The secret to not being a loser

I know you have a headache thinking about this, but it’s plausible that Donald Trump will never accept the results of this election, so it feels like a creative time to get back into blogging.

I’ve actually had this website long enough to have blogged about the 2000 Presidential election, although I don’t think many people used the term “blog” at the time, just as I don’t believe very many people use the term anymore today.

In my cutting satirical takedown of the 2000 election, I took a tack of grating sarcasm regarding the extensive news coverage. Was I trying to imply the media should cover something else instead? Probably not, because I then followed up this disturbingly long paragraph with another in which I was sarcastic about how weather works, and then a third in which I was sarcastic about what a Final examination was. I simply interpreted blogging as a platform in which you should be as sarcastic as possible about as many things as possible, or else somebody might confuse it for a diary.

There are two takeaways from this entry, and they’re both that I was an idiot. It would have been unfair, I felt, for me to infringe upon the delicate headspace of my audience with political hot takes when my readers were so hungry for another dose of my classic brand of high jinks, such as pretending I didn’t know what February was.

I also posted an election recap in 2004. By this point I’d evolved to typing variations of the word “fuck,” a caliber of writing from which I’ve mostly plateaued. But I rarely discuss politics on this website, for a few reasons: because I rarely discuss anything whatsoever on this website, because politics tend to be bleak, and because I’m incapable of delivering my political opinions without itemizing the people I believe to be morons.

However, the peaceful transition of power is in jeopardy, and I wanted to reiterate how abnormal this is, while also observing how big of a moron I believe Trump to be: very.

The 2000 election came down to a 537 vote difference in Florida, at least a hundred times closer than this year’s race in Pennsylvania alone. As the basis for accusations of stolen elections go, the 2000 election is the Michael Jordan of electoral impropriety. The recount was left in the hands of an altogether incompetent Florida state government, who had statutes for requesting hand recounts but no means to actually conduct them in a timely fashion, nor an established methodology for evaluating voter intent with respect to ballots designed by failed abstract impressionists.

The Gore camp pushed for tactical vote counting in counties most likely to help him, while the Bush camp moved to reject all hand recounts on the basis that they were ahead and wished to stay that way. They bickered their way up to the Supreme Court, who in a partisan 5-4 ruling decreed that the hand recount had to be halted and the results ratified, because democracy will collapse if you wait to swear in a new President in like March or something instead of January.

I will admit, it did seem a bit fishy at the time, that these five Supreme Court Justices nominated by Republican Presidents had moved to block a uniform statewide hand recount that could have jeopardized the inauguration of an additional Republican President. Rather peculiar indeed. Various studies sought to determine who would have won a statewide hand recount, but no official recount was ever conducted and nobody can say with any certainty what the outcome would have been. The will of the people will forever remain obscured within the margin of error due to the ruling of five ancient men in ill-fitting barber capes.

But the results were valid. Our judicial branch acted with the authority entitled to it. Although embittered Democrat voters nearly wore out the phrase “stolen election,” no Gore quasi-surrogates called for heads on spikes, and nobody stormed the offices of the Florida board of elections. Gore conceded within a day of the ruling, because it was time for America to move on with its collective lives, and sometimes democracy doesn’t break your way.

Donald Trump has lost the election, which makes him, in a very real sense, a loser. He now has an opportunity to become one of history’s very biggest losers. His status as a loser is inflated by the protraction of the losing process, by every second he fails to concede, by every baseless legal challenge, by every supporter who loses faith in American elections. The only way for Donald Trump to stop losing is to concede, which is why it’s so difficult for him. He’s just too big of a massive fucking loser.

Interpreting cereal boxes literally

It appears as though I’ve missed a few weeks or a year or whatever, but I expect the ’20s to be my most prolific decade in quite some time, with four or even five entries. I begin with this expository essay, in which I will be arguing my long-standing thesis that, if interpreted literally, cereal boxes depict the attempted consumption of cereal by dangerous morons who have no comprehension of how to eat cereal.

I present Exhibit O:

This is a striking image, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise—a toothsome eruption of cereal dainties all but leaping off the cardboard in springtime joy, a scene designed to excite our appetites and imaginations alike. Press the play button, however, and the magic quickly dissipates, leaving us with some sad dipshit dumping milk all over his pajama pants. It would be quite one thing if he were just cheekily splashing a little extra milk onto his already-brimming bowl, but the furious torrent on display here seems less calibrated for moistening cereal than dispersing a riot. I recommend easing up on the milk carton if you happen to notice O’s blasting out of your bowl with enough kinetic energy to chip your ceiling paint.

As adults we understand the metaphor implied by Sonny—he’s “cuckoo for” (dependent upon) “Cocoa Puffs” (low-grade crack)—but this concept is happily conveyed without giving him those glassy, tweaked-out eyes and that joyless, insatiable hunger. This is a portrayal of Sonny who society has failed. Even if he were merely drinking “chocolatey milk” from what I’m going to pretend is not a crack pipe, why is milk ejecting from the bowl? That’s not how even the chocolatiest of fluid dynamics works. My best guess is that the Cocoa Puffs Design Team was told to depict Sonny sucking milk, but they misunderstood the direction and just started to suck really badly at their jobs.

Cereal bowls had a good run, but they were really just getting in the way of that gnarly milk-on-cereal action we all demand from our boxes. Just give me one massive slab of Golden Graham, plate it on a bed of milk, and blast it with a pressure washer. Once it gets nice and sodden I suppose we can rip off a chunk and roll it up into a bite-sized ball or whatever, but I’m not really concerned with eating my giant Golden Graham. I just want to see this piece of shit get waterboarded.

The customary legal footnote claims the Golden Graham was enlarged “to show detail,” which might have been a credible assertion had they not blown it up to the size of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. This Graham was obviously enlarged for dramatic effect, not to “show detail,” and it feels a little violating to pretend you’ve created this monstrosity for the consumer’s benefit, as if we were all secretly pining to see molecular granularity in our breakfast cereal. I wouldn’t want to see this sort of detail in a fine jewel, much less a Golden Graham, and I certainly don’t need you to wave your gigantic piece of cereal in my face like some sort of breakfast pervert.

The actually appears to have been a pretty decently prepared bowl of cereal—not a significant feat, but in the world of cereal boxes it deserves some recognition. Everything was looking pretty good up until the Cap’n felt possessed to karate chop his bowl with that ludicrous serving spoon. I defy you to replicate the gross meaty grip on display here. It’s almost impossible to hold a spoon like this, let alone convey that spoon to your mouth without upsetting its contents, and that’s assuming you’re not on an active battleship. Meanwhile, why are you saluting me? Do I outrank a Cap’n somehow? At ease, you fucking idiot.

I realize it’s foolish for an adult to sit around critiquing cereal box cartoon characters, even probable war criminals like Cap’n Crunch, but imagery has a powerful influence, and I’ve had more than a few roommates whose cereal preparation mirrored the reckless gusto depicted on the box of Oreo O’s. I’m not saying your cereal packaging should feature an uptight prick like that Quaker Oats guy, with his patronizing little smirk and sanctimonious Founding Father energy, because fuck that guy. You’re not posing for the $50 bill, bro, it’s just a tin of oatmeal. I’d rather freebase Chocholatey milk with my boy Sonny than listen to another one of the oatmeal guy’s tedious sermons, but then again I feel like I’m detracting from my thesis at this point. One day I’m going to figure out why my essays always devolve into me ragging on the Quaker Oats guy.

“I don’t care” shirts

I frequently see people wearing shirts and jackets with some variation of the phrase “I really don’t care.” This is not only a tasteless attitude to aspire to, but it’s obvious these clothes are little more than wearable comb overs for one’s emotional insecurity.

To be clear, I can’t begrudge a person for their vast museum of insecurities and its accompanying collection of coping mechanisms, as long they’re non-harmful. What rankles me is the brazen misunderstanding of how caring works. As a stranger and therefore a purported member of these shirts? intended audience, I’m personally insulted you feel I have so little grasp of human psychology that I could think this clothing is suggestive of anything other than a roiling neutron star of care. You care so much that I practically care on your behalf, and I definitely don’t give a shit.

Any child old enough to read can intuit that proactively ordering a sassy t-shirt designed to convey a cool indifference is the behavior of a person deeply invested with their perceived emotional state, a person desperate to shield themselves from appearing vulnerable. Meanwhile, other strangers don’t care about you in the first place and they don’t need a t-shirt tell you that. It turns out that when you’re busy not caring about something, you don’t typically feel compelled to race over to Etsy to memorialize your apathy and broadcast it to others. Not caring is one of the easiest pastimes imaginable: you simply do nothing and just sort of let nature run its course. When you find yourself taking any sort of action whatsoever, that’s a pretty good clue you’ve fucked something up.

As ineffective as this shirts may be, I’ve seen enough iterations of them to consider it a trend. Here’s a representative example:

i'm sorry it's just that i literally do not care at all

In this case, the customary denial of caring is fortified with an apology that I’m beginning to suspect doesn’t contain all that much contrition. To further reinforce the messaging, the text is written in a breezy lowercase, as if to imply that only caring losers adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style. You’re already wearing a hoodie—I get that you’re not dressing up today. This would be like wearing a tuxedo with the words “I’m a fancy boy!” stitched across the lapel.Hi, I don't care. Thanks.Boom—just like that, we’re greeted, spoken rudely to, and then dismissed with a peremptory thanks. We can’t get in a word in edgewise, if this shirt has any say in the matter. This is the sort of shirt worn by somebody who doesn’t quite grasp how sarcasm works, but who’s pretty sure it has something to do with being polite in a disingenuous way. And while they’ve maybe come up a little short on the biting wit, you have to admit they really hit a homerun in terms of coming off like a dickbag. What’s the point of a t-shirt if not to have a built-in justification for why people dislike you other than your personality?

This past summer, Melania Trump infamously wore this jacket while visiting detained migrant children:


The phrase “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U” is the sort of psychopathic shit you’d scrawl in blood on a crime scene when serial killing is getting too easy and you feel like baiting the police a little bit. You’ll note this jacket outclasses previous efforts with a smarmy interrogation, as if now suddenly our own measure of care is on trial here. What are you even asking me, idiot? Care about what? Am I supposed to also wear my answer on a Zara jacket repurposed from a Vietnam-era military tent?

As an experiment, read this jacket out loud and see if you can muster the will power to not punch yourself. It perfectly captures the nasally sing-song voice of a child who is both bullying, and being bullied by, another small child—a heady mix of the pathetic and the hateful. If this jacket were a person it would be Melania Trump.

It’s possible she selected this jacket to advance her carefully curated public image of a sulking prisoner of war, but this is a shitty thing to wear to brunch, let alone to a detention center for children who’ve been forcefully separated from their family. But to be fair to Melania the boutique was probably out of trash bags her size.

Slow Down Baby Is Playing

I’ve been walking past this sign for years and some days it’s all I can think about:


Too often I find myself zoning out during conversations to focus on this riddle, and suddenly the next thing I remember is my friend’s worry, her tearful eyes searching mine as she breathlessly whispers, “Where were you just now?” Then there are the nights in which sleep does not visit, in which I lie awake counting the atoms in my ceiling paint while undiscovered mathematical proofs flit by at the edges of my field of vision.

Let me disabuse you of the notion that there is a dependent living at this residence. I’ve never seen a baby here, either playing or sleeping or even just relaxing with a box of apple juice, and I’ve been passing this house long enough for any baby to now be in grade school, well on its way to a master’s degree in playing.

I am happy to allow, as you assuredly are, that the baby is simply a pretense for encouraging slower driving. Maybe it is unethical to lie about a baby, but when confronted with the disturbance of neighborhood traffic, one must resort to all manner of chicanery—phantom babies, mythical speed bumps, School Zones. In my childhood neighborhood there is still to this day a sign that requests slower driving in consideration for an alleged “deaf child,” who is either well into his thirties or who was ran over by a truck decades ago. The reality is that you can’t be arrested for lying about a baby as long as they don’t also make an appearance on your 1040, and I’m not certain there’s been any fallout to my anonymous tips to the FBI.

This “slow neighborhood traffic” theory is complicated by examining the orientation of the sign in relationship to the street:


It’s a one-way thoroughfare, and the sign is clearly facing away from thru traffic. One must confront the reality that the sign’s audience is not neighborhood traffic at all, but either pedestrians or those few vehicles entering this person’s own driveway—which are each in their own way troubling possibilities. I simply can’t abide by the idea that this request is being made to pedestrians. Is the baby disturbed by joggers? You live in New York, baby, fuck you. You slow down, baby. You stop crawling around so fast. Why are we suddenly being asked to cater to a baby?

Yet it is even more preposterous to imagine this sign is targeted at the residence’s own driveway, as if anybody could forget they were parking at the home of the famous Guinness world record holder for the longest play session of a human baby. Maybe I’m a guest to whom this baby and its incessant merrymaking will be a baffling surprise, but even then I can’t exactly imagine the baby would be running around outside getting ready to perform an aerial cartwheel in front of my car.

Like are we still talking about a baby? Any child old enough for autonomous play is also old enough to be offended by you calling them a baby. If I run over an actual baby in front of your garage, it’s maybe a little bit my fault for running over your baby, but it’s mostly your fault for placing their fucking bassinet on the driveway, and if anything I have a right to be mad at you because now I have to repaint my car.

The real dilemma posed by the sign is almost too subtle at first. It’s the verb, of course it is. Why playing? Why does the baby need to be playing? What does my speed have to do with your baby’s recreational preferences? Even if we’re allowing that “baby” means “any juvenile younger than 10,” because for some dipshit reason we forgot the word for “child,” it’s distracting to imply that their playing is somehow vital, as if they’re working on a concerto for an upcoming audition. What’s wrong with “Slow Down / Baby Home”? I still wouldn’t slow down, but at least now you wouldn’t have a five-word sign in which you fucked up two of them.

It is also possible that the sign is entirely metaphorical, encouraging one to slow down in life, to take a moment to consider the certain reality that somewhere in the world right now is a smiling cherub at play, and why are we all in such a hurry anyway? I’ve crunched the numbers, and believe it or not this is actually one of the most likely scenarios, or at least the only one that brings any wisdom to my life. But realistically it’s probably just some sort of insurance scam.

eKarjala is now eKarj for some reason

I concede that five years is an unsustainable update cadence if I’m going to attract any kind of audience.

Nevertheless, it feels like the right time to reanimate this blog, in this period of great solidarity and sweeping national optimism. It’s fatiguing paying hosting fees for an abandoned website, and I realized it was necessary to either delete eKarjala altogether or restore it to its usual ramshackle condition. Neither seemed ideal but here we are.

A better question than why I’m updating now is why I haven’t been these past five years, or with any regularity the past ten. Historically, this website has always begun to feel less like writing saucy little pleasure rants than fulfilling an obligation, and I am extremely gifted in spurning my obligations. Not professional obligations, current and future employers (nice try). I’m referring to the sort of foolish enterprises one derives joy from.

Meanwhile, after having successfully not updated for a few months, continuing to not update becomes a relatively effortless sort of inertia. After a year’s time, starting my day and then navigating to the end of it without capitulating becomes practically second nature, even despite the gnawing guilt incurred from failing to spend time and money mildly amusing internet strangers. In my defense—and just about everything I write is—probably like 99.5% percent of the people who’ve ever started a blog have subsequently abandoned it, and the other .5% are just waiting for the right amount of shit not to give.

Having demonstrated my disregard for this site’s readership, the next few months will surely be quiet as this site enjoys less traffic than a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and not even the Mad Max kind. But I am content to talk to myself and maybe a palsy handful of my most ardent readers, among those still living since my last update. I’ve never needed readers, and if anything they just get in the way with their mysterious clicking. So it’s possible that this site will remain a ghost town for the duration of its life, albeit one still mining coal or whatever this metaphor is.

It’s also possible that this site could be abruptly re-abandoned at any time, which is the same condition I give my cat. I do not wish for this to be the case, but I must be honest with myself and my failings as a blogger. To be honest, I’m not even certain people are writing or reading these sorts of non-specific little scampish blogs anymore, especially ones that aren’t fed through a social media conduit. It doesn’t matter. My intention is to post about one thing a week, assuming I can manage it in between my endless stream of social appointments. For now this will have to do.