Je Suis Charlie

I try to be funny.  Really, I do.  But sometimes I have no clue how my ideas are being received.  My writing has sometimes caused people to unfriend me on Facebook.  I have gotten bizarre comments on my blog.  I got yelled at for something I said when I thought I was complimenting the person.  I can be an absolute idiot.  I can unwittingly take awkward to whole new levels in public.  Sometimes I am just trying on new ideas, see if they stand up to being said aloud.  Sometimes I have formed opinions that do differ wildly from others. Sometimes, I am just going for the joke. That’s okay.  Differences make life interesting.  It’s a “to each his own” kind of thing. Everybody has a batshit crazy section in their brains.  Some of us open the door and air it out more often than others, maybe more often than we really should. Doesn’t mean a thing, though.

But today, my heart aches as I am reminded that some people are too damaged to understand when someone is just joking.  The news that a dozen people were killed in my favorite city, Paris, only because they worked for a magazine that published satire takes me to a dark place.  I just do not understand what has happened.

The satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo sometimes focused on uncomfortable topics, as it should have. That’s the beauty of satire.  It amuses while turning a spot light on religion, the government, egos, big business, the holy cows that flourish only when unexamined and unquestioned.

The editor, “Charb” Charbonnier, who was also one of the magazine’s cartoonists, was killed along with his police bodyguard.  He was once asked why he continued to hit issues that he knew would draw ire.  He answered that he preferred to die on his feet than live on his knees.

Ironically, just this past November Charlie Hebdo requested financial assistance to avoid bankruptcy.  Now, instead of the usual 60,000 issues it will publish one million copies of the next issue (14 Jan 2015) in defiance.  It is being called the “survivor” issue.

A makeshift memorial is growing in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices.  In addition to the de rigueur candles, note cards, and stuffed animals, people are leaving pens.  Hundreds of pens.  Pens, the most dangerous tool on the planet, strong enough to shake people’s core values, mighty enough to topple governments, are being left in memory of cartoonists and writers at a humor magazine.

My condolences to the survivors.  My condolences to the city of Paris.  My condolences to the friends and families left behind.  Joking just got real, y’all.

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Big News in the House!

I have announced this on Facebook and on the Southern Humorists home page, so if you’ve seen this before I apologize for the repeat.  No I don’t, I’m really excited about all this and will probably announce it again in December.  Go Team Molly!

I have been hired as a columnist for Blue Ridge Country magazine.  My column, entitled “Mill Creek Stories,” will replace the retiring Elizabeth Hunter’s “From the Farm” column.  Elizabeth’s column ran for more than 20 years, so I’m thinking this is going to be a long-term gig.

My first piece will appear in the January/February issue and is about stray cats and the people they adopt.  Those who know me well know that I can not resist telling a good animal yarn so I am starting out with one of my favorite topics.

Here is a link to the magazine’s web site so you can explore.  If you live in the Georgia to Virginia band of states, this regional magazine is especially for you.  It is chock-full of interesting information about local sites, people, food, and events plus it has stunning photographs. If you are just interested in things Southern, you’ll also enjoy Blue Ridge Country. I hope you’ll follow my stories and let me know what you think.

http://www.blueridgecountry.com

Facebook: A Procrastinator’s Favorite Tool

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Photo:  Me, the Princess of Procrastination

 

I am a Facebook addict. There, I said it. The reason that I love using Facebook so much is because I am the Princess of Procrastination and there is nothing better for looking like you’re working while completely ignoring work. It’s perfect for self-delusional types like me. I’ll tell myself that I’ll just hop on for a few minutes, just to catch up with a friend or two. Three hours later I’m still there, laughing at cartoons. Ha ha ha ha, Saturn’s rings are actually made up of lost airline luggage! Oh look, kittens!

My Facebook relationship is kind of a love/hate thing. I love keeping in contact with my far-flung friends, but I also hate some of the quirks of the system. I often disparagingly refer to it as Fratboy instead of Facebook. You see, Facebook was invented so college kids could find other students they’d not yet met but thought were hot enough to pursue based on their school photos. This objective can be achieved only with a certain devil-may-care attitude towards your personal data and your private parts.

I understand the hunt-and-chase mentality. I get it. Keeps the blood percolating. Good for you Zuckerberg, for thinking up a more efficient way to meet coeds other than awkwardly standing around a lukewarm beer keg. But when you’ve graduated from a casual hook up site into a billion dollar company, users get antsy about their personal data.

All of a sudden, it’s not just the upperclassmen checking out your stats, it’s the losers in Croatia scraping your information through a Facebook security hole the size of Wichita and selling it to everyone in the former eastern bloc countries so they can send want-a-bigger-penis spam to your personal email account 48 times per day. This just happened to me. It blows. (Note to marketers in the ‘stans:  I am happy with the size of my non-existent penis.  Go away.)

One day I’ll probably tire of Facebook, maybe even jumping ship because of some irritating security failure. Maybe I’ll dump Facebook because I need to actually live my life. Until then I have decided to goose them at every possible turn. That’s my way.

On Facebook, the right-hand column is filled with ads they believe suits you. Ha. If you roll into the upper right corner of the ad box, you’ll see an “X” appear. If you hit the “X” you’ll be given a choice to either hide the ad, or learn more about it. Of course I hide almost every stinking ad that appears. I hide them if I don’t like the accompanying photo. I hide them if I don’t like the name of the company. I hide them just because. Doesn’t matter. I hide ads. I also hide some posts that appear in my news feed, if they’re sketchy or I’m cranky. Keep in mind, I work from home so no one is here to call me out on my crankiness. Cranky happens. A lot. Ask the dogs.

When you hide an ad, you get a pop-up menu that says “We’ll try not to show you ads from Company XYZ again. Why did you hide them?” Then you get a short list of possible reasons to choose from. You get the same list if you block something in your news feed, which used to be a list of posts from just your friends until it became a catch-all for Facebook vomit. Anyway, the reasons they think you’ve blocked a post/ad are:

—          uninteresting

—          misleading

—          sexually explicit

—          against my views

—          offensive

—          repetitive

—          other.

I find this list way too limiting and woefully inaccurate. I think this list cries out for a serious updating. Here’s my draft of a more accurate list of reasons for banishing ads/posts from your Facebook feed.

—          Uses the phrase “You Won’t Believe What Happens Next”

—          Mentions faulty winkuses

—          Mind numbingly dull

—          Bullshit, particularly political bullshit

—          Duck lips

—          Engagement announcement if: the engaged is less than 21 years old, or the wedding date is more than 2 years off

—          Excessive posting of meals

—          Excessive/amateurish Photoshopping

—          Insecurities on display

—          Red plastic cups

—          Stalker/creepy/weirdo vibe

—          Humble bragging

—          Excessive use of !!!!!!

—          Blatant typos (exception made for dyslexics)

—          Ad masquerading as legitimate post

—          Excessive mentions of any deity

—          Posing with anything dead (exception made for zombies)

This is my current list of reasons for blocking Facebook ads or posts but it is still a work in progress. What pushes your buttons? What makes you block a post or ad? I would love to hear it, for two reasons. One, I’m genuinely interested and two, I want to affirm that it is not just me. It’s not, right?

Bossy and Proud

I am bossy. There, I said it. Bossy from birth, as a matter of fact. I come from a long line of bossy women, all beloved by their men, their families, and their communities for all they accomplished.  So when I heard that my beloved Girl Scouts had hooked up with Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, to ban the word “bossy” I was confused. Sheryl Sandberg, her eyes glistening from the painful memory, said that she was labeled as bossy as a little girl and how hurtful that was to her.

Hurtful? You are the chief operating officer of a multi-billion dollar company and the best selling author of the alpha-business-female bible, Lean In. Hurtful? We should tattoo all little girls with the word “bossy” if that’s the end result.

With all your clout Sheryl, the best you can come up with is to tell everyone to ban a word from their vocabulary? There’s some bossy irony, right there. I’m a writer so I think every word has its place, no matter how vile. I’m not one for censoring any word. Limiting one’s vocabulary is a no-go in my world.

You could use your considerable clout to make progress on real issues affecting women today. May I suggest the gender wage gap, domestic violence, science and math education for girls, the attacks on the food stamp program, or women’s health care? Surely it is far more damaging to tell a little girl that she’s not getting a hot lunch at school because of program cuts than to call her bossy.

In fact, it was in the Girl Scouts that I was encouraged to be bossy. I was taught to dream big, formulate plans, lead others to implement them, overcome obstacles through persuasion and determination, and succeed like only a truly confident, bossy girl can. I will forever love the Girl Scouts for that lesson.

I think the Girl Scouts should start handing out Bossy badges. Bossy has passion, leadership, and drive. Bossy makes the world a better place. Case in point: Ms. Sheryl Sandberg. Let’s not pull that bossy ladder up behind you Sheryl, just because you’ve achieved your success.

I must explain a truth to you, little ones. Bossy is what you’re called before puberty. After puberty, you’re going to be called bitchy. So what? Bitch isn’t an insult, either. To quote Tina Fey, “You know what? Bitches get stuff done.” “Bossy” and “bitchy” are just two words that are often synonymous with “strong leader.” It’s what weak, lazy people say when confronted with passionate vision and competence in girls.

Sheryl Sandberg, if you want to gather your A-list friends to campaign as America’s word police go right ahead but you’re undermining your own project. By telling everyone to stop using the word “bossy,” you’re emphasizing the message to little girls that being “bossy” is somehow bad instead of badass. You’re not helping. I’m bossy and proud of it.