Charles Manson is dead — but not really

Charles Manson

Making sense of the cult of celebrity and selective amnesia

In case you don’t follow current events, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Charles Manson, murderous lunatic, charismatic cult leader and decent folk singer, died yesterday. It’s a win for mankind — and a name you wouldn’t have felt guilty about adding to your celebrity death pool.

The bad news is that he will exist, perpetually, in the blackest recesses of our hearts, as well as our minds and our art. Continue reading

The War on Christmas

War on Christmas

Can we make it a thing? Where do I sign up?

As we rolled into Whole Foods on Saturday, my daughter, Nadia, noticed the Christmas signs adorning every single lamppost.

”But it’s not Christmas yet,” she protested.

Kathleen and I laid it all on the table. Retailers want people to start thinking about Christmas shopping. Brick and mortar stores do the majority of their sales in November and December. And so on, and so forth.

This seemed enough for Nadia. Since we celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, her concern basically begins and ends with how many presents she has under the tree, and whether or not Santa got her exactly what she asked for — you know, the kinds of things a five-year old usually worries about. Continue reading

Friday night hot takes

Because sometimes wisdom is best delivered in bite-sized nuggets. But not like Twitter – never like Twitter.

  • The cornerstone of any healthy relationship is knowing when to call it quits. That’s why I think it time to give South Park the old “it’s not you, it’s me” routine.
  • The Good Place continues to zag when I’m expecting it to zig. I really thought they were going to waste an entire season on Eleanor’s search for Chidi. I was happy to be proven wrong.
  • I really, really suck at arcade shoot-em-ups. Does my inability to dodge pixelated bullets say anything about how good I am at dodging metaphorical ones? Stay tuned.
  • I’m taking my daughter to see LEGO Ninjago and gorge myself on all-you-can-eat cereal, and I’m not sure which one of us is more filled with glee. I suppose that makes me a man child. And I’m not going to pretend otherwise – even on the Internet.
  • Nothing fills me with a more profound sense of disappointment than approaching the office coffee pot and finding it empty. Like, there should be a mechanism that automatically brews a new pot, if only to spare my feelings. Because, contrary to popular belief, I am capable of human emotion. Somewhat.
  • Dino won Masterchef. Cue branded merchandise bearing the phrase “Baby doll!” I’m left to wonder if the dude is just the entirety of New Jersey culture distilled into a single human being, or if that was just his schtick to get on TV. Either all of New Jersey is a walking caricature, or he is. Both outcomes frighten me.

Long meetings

Long meetings

AKA “The Bane of My Professional Existence”

I’m being talked at.

Jesus, when’s our potty break?

And where’s the coffee?

The Tao of Shadi


A philosophy in 10 commandments

  1. Always keep beer in your fridge.
  2. Do something every day that makes you sweat.
  3. Wield your creativity like a garden hose, and spray it everywhere.
  4. Family comes first – unless your family sucks. Then, at least, you have an excuse for neglecting them.
  5. Pee clear. If it’s yellow, you got problems, fellow.
  6. Your coffee should be a representation of the deepest recesses of your soul. That’s why I drink mine black.
  7. Make knowledge your cocaine. Snort a line of wisdom every day.
  8. Eat lots of red meat because the cattle will overrun the planet if we don’t keep their delicious rumps in check.
  9. Get no more than six hours of rest per night. You can sleep when you’re dead.
  10. Don’t be a dick.

Let’s talk about watery killstorms


That’s “hurricanes” for you weirdos who like to call things by their proper names

So, some Caribbean island called Barbuda, whose existence I just learned about this morning, got riggity wrecked by Hurricane Irma, and that’s a real bummer, man. Who would have thought that living in an island paradise would have its drawbacks – except, you know, the people of Haiti?

And then there’s the part of Texas that sits near the Gulf of Mexico (AKA the breeding ground for watery killstorms). Parts of the United States are underwater, and it’s just another reminder that Mother Nature doesn’t care. Like, you could not fathom the size of the fuck she does not give. What’s that? Your house is all paid off? Let’s see what it would look like if I dropped a tree on it. Oh, you like having electricity? Try watching sitcoms when your entire living room is a swimming pool.

Nature doesn’t play.

And few places are safe. Those coffee-slurping hipsters in Portland and Seattle could be turned to molten ash by an eruption from Yellowstone. Or maybe drowned by a tsunami. San Francisco? Just wait until the San Andreas fault gets antsy.

Even Phoenix poses dangers. If the heatstroke doesn’t get me, there are the flash floods – not to mention the rattlesnakes, scorpions and other dangerous creepy crawlers that nature created to remind us that we’re just squatters on her turf, and she can reclaim it whenever she pleases.

All this raises an important question: where exactly do you flee when the proverbial shit hits the fan? The Midwest? Too many Trump voters, evangelicals and tornadoes. Canada? Beer good, cold bad.

I’ll just stay where I am. The skin cancer will get me long before the apocalypse comes.

What Conor McGregor knew

Or what I’m guessing he was thinking as he stepped into the ring, since I’m not, you know, a mind reader

Conor McGregor lost, but he’s not a loser. Let’s get that out of the way. I mean, any guy who can do this to a reigning champion is a winner in my book. Let’s also not forget the fact that McGregor got anywhere between $30-100 million for going 10 rounds against one of the greatest boxers in the world, Floyd Mayweather, jr. So, you know, boo hoo. I’m sure both guys sleep on piles of money.

But why did McGregor get in the ring in the first place – besides the money, and the opportunity to hand Mayweather his first loss? Continue reading

Much ado about Trump things

He came, and, with little effort, we survived.

President Trump is probably the only septuagenarian who comes to Phoenix in the summer. Though there was a lot of hubbub about the rationale for his visit and the impact it would have on the surrounding schools and businesses, in the end not much came of it.

I had already planned to leave work early since childcare at my daughter’s school was being cut by one hour. But I left even earlier to account for traffic. Aside from a tense five-minute period in which not a single car on the I-10 was moving (due to a disabled vehicle) the trip into dowtown Phoenix was relatively easy.

The city had done most of the heavy lifting by sending government workers home early, and many businesses did the same. Downtown was a ghost town. The ride home was a non-issue because I was fleeing the madness, not riding headlong into it. I’m not sure what I expected, but I’m glad the city didn’t descend into chaos and protests.

Decoding the language of alt-right racists in America


A primer for the rest of us

In the wake of violence perpetrated by the alt-right movement, I’ve decided to re-evaluate not only my role as a writer but also what I’m choosing to do with the platform I’ve built for myself. That means I’m breaking the coda that guided the 100 posts I wrote on Medium over the course of 100 days: no politics.

The turning point for me wasn’t the death of an innocent woman, or the fact that a bunch of angry Nazis marched through Charlottesville carrying tiki torches. Nah, it was a Tweet. From The Onion. Continue reading