The Oreo Cookie Balls Song feat. JINX

About That Kool-Aid

Julia Scheeres, on writing about the Jonestown Massacre.

The more I understood what actually transpired in Jonestown, the more offended I became by the notion that Jones’ victims “drank the Kool-Aid.” I felt a duty to defend them, to tell the true story of what happened in Jonestown…

That unfortunate phrase has worked its way into the cultural lexicon, but few young people know of its Jonestown origins or how offensive it is to Jones’ victims…

As you’d imagine, the phrase offends survivors. It reduces a mass tragedy to the level of banality…

Is it time to stop using the phrase, “drink the Kool-Aid”? Setting aside questions of sensitivity and appropriateness and how long, the answer to this specific question is no. The time to stop making this joke would have been the first time someone made this joke—if it’s inappropriate or hurtful now, which is hard to deny, then if anything it was more hurtful yesterday, last year, and thirty years ago. I suppose you could argue that it has always been time, and therefore it is technically still t—[A MAN DRESSED AS A LAPTOP BURSTS THROUGH THE WALL AND SHOUTS:]

Never mind then!

New York City, November 17, 2014

weather review sky 111714[No stars] Rain dripped on the pigeons, but they kept pursuing their pigeon-business. The ambient morning air was not necessarily cold, but the rain settled the question. Paper garbage was dissolving to pulp. From Houston Street, there was no Empire State Building uptown, and nothing much taller or more distant than City Hall downtown. By early afternoon the rain was a saturating downpour, as heavy as a summer storm, sending bubbles down the flooded gutters. Deep flowing water stretched away from the curbs for a yard, two yards. Headlights coming up Lafayette caught the spatter of the rain hitting the sheeted water. The least presentable everyday canvas sneakers were now demoted to be the rain-soaked ones, chilly and sloshing, nearly sliding out from under the body with a hasty step into a wet-floored subway car.

Statements That Sound Transparently Ridiculous When Delivered by an Avatar That Is Literally a Picture of Money, In Order

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What It Cost Me to Make Each Minute of My Six-Minute Film

4422246127_a72844868e_zThe initial budget for our short was $3500.

In January, I projected that my husband and I were due for a $3500 tax refund, and I asked him, “Hey, can I have that to make a movie?”

He said “Sure!”

I was sitting on a short script that felt like the best writing I’d ever done—a five-page prelude to a feature I’d been developing for several years—and it had been too long since I’d directed anything.

So I called a meeting with Melia, my writing partner, who would also star in the film, and Jon, our producer, who would double as the cinematographer, and told them, “Hey, let’s make a movie! I’ve got $3500.”

Jon told me $3500 sounded tight. He said, “We can make something great for $4500.”

I laughed. Producers always want more money. It’s their job to ask for more money. So we pretended the budget was $3500, and I hoped we could do it for $4000, and Jon of course was right all along.

“When you’re working in a really tiny space, building a communication tool and trying to express an idea for people who are going to look at it for fractions of a second, you’ve got to be really ruthless with how clear you are. My greatest contribution is probably the little flies flying around the poop [emoji]. It brings it to life. It’s timeless. You could smell it. It’s in this moment.#

Election Season in Sierra Leone

election

In October 2012, I went to Sierra Leone to cover the elections, the first without a peacekeeping presence since the end of the civil war. I didn’t have to wait long before I ran into Reagan Bush, a man gifted in the art of mocking earnest American writers. I met him in a bar that was just a concrete hutch decorated with warm cans of Fanta and baggies of plantain chips. When Andy and I walked in, looking for a quick lunch on our way into the jungle, we saw two drunk police officers. Before long, the bald, skinny one staggered over to our table.

“Ah, you are American! I love America. My name is Reagan Bush!”

“America kills its enemies,” he said, swaying drunkenly, waving his arms. “China, Russia, France, England, they are all—” here Reagan Bush kicked the air. “Qaddafi killed Americans. Now where is Qaddaffi?” Reagan Bush slid a finger across his throat. “Osama bin Laden killed Americans! Now where is bin Laden? Where is he?!”

“He’s dead,” I said.

“I support Nick Romney,” he said, “because he says he will kill the enemies of America. Jimmy Carter was a very weak president.” He then named all the US presidents since Nixon, recited their years in office, and considered whether they were strong or weak. “If anyone gives you any trouble, call me. I will kill him,” he added. He wrote down his phone number with handwriting that was admirably neat for a drunk man. After a final round of congratulations, Reagan Bush lurched out into the street.

You Don't Know Jack About Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

You Don’t Know Jack About MSTM was created for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their loved ones by Jack Osbourne, in partnership with Teva Neuroscience. The vision was to start a new conversation about MS ­ to dispel myths, educate and help patients manage their disease. To bring a personal connection to the program, Jack shares his journey and experience with MS to emphasize the importance of patient and family support and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

As part of You Don’t Know Jack About MSTM, Jack and Teva created online documentary series, webisodes, to show people that while relapsing­remitting multiple sclerosisn (RRMS) is a part of his life, it’s not controlling his life.

Watch the full webisodes, learn more about MS and discover additional resources to help manage the disease at www.youdontknowjackaboutms.com


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The Best Time I Peed On Myself

Diet-Pepsi-CanDiabetes Mellitus was the first disease I made amateur study of. Years before I was born, my brother Danny was diagnosed with juvenile-onset diabetes, and I grew up watching him prick his fingertips with a horrifying device called an Autolet—essentially a spring-loaded thumbtack—a half-dozen times per day. Autolet technology has advanced, but back then, producing a single gleaming drop of blood to be placed on the end of a test strip required incredible fortitude. Nearly everything Danny ate was measured and weighed, and he was measured and weighed, and weights and measurements became extremely important in all regards. Urine was tested for evidence of ketones, which I found gross and exciting.

Because it didn’t touch his blood sugar levels, Diet Pepsi became a thing that my brother and I obsessed over and coveted endlessly. Privately, we called it The Peps. In conversation, we replaced the word insolence with insulin. One time when I was ten, I tried to stick my finger with his Autolet, but got too frightened at the last moment and ran from his room with true fear in my heart.

Bound by the rituals of his disorder, as far as I could tell, Danny neither loathed nor prized this failure of his immune system—he couldn’t recall another way of living. Daily, I watched him puncture and inject, my fascination stretching to school projects, year after year, peaking in grade five. Collecting several used hypodermics from his trash, an empty bottle of insulin, and a handful of fresh cotton balls, I arranged them in a shoebox like a biohazardous horn of plenty.

The scent of rubbing alcohol makes me feel tender, nostalgic.

How to Successfully Hijack Your Family's Thanksgiving

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A few years ago, I decided I would no longer be a passive consumer of food at Thanksgiving, but an integral part of the cooking process. My family’s Thanksgiving is mildly progressive: It begins with a platter of lox and chopped liver (which I thought was a traditional Thanksgiving starter until I was fifteen); our sweet potatoes are twice-baked, with dried cranberries and pecans; our gravy is an elaborate concoction of turkey stock and mushrooms and roux; and our pumpkin pie is sometimes a whipped pumpkin mousse.

To this, I decided I would add a vegetable, and settled on Brussels sprouts, done in a sort-of Momofuku style, deep-fried and served with a fish sauce vinaigrette. I didn’t have a deep fryer, so it took hours to make as roommates stood by with bags of flour and pot lids ready to stamp out any fire that might be caused by me basically just guessing at how to deep fry with a four-dollar thermometer and a soup pot full of oil. It turned out really tasty, I thought. When I brought them out, crispy and browned on a big platter with a nice gravy boat full of my perfect sweet/sour/umami/spicy vinaigrette, I thought I’d be the toast of Thanksgiving. For years to come, my family would say, “Remember Dan’s Brussels sprouts? Hope he brings those again this year. And also his anecdotes were really charming.”

I placed a few sprouts on my mom’s plate, dressed them with the vinaigrette, and waited. She tried one. “Oh,” she said. “It’s really interesting.” The sprouts remained at the end of the meal, maybe half gone; I probably ate most of them. But I learned my lesson: Thanksgiving is not a time to be edgy, trendy, or challenging. But! I think there are a few ways to bump up the tastiness of Thanksgiving while still staying true to the flavors and themes of the meal. And, guess what? They all involve fruits and vegetables.