” music, there is a seedy underbelly to Stars Hollow, particularly at the Gilmore House. It’s so twisted that not even a Rory Curtain could hide it. So come with me as I decipher all of the clues and break down the truth behind the cold, dark Stars Hollow as it really was.

In the Beginning, Lorelai Ran From Hartford

Fans, let us journey back in time to the very beginning. The year was 1985. 17 year-old Lorelai Gilmore took her baby daughter and made a hasty retreat from the safety, shelter, and sustenance of her parents’ house out on to the mean streets of Hartford and beyond.

Why? It wasn’t because she lived a life of abuse, poverty, violence, and drugs. That wasn’t Lorelai’s world. She was a wealthy socialite who was unsatisfied with her parents’ smothering and planning. Their tedious efforts to help and support her. So, with baby in tow, she disappeared without notice, other than a scrap of paper.

This is no typical story of someone who is stable and thinking. In fact, from the start, one can imagine that any mom fleeing into the night with no plan or protection–given her circumstances–is likely highly disturbed. Maybe even dangerous to herself and her baby.

We can surmise Lorelai must have taken a bus with her baby daughter, a small amount of luggage, a bag of diapers, and maybe a car seat (I hope)? And landed where? She did not turn to a friend or family member. Lorelai turned up in a random town with no connections.

Screen Shot 2019-07-03 at 11.12.36 AM.png

 

Mia Welcomes Them to Stars Hollow

Mia and Emily once had a conversation about how Mia should have behaved when Lorelai showed up at her door. Emily took a swipe insisting that Mia should’ve sent her back home. And Emily is right. There is no way that a penniless teen (save for some diamond earrings in the pockets of her designer jeans) with a baby doesn’t get turned around and pointed back toward her mansion.

Did Lorelai refuse loudly and madly? Did she threaten to go sleep in the street if no one would take her in? And for that matter, did she even really show up at the Inn looking for a job? Or did Mia find her sitting on the streets? Sleeping on a park bench with her baby?

Keep in mind, even the dirtiest hotel rooms must gouge at the cash supply after a while. And diapers aren’t free. Any credit cards she had would’ve pointed to her location, and Richard and Emily would’ve come after her. In fact, wouldn’t it be remarkable if Emily didn’t have the police looking for them, knowing Emily’s nature as we do?

Maybe Mia was more of a saint than we realize. Maybe she was covering for a very disturbed teen girl.

Consider also, isn’t it a bit funny that Rory later discovered a newspaper article about Lorelai arriving in town? It’s a little peculiar that such a headline would exist…unless this person was sensational. Maybe even alarming? Perhaps the article described the hubbub of a baby sleeping on a park bench, and how authorities tried to intervene until guardian angel Mia Bass stepped in.

Potting Shed Baby

Fortune smiled on the disturbed runaway when Mia offered to shelter her in the inn’s potting shed. In the potting shed?

GG Emily in Wonderland Potting Shed 1

A potting shed with a toilet and a tub? But no interior doors? Was it heated? Connecticut has brutal winters. Where did they move the tools and herbicides? One year-old Rory was housed in an actual shed. There was no kitchen to keep her food. No crib.

Read More

Bah, Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge, American Politics, and the Republican Party

Or “The Political Dichotomy of Ebenezer Scrooge as Depicted by SJW Charles Dickens”

Welcome to the holly jolly time of year when we all smile a little brighter, we all drink a little more eggnog, and we all (oh so briefly) smile at the sight of snowflakes. And while we drape our tinsel and wrap our gifts, most of us will watch some form of the Charles Dickens masterpiece, A Christmas Carol. My personal favorite being the Married With Children television episode entitled “It’s a Bundyful Life” which featured guest-star Sam Kinison as a screaming angel. Scrooged, starring Bill Murray, is also at the top of the list.

What you may not have ever considered is that Dickens offers us a curiously apt allegory for modern American political views. Actually, they were designed quite deliberately as a moral tale for the mid-19th century, when Dickens experienced and witnessed terrible poverty and suffering. It is no secret that he was a social activist who advocated education reform, labor changes, and support for women and children.

But a lot of that is rightfully swept aside when we watch A Christmas Carol, or Scrooged, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol, or The Muppets Christmas Carol, or even Ebbie. Instead all of us, no matter our political stripe, focus on the sweet and sad story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation and yuletide magic. 

This is a jolly reminder, though, that the story is about more than Carol Kane hitting Bill Murray with a toaster, and is also very fun to use for taunting my Conservative friends with on social media every single December. May the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future help you ponder your political stance this holiday season.

Are You the “Before-Scrooge”?

Ask yourself that question in a very thoughtful way. What about the leaders you vote for? Which are they? Quite notably and deliberately, the priorities and values of Ebenezer Scrooge, our crusty miser, at the beginning of each tale mirror the views of many right-wing Conservatives:

  • Money and business are the highest priorities, and holiday cheer is manufactured for profit. As long as the economy is strong, then all is right in the world.
  • Charities do not deserve donations, for the poor should better themselves and stop mooching off of successful businessmen, such as Scrooge.
  • There is always someone with hands held out wanting a free lunch, and Scrooge isn’t buying.
  • Love and care are distractions from the bottom line. Think of Scrooge’s Belle as our planet and its wildlife, trees, oceans, and rolling hills. Just like Belle, the planet is just done with us, because we prioritize profit and treat her like crap.
  • Ebenezer’s protege, Bob Cratchit, doesn’t deserve more coal or pay because he does not have a desirable skill set to have an inherently higher value in the workforce.
  • Tiny Tim’s health care is hardly Scrooge’s problem, and the idea of others contributing toward the little lad’s well-being is  another way for the poor to mooch off of greater society.

It takes a hardened heart who sees dollar signs in the face of suffering.

Or the “After-Scrooge”?

After the three ghosts scare the bejeezus out of Ebenezer, he starts to adopt a new outlook on priorities and helping others. The Cratchit family gets a big Christmas goose, though they have done nothing in particular to deserve one (and for all Scrooge knows, they might end up selling some of the leftovers for god knows what). The charity fellows get a sizable donation, and Tiny Tim is promised top-notch healthcare that his family can afford. Ma Cratchit might even go get some birth control pills. 

Truly though, Scrooge’s transformation seems to appeal universally to people around the world. I know of none of my Conservative pals who watch the Dickensian tale and cry out that Scrooge lost his way by the end.

Yet, when the tinsel is packed away and the leftovers are all gone, they go back to their lives and their social media posts and their political stances like they wish they could elect “Before-Scrooge” to lead them. Nothing is free; you have to work hard and earn it. If you had value, you’d be winning. Tax breaks. Banks will save us. If it’s worthy, capitalism will fix it. The party of misers. The party of Jacob Marley.

We can’t hope for three ghosts to visit each Conservative household and reveal glimpses of our racial and misogynistic past, people starving and going without healthcare in the present, and a burning planet in the future. So our only hope is that the little child in our hearts who loves Christmas and always quietly cheered, “God bless us, everyone” will keep the spirit alive all year long. We can all be the “After-Scrooge” if we keep the Christmas flame burning.

Merry Christmas to all.

muppet_xmas_carol.jpg

It’s the Fabulous 2020 Democratic Debates BINGO-ish Drinking Game!

Welcome to the November-December, 2019 edition of our favorite BINGO-ish drinking game sport! Let’s get excited for the upcoming Democratic Primary Debates!

The rules are simple: Assign one card to each person. Each card has a list of debate participants and things that (s)he might say or do. There is overlap between some cards, but no two cards are identical. Every time an item on your list occurs during the debate, take a drink!

Sips might be best, because it is going to be a loooong night. Keep those cards out in the open for all to see. And play it cool–you only need sip the first time a word/phrase is mentioned during any one answer or exchange. So if Elizabeth Warren calls Trump 6 different names in a row, just take the one sip.

No need to mark anything off, this is a game of survival. Unless you want to. These cards are BINGO-compatible, or you can just drink for anything on your list, and feel free to yell BINGO! just for fun whenever you like.

There are no winners here, just like the debate. There is only shame, intoxication, mockery, and Biden giving everyone a back rub.

Warning: Alcoholic drinking games are dangerous and stupid, and can lead to harm to person, property body, and soul. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly, look out for you and your friends’ well-being, and never drive while under the influence. In fact, you should probably just play this with iced tea and get a lovely night’s rest. Play with booze, and you do so at your own peril.

Here they are, four different cards for your alcoholic enjoyment:

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 a2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 b2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 c2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - Nov2019 d

Katie’s Week in Photos: Oct 14 – 21

More Cows

The sun is out, and I question if this universe is real. What is this bright orb that shines in the sky, and where has the sky water gone? Did we soak it all up already? The cows that watch my driveway are suspicious as well. And also, tired.

Rainbow's end

The end of the rainbow appears just across the road, next to my friend, Horse. I suspect Horse is now a god. A rainbow god. Alas, I find no gold and suspect that if there ever was any, the rainbow god has eaten it, thus increasing his powers. Well-played, Horse. Read More

Star Trek: Voyager–Being Katie O’Clare

I have a very special story for you about Star Trek: Voyager and how my life inadvertently imitated a holodeck fantasy. Gather ’round.

The tale of my holodeck-style adventure starts not terribly long ago when I moved my little family to Ireland. My husband and I lay in bed, me dozing off after a long day of unpacking boxes, he, intent on finding a new show to watch on Netflix, irritatingly scrolling through the menus so that they flickered through the dark room and pierced my closed eyelids. Sighing, I cracked my eyelids just enough to see the screen. One of the title cards flashed past my vision and prompted me to mutter through my own drool, “What is Red doing on Star Trek?”. Wait, was I half-asleep? “Was that really RED? That was RED! On STAR TREK!” He scrolled back to a cast photo of Star Trek: Voyager, and in the role of Captain Janeway was a young Red from Orange is the New Black.

Star Trek Voyager cast photo

My husband had been keeping a terrible secret from me! Red has always been my absolute favorite character from Orange, and he never let on that she was a Star Trek Captain?! Startled by my recognition, he confessed to having never connected Kate Mulgrew’s two brilliant roles before–a notion that still horrifies me, and brings great shame upon our family.

And to add to his dishonor, he admitted that he never even watched all of Voyager, since his dopey late-90s teenaged self had fallen into the chauvinistic trap of not appreciating Capt. Janeway, thinking of her as a less-than, politically correct version of Kirk and Picard (Sisko deliberately omitted from this list since he is terrible.) Now, wiser and older, and considerably more discerning, he announced instantly that he would undertake the quest of re-watching every episode, beginning that very night.

From then on, each night I drifted off to sleep to the beautiful opening melody, and then the husky tones of Kate Mulgrew’s voice. It became a soothing balm as I learned to settle into sleep in a new house and a very new place.

Several weeks passed until one night when my husband shook me out of a sound sleep to look at the television screen. He had just started a Voyager episode called “Fair Haven”, and it had a startling connection to our own real life.

The episode is all about escapism–the crew of Voyager is in need of a respite from their stressful roles, so Tom Paris develops a new program in the holodeck. It’s the town of Fair Haven in County Clare, Ireland.

And this is where the beat drops. My new home, boxes still scattered and things still not hung on the walls, is in County Clare, Ireland. This was one of those moments when I really wondered if my life is The Truman Show.

(I have wondered this often, and have seriously pondered the notion that if my life is The Truman Show, some team of writers would most definitely taunt me by fabricating a Hollywood film that mocks my actual life and lays out the entire truth right in front of my face, both beckoning my recognition and also belittling my paranoia–and of course it would star Jim Carrey. But I digress…)

The episode continued to get spookier and spookier. Captain Kathryn Janeway quickly falls in love with the quaint rural setting and begins to adopt the in-holodeck moniker of Katie O’Clare.

But I am Katie. Katie of Clare.

Janeway in Clare

Through my sleepy eyes I watched the tale unfold–both sweet and disarmingly dark at various points (“Delete the wife”), until it reached a point where both my husband and I nearly fell out of bed in sheer disbelief.

Katie O’Clare saunters over to the Fair Haven train station to get her flirt on with the local bartender, and does so by attaching herself gingerly to a signpost–a signpost that points to towns such as Tuamgraney and Killaloe.

Those are towns very close to my home (without giving away my precise hometown). I visit Tuamgraney frequently, and Killaloe every now and then (I tend to head there less frequently since traffic flow is dependent on this 18th century one-way stone bridge).

Katie OClare

Naturally, because I am a super nerd, my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell “I’m Katie O’Clare! I’m Katie O’Clare!”, because hells yes my life is reflecting a Star Trek holodeck fantasy (and it doesn’t even involve Vic Fontaine!).

The very next thing I did was sit down and attempt to calculate where the fictional Fair Haven might fall on the map. The signpost–notably created by Tom Paris–indicates that Fair Haven is 5 km from Tuamgraney and 3.5 km from Killaloe. Also 7.5 km from Holy Island, but we’ll set that aside since it involves water travel. Read More

Brexit and the Irish Border: Let’s Explain It!

Shout out to my friends and family in America who still think that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all one country, and part of the UK.

America has its own shitshow of problems, so it isn’t surprising that so many ‘Muricans have no idea what is going not with Ireland and Brexit. It’s okay. I’ll explain it in terms that can make this accessible to most anyone.

Let’s start with the basics:

One Island, Two Countries

Ireland is a single island, but it is comprised of two separate countries: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Map of Ireland and Northern Ireland.jpg

The Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign country that gained its independence from Great Britain between 1916 and 1919. It is a member of the European Union (EU), and uses the Euro as its currency.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is Brexiting the European Union along with the rest of the UK, and uses the UK sterling currency (pounds).

How Ireland Split in Two

From 1801 to 1916, all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, and subject to the laws and rule of the British. This was not a happy time for most of Ireland. There was massive exploitation, starvation, and a myriad of abuses on the part of Britain, not to mention the Great Irish Famine. For much of its union, the English ruling class looked down on the Irish as helpless children who couldn’t manage their own affairs, and treated them with contempt and neglect. To sum it up: The Brits were huge dicks. Read More

It’s the Fabulous 2020 Democratic Debates BINGO-ish Drinking Game!

Excited for the September 12, 2019 Democratic Primary Debates? Let’s drink!

The rules are simple: Assign one card to each person. Each card has a list of debate participants and things that (s)he might say or do. There is overlap between some cards, but no two cards are identical. Every time an item on your list occurs during the debate, take a drink!

Sips might be best, because it is going to be a loooong night. Keep those cards out in the open for all to see. And play it cool–you only need sip the first time a word/phrase is mentioned during any one answer or exchange. So if Elizabeth Warren calls Trump 6 different names in a row, just take the one sip.

No need to mark anything off, this is a game of survival. Unless you want to. These cards are BINGO-compatible, or you can just drink for anything on your list, and feel free to yell BINGO! just for fun whenever you like.

There are no winners here, just like the debate. There is only shame, intoxication, mockery, and Beto standing on a chair.

Warning: Alcoholic drinking games are dangerous and stupid, and can lead to harm to person, property body, and soul. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly, look out for you and your friends’ wellbeing, and never drive while under the influence. In fact, you should probably just play this with iced tea and get a lovely night’s rest. Play with booze, and you do so at your own peril.

Here they are, four different cards for your alcoholic enjoyment:

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD A.jpg

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD B

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD C.jpg

2020 Democratic Debate Drinking Game - CARD D.jpg

 

West Wing: The Complete Adventures of Goldfish Gail and Her Fishbowl

Ever wondered about the props in Goldfish Gail’s fishbowl? I have answers.

Fans of The West Wing know a little secret: C.J. Cregg’s pet goldfish, Gail, often has her bowl decorated with props that wink at episode themes. Panda bears, cash, flags, cabbages, flamingos, a love bed, a space shuttle, a telephone, and a fire engine. They are planted just for our delight (and hopefully Gail’s as well). The trick is to try and spot them. And this friends, became my obsession recently.

Below, for the first time, is a complete list of all of Goldfish Gail’s adventures alongside C.J., Danny, and the rest of the West Wing gang. Let’s get swimmin’!

And, hey, if you think you can identify one of the mystery props, please do comment. If you can convince me, I will happily give you full credit for the spot!


Season 1

Gail 1.9

Season 1, Episode 9

  • Prop: Nothing. Welcome, Gail!
  • Gravel: None? Oh, com’on, Danny.
  • Nod to Plot: It’s a new fish! (And Danny loves C.J.)

Gail 1.10.png

Season 1, Episode 10

  • Prop: Christmas tree, with some festive poinsettias atop
  • Gravel: White, like snow. Snow with fish poop.
  • Nod to Plot: Christmas episode!

Gail 1.11.png

Season 1, Episode 11

  • Prop: What appears to be a military vehicle or building
  • Gravel: Red, like blood
  • Nod to Plot: India-Pakistan conflict

Gail 1.12.png

Season 1, Episode 12

  • Prop: A little wooden lectern and two American flags
  • Gravel: Red, white, and blue
  • Nod to Plot: It’s the State of the Union address!

Read More