A fine mess we've gotten ourselves into

by anna at 08:12 AM on April 28, 2004

I feel like I am on MG's 404 page. You know the one you wind up at if you key in the wrong URL for MT? It says, "You're not supposed to be here. I don't know how you got here..."

See, today was supposed to be the dreaded Moving Day. Which, as bad days go, may be second only to Root Canal Day or Execution Day. We were told to get our stuff out of our abode, put it in storage and then move into the new place after coinciding settlements tomorrow. We had movers ready to move the heavy stuff and a UHaul rented for myriad boxes of stuff. We have 2 wine glasses, paper plates and cups and leftover takeout food in the fridge. We sit on the boxes to eat.

Yes, we held up our end of the bargain for once.

So I get home last night only to learn that purchasers of our house have had a "hiccup" with their financing. This is real estate jargon for "their loan fell through." Which means we're basically living in limbo. As of 5/3/04 our utilities will be cut off. We don't know if they have picked them up or not. Same goes for our homeowner's insurance. With any luck at all we won't wind up homeless. But it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Anyway, I am tying up the phone lines. Our realtors are probably trying to call with more disastrous news. Our lender may be calling with a convoluted loan proposal that entails us owning both properties and going back to square one, with more competent realotrs and lenders. Or else we could wait it out with those risky homelessness or uninsured fire risks looming large. What should we do?

I realize this is one of those things people sometimes tell you that you can't think of any rejoinder to. Like, "I've got to go feed my hostages" or "My genital warts haven't flared up in months."

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Smoking in the boysroom

by anna at 08:42 AM on April 25, 2004

Here's a rather disturbing local saga.

In a nutshell, a 15 year old girl accused three classmates of raping her in a school bathroom. One supposedly acted as a lookout while another held her down so a third could have his way with her. The alleged assailants were 15, 16 and 18. The tale has the additional detail of a racial angle in that she's white, they are black and they all live in an affluent enclave known as Howard County. Oh my, fur is going to fly.

Investigators interviewed other students and soon realized they'd erred in jailing the trio and charging them as adults with rape. All charges will be dropped as the girl recanted her story when confronted. Seems what occured on that cold linoleum was purely consensual if a tad tacky.

Now this raises a couple questions in my mind. In Maryland it is considered statutory rape to have sex (or a "sex act" as the 18 year old says he had) with a person under 16. How come no one is being charged with that? Could it be that authorities don't want to deal with double standard accusations when the parents of the 15 year old boy claim she statutorily raped him?

But far more troubling is the girl's mother's reaction. Even after her daughter took back the sordid allegations, she continues to maintain that her original story is true. When you consider that it had to be embarassing as hell for cops to drop the charges they'd so hastily filed, it seems almost certain that the girl did indeed recant her tale to them.

In other words, this mom would rather believe that her daughter was brutally raped by three guys in a bathroom, emotionally scarred for life, than to believe that she is either psychologically troubled or simply of iffy moral character. What kind of mother would think like that? Why wouldn't she apologize to the guys and say she was going to seek out counseling for her kid? Or better yet, just keep her mouth shut?

Somehow this story strikes me as a parable for all that is so screwed-up about modern society. Am I as wrong as the Howard County police were?

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I could sing of your love forever

by anna at 07:54 AM on April 23, 2004

Every morn it's the same thing. The battle over the bathroom and sections of the paper. My son microwaving his oatmeal so he can swallow his meds. Him turning on Nickelodeon so loud it threatens to level our house. And that cloying commercial for the religious songs.

It comes on right after I get out of the bath. If you order now they'll throw in the second disc for half price or something. I'm familiar with all the tunes from my post-9/11 churchgoing stint. Our church has a rockin' outfit of bikers who call themselves the Tribute Band.

So I tell Ian I am thinking about buying the tape. He's like, why dad you hate church? I'm forced to think about it. This was my reply: most of the music out there these days is all whiny and depressing when it isn't downright hostile. Religious tunes are hopeful. I am hopeful.

Hopeful. Yes, I am hopeful. As we contemplate our move this week, with all the daunting challenges that will entail, I remain hopeful. Things are going to improve. I can feel it in my bones.

Then again, I've thought that before. Now, where is that phone number. I know I wrote it down somewhere...

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oily rags are special things, you know to me they're diamond rings

by mg at 01:51 PM on April 21, 2004

In High Fidelity Nick Hornby asks:

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

Who can say, really? I do know that life is music and music is life. The pain, the joy, and the experience of life is incomplete without a soundtrack.

cont'd »

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There'll be no use in sighing. Who'll be the next in line?

by lajoie at 11:22 PM on April 20, 2004

How could one single place make me…nay so many of us, so invariably angry? It’s not the long lines. It’s not the smells. It’s the idea of the post office that can put me on edge. The designed inefficiency and pit viper-like venom in the room can just rob you of breath, as can some of the key players. Stage left:

cont'd »

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and we danced the mississippi at a alpha kappa dance, it wasn't me

by anna at 06:53 PM on April 20, 2004

Once I met a girl at a party. We hit it off a little so she suggested we go back to my house for beverages. Against all better judgment I agreed. Her name was Diane. I poured two glasses of wine and settled in on the couch. She said she'd forgotten something in the car. I wondered what it was.

Minutes passed and she hadn't returned. I wander outside and she's gone. More disturbing still, so is my car! This isn't good. But I'm thinking it's late and she probably had an errand to run. Surely the car will be back by morning.

Wrong. Morning comes, no car. I'm too embarassed to call the cops so I call my ever resourceful dad instead. He says, "No biggie. What's her name? We'll just look up the address and go over there and confront that bitch." Except all I knew was Diane. We'd gone to high school together so I pull out old yearbooks. Alas, not a trace of the mystery girl. I start quizzing my friends to see if maybe they know her whereabouts.

Nobody seems to know anything about her. Nonetheless Matt takes out his guitar and begins to strum the chords to an old John Mellencamp song. This is a little ditty about Anna and Diane. Anna's gonna be an insurance star. Diane's just some hosebag who stole Anna's car, he sang. Everyone but me got a huge kick out of that.

My dad and I eventually hunt the thief down. We bang on the apartment door and are greeted by her bleary looking mom, dressed in a shabby bathrobe and reeking of stale smoke and alcohol at midday. She invites us into this filthy hovel strewn with empty liquor bottles and bare matresses. On one lay Diane and some dead cockroaches. I wake her ass up and she searches groggily for my keys, which she fishes out from under an old pizza box. She says the car's at her boyfriend's house but it isn't. We proceed to the impound lot. Dad forks over $160 and there's my car, with its windows open and half full of rainwater. Dad's less than thrilled.

You know how sometimes your instincts tell you not to do something that is seemingly innocuous, but your rationale mind overrules them? It always turns out disastrous. Take dancing.

Years pass. I get married. My wife and I go to a Halloween party. Lo and behold there's a drunken Diane. She is wearing this skimpy squaw getup festooned with feathers and fringed buckskin. The fact that she really is an Indian completes the effect. So I'm sitting there drinking with my 6 months pregnant wife who is stone cold sober. Diane approaches me and asks me to dance, as if she'd never stolen my car (or didn't recall.)

We dance to AC/DC. It's like a scene out of Saturday Night Fever where everyone clears the dancefloor to watch a pair. Not because of my awkward, white-guy shuffle, mind you, but the bump n' grind spectacle she was making of herself. The song ends and a slow number comes on. Before I could escape she nestles herself against me. I hold her in that same ginger way my boss held the Cat Woman. (Peruse my archives under "staff" if you're interested, the link didn't work.) Out of nowhere she leans forward and kisses me full-on, cramming her fleshy tongue in my mouth. I peer over her shoulder and see my wife glaring a hole right through me. I extricate myself and chase after Nan to no avail. She's already hopped in a cab. I check my pockets to ensure that Diane didn't snag my keys again.

I go back inside and she's already pulling the same number on the host, a guy who's married to a very close friend of ours. She eventually ruined their marriage. I was a little more fortunate although I did have to fly up to New York to grovel to my wife. I've never seen someone so angry, hurt and mistrustful all at once. We drove home to Virginia in abject silence. It took time but I was able to mend our relationship.

Seems to me that some people in your life are simply bad news, like curses, and not just our stalkers and psycho exes either. Sometimes it's just random people you meet. Am I all alone or has anyone else endured a similar nightmarish scenario with these misery-mongers?

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got dirt, got air, got water and i know you can carry on

by mg at 12:28 PM on April 19, 2004

A couple weeks ago I dropped the minor bomb that I’m now married. I’ve yet to mention a word about it since. As (m)Anna noted, I can be pretty ornery that way sometimes. In the old days of the site, I could blow up a simple story about finding a dollar on the street into a three-day, 2000 word epic.

I like to think that I’m a little more straightforward now when revealing details. When I do reveal details. So, here is the story you’ve all been waiting for with baited breath. And here I was wondering what smelled wormy all this time.

cont'd »

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chuck woolery

It's a small world after all

by chuck woolery at 11:14 PM on April 15, 2004

As many of you may have noted, many of my entries are about the more sordid aspects of some people's lives and how I interact with that.

Earlier this week I had occasion to run into a situation that combined my personal life and a drug addicts life that I found rather ... different.

First a little background...

cont'd »

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So what's it gonna be boy, yes or no?

by anna at 07:37 PM on April 15, 2004

Every so often some shit like this pops up and pisses me off to no end. Who the hell does this guy think he is? A freaking truce? I'll get back to that.

Everyone despises Osama and his ilk for their involvement with the attack on the USS Cole, our embassies, 9/11, Bali and Madrid among sundry other atrocities against mankind. I won't belabor the obvious by rehashing all that.

But what really gets me about him is his smugness. Here's the spoiled rich white boy who never had to work a day in his life, talkng about how the masses are oppressed. Yeah they are oppressed alright, by people like the bin Laden clan.

There he is in his immaculate flowing robes, pointing his elongated, Arsenio Hall-like fingers at the camera. You half expect his lackeys to start that whooping and hollering Hall's audience used to do. Sitting there cross-legged on the dirt floor like some all-knowing swami, dispensing his pearls of wisdom in that calm, articulate voice of hatred.

I just hate that quality in anyone let alone a bloodthirsty mass murderer. But what's the worst of all is his cloaking what is a transparent political power grab in religion. Look, this shaman doesn't have a religion. The one he claims to be so devoted to, namely Islam, specifically prohibits the blatant killing of women, children, fellow Muslims and non-combatants in general. Osama's henchman do all that every chance they get. Hell, for all I know, they chop down fruit trees for firewood to heat his caves too. (Also prohibited by the Koran.)

Fact is Islam is as practiced by a billion or so peaceable, mainstream Sunnis and Shi-ites. It is not the virulent strain known as Wahibbi, which Osama and the Saudi royal family espouse. Strife is undesirable. These Wahibbis love strife. They foment strife. They thrive on strife. Unrest is their lifeblood. Thus, by extension, they are unwelcome in the general gene pool. Certainly the world would be better off if Osama and all his associates were forced to bathe in smallpox.

But I am not a violent man. Violence only begets more violence. Hence my modest proposal: Osama et al want us to vacate all Muslim lands including Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine (which last I checked isn't home to a big American presence and has no usable resources anyhow.) They want us to stop propping up corrupt Arab regimes that prevent them from establishing hegemony over the oil-laden Middle East, their goal. They want us to stop supporting Israel via $4 billion of your money every year.

Fine. Agree to all of it and leave immediately. Never to return. Cut off foreign aid to everyone, including the $3 billion you fork over to Egypt's tyrant Hosni Mubarek. Return all that money to American taxpayers. All we ask is that people from the area refrain from visiting ours. If they have a pressing business need we'll review it on a case by case basis and summarily deny all requests for visas. Ever heard of teleconferences?

There's your truce you bearded freak.

Oh, there is one more minor detail. Y'all better start policing yourselves under this new arrangement. Root out your extremists (you know where they are!!) and snuff them or cage them. Because if they ever cause another calamity for the now separate West, man, there will be indiscriminate Hiroshima-style hell to pay. But so long as there's no 9/11 redux, Western civilization and Osama's medieval vision can co-exist how ever uneasily. Y'all stay over there and we'll stay over here and never the two shall meet. We'll see who prospers and who withers on the vine.

Well actually two: Hey Osama, don't suppose you've heard from Sabiha lately, huh? What, you've already forgotten about your 1st wife and mother to almost all your kids? Why was it she left your pious ass? Oh that's right, you bringing that nubile teen young enough to be your daughter into the marital fold.

Just drop the religious pretense, you horn-dog, and then maybe somebody might take you seriously. Be who you are without shame. Like Tony Soprano.

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a fake jamaican took every last dime with that scam

by mg at 01:27 PM on April 14, 2004

I went to visit my mom for Easter. I left shortly after my last post was uploaded, and didn’t get home till 5pm yesterday. Luckily the wife didn't get freaked out driving in four straight hours of torrential downpour, because even leaving as early as we had, I still had just enough time to eat a very unhealthy dinner (cookies), before heading out to my Tuesday night class. I wasn’t able to touch a computer while I was away (about 6 days), and am now buried in close to 1,000 email messages on top of the end of semester work-load of stuff that I should have done at the beginning of the semester, but was too lazy. I won’t even ask how it could possibly already the end of semester, but, as the calendar insists, it is. The point of all this is that I am alive, I am back, I will be around, but not completely so for the next couple days. If you happened to send me email over the last week, please send it again, since I will likely delete it rather than having to wade through all the spam. Also, if you’ve happened to forget, my birthday is less than a week, though there is still plenty of time to buy me something for my birthday.

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She had a west coast strut that was sweet as molasses

by anna at 07:20 PM on April 11, 2004

If you knew how to identify what's hot and what's not, you'd be rich enough to buy off the entire Saudi royal family and make them start pumping mad oil instead of their Palestinian nannies. But Hollywood bigshots have been trying to do just that for years, mostly in vain. Even porn ventures can be strangely sterile and unsatisfying.

Perhaps one of the hottest scenes in mainstream cinema was the one on the yacht in Some Like It Hot. The only reason Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis got away with all that heavy breathing in 1959 was that they ostensibly played it for laughs. A close runner up came with that scene in Wild Things where Denise Richards and Neve Campbell locked lips and more. And despite the fact that she's a model not a trained actress, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos managed to generate major heat in Femme Fatale. I think it had more to do with the film noir, who's-fooling-who atmospherics than any outright erotic content. Same goes for that attempted rape vs. seduction scene in Disclosure. Conversely, some films seem to be trying to hard. Eyes Wide Shut, 91/2 Weeks and Cruel Intentions come to mind.

It's the same way with musicians. Watching Christina Aguilera writhe in a mud pit in her video for Dirty was more disturbing than sexy. Ditto for Britney prancing around the stage with her Burger King-style microphone and oddly bossy personna. I'm more taken by the raw passion of Janis Joplin belting out Take a Little Piece of my Heart, Stevie Nicks' mystical dances or even the wholesome Shania Twain doing I Feel Like a Woman (but not not that guy in the truck comemrcial.)

Ellie Mae Clampet: hot. Elizabeth Montgomery with both her Dicks in Bewitched: hot. Mary Tyler Moore: not. Naive Golden Girl Betty White: hot. Mannish Bea Arthur: not hot. The Facts of Life's spunky Jo: hot. Blair: not. Winnie in the Wonder Years: hot. Winnie Mandella: not.

Despite their hairy butt cracks I'll concede that guys too can be hot. Clint Eastwood reprising his reluctant warrior shtick in Unforgiven: hot. Clint playing a sensitive loser in Bridges of Madison County: not. Dashing Russell Crowe in Gladiators: hot. Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind: not. Joey: hot. Ross: not. Randy Jackson: hot. Ryan Seacrest: not.

Tommy Lee pounding on his drums with Motley Crue: hot. Tommy Lee pumping Pam Anderson full of hep C: not. The onstage interplay between Axl Rose and Slash: hot. Onstage interplay between the Backdoor Boys: not. Eddie Veder fronting Pearl Jam: hot. Creed lead singer Scott Stapp: not. Prince: hot. Prince Charles: not.

Consider how both Lady Chatterly's Lover and Fear of Flying generated considerable heat in their time. And what 70s boy didn't have steamy page 27 of The Godfather memorized rote? You know, where the well-endowed Sonny satisfies his too-big-down-there bridesmaid Lucy for the first time in her life. Many pages of that book are stuck together at that juncture. Yet the movie rendition wasn't all that memorable.

I can't put my finger on what makes something hot or not any more than those Hollywood hotshots can. But I know it when I see it.

Does anyone have a clue about this seemingly elusive quality? If so please speak up, I'm getting hoarse here.

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bad advice: Oh what joy for every girl and boy

by mg at 10:51 AM on April 08, 2004

So among you might say I’ve given too much bad advice recently. At any rate, here is some more.

hi, my name is joanna and i really need some advice on how to be bad! a bunch of friends and i r going to bush gardens. one of my friends is really annoying and bringing her mom with her and her mom is going to be going around with us in the park. i need some good advice on how to ditch this girl and her mom and a good excuse on why we did ditch them. could u please send this back soon! thanks ~Joanna

Boy. That is a tough question.

cont'd »

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In times like these

by anna at 06:19 PM on April 07, 2004

What happened to Linz's post? I could have sworn I saw it here yesterday.

Anyways, I'm riding home. The Foo Fighters' Times Like These comes on the radio. I love that song. It's got a rocking riff and oblique verses. But when the chorus comes along there's little mistaking what it's about:

It's times like these you learn to live again.
It's times like these you give and give again.
It's times like these you learn to love again.
It's times like these, time and time again

Yes, it's about the defining moment of our times. And sure I realize there are other Sept 11-inspired tunes. Bruce Springsteen wrote an entire album about it called The Rising. But that's a wimpy-sounding set of tuneless tunes that I can't even listen to, it's too depressing. Then there's that Toby Keith number and other flag-waving, we're gonna kick some major Arab ass country ditties. That simply doesn't do the tragedy justice in my mind.

My son and I were at Ground Zero Thanksgiving 2001. This was before they set up bleachers and shuttle buses for convenient viewing. There was a makeshift fence around it, plastered with hand-lettered calls out to anyone who might have seen their loved ones. We stood among a teeming crowd of gawkers in abject, reverent silence. If someone's cell had rang it might have cost them their life. There was simply nothing you could say. Strangers hugged one another. Acrid smoke wafted by. It was the most moving moment of my life, one seared forever in my soul.

Which I suppose is why it pisses me off so much to see Sept 11 being kicked around like a can in Congress. There's all this partisan finger-pointing about what was or wasn't done to avert it. This misses the point entirely. It's not why it occured, it's that it did. And immediately afterwards we found out what we as a nation are made of. People came together. Flags appeared everywhere. No planes overhead, no sitcoms, no dramas, no commercials, no songs on the radio. Nothing but non-stop coverage of what was happening in lower Manhattan and the at the Pentagon. That and silent nods.

What they ought to be debating is whether Sept 11 should be designated as a national day of remembrance. The trick is how to avoid it being commercialized in a free society such as ours.

I drove by the Pentagon recently. It is surrounded by armed soldiers and antiaircraft batteries. Maybe it's a little late for all of that. And maybe it was a little too much to expect that fleeting bit of unity and genuine emotion to live on.

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Them shapes in the bed are a senator and a CEO. Who's on top, wouldn't we like to know?

by anna at 06:32 PM on April 05, 2004

Problem with political speech is that it varies too much. This causes people to listen to it or worse, to analyze it. This in turn squanders valuable time better spent watching According to Jim. To solve this I have devised a standardized format for candidates to use going forward.

Good evening my fellow (insert constituency.) Tonight we'll be discussing the scourge/blight of (insert supposed threat, crisis or epidemic. Choose from Big Terror, sundry maladies, indecency, urban sprawl or any other ill-defined difficulty that people irrationally fear.) Employ Straw Man tactic. Belittle rivals' hand-wringing over the dearth of workable strategies to combat the illusory problem. Dismiss their arguments out of hand. Present your own lame approach in the best light possible.

Make Sweeping Generalizations. Sprinkle with a dash of Bandwagon. Use phrases like "There is no longer any meaningful debate about" or "Experts agree" or "The time has come."

Reduce a complex, thorny issue to the personal level. If possible, demonize one individual villain like Osama, Saddam or Ryan Seacrest-out.

Take note of caveats for future backpedaling. Leave yourself wiggle room in case some ninny actually checks your facts. If you're talking about fanatic Muslims' propensity for random violence, be sure to add that overall, Islam is a peaceable faith. If you're trying to deny gays the right to marry, add that you deeply respect persons of all lifestyles.

Declare that you're perfectly willing to debate your opponent on a wide array of topics so long as it's limited to his former career in the kiddy porn industry.

Next turn to something vague and nebulous that just about everyone favors, such as motherhood, a robust economy or less behind bars lovin'. Speed up your cadence as you rattle off a bunch of skewed statistics to support your viewpoint. Refer to a colorful chart. It doesn't matter what it's purported to show.

Concede some meaningless points. In the passive voice, acknowledge some shortcomings. (Wrong: I really blew it this time. I accept full responsibility. Right: It's conceivable that mistakes were made.) Here it's useful to lapse into the Royal We: "This administration..."

Introduce Special Guests of varying ethnicity. Trot out a charming anecdote about how one overcame tremendous adversity to pull herself up by her boot straps. Again, it doesn't matter if it's true.

Make Grandiose Claims. Assert that intractable problems can be solved with a little creativity and accounting sleight-of-hand: "Some still insist that the government needs to live within its means like you fine folks. But this simply isn't true in today's global economy. With economies of scale and certain assumptions,..."

NOTE: Unless you want to turn your audience into a moribund bunch of Ted Williamses hanging from meat hooks in a freezer, steer clear of campaign finance reform, stem cell research or telecommunication minutia. Above all, make no mention of the fact that for every dollar lavished upon the elderly that is one less for the young. Old folks vote in droves. Youngsters are too busy boffing one another to bother.

Close with the Big Lie followed by some vaguely religious platitude and a reference to support for our troops. Voters love that kind of thing.

If all candidates adhere to this formula maybe we'll make it through this election year with some semblance of sanity left. That is, unlesss you happen to reside in one of the 17 "swing states" not solidly red or blue. You guys are screwed. So sorry.

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If I was a girl

by anna at 08:21 PM on April 02, 2004

All this talk about gay and gender issues has got me wondering about just that.

I wouldn't let guys do me in the ass unless we were real close, like knowing siblings' names close. I might blow them but not to completion. I wouldn't wear stiletto heels or thongs or fishnet stockings to please men. Nor would I get breast implants. I wouldn't be a slave to fashion. There's no way I'd endure a bikini wax. I wouldn't dance for my man no matter how much he grovelled. Belly dancing for a man carries a serious risk of humiliating laughter.

Nor would I let him rope me into hard-ass labor like moving furniture or hanging drywall. If I cook he does the dishes and vice versa. I wouldn't feel a need to feign interest in football any more than I'd expect him to sit through Trading Spaces or Queer Eye. If I did just as good a job as a guy I'd expect equal pay. But I'd also expect male coworkers to open doors for me and pull out chairs too. I'd go ape-shit if they ogled my cleavage or bared legs though---the exception being if I dressed real provocatively---then I think I'd figure I had it coming. I know I wouldn't get along well with other girls. They'd hate me. I'd shamelessly steal their boyfriends.

I guess I'd be a pretty shitty girl. How 'bout you?

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bad advice: the return

by mg at 12:50 PM on April 01, 2004

Back in the day, this site had a helpful regular feature called Bad Advice. I solicited questions from people who read the site, and then provided them with ridiculously bad advice. I’ve not written a stich of bad advice in over a year, yet I still get regular questions. It is negligent of me to receive these emails and do nothing about it. There are people out there that need help getting even with ex-girlfriends, are searching for reasons to stay alive, or deciding whether or not to have sex for the first time, and they’ve come to me as their last resort for comfort, and I’ve ignored them. This makes me feel horrible. Well, not so much horrible as completely indifferent. Still, in honor of April Fool’s day, here are several examples of bad advice to some very real questions.

cont'd »

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