Top 5 Halloween Party Themes

In less than three weeks, it will be Halloween. You’re running out of time to plan an unforgettable, totally unique Halloween party that will set you apart from all the boring sugar cookie decorating and pumpkin carving celebrations.

Please. You’re better than that.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with a unique theme for your Halloween Hullabaloo, I’ve done all the thinking for you.*

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: This terrifying moral tale was meant to teach kids to avoid gluttony, greed, pride, sloth, etc. As young Charlie Bucket watches his fellow factory adventurers fall in the traps of the insane chocolatier, Willy Wonka, we learn . . . ummm . . . candy is made from children?? Add creepy Oompa Loompas and you’ve got the makings of one cocoa-crazy party.

Dental Visit: Create a Halloween nightmare with a drill, a reclining chair, shiny lights, medical face masks and the smell of nitrous oxide. Let panic ensue.

dental chair

(Looks sanitary to me. Open wide.)

Sesame Street: Imaginary woolly mammoths, 10-foot birds running amok, green monsters jumping out of trash cans, a red furry creature screaming, “Hug me!”, a vampire count with no concept of personal space, creepy puppets just waiting for someone to shove a hand up their spine—just a normal day on Sesame Street. But a super creepy party theme.

Junior High School: Tap into those repressed fears of being clumsy, inadequate, sweaty, stupid, terrified, alone, mocked, left out and smelly. Turn your kitchen into a junior high lunch room, complete with a “cool-kids-only” table and extra sloppy sloppy Joe’s. Hand each child a pop history quiz and tell them they get no treats until they answer everything correctly. No cheating, dammit!

jrhigh

(Can’t you feel the terror??)

Hospital Waiting Room: Arrange uncomfortable chairs around the edges of the room. Toss in a few Popular Mechanics magazines from 1998 and a handful of STD pamphlets. Hang a broken clock on the wall. Hand party goers novel-length medical forms to fill out because the hospital has updated its medical records system again and needs all your information in triplicate. Have someone constantly sneeze without covering their nose/mouth.

What’s been your favorite Halloween party? I’m always looking for new ideas!

*This pre-thinking service is available for only $99. If you call today, you get a second one free.

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Middle of the Night Musings

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It’s 3 a.m. I’m awake. Again.

My mind quivers like a raccoon on Red Bull, forcing me to think about a) Christmas shopping, b) the end of the world, c) my Halloween costume and d) wondering if I should throw Ringo the Dog outside because he’s been licking himself for hours.

I’m also hot. Temperature hot, not hot hot. I stick my foot outside the blankets to let the cool air brush across my toes. Sometimes Ringo will lick my toes if they’re left outside the covers.

I get chilly and wrap myself up in blankets like a middle-aged, insomniac burrito.

I engage meditation techniques. Inhale. Exhale. After eight seconds, my mind wanders to the state of the economy (dire). I wonder how I’ll survive as a homeless person. Will I die of cholera alone on the side of the road?

I’m hot again. I throw the blanket off because my fingernails are sweating. I carefully roll over, hoping not to wake Hubbie.

I start worrying about the diseases l could contract—like that brain-eating amoeba or Polyglandular Addison’s disease that causes instant death from sudden emotional distress. I could have that. I could be dying. Will my grandkids remember me if I die from Mad Cow disease?

Now I’m cold. I pull the covers up to my chin. Should I get a flu shot this year? What if a pandemic wipes out everyone who didn’t get a flu shot? Who will feed Ringo? Who will Tom marry after I’m dead?

I will not look at the clock. I look at the clock. 4:15.

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What was that noise? Could I call 911 before a burglar attacks me? Would he be mad that we don’t have anything worth stealing? What if we have a rat infestation? I pull my foot back into the safety of the covers.

Are my clothes outdated? What will technology be like in 20 years? Will my grandkids have to explain things to me? I need to stop eating sugar. I should start writing a diary. I REALLY need to fix my car’s tire. What if I forget and I my tire blows out on the freeway?

What if I never sleep again? What if I have a paralyzing illness caused by insomnia? What if I’m paralyzed when the zombies attack–and I can’t get away? I jerk awake and realize I’ve drifted into a dream/awake state. I look at the clock. 5:06.

I’m awake. Again.

Nonviolent Protest: A Primer

On Sunday, two dozen NFL teams demonstrated an act of nonviolent protest– and the country lost its shit.

During the national anthem (you know, that five-minute block of time when you stock up on nachos and beer), NFL players either took a knee on the field or locked arms with teammates to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who has been taking a knee during the anthem to protest how America treats its minorities.

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“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This totally legal, constitutionally recognized form of protest incensed our Commander in Chief so much that he Tweeted out a suggestion that NFL owners fire players who disrespect the anthem. Keep in mind, Mr. Trump has never actually read the Constitution, but ignorance is never an excuse for assholery.

Asking for equal rights is not a crime. The (mostly white) people who objected to this display seemed to forget that sometimes social change only happens when symbolic protests bring an issue to our attention.

NASCAR (pretty much the whitest sport in the U.S.) took a stand against the #TakeAKnee movement. NASCAR owners threatened to fire anyone who participated in the protest.

Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, declared that “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

But that’s just it. The United States embraces nonviolent protests. Or at least we should.

Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., suffragettes, Henry David Thoreau and the Dalai Lama have all used the technique to gain attention. Even John Lennon peacefully protested the Vietnam War when he and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon having a “Bed-In” at a hotel in Amsterdam. A Bed-In is definitely a peaceful movement I can get behind.

yoko

(I’m going to nonviolently protest winter by staying in bed until May.)

These actions have nothing to do with disrespecting the flag,  dishonoring our military or cheapening our extremely long, difficult to sing national anthem. You don’t have to agree with the kneelers. You don’t even have to believe in their cause. But you DO have to respect their right to protest.

Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Live in Florida

I took a summer break from writing this blog so I could have a mental breakdown. Now I can check that off my list of things to do and get back to some smart-ass blogging.

As you’re aware, it’s hurricane season, and meteorologists around the country are having orgasms on live TV as they discuss the trajectory of the latest deadly hurricane.

As I watched Floridians escape the last storm, I realized I never even want to visit this horrible state. Here are five reasons why:

Hurricanes (obviously). Floridians are exposed–and not just the nude sunbathers on Miami Beach. Florida is the dangling participle of America, taunting hurricanes and tropical storms with easy access to both its east and west coasts. There’s nowhere to hide from a hurricane in Florida. It’s surrounded by the OCEAN, for God’s sake.

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(The tracks of Florida hurricanes, or the route for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.)

20-foot pythons. Really, any size of python–and not just pythons. Snakes of every variety and poison level slither into houses in Florida looking for the opportunity to eat the residents. Not cool, snakes. At least in Utah, our rattlesnakes give us fair warning before attacking. I don’t want to wake up with a python trying to eat my head.

Sinkholes. Even Florida doesn’t want to be in Florida. Houses, sidewalks, roadways, golf courses–they’re all trying to disappear into the center of the earth to escape the deadly pests in the Sunshine State.

Crocodiles. These reptilian villains have been around for 200 million years (or 4,000 years if you attend a Christian megachurch in Orlando). These carnivores (the crocs, not the Christians) lurk beneath the water, eyeing their victims before going in for the kill. Creepy bastards.

Feral pigs. Not middle-aged men scouring Florida’s clubs for underage girls, but actual wild pigs. I thought wild pigs were something only found in fairy tales and Old Yeller.

old yeller

(Me, almost 50 years old, sobbing: He was such a good dog. You stupid pigs!)

Better the devil you know, right? At least in Utah I only have to worry about earthquakes, liquor laws, senior drivers, Sasquatch, BYU fans, tarantulas, the state legislature, elitism and the self-righteous. And the self-righteous don’t try to eat my head.

Why One Love Manchester Was a Big Deal

Remember in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch has raided the Who’s village, taken all their food and gifts, and stands on the top of Mount Crumpit waiting for the Whos to wake up so he can hear their crying and sobbing?

Grinch

At first, he believes he hears wailing in the streets. But he soon realizes what he hears is every Who down in Whoville singing in joy. And he’s absolutely perplexed.

When a terrorist attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, he stole they lives of many people; men, women and children. The monsters he worked with sat back to hear the wailing in the streets, and watch the fear. Probably with smug smiles on their fat f*** faces.

Instead, they heard joyous singing and a big F*** You from Ariana Grande who proved she has balls as big as her heart.

Devastated by the attack on her fans, Grande scheduled the One Love Manchester benefit concert and invited some of the biggest music stars on the planet to 1) raise money for the victims’ families, 2) show the terrorists she refused to be ruled by fear and 3) to prove that love conquers hate.

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Well said, cross-stitched unicorn.

Were people wary about attending another concert? Were parents scared to send their kids to a venue that could be dangerous? Of course, but the show sold out in minutes.

When we tremble with fear, when we refuse to travel, when we avoid festivals and public gatherings, these terrorist assholes sit back and laugh. But when we’re brave and are unafraid to show love, kindness and compassion, we win. Every time.

Keep singing.

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Yoga

No one told me once I started practicing yoga, it would destroy my life. I wish someone had mentioned the potential side effects before I took my first class. But it’s done and I can’t reverse the process. It would be like trying to un-melt a s’more.

If you’ve considered starting a yoga practice, it’s only fair I warn you about what you might experience. I hope you’re more prepared than I was.

  1. All the feels. It’s not that I was heartless, but once I took up yoga I became one of those people who get emotional about shit that never bothered me before. Like the planet and bumble bees and dolphins and other people*. Once you feel that connection, you don’t know how to stop it! It can be super annoying.stripmining
  2. You can’t gossip. Again, I wasn’t a horrible human but I could be judgmental, unforgiving and even mean. Now I can’t imagine being hurtful toward another person*. In fact, I avoid drama altogether. So if you enjoy being a mean girl (or guy), yoga will wring that right out of you. Sorry.
  3. You can’t enjoy food.  You’ll begin to notice how soda makes your stomach hurt or how eating five dozen Oreo cookies leaves you lethargic. Pretty soon you’ll start avoiding those foods because you feel so much better when you don’t eat them. Even worse, you’ll eat foods like spinach and grapefruit and almonds and Greek yogurt. See! Yoga sucks.
  4. You don’t give a shit what people think. As a card-carrying, lifetime membership people-pleaser, it was a tough adjustment to realize other peoples’ opinion of me don’t matter. Once I decided to take away their power to humiliate, shame or degrade me, I had to accept the fact that maybe they were wrong. Which leads us to . . .
  5. You connect to yourself. One day you admit you’re not happy. You admit you treat yourself like garbage. You admit that all those years of negative self-talk have screwed you up. When you realize that, you have to do something about it. And that’s super hard. You have to learn how to accept your weaknesses without criticism, but also accept your worthiness without cynicism. Suddenly your default mode can’t be “skeptic” or “sarcastic.” It’s like re-learning how to walk.maxine

So if that list of side effects doesn’t dissuade you from purchasing a yoga mat and walking into a class, you’re on your own. You’ve been warned.

 

*Donald Trump is excluded for now. I’m not that good at yoga.

Irreplaceable: Carrie Fisher

A piece of my heart died on Tuesday when I heard Carrie Fisher had passed away. She changed my childhood and rewrote what it meant to be a powerful woman.

When I was a young girl, Princess Leia was everything I wanted to be. Brassy and brave, and full of swagga while carrying a blaster and saving the galaxy in a floor-length dress.

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In later years, my admiration grew. She was so willing to talk about things no one discussed, and so willing to be her own wonderful self. She was never a damsel in distress, never a maiden looking for her white knight. Carrie Fisher was already complete and goddamn fine with who she was.

Here’s why I loved her:

Her razor-sharp wit. Who knew a woman could be funny AND smart AND successful AND throw norms out the window? She was a knee-slapping, rip-roaring, pee-leaking, side-splitting, cheeks-hurting comedic genius. If she’d survived this heart attack, she would have written a brilliant book about her experience and the subsequent media ape-shitting that followed.

Her honesty. She said, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” She was brutally honest about her addiction and mental illness.She shared her struggle without glossing over the messy bits–and threw in heavy doses of dark humor.

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(If you haven’t read “Postcards From the Edge”, you need to buy a copy. Tuh-day.)

She never forgot her Star Wars roots. It’s hard to be a real-life super hero. Carrie Fisher was not Princess Leia. But she knew to millions of fans, she represented a rebellion against the Dark Side. She was gracious in her acceptance of that role and re-embraced it as General Organa. She continued to kick galactic ass, enthralling a whole new generation.

She was entirely herself. Carrie Fisher was not perfect. In a time when image is everything, she refused to believe that. She said offensive things. She pissed people off. She refused to be silent in regard to body-shaming and the unrealistic expectations imposed on women in the spotlight–and out of the spotlight.

She loved her French bulldog. Gary Fisher was one of the most pampered and recognizable pooches in Hollywood. With his Twitter account reaching  more than 10K followers, his posts following her death were heartbreaking as he faithfully waited for her to return.

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(Gary Fisher during yet another interview.)

Just like Gary Fisher and millions of fans, I’ll miss Carrie Fisher terribly. The world just got a little less funny, a little less sarcastic and a lot less beautiful.