Archive for June, 2014

“Because I Said So.”

BY Marsh McCall

Because I said so, that’s why.

Because nobody likes taking piano lessons, but it’s important that you do it. And that’s the end of it.

Because I’m the grown-up and it’s my house–-except for your room, which is nominally yours, but not really, I could go in there any time I want–-and my house means my rules.

Well, I’m sorry to hear that. But it’s not my job to be liked.

Because saying “my rules” is easier than laboring over a long, drawn-out explanation about why my life experience makes me a better judge of your choices.

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Okay, because my brain is more emotionally developed than yours. I’m not boasting, it’s just science. Aha. See? The fact that you’re getting angry proves it. No, I am not shouting. And no, my anger is in response to your anger. It’s not the originating anger. That’s the difference.

Because when I was your age I gave up on the piano, and now every day I regret not being able to play like Billy Joel. Early Billy Joel. Anything before The Nylon Curtain album. Not his best, that one.

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Well, I don’t care if your friend Brad doesn’t have to learn the piano. He isn’t actually your friend at all. He’s a person you think you should like because he’s part of the popular crowd, but if you try to glom on to that group, the end result will be tears and humiliation, and you’ll question your self-worth while lying in bed at night, creating imaginary torture devices you’d like to use on him. How do I know? Because I’ve met people like Barry. What? I said “Brad.” Well, I meant Brad.

Do you still not like me? I honestly don’t care, but I’m asking.

Because if you don’t practice, you can’t have any ice cream.

Because if you do practice, I’ll give you some ice cream.

Because someday when you grow up and nothing’s worked out the way you thought, you might find yourself at a party, with people who all seem to know each other better than you know anyone, and they’re laughing at memories of previous parties you weren’t invited to, and they seem to have made fashion choices that you vaguely sense are clever and interesting. And then you notice you’re in the den, where a lonely upright piano stands in a corner, ignored by the world since some other children long ago gave up on their piano lessons, and as you stroll past you nonchalantly play a little riff, and somebody asks, “Oh, do you play?” And then you answer, “Not really. Just a little tinkering.” And then someone else responds, “Oh, I’ll bet you’re just being modest.” And suddenly you’re sitting at the piano, which is crowded by family photos and dusty Christmas carol songbooks, and you’re playing “Piano Man.” Or “New York State of Mind.” The selection isn’t really important. It doesn’t even have to be a Billy Joel song, but why not? His early stuff just has something… ineffable about it. And suddenly you’re surrounded by people holding glasses of chardonnay, and they’re singing along, at first ironically, laughing self-consciously and pretending they don’t remember the words, but by the end they’re all belting out “The microphone smells like a beer” as if they really mean it, because they do mean it, and little kids are poking their heads into the room to see why their parents are being so loud and embarrassing, and then finally you play those last chords, after which you incline your head modestly, and wait for the applause—and by god there will be applause—and then you say you’re going to go “grab a beer,” but instead you slip out and go home, without saying goodbye to anyone, and in your absence people will wonder whether they had it all wrong about the person they thought you were, and they’ll begin to suspect that you might even have other secrets or metaphysical insights which decorum has prevented you from revealing. And then—and this is very important—you never go back there. Why? Because our mission will be accomplished.

I said “your” mission. Yes I did. Now go practice.

Because I said so, that’s why.

June 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm 2 comments

“Who Are You Really?

By Melissa Balmain

Pick a secret shame…

● In that online quiz yesterday, you chose Céline Dion as your favorite singer because she was the only one on the list you’d even heard of.

● You couldn’t choose a favorite 19th century novel because, as an English major, you never read any of the classics you now pretend to have read, and instead spent 18 months deconstructing Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

● No kind of dog is your favorite dog.

● Your true dream home—a boring furnished apartment that doesn’t smell like your ex, and where you feel no pressure to do anything but nap—wasn’t pictured.

● You’ve never seen Blade Runner.

● At least half the time when you take these quizzes, you find out you’re Chester A. Arthur.

What were you doing before you started this quiz?

● Repressing thoughts of death while Instagramming your Pop-Tart.

● Sobbing uncontrollably while captioning a goat meme.

● Posting at

● Facebook-stalking your middle-school German teacher, who you maybe saw in Key Foods yesterday and who looked sort of OK in a fat-Piers-Morgan way.

● Googling yourself to make sure you exist.

What activity are you avoiding?

● Working.

● Working out.

● Showering.

● Standing up.

● Going to all the trouble of unwrapping that Twix bar.

Online quizzes you regret taking include…

● Which U.S. President Are You? (Answer: Chester A. Arthur)

● Which Historical Personality Are You? (Chester A. Arthur)

● Where Should You Live? (Pitman, New Jersey)

● Which Writer Are You? (Sue Schneider, author of Mulching for Dummies)

● Who’s Your Celebrity Lookalike? (Chester A. Arthur)

● Which Muppet Are You? (Some random chicken)

● What’s Your Porn Star Name? (Chesty A. Arthur)

● Which Downton Abbey Character Are You? (The yellow-Labrador butt from the opening credits)

Pick an irrational hope…

● If only a quiz would tell you you’re Virginia Woolf, you could post about it and people would finally know you’re brilliant and also worry you’re suicidal and start being nice to you.

● If you could post, “I’m Miss Piggy,” they’d think, “Wow, the sexiest Muppet—I guess she is pretty sexy.”

● Posting “I belong in… Paris!” would make your lack of showering seem earthy and European.

● No one knows you’re taking these quizzes over and over till you stop getting lame authors, obscure towns, and crappy Muppets.

After this quiz, you will probably…

● Write a text that no one answers.

● Write a tweet that no one retweets.

● Facebook-stalk your high school chemistry teacher.

● Briefly consider hitting the gym, throwing out your junk food, and going to that Singles ‘n’ Saltimbocca thing tonight, because it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf, goddammit.

● Take another quiz.


● Chester A. Arthur

June 22, 2014 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

“What We Know”

by May 26, 2014

Here is what we know so far:

—The victim, Mr. Hollis, was found by a servant in the library at the stroke of midnight, with his limbs splayed, his clothes torn to shreds, and his hair matted with dried blood.

—Sometime later, after cleaning himself up, he was murdered.

—The body was noticed by Mrs. Devereaux, who was all the more shocked and confounded since the discovery came near the end of a round of hide-and-seek and just before a round of Corpse Hunt.

—The guests have convened in the study, and have agreed that no one will leave until the authorities arrive, and that Mr. Burlinson is owed an apology now that they realize where the stench was coming from.

—The head servant, Huntley, insists that no one could have gained admittance to the house without his being aware—leading to the unsettling conclusion that the murderer is among the guests, the servants, and the sixty-three strangers with guns whom he saw enter and leave.

—Dr. Morgan examined the body, and found nothing out of the ordinary other than a single gunshot wound to the back of the neck, and the fact that the rest of the body was pulverized.

—Dr. Morgan could not definitively determine the cause of death, though he was able to rule out natural causes, and whooping cough.

—It seems possible that, in the moments before his death, Mr. Hollis attempted to send some kind of message—one destined never to be received, alas, as he was unable to affix postage.

—There is no obvious reason that anyone in the house should have wished harm to Mr. Hollis, other than the fact that he stole four hundred thousand dollars from each of them.

—Mr. Higgins, suspiciously, is the only guest who refused at the beginning of the evening to sign the agreement expressly forbidding murders.

—In retrospect, everyone recalls hearing a single gunshot three hours earlier, but no one gave it much thought because they all assumed that it was simply Mrs. Tedlock committing suicide.

—The front parlor, the billiard room, the library, the family dining quarters, and the master bedroom all contain enormous amounts of blood.

—Mr. Perkins uncovered a floor plan of the house and, to assist with the investigation, marked it as follows: “X,” where Mr. Hollis was found; “Y,” at all eleven points of entry; and “Z,” on the sites of the hundred most recent murders.

—A set of suspicious footprints was found, but they were explained when Mr. Tedlock confessed that he’d accidentally stepped in a tub of orange paint.

—With the unanimous consent of the guests, Mr. Devereaux has been dispatched to interview each member of the kitchen staff, with the object of appointing one of them snack-getter.

—The maid claims that she overheard the victim’s wife, Mrs. Hollis, remark that “next weekend would run more smoothly” should her husband be “unable to attend,” an allegation that Mrs. Hollis disputes. However, a few guests recall that at around six Mrs. Hollis gave a PowerPoint presentation on killing her husband.

—Several guests recall that at the beginning of the evening, as Mr. Hollis made the rounds, he kept remarking, “If anyone kills me tonight, the culprit will be Mr. Quinn. Remember that, people!” However, everyone agrees that Mr. Hollis was an idiot.

—Every room in the house has been combed for clues, except, for obvious reasons, the corpse pit.

—By a tremendous stroke of luck, the murder weapon was found by Mr. Williamson, who, incredibly, had a hunch about Mrs. Wilson’s undergarment drawer.

—Nothing of interest turned up in the library (where the victim was found), other than a cryptic note that read, in its entirety, “You’ll never find me,” with the words “From Jim” crossed out many, many times.

—The guests have taken a blind vote and determined that a majority of them believe that Mr. Devereaux will not return, keeping all the snacks for himself.

—Mr. Cavendish has repeatedly confessed to the murder.

June 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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