What’s Valentine’s Day all about? Ripping out your heart, zombie-style, of course!

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Again.

But I have an awesome boyfriend this year! Suck it, single people! This is the best day of my life!


No, not really. THIS was the best day of my life.

Sigh (of happiness).

But I know you don’t read this blog to hear how much better my life is than yours, (which let’s face it, prior to THIS, it wasn’t. Now it is. Unequivocally. Sorry.) so I’ll go back to being the Grinch Who Stole Valentine’s Day just for you, my loyal readers, who love the snark.

To be fair, my boyfriend is a former tree-hugging hippie who used to live in the mountains, have a beard, and grow his own vegetables. In fact, if you put some aviators on him in his old pictures, he might have been the Unabomber. Minus that whole letter bomb thing.

But the point is that he doesn’t like the idea of a commercialized holiday like Valentine’s Day, so we celebrated yesterday, which was our four-month anniversary. So unless he pulls a Kaiser Soze-style trick today and surprises me with flowers/candy/a giant teddy bear/other random crap that Hallmark tells me I need even though I don’t, I, as usual, have nothing to celebrate today.

Meaning it’s time to trash the hell out of the holiday.

So who was this mysterious St. Valentine and why do we have to celebrate him? As always, when I don’t know the answer to a question, I follow six simple steps to ensure that I arrive at the correct answer.

Step 1: Ask my dad. He knows all. He’s like the Oracle at Delphi, except he explains things in cryptic physics terms instead of cryptic riddles. So you’re more likely to wind up making something explode, less likely to commit patricide and incest, then gouge your eyes out when you ask him a question.

Step 2: Ask Siri. Why? Because my phone is always in my hand and it’s easier than typing a question into Google. Duh.

Step 3: Ask my grandma. She doesn’t usually know the answers, but she’ll always lie and make up a good story, which is usually more interesting than the real version anyway.

Step 4: Bang my head against the wall because my grandma’s answer made ZERO sense and she guilt-tripped me about something I didn’t even know existed.

Step 5: Take some Advil from steps 3 and 4.

And finally, Step 6: Go to Wikipedia.

My findings?

Step 1: “Dad, what’s the meaning of Valentine’s Day?”

“[Profanity deleted for sake of keeping my teaching job. But I’ll tell you it went on for exactly 18.5 minutes (the exact missing time in the Nixon tapes—coincidence?) and involved many different and creative uses for certain parts of the human anatomy and a goat.] Is that today? Your mother’s going to [expletive deleted] murder me!”

“Dad, I already got you a card and sent mom flowers from you*, calm down. I just want to know why we celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

*Artistic license.  I tried to send you flowers mom.  I did.  But dad went on some crazy rant about how if they wouldn’t be there by 3, I couldn’t send them.  And because I have no control over when flowers are delivered on the busiest flower day of the year, I was told not to do it.  I’m sorry.  Please don’t hurt me.

“Oh. Because billions of years ago, all the matter in the universe was tightly compacted into a really small space until it finally all exploded in what we call the Big Bang…”

This conversation lasted for 97 hours and at that point, we hadn’t even made it to the dinosaurs dying yet. It was time to ask Siri.

FAIL. And apparently Siri doesn’t understand sarcasm. Or else she was being nasty back when I sarcastically thanked her. What a [expletive deleted].

Okay, time for Step 3. Call Grandma.

Me: “Grandma, why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?”

My Grandma: “I made you cabbage soup.”

Me: “Um thanks. I don’t really like cabbage soup though. But that’s not why I’m calling—”

My Grandma: “What do you mean you don’t like cabbage soup? You’ve never had my cabbage soup! You had it off the back of a truck once!”

Me: “Huh?”

Steps 4 and 5. And a glass of wine. Because that conversation actually happened. And I still have no idea what she was talking about because I’m 100 percent positive that I’ve never eaten cabbage soup off the back of a truck. And I don’t think that has anything to do with Valentine’s Day either.

On to Step 6. My old standby. Wikipedia. Which as we all know, is NEVER, EVER wrong. Or getting back together with Taylor Swift apparently.

According to Wikipedia, we celebrate Valentine’s Day because this dude, named Valentine (duh) was performing marriages illegally in the year 269 AD. So the Romans came to kill him, but he, in true romantic fashion, beat them to it. He cut his own heart out (which is pretty hardcore if you ask me. I mean, it’s one thing to use that weirdo chant from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and pull it out with magic, but CUTTING your own heart out takes real effort), wrote a nice little note to his girlfriend, signed it “From your Valentine,” and mailed the note and his heart to her, Van Gogh-style. Then the Romans came and slaughtered his zombie ass, as they should have, because anyone walking around AFTER cutting his own heart out NEEDS to be killed before he eats your brains. Duh again.

So unlike that ungrateful chick who got Van Gogh’s cut off ear, Valentine’s girlfriend thought this was sweet and romantic and wonderful and made all of her friends super jealous of the fact that HER zombie boyfriend loved her enough to cut out his own heart and mail it to her. Her friends then held out on sex until their boyfriends did the same the following year, and a tradition was born.

However, zombies weren’t popular until about two years ago, so Hallmark stepped in and started this paper heart nonsense.

Then the flower, candy, and teddy bear industries got involved to suck the life out of men’s wallets worldwide.

It’s what’s known in the industry as a perfect storm.

But this year, THIS YEAR, zombies are in style! They’re more popular than vampires! (Take that you sparkly Twilight [expletive deleteds]!) So men, use this to your advantage! Don’t buy in to the Hallmark nature of the holiday! If you love your woman, take some bath salts, go all zombie, and cut out your REAL heart to send to your girlfriend!

And the best part of this plan? It’ll work even on years when Valentine’s Day falls on Saturdays because the postal service will still deliver packages but not regular mail.

Everybody wins.

Until the zombies overtake us all.

Hmm. Maybe the Hallmark version isn’t so bad.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It–And I Feel Like Looting!

According to an ancient Mayan prophecy, the world is ending one week from today.

I am here today to tell you that this is absolutely, unequivocally true.

How do I know?

Duh, I’m psychic, I know everything.

No, I won’t help you pick winning lottery numbers.

And I’m not really THAT psychic. Even though Madam Marie’s granddaughter told me that I am.

I’m relying on cold, hard facts this time.

Fact #1: The Mayans said it’s happening. Clearly a civilization that disappeared over a thousand years ago was AWESOME at predicting the future.

The best theory out there about their disappearance was that they were kidnapped by aliens. It’s true. Google it. Of course, the Wikipedia page on the Mayans says that they never disappeared, they just left their main cities due to a drought and were assimilated into other local cultures, but that’s Wikipedia. Everyone knows that ANYONE can edit Wikipedia. Even the aliens that abducted the Mayans.

 
But the Mayans clearly knew that was coming because they disappeared without a trace, implying that they knew it was coming and had time to pack. See? If they say the world is ending, it’s ending.

Fact #2: There’s a movie about it. It’s called 2012. I mean, I didn’t see it, because the premise of the movie is that neutrinos are heating the Earth’s core and ending the world, and my dad is one of the world’s leading neutrino physicists and that premise was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life because that’s NOT what neutrinos are or what they do.

  Like literally. My dad was one of the head scientists who discovered that neutrinos have mass. He’d know if they were heating the Earth’s core. And he’d tell me. Because he’s my daddy.

 But the fact that there’s a movie about it means it’s happening. Clearly.

Fact #3: It’ll be 2015 in just over two years and hoverboard technology isn’t close. We’ve just created a paradox in the space-time continuum big enough to destroy the whole universe. And the world is part of the universe. So it’s ending too.

Fact #4: The Redskins aren’t terrible this year. We have RGIII. We beat the Giants, the Eagles, AND the Cowboys. And even after RGIII got injured in the last game, we STILL won. If this isn’t a sign of an impending apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

See? Indisputable evidence that that world will be ending in exactly one week.

So what should you do?

That depends. If you’re planning to survive the apocalypse, you should probably stock up on all the apocalypse essentials: shotguns, bottled water, Leonardo DiCaprio dvds, a generator (to run whatever you’re going to watch the dvds on), non-perishable food items, and a zombie-English dictionary.

And, most importantly, Will Smith.  Because if Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that no matter what the cause of the end of the world, Will Smith can not only survive it, he can also save the fractured remnants of society.

But if you’re willing to throw in the towel and embrace the end of the world, as I am (I don’t do well with zombies. And the only bottled water that my boyfriend will drink costs like $15 for a six pack. Seriously? It’s water. It comes out of the tap AND the sky for free. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of it my life. Yet another sign that the world is ending: people will spend that much money on WATER. Bring on the apocalypse please, I’m done), your preparations can be a lot more fun.

For example, you know the Ten Days of Repentance in Judaism, when you’re supposed to go around apologizing for all the wrongs that you’ve done to people? I plan to spend the next seven doing the opposite: I’m going to go around telling people EXACTLY what I think of them. I mean, the world is ending, there won’t be any consequences. And I have a few people who I’ve been holding back on for YEARS. This will be awesome. Unless you’re one of the people who has wronged me. In which case I’m about to use the present that I got my father for Hanukkah to tell you what an [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] [expletive deleted] you are.

And all that dieting and exercising I’ve been doing this year? To hell with that! You can’t undo a year’s worth of effort in one week, so I’m eating whatever I want this week.

A whole pizza? Sure! Eighty-seven cookies? Why not! As long as my jeans still fit on Friday when the world ends, it’s all good.

Time to max out those credit cards too. There’s no way you’ll have to pay that debt off, so buy whatever you want. It’s your America folks!

What’s the only thing more fun than spending money you don’t have? That’s right! It’s looting! Go crazy! Take what you want! Why yes, I WOULD like to help myself to a Maserati! Thank you for asking. Oh, it was yours? That’s a shame, it’s mine now. And the beauty of this plan is that when EVERYONE starts looting, the cops will be too busy to do much about it. So yeah, a few unlucky souls might get caught and spend their last week locked up, but in this case, the odds are ever in your favor.

Then it’s time to mess with peoples’ heads. Because really, that’s my primary joy in life anyway as a teacher. All you really need to do it this time is a good pair of wire cutters. Grab those suckers and start cutting any wires you see. Power? Gone. Cable and internet? Gone. Phones? No one uses a landline anyway, that won’t really do anything. But if you can knock down a cell tower, you’ll terrify EVERYONE. And without the ability to check Twitter to see what’s happening, everyone will descend into mass panic and you can laugh at them for the last few minutes before the world actually ends.

Goodbye world, it’s been fun.

Unless of course, the Mayans were somehow wrong, and you follow this advice, in which case my lawyer would like me to publicly state that I am not responsible for anything that happens to you as a result of your own actions.

Happy looting!

The real origin of Valentine’s Day–hint, look at its initials

And it’s that oh-so-wonderful day of the year when I want to punch most people I see in the face.

No, I don’t mean every day that ends in “y” (am I really that cranky that often? Geez… I might need anger management!). I am, of course, referring to Valentine’s Day.

I know, I know, surprise, surprise, the single girl who’s probably going to die alone with seventeen cats (which is truly a fate worse than death, because as anyone who knows me knows, I REALLY hate cats) hates Valentine’s Day. But I’m about to break girl code here and let you guys in on a secret: most girls hate Valentine’s Day even more than you do.

Before I explain, I do want to point out that there are two major groups of girls who are exceptions to this rule. The first group is easy to spot because they have WAY too many stuffed animals in their bedroom. They also have an abnormal attachment to the color pink and have at least one picture of a kitten on their wall. And they’re over the age of six. If you find yourself dating one of these girls, you’d better go all out for Valentine’s Day.


Like seriously, flowers, giant stuffed bears, candy, jewelry, engagement rings, a yacht ready to take you to a Greek isle, etc. Even if you’ve only been dating for a week. Anything less than this will result in a temper tantrum that would make the apocalypse seem minor. But I have no sympathy for you in this case. Because you ignored the warning signs and CHOSE to date this girl in February. You made your own pink, stuffed-animal lined bed. Now enjoy the suffering that Valentine’s Day entails for you. And just think, you get to do it all over again in 364 days.


The second group of girls who love Valentine’s Day are the girls who are in a relationship but have primarily single friends. The reason that these girls love Valentine’s Day so much is the same reason why they torture their friends with ridiculous hazing activities as soon as they are engaged and pick seventeen of their closest friends to be their bridesmaids. It’s because 364 days of the year, they’re jealous of their single friends who can come and go as they please and don’t have to deal with you leaving the toilet seat up. So when they find one day (or two, if it’s a year when they’re getting married) to feel superior, they love it. So if you’re with one of these girls, you’re expected to treat her as if she were the pink/stuffed-animal/kitten loving type of girl, or else face the consequences.

You’ve been warned.

The majority of us, however, recognize that it’s pointless.

That being said, if you’re in a relationship, you’re still expected to make a tremendously flashy show of how much you love us. Not because we need that reassurance. But because we’re hugely competitive and if Suzy from the cubicle next to ours gets a better present than we did, she gets to lord it over us for the next year. And we do NOT want to let that happen. So just like diamonds and penis size (sorry—just being honest here!), when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, bigger is ALWAYS better.

But now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a moment to mock the holiday’s origin. According to Wikipedia, which, as we all know, is NEVER wrong, Valentine’s Day began in 1832 as a day on which all sexual partners were expected to be able to confess to any “delicate” diseases that they may have picked up without retribution. Hence the initials, VD. Which, for those of you born after 1980, is what people used to call STDs.

In fact, this is where Valentine’s Cards came from. Because some people didn’t want to flat out SAY, “I want you to know that you may now have Chlamydia.” So they tried to come up with clever and witty ways to warn their partners that they were probably now infected. That’s also why candy, flowers, and presents began to go with those cards, because it’s harder to get mad at the person who gave you syphilis if they also gave you flowers.

(Not really. I think I’d be just as mad. But in theory, I guess the presents could help. In theory.)

So it’s a little-known fact that the first “Roses are red, violets are blue” poem REALLY read, “Roses are red, violets are blue, a hooker gave me the clap, and now you have it too.”

The classic card that Ralph Wiggam gave Lisa Simpson saying, “I choo-choo-choose you,” originated as “I choo-choo-chose someone else first and wound up with crabs.”

Not quite as sweet, but far more informative.

Even William Shakespeare’s classic “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” didn’t start as innocent as it wound up. He originally said, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? After we fooled around, it burns when I pee.” (It’s true, ask Wikipedia!)

More modern sentiments of love came from these older Valentine confessional cards. Contrary to popular belief, 50 Cent took his “I love you like a fat kid loves cake,” from Emily Dickinson’s “I love you like a fat kid loves cake, but unlike you, cake never gave me herpes.”

So how did we get from confessing the diseases gathered from infidelity to the supposed most romantic day of the year?

Easy. A little company called Hallmark launched a massive cover-up conspiracy so all-inclusive that Amelia Earhart’s last flight, JFK’s assassination, the Roswell aliens, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the disappearance of the Mayans are all a part of it.

I’d tell you more, but then Hallmark would have to kill me.

In fact, since I started writing this, Wikipedia’s Valentine’s Day entry has mysteriously changed to some made-up story about “Saint Valentine.” Right. Because THAT sounds real.

In summary, it’s a pointless holiday. But I’ll take flowers, candy, jewelry, shoes, or any other presents you’d like to give me any day of the year. Including today.

"If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor, love is the rhythm, you are the music"

Saturday night was about as perfect as they come.

Why?

Because for only the third time in my concert-going life, I got to see Bruce play in Asbury Park. And in my world, that is truly as good as it gets.

If you’re not one of my fellow Bruce fanatics, I know that you don’t understand the significance of this. And you’re probably rolling your eyes and saying, “Here she goes, talking about Bruce again.” But hear me out, I’m going to try and explain it.

Wikipedia defines religion as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of life and the universe, especially…human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, or divine.”

Keeping in mind the one infallible tenet of the universe that Wikipedia is NEVER wrong, I think that music can fall into the category of a religion.

Go with me on this. Picture music as a religion. I mean one of the big religions, not some little weirdo one like that church of body modification (it’s real… bizarre, but real) or a cult like Scientology or Jews for Jesus, but as a real, legitimate religion.

(Note: if you’re easily offended by people mocking religion, you probably don’t want to read the rest of this post… And if you ARE easily offended and DO read the rest of this post despite my warning, please don’t post your comments about how I’m a heathen because I’m just going to delete them. Yes, I have that power. Which I suppose makes me the god of this blog. Insert evil laughter here.)

Obviously Bruce is at the center of the particular denomination of musical religion that I practice, but just as Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, I can see the inherent value of other musical messiahs.

So okay, if Bruce is the deity-figure (I’m going to refrain from calling him Jesus—partially because I think that’s going to offend everyone but the Jews (I’m not as worried about offending Muslims because I’m an American Jewish chick… they’re not reading this anyway and if they are, my very existence is already insanely offensive to them) and partially because I’m Jewish and calling him Jesus just gets too confusing), that would make the members of the E Street Band his disciples. If I had better Photoshop skills, I’d do a version of the Last Supper to illustrate this. But my Photoshop skills are, unfortunately, somewhat limited and I don’t feel like wasting that much time. You get the idea.

Then there are the prophets. These are the other musicians who are heavily influenced by Bruce. (And you could probably make an argument that since Bruce was heavily influenced by Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Chuck Berry, among others, they could figure into some Father/Holy Ghost type analogy, but I don’t know enough about Christian theology to really flesh that out.) So in that group would be the Gaslight Anthem, Jesse Malin, Tom Morello, Eddie Vedder, Social Distortion etc. All of them are ABSOLUTELY worth going to see in their own right, but their music/styles contain some elements of the Bruce gospel.

We also have the scholars, who, like biblical scholars, interpret the word of our deity and pass these interpretations on to the masses. Some, like Chris Phillips and Dave Marsh, are established as being the authorities (love them or hate them, the Bruce camp has cemented their position by giving them super exclusive interviews), whereas others learn from these teachings and put their own spin on what they’ve taken from Bruce. You can find these scholars in many places, from BTX to Greasy Lake and everywhere in between. Some are strict and believe that only their interpretation is legitimate, whereas others are more welcoming of new points of view. (Think of the difference between ultra-orthodox Jews and reform Jews—you find the same kind of argument about what makes someone a “real” fan on BTX pretty often.)

I, as someone who has written a book in which the characters meet following Bruce and as someone who blogs about his importance in my life fairly often, fit into the scholar group, although I’m still a novice by most standards. My father was the one who introduced me to Bruce and he was the one who started taking me to shows, and it is a pretty male-dominated scene among the heavy-duty Bruce fans. And in my debut work, Beyond the Palace, I told the story from the point of view of a guy.

Which, of course, makes me Yentl.

(No one but my mother laughed at that, but it amused me. Papa, can you hear me?)

But the best part about travelling to our Jerusalem (Asbury Park) to worship at the holiest of holy sites, isn’t even that Bruce showed up. (Don’t get me wrong, that was absolutely unreal.) No, the best part is the feeling of community among the true Bruce fans at a show. Because I don’t care what people on BTX say makes you a real fan versus a fair-weather fan; when you’re at a show in Asbury Park and the lights have dimmed and there’s even the slightest whisper in the air that Bruce could be there that night, you’re with your family.

That feeling struck me several times Saturday night, well before Bruce took the stage. I had conversations with a whole bunch of different people who had been at the same shows I’d been at, who had the same bootlegs, who loved the same other musicians, and who felt the same things that I felt being there that night. And that sense of community and belonging is the reason so many people go to synagogue or church week after week. It’s to feel a part of something bigger and to be with people who believe in the same things you believe in and have faith in the same things you put your faith in.

No, I don’t literally worship Bruce. I’m actually a fairly observant Jew, and I understand that comparing music to religion is a stretch for those who don’t feel the way that I do. But the reason that I think it’s an apt comparison is that it has given so much to my life and to who I am as a person. And Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre was where I truly felt that I was home. And I can only hope that all of you who read this have a place where you can feel that same sense of acceptance and belonging.

And I REALLY hope that 2011 brings a new tour. Because I’m already eagerly anticipating my next religious experience.

I’m tired of hearing about Sarah Palin… in other news, I’m a Leo now!

I have officially turned to Twitter as my primary source of news.

But Sara, you’re a print news junkie! The Washington Post website is your homepage.

True. But until all this Sarah Palin crap blows over, I’m avoiding all mainstream media. Seriously. I’m done. I’m all for demonizing her and am considering changing my name just because she ruined a perfectly good first name by being an idiot, but what happened in Tuscon isn’t her fault.

Of course, it’s COMPLETELY her fault that she jumped into the middle of all of this the day that the President was speaking in Tuscon and used a hugely controversial phrase (which I’m convinced she didn’t understand. I mean, come on, if she doesn’t know “refudiate” isn’t a word, she doesn’t know the anti-Semitic history of “blood libel”), but she only was able to push her way into the limelight because the media let every nut who wanted to blame her for the shooting have a soapbox to stand on.

As a journalism teacher, what I see is particularly disheartening. I strive to teach my journalism students that they need to be fair and balanced in their reporting and get a variety of differing opinions for their stories. But how on earth are they supposed to learn to do that when they’re bombarded by news sources that consider a report to be balanced if their version of diversity is interviewing a right-wing extremist and a left-wing extremist?

In other words, you can balance out Sarah Palin’s craziness by also interviewing Bob Brady, who is proposing legislation making it illegal to use violent rhetoric. They’re both idiots and neither is actually representative of America. At least I really, REALLY hope they’re not.

And it’s a REALLY bad sign when Twitter has become a more reliable than any news network. I mean, it’s like trusting Wikipedia: anyone can say anything they want there. (Although whoever hacked the Wikipedia entry for “blood libel” and put Sarah Palin’s pic up, call me. I want to be your friend.)

So because Twitter is now my primary source of news, I was able to deduce that the biggest story of the day yesterday was the change in astrological signs. Apparently, by spending my whole life up until yesterday as a Virgo, I was living a lie.

I have to admit, I always suspected as much. I never really felt like a Virgo.

(Shut up, it has NOTHING to do with Virgo being the virgin. Jerks.)

But now I feel like I’m having an identity crisis. The first thing I do every morning when I wake up is make my bed. But that’s a Virgo, control-freak thing to do. So when I got home from school yesterday, I went immediately into my room and unmade my bed, because no self-respecting Leo would make her own bed—we’d believe that someone else should show up to do it for us because we’re the center of the universe.

Which kind of sucked last night when I had to sleep in an unmade bed. But I think that only bothered me because I had so many years of thinking like a Virgo and needing everything to be neat and organized.

Although now that I’m no longer a self-conscious and overly-worried Virgo, I seem to have overcome my lifelong battle with insomnia. Damnit astrologers, couldn’t you have told me I was a Leo years ago? I’m pretty mad when I think of all the sleep I could have been getting if I’d just known that I wasn’t ACTUALLY a worrier!

I also no longer have to stress about being late for everything. As a Virgo, I always felt great anxiety when I was running late, which, let’s face it, is ALL the time.

But now I understand my chronic lateness! It’s because I was misdiagnosed as a Virgo. Leos believe they are the center of the universe and therefore aren’t worried about how valuable anyone else’s time is. So instead of rushing like crazy to get to work on time, I’m just going to take my time and get there when I get there. Besides, Leos like to make an entrance. (I’m kind of curious to see how that works with my boss. Like if I walk in ten minutes after first period starts and just announce, “School can start now because the most important person in the universe has arrived!” I probably won’t have a job much longer. But that’s okay. Because I’m a Leo now and that means people should just pay me for being awesome.)

I was going to write more, but now that I’m a Leo, I think it’s time to go admire myself instead. So to sum up:

Sarah Palin = bad

Blaming Sarah Palin for stuff she had nothing to do with = usually good, but in this case bad

Extremists on either side = worse

Twitter = reliable source of information

Leo = a good night’s sleep in an unmade bed

Being me now that I’m a Leo = awesome

Astrology = total load of crap