Friday, November 21, 2014

Random Reviews (No One Can Use): Cracked iPhone Screen

Now for something you don't need!

This week I'm reviewing my cracked iPhone 5C screen. This review will be of no use to you at all. Except that maybe you will laugh. Mind you, I'm not guaranteeing that. Let's not get contractual about this. 

SPOILER: Not great. It's not really great at all.

Want to share this utterly pointless review with your friends and loved ones? Pin it!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Emojigami: The Art of Making Emoji Sentences

Emojis, everyone's doin' it. But not everyone's doin' it right. 

For example, this is appropriate, if boring. 

And this is appropriate, if over the top (and borderline over-medicated).

And this is what happens when a small child plays with your phone. 

But in this rich emojiverse, your communication options can go beyond the written word. Why, you can communicate entirely with these small icons, forgoing mundane human speech, officially marking the decline of humanity as we know it. Surely Shigetaka Kurita, who created the first emoji some time in the late 90s, would be proud that today we can express our sorrow in as many as a baker's dozen (or more!) of dreary pictographs. 

Or can we take it to the mountain? Let technology be the winky-faced wind beneath our wings? Turn our incomprehensible Autocorrect typos into incomprehensible strings of emoji?

Consider the possibilities . . .

Questions about paternity in two simple emoji strokes.

Plans for a hostile takeover of a fast food giant.

Simple reminders to keep up on personal hygeine.

Illustrate the importance of punctuation.

Ponder the mechanism of clean fuel alternatives.


Dessert slasher fiction.

Pet care requests.

Urgent messages to drunk friends!

Cryptic BS that makes you sound like a tripping buddhist.

Wardrobe needs, solved.

Exciting discoveries!

Spy communiques.

So, friends, don't ask yourself if you'll send an emoji to annotate your latest selfie. Ask yourself how many.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear Nicole: When is it okay to eat off of someone else's plate?

Welcome to "Dear Nicole," the advice column that gives you advice you didn't know you didn't want.

Today I'm tackling a question that has stumped the friendless and sociopathic for years. 

Dear Nicole, When is it okay to eat off of someone else's plate?

I'm really glad I've asked myself this question. 

They say that possession is 9/10th of the law. I will say that having a plate in front of you is normally a sign of possession, but food that enters a mouth is somewhere around 10/10ths possession, except in the case of unfortunate make-out timing, when you will be forced to share custody of the food. So, as you can see, having a plate is not the same as owning the food that is on that plate. 

That doesn't mean you shouldn't follow some food-sharing protocols. But what are these protocols, I ask myself? When can I steal a bite of food from a plate that I've now decided has far superior food than what I ordered and dammit I knew I should have gotten the special? 

Allow me to illustrate times that it is acceptable or unacceptable to permanently borrow someone's food:

OKAY! The plate belongs to your child. You bought the food. You own it. You can and should eat those fries while they are still hot.

NOT OKAY! The plate belongs to someone else's child. Don't be weird. Seriously, no. 
OKAY! Eating off of your lover's plate while out for a romantic dinner for two. Hey, what's good for The Lady and the Tramp is good for non-animated humans. That's amore! 
NOT OKAY! Eating off of the stranger's plate next to you at the bar. This is how Ebola spreads. Well, that's what I heard. 
OKAY! Out with girlfriends sharing a plate of delish appys! Why, this is how an entire subset of humans eat out. I actually know a woman who has never ordered an entire meal just for herself, deftly living on shared sandwiches and appetizers for the last 13 years. Brava, food-sharing enthusiast! 
NOT OKAY! Soup sharing. Soup is a mixing bowl for blood from someone else's diseased gums, errant body hairs from sous chefs, and sneezes. Don't make it worse by dipping your saliva-slicked spoon in there.  
OKAY! At a party where plates are as limited as the seating options. Find a friend, be cool, and ask him if he would scoop some mini-wieners on his plate because as long as he's already filling his Chinet . . .  
NOT OKAY! At a party with people from work. Those people are probably disgusting. Sure, you sit across from Ed 40 hours a week, but do you really know if he washes his hands after going to the bathroom? I rest my case. 

I hope this has helped you to understand the finer points of plate-sharing etiquette. 

And remember, I'm answering the questions that no one is asking! So keep not sending me your letters! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Well done, Sister Suffragette!

Say hey, sisters! It's voting time. 

That means that you can head out to your local church or municipal building or school gymnasium and pull the lever (or touch a screen) to register your energetic support or your apathetic resignation for the new sheriff in townliterally. 

And when you do, and I know you will, realize that you've been able, as a vagina-carrying American, to exercise this right for a staggering not even 100 years. 

Yes, our country is 200 and something something years old! A country populated by religious reformers looking for the right to exercise their rights to deny rights to non-men and non-whites! What an inspirational and moving genesis of our Republic!

I, for one, am feeling, what is the word? Is it empowered? Am I enfranchised? No, I know, it's marginalized! Marginalized even still as the last of all Americans to get the vote. The last to have her turn. Way to go America! The radical revolutionaries who started an entire country based on democracy for the elite few! 

That's not to say that I don't love my country. I certainly don't want to move anywhere else, and I'll take a delayed share of the democracy over none at all. We are flawed, America, but we are worthwhile. 

But, ladies, come on. If we'd been running the show since 1776, I mean, better, am I right? Slavery would have ended sooner (oh, yes, we'd still have been slave owners, because women are not immune to squashing the civil and human rights of others), but many of our female predecessors worked hard to advance the rights of all citizens, including black women and men.  

Of course, when 
black men got the right to vote, they were less interested in helping their sisters, no matter their skin color, in obtaining the same rights. Why, no man wants to mess up his chance to participate in democracy by also supporting the voting rights of undesirables like us, gals!
It was only in the aftermath of the Civil War, when Republican politicians introduced the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution extending citizenship and suffrage to former slave men [Editor's note: That's back in 1868 and 1870, girls. Women would wait another 50 years to vote. Math is fun!] . . . Many abolitionists initially advocated universal suffrage, for both African Americans and women. When that was made impossible by the insertion of the word male in the 14th and 15th amendments, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, with support from African Americans like Sojourner Truth, campaigned against any amendment that would deny voting rights to women. Among their opponents were former allies like Lucy Stone, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Wendell Phillips, and Frederick Douglass, who argued that it was “the Negro’s hour” and that women’s suffrage would have to wait. (Source, PBS)
Still, though major upheaval in the form of a civil war, the citizenship of former American slaves (though the ability to exercise the freedoms of citizenship was squashed until well after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s) had already rocked the country. Ladies, we unpredictable creatures of hysteria and menstrual mystery, were not allowed the vote until 1920. Let's examine how not-so-long-ago that year was. 

In 1920, the following were part of the daily lives of Americans:
  • The Red Sox and the Yankees hated each other (Babe Ruth was traded from the Sox to the Spankees that year, patooey), JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • Airmail became a thing. Basically Amazon two-day shipping, plus a lot of days, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • People went to the movies, JUST LIKE TODAY. 
  • Professional football was a thing, officially, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • People were driving cars for realsies, not just the wealthy folks, JUST LIKE TODAY.
  • They didn't have a ratified Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and sure, some of that is due to the fact that the ERA wouldn't be written by suffragist Alice Paul until 1923, but whatevs, JUST LIKE TODAY.
What? Wait, what the hell? That can't be true. I mean, there must be some inflammatory language in that amendment, right?! Like, "Women are the rulers of the free world! Kneel, misogynist scum!" Let's take a look at that there ERA.

The Equal Rights Amendment 
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.  
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.  
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. 

I see, that's about as radical as "all men are created equal." So, it's no wonder the amendment has never been ratified by the federal government. IT'S JUST TOO CRAY CRAY. Treating women to equality under the law?! What next? Letting them think? Letting them have opinions? Letting them vote? (Whoops, gotcha, America, naninibooboo! No taksies-backsies!) 

I think I know why the amendment hasn't passed, yet. WHAT IF WE ARE ALL ON OUR PERIOD AT THE SAME TIME, AMERICA?

Here's something that's very different from that first national election women participated in in 1920. In 1920 the number of voters at the polls rose "from 18.5 million in 1916 to 26.8 million in 1920." Sure, those aren't all women making up the roughly 8 million voter difference, but surely many of them were. Still, that's less than one-third, closer to one-fourth of the vote coming from the ladies. In the 2012 presidential election, women made up 53% of the voters. The majority. The muscle. The largest voting bloc. The bitches in britches making political process a priority. I apologize for all the alliteration, I alliterate when I get excited. 

So, today, on Election Day, let's keep it up. We were the last to earn the right to vote, so let's make up for the lag time by being the loudest. And I will be proud to call you "sister suffragette," even if you vote for the wrong people, specifically, the people I'm not voting for. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

You’re better than that sexy taco costume this Halloween

It’s easy to get pissed off about the sexy cop costume for little girls. You know the one? It’s full-on pedophile gear with a short and sassy skirt, fingerless gloves, and handcuffs. Nothing says “respectable female police officer” like an eight-year-old wearing something Christian Grey would buy for Anastasia. Even better? Party City’s site lists this as a “Toddler Girls Cop Costume.” Whoops, just threw up in my mouth.

But that costume has nothing on the more fetishistic sexy garb. As wrong, and sex crime–adjacent, as the little girl dressed like a two-bit stripper is, what else would we expect from an industry that churns out the Sexy Taco? Oh, I see what you did there, “taco” is Mexican street food that you put in your mouth, just like a “taco” is also slang for female genitalia that you put in your mouth. Pass the sexy salsa!


Still, who’s to blame for sexy everything? Is it the producers of such tasteful items as Baby Cannabis Leaf or Sexy Mostly Likely to Get Roofied by the Cookie Monster Costume? Or is it us? Here’s a surefire test, if you go to a Halloween party as Sexy Ebola Containment Suit Wearing Person and don’t fall immediately into a shame spiral, then it’s our fault, America!

"C" is for cray cray.

The question becomes, which came first, the Sexy Big Bird Costume (don’t forget the sexy hat!) or the Sexy Egg? That question is even harder to answer when an entity that usually exploits women for the sex industry, are the ones pointing out our obsession with making the least coitus-inducing things into something with fishnets.
In this topsy-turvy Halloween tale, it’s Playboy—a name synonymous with the in-your-face sexualization—whose has given us a satirical take on titillating costumes. This year it’s Heff who is getting America to take a good, hard, long look at itself in the mirror dressed up as Sexy Gumby and wonder, “What fresh hell?”

Is that a Gumby coming out of your skull or are you just happy to see me?

Yes, Playboy has turned a tongue-in-cheek and hilarious lens on sexy costumes by making half-naked versions of some of America’s favorite men, from John Oliver to George Takei. And I hate myself for loving you, Playboy. Just like I hated myself about 10 minutes into trolling the sexy costume and lingerie site,, when I thought, “This Sexy Jellyfish could be cute.” So, how broken is our sexy meter when a nudie mag best sums up everything that’s wrong with the misappropriation of “sexy”? Sure, they did it so they could call out some of America’s favorite men and bask in the reflected glory, but that doesn’t mean we can't learn from this, America.

What’s the lesson? The lesson is that lingerie made to look like a Nintendo DS does not a Halloween costume or an erection make. Because, if it really were possible to make everything sexy just by removing 99% of the fabric and adding an accessory, then Sexy Louis C. K. would work as well as Naughty Kitty. But it doesn’t. 

PSHow many animals do we suppose men want to have intercourse with, in reality?

So, check yourself before you Sexy Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball yourself (not an actual costume, just some $13.95 underwear). If you need help keeping your taste levels reigned in, keep this Sexy George R. R. Martin costume in mind. On second thought, do not look directly at the Sexy George R. R. Martin costume. Somebody needs to tell that girl that winter is coming and she’s gonna need more than a captain’s hat to stave off frostbite. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A letter to myself as a new mom (sleep deprived, implied)

Hey, me,

Wow, those are some cat pants.

If my Back to the Future–based calculations are right, you're about to call our mom and cry a lot. Before you ask her, no, there is no commune for new moms where the laundry gets done for you and people bring you snacks while you feed babies and change diapers. There should be, but there isn’t.

Since we're talking, one side of your nursing bra is unhooked. This is a theme you'll notice over the next 12 months.

Plus, yes, sleep-deprived moms should have chauffeurs. When you say this to yourself in a few weeks as you back out of the driveway on the way to the pediatrician while the baby coos in her carseat on roof of the vehicle (don't worry, it all works out fine), you'll become the poster child for this sentiment.

And when you see the duct tape in the garage, go ahead and slip it into the closet in the nursery. You may not realize it, but it's going to come in handy many, many times over your parenting years.

But that’s the stuff and nonsense of new motherhood. I didn’t fire up this time-travelling missive for that. I have a very important message from the future.

You’re not alone. You think you're alone because no one comes to visit and leave casseroles anymore.  

But I’m talking about ideological, emotional, and philosophical aloneness.  

You aren't the only one who:

·         has bloody nipples,
·         wants to make cloth diapers work (but might not),
·         swears at the baby under her breath sometimes,
·         finds baby poop on her finger an hour after the last diaper change,
·         feels judged by other moms—especially her mother-in-law,
·         forgets to put baby wipes in the diaper bag,
·         has spit-up in her cleavage,
·         cries a lot in the kitchen,
·         saved the umbilical stump,
·         hates her stroller,
·         and values sleep above all else.

I know you want to do things “right,” right from the start. But it won't take long for you to realize that “right” is subjective. Wipes warmers, video baby monitors, and daily showers are a matter of preference. So are breast versus bottle, co-sleeping, and pacifiers. 

So, find your tribe. Seek like minds, a band of parents who rally around the same beliefs and nap schedules. Do consider what other tribes believe; they are no less wise than yours. Sometimes you might even join them for a bit. But don’t live and die by them. They aren't your tribe. They aren't the ones who will buoy you when you need it.

Your Tribe. That’s all you really need to get along.

That and duct tape. Believe me you'll need some duct tape. 

*This post originally appeared in a slightly different version on ParentsConnect.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Alternative, Accurate Titles for Just Dance

I've been doing the "Just Sweat" workouts with my daughter in the mornings. It's been a key way to deepen our relationship with each other through fitness and faceless, animated mannequins grooving to pop songs.

If you're unfamiliar, Just Sweat is the workout portion of the Just Dance game we have for our Xbox Kinect. You get to dance and get physical against trippy backgrounds. 

Just Sweat in the tropics! (JK you're in your basement.)

In contrast to the game portion of Just Dance where one mimics dance routines set to pop music, Just Sweat has one mimic important fitness moves like: not knowing what to do with your left leg and pantomiming being on fire. At least during the workout parts, you don't get a playback like in the dance segments. That's right, the game is recording you on video. You can watch a replay of your moves that makes you feel like your entire life is a lie. 

I've been enjoying these daily mommydaughter sweats for nearly two weeks. Two weeks. I assumed I'd get better at anticipating the game's moves by now.

Not so. 

This morning was no different—I struggled to remember to glance down at the prompts that show which move is on deck. I almost tripped. People farted. The steps aren’t getting more familiar, but the failure is. It's been like coming home if home were a place where you were always wrong and everyone had nicer, shinier spandex. Every day I'm transported to the early 90s when supermodel Cindy Crawford and kickboxer-ish Billy Blanks were on my screen, leading me to, if not better fitness, then a sprain, or maybe heart palpitations. In the 90s, I was always a step behind and a grapevine too late.
Rock Lobster. Mutant claw hands optional.

I feel exactly as behind, wrong-footed, and a little nauseated when I Just Don't Dance. You like that, I Just Don't Dance? It's the accurate description of what I do when I stand in front of the Xbox. In fact, “Just Don’t Dance” would be a better name for the game. Just Sit Down Already, would also work, as well as:

  • Just Try to Keep Up
  • Just Don't Throw Your Back Out
  • Just Stop, You're Embarrassing Yourself
  • Just Drop Out
  • Just Not Like That
  • Just Leave the Twerking to Miley
  • Just Don't Let Anyone See You Dong This
  • Just Remember You're Almost 40
  • Just Make It to the Shoulder Shake
  • Just Stand There if You Can't Do This Right
  • Just Fix That Wedgie
  • Just Don't Trip
  • Just Flail
  • Just Sing Along and Sway

Aerobics in Space: If I'm weightless, do I really need to exercise any more?
I'd quit you, Just Dance. I would. But your white-skinned, eyeless avatars and the trippy workout settings have got a hold on me. I'm not a dancer today, and I'm not likely to be one tomorrow, but maybe someday I will nail the moves to "Beauty and a Beat." It could happen. I did eventually conquer the master-level step aerobics move: the cha-cha turn. So, until my inevitable groin pull, let's agree to Just Don't Give-Up on Me.