Adventures in Free Stock Photography: Women in the Vicinity of Books

Adventures in Free Stock Photography: Women in the Vicinity of Books

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I would love to take you on a magical forest adventure—really, I would—it’s just that Middlemarch isn’t going to finish itself, you see. Very sorry.”

“If I stay here long enough, global warming will carry me somewhere fun.”

“None of Sarah’s bullshit up here.”

“Oh, Mephistopheles. You’re my only real friend.”

“Honestly, Hermoine? Let Lavender have him. You need Ron like I need a desk.”

“I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME, LAWRENCE. THE TRAIN CAN WAIT FOR MR. DARCY TO PROPOSE.”

United Nations Resolution: Millennial Development Goals

United Nations Resolution: Millennial Development Goals

The General Assembly,

Noting that of all the global crises, calamities, pestilences, and plagues that this General Assembly has sought to solve since its inception in 1941, there is none more dire than irrelevance,

Recalling that Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, in the due process of this 92nd Plenary Meeting of the 72nd General Assembly, patronized on Tuesday evening the Fickle Fork Pub in Brooklyn,

Noting that neither Secretary General Guterres, nor any members of this General Assembly for that matter, typically engage in such trivial matters,

Recognizing Tuesday Night Trivia as an obvious exception,

Noting that of nine teams assembled at the Fickle Fork for such competitive purposes, only the team including the incumbent Secretary General of the United Nations successfully answered the question “Who is the Secretary General of the United Nations?” in the bonus round titled “B-List Leaders,”

Noting whispered answers from a team in the adjacent booth of “Emma Watson spoke at that once, right? It’s kind of like TEDx?”

Noting that the trivia jockey had not updated his answer set since incumbent Secretary General Guterres replaced Ban Ki-Moon in 2016, and was summarily corrected by Secretary General Guterres himself,

Hereby resolves and adopts these Millennial Development Goals, namely,

1.      Brunch goals: that all hunger for avocado toast shall be eradicated by 3pm each Sunday,

2.      Squad goals: that all freelance journalists on networking outings shall be freed from the confines of strip mall escape rooms without violence,

3.      Relationship goals: that lovers of all nations shall respect international borders and official labels or lack thereof, as the heart desires, and that all shall have a right to create witty wedding hashtags with whomever they please,

And furthermore resolve to select a trending news aggregator to receive leaked documents strongly suggesting that Ban Ki-Moon is the formal name of Banksy Moon, commonly known as street artist Banksy, whose coffee table books will now be sold in the UN gift shop,

And hereby adjourn this body until the next Plenary Council and Chill.  

Santa Claus Taking Time Off This Christmas to Practice for the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

Santa Claus Taking Time Off This Christmas to Practice for the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game

To the massive dismay of children and parents everywhere, Santa Claus announced in an official press conference that he is taking time off this Christmas to focus on training for the NBA Celebrity All-Star game.

Santa said the Association has been asking every year for quite some time, and he didn’t want to accept the offer until he felt like he was completely ready. He elaborated that the unfathomable amount of milk and cookies he’s eaten every year has kept him from feeling like he had it in him to get out on the court with skilled players like Jason Sudeikis, or former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

When asked why he suddenly decided to play this year, Santa said it was about not waiting around anymore for his dreams.

“I’m 1,748 years old, and I’m not getting any younger. It just felt like it was now or never. This year, I needed to do something for me. I also just love that Kevin Hart. He’s a very funny guy. I’m excited to meet him and he’s always at these games. I want to meet Drake too, but I’m not getting my hopes up yet.”

Santa says he feels very good about his chances in the game after a few practices at home.

“I have been dominating the elves back at the Pole. After a few shut-outs, I started letting them get on one another’s shoulders, but I’m still doing very well. You know I hate to be braggadocious, but I’ve been stuffing the presents in the chimney, so to speak.”

Santa went on to let out a room shaking laugh at his own comment.

With this decision, Santa leaves current head elf Pepper Minstix in charge of typical Christmas duties. When we asked Mr. Minstix how he feels about the opportunity he seemed to be unaware of the announcement.

“He decided what now? Oh Fudge.” Only he didn’t say fudge. 

Female Comic: A Me Too Story

Female Comic: A Me Too Story

The most offensive thing that has ever happened to me, as a woman in comedy, took place at a show back in 2010.

I was at least 20 pounds underweight at the time, and the host, a man human, got up after my set and said out loud, into the microphone, “She looks like Ann Coulter.”

I can not describe to you what it felt like in that moment, because I was very drunk and had taken a painkiller, and I was preoccupied with trying to buy blow while also texting with my ex boyfriend to see if we could hang out, but I only wanted to hang out if we could do drugs together, but he wasn’t being clear as to whether he had drugs or was in the process of getting some, and it was complicated because part of me was like: “I feel bad because I know he’s still in love with me, and I don’t want to lead him on, but I really like cocaine.”

My point is, my plans fell through and I ended up obsessing over Senator Joseph McCarthy while vigorously masturbating—a Me Too moment, not to be forgotten. 

Oates’ Last Words

Oates’ Last Words

Oates stands up and he’s all like, “I’m just going outside, I may be some time.” Then he pauses, all dramatic like. After a bit of silence, he goes, “I may be some time!”

Scott was just like, “I heard yer the first time.”

And Oates was like, “It’s a euphemism.”

So we was all like, “Oh, you’re going for a shit!?” We’d all been thinking he was about to kill himself.

“I thought you were about to kill yourself,” says Scott.

And Oates goes, “I am.”

So we was all a bit confused by this. Then Scott says, “Erm. . . Bye, then.”

Then Oates only goes and get all narky, and he’s like, “None of you care?”

We all kinda looked at each another, and then eventually Scott says, “To be honest, I was thinking ’bout the extra rations.”

“Me too.” Says Bowers, and the rest of us kinda mumbled in agreement.

“You’re jumping ahead a bit,” Oates goes, “I’m not out the tent yet!”

There was a totally stinging pause. All of us kinda looking down at our frozen toes and minimal rations. We could feel Oatesy, like, totally staring at us. Eventually Scott goes, “You going then?”

And Oates was like, “Aren’t you even gonna note down my last words? I worked on them.”

So Scott opens his stupid diary, what he’d been keeping, and goes, “Was that them?”

Oates went a bit mental at this. “No! It’s the I-may-be-some-time bit.”

“You said that ages ago,” says Scott. “And if you keep talking, I can’t be getting your last words, can I?”

So Oates, all huffy like, goes, “Fuck it! I’m going outside and may be some time.” Then steps out the tent, lettin’ in a great blast of cold air, then slapping the tent-flap as hard as he could.

We sits there for a few second till he’s out of earshot. Then Bowers goes, “If you’re noting that down, I’d take the ‘Fuck it’ off the front.”

Scott was like, “I have.”

I Am Resigning as Attorney General So I Can Finally Bring the Talking Rabbit to Justice

I Am Resigning as Attorney General So I Can Finally Bring the Talking Rabbit to Justice

Mr. President,

I have had great fun during my time as Attorney General of the United States. The last two years have gone by in a flash–time surely does fly when you’re doing what you love, cracking down on outlaw gangs and beating your chest at press conferences like the Wild West bad boys of old. Through ups and downs, I have cherished the friendships I’ve made along the way. A long, strange trip indeed.

However, the more time I spend behind the desk of my dream job, the more I am unsettled by an ever present force. A persistent villain lurking in the shadows of my periphery.

The big, talking rabbit is still at large, and I fear I may be the only man capable of stopping him.

Since my earliest days, even before I was cutting my teeth on the selective prosecution of black activists in the 1980’s, the rabbit has haunted me. Ours is a conflict that predates my lifelong quest for unilateral justice and the stoking of racial tensions under the guise of economic anxiety–a conflict that predates my existence entirely. He is an ageless trickster, a primordial evil; and I his mortal nemesis, the other side of a fatal coin, the vessel through which he must be destroyed.

I cannot in good faith continue my work until he is in the ground for good.

This is not an easy choice for me to make, Mister President, but I understand your concerns about my ability to perform this job to its fullest extent while the Bastard Rabbit consumes me. Every time I close my eyes I am greeted by his smug visage. Gnawing on his carrot, inquiring about the doctor, shoving his leporine finger into the barrel of my shotgun and causing it to backfire. The stress has torn my family apart, and more tragically, it has affected my work to an unbearable extent.

That is why I am conceding to your request for my resignation. I hope one day we may meet again, Mister President, once I have destroyed this burden of my conscience, the lodestar of my unceasing nightmares.

Until then, I must pack my things and recede into the woods for an undetermined period of time. Fear not, though, for I will not fall for the cur’s tricks. I will not play his mind games. I will not be seduced if the talking rabbit disguises himself as a sexy female rabbit.

Best wishes, and may we both live to see the large, talking rabbit burn in the deepest recesses of Hell.

Yours Truly,

Jeff Sessions, Former Attorney General of the United States of America

Odysseus Butthurt

Odysseus Butthurt

Beer number one. He arches an eyebrow at me and there he goes: “You have not preserved your legacy well.”

The Reviewer has been to Athens, Thessaloniki, couple other spots, and he is not satisfied.

My speaking turn breaks off mid-sentence. The expat protocol of international courtesy tilts, crashes, awaits hard reboot.

“…What?”

He repeats, voice low with foreboding like I blew a deadline.

“You have not preserved your legacy well. The ruins. It’s a fact.”

He’s for real. I am now the subject of a physical TripAdvisor review, spokesperson for our entire poor-yet-happy trimillenial people. Cavities already tightening.

“What do you mean?”

The Reviewer is out for blood, his pauses heavy with the ritual determinism of a Eurogroup meeting: “All you have is tiny bits of wall where you say ‘this is where something was.’ Well… ok.”

I gather my wits. The Reviewer has been bestowed upon us from lands beyond dear old Albion, but he regards me with the stern consternation of a disapproving English committeeman, sharpening his fact-made knives. Is this how TripAdvisor always works?

Sap that I am, I roll the kicker off my tongue and give it to him.

“So, you saw the Parthenon–”

“It’s in terrible… condition.” Voice even lower now, jawline tilted slightly inwards for dramatic effect, faintly nodding at his own words. Holy shit, the old story all over again. The Balkanians can’t take care of their marbles.

“Erm, no it isn’t–”

“It’s in terrible… condition.”

Aghast! Swirl of confusion! I was on the Acropolis a couple years ago, and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m tweaking my own memories in a subconscious bit of nationalist conditioning. Or could it really have gotten so bad in the meantime, the Fourth Horseman of the Syriza Age? Did these grumblers working the hill spill mustard on our Acropolis in a union picnic? I think about international archaeological communities roaring with outrage, cascades of one-star Google reviews, libertarians demanding our immediate conversion into a protectorate, Milo Yiannopoulos slicing off his one Greek buttock in penance.

The Reviewer smells the sizzle on the sacred cow steak of punctured Hellenic pride, which he obviously appreciates as a rare treat.

“Yes, I’m sorry to hurt your Greek feelings, Stratos. It’s a fact.”

Back up. Earlier I had mentioned the comparison drawn these days between Athens and Berlin, the former undergoing a poor-but-sexy artistic and bistro-culinary bloom evoking the latter. Two cities, not world-class pretty, filled however with hidden goodies. But the Reviewer would not have it. He had arched eyebrows over cold no-bullshit eyes and laughed it off: “Germany? Europe’s top GDP? Well…”

The Reviewer had been to Berlin but I wasn’t sure he caught its drift. But anyway it doesn’t matter; as a comparison, Berlin was off by a million. Things were really bad. Because apparently, Athens is…

“…like Belgrade”, as he declares in passing. True; the Orthodox brothers also boast a vibrant capital mixing East with West. But that’s not what he was going for.

“Just as soon as you leave the main streets, it looks like Belgrade.”

Later, I would picture clueless tourists wandering off into Exarcheia, cursing at the treacherous lack of shrines to Apollo. It’s not a new theme, or unjustifiable – I’ve seen Athens included in a Bottom 10 with this reasoning. Then again, the combination ticket Athens sold, had what, seven major archaeo sites? Couldn’t they have done that? Are they not into paying to get into places?

Belgrade, Berlin, GDP. A pattern emerges. What does he care about Germany’s GDP? Does he travel by GDP? Is he gonna catch ‘em all?

But I’m not thinking all that right now. Now I still intend to educate, unrolling an old scroll of knowledge to plead a case for Athens being effectively dead as an urban center in the centuries between antiquity and modernity, only to sprawl chaotically afterwards.

“Yes,” he retorts, “that’s when the problem started.”

So much for knowledge. He continues to intone “it’s a fact” like a mantra over my hastily weaved apologetics. Somewhere down the line Bro #2, still in good spirits, butts in: “Come on man, they were stealing all their stuff!” but his voice is lost amid the dueling strings of lofty academic debate:

“Well, it’s a Balkan city.”

“Ah! But Greeks don’t like to be called a Balkan country. They say they’re… Mediterranean.”

“We’re also that. Like Spain.”

Eyebrows full-on: “Spain is in the Balkans!?”

“No, Spain is Mediterranean.”

“Spain is not in the Balkans. Spain is in the Iber… Iberic Peninsula.”

“Yes.”

“It’s just that when we think of Europe we think something more like… the Colosseum.”

“When you think of Europe you think of the Colosseum?”

“Yes. Like Rome. We have this childhood image of Athens and Rome. Like a postcard.”

“You can’t really compare Athens to Rome. Rome was always a metropolis.”

“Yes. They’re hyping Athens up.”

“…”

“In Rome all the ruins are much better preserved.”

“They’re newer.”

Laughs. “What, five hundred years?”

“Um, yes.”

Guffaws, intoxicated by his own sarcastic menace.

“What’s five hundred years? It can be ten thousand years old and well preserved! Why couldn’t you preserve yours?!”

The Facts!

Bro #2 takes a pee break. As if a wrestling bell had sounded off in a Taiwanese parliament, the review ends. I avoid eye contact, my airspace heavy with premonitions of a substandard people downcast to endless lifetimes of mandatory labor in the tourism industry. Lift that stone, you maggot Rhodeans! The Reviewers could be here this off-season! I need that Colossus recreated BEFORE the next debt restructuring talks, not AFTER!

With a wink-wink, the Reviewer offers: “it’s a fact!” and I can feel that in some untended brain part of his, he believes that’s how friends are made.

 

Having completed his mission, the Reviewer doffs the truth warrior armor, settles into his familiar guarded yet unfocused body language and asks me how come I haven’t played God of War. Apparently I’m the target group. But then he says, “Ah yes, in the last one they have Norse gods”, and proceeds to relay to me the storyline of the first three games, which only have Greek gods. Αnd in fairness it sounds kinda cool, though perhaps I could have done without “you fuck Aphrodite.”

Later I would imagine a younger, wide-eyed Reviewer, sighing over a daydream of the movie 300. Elsewhere, vanquished Athenians, re-Ottomanized by their corporate overlords, go to bitter work remodeling the Acropolis into a God of War theme park, to compete with the subsidiary down south, which runs authentic Spartan bootcamps aimed at hipsters with undercuts.

By beer three the morbid sideshow of his life’s upturned drawer slowly spilling its contents all over us has culminated into a Boschian mise-en-scene of post-Enlightenment void:

The Reviewer has a new girlfriend, prior to which he also seemed lonely but now he seems lonely and acts like an asshole. The Reviewer cares about money, but not too much: enough to tell me he wouldn’t blow as much as I on a personal trainer, not so much that he can’t get jokey about his and the girlfriend’s income disparity. Though she took it too seriously. The Reviewer does not believe in taking things too seriously. He brings up as an example of difficult personality a nerd who objects to him doing his nerd bashing. The Reviewer has read all the Game of Thrones books, liked Season 7, and has strong opinions on George Martin’s work ethic.

The Reviewer has curiously absorbed the local nationalist narrative, will spontaneously announce an odd anecdotal antisemitism, and is angling for a citizenship. The Reviewer only seems to get worked up about countries other than his own. He seems resigned to the idea of safety risks dissuading people from visiting it. The Reviewer shed tears at Hiroshima.

My pattern from beer one morphs into a theory that the guy works out a national inferiority complex by tailing countries he perceives as powerful and shitting on those that don’t have pretty streets. Quisling tourism.

#2 and I are hitting it off, but the Reviewer doesn’t look like he’s having a good time, despite his victory. Meanwhile he’s taken an ambiguous stance towards me, as if he doesn’t know what to do with our earlier mano-a-mano. I decide never to let him into the house lest he choke on a fucking flódni.

Time to go home. Weather’s gone to shit, ambivalent between summer shower and storm. Locals swearing at the sudden lack of smoking areas.

I take the umbrella out the backpack and head off to the tram stop on the right. The Reviewer stops me. He wants an umbrella ride to the tram stop on the left, which works for both of us.

I arch an eyebrow.

what the hell?

what the hell?

There was something missing. Couldn’t quite tell what it was. I tried cocking my head in various different directions and looking around, but try as I might, I couldn’t seem to understand why it was that I felt something was wrong. I was fairly certain that whatever it was that was wrong must have been right in front of my face at the time. I really had no idea, though. Clearly there WAS something wrong, though, wasn’t there? This is what I figured must have been the case, but pace around as much as I like, I couldn’t seem to figure out what it was that might have been wrong.

I turned to you to ask you what you thought about the situation. This is going to sound strange, but…you said nothing. It felt kind of rude to me at the time, but it’s okay. I wasn’t feeling offended for long before I was feeling foolish. You won’t remember turning to me. You won’t remember me asking you what you thought and you certainly won’t remember saying nothing because you weren’t there. No one was there. It felt kind of silly me asking you (or anyone) what they thought was wrong if neither you (nor anyone else) was actually there to refer to. 

So I was alone. Or at least, I didn’t seem to be seeing, hearing, smelling or acknowledging anyone else at that moment. So even if people WERE there, they weren’t there for me and so therefore I was alone. More or less. See: I figure there must have been other people around somewhere. It would be very, very silly of me to suddenly find myself completely alone in the world. As I was a someone it stood to reason that I would have come from someone else. So there must have been SOMEONE else who had been in the world at some point, right? 

Standing around there it really truly felt as though I at that moment had been all there was and I was alone all the time. Didn’t that make sense? But it didn’t did it? It didn’t make any sense at all because if it was to be me–if I was to be the only one who was there, then clearly there had to have been some reason for me being there and there had to have been some sort of causality that had led me to be there, which rather involved other people, right? And yet try as I might I couldn’t seem to remember having ever actually seen anyone else before. 

Clearly what I was seeing and hearing and feeling and such didn’t really seem to make much sense, so I just sort of decided that there were people there. And there WERE people there. But there was something strange about them. There were screams and agony and things like that, so I decided there weren’t people there..and if there WERE people there, they weren’t there like…THAT. They needed to be there some other way. Thinking about it a bit further, it occurred to me that it was quite entirely possible that there was something wrong about the situation.

The place already had existed otherwise how would there have been anything for me to feel off about? So clearly that much was okay, but…maybe if I just put something underneath it. Yes: clearly people and things needed to some place to be that wasn’t just all the space that seemed so imbalanced, so I decided that there was something underneath it all. And there was, which was good. 

The weird thing about it was that there really WAS a lot of like..water and land and things (and other things) that I couldn’t seem to see. So again: I felt kind of silly not having done this sooner, but I decided to turn on the lights…or maybe just acknowledge that the light was there or whatever.  And so there was light and there was shadow and I guess that’s when I remember that it all tended to move around over the course of a day or whatever and that’s when I sort of began to wonder exactly how long it had been that I had been standing there in the dark, but I figured I’d figure that out later because…y’know…look at all the creatures. 

Yeah…it was kind of weird suddenly seeing all those things swimming and crawling and flying and whatever the hell else they were doing at that moment, but none of them seemed to understand what was wrong either. They were just sort of swimming and crawling and flying and dying and having sex and all of that…y’know…way too busy to notice that there could be anything wrong or off about anything.  

I mean: y’know…it was cool and everything, but there was something off about it all that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I decided that you were there. And not just you but…y’know…ALL of you. You were all there. Just like that. And I decided that you all were kind a like me..only in different ways of course. And it was all cool and everything, but it was kind of exhausting coming to notice all of you out there, so I decided to take a day off from trying to figure it all out. 

And that’s kind of where I am now…I don’t know how long I’ve been resting or whatever, but I figure y’know…maybe you can help me figure out what’s wrong with everything. Because y’know…damned if I know what’s wrong. I mean: not to put any pressure on you or anything, but if you ever get the feeling that something’s wrong, just let me know. Because I can’t figure it out. If anything ever feels off, y’know…just let me know because I know something’s wrong. I just don’t know what the hell it is.   
Stiff Performance: Bruce Willis Uses Mannequin Double in Death Wish

Stiff Performance: Bruce Willis Uses Mannequin Double in Death Wish

Surrogates star Bruce Willis has caused a stir in the film community by sending a life-sized plastic dummy of himself to play the role of protagonist Paul Kersey in his latest release, Death Wish.

While fans of the film initially chalked up Willis’s complete lack of emotional expression and uncanny, unblinking stillness as standard action hero badassery, critics were quick to notice that the man acting opposite the likes of Vincent D’Onofrio and character actor Dean Norris is not Bruce Willis at all, but is instead an articulated mannequin bearing his likeness.

Willis defended his choice to use the dummy in an interview with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,  during which he explained that he used the same acting technique in A Good Day to Die Hard.

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” said Willis. “Why is it worse to use the double in a movie people may actually see?”

 

Sorry Class, I Was Daydreaming About Rolling Over My Desk and Shooting a Gun out of an Attacker’s Hand

Sorry Class, I Was Daydreaming About Rolling Over My Desk and Shooting a Gun out of an Attacker’s Hand

Whoa! Hey class, when did you get here?

Sorry about that. I was just daydreaming about grabbing my Desert Eagle from my unlocked desk drawer, performing a perfect tactical roll over my desk, and shooting the AR-15 out of a lone gunman’s hands.

You have to admit, that’d be pretty sweet. Guy comes in here, armed to the teeth, and who else is there to stop him in his tracks but ol’ Mr. Gordon? Imagine his surprise when, before he’s even able to fold out his bump stock, I’ve drawn my weapon, leapt into a textbook Crouching Isosceles stance, and shot a singular bullet right down the barrel of his assault rifle.

And then the barrel would explode, peeling back in four perfect curls like that dog’s head in John Carpenter’s The Thing, leaving the attacker’s face totally covered in soot. Amazing!  

Stephanie, why are you crying? Do you need to go to the bathroom?

Come on, there’s nothing to worry about! Once Mr. G is allowed to carry a concealed firearm in the classroom, you kids will never have felt safer. Rest your little hearts knowing that, in the event we’re ever accosted by a would-be mass murderer, I’d fearlessly kick over a desk for cover before shooting the rifle out of his hands. Piece of cake.

Maybe, while I was behind cover, he’d take a few shots at me – the bullet holes would make a perfect outline of my body, and I’d emerge unscathed. That’d be so cool!  

What should I name my soon-to-be gun? Something cool like, “The Dragon?” Or better yet, “Hrunting!” Get it? Get it, kids?

Uh-oh, someone didn’t read Beowulf like they were supposed to!

Why are you all so upset?

You’ll be thanking me when some crazed lunatic – perhaps even one of you – kicks down my door, fully intent on mowing us all down, and I leap into action, vaulting over my desk and throwing my copy of Bleak House at his head, distracting him just long enough to unsheathe my weapon and cleave his rifle in twain with a single, precise shell.

Stop crying, stop hugging each other! Cheer up! Imagine the attacker, unarmed and helpless, scrambling out of the room as I shoot at his feet, forcing him to dance like a sweaty, tactically-armored marionette! “Adios, Bart! But if you do come back, you’ll be pushin’ up daisies!”

Oops! There’s the bell. Where does the time go? No homework tonight. You kids enjoy the rest of your day.  We can talk more next time about how awesome it’s gonna be when I own a gun.