Shared posts

21 Oct 18:30

Ask Polly: Should I Tell Him What I Want?

by Heather Havrilesky

God I love Polly.

"But I know I need to do it anyway, because if I don't, I will slowly but surely lose my faith and I'll feel misunderstood and I'll misperceive the other person as selfish and I will get ANGRY.

Never expect people to read your mind, and never blame them when they fail to read your mind. Grown adults don't read minds. They ask for what they want instead. Even if the whole world is passive-aggressive and believes in mind-reading, fuck it. That's not how the world should work. Brave people need to model direct communication. There's no reason it should feel threatening. There's no reason blame should be involved. It should be okay to say, "I want this, can you give it to me?" And sometimes, people will say no. THAT'S okay, TOO. It's a conversation."

Young boreal owl chicks (Aegolius funereus), northern Alberta, Canada.


I've been dating a very good man for the last six months. He's kind and brilliant and funny, and fairly communicative, truly honest, and loyal, we have all the right life goals in common and he generally shows the fuck up (in both the literal and metaphysical senses). I really...More »

20 Oct 09:01

The Best Factual Podcasts

by cc

Excellent podcasts! Too many!

Podcasts are on a roll. Diversity and quality keep expanding. New ones pop up every day. But there are precious few comprehensive guides to locating the best podcasts out of the tens of thousands available. It is extremely difficult to find impartial, independently verified measures of audience size for podcasts. They either don’t exist or don’t circulate. Different proxies for audience size have no consensus. And, of course, audience size is not everything.

We made a list of the best factual podcasts by ranking the most popular factual podcasts from the results of an unscientific survey we posted online several months ago. We asked readers of this Cool Tools blog and our social followers to take our survey and rate some suggested podcasts — and to add ones we did not know about. More than 1,600 people filled out the survey, and by the end we had a list of 775 suggested titles. We combined the number of times a podcast was checked together with its average rating to come up with a total score. We then sorted the final list of podcast titles by rank. (The full data dump is here.) We wrote descriptions for the top 50, shown below. (The rankings in this list are biased to our original suggestion list; we’d do the survey differently if we did it again next year.)

There are two broad types of factual podcasts; unscripted and scripted. Unscripted shows are usually interviews or discussions that play out as recorded. The producers don’t know, nor have much control, over where the show goes. Scripted shows, on the other hand, will carefully edit interviews after the fact, mixing them with narration, inter-splicing them with other interviews, maybe adding a soundtrack or ambient sounds. They craft the raw factual materials into a highly produced show in the way a reporter might craft a magazine article, rather than just run a Q&A. Scripted shows, on average, take much more energy, time, staff (and money) to make than unscripted shows (with some exceptions). It is no surprise that the highest ranked podcasts are scripted.

Our list follows this format to give you some clue of what you’ll get if you subscribe via the link provided: Popularity rank and title. Scripted or unscripted. Name of host, typical show length, and average episode frequency. This last one is a little squishy because broadcast frequency is often irregular, or a show runs for an ill-defined “season” or sometimes it appears “whenever.” Last in each item is a description written by us about why it might be worth your while.

Disclosure: The two of us have appeared as a guest on many of the unscripted shows listed here. We also run two of the top 50 podcasts as indicated by our survey. And we are friends with principals of some of the other shows. This fact may have distorted readers’ opinion. Importantly we are regular listeners of about 3/4 of the top 50 and we speak from personal experience when writing their descriptions. However, we don’t have direct experience with about 1/4 of the podcasts mentioned here; those descriptions are compiled from comments made by survey takers, from the shows’ producers, and reviews online. Maybe by next year we’ll have listened to these recommended ones and can say something first-hand about them as well.

If we have overlooked your favorite factual podcast, tell us about it in the comments.

— Kevin Kelly and Mark Frauenfelder


This American Life

Scripted, Ira Glass,
1 hr, Weekly

Mostly true short stories, presented in an audio documentary style. Each segment is superbly crafted with a satisfying emotional arc. A common subtext of a typical story is transformation. Four stories form a rough theme each week, but subjects range widely and unexpectedly. This podcast is consistently top notch and creative, and after decades on the air it is still the gold standard for scripted shows. Their archive is a national treasure that will fill your days.



Scripted, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich,
30 min-1 hr, About 2 per month

Two hosts investigate big scientific questions in an experimental audio style — the “lab” part. Such as: what is time? What is space? Shows are often structured as a debate between the hosts, as they produce sonic evidence (and an original soundtrack for each episode) to keep you changing your mind. Just the way science is suppose to work. There’s a deliberate informality that makes the process of producing the show transparent, all of which keeps it innovative and surprising. Each show also tries to redefine what a podcast can be by mutating the current form. Surprise is certain.



Scripted, Sarah Koenig,
30 min-1 hr, About 10 a year

The first season of this amazing long-from audio saga (about 10 hours) follows an investigative journalist who dives deep into an old high school murder case. No detail is left unexamined. The thrill is the complete immersion into someone else’s world and the mystery of what happens next. Upcoming seasons promise to apply the same full-court investigations to other subjects.


99% Invisible

Scripted, Roman Mars,
15-30 min, Weekly
Take the boring background things that fill 99% of our lives, all the stuff we never think about — airport carpeting, hold music on telephones, railway tunnels — and really look at them closely. Where did they come from, who made them, and what were they trying to do? Each of these “invisible” objects or systems holds a fabulous story about the people behind them, and their accounts can delivery remarkable insight about how this built world actually works. This is probably the only podcast dedicated to infrastructure, yet it’s the least boring podcast ever.


WTF with Marc Maron

Unscripted, Marc Maron,
60–120 min, Twice-weekly
Standup comedian Marc Maron invites the very famous (President Obama, Mick Jagger) and marginally-famous (cartoonist Drew Friedman, drummer and psychologist Steve Dansiger) into his cat-filled garage where he has a long conversation with them. Maron’s gift of self-deprecation, broad knowledge of popular culture, and appealing nebbishness opens his guests up, allowing them to feel comfortable enough to reveal things they wouldn’t share on late night talk shows.



Scripted, Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel,
1 hr, 6-episode Pilot Run

All the things we thought we understood about our inner selves are probably wrong. This show explores new notions about our interior landscape. Each show is a tightly-crafted capsule of audio perfection. While they deal in abstract ideas, the stories are about real people, real lives.


The Memory Palace

Scripted, Nate DiMeo,
5-15 min, Monthly

DiMeo tells true stories about forgotten things that happened in history, with musical accompaniment. Like a modern-day Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.”


Reply All

Scripted, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman,
30 min, Weekly

A sort of a This American Life focused on the internet and all its fast moving frontiers. Rather than report on the latest news, it quickly delves into the lives of the people who are out of the news. Not CEOs or digital celebrities, but the people who work at the support desk, or who are the last to sign up for something, or who are hacking the systems, or who are toiling in online obscurity. This podcast airs the humanity of the internet, good and bad.


Mystery Show

Scripted, Starlee Kine,
30 min-1 hr, About 2 per month

A trivial mystery that is important to only one person and that could only be solved by a lot of detective work becomes an excuse for host Starlee Kine to uncover the stories of people unlike you. The only point in answering these unimportant questions (one per episode) is to encounter parts of the universe that your own rational and efficient lives would have no hope of intersecting. On this show the journey to the answer is far more entertaining than the answer, and the answer is always far more interesting than you could have imagined.


Snap Judgment

Scripted, Glynn Washington,
1 hr, Weekly

Like This American Life, Snap Judgment has 3-5 stories exploring a single theme in each highly-produced episode. The Atlantic calls it a “fast-paced, music-heavy, ethnically variegated take on the public-radio story hour.”



Scripted, Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow,
30 min, About 2 per month

Frontiers are swathed in myths and misperceptions. This podcast illuminates the current fashionable frontier of startups, and it hopes to rid this territory of its riddles. The crew follows a few startups as they start up, tracking the novice founders in cringe-worthy closeness as they take each step forward and two steps backward. The company producing this podcast is itself one of the startups they track, making it very meta, but because they provide access to the innermost dynamics of launching a real company, this mirroring makes the reports riveting in their clarity. Overall they capture a lot of drama, which makes for great listening. It’s also indispensable if you have any romantic ideas of doing a start up.


You Are Not So Smart

Scripted, David McRaney,
30-90 min, About 2 per month

David McRaney explores a different type cognitive bias or quirk (e.g., procrastination, learned helplessness, confirmation bias) in each episode through a combination of examples in the news, excerpts from movies and books, and interviews with psychology researchers.


Song Exploder

Unscripted, Hrishikesh Hirway,
15 min, About 3 per month

In each episode, one popular song is dissected. The artist/composer steps through the song bit by bit explaining what they were thinking as they wrote it. Often they will play alternative sounds they tried that didn’t work. The artist will play and annotate the separate tracks, commenting on the logic and methods to create each track. The anatomy of the song is revealed in its pieces. Then the final song is played in full. It’s a mini audio version of a “making of” that works perfectly for one song.


The Tim Ferriss Show

Unscripted, Tim Ferriss,
30-160 min, Twice-weekly

The distinctive superpower of Tim Ferriss is his ability to learn how to learn. He takes the skills you wish you knew — how to invest, how to grow physically strong, how to learn a language — and shows you how to methodically acquire that skill. To help that goal along, in this podcast he interrogates “world class experts” in a wide range of skills, to shake out their tricks and methods. These aren’t lazy shoot-the-bull interviews; rather Tim is zeroing in and asking for the very specifics you would if you were present: how exactly do you do this? Tell me step by step. The resulting “tutorial interviews” are unique in the podcast world.


In Our Times

Unscripted, Melvyn Bragg,
45 min, Weekly

Each week three British professors who are experts in an esoteric field are led by the host to unpack their obscure passion and make it as plain as possible. The more esoteric the subject the better the show. Subjects like: The Siege of Constantinople. Gravity Waves. Occam’s Razor. Icelandic Sagas. Chivalry. The Talmud. Turns out that by narrowing the focus you can get to the bottom of things, and at the bottom almost anything is fascinating. Better than a bland Wikipedia entry, this podcast host defies the stereotype of a English don, at least one of the professors each week is is female.


The Infinite Monkey Cage

Unscripted, Brian Cox and Robin Ince,
30-45 min, Weekly

“Has the loose format of a lighthearted round table, with topics like parallel universes, neurology and probability and chance. Each episode features practicing scientists and curious outsiders, often comedians with some science background.” – New York Times


The Joe Rogan Experience

Unscripted, Joe Rogan, 2-3 hr,
10-14 episodes per month

Comedian Joe Rogan runs long conversations with other comedians and mini-celebrities that go on for several hours. In many respects the show resembles core talk radio without FCC oversight. Rogan will talk about anything, say anything, no topic is off limits. You get a lot of Joe. The show works if you like his sense of humor and exploratory instincts.


Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

Unscripted, Adam Savage, Norman Chan and Will Smith,
30 min, Weekly

Experiential nerdiness. Mythbuster co-host and two buddies discuss making things, blowing things up, hollywood special effects, tools, props, science fiction and other nerdy subjects. Savage is encyclopedic in his experiences, and is continually trying new things. In his podcast he regales tales from his newest exploits (flying in a fighter jet, riding in a submarine, shooting a bazooka, etc.) and also offers practical advice he’s gained, for instance how to drive fast, or use a chainsaw.


Love + Radio

Scripted, Nick van der Kolk,
30 min, About 2 per month

Unconventional true life stories with an edge. The stories are often more ambiguous and open-ended and racier than say the typical This American Life story, and may earn an “Explicit” tag. At the heart of the show is a fascination with complicated relationships and complex characters.


Cool Tools Show

Unscripted. Mark and Kevin,
30 minutes, Weekly

We interview one guest per episode who raves about four tools they love. We let them gush about each tool, while we try to hone in on why listeners might want to use it. Show notes at the end make it easy to track the tools down later.


Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

Unscripted, Alec Baldwin,
30 min-1 hr, Bi-Weekly

Actor Alec Baldwin is an unexpectedly brilliant interviewer. No neutral host he. Baldwin wields his own large personality as a lever to uncover genuine insights from guests who otherwise are polished and guarded. He gets people to say things they have not said before.


Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything

Scripted, Benjamen Walker,
30 min, Weekly

Like Paul Krassner’s Realist newsletter, Benjamen Walker reports on stories that are sometimes true, and sometimes fictional as a way to get to the heart of the theme of that week’s episode. Walker’s trembling voice and choice of music have a hypnotic effect.


Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Scripted, Dan Carlin,
90 min-4 hr, About 4 per year

“Dan Carlin takes his ‘Martian,’ outside-the-box way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This is a difficult-to-classify show that has a rather sharp edge. It’s not for everyone. But the innovative style and approach has made ‘Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History’ a New Media hit.” – iTunes


Fresh Air

Unscripted, Terry Gross,
45 min, Weekly

Easily the best interviewer in America, Terry Gross has an uncanny ability to ask the right questions and to listen at the right moment in order to get people to be genuine and authentic and tell you something you didn’t know.


Freakonomics Radio

Scripted, Stephen J. Dubner,
30 min-1 hr, Weekly

“Inspired by the books of the same name, Freakonomics Radio is hosted by Stephen Dubner, with co-author Steve Levitt. An award-winning podcast exploring “the hidden side of everything”. From the economy, headline news to pop culture.” – Stitcher


Planet Money

Scripted, Adam Davidson, David Kestenbaum and others,
15 min, Twice-weekly

“Helping you make sense of our rapidly changing global economy. NPR’s Planet Money highlights high rollers, brainy economists and financial experts to keep you up to date on the fiscal world.” – Stitcher


The Truth

Scripted, Jonathan Mitchell,
15-30 min, Every two weeks

“Movies for your ears. Short stories that are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always intriguing. Every story is different, but they all take you to unexpected places using only sound. If you’re new, some good starting places are: Silvia’s Blood, That’s Democracy, Moon Graffiti, Tape Delay, or whatever’s most recent. Listening with headphones is encouraged.” – iTunes



Unscripted, Mark Frauenfelder,
15-60 min, weekly

Currently on hiatus this year, Gweek is a long-running podcast that featured Mark Frauenfelder, together with a regular guest, interviewing artists and authors who create games, comics, science fiction, toys, apps, tools, and other lighthearted geeky stuff. Mark, the co-founder of Boing Boing, and editor of Cool Tools, sees it as his job to discover new and nifty things.


New Yorker: Out Loud

Unscripted, Amelia Lester,
15-30 min, Weekly

Each week one factual article from the magazine is given an in-depth treatment. The article’s writer will be interviewed by the whip-smart editors at the New Yorker. In the process the discussion will summarize the best parts of the piece and provide an inside look at its origins. This can be as good as or even better than reading the article.


Design Matters With Debbie Millman

Unscripted, Debbie Millman,
30 min, Weekly

“A podcast about design and the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought.” – Design Matters


The James Altucher Show

Unscripted, James Altucher,
30-90 min, Twice-weekly

A really interesting person interviews other really interesting people.


Bulletproof Radio

Unscripted, Dave Asprey,
1 hr, Twice-weekly

A far-out, self-styled bio-hacker who claims to have cured his obesity and Asperger’s by eating yak meat, buttered coffee, and a high-calorie, high-fat diet invites other far-out people from the world of health, diet, and psychology to share their ideas for optimal living.



Unscripted, Chris Dixon and others,
15-30 min, 10 per month

Some of the smartest reporting in tech today does not come from magazines but from the offices of investors. They view from a high mega-level with a five-year horizon. This podcast comes from a16z, a VC firm that also produces steady blog posts. Here they interview a range of agents, such as CEOs, analysts, founders, journalists, and other investors. The topics are current trends in the high tech world.


The Ihnatko Almanac

Unscripted, Andy Ihnatko and Dan Benjamin,
60-90 min, Weekly

Tech journalist Andy Ihnatko delivers extemporaneous and knowledgeable soliloquies about comic books, movies, technology, photography, and dozens of other topics. Like a very nerdy Roger Ebert. Co-host Dan Benjamin hardly gets a word in, but he’s there just to wind up Ihnatko and let him go.


Latest in Paleo

Scripted, Angelo Coppola,
60-120 min, Weekly

Angelo Coppola takes a look at the latest news in health and diet, and provides perspective from a paleo point of view. In recent years Coppola has veered from a high-fat, high-protein “classic” paleo diet and is now closer to a being vegan who supplements his diet with a small amount of high-quality protein.


Little Atoms

Unscripted, Neil Denny,
60-90 min, Weekly

A UK-based show dwelling on ideas, science and culture. Neil Denny interviews scientists, thinkers, scholars and writers. Casual, but he often interviews interesting people not usually heard from.


Science… sort of

Unscripted, Patrick Wheatley, Ryan Haupt and others,
60-90 min, About 2 per month

Sitting around beers, a bunch of working scientists chat about science. They often take a breaking science story in the news and will read and discuss the actual scientific paper behind the headlines. That’s a powerful way to learn science and journalism at once.


Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Unscripted, Christopher Lydon,
30-60 min, Weekly

Lydon often roams the world talking to notable people in other cultures who are totally off the radar in America. It’s really one guy with passport and a microphone. He’s incredibly smart, well-read, interested, and eager to disrupt old tired notions. His nimble mind seeks out other nimble minds around the world and he broadcasts what he learns.


Transom Podcast

Scripted, Jay Allison,
5 min-1 hr, 3-5 per year

Each episode is one highly crafted story, often in a slightly experimental format. There is no theme, other than a story well-told.


This is Actually Happening

Scripted, First-hand accounts,
30 min, About 2 per month

People who have undergone distressing experiences describe them. We do not hear the interviewer, only the person telling their story. The background music is a low-toned drone that adds to the sense of dread. In one episode a woman recounts the time that both of her husbands drowned on the same day (she is polyamorous). In another episode, a man describes seeing a ghost in a friend’s living room and the negative effect it has had on his life ever since. if you feel unlucky, this podcast will make you feel lucky, or at least not alone.


Smart Drug Smarts

Scripted, Jesse Lawler,
30 min, Weekly

So-called smart drugs are chemicals believed by some people to improve mental performance. In this podcast, Jesse Lawler interviews doctors, pharmacists, and self-experimenters about the effects (or lack of effects) of different smart drugs, recreational drugs, electrical brain stimulation, research chemicals, psychedelics, and prescription drugs.


The Moth

Scripted, First-hand accounts,
30-60 min, Weekly

Short stories narrated by ordinary people in their own voice in front of a live audience. The stories are true, first-person, and completely unexpected. They are selected from local storytelling events in about 30 cities around the world. Each story is a high quality, small journey.



Scripted, Mike Duncan,
30 min, Weekly

Roman history geek Mike Duncan explores a dozen other historical revolutions which he explores in deep nerdy detail. He’ll devote 50 episodes to one revolution.


Common Sense with Dan Carlin

Unscripted, Dan Carlin,
45-120 min, About 2 per month

The popular maverick historian, Dan Carlin, takes his unorthodox questions and applies them to current events. He’ll take a contemporary issue and pick it apart by questioning everything. It will make you think.


Futility Closet

Scripted, Greg Ross,
30 min, Weekly

This is like “News of the Weird” for things that happened decades or centuries ago. Ross is a former science magazine editor and spends his days poring over old books in university libraries to find forgotten stories about things like a failed atheist commune in the 19th century, a slave who was mailed to a free state in the north, a WWII Japanese soldier who crash landed on an Hawaiian island, and a “rainmaker” who was hired by San Diego to end a four-year drought in 1915 (probably by coincidence, after he used 23 secret chemicals, “the skies opened and torrential rains caused some of the most extreme flooding in the city’s history”).


Life of Caesar

Unscripted, Cameron Reilly and Ray Harris Jr.,
1hr-3hr, Weekly

Yes, a podcast dedicated to telling the biography of Augustus Caesar. The two bro’ hosts chit-chat their way through Caesar’s story.


Stuff You Should Know

Unscripted, Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant,
20-60 min, Twice-weekly

The folks from How Things Work do an audio version. Two hosts discuss esoteric topics like “How wine fraud works” or “How lobbying works” “How female puberty works,” etc.


The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

Unscripted, Dr. Steven Novella,
80 min, Weekly

Four or so skeptics sit around and discuss the week’s news from a skeptic (rational and scientific) perspective.


On the Media

Scripted, Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield,
60 min, Weekly

Very polished newscast (recycled from public radio) about media matters. It’s meta-media.



Scripted, Phoebe Judge,
20 min, About 2 per month

As their website says “Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” Broad, not just true crime, but also about the justice system, the prison system, or legal gray areas.

Image: Tim Wilson from Blaine, MN, USA, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

15 Oct 20:45

What I'm Binge-Watching: Steven Universe

by Jen

The spoiler at the bottom of this post convinced me to watch it!! Might spend some time bingeing this weekend #selfcare

Several conventions ago I noticed some new fan art sweeping Artists' Alley.

 Bookmarks by Elle Power

After seeing the same colorful characters at booth after booth, I finally asked what they were from.

The answer? Steven Universe.

I figured the show must be a new anime or Adventure Time style cartoon, which, tbh, I could never get in to. Still, the sheer amount of great art wore me down, so eventually I went to Youtube to see what all the fuss was about.

Now, Youtube is a terrible place to watch Steven Universe. Most uploaders shrink the actual video portion to a fraction of the screen size - I guess to avoid getting shut down? - and some even slow the audio down just a fraction, so everyone sounds like they have a cold. Other uploaders put a dark vignette around the screen, so it feels like you're looking down a tunnel. And on top of all that, odds are the channel that has SU episodes today will be gone tomorrow.

We don't have cable, though (SU airs on Cartoon Network), and at the time I didn't know of anywhere else to watch the show for free. (The official Youtube channel charges $2 per 10 minute episode. Yowtch.) So I gritted my teeth and put up with the tiny, dimly-lit, bad audio versions.

And you know what? Within a few episodes, I was hooked.

After a dozen, I was in love.

Now, there are some truly spectacular twists in the main plotline of SU, so I'm going to keep this review as spoiler-free as I possibly can.

In a nutshell, Steven Universe is about three alien women - the Crystal Gems -  charged with both protecting the Earth and raising Steven, a half-human, half-Gem boy. Steven himself is a chubby, irresistibly sweet little kid who serves as the glue holding their odd little family together.

Each episode is only around 11 minutes long, so it's easy to zip through a half dozen or so, which is about what you need to get a good feel for the show. Some episodes are a lot more light and silly, while others pack a big emotional punch. Through them all, though, there are good laughs, surprisingly catchy musical numbers, and excellent story-telling.

The Gems in particular are beautifully written, each with her own distinct personality, strengths, and flaws. Pearl is the most "mom-like," Amethyst is the jokester/rebel, and Garnet is the strong, silent type with the cool accent. As the show goes on, you get more snippets of their history, including their relationships with each other and with Steven's mother (who was a Gem) and father, Greg. You also learn some Gem secrets I won't spoil here, even though most are somewhat common knowledge. It's just more fun if you can go into the show blind, and be surprised.

Beach City, where the Gems live, also has a host of quirky side characters, though to be honest, my least favorite episodes tend to feature the townsfolk there. The two exceptions are Steven's friend Connie, whose episode "Sworn to the Sword" still makes me cry happy, triumphant tears just thinking about it, and the donut shop duo Lars and Sadie. Other than those three, though, the best episodes keep the focus on Steven, his parents, and the Gems.

Without going into spoilers, I will say there's a fascinating aspect to the Gems' existence that may lead to some... interesting... conversations for you parents with younger kids. I'll give a more spoiler-y explanation at the bottom of this post, in case you'd like to know more.

Steven Universe is still in its second season, but there are over 70 aired episodes so far - so plenty to get your binge-watching on.

So, where do you watch it? Well, Cartoon Network airs the new episodes, and thanks to some fellow SU fans I *just* found a better place to watch online - although you're going to need your AdBlock enabled. (Without AdBlock, my browser kept locking up.)

It's a blog called The World Of Steven Universe, and all the episodes are embedded videos, so you just click "play" - no scary download links or sketchiness. Here's the link to the first episode, and they also have all the rest in full screen HD, which is incredible. In fact, I'm going to be re-watching all the episodes there now - and I'm hoping to convince John to watch some with me.

[UPDATE: I've also been told Hulu has all of season 1, so yay for more streaming options!]

Oh, and if you're like me, you may also find yourself going back to re-play a lot of the songs. Like I said: really catchy. Most of my favorites are major story spoilers, but here's a quick one that's pretty harmless, plot-wise:

Welp, I hope I've convinced some of you to give Steven Universe try! 'Cuz I really need someone to fangirl with me over this show, you guys. I have no one right now! I am going to IMPLOOOODE!


And now, that spoilery explanation I promised. Leave now if you want to be surprised!


Any two Gems can "fuse" together to form a stronger Gem - one that looks like a larger mash-up of the original two characters. They often do this for battles. What makes Gem Fusion so fascinating - in addition to all the super cool character combinations - is the undeniably sexual context given to it. While there's nothing remotely explicit, the overall subtext is one of intimacy and gravity; fusion is never entered into lightly. This leads to some surprisingly heavy (and also delightful) plot lines, which, again, I don't want to spoil for you, so just go watch!
15 Oct 11:45

Pigs, dogs, and hand-drawn trees in this eclectic little house on the farm

by Offbeat Editors


Hubbard family 2013new-2

The offbeat occupant: Adrienne — jewelry maker, blogger, supervisor at a courier company, mom, student

Other occupants: husband Rob, daughter Chloe, Doug the Pug, Luna the Lab, pot bellied pigs Clem and Tubs



Approximate square footage: 1000-2000 sq. feet

How many bedrooms? 3


Lives in: Everson, Washington USA

When did you move into this home? 6 years ago


Let's start with the neighborhood. What's it like where you live? Our family are our neighbors. There are over a hundred acres owned by my husband's family, and we can visit each other by taking a walk through the woods or across the orchard.




What makes your home offbeat? I immigrated to the US from Canada when my husband and I got married six years ago. We live on his family farm with an array of animals ranging from cats and dogs to horses, goats, and pot bellied pigs. The rest of the family lives on the same property but in different houses. The barn and orchard are in the middle for us all to enjoy.



What's the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? Everything in the house is old, outdated, or run down. We've spent a lot of time updating the house to fit our style and fix it up.


mirror after

What's your favorite feature of your home? I am very proud of the mural I drew in the hallway. I used sharpie markers and it took many, many hours to draw all those trees!





We have a lot of natural light in the living room and kitchen. I love that we're out in the countryside. It's quiet and peaceful out on the farm.




What's the most important lesson you've learned from this home? Get creative and make the most of what you've got. Our house was an ugly '80s style with lots of fake wood when we moved in, but after a lot of elbow grease, I now love my home.





What's your grandest plan for the space? I'm working on the garden and planning to build a small shed on the property to use as my jewelry making studio.



What advice do you have for other offbeat homies? Be fearless and get creative! If you don't like it, you can always paint over it!




Any stuff or services you want to recommend?
* My jewelry shop on Etsy: Crafty Little Gnome

Recent Comments

  • Adrienne @ craftylittlegnome: haha! We aren't all rednecks out here. Well... maybe we are a little bit! Greetings to you, my Whatcom friends! [Link]
  • Alanna: I agree with this entire comment. Yup and yup. [Link]
  • Jennifer: It's nice to see another Whatcom County local on Offbeat Home! (My husband is Canadian too, and we live in … [Link]
  • Ange: So inspiring! A beautiful place, inside and outside. So much character and creativity. Thanks for sharing :-) [Link]
  • Megan Finley: I agree! Show us your digs: [Link]

+ 15 more! Join the discussion

13 Oct 15:06

Pornhub Introduces New Reporting System As “Preemptive Strike” Against Revenge Pornographers

by Carolyn Cox

Screenshot 2015-10-13 at 10.19.40 AM

In a press release shared earlier today, adult entertainment site Pornhub (exactly what it says on the tin) announced a new service that it hopes will cut down on the amount of red tape that victims of revenge porn have to contend with.

Previously, revenge porn takedown requests could only be filed with the site (which sees 60 million visitors a day) via email. Now, the company is introducing a submission form (see a NSFW link here or the screenshot above) that it describes as a “preemptive strike” against revenge pornographers.

Pornhub vice president Corey Price said in an email to The Verge,

It is vital that we continue to make our community feel safe. We want all Pornhub users to know that this new reporting process is for their security and peace of mind first and foremost.

[…] Being a revenge porn victim is embarrassing enough as it is. We would rather not make the reporting process equally awkward, or make people feel apprehensive about approaching us to begin with.

Unlike other major adult entertainment sites, Pornhub does not require victims to submit a government-issued ID along with their request. But as vice president of the Civil Cyber Rights Initiative Mary Anne Franks explained to The Verge, it’s a stretch to call the new form a “preemptive strike.” Franks suggests Pornhub add reminders throughout the site informing users that content uploaded without the consent of all parties is illegal, and make the submission form itself more SFW:

If Pornhub or any other site or platform featuring adult content really wants to launch a ‘preemptive strike’ … against nonconsensual pornography, they should be focusing on truly preemptive measures, not after-the-fact procedures.


—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

13 Oct 14:53

Jennifer Lawrence Is Over Being ‘Likable’ and ‘Adorable,’ Slams Gender Wage Gap and Double Standards in Open Letter

by Jessica Lachenal

jennifer lawrence american hustle

In an essay written for Lena Dunham’s “Lenny Letter” newsletter, Jennifer Lawrence shared her thoughts and reactions on finding out she made drastically less than her male co-stars on American Hustle. She highlights the ridiculous double standard that women face in all industries when it comes to negotiating salary and voicing their opinions to male coworkers.

When it comes to the unwillingness to negotiate her salary for the Oscar-nominated film, she wrote:

I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.”

Here, she touches on a problem endemic amongst women in, well, any industry. Many of us are conditioned to try to get people to like us, especially at work, so when it comes to matters of money and speaking up, there’s this worry about seeming “difficult” or “spoiled.” In Hollywood, those words can taint an actress’ entire career–just look at how quickly tabloid mags and the media hop on women who they deem “out of line.”

Lawrence also shared a story about what it was like to share her opinion with a male coworker (well, someone who works for her to be exact):

A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him.

I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.

Think about it: has this ever happened to you? Why do women get shit for sharing their opinions when men are commended and raised up for speaking in a similar manner? There’s a very real double standard that exists in all industries around women defending their opinions and salaries. Lawrence’s example just happens to be a high-profile one with a lot of zeroes attached.

But make no mistake: what’s happening to her happens to a lot of us every day. Maybe it’s high time we took her stance on it:

I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that.

Fuck that, indeed.

(via Entertainment Weekly)

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

09 Oct 12:01

Inner Vision for the weekend of October 9, 2015

by SH Staff

" In this age of cloud photo storage and email attachments, even Gmail’s 15 GB of free account storage can disappear seemingly overnight. Here’s how to squeeze every last precious megabyte of email capacity from your account with a prescribed mission of “search and delete.”"



In this weekend’s edition of Inner Vision, how to purge your Gmail inbox, properly fold a fitted sheet, and buy the best shaving brush.

09 Oct 11:45

Hot vintage, retro, and industrial lights from ParrotUncle

by Offbeat Editors


retro industrial style pendant light with dish like shade
retro industrial style pendant light with dish like shade

Let's dim the lights and get a little up-close and personal with these sexy vintage retro industrial lights from our sponsor ParrotUncle. ParrotUncle offers a huge and creative selection of home lightings. I'm talking from vintage Tiffany-style lightings to contemporary styles like these bad boys…

4 Candle-Like Shade Pendant Light with Matte Black Iron Frame
4 Candle-Like Shade Pendant Light with Matte Black Iron Frame

How cool are these pendant lights that combine faux candles and geometric shapes. I especially love the way these look in an modern kitchen setting like the one above. Speaking of geometric shapes, I'm super in love with these pendant lights. (And they're only $57 — me want!)


If you're looking for lighting that makes a giant statement without taking a giant hit on your wallet, ParrotUncle is now your go-to. Most everything on the site is listed at discounted prices. But your wallet is about to get happier, just as your room is about to get brighter, because this section has 20% off of all lighting, and even 30% off on selected lines — check 'em out.

parrot uncle industrial lighting


Among their high quality, yet reasonably-priced, but also super-rad lighting, ParrotUncle has amazing customer experience — including expert advice and support throughout your project. Speaking of your project, shouldn't you be shopping for the perfect lighting for your space? I thought so… find more info and find your favorite light fixture over here.

As always, thanks to ParrotUncle for sponsoring Offbeat Home & Life. It's because of sponsors like them that we can keep running!

Recent Comments

  • Jess: The husband and I are looking at a 70s mod ranch house and trying to find a way to meld … [Link]
  • kellbot: OMG yes! I've been looking for something to replace the very sad looking flush mount lights in our hallway. They're … [Link]
  • David Easter: They are certainly different and very attractive. [Link]
  • Jamie: Talk to me... [Link]
  • Whitne: These are all great! Thanks :) [Link]

+ 3 more! Join the discussion

05 Oct 03:22

I’m having an interesting discussion about whether or not...


LOL on this photo meme!

I’m having an interesting discussion about whether or not it’s even possible for hierarchal poly relationships to fit into the category of ETHICAL non-monogamy.  I’m curious to hear what you think…

07 Oct 11:45

The Holidays are coming: We dare you to send this hilarious "holiday application form" to your family this year!

by Christi

It's like a terrible poly joke!

Self portrait - Get the #$%& off my shelf!
By: MattysFlicksCC BY 2.0

It was probably about 6:30 a.m. on July 6th when I saw my first Halloween advertisement. Sleep deprived and running on little more than birthday cake and adrenaline, my wife and I came to the horrifying realization that there was NO MILK for coffee. None. Even the powdered goat milk we keep in the pantry for baking emergencies had been used up during… well… a baking emergency. So off I stumbled to the Stop and Shop, a few hundred feet from our front door, where I encountered a sign hanging in a vacant storefront announcing that HALLOWEEN CENTRAL would be opening SOON!

Before the month was out, before teachers had even accepted that summer vacation was not a permanent thing, the candy began appearing on shelves. And the costumes. And the singing tombstones adorned with zombies eating their own still-beating hearts. And this could only mean one thing…

Thanksgiving would be next.

Each year, The Holiday Conversations in our extended family begin in mid-July, when our little unit begins strategizing with our in-laws to get out ahead of the game. It's preemptive damage control. Much like leaving a play-date en-masse, we like to present a united front when the parents-in-law begin sniffing around our holiday plans.

Where will we be for Thanksgiving? Can we make three stops in one day again? What about Christmas Eve? Christmas morning? Christmas dinner? New Year's Eve? New Year's Day? Have we considered the third Thursday of Advent?

It's wonderful to be loved and wanted, but we're working on an intricate parental puzzle here with six to seven moving parts, depending on various people's relationship status.

The year before our daughter was born, we set up a strict rotation that lasted a good three years: Whoever got Thanksgiving was not eligible for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Christmas breakfast would always go to my dad. For example, if Person A got Thanksgiving in 2010, they would have Christmas Eve in 2011 and Christmas Day in 2012. Our best friends in Nashville could be subbed in at any time. This allowed everyone to plan approximately three years in advance. It seemed perfect. But there's no such thing as perfection.

In 2012, we scrapped our rotational system and drafted an application system. Our plans for this year's Thanksgiving were solidified weeks ago, but I'd like to share it here in case anyone finds it useful. I've updated it for the 2015 calendar year…

Dear Family Members,
Because you have all recently inquired about our Thanksgiving plans, we are now accepting applications requesting the presence of our humble little family at your Thanksgiving event. Please include the following information in your application (note: applications must be typed in 12 point font, either Ariel or Times New Roman; handwritten applications will not be accepted):

  1. The date of the last Thanksgiving we spent with you
  2. Estimated start and end time
  3. Sample menu (yes, dessert, appetizers and alcohol selection count)
  4. A list of potential conflicts or confrontations which may arise during this meal
  5. A list of embarrassing stories you plan to tell
  6. A list of other invited guests and possible surprise guests
  7. A compelling reason why you think YOUR Thanksgiving event is more important than anyone else's
  8. A dynamic 3-point plan detailing how this year's Thanksgiving will be better than the one indicated in step 1
  9. A check, made out to cash, containing the $100 non-refundable application fee
  10. A notarized affidavit stating that, if chosen, you agree to relinquish your claim to our presence at any Thanksgiving event taking place in 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019. If chosen, you will next be eligible to reapply again in November of 2020.

Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Please do not contact us regarding the status of your application. Any such contact will result in immediate disqualification of your application. Decisions will be announced on November 23rd, 2015.

Recent Comments

  • Ana: Love it! My husband's family does an annual "Family Fake Thanksgiving", the Saturday before the holiday. It's terrific. Traffic is … [Link]
  • Dootsie Bug: YES DO THIS. Post about this! Yes! Do it make post post it here yes! [Link]
  • Christi: Perhaps next I will write about our "Post Traumatic Thanksgiving" dinner tradition... where we use the free turkey we got … [Link]
  • Christi: No no no... we have never actually sent it out-- that's why it only says that we "drafted" an application … [Link]
  • Christi: Nope... just wishful thinking that they did! [Link]

+ 10 more! Join the discussion

07 Oct 12:00

Ask Polly: How Do I Show Him My Dark Side?

by Heather Havrilesky

Brilliant. Once again a question I don't think I could get much out of resonates deeply with me.

"We are all complex creatures, whether we choose to recognize it or not, capable of love and rage and a capacity for joy that refreshes itself in spite of countless disappointments. We are built to despair but we're also built for hope."

Dear Polly,

I’m 24 and it’s been a couple years since I was in a serious relationship, in which I got my heart broken. (I know, common, who hasn’t?!) I think I could have been pretty close to being in another one in college, but I ran away from it as...More »

06 Oct 11:45

Makeup basics from a makeup artist: 5 ways to prep for fall

by Tania D. Russell

Yay Fall!

Non-pro, aspiring pro, makeup journeyman, makeup novice, etc.:
We are starting a new series of posts from Tania of Makeup To Go — a makeup artist for the entertainment industries, and friend of the Empire. These posts are all about makeup: the basics, advice, and products. I, for one, am super excited, because I know NOTHING about makeup. So think of these as "Megan simple makeup" posts for folks like, well, me.
-Megan, Offbeat Home editor

fall makeup

While most people are mourning the end of summer, I am singing hallelujah for the start of fall! Autumn is my favorite season of the year. Admittedly this probably comes from having been born and raised in Southern California where I get all the sunny beautiful days without all the heat of summer. Makeup-wise, fall is a time of transition between the easy breezy days of summer and the deeper tones of winter. It's also likely that you'll need to start tweaking your skincare routine a bit.

The tendency for fall makeup is to jump to dark and dramatic colors. While dark lip colors are on the menu, a softer, more subtle overall palette has been the fall trend for a while now. Soft eyes (even when "smokey"), soft lips, a soft blush, and a soft matte finish are more wearable and more flattering for the day-to-day.

Here are a few things I'm loving going into fall…

Pangea Organics Facial Scrub
Pangea Organics Facial Scrub

Time to resume exfoliating

If you haven’t been doing so already, it’s time to get back in the habit of exfoliating. Indoor heating + outdoor brisk air = dry and flakey skin.

Using cranberry seed enzymes and ground adzuki beans, Pangea Organics Facial Scrub is a gentle and effective exfoliator that won't leave your face feeling as though you washed it with a scouring pad.

Dermalogica's skin hydrating booster
Dermalogica's skin hydrating booster

As always, you'll want to start with well-moisturized skin

If your favorite moisturizer needs a little bit more "oomph," but you're not ready to switch to an altogether new moisturizer, try one of Dermalogica's Concentrated Boosters. Available in Extra Firming, Gentle Soothing, Skin Hydrating (my favorite), and Skin Renewal, the boosters are often just what your product needs to make the seasonal transition.

Note: Skin Renewal is a hydroxy-acid exfoliating treatment, so use with caution if you are already using an exfoliating product.

Boots Expert Shine Control Instant Matte
Boots Expert Shine Control Instant Matte

Matte it down

I know “strobing” is all the rage right now, but that works much better when most folks have a bit of color in their skin. When the skin pales back out, a soft matte is a better option. For the record we are not talking about the hard, cakey, '80s matte. We are talking about a soft, even-toned glow.

For most skin types, a foundation with a more matte formula combined with a bit of powder will achieve the look. If you have oily skin like myself, you might also want to look into a skin mattifier, like Boots Expert Shine Control Instant Matte, to keep your skin at a soft glow instead of a gleaming beacon.

Yaby Cosmetics Dramatically Neutral Pallette
Yaby Cosmetics Dramatically Neutral Pallette

Neutral does not have to mean boring

A modern neutral palette includes everything from pinks to greens to blues. It's all just a matter of hue and intensity. Urban Decay's Naked Palettes blew up the makeup world ever since its debut. The newest edition — Naked Palette Smokey — is a mix of some of the shimmers and lighter colors from past palettes, along with nine new “smokey” colors. My only complaint with this palette is that it doesn't register well on deeper skin tones. But for medium to fairer skin tones, this is a nice set.

As a pro, however, I need pigment that will work on everyone. One of my favorite palettes in life is Yaby's Dramatically Neutral palette which is a combination of mattes, frosts, and Yaby's well-known Pearl Paints in a range of colors which can never be called dull!

Nars Sheer Lipstick in Pago Pago
Nars Sheer Lipstick in Pago Pago

A bold lip is never really out of fashion

If you're color-shy, play around with a bold color in a sheer formulation that won’t overwhelm your face, like Clinique’s Chubby Stick™ Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm. These are lip gloss/lip balms in an easy-to-use chubby pencil style, ranging in color from bold pink to deep purple. The sheer glossy texture is pretty without being shocking.

If, however, you're like me and you LIKE wearing really strong lips, there's no shortage of options. The newest entrant in the super-pigmented, matte lipstick trend is GloGirl Cosmetics. They have everything from bright pinks, bold reds to rich purples and even a green lipstick aptly named “Weirdo.”

Frame your face

Like any beautiful painting, your face needs a great frame and that means great brows and bone structure. I'm a HUGE fan of Sonia Kashuk's Arch Alert Brow Kit.

Smashbox Cosmetics Brow Tech To Go
Smashbox Cosmetics Brow Tech To Go

In other brow news, however, Smashbox has an entire array of brow products. The coolest is the Brow Tech To Go, which consists of a pencil version of their well-known Brow Tech and a brow gel for hold, all in a smart pen-like design. Both products will help you achieve the look and texture of a fuller brow.

Smashbox Cosmetics Step by Step Contour Kit
Smashbox Cosmetics Step by Step Contour Kit

Smashbox also makes the art of contouring and highlighting a little bit easier with their Step by Step Contour Kit which has two contour shades, one highlight shade, and an angled brush for application. What's nice about the Smashbox kit from the makeup artist perspective is that it's not too dark and it's not too warm. This enables you to achieve subtle and believable results.

Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel
Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel

Don't forget the cheeks!

A pop of color keeps things fresh. Blush brings life to the face particularly as the days grow a bit cooler. I know a lot of people are afraid of cream/liquid blushes, but if you want soft color without accidentally going Raggedy Ann, creams/liquids work better because they allow the skin to show through.

Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel comes in four universally flattering colors. They're available at Target and other such mass retailers, and I’m pretty sure the entire line is vegan/cruelty-free.

Those are my professional tips for prepping for fall. What are your fall makeup rituals?

Recent Comments

  • Sarah: This is excellent! are there Spring and Summer versions for those of us going into Spring? I'm off to search … [Link]
  • Kelsey: Well this is over whelming. Contouring? I feel like that needs a post of it's own! And also what about … [Link]
  • maryr: Most of this post was a bit above my makeup skill level . . . contouring? strobing? fall-appropriate colors? Those … [Link]
  • Penelope Widdowson-Bonefat: Oh my god, the Clinique Chubby Sticks are amazing. I have seven at last count. There is one in basically … [Link]
  • Celeste: Yes please! I have always been scared of contouring. I would love to see a post that makes it less … [Link]

+ 1 more! Join the discussion

06 Oct 14:30

Intentional Sex: When saying yes is only the beginning

by Luz Delfondo

Excellent reminders all around!

You know how the story goes. Two characters have a something, the heat in their eyes when they look at each other, the occasional flick of the gaze toward the other’s mouth. Eventually, they give into their desires and fall in bed together, and we get the movie’s climactic sex scene.

Note that the characters don’t really talk before or during the sex scene. They just exchange a heated look and they know the time has finally come for sex.

Contrast this typical sex scene from movies, TV shows, books, video games, etc., to the passage below, from the short story “Make Tonight a Show” by Rose Serrano*:

“Simon,” she says, very seriously. “You might not be interested in the kind of things I want.”

“What, like Fifty Shades type stuff?” He tries for a laugh; she catches his eyes and pins him with her gaze. He drops his voice and leans in. “Look, I’m kinky.” He’s probably a lot kinkier than her, to be honest. “I’m almost definitely into whatever you’re into.”

She matches him beat for beat, mimicking his posture until she’s in his personal space, her lips just inches away from his. “I’m almost definitely into being on top.”

“Well, I’m almost definitely into being hurt,” he whispers, and closes the gap. It’s a light kiss, nearly chaste, but Leila grabs his hand and digs her nails in – yeah, just as good as he imagined, better than any kiss could be.

What’s the difference?

Both scenes are consensual. The sex is very much desired by everyone involved (though in the first scene the consent is implicit in their body language, because no one actually says “yes.”) But the first scene has these young women, Megan and Graham, coming together wordlessly. Even though they clearly both want to have sex, they don’t discuss what they want from the sex, what they like, what their boundaries are, or what kind of relationship they want with each other. The sex just… happens. An experience that comes along and sweeps them up in its intensity.

Sex can definitely be like that in real life, especially in an established sexual relationship. You can read your partner(s)’ cues, you can tell they’re as hot and bothered as you are, you know what’s going to get each other off, and you just go for it.

But realistically, especially if you’re having sex with someone for the first time, sex isn’t just something that happens. It’s something you create intentionally with your partner(s). After all, saying yes is just the beginning. Maybe you want to have sex, but for completely different reasons. Maybe you’d like to feel powerful during sex, while your partner would like to feel tender. Hopefully, you can find a way to have sex that lets everyone have the experience they want. This is what makes sex between every two (or three, or more) people unique.

No matter how much you love each other, you can’t know your partner’s feelings and intentions about the sex you’re going to have unless you talk about it. Without that conversation, you could end up with all kinds of misunderstandings. Take Simon and Leila from the passage above. Simon thinks at first that he’s a lot kinkier than Leila. When he talks to her, it turns out he’s wrong. Think what would have happened if they’d just fallen into bed together without discussing what they like first. Both of them would have missed out on the kinky sex they really wanted to have.

It’s that conversation about feelings and intent before sex that makes more spontaneous sex between established partners possible. You already know what your partner typically wants from sex, so you can have it on a whim and feel confident you’ll give them an experience they’ll like.

Even so, people who’ve been together a long time can still benefit from sharing their feelings or intentions before sex. When I’m with a partner, I like to say things like, “I’m feeling tired today, so I’d rather do something that’s a bit lower-energy,” or “I really could use some stress relief. Can we think of ways for me to blow off steam when we’re in bed?” so my partner knows what to expect.

So if intentional sex is so important and beneficial to a healthy sexual relationship, why do we never see it? Why doesn’t anyone seem to talk about it?

I included the sex scene from But I’m a Cheerleader because for me it really highlights this contradiction. But I’m a Cheerleader is a movie from the 1990s about young queer people at a “pray the gay away” camp discovering their identities and sexualities in an environment that tries to brutally erase them. The movie is very much about false, forced sexuality as opposed to good, authentic sexuality. In the scenes where Megan and Graham are forced to act straight, their wants, desires, and consent don’t matter. In this sex scene, their consent is present and clear. But their specific wants and desires are still unspoken and invisible. And for two young lesbians having sex for the first time after years of repressing themselves, clearly communicating their desires would seem to be especially important.

The best I can figure is that there’s a cultural assumption that good sex, proper sex, should be such an easy and natural experience that no words are necessary. The lovers should just know, through the power and purity of their love, exactly how to please each other.

But in the real world, there’s no way to intuitively know what your partner wants in bed, no matter how strong a bond you have. Even if you think you just know, it may turn out that you don’t, and you’re missing out on better sex and a better understanding of a person you care about.

On the rare occasions you do see intentional sex in the media, it’s in situations where sex falls outside of cultural definitions of “good” and “normal” sexuality. My example from “Make Tonight a Show” is about a couple having kinky sex. In Lois Bujold’s novel Beguilement, the main characters have a deep discussion of boundaries and capabilities before sex because one of them is disabled and the other is a survivor of attempted rape: disability and survivor status introduce “problems” to otherwise normative straight sex, which the characters resolve in conversation. In Star Trek: Voyager, B’Elanna Torres and Tom Paris only explicitly discuss their feelings about sex when B’Elanna is in a Klingon blood rage (clearly an obstacle to right proper sex).

B'Elanna and Tom negotiate their sexy feelings


None of this is to say that it isn’t great to see representations of intentional sex, as rare as they are. But the thing is, straight able-bodied cis vanilla people can benefit from intentional sex just as much as anyone else. Good sex isn’t just something that arises naturally from doing sex the “right” way with the “right” kind of partner. It’s something that you and your partner(s) build together, by finding the ways your unique likes, dislikes, and passions intersect.

What I’d really like to see is people modeling in-depth discussion of sex, before you get down and do it, as an important part of normal, healthy sexuality, not just a way to fix problematic sexuality. Then we can all learn more about how to have sex on purpose.

* From the short story collection Between the Shores: Erotica with Consent. I highly recommend it.

† A notable exception is erotic fanfiction, which is mostly written by and for women; here, intentional sex is downright common. Comment if you’d like to learn more.


Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist (a guide to how to be emotionally as well as physically ready for sex with a new partner)

How to Have Sex on Purpose

Filed under: Communication, Relationships, Sexuality Tagged: consent culture, good communication is sexy, representation
29 Sep 19:00

“A way to be creative without that daunting blank page”: Coloring Books as Collaborative Art

by Katherine Cusumano

LOVE this wonderful exploration!

Though I vaguely recall scribbling in the lines of Lion King and A Bug’s Life illustrations in elementary school, it was not until high school that I returned to coloring. I took a class on neuroscience for which one of the required texts was a book called The Human Brain Coloring Book. It’s a massive tome, and I still have it — I’ll probably never get through its hundreds of pages. It would not be an overstatement to say that what I remember of synaptic transmission and Wernicke’s area is entirely indebted to hours spent filling in the brain’s anatomy in emerald, cornflower, crimson, and marigold. Later, I purchased a Hello Kitty activity book in the dollar aisle at a Target in Warwick, Rhode Island just before I moved into my first apartment. An impulse buy, I got some crayons to go with it, one of those Crayola 24-color boxes. I kept it in my top desk drawer and occasionally pulled it out when I needed a break from writing my senior thesis.

It takes what little artistic ability I possess to color an illustration. Perfectionist that I am, I lean down, head nearly touching the page, mastering a particular uniform shade or the transition between two colors. Ask me to draw anything from scratch, though, and that’s where my talent falls short. When I began coloring again after my teenage hiatus, perhaps it was in order to feel a sense of artistic accomplishment without the inevitable disappointment of a failed line drawing.

Coloring is its own kind of creating. Recently, coloring books have gotten a lot of play among adults for their purported anxiety-reducing qualities. But there’s something more at stake for artists who attach their names, their style, and their portfolio to a book meant for public interaction and completion. Coloring implies a sort of collaboration with the artist who put the book out there. I might work my way through Hello Kitty, playing tic-tac-toe with myself and adding color to her friends and family, but it doesn’t yield quite the same creative reward as contributing to the works-in-progress of, for example, Steve McDonald or Millie Marotta, two artists who moonlight as coloring book authors.

Read more “A way to be creative without that daunting blank page”: Coloring Books as Collaborative Art at The Toast.

29 Sep 11:45

7 ways smoking weed can make you a better parent

by The Stoner Mom



What if I told you smoking weed can make you a better parent? It's no secret that I believe pot gives mothers super powers, and I know what I'm talking about. Having done the parenting thing both ways (sober-mom method and stoner-mom method), I speak as a stoned authority on this.

I live in Colorado, where Amendment 64 gave us the right to blaze up for pleasure in addition to medical reasons. That includes *gasp* caregivers of children. Sometimes known as parents.

And we're not alone. Marijuana is legal in some form or another in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Four states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia — have legalized recreational marijuana. With weed as popular as it's ever been, it's easy to understand that a vast amount of these users are mothers and fathers. Here are some of the many reasons parents are smoking weed…

1. Get a jolt of energy to rival your favorite cappuccino

Getting stoned along with our morning stimulant is a first-world luxury. There is nothing as soothing, calming, and yet energizing, as a morning combo of pot and coffee. One of my earliest discoveries in the stoner world was the "wake and bake" session. Typically around 10 a.m., the pace of the morning slows down enough to really enjoy that first bowl of the day. A clean bong, some finely ground herb, and a cup of freshly ground coffee. Armed with these accessories, I tackle the days work, be it of the house and hearth, creative, or professional variety. I lose track of bong rips while I write and plan or scrub and clean.

The idea that marijuana makes everyone sleepy and dumb is really a misconception. Sure, it can make you sleepy and dumb — sometimes that's exactly what you need to counteract pain. But the majority of ganja that I consume is straight up sativa or a sativa dominant hybrid. These strains not only give you a real energy boost, they also provide focus, creativity, and a deep thought.

2. Become "that mom" (or dad) — except for real this time

I've always been an efficient mother. However, I never felt as efficient as a mom as I have felt as a stoner mom. Like artists and weed, parents and marijuana just kinda go well together. Who needs energy more than a parent? Who needs a chill pill more than a parent? Lessening the stress and tension of the planet's most worrying species, marijuana is quite literally making the world a better place.

If every parent on the planet was a stoner, how would the world change? If the world's nurturers are free of anxiety, tension, and hostility, wouldn't they only do better at their jobs? And so on, and so forth, for generations to come.

3. Set a better eating example

If you are a parent of young children, you probably exist on what I call the "stay at home" diet. It consists of sandwich crusts and Starbucks, with occasional kid snack leftovers thrown in. We all know it's not healthy, but I know many moms out there that don't eat well. I'm one of them, and so is my best friend — we're just too busy to prepare something for ourselves while preparing healthy, perfectly balanced meals to the little ones. There are days when it hits 3 p.m., and I haven't had a single thing in my stomach other than a tall latte. This is where the weed comes in.

You've probably heard of the munchies. Maybe you've even experienced them. A lot of marijuana strains make people want to eat. Like, REALLY eat.

Now, maybe the stoner of times long gone would shove fast food down their throat, but today? Millennials aren't like that. My kitchen is always loaded with healthy basics, specifically tons of fresh fruit, so the munchies really aren't that bad of a thing. When the munchies set in, it really is possible to control what I feast on.

Imagine sitting down at lunch to a huge salad or some shit and enjoying every bite of it in front of your children. That's what a stoner parent could be modeling — eating their greens with the gusto only munchies can provide.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

4. Maintain a connection to youth

I'm blessed with good Pacific islander genes that make me somewhat impervious to early aging. But as a woman who has only ever been interested in older men, I can say with authority that there's a big difference between being old and seeming old.

Weed is a youthful drug. It makes you joyful and teaches you to find humor in everything. Spending time like that tends to make a person more relaxed all around, even when stone-cold sober. I've always been obsessive about music, but it wasn't until I started toking up that I really fell in love with rap and developed an appreciation for electronic dance music.

Pot makes you silly, makes you roll around with your kids on the floor, makes you come up with hilarious stories for Barbies to reenact. It makes you go outside and look at the sky, makes you see the wonder and the beauty in the things you forgot. It makes you fuck like a wild animal. This is youth. This is youthful living, and it's great.

5. Have a personal hobby

I'm a strong believer that parents need to have a damn hobby. It's very easy to forget about yourself once you begin living for the care of someone else.

Cannabis lends itself to so many different hobbies. Gardening takes on a new science. You know you're talking to a stoner when they start chatting you up about crossbreeding plants and making clones. More interested in social stuff? Stoners are the most social lot! Take a joint out on a night downtown, and everyone wants to be your friend. Hobbies from gorgeous blown glass, cold-pressed oils, new technology, leading health advances, baking, cooking, photography, art. The best thing about a hobby in the cannabis world is that everything is so new and changing every day. It's the wild west, and it's a blast to be a part of something.

6. Get along better with your spouse

From crazy fun date nights to getting juices flowing in the bedroom — marijuana is a marriage's best friend. Got an anxious partner who's immune to your seductions? Weed. Partner acts like a dick when drinking? Weed instead. Can't agree on what to do with extra income? Weed again. Seriously.

7. Sleep like a baby — wait, no, because babies don't sleep — sleep like a new mom given an empty luxury suite

Have an Indica, go to sleep, and get up the next morning and tell me you didn't love the fuck out of that night of sleep.

What is the ONE THING that parents need more of? No matter where you go or who you ask, there's one resounding answer from those who nurture the next generation. WE NEED SLEEP. Get on a regular sleeping schedule, and you've got someone who is more active, engaged, and in love with being a parent.

It's long time we threw out those misconceptions that any parent who smokes pot is a bad parent. Weed is medicine, and when used responsibly, weed can make you a far more patient, present, and nurturing.

Recent Comments

  • TheBonnieBunnies: The author lost me at "If every parent on the planet was a stoner, how would the world change?" It'd … [Link]
  • Lisa: Same here. I was super-serious straight edge (sharpie Xs and everything!) all through high school and freshmen year of college … [Link]
  • Jessi: Yes, exactly. My mom smoked marijuana when I was growing up, and I gotta say, the shit that left scars … [Link]
  • Lydia: Doesn't that apply to everything though? You never know how your child will remember the choices you make for them … [Link]
  • goldfish: Hoooooooooold up! Yes, I've smoked my fair share of pot (it's illegal in the country I live). No I don't think … [Link]

+ 25 more! Join the discussion

25 Sep 20:25

enjoyable leisure activities for adults.

by samantha

LOL yesss she's BACK AND her commentary on menu planning a weekend away with adults is SPOT ON. i have lived this shit for 20+ cabin trips and endless email chains.

this is how we have fun now. so my homie christine owns this gorgeous, sprawling house nestled into lush green lawns right on top of the sugar sand and shimmering waves of a private beach on lake michigan, and one of my very favorite pastimes is to rent the nicest mid-sized sedan my local enterprise has to offer and drive up there to sit inside in the climate-controlled dark and scowl at the sounds made by sunburned dads grilling dry, underseasoned chicken breasts on outdoor gas ranges that cost more than my apartment and leer at shrieking children splashing each other in the pool. "drown him," i whisper to myself, tying my robe closed with a phone charger as i peer through a slit in the blinds, watching two little boys wrestling in the water over an inflatable pig while checking the weather and hoping for a sudden thunderstorm. i scuttle from room to room, occasionally venturing down the stairs for a snack (cardio!), but mostly i just huddle paranoid in a corner of the master bedroom and hope no one calls the police because 1 i put a number 5 plastic container in the public recycling bin (DON'T I JUST GET POINTS FOR DOING IT, GOD) or 2 they've spotted the smoking ford fusion with chewed-up floor mats and rusty new mexico tags i tried to hide between two BMWs in the visitor parking lot and know there is an interloper among them.

HAVE YOU MISSED ME OR WHAT. you know what i've been doing? "working on my book." which really means "sitting in front of my computer staring at half-empty google docs wondering why i'm not roxane fucking gay." damn that bitch is smart. and i don't want to give a fucking ted talk or whatever (wtf would it even be about, cheetos!?) but i sometimes wish when i drag my macbook into the bed to pretend i'm going to write the next great collection of essays (LOL) that some eloquent, socially-relevant words would come pouring effortlessly forth from my fingertips so i can stop being so anxious about whether or not people really want to read this stinkpiece i'm working on about how thirteen years of customer service has slowly murdered the nice parts of my soul. which is why i broke down and braved the world outside in an attempt to participate in some of this elusive "joy" you happy people are always going on about, in the vain hope that it would inspire some genius writing. i read on the internet that group vacations are a fun thing that some people like, so i grudgingly invited a handful of my most amusing friends to south haven for a busy, exciting weekend of riotously fun things like sitting on the beach fully clothed and peeking at wildlife from behind a closed and locked door. everyone is always talking about how you have to connect with people and leave the safety of your crib to explore the world around you to really live your #bestlife. but i hate that. whatever happened to just dying alone in your ice cold apartment while netflix plaintively inquires of your rapidly decaying meat carcass, "are you still watching gossip girl...?"

WHY ARE WE OLD? HOW THE FUCK DID THIS HAPPEN!? one day your idea of a house party is passing around a bottle of vodka the girl you sit next to in geometry snuck out of her mom's liquor cabinet or cramming butts to nuts into somebody's deafening basement and indiscriminately making out with any face that comes within an inch of your own. fast forward twenty years and you think a rollicking good time is inviting your friends over to watch empire on the couch in your jammies with catered snacks and a couple boxes of night wine and then falling asleep before the first commercial. i can't stay up past nine o'clock or tolerate too much loud-ass music or truss myself up in fashionable, uncomfortable clothes anymore. i wore elastic-waisted tribal print palazzo pants to a wedding last month, guys. it is officially over for me. 

menu planning. the funnest thing you could ever imagine doing in your whole life is trying to plan a weekend full of elaborate meals for seven adults' specific palates +/- allergies without accidentally poisoning a bitch or forgetting that one of these jags is gluten-free. life is fucking terrible for real. the most terrifying thing about leaving your home to stay in someone else's is: what is the snack situation gonna be like. also are they the type of assholes who don't own washcloths or hide their garbage cans in unconventional locations or expect you to compost or actually buy 1-ply toilet paper but who am i kidding WILL THESE MOTHERFUCKERS HAVE DORITOS. i would spend a weekend eating instant oatmeal and old batteries if i had to, but when you invite people to a slumber party you can't expect them to live like a goddamn animal just because you do. the last thing i ever want is for one of my scumbag friends to be tweeting about how i filled the refrigerator with an insufficient number of cheese hotdogs. so here are some real life copied-and-pasted out of context excerpts from an excruciatingly grown up gchat prior to embarking on a motherfucking three-day trip. get ready to die.

"friday menu: the goddess chicken plus fish (salmon? please advise), i'm thinking roasted potatoes and also whatever veg looks best at the farmers market tonight? (hoping for okra and brussels sprouts). they haven't had okra much at the market but i am gonna try and then just get it at the grocery store if necessary"
"are we making fingerlings? and the thai salad?"
"def baked feta with tomatoes. but i could get some more rice and we could make the stuffed tomatoes too. also have an edamame spread and should i bring the rosé?"
"also some homemade vin d'orange shit that we mix with fake champagne and is truly
"bottle of riesling y/n?"
"that sipping cream is divine"
"i'm not sure about the no bake, do i need a mixer? i think i will!""i also was dreaming about that burrata. but i've never bought burrata in real life (not available here that i can figure) but i could get ciabatta and arugula and i have my strawberry balsamic jam" artisanal jam alert!
"if you grab my tomatoes and butter and onions and spaghetti i will make that for lunch"
"do we need real milk?"
"i'll have cream for coffee and almond milk for cereal/porridge"
"yeah i'm bringing my gruel. will not force anyone else to eat it unless they are so inclined? i usually soak overnight in almond milk but can make it hot in the morning"
"you are going to come real up close and personal with all of my bizarre foods GET READY."

LOLWUT. did you read the part about the porridge. i mean, who could even be hungry after all that. i'm not even going to disclose all of the participants in this snoozefest or how many hours of my life i lost to all this blahblahblah just in case you ever meet any of my friends in real life and recall this conversation then immediately beat them to death while screaming "burrata" over and over at the top of your lungs. why are we such insufferable jerks. ps i fucking ate peanut m+m's and lime lacroix all weekend. LOL FOREVER AT THAT THAI SALAD THO.

catching up on scandal. sacrilege to miss an episode, i knowwww. but don't take my NAACP card just yet. i fell off halfway through last season because i can never stay awake later than 830 on a thursday night, and when is anyone going to admit that this b316 shit is motherfucking confusing and GODDAMN SHONDA CAN WE PLEASE JUST GET BACK TO THE SEX. that huck and quinn thing was kind of gross and i don't care that much about mellie so yeah, i kind of missed most of last season. the only reason i started watching it anyway is because everyone i like on twitter was going nuts every thursday night, plus the wardrobe is a jam and i am a big fan of an expertly tailored coat. and even though birds were chirping and the sun was shining and the frat boys next door were playing bags (i am surprisingly good at bags, get at me) i instead sat in bed watching drunk-ass olivia's quivering lips. i mean, "working on my book."

facetiming other morons who also have no idea how to have fun. my ace keila lives in LA and has probably never seen 1 midwestern earnestness in real life or 2 a waistline bigger than the circumference of a beer can, so as soon as we unloaded the 4,372 bags of pizza combos (the best kind duh) and halloween candy from the car the first thing we did was huddle around the old picture machine and dial her up. which was amazing. because watching people awkwardly hold their phones at a flattering angle and try to effortlessly pose as their eyes dart back and forth between your face and their reflection is goddamned hilarious. for the record, she looked beautiful and perfect and her lip gloss stayed intact the entire time. facetime is the fucking devil, tho. a couple weeks ago i was slouched in bed in the kind of outfit i only let the cat see (and even she was like, "ugh put your areolas away") when the webcam popped up and the most hideous, eight-necked garbagemonster's giant head filled my screen. nothing is more humbling than that surprise facetime showing you what a disgusting beast you are look like while scrolling through the clearance section of old navy's website. OH SHIT THOSE ARE MY GLAZED-OVER EYES AND ACNE-SPOTTED CHINS CONTEMPLATING THAT BILLOWY POPLIN TUNIC!? how can i turn that shit off, pretty please. i don't want to put on a full face of makeup and hose down my apartment every time i watch porn just in case one of you jerks decides you want to say hello in person. although if you do i will make you say hi to helen for, like, three real minutes.

instagramming pointless shit. you would think none of us had ever seen the fucking sky before. i don't know how i always end up stranded somewhere in the middle of nature when i totally hate the outdoors (yes i do: white people), especially when all there really is to do is look at trees and shit through a camera lens because i am loath to interact with it in any way. i can't mess with biting things or stinging things or bloodsucking things or plants covered in hazardous goo; the furthest into the wilderness i was willing to venture was right up to the edge of the porch, where i glowered at chipmunks from behind big black sunglasses. grass? WORST. flowers!? KILL ME. i almost took a picture of a butterfly, but then it sensed me trying to capture it in the most twee setting i could find and flew the fuck away and i immediately abandoned my budding career as an amateur national geographic photographer. i took a lot of pictures inside of food and my toes (jk why do you guys do that just why), but i needed to document some live shit so people would believe that i was really there. a rat or some other furry brown thing i would never touch had drowned in the deep end of the pool and the surface was covered with slimy yellow leaves and FUCK THAT. the frothy, churning lake was on the other side of of the pool and that's pretty great but i don't like swimming next to dead carp and waterlogged baby diapers so fuck that, too. which leaves no outside shit to do other than taking pictures of cloud formations and fighting squirrels. besides, does anything really exist if it hasn't been filtered through your goddamned phone?

taking a serious and mathematical approach to children's board games. the last time i played clue i was maybe ten years old, and i basically just guessed "professor plum in the library with the candlestick?" on every fucking turn because i hate thinking. but fuck that reckless abandon when you're an adult, i guess. these dudes were typing up excel spreadsheets and making complicated notations on the backs of napkins while grimacing at the board and it wasn't even noon yet. i hadn't even had my third mimosa! i am not competitive, like at all, unless it absolutely does not count. my GPA was garbage, i quit the marching band after two years, i spent my early 20s dating the least desirable men in the metro chicagoland area, i totally got this job by accident and continue to keep it despite being a shit because i'm the only black one: i don't care about anything that matters. i was the kid in volleyball who stood next to the star athlete and casually ducked behind him every time the ball soared my way so he could send it flying back over the net so my team wouldn't hate me (I LOVE YOU MARK WELLINGTON) and i never entered any goddamn spelling bees or science fairs but i did get to go to an ice cream social once because i read a lot of books in the second grade. because reading is cozy and takes place indoors and doesn't require any coordination. so obviously i am the last person you want on a team of any kind, because i will quit and go watch tv the minute it gets difficult or looks like i'm about to lose. these assholes were playing clue like it was an episode of fucking CSI, like there was an actual dead body in one of the five walk-in closets upstairs. (see also: WHY ARE WE POOR.) bitches are pulling out DNA swabs and fingerprinting kits and i'm sitting there like a dummy with my untouched suspect sheet because i was busy daydreaming instead of keeping track of who was in the game room and whether or not anyone had seen the rope. i couldn't even remember who i was half the time. i've never been so stressed out in my life. i did win apples to apples, though. at least that's something?

doing things and going places is overrated. i fucking hate trying to have fun. who wants to start a book club with me that focuses solely on sappy YA novels and never meets in real life? any takers!? i'll bring the fucking riesling.
25 Sep 09:00

Mini Boom Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

by mark

YES! I bought one of these...3 years ago maybe? After Wirecutter reviewed it. It has gone with me EVERYWHERE. Hotel rooms, in the garden, outside on our porch. I've used it while sick on a business trip to watch GoT on my tablet and it was beautiful. I've dropped it a dozen times and it's still great. We keep it plugged in in our home and on all the time, so any of us can connect and instantly DJ our house. Can't say enough good things - it's simple and does exactly what it promises to do.

I’ve been using several models of this for the last 2 years — the Mini and a larger version, the UE Boom (no “mini”) that is slightly more unwieldy for packing in your luggage, but also a bit sturdier. (I’ve had one UE Mini Boom die on me.)

I work in music, travel a fair bit & shift between different computers and environments frequently. But having access to decent quality sound is a constant need, and this enables me to have a good baseline level of quality wherever I go, with minimum prep or fuss. You can connect it to most devices (laptops, phones, tablets) via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm jack. Honestly I tend to prefer the jack as Bluetooth connections can be finicky, and the Mini Boom is small enough it can be secreted on any kind of surface pretty easily (at the edge of at towel rack in a hotel bathroom, or a few inches of spare space on a bookshelf).

It’s better than headphones because you don’t have that “voice inside your head” effect and can do other work while listening; it’s better than built-in computer speakers for obvious reasons; and I’d say it may even be better than a full-on stereo system because as we enter the streaming music era, you don’t know where the music will be emanating from (a phone, a tablet, a laptop) and this allows you to switch between sources on the fly much more quickly than a traditional sound system.


-- Alec

UE Mini Boom Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Available from Amazon

24 Sep 19:04

How To Get Chapstick Out Of Clothes: A Lesson Learned The Hard Way

by Jen

1. I already have a bottle of the spray goo gone! Had no idea it would work on this!
2. I also have already owned that bunny t-shirt.


Earlier this month I accidentally washed and dried a tube of mint Chapstick with a load of laundry. The tube opened and melted everywhere, ruining at least 12 of John's brand new geek t-shirts, plus a few of my own. Everything was covered in dark, oil-like blotches and blobs - even though the spots were soft and dry to the touch.

It was NOT a good morning.

We re-washed and dried everything three four times. First we tried a healthy scrubbing of Spray N' Wash on all the spots:

... which had zero effect.

Then John researched The Best Stain Remover Ever online, and hunted down this stuff:

- S-32 Spot & Stain Remover

He used the entire bottle scrubbing all the dark spots all the shirts, but it ALSO had zero effect. 

Updated To Add: Ack, thanks to the comments I just remembered: we ALSO tried Dawn dish detergent after the S-32:

...and like the previous two products, it had no effect on the stains.

So sorry to everyone in the comments who's telling me to use this next time; we did try!

At this point I had given up, and was busy numbing my guilt in the office with a Steven Universe binge.

But John kept going (he REALLY liked his new shirts) and found another recommendation online for spray-on Goo Gone, that stuff you use to remove sticker adhesive:

 And would you believe IT WORKED??

Since I never had much hope of saving the shirts, it didn't occur to me to take "before" shots - but lucky for us, John snapped at least one!

This is one of my old faded tees - I was fine with trashing it, so John used it for the final experiment. He stretched it over cardboard, applied a healthy dose of Goo Gone with a light scrubbing motion, then immediately washed & dried it AGAIN.


The spots were completely gone!

Again, that shirt was already old and faded, so any color variation you see is from age. John's brand new shirts (which are also all dark colors) look completely brand new again. AHH SWEET RELIEF.

One note of caution: be sure to immediately immerse the shirts in water after their Goo-Gone scrub; otherwise it can bleach through dark colors if left on too long. After learning that the hard way, John quickly scrubbed each shirt, then tossed it in the water-filled washing machine before moving on to the next.

So if any of you find yourself in the same Chap-sticky situation some day, save your money on special stain-removers, and just head straight for the Goo Gone!

PS - I know this post was kind of boring, so to make it up to you a little: here's John's favorite new geeky tee, which the Goo Gone saved:

"Ironic Bunny" from Woot.

22 Sep 07:01

Forest Friends by Delidah

by Matthew Nolan

NSFW - but this was pretty hot!

While we’re still on vacation, this week Delidah has stepped up to give us an amazing guest strip, showcasing some great sexy-story talents. We love it!

Check out more of Delidah’s work!

I secretly wanted to add a tomb raider tag to this comic but thought it might be too cheesy =D

22 Sep 21:06

Disrupt for Planned Parenthood

by Barbie

Hello Dear Disruptors,

A lot of fun things happened this past week.  The U.S. Congressional House’s decision on Friday to stop funding Planned Parenthood for a year was not one of them.  That funding enables approximately 2.7 million people to access free and affordable healthcare, enabling both women and men in low-income areas to control their reproductive health, as well as providing other needed healthcare services.  Infuriatingly, the move to deprive these people of access to these services was grounded in a slew of inaccuracies, and the claim that low-income individuals can readily access these services elsewhere is simply not the case.

That brings us to this week’s Promote a Petition.  Except instead of just a petition, we’re calling on our community of disruptors to step up to the plate and promote Planned Parenthood in whatever way we can.  This issue — all people’s right to reproductive healthcare regardless of gender or income — is at the heart of intersectional feminism.  It gives women and people with gestational anatomy the rights to their own bodies, provides healthcare to people who cannot afford it, and promotes upward mobility by preventing girls, women, and people with gestational anatomy from having to choose between parenthood and their education / financial stability. Further, it helps prevent survivors of sexual assault from having to deal with further trauma as a result of the violence that they have already experienced.

Even though each of us individually may feel that our efforts don’t matter, when we band together, they most assuredly do.

Planned Parenthood Logo. Slogan reads "Care. No matter what."

Take Action

1. One way you can help is to sign this petition urging the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to stop funding the Democratic senators who signed onto this decision.

2.  Beyond putting pressure on Democratic senators (it would be nice to pressure the Republican ones also but let’s be real here, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is a lot less likely to see eye to eye with us on this one), we can all try to make up some of the funding that Planned Parenthood has lost for the coming year.  Will we be able to make a sizable dent?  Maybe not, but maybe so — you would be surprised how far 5 bucks can go when it comes from everyone.

You can click here to donate to the overall Planned Parenthood organization, or here to a specific Planned Parenthood in your area.

3.  A third thing you can do is educate yourself about the facts behind the supposedly damning videos.  You don’t have to watch all 12 hours of unedited footage, but you can read this article by someone who did.  And I mean all the facts — not just the facts that help put these videos in their proper context, but also the facts that make us all squirm and say hey, that shouldn’t be happening here.  Our ability and willingness to hold our team accountable is part of what helps us move forward and gives us credibility.

4.  To the extent that you feel comfortable, try speaking up — about your opinion, how this impacts you or people you care about — when the subject arises among your family and friends.  If you feel comfortable doing so, sharing personal stories about how Planned Parenthood has benefited you or someone you love (anonymously, unless the person has given permission to share their story) can go a long way toward helping people understand why this issue matters.

5.  Call your local House Representatives and give them your opinion on how they voted.  For good measure, call your Senators and give your feedback on how that vote went (thankfully, in the opposite direction).  It may feel like your efforts are falling on deaf ears, but a friend of mine who worked in a senator’s office back in the day tells me that they do keep track of the number of calls and emails that come in on a given issue, as well as what the stances are.  Supposedly, at least in that person’s office, calls are weighted more heavily than emails.  Here’s a sample script:

“Hello — I’m calling to let [Your Representative’s Name] know that their decision to support Planned Parenthood and protect access to healthcare for the people they represent has earned them my vote in coming elections.  Thank you.”

“Hello — I’m calling to let [Your Representative’s Name] know that their decision to defund Planned Parenthood, and in doing so to deprive the people they represent of access to healthcare, has cost them my vote in coming elections.”

To contact your House Representative, click here.  To contact your Senator, click here.  If you call 202-224-3121, “A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.”

In sum, like all organizations based on earth rather than on the backs of flying unicorns, Planned Parenthood is run by humans and is going to have areas we need to hold them accountable for.  Yet although it is natural to think of Planned Parenthood as a single, monolithic organization, the reality is that it consists of over 700 different clinics, each with its own culture, strengths, and weaknesses.  Shadiness at one of 700 clinics does not mean that each of the other 699 clinics operate the same way. These clinics provide severely needed services, such as the STI testing that could have helped prevent this HIV outbreak, wellness exams, pregnancy testing, sex education, and access to contraceptives.  And yes, many provide abortions, which for many women can be a matter of life, death, physical and mental health, education, the ability to buy food and pay rent.  It is pretty clear from the available evidence that the choice to defund Planned Parenthood for a year is going to cause severe harm to the most vulnerable people among us.

Let’s see what we can do to help.



Filed under: Reproductive Rights Tagged: defunding, funding, planned parenthood
18 Sep 11:45

How The Addams Family does BDSM right

by Caroline

Now I want to go rewatch this!

Morticia and Gomez Addams art print by Etsy seller ParlorTattooPrints
Morticia and Gomez Addams art print by Etsy seller ParlorTattooPrints

The depiction of BDSM in popular films suffered a blow from which it will not easily recover with the release of Fifty Shades of Gray. While it was unfortunately many people’s introduction to the topic, bloggers from all corners of the internet have derided the relationship pictured in Fifty Shades for what it really is: abuse masquerading as kink. But twenty-four years ago, a family comedy centered on a couple who liked to torture each other for pleasure gave audiences a much healthier glimpse at BDSM.

Netflix describes the movie as “Stepping out of the pages of Charles Addams’ cartoons and the 1960s television series, members of the beloved, macabre family take it to the big screen.” Some scenes from the 1991 film The Addams Family are indeed straight out of the Charles Addams comic on which it's based, like when the family douses a group of Christmas carolers with a cauldron full of steaming liquid. Others — like Morticia trimming the heads off of roses to arrange the stems in a vase — are exact recreations of the ‘60s TV series.

But what separates the film from the Family’s earlier iterations (besides, you know, colour) is the reciprocal nature of Gomez and Morticia’s relationship. The tired and offensive trope of an uninterested woman pursued by a lascivious man has appeared over and over again since the advent of television, and though Gomez and Morticia always exhibited a love and respect for each other stronger than nearly all TV couples, even the ‘60s version of Morticia had to rein Gomez in from time to time. Obviously this has a lot to do with the media mores of the time… but unfortunately, those sentiments still prevail today. And that’s why the The Addams Family film is so unique in its depiction of relationships.

The Addams’ lawyer Tully and his wife Margaret exemplify a sadly more familiar and cynical marriage: two people who ostensibly can’t stand each other but feel forced to stay together. The loathing is definitely mutual: when Margaret asks rhetorically, “Why did I marry you?” Tully responds, “Because I said yes!” The “unhappily married” cliché exists to varying degrees in most American media, to the point where Gomez and Morticia’s contrasting relationship is noteworthy.

The Addams constantly become enrapt with each other, getting sidetracked by each other’s allure, recalling their first meeting fondly, waltzing presumably numerous times a day. Morticia’s first lines of the movie, as the ever-present ghostly light with seemingly no source illuminates her eyes, describe Gomez’s sexual behaviour the night before: “Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me.” The camera zooms closer while she adds: “Do it again.” That’s right: the very first lines between the couple aren’t just a rare example of a man and woman who have been married for some time who can actually stand to be around each other. These lines, and the couple themselves, are an example of consensual BDSM.

The passion between the two has been famous since the television show, and the movie does an excellent job highlighting it as well. But unlike the ‘60s television show, Morticia seems as willing as Gomez to derail the conversation and submit to whatever distracting passion arises. The famous “Tish, that’s French!” lines are not, in the film, an example of Gomez’s passionate obsession with Morticia while she sighs and shakes her head happily. Morticia is an active participant and instigator when it comes to their conversation-stopping carrying-on. She’s just as happy as he is to make the others, and the audience, wait for the action to move forward, while they engage in behaviour more suited in media to new, young love than to a mom and dad.

Morticia takes it upon herself to confront Fester and initiate the film’s climax. The villains overpower her instead of listening to her, and strap her to a rack to torture her so that she’ll tell where the Addams family vault is hidden. Of course, following in the Too Kinky to Torture trope, Morticia isn’t phased by the stretching (she famously referred to the torture room as “the playroom” in the ‘60s TV series).

Fester, however, is extremely anxious about hurting Morticia. The whole reason she allowed herself to be put in this “predicament” that for her is regular foreplay is so that Fester’s resolve would be weakened even more so against his overbearing and abusive mother. When Gomez turns up to “rescue” her, it’s less that she needed rescuing and more that Gomez needed the thrill and motivation to get out of his Sally-Jessy-Raphael-watching funk and defend his home. In this way, Gomez is more of the damsel in distress than Morticia ever will be. This is also the only time that Morticia dissuades her husband from continuing their flirting. As Gomez is loosening her straps while Fester confronts his mother, he’s clearly distracted:

Instead of scolding him like a typical wife character, Morticia reassures him that there will be time to continue the torture scene.

But what’s even more exciting, for me at least, is when Gomez and Morticia’s mutual attraction and respect is again evident in their kinky sex life. “Don’t torture yourself, Gomez,” Morticia orders: “That’s my job.” This movie doesn’t only offer an example of a loving, respectful BDSM couple — something painfully rare whenever kink is broached in film — but a loving, respectful, switch BDSM couple. That is to say, it seems as though each member of their exquisitely enviable partnership takes turns acting as the dominant and submissive role.

Much has been written in the blogosphere about what a good feminist role model Morticia is, and I agree entirely. But I would like to enthusiastically add that she takes the role of Dominatrix at least some of the time, and that it’s not played for a laugh or to emasculate Gomez. The passion, love, and respect the Addams couple famously has for each other extends to their role-reversing kinky sex life.

More than two decades later, filmmakers could really benefit from taking a page out of The Book of Addams and show us kinky couples who are also consensual, loving, and respectful. Though of course, none will approach the wonder that is her “mon sauvage” and his “cara mia.”

This post originally appeared on LondonFuse, and has been syndicated by permission.

Recent Comments

  • Dr. Dawn Michael: Ahhh how very clever and ohhh so cute! [Link]
  • Renee: "(Sub)cultural appropriation" -- this. Yes. Putting it into that phrase describes so much of what is wrong & why. Thanks … [Link]
  • Car: YES! I love the Addams family films because of Gomez and Morticia. They are my dream couple! … [Link]
  • StoneMaven: Indeed. It is so rare to find a movie or TV show where the leads consistently treat each other … [Link]
  • StoneMaven: The Jones/Astin, Gomez and Morticia pairing were my roll models for a healthy relationship, along with Myrna Loy/William Powell, Nick … [Link]

+ 16 more! Join the discussion

28 Aug 15:57

I definitely recommend Franklin Veaux’s new book The Game...


Sounds like a good read! Going to get a copy when it's released!

I definitely recommend Franklin Veaux’s new book The Game Changer!
You can get a copy of The Game Changer here:

16 Sep 18:00

“Femme On Femme” Is The Most

by Mallory Ortberg


Friend of the Toast Sara Cantor (she's single, ladies) just guest starred in her first-ever music video, describing it to me thusly: a "disco witch sex coven commits femme-on-femme glitter bondage." Reader, I watched it.

Read more “Femme On Femme” Is The Most at The Toast.

16 Sep 16:00

A High Fantasy Novel With No Incestuous Subtext

by Mallory Ortberg

She parted her full lips and smiled. "My name is Shahliha." The mysterious, shapely maiden in the pearl-gray cloak who had shadowed his steps ever since he had alighted from Corsair's Breakwater had been his sister all along, then! The lass he had not seen in eighteen years, since the night of the red doors – kin to him, and his last link to a family he thought lost forever.

"Thank goodness none of our previous interactions were tinged with eroticism," Danveniel thought to himself as he helped her from her horse. They'd never touched one another, sexually.

Read more A High Fantasy Novel With No Incestuous Subtext at The Toast.

25 Aug 09:00

Who Will Care When You’re Not There?

by mark

Sobering but important.

Who will care for your animals after your death? If you are fortunate, family or friends will do so. The specifics should be part of your estate planning; you should not take anything for granted. People may not be able or willing to take on the responsibility for your pets.

After the death of an owner, beloved pets may be dumped at a shelter or tossed out of the house or even euthanized. Old cats that have only known one home and one owner, end up sitting in a cage, bewildered and depressed. When someone comes to the shelter looking for a pet, they are going to adopt the young, outgoing cat, not the depressed animal sitting in the back of her cage. If it is not a no-kill shelter, the feline survivor will soon be euthanized.

To avoid this, you need to plan. If you are lucky, you’ll just need to discuss your animals’ care with your family and friends. You probably should include a provision in your will. If you don’t have people that you can depend on to take care of your animals, you may need to set up a trust or make other complicated arrangements. Most states have specific statues for establishing a Pet Trust.

You cannot just leave money (or anything else) to your pets. Animals are not ‘persons’ legally. Only humans or corporations can inherit directly. And no matter how much money your cats have, they’ll need people to spend it for them.

If you leave money to a dog, you will be considered crazy (or eccentric, if you were rich enough). Anyone who challenges your wishes in court will succeed. On the other hand, if you leave a reasonable amount of money to a person or to a trust to care for your animals, you will be considered a responsible individual and your wishes will most likely be upheld.

This book is somewhat pricey for a paperback, but cheap for legal advice. The first part reviews the options open to pet owners. The appendices are the most useful part of the book, once you have figured out what to do. References to the appropriate state statutes, checklists for planning, and pet information sheet guidelines are included. There are no sample forms: the law varies from state to state and the complexity of tax and other considerations will probably require a local attorney to set up a trust.

The importance of making arrangements for the care of your pets if you are temporarily incapacitated are also discussed. Who takes care of your animals if you are in an accident and don’t make it home tonight? The authors suggest a Durable Power of Attorney and also provide a wallet card so people know you have pets and who to call.

Besides your companion animals, don’t forget other animals that depend on you: livestock and any other farm or domestic animals. If you have stray cats that you feed, try to find someone to help you who will continue when you are gone. The same goes for birds who need your feeders to get through the winter.

Your death should not cause unnecessary suffering to animals that depend on you. A little planning can probably prevent that from happening.

-- Walter Noiseux

Who Will Care When You’re Not There?: Estate Planning for Pet Owners.
By Robert E. Kass and Elizabeth A. Carrie
2011, 130 pages

10 Sep 20:59

You are home.

by thebloggess

This is my song for you today:

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and it’s truly wonderful to have voices speak out about something so many of us struggle with.  It’s not an easy subject or even one that people understand.  Even the people most vulnerable to suicide have a hard time understanding it.

There are many things I could say here but there’s one thing that I hope you hear completely if you are one of us…one of the strange people who feels things too strongly…one of the people who battle with a brain that tries to kill you…one of the people who has to remind yourself that depression lies.  It does.  But I’ve said that before.  This, however, is new:

One of the things that always saves me when I feel the deep isolation that comes with depression is the thought that I’m not alone – that so many amazing people are in this same dark place.  And they feel alone but they aren’t.  I’m with them.  Sometimes you’re with us too.  You might not be able to feel us here because your brain has robbed you of the ability to feel (or to not feel) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  You are here.  You are needed.

You are home.

I mean that in two ways.  You are home with us, the strange ones feeling the same doubt and pain, who understand and who would be the first to tell you that you are needed and necessary and that if we are going to keep fighting you have to as well.  That’s just basic fairness.  We rely on each other because no one else understands totally this terrible halfway-gone waiting place we have to survive until life comes back to us.

And I mean it in another way.  You are home.  You are home for the wonderful things that you still have to offer the world.  You are home to unique thoughts that will help and inspire others.  You are home to people who love you.  And you are home to people who will one day meet you and tuck themselves into your heart for shelter.

You are home.  You are real.  You are needed.  You are loved.  You.  Even if we’ve never met, know that I mean you.  The you doubting yourself.  The you who doesn’t let on how tough it is.  The you who doesn’t know if you’ll make it through.  You will.  You’re gonna get through this.  Even if you don’t feel it yet, trust me, you are already home.

PS. I know a lot of people who don’t touch this subject because it’s complicated, or maybe isn’t something they feel they understand enough to write about and I completely get that.  There are all sorts of ways to help, from sharing suicide hotline numbers, or asking someone who seems down if they’re okay, or leaving an encouraging post-it note on a bathroom mirror, or just reaching out to say something kind to a friend.  The small act of telling someone how important they are to you can be a limb to cling to when everything else in the world seems to be telling you otherwise.  Spread kindness.  Pick a few people and tell them the world is better with them in it.  You make such a difference.  Every single one of you.  Thank you for answering the door when we ask for help.  Thank you for being home.

12 Sep 15:42

#744: Informing someone you’re not talking to anymore about STI risks

by JenniferP

Did not know about the anonymous service! Excellent option in a situation like this.

Dear Captain & Army,

About a month ago, I finally broke things off with a long-term Darth Vader ex I’ll call Joe. We officially broke up last year, but spent this summer falling in love all over again, though we kept it completely secret. However, when Joe finally admitted to cheating on me with a very close friend while we were still together – something I had long suspected but never had confirmed, and which he had directly lied to me about many times – I knew it had to be over, once and for all. So, despite Joe’s protestations and pleas, I told him not to contact me ever again, and after a few days of mourning (and not reaching out, despite wanting to very badly) found the courage to block him in every way possible. Only in the last week was I finally starting to feel something more than the emotional mess that is equal parts angry, sad and nostalgic.

But then, just yesterday, I got a call from another ex, someone I briefly dated just a few months before Joe and I resumed our relationship. The ex told me they were recently tested for STIs, and came up positive for a common one. I immediately made an appointment for myself, and am now waiting for results to come back.

Of course, I know that if the test comes back positive that I will have to tell Joe. But I’m already worrying about having any contact with this person again, who I have finally removed completely from my life and who was a 100% toxic influence. I feel that news like this merits a phone call, but the thought of even hearing Joe’s voice again fills me with sadness, dread and, if I’m totally honest, excitement. I worry that I won’t be able to keep the conversation to simply the facts of the situation, and that if I open that doorway right now, I won’t be emotionally able to shut it again. My only friend who knows about our summer fling suggested writing an e-mail, and then keeping Joe’s blocked so he can’t respond. But I feel like that is somehow wrong, considering this is an issue of sexual health and safety.

What do you think, Captain? Should I call, or will an e-mail suffice? And either way, how do I make sure to stay to the script? Is there a good script for this?

Possibly Positive

Dear Possibly Positive:

Would you believe that there are greeting cards for just this occasion? And that there are services where you can send this info anonymously (recommended!)? And that there’s a very sweet show on Netflix called “Scrotal Recall” about just this problem if you’d like to feel less alone about the whole thing?

You do not have to have a talk with “Joe” about this, LW, and you don’t owe him and the “close friend” he was sleeping with anything but the basic information to protect their health. If you choose not to use InSPOT, an email (DEFINITELY EMAIL OR POSTAL MAIL, NO PHONE OR MEETING UP) script might go like this:

“Dear Joe/Dear Friend:

One of my former sex partners tested positive for _______ STI, and given the timing you may have been exposed, too. Please get tested and inform your partners.”


“I recently tested positive for _______ STI, and I recommend that you get tested and inform recent sex partners as well.”

Informing them takes care of your ethical responsibilities here. I do think you should reach out to the friend as well (Do you honestly trust Joe to take care of someone else’s health in an ethical way?) Once you convey the info, you don’t need to have one iota more discussion or provide any more details.You can safely ignore/block any replies. You do not have to listen to Joe’s reactions or care about his feelings right now. Pesky microbes are not a referendum on you or on your past relationships, and reaching out with key health information is one good exception for violating a “no contact” policy.

I hope you get answers soon and that they alleviate your anxiety. When you climb back on the dating horse, this might help.

P.S. There’s always singing telegrams!

11 Sep 11:45

"He's not my husband, he's her husband, but we all really want a loan together": Life as a long-term polyamorist

by Elizabeth Weiss
"Threesomes 4 Lyfe," custom polyamory shower art, from Etsy seller UglyBaby
"Threesomes 4 Lyfe," custom polyamory shower art, from Etsy seller UglyBaby

I have been following the recent stories on polyamorous relationships, both on Offbeat Home and elsewhere, and saying a silent "hallelujah." I've been in a polyfidelitous triad (like a marriage but with three people) for thirteen years, but I've never found the strength or the venue to start a larger conversation about long-term polyamorist relationships.

But given how long the three of us have been together, I feel like I can offer some useful tidbits of advice and some observations on living a life that exists on the fringes but still in the mainstream.

What does our family look like?

I have a male partner and a female partner; she and I are both bisexual, and he is heterosexual. We have three children, ages 18, 10, and 3. We've known each other for longer than we've been together romantically, and our relationship turned from friendship into romance at a point where we were all going through massive relationship upheavals. To make a long story incredibly short, we spent a summer flirting and talking (and drinking an awful lot of wine) and decided to give life as a triad a shot. I moved in with them, and we began co-parenting their (then) 5-year-old daughter.

In the beginning, it will be tough

In spite of our happiness and optimism, our larger relationships suffered in the first few years. We endured periods of estrangement and strained relationships with some family members in the beginning.

After a few years, it won't be as tough

Once people saw that we were serious and were not barreling down the road to Relationship Armageddon, their views changed. It was slow and painful at times, but at this point we have full support, inclusion, and love from our families. We have found schools, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals who welcome us and are supportive. We have an excellent group of friends who accept us for who we are.

The poly community may have nothing to offer you

In an effort to meet other families like ours, we spent a brief time meeting with a polyamory group in our city. We found many different relationship configurations but nothing that looked like what we had. There were people looking for recreational sex partners, trying to figure out how to make an affair into something livable, or trying to cope with a spouse's desire for "fun" outside the relationship. We didn't meet anyone who seemed like us.

In the end, we decided that we had our friends, and that even if none of them had a family like ours, we were okay with that. Families are different, and we had things in common with our current friends that were much more important than the genders or number of partners in their relationships.

It's not always good, and it's not always bad

We've had good times and bad times in our relationship, just like people in any relationship do. We disagree sometimes, we feel jealous or hurt sometimes, we have money problems sometimes. Our ups and downs aren't any greater in number or severity than anyone else's.

It's not a porn film

We have three kids. Do I need to say any more about how un-porn-like our relationship is? In all seriousness, I would guess that we have a sex life that is very parallel to most married couples. We don't get as much as we'd like, but we get by. My female partner has chronic pain issues, and that has definitely been a challenge, but we work with what we have. I can safely say that nobody will be knocking down our door looking for an adult film contract any time soon.

You'll come out a lot, and you'll get used to it

Initially, coming out will be an event. Those first conversations with family and friends are high-stakes and anxiety-producing. Once you get past that hump though, coming out can feel iffy, but overall we've had great experiences. Most people are inquisitive rather than rude. I generally wait until someone knows me to some degree and has figured out that I'm not a freak of nature or sociopath, and then I tell them. By then, they've figured out that I'm a decent person, so they figure it can't be all bad.

Your kids will be awesome

Our kids have an incredible amount of support. With three parents, there is nearly always someone to attend a school function, drive a kid to a friend's house, chaperone a field trip, or stay home when a child is sick.

Of course, it also means one more parent to go ask when they don't like the answer they are given by the others, and they are subjected to 150 percent of the supervision that their friends are. We believe that to be a good thing. Our kids are smart, friendly, personable, and confident.

Legally, things will be weird

When I was pregnant with kid No. 2, we went to a lawyer to try to set things up so that we could all have some legal tie to each of the kids. After many interesting conversations, it was decided that three people cannot legally parent one child. We were able to work things out to a point where we felt reasonably secure, but it took a while. The moral of the story is that you should find a good lawyer, develop a relationship with that person, and put things in writing. It's not perfect, but writing things down in an official sense is important.

Get used to explaining things to financing companies

We own our home. To be exact, I have the mortgage (this time around) and all of our names are on the title. We have moved and refinanced, so we've gone through the home-buying process several times.

Often, I feel like we should make a pamphlet. It could say things like "Yes, his wife knows about me" and "No, they are not getting divorced" or "He's not my husband, he's her husband, but we really want a loan together." Everyone, from the realtor to the closing agent will need a quick explanation. Don't take offense, just roll with it.

No, I don't want to sleep with you, and we don't want a group sex thing

Just because there are three of us does not mean that we are open to sleeping with people outside our relationship, that we are all "allowed" to have affairs, or that we routinely have other people in our bed. But thanks for the flattery!

We're really not that interesting

A long-time friend of ours once said, "You know, you meet so many people who look normal from the outside, and then you find out they're screwed up. With you guys, it's the opposite — you look weird from the outside, but once I got to know you, I realized you're just pretty boring." Thanks, I think…

Recent Comments

  • Elizabeth: I created us a facebook group! Here is the link that (I hope) will connect to it: The name … [Link]
  • Krista: Omg, Yes please? :) It'd be nice to have a community for this. [Link]
  • Polydactyl: I'm very glad your family life is working out so well, and it makes me happy to see someone with … [Link]
  • Elizabeth: Hang in there, and don't "look" too hard. The right person will be there when it's right :) One of … [Link]
  • Elizabeth: Hmm - I kind of like the idea of an advice/question-type format! I don't want to commit to a blog … [Link]

+ 19 more! Join the discussion

10 Sep 12:00

The Best Eyeliner

by Casey Johnston

Might need to pick up that Revlon soon...


The best eyeliner stays on as long as possible while looking great, with deep pigmentation and perfect, uniform coverage, and comes off without a huge hassle. After more than 100 collective hours researching eyeliners; considering more than 100 gels, pencils, and liquids; and testing more than 50, we’ve found the three best eyeliners in pencil, liquid, and gel: Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner pencil ($20), Revlon Colorstay Skinny Liquid Liner ($8), and the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($25).

09 Sep 02:15

#743: How can I be a good friend to my friends with kids?

by commanderlogic



This Baby would like to disrupt all your fun times.

Dear captain awkward and army,

A handful of my friends have become parents this year. Consequently, and as expected, I don’t see them very often any more, and when I do, it’s for brief 30-minute “passing by” visits just to see how they and their rapidly developing Von Neumann machines are doing.

I’d like to invite them to larger gatherings and events, and shape these gatherings so that new parents feel like
a) they can take their kid without feeling like it would be a distraction or burden b) they could genuinely enjoy themselves c) the setting won’t be too chaotic even with multiple adults and kids d) the kids themselves would be comfortable, happy, and safe e) travel wouldn’t be inconvenient.

I live in a major metropolis where apartment space is coveted, so the home setting is limited.

But I’d just like to give my parent friends opportunities to socialize and do really fun things without making any implicit unreasonable demands to inconvenience themselves. Not having kids myself, I’m looking for best practices to provide that.

And to parents in the awkward army, what would something like this look like to you?

-Friend to new families

Hi Friend!

CommanderLogic here at your service.

Boy howdy do I feel you on this. I’ve got two Little Logics, 2.5 and 1 years old, and getting out to see friends with kids this age is hard. It just is. Even when our friends go the extra mile to make it easy for MrLogic and I, it’s still too hard sometimes, or something kid-related comes up and we have to bail. But I cannot tell you how much we appreciate the efforts our friends make! You are doing superb friend-work even thinking about this, so kudos to you.

The Challenges You Face

Parental Bandwidth (and the lack thereof): The social calendars of myself and the other parents I know aren’t especially full. This is because a full social calendar requires either leaving the house (ugh) or having a shit-ton of people at your own house (UGH).

Our MENTAL calendars, on the other hand, are stuffed to overflowing with things that MUST BE DONE – work, shop, cook, eat, keep tiny humans alive, keep tiny humans clean(ish), keep tiny humans happy(ish) – so the work involved in entertaining adult friends (as opposed to collapsing on the couch with laundry, wine, and Netflix) can easily be overwhelming.

Naptime: Unless your friends are all using the same daycare, or somehow coordinated to make their routines line up (HOW?), all the kids are gonna have different nap schedules, and it will FUCK WITH EVERYTHING. Some people are like “But what is a skipped nap here or there?” NOAP. NOPE. NOOOOOOOOOPE. Yep? NOPE. If the kids are under 4, and the parent tells you it is naptime – even if the kid seems wide awake and cheerful – trust me, it is naptime. The parent is sparing everyone from napless horrors.

Development: The under 3 set is always changing. ALWAYS. You look away for a week and suddenly the cuddly, immobile, everyone’s-my-friend baby will be a holy terror that only wants DADADADADA and will climb into every pointy bit in your apartment to reach their parent.

Everyone is Goddamn Different: This goes for the parents and kids alike. Some parents are going to be gung-ho about social activities, some are going to insist their children can’t be exposed to Outside People. Some kids are outgoing or able to collapse into a nap anywhere, some are nervous or unable to fall asleep without a frillion carefully timed procedures. No matter what I tell you, nothing will work for everyone in every situation. You may just have to ride it out for a couple years while the wee Von Neumann machines turn into semi-logical humanoids that you can shove into a room or outside with some toys and expect not to destroy themselves or everything (too much). It will be easier, and it will really not be that long in the scheme of things.

How much whisky would you like?

Not a single one of my parties has ever looked like this.

Here are a few coping strategies for Friends of Parents of SMALL Children to keep in mind, (*) will be included for those strategies that only work for couples. Single parents, you are impressive beyond my ability to express. Amazing.

1 – Embrace the Open House. If people can cycle through on their own (or let’s be real, their kids’) schedules, they’re more likely to come by.
Open Houses can be at your house, or at a park (“We’ll be at Moomin Park by the big blue play structure from 12-5! Come by whenever, leave whenever.”), or a beach, or other places the commentariat will doubtless suggest. Televised sport events are great for an open house. Or a board game day. Or a Terrible Movies marathon. The point is that people don’t have to be there exactly at a specific time, or stay to the end.

2 – Expect last minute cancellations. This can be hard. It will feel like a comment on your friendship, but it is NOT. Babies are assholes and they know, THEY KNOW, when you want to do something and will choose that moment to be epically sick.

3 – Set aside a Quiet Room, stocked with a comfy chair, something to function as a changing table, and room for one or more pack’n’plays. It may not get used, but this is way more helpful to parents of small children than a set aside Play Room. When you set up a Play Room for the under 5 set, what you’re really doing is setting up a situation where the parents are going to hang out in the Play Room instead of with the adults. If the kids are there, they’re gonna be partying with the adults. Count on it.

4 – Offer to come to them. It will feel SUPER WEIRD to invite yourself over, but as I said, most new parents’ social calendars aren’t very full, and by offering your presence you’ve made it possible for them to socialize without adding One More Thing to their mental calendars.

The Captain and her Gentleman Caller do this frequently and we love it: they come over around nap time and hold down the fort while MrLogic and I go out to a movie. Or they make us dinner. We all play with the kids. When the kids go down for the night, we hang out and play board games.

Here’s how you make it happen: “Hey Friend! I’m free this weekend, can I make/bring you dinner and we [whatever is your jam] after Little goes to bed?”  “Hey Friend! I can come over during Little’s nap and stand guard while you go run an errand or see Fury Road on IMAX. Let me know if there’s a time that works best!”

Adult-only events:

1* – Resign yourself to seeing only one of your friends at any given event, or expect that they’ll tag team it. Finding babysitting is annoying as fuck, especially if your go-to babysitters are in your friend group and are probably also invited to the event. Frequently, MrLogic and I will decide who is more interested in (or has more energy for) a given event and only one of us will go. The parent left behind is usually rewarded by getting sleeping-in dibs, the most precious dibs of all.

2 – Give as much lead time as you possibly can, and be SUPER EXPLICIT about it being adult-only. This gives your friends the info they need (I need a babysitter) and the prep time to make it happen (SHIT I NEED A BABYSITTER).

3 – Change your go-to events/times.  I can’t do brunch at 11 anymore. How about 7:30AM breakfast instead? I can’t go to a party that starts at 9PM but REALLY gets going around midnight. Let’s do a lunch during the workweek instead, while the kid is in daycare. I can’t go out to the club, why don’t you come over and we’ll watch one terrible movie and drink no more than a bottle of wine? Basically, my energy times are all out of whack with what they were when I had no kids. I have to be up and sober at 6am because a tiny person is going to yell at me regardless of my condition. Ask your friends what works best for them and try it out. tbh, 7:30 breakfast is some of the best brunch in the city.



4 – Try a standing-invitation event. (A variation on the Open House) This is kind of 400-level social maven advice, and heavily dependent on one person birddogging it, but it has really worked for me: Have a once-weekly Thing to which people are invited. It must be flexible enough to accommodate ALL the invitees or only one showing up. Maybe it’s a weekly potluck. Maybe it’s game night. Maybe it’s weekly rifftrax. The goal is to have something that is attractive to your friends, reliable on their calendars, and easy to say “shoot, I can’t make this one but I hope I see everyone next time.”


NOW, as a haver of small children myself, I also have some suggestions to the parents out there who may be feeling a bit trapped.  THE POWER IS WITHIN YOU.

Everything I recommended to our LW is something that YOU TOO can do. As I said, I myself host a standing-invitation event on Wednesday nights, and it’s THE BEST. People I love come to me, I feed them dinner, I put the kids to bed, and then we talk about stuff and watch Project Runway.

We’ve had open house parties that our kids weathered like champs.

I go to breakfast and weekday lunch with my lady friends, sometimes at their invitation and sometimes at mine.

Our friends with kids come over and play board games while all the littles are sleeping.

But having a social life is work. It is. It doesn’t happen by wishing one of our friends would set something up and inviting us at just the right time (though that’s definitely great!). We have to make the effort of inviting, too. So parents, this is your permission to invite people over for delivery food and Netflix. Host a poker night. Ask your friend to take your kid to the park and get some ice cream so you can nap, please, and maybe can that be a weekly Sunday thing? Ask a friend out to breakfast.

Having a social life doesn’t require you to be perfect. It doesn’t require you to have a perfectly kept house, or perfectly behaved kids, or perfectly so anything. All it requires is that you ask for what you need.  You need adults sometimes. Invite them in!

And Letter Writer? Keep rocking on.

CommanderLogic OUT