And, of course, you can still Ask Me Anything.
phoniexflames asked: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you settle? And also, why?
I wish I had a more interesting answer for this one, but I'm really not sure. I'm agoraphobic, so I'm kind of an indoor pet. For a while, I considered moving to Guam, but that was over a decade ago when my grandparents still lived there. There was some appeal to just simplifying and learning to sail and not working a retail job. I've also thought about Seattle; I had a cousin who lived there and seemed to love it.
Living in Illinois can be tasking at times, especially as the state is running out of money and can't get its budgets right. I wish I lived somewhere with fewer people, socialized medicine, and no snow. I cannot stand the snow. It's an anxiety trigger for me and I'd be fine to be rid of it.
Where's somewhere with socialized medicine that covers therapy and a beach that has good wifi and a solid food delivery system?
abc asked: Thoughts on turning 40?
My most common thought on turning 40 is: Wasn't I just 20 a few weeks ago? Being on the cusp of 40 feels surreal; there are so many ways in which I haven't grown up at all, and other ways in which I feel impossibly old. I never really planned to be 40, I guess. I never thought about what it would be like. It's kind of weird, but I just never thought of a future past my mid-thirties. Earlier tonight I was watching a chunk of That Thing You Do! on TV and was thinking about how I went to see it in the theater in 1996 when I was about to turn 20. Because I developed memory problems over the years, it seems off to me somehow that I remember going to see that movie so viscerally--alone on a Saturday afternoon at the Oakbrook Terrace Mall, where I bought myself some popcorn and a soda--as though it was just the other day, and it's been two decades since. Life is weird.
So... no coherent thoughts on turning 40, maybe. I just hope I handle it better than I handled turning 35, when I had a bit of a crisis that became a long depression.
Lindsey Kelley has three questions. First: What are some of your favorite cartoons? Like, top five?
I can think of a couple of different ways to interpret that question, just because I'm me and I overthink. I'm just going to pick, at random, my five favorite pieces of animation, short or feature: The Snowman (a Christmas staple), It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (a Halloween staple), Bambi (my favorite Disney movie), a wonderful short animation called Sunbeam from 1980, and the "Recobbled" fan edit of Richard Williams' The Thief and the Cobbler, which in that version is the greatest animated film I've ever seen.
Second question: What's the worst book you've ever had the misfortune to read?
I've summarized them both here: Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey are possibly the two worst novels ever written. I feel like I'm cheating a little, since I read them both as blog projects.
The worst book I read in high school (for my sophomore English class) was A Separate Peace by John Knowles, which is probably the only book I read for an English class that I just flat-out hated. (And then we watched the movie, which was even worse.) I found it dull and whiny where it wanted to be a compelling meditation on envy. Knowles also just didn't realize he was writing about repressed homoeroticism, so instead of being honest with itself, the book just contrives a forgettable conflict. I don't know why we had to read that thing. That was about as relevant to kids in 1992 as a gee-haw whammy diddle. (Which, by the way, I had one of, which my Grandpa gave me, and which gave me a second or two of joy, which is more than I can say for that book.)
Third question: In your opinion, who's the funniest comedian working right now?
There aren't a ton of stand-ups that light me up right now, but I love Bridget Everett. I love her cabaret type of show. It always makes me laugh. I also loved Eugene Mirman's most recent album, I'm Sorry (You're Welcome). The last stand-up specials I think I dug were by Kumail Nanjiani, Jen Kirkman, and Aziz Ansari.
Roger sent me a few questions that I'll get into on the next Answers post, but for now I'll mention that he asked me to share my thoughts about Harambe the gorilla and the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. There's been a lot of folk making comments about it on the internet, and I've tried to avoid really digging into it. Roger himself wrote a post about internet mob justice and the outrage over what happened. I think there's a lot of raw anger that's come out of this that I don't like dealing with after a decade of blogging. (Part of my anxiety disorder is that I can't always process anger and confrontation, which makes me defensive and frustrated, and a lot of my internet friends and acquaintances have been saying a lot of angry things.)
When I first heard the story, it made me think of Binti Jua, who saved a boy that fell into the gorilla enclosure at Tropic World at the Brookfield Zoo twenty years ago. The Brookfield Zoo is my zoo, and I've been there many times. My wife's favorite animal is the gorilla, so we've been to that enclosure and seen Binti Jua a lot of times over the years. A lot of people seem to have thought of that when Harambe was shot, and used that moment to somehow "prove" that the handlers at the Cincinnati Zoo made an error in judgment. There's been a lot of blame in this incident, and a lot of racism, and a lot of judgment, and a bit of anti-zoo sentiment that I don't necessarily agree with. (In short, I don't think zoos are the problem, I think shitty zoos which are run poorly are the problem.)
I don't really have anything to add, which is why I've been staying out of it. Someone had to make a tough call that I'm glad I didn't have to make, and a child's life appeared to be at risk. I understand why we're mad that Harambe was killed; western lowland gorillas are majestic animals, and they're endangered. I don't think it's useful to blame the parents because a kid slipped into a dangerous situation; that happens sometimes. I nearly got myself killed a lot of times as a stupid kid. That's how kids are. It's tragic, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes bad shit happens and there are sad consequences. Maybe that sounds trite, but what else can I say? It's easy to armchair quarterback it the next day when you've got no personal stake in it. I wasn't involved, so who the hell am I to say what everyone who was should have done? I just don't think the outrage is going to solve anything.