Which Region of the U.S. is Most Racist? A Game for 2 or More Players

Welcome to the great new game to play with all your white friends:

Which Region of the U.S. is Most Racist?


     Which Region of the U.S. is Most Racist? can be played with as few as two (2) players, but it makes a great party game and there’s even an online version that can be played in the comments section of any article about a non-white celebrity or politician.

     The rules are simple!

     The first player picks any Region in America that isn’t ‘The South’ and states I Do Declare: “[Said Region] is more racist than The South.” Ex. “The Northeast is more racist than The South.”

    Once the declaration has been made, that player must then supply one Intolerance Anecdote that illustrates the overwhelming racial prejudice of said Region. More points are awarded to stories that are specific and invoke “a black friend.”

     Now the second player has two choices: They can counter with a Southern Gentleman, an example of more egregious racial prejudice from The South, or they can Up the Antebellum by picking a brand new Region and stating I Do Declare: “[New Region] is even more racist than [Previous Player’s Region].
Ex. “The Midwest is even more racist than The Northeast.”

     The round continues until all players have had their say. Then the first player has a choice to either provide another Intolerance Anecdote or they can choose to invoke Brotherhood and ratify another player’s declaration of racial prejudice. If this occurs, both players must provide Intolerance Anecdotes in defense of [Said Region]’s prejudicial dominance.

     (In case of only two players, this officially ends the game. This ending is incredibly rare.)

     The game ends when the players have gotten sick of each other and themselves. The winner is the player who maintains the least Cognitive Dissonance while proclaiming entire regions of the country ‘racist’ without a sense of irony. They are deemed the Carpetbagger and awarded hours of smug self-satisfaction.

Happy Gaming and Good luck!


     *Warning: “Which Region of the U.S. is Most Racist?” is not recommended for children under 13 or for groups of mixed ethnicity.

We’ve Been Having A Mouse Problem

I am a month away from my final move and still looking to lock down an apartment somewhere in Brooklyn, but until then I remain here in student-invested housing in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. As with most areas heavily populated by people of the college persuasion, this neighborhood sacrifices cleanliness and basic adult courtesy for late-night pizza and a plethora of bars. Pros and cons.

Because of the slovenly living habits of the post-adolescent/pre-adulthood human, the nooks and crannies tend to become inhabited by unwanted creatures, and I’m not just talking about ex-girlfriends. We’ve had mice. Lots of them.

From pretty much our arrival here in Allston, my three roommates and I have had to deal with an invasion of rodents. Initially, we were alerted to their presence because of the holes in our food. We put our edibles on higher shelves, they still came. Then, we started to see them. We’d be sitting in the kitchen and one of us would catch a glimpse of a little fur ball flashing by underneath a counter or behind the stove. Sometimes we’d search and no trace could be found, but still the original eyewitness swore they had seen Mickey scurrying across the floor, sometimes disappearing into a hole behind the dishwasher, or into a corner, and even into a burner on our stove. Eventually, all four of us had at least one sighting.

We took action.

Mouse-proofing your apartment requires many steps, the first obviously being traps. Though the mental image of a wooden slab with a spring-loaded metal bar is what comes to mind when one thinks ‘mousetrap,’ the variations on a theme are numerous. We’ve put down sticky pads for non-lethal capture, and black boxes holding bricks of green poison for decidedly non-non-lethal capture. Then there’s the white, semi-circular contraptions that work like your traditional mousetraps but with a concealed container so you don’t have to see the dead mouse. All the rage with the ladies.

Of course, we’ve got traditional mousetraps, too. After everything, they’re the only ones that had any success.

Our mouse infestation began in the fall when the proliferation of new students and their resulting trash heaps made Allston the Times Square of Rodent City. It was not unusual to step over a flattened rat in the streets or to see them racing under cars as you walked back to your apartment in the evening. Luckily, those nasty bastards stayed outside, but that only meant that their smaller, twitchier cousins stayed inside with us.

When we alerted our landlord of the problem, we received a nicely worded reminder that ‘this is the city, so deal with it.’ So we did. We bought traps and spray foam and steel-wool to fill in the many, many (many) holes in the walls. We also bought electronic mice repellents that emit a high-pitched noise to deter rodents. For a few weeks, we even seriously discussed getting a cat for the apartment. In other words, we weren’t kidding around.

(At some point, someone must have reminded our landlord that Boston law requires them to provide a rodent-free living environment, because they sent someone to fill holes and leave behind even more traps, months after we had already done it.)

By winter time, our mice infestation seemed to be under control. We didn’t know if this was due to our vigilant mouse-proofing or because mother nature is just fickle like that. Either way, our mouse problem seemed to be solved. Until…



On a warm spring night, a tall WOMAN cleans in the kitchen, all alone. She washes her dishes, then wipes the counter. Opening the cabinet under the sink, she pulls out the trash can.

CLOSE ON a small mouse walking along the edge of the can. Startled, it scuttles up the WOMAN’s arm.

WIDE-SHOT: WOMAN screams. The trash can falls, scattering its content across the floor. The mouse escapes beneath the stove.



WOMAN knocks on the door. A few seconds pass, then it opens, revealing a tired-looking LYTTLETON.

What’s up?

They’re back.

LYTTLETON’s eyes narrow. An ominous song plays.


Thus began the ‘2nd Great Mouse Hunt.’

We’ve doubled down on our efforts to capture or expel the sunovabitch, but despite a tireless effort and a thorough cleaning of the entire apartment, the mouse keeps popping in to say ‘Hi’. Mostly from the trash. And usually when my roommate is in the kitchen by herself. Apparently he’s fond of her.

This past Monday night, though, I had the good fortune of getting a trash can visit of my very own. It was like spotting a celebrity in a nightclub, except, not like that at all.

More traps have been set. Our determination to get this guy (or girl; don’t want to be rodent-sexist) is unwavering. In fact, around two in the morning, hours after having seen the creature for myself, my curiosity got the better of me and I checked under the sink. And, lo, what did mine eyes behold: a four-legged garbage disposal, its hind leg stuck under the metal arm of our trap.

This clever girl had managed to eat the cheese off of two traps without setting them off, and it would have gotten away with it, too, if I hadn’t scared its furry little ass when I opened the door. I heard the trap snap. Jerry was lodged behind a copper pipe in the back of the cabinet, too awkwardly situated for me to reach with my hands. Should I leave him there to undoubtedly cry in abject terror all night, or should I attempt to pull it out and toss him into the street like DJ Jazzy Jeff?

The thought of the Tell-Tale Squeak echoing through the apartment all night felt a little creepy, so I opted for the latter. My efforts to pull the trap towards me, however, only loosened the mouse, and as swiftly as he had been caught, Speedy Gonzalez was up the wall and in a crevice that up until that moment I didn’t even realize existed.

The animal’s leg is probably broken and its access route to our trash has been blocked with steel-wool, so with any luck, our persistent invader will find some other apartment to squat in. That is, if a larger predator doesn’t pick it off first. I realize even typing that sentence will mean I’ll likely never receive another Christmas card from Morrissey, but I can live with that.

It’s been over 24-hours since the last mouse sighting, so perhaps we have finally won. I will admit, though, I have to feel some admiration for the little beast. It’s avoided traps, chewed through pounds of foam, and lived off the most miniscule of kitchen scraps, all so it can repeatedly scare the holy living crap out of my roommate. That’s some dedication.

I hope that nod of respect fills his tiny heart with pride when he’s burning in mouse hell.

A Better Mousetrap





Twitter Hate

I’m on Twitter. I don’t post with it all that much and I honestly don’t have the knowledge or the inclination to build a larger Twitter presence. It’s a kind of social networking proficiency I’ll never grasp, and that’s okay because for me, Twitter is more about what other people are saying, not what I can say. I’m a little too wordy to ever effectively utilize the medium.

I was one of the countless people who absolutely shit on the idea when I first heard about it. A kind of Facebook Status Update minus all the other features and with a limit of 140 characters? Who would use that, and more importantly, why? It seemed designed for the kind of banal, self-centered, grammar-challenged postings that are the bread and butter of teenagers. Why would anyone want teenagers to have even more ways of expressing their pointless ‘opinions.’

Well, it turns out my kneejerk reaction was ill-informed and hasty. Twitter is full of teenage idiocy (and adult idiocy), certainly, but there is so much more to it than that. From interesting articles to hilarious one-liners and thoughtful conversations, Twitter is actually an impressive and useful amalgamation of all the best things on the internet (it’s also a collective for the worst things, because Twitter is essentially the Cliff Notes of the World Wide Web).

Today alone, my feed has been filled with a couple related but separate conversations that I found endlessly interesting. One was a debate that Michael Ian Black has spurred, anew, about ‘Rape Jokes’ and whether they are ever permissible (a topic I covered during the recent Daniel Tosh kerfuffle). This seems to be one of Twitter (and the internet’s) favorite topics of debate, and while it so often breaks down into histrionics, MIB was making some wonderfully un-hysterical points.

The other was a conflict between Patton Oswalt and Aaron Belz (a man I’ve never heard of until today) because of the latter’s apparent defense of Sammy Rhodes, who Oswalt accused of joke thievery. Rhodes has since taken the particular tweet down, so I don’t actually know which joke it was, but I spent a good amount of time going down the rabbit hole trying to find out. This basically came down to whether or not you were a fan of each respective joke teller, but Oswalt is a bigger name and a more talented debater, so the fight felt pretty one-sided (plus, joke stealing is never okay: If I see something funny, I retweet it directly).

As both topics are hugely contentious subjects among stand up comedians, I read each one of them with quite a bit of fascination (if not at least a little bit of schadenfreude). No, neither topic was going to be settled, but unlike blog posts or comment sections, a Twitter debate has immediacy to it. It’s as close as the internet gets to a coffeeshop debate. Granted, Twitter isn’t the best medium for finely nuanced discussion, but the character restriction does require that participants whittle down their arguments to their most cogent and relevant points (ideally).

I follow plenty of provocative writers and thinkers, including Ezra Klein, Cory Doctorow, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Anonymous to name a few, but comedians and humorists are clearly the most adept to and well-suited for the medium. This isn’t just because Twitter is a natural place for one-liners. As Shakespeare once wrote (or didn’t because SHAKESPEARE IS A LIE), “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Intelligent, funny people tend to know how to get the most humor out of concise thoughts, because nothing kills a joke like an endless, meandering build.*

Even a year ago, I would have said I could give or take my Twitter account. I only created it because I felt like I should have one. I was basically peer pressured into it. But, recently I’ve found that Twitter can be a limitless stream of humorous, insightful and/or challenging thoughts. It’s better than Facebook or Stumbleupon for presenting me with links of interest, not because it’s more refined in its targeting (its a whole lot less refined) but because the sheer number of posts is so massive. And unlike Facebook, it doesn’t attempt to weed out posts based on what it thinks I’ll be interested in, it just gives me everything.

Now, that can be overwhelming from time to time. Sometimes looking at Twitter is like having dozens of magazines and newspapers dropped in my lap. While I’ll never have the time or focus to read every single news item that looks interesting, it’s nice knowing that that repository is there when I want it.

And of course, the power of Twitter’s omnipresence can be both marvelous (See: Political uprisings around the world) and dangerous (See: The Boston Bomber Manhunt), but that’s true of any tool. And that’s just it, Twitter is a tool, neither inherently good or bad. Twitter is a lesson for everyone who claims that technology is ruining society: It’s not about the technology, it’s about who has access to it.

Consider me converted. Humanity created something that seemed solely designed for the frivolous and managed to elevate it to the level of profound discourse. And pictures of food.

Plus, when I just need a good laugh, my Twitter cup overflowth:

Twitter Girl Talk Twitter Gun Twitter WavesTwitter Redditors

Um, follow me?


*Actually, long jokes are usually my favorite because they require so much of the listener, but you have to be an especially talented storyteller to pull them off.

An Alternate Query Letter For My Novel (Should All The Others Get Rejected)

Dear Mr. or Ms. Editor,

Sorry. I know it’s bad form to start out with an apology, but I must admit some mistakes I made in the process of writing my novel.

My novel does not have any zombies in it. This was my first mistake, I realized months too late. The living dead are metaphors for many things, and my novel is sadly lacking in this regard. There are no vampires, either, for the record, which is another mistake, but a much less egregious one. Vampires are really only a metaphor for one thing: sex.

There is sex in my novel, but mostly it’s just for the purpose of procreation. That was my third mistake, if you are keeping track. There should be much more sex. All kinds of sex. Somebody should have woken up some morning next to a stranger and stumbled through this unknown apartment, being reminded of the previous night’s activities by items strewn about. “Oh God, the stuffed penguin! I’ll never think of Teddy Roosevelt in the same way.”

That has potential. Alas.

There is a death in my novel. I do not consider this a mistake. Just a choice. We should not be judged so harshly for every little choice we make. This is life and we’re all just making it up as we go. We all have regrets. You do. Lord knows I have mine. There was this girl, once… but she has very little to do with my novel.

The characters in my novel are writers and atheists, which is probably another mistake, because people want to read about characters like themselves, and there aren’t that many atheists in the world. Or maybe there are more than we think. Maybe the atheists are just afraid to speak up. Maybe the president is secretly an atheist, but he knows this country would never vote for a nonbeliever. Who does an atheist talk to in his dark night of the soul? The country wants to know that in moments of doubt, the president does the same thing we all do: Guess.

I bet the president has regrets, too.

My novel also involves a very dysfunctional family. I’m supposed to talk about my credentials and why I’m the only person who could have written this novel. Well, we all have dysfunctional families. Yours was dysfunctional too, even if you don’t know it. (I hope I’m not being too presumptuous.) My family was dysfunctional. Boy howdy, were we dysfunctional. I don’t want to go into all that here because it’s kind of personal, but trust me. Life is my credentials.

I also have a degree in Creative Writing, but don’t hold that against me. Sorry, bad joke.

I hope you will look past all my mistakes and request to read my novel. It’s 75,000 words and explores a lot of big questions. The Big Questions. But there are no zombies. Again, sorry.



“So You’re Offended, So Fucking What?”

~ Stephen Fry

Let’s skip the foreplay: Once again, a comedian has gotten themselves into trouble for a bit he did in his stand-up. This pretty much happens every other week. Offense was taken, the internet has thoughts. Here are mine.

Daniel Tosh (of Tosh.0 fame, though he was doing far better stuff before that) was making some rape jokes at a show, a woman got offended and interrupted his set, and then Tosh started aiming the jokes at her. You can read her account (or really, a friend’s transcript of her account) here.

This woman’s personal experience is her own, and I have no ill will towards her. I just don’t happen to agree with her assertion that, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”  Because, actually, sometimes they are. I mean, I laugh at rape jokes. Not every one. A rape joke is like any other kind of joke: If it makes me laugh, I consider that funny.

(Edit – For the record, even though I don’t believe this should have to be said, I’m going to say it: I don’t think rape is funny.  I think it’s horrific and should be punished.  But humor helps take away the power of horrible things. It’s a common refrain among Jewish comedians that they are so prevalent because, in their culture, they used humor to help get through the atrocities they faced. Humor is good. Dark humor is healing.)

I laugh at racists jokes. I laugh at dead baby jokes. I laugh at “The Aristocrats” (like, a lot). Louis C.K. has called his 3-year-old daughter an asshole and I have laughed uproariously. You know what all of those items have in common? They’re jokes. If they don’t make you laugh, it almost certainly says more about you than it does about the joke or the comedian telling it.

Comedy is a hard thing to talk about intelligently (even though I’ve attempted it in the past) because perhaps more than any other art form, it really does stretch the limit of subjectivity. Laughter is so involuntary and so powerful that it’s pretty much impossible to share or explain. If you’ve ever tried to retell a joke or explain one of those “You had to be there” moments, you know what I mean.

This woman’s response to Tosh’s material was her raw emotions, and that’s just as real as laughter. She has every right to feel that way. But, while I can’t defend Tosh’s response to her (though I’d have to have been there to form a real opinion), I still find what this woman did to be annoying because her actions were pointless (if people are laughing at a joke, you saying the joke isn’t funny is clearly incorrect) and basically just a way for her to act morally superior. If she was truly offended, the best thing she could have done was stand up and leave. Lecturing the comedian, and by extension the crowd who was there to see him, is ridiculous.

But what I find most obnoxious about this whole kerfuffle is that a site like Boing Boing picked up the story and is using it to seethe with moral indignation.

Take your offense and shove it

Here’s what bothers me: Taking offense. Taking offense and expecting other people to share your offense. Taking offense and expecting other people to share your offense, and if they don’t pretty much labeling them reprobates.

I will not be offended. Not for you, not for myself, not for anyone. Offense is a meaningless reaction. It’s completely reactive, never proactive. It says nothing about the offender and everything about the offended. 

What really grinds my gears is that people who get offended rarely care about other people’s offenses. The people who are offended by Gay Pride parades cares little about who their religious protests offend. People offended by graphic anti-abortion signs have no problem with overtly sexual works of art in public. If you’re offended, it’s the end of the world, but if your ideological opponent is offended, they’re just too sensitive.

Hypocrisy, offense be thy name.

I’ve seen Boing Boing stand up on behalf of groups and belief systems that other people would find offensive. For the most part, the site tends to lean pretty liberal, which means that by the very nature of having an opinion on anything, they are going to offend someone. Do they apologize every time one of their articles ruffles feathers? I hope not. If you’re going to take a stance, don’t be a chickenshit about it. But at the same time, if you’re going to be someone who is willing to offend, don’t expect people to care when you’re offended.

This goes for religion, politics or personal beliefs as well. If you’re offended, so fucking what?*

Get over yourselves. Get over your offense.

Offensive Comedy

The best comedy offends. At least, that’s my opinion. You might not agree if you find Reader’s Digest’s “Laughter, The Best Medicine” section to be the height of comedy, but otherwise let’s just all accept that comedy is largely about making light of real life which is, for the most part, miserable. We joke to feel better, and much of the humor comes from taking a serious subject and undercutting it with humor.

It’s understandable if a rape victim doesn’t find a rape joke funny. I wouldn’t expect a 9/11 widow to guffaw at a 9/11 joke (although, maybe she would).  Individuals for personal reasons may find certain types of jokes distasteful. I get that. At the same time, there are people who face their horrific past with humor. I had a generally fucked up childhood, so what do my siblings do when we get together (other than drink and fight)?  We joke about it.

There is no one-size-fits-all for comedy, and I’m tired of self-righteous bloggers and pundits trying to make it so.

If you don’t want to hear rape jokes, don’t go to a comedy show without checking out the comedian ahead of time.  Because I hate to break it to your virgin ears, but rape jokes are pretty popular. Off-color is the new black. Perverse humor sales, and for good reason: perversity offers a unique and enlightening perspective on life. Stand-up comedians don’t tell knock knock jokes, get used to it.

There are genuinely funny comedians who do pretty safe material, but even the nicest comedian will offend someone.  Because people are pussies. You, you are a pussy.

So stop telling me what jokes are funny.

P.S. I know a lot of Tosh’s fan-base are annoying frat boys and Bros, but for all you people claiming he isn’t funny, keep in mind he has at least one pretty solid supporter:

*Only one thing offends me: Willful stupidity.

Original Christmas Song Lyrics

It’s no big secret that I am not a fan of Christmas music.  You probably just chalk that up to me being a regular ol’ Scrooge, but the truth is that my main complaint against modern Christmas songs is that they have been so Americanized or edited for maximum ‘consumer appeal’ that they’ve lost most of their original charm.

The songs we know today have been so engrained in our culture that you probably don’t even realize there were ever different versions.

There are a couple songs you likely know about.  Most everybody is aware that ‘O Christmas Tree’ was originally the German carol, ‘O Tannenbaum’, with lyrics such as:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.

As you can clearly see, the German version was a bit more bawdy, with references to ‘my damn bladder’ and the line, ‘now, it is winter, when it’s just shit.’  A very different sentiment than the English version.

And then there’s of course ‘Carol of the Bells’ which didn’t actually have any words until the movie director Chris Columbus had some written for inclusion in the classic Christmas film, “Home Alone.”  He thought having an all boys choir sing words over the already ominous music would be ‘much creepier.’  And he was, of course, correct.

But these are well-known changes with which even the Christmas layman is probably familiar.  What the average listener is probably unaware of is that most, if not all, of their favorite carols had different lyrics altogether.

Below are just a few examples of the changes made over the years for various reasons.

We Three Kings

Like most popular Christmas songs, ‘We Three Kings’ has been recorded countless times by countless artists.  Interestingly, though, despite how many times this song has been sung, there are no known recordings of the original lyrics which told of a decidedly more skeptical group of wise men traveling to see the newborn child:

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Whose idea was it to follow a star,
Stars don’t even fucking move.

Rumor is, the Beach Boys actually did record this version of the song, but Brian Wilson could never get the lamb to bleat how he liked, so they scraped it.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Some may know that the version of the song made popular by Frank Sinatra wasn’t the original.  Judy Garland famously recorded it first for the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis.”  Even the version Garland recorded wasn’t the original, as a lyric was changed before she sang it.  However, what is even less known was that the somewhat somber version the songwriters presented to Garland was actually their second draft.  Apparently even they recognized that their first draft, a throwback to Depression-era anxiety, pushed the boundaries too far.

Here’s a sample lyric from the first draft:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last,
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, even if you’re poor,
It is times like this which God made liquor for

Not quite the sentiment the modern version has come to represent, but it certainly puts things in perspective.

Winter Wonderland

Few realize that this perennial favorite actually started out as a feminist screed against the institution of marriage, which was seen as enforcing gender roles, specifically the idea of the wife being subjugated to her husband.  Even more surprising, the original lyrics were changed not because the message caused controversy, but because it just wasn’t “catchy enough.”

Sample of an original lyric:

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
then pretend that he is Parson Brown.
He’ll say: Are you married?
We’ll say: Hell no, we don’t buy into your bourgeois, heteronormative forms of gender oppression, man.

Definitely an example where the original lyric just has more punch, but the change makes sense.

O Holy Night

This popular Christmas carol is arguably the most Christian-focused of all the holiday songs, with lyrics that speak of oppression under sin and the redemption brought by Jesus Christ’s death.

What may surprise even the most devout is that the well-known version of this song was, in fact, tempered from the first, more zealous version of the song.  While the original was actually translated from the French, one undeniably sees the influence of Jonathan Edwards’ famous “Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God” sermon in the message and tone.

Here is the original final verse:

Truly He taught us to love one another
Or else the wrath of eternal fire looms
Chains shall His break for the slave is our brother
And don’t you forget it or you’ll be doomed
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise us
Or else, you goddamn filthy sinners

For obvious reasons, this version didn’t go over as well with Christmas carolers.  But the conversion rate was much higher.

My Favorite Things

While technically not a Christmas song, this popular number has become associated with the holiday over the years.  What’s interesting is that this song, from the World War II set musical, “The Sound of Music,” had originally been more overtly political with lyrics that ever so slightly changed the meaning.  See if you can notice the difference:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings

Subtle, but an important distinction.


I hope you enjoy your holiday season and think of these original versions the next time you’re having hot chocolate and Christmas merriment around the hearth.