Stop Trying to Teach Your Fetus to Read

Okay, I know we all want the best for our kids, and it’s only natural to want to give your child every advantage you possibly can, but please — no matter what the experts are saying — stop trying to teach your fetus to read.

Gestation is a time for cell division and lung development, not academics. It used to be that we let our fetuses relax and play, swim, grow, kick. Now, we’re demanding they learn skills they just aren’t ready for — like breathing on their own, reading, calculus.

For years, we’ve heard that kindergarten is the new first grade, so it follows that the new kindergarten is the second trimester. But I’m telling you, no matter what the other parents in birthing class are doing, it’s too soon for worksheets and activity books.

Look, we all know parents-to-be who are cutting up flash cards into tiny pieces, chewing and swallowing them, and hoping that some of the bits pass into the amniotic sac to start their embryos off on the right foot bud.

And we all know women who’ve undergone procedures to have symbols and letters etched onto their uterine walls so that as soon as the eyes are sufficiently developed, there’s some mental stimulation going on in there.

But you don’t have to get caught up in all of it.

Sure, anyone would love to have their baby come out reading the name tag on the obstetrician’s lab coat and converting their own weight from pounds and ounces to grams, but choosing not to have a Lil’ Speller Phonics Station implanted in your womb doesn’t mean your baby won’t eventually catch up.

He will, probably.

And he might still get into a perfectly fine college, and get a decent job, be able to live on his own, have a meaningful, if ordinary, life. Not everyone is destined for greatness, of course.

Stop worrying. Let your kid crawl around in the sandbox, eat crayons, fall on his head a few times. There’s too much pressure these days anyway. Someone has to be below average for the stars to truly shine. You don’t need to teach kids anything, really. They pick things up on their own. Like dirt, and diphtheria.

So stop trying to teach your fetus to read, because if your fetus learns to read too, then my fetus will stop seeming so special. And he needs to be special in order to justify my existence. Please. I’m begging you.

(But if you really do want to teach your fetus to read, and nothing I say is going to dissuade you, I’m also selling my Fetus Reader kit for $199.95, complete with flash cards tiny enough to pass through the placental blood barrier and a daily multivitamin enriched with extra phonemes. Shipping and handling extra. No refunds.)

 

Who Ya Gonna Call in Case of Emergency

Something strange in your neighborhood: Ghostbusters

Something on fire in your neighborhood: Fire Department

Something weird and it don’t look good: Ghostbusters

Something swollen and it don’t look good: Hospital

Seeing things running through your head: Ghostbusters

Feeling things running through your head: Hospital

An invisible man sleeping in your bed: Ghostbusters

A visible man sleeping in your bed: Police

If you’ve had a dose of a freaky ghost: Ghostbusters

If you’ve had a dose of household cleaners: Poison Control

Finding Love Through Meetup Groups

The coalition of outdoor adventurers

You’re looking for a low-key hookup in a discreet location. You appreciate a little dirt under your fingernails, and you can tolerate, at least for one night, the notion that the combined scent of bug spray and sunscreen can be seductive. You may be overly confident about how nice your ass looks in athletic attire. Your middle name is Wilderness, but that’s probably because you don’t want this guy to know your real name.

Roller girls club

You’d like something that lasts longer than one night, but you’re not quite ready to wake up and cook breakfast for two. In fact, Hilary Clinton has inspired you to question whether or not a man is the way to go. Deep down, you know that you’ll settle down with a man, but you kissed a girl once and secretly hope that it will happen again, if only to confirm that it really was that much softer.

Renaissance festival

As a little girl, you knew princesses were a fantasy and that any boy who thought he needed to slay a dragon for you had been brainwashed by Disney movies. All these years later, you wouldn’t mind pretending that fairy tales exist for a day or two, which is to say you’d like to explore the kingdom a little, but you’re not ready to don a ball gown and glass slippers.

Geeks of the greater metropolitan area

You still want to have fun, but you’re ready to test out a longer commitment. No one here is trying to settle down anytime soon, although you’d all like to live long and prosper. You’re big into role playing, but you’ll eventually move on when too many members suggest a game that they affectionately call, “Kneel before Zod!”

Singles pub crawl

You don’t want to join Tinder, but you recognize that the concept of shoving a bunch of single and probably drunk people into a room may, possibly, fingers crossed, lead you to someone particularly swoon-inducing. You believe that at least some of your birthday wishes will eventually come true, if only the ones about wanting a pony. At this point, you’re pessimistic about finding love, but you’ll soon realize that things will turn around when you stop drinking vodka cranberries like they’re Diet Cokes.

20’s–30’s inspiration tribe

You know your lover is out there, somewhere, and you’re convinced that you’ll find him in the last place you look, which is pretty depressing to think about, because the last place you look will happen in the moment right before you die, but you’re sober and an optimist now, so you believe that partaking in random social events with strangers can fool fate into letting you meet Mr. Perfect a few years early. You acknowledge that you might have to settle for an overweight man with an aversion to deodorant. Inspirational quotes and teenage pop songs keep you believing that you’re destined for something greater.

Bitcoin consumer fair

You’re not a gold digger, but you enjoy a man who knows how to dress and believes in seemingly impossible ideals, such as true love and that someday the world’s strongest currency will be Monopoly money. You’re looking to settle down, and in order to accomplish that goal, you’re willing to commit yourself to a virtual relationship that may or may not develop any appreciable value.

5K race through your local cemetery

You’re exhausted from years of unfulfilling romance, so you’ve taken up running as a distraction. You’re looking for someone to grow old with, but unbeknownst to your conscious mind, you’re romantically stunted by outrageous beliefs, like that selecting burial plots is an appropriate first date. You’ll finish the race second, because you always finish second.

Singles speed dating

Hi.

Hi.

So, um…

Do you watch porn?

Did you seriously just ask me if I watch porn?

Yeah, sorry. I don’t get out much.

Community arts festival

You’ve lost all hope and are shopping for dark, twisted paintings that perfectly express your endless agony about never finding love. The painter who owns this particular booth is talking to another customer about sports, and you interrupt him by asking what music festival that is that invites so many bands with regional animal names. The painter laughs at you, which would normally be cause to smack him in the man parts, but this laugh makes you feel like he appreciates your blind confidence. You might not marry him, mostly because he smells like his paintings don’t sell well enough for him to afford running water, but dating him will at least remind you that finding true love is not some planned event.

The Lonely Planet Guide to ISIS

History
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a culturally rich caliphate with a long history. The area experienced its first heyday around AD 796 and its second heyday never.

Since the first millennium, things have become a little grittier in the Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa. This is varsity level travel. But adventurous souls should have no problem enjoying ISIS’s distinct culture (and delicious kibbeh!), as long as they are mindful of pickpockets and observe no other gods before Allah.

Getting There
Illegal, clandestine busses board at 3 a.m. in Damascus under the cover of darkness and the protection of Allah. Pro tip: Head to the station early and look for the falafel salesman with the green cart. His falafel is OK. More importantly, he’s the guy that sells the fake documents you’ll need to get into the Islamic State. They should run you about SYP 9500.00 (USD 50.00). The falafel goes for SYP 200.00 (USD 1.25).

While in transit, keep your passports handy. You’ll need to burn them when you cross the border.

Once you arrive in Raqqa, check the timetables in local papers for the Syrian Railway — as a joke! The Syrian Railway no longer serves the caliphate, because Allah has willed that infidels shall not have smooth passage into his chosen land.

Getting Home
No.

Fun Folks
No.

Internet Access
No.

Dating
No.

Medical Services
Eeeehhhh.

Bars
You guessed it.

Theater & Entertainment
Is a blasphemous offense under Shariah law.

Dining
See: Interrogation and other sections in which our travel writers reference things they ate.

Gay Venues
Super underground. Your best bet is to stand in the town square and just sort of put out the vibe. Not the easiest cultural area to traverse, but you can be sure you’ll get a truly authentic experience.

Sights
THE BAGHDAD GATE
The Bāb Baghdād (or Baghdad Gate, in the infidel tongue) was constructed in AH 155 (or AD 772, to use the crusader’s blasphemous calendar) by Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur as a fortification against the neighboring Ottomans. Originally the wall stretched around the entirety of the city. Now all that remains is a small section of the wall, facing Baghdad. Luckily, the glorious caliphate will once again vanquish all heretics and there will be no more need for walls in the world, God willing.

At this time, tours are sort of shitty. People are busy. There’s a jihad. Your best bet is to respectfully ask a local.

PUBLIC EXECUTIONS
The big executions start daily at 5 p.m. (between fourth and fifth prayers). Smart travellers arrive immediately after lunch as the crowds start lining up as early as noon for the matinee executions.

Pro tip: Rent a scooter or motorcycle for the event. Not only will it allow you to get across town fast, you can push up close to the action without blocking anyone’s view with your head. The Islamic State is not the kind of place you want to draw attention to your head being attached to your neck.

Not into the beheading scene? There are all sorts of dismemberments to be witnessed throughout the city, 24 hours a day. The venues change constantly so get a guide to show you the hottest spots for about SYP 300.00 (USD 2.00).

For a front row seat simply shout, “Thief!” and choose someone who looks guilty. Etiquette prescribes no flash photography while a shoplifter loses his right hand.

Getting Out of the City
The best way to get outside of the Islamic State’s sand-brick jungles is to grab a packed lunch and a submachine gun and head for noble jihad with the Lord’s chosen army. Hold on tight! You’ll be veiled in black on the back of a white Toyota truck before you can say “Deserts have potholes!? Oh boy!”

Why We Love the Islamic State
Admittedly, there are some things – the hot weather, the political instability, the traffic!! – that make the Islamic State a less-than-ideal place. But there’s so much more that makes it amazing. The food. The people. The traditions (Shariah law as practiced a thousand years ago, or maybe never! What???).

Does any other place have such a full-flavoured, no-holds-barred, insatiable, fanatical approach to rape and execution?

Not to mention: The architecture. The history. The slim possibility that writing this travel guide gets my sentence commuted.

For these reasons and more, we love the Islamic State.

 

All praise be unto Him.

All rights be reserved unto Lonely Planet.

Dear Bethenny Frankel

I know you sold Skinnygirl Cocktails for like a bajillion dollars years ago, but since you are queen of the remaining Skinnygirl empire, I am so very overdue in congratulating you on your achievements as a female business owner, and in thanking you for making it easier for me and my girlfriends to choose the right snacks and cocktails.

I love that while either low-calorie, fat-free, sugar-free, or all of these things at once, Skinnygirl products are also “guilt-free.” I too love ranch dip but hate its excessive guilt content. Your gluten-free ranch dip, made with low-fat yogurt, makes it simple and yummy for me to measure my value via nutritional content.

“At Skinnygirl, we applaud the ways in which you live a balanced life,” reads the Skinnygirl Fresh website, where readers can learn about reduced calorie hummuses made with Greek yogurt, because there are definitely way too many calories in the average dish of blended up garbanzo beans, and adding Greek yogurt to anything has a really slimming effect, “[…]and we’re right there with you when you want to go for it and enjoy the moment — without the guilt.”

Bethenny, every time I go for it with my hummus, I truly feel you are right there beside me going for it too, with a glass of low-cal Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo in hand. Cheers, girlfriend!

Skinnygirl Popcorn, which comes in mini bags (thanks for that, by the way — it is so hard to find food that is sized specifically for women) and sophisticated flavors like butter with sea salt and lime and salt, clocks in at an exciting 25 calories per popped cup. I appreciate this snack in particular, because I don’t even have to go through the trouble of eating it — I can pretend I ate it and get the exact same satiating effect, and save my mini bag for a time when it makes sense to burn as many calories chewing my food as I get from eating it. We need the convenience of net-zero foods in more of our grocery stores!

The reverse psychology angle you take with marketing the Skinnygirl lifestyle is totally fresh and clever. Like when you told The New York Times Magazine that diets don’t work, and the multibillion-dollar diet industry is a sham? Brilliant! Skinnygirl rule number nine, from your book Naturally Thin, is probably most exemplary of this innovative marketing approach: “Real food doesn’t come in a package. It doesn’t have a label. And it’s obvious, when you look at it, what it is: a banana, a chicken, a freshly baked loaf of bread.”

Who else is selling gazillions of packaged diet food products — with labels! — after telling people they shouldn’t buy packaged diet food products? The last part about chicken and bread is super-great in the way it drives home common sense stuff. Got to bring it down to the layman’s — oops, laywoman’s — level!

What really makes me hold the Skinnygirl brand in such high esteem is your selfless outreach. Let’s talk Skinnygirl on Campus, a program affiliated with Skinnygirl Daily, Internet-central for Skinnygirl nutrition bars (low-cal and kosher — way to knock those demographics out of the park!) as well as super-helpful blog posts on beating the freshman 15 and making skinny summer snacks.

What better place to debunk the myth that women require food in amounts greater than 200 calories than the modern-day American college campus? I only wish the opportunity to become a Skinnygirl Daily campus ambassador existed ten years ago, when I was in college and desperate to really do something with my self-loathing, anxiety, and body dysmorphia. It would be no problem for me to encourage 50 people to like Skinnygirl Daily on Facebook, or to regram five Skinnygirl Daily Instagram photos, and I would definitely skip a meal or two in order to present a seminar for my peers on the importance of the Skinnygirl lifestyle. I can’t believe ambassadors don’t have to pay any money to be a part of this program! And they get to add the experience to their resume? So generous, Beth, so generous.

Thank you, Bethenny Frankel, for teaching me and women everywhere how to “Drink Like a Lady,” and for showing us that the less we consume, the more we deserve.

With gratitude,

Amanda Bloom

A Friendly Reminder About Amber’s Baby Shower

Good morning, all. Just a friendly reminder that if you want to contribute toward Amber’s office baby shower, please stop by my desk to do so before the end of this week. If you’re not sure what to give to help make this celebration a success, below are some suggestions.

Food/drink

A baby shower is a party, and a party needs snacks — and drinks, including but not limited to hard alcoholic beverages. Amber’s something of a foodie, so any snacks should be as natural and expensive as possible. This goes for the booze as well. As a rule, wine is better than beer, and beer is better than mixed drinks. That said, those of us who know and love Amber know she loves her gin and tonics, so it would be great if someone could bring a few bottles of name-brand diet tonic water (unflavored, please), someone else could bring a bag of organic limes (and a knife!), and several people could each bring a handle of gin. Whatever we don’t finish at the shower, Amber can take home.

Drugs

No, not those! The legal kind, for both Amber and her baby! Vitamins are always a good gift for a new mother and a newborn. Amber takes a daily multivitamin, which she supplements with additional Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) pills. And Amber’s baby will probably need those liquid drops at first, at least until it grows some teeth and can chew tablets. Amber has not decided yet whether she’s going to breastfeed, but in case she does it would be great if someone with a connection could score extra Vitamin D for the little guy or gal.

Toys

Everyone knows that kids love toys, and babies are just very little kids! So if you know any full-sized children, maybe find out what toys they like to play with, and then see if those toys come in smaller versions? (If you’d like to buy Amber herself a toy, please email me privately for the name of a website I don’t quite feel comfortable putting in a company-wide memo.)

Shower/bath supplies

Have you ever wondered why it’s called a “shower”? It’s because the first showers were celebrations of a young woman reaching an age when she would begin to take her personal hygiene seriously. Shower gifts back then were actual shower items, such as soaps (decorative and functional), body brushes/loofahs, shampoos, conditioners, and those things you stick on the floor of the tub to keep from slipping and cracking your head open on the faucet. So if you want to go old-school, maybe give Amber a set of bamboo-fiber towels or a high-pressure shower head.

Money

Some people think it’s tacky to give cash as a gift, but I asked Amber and she said she would not be at all insulted. She also said that if anyone thinks it would be cute to give her lottery tickets, so that she might win a substantial amount of money, she would honestly rather have the cash. Or, if you were going to buy the lottery tickets in a liquor store, something else from there.

A baby

Some of you already know that Amber is not pregnant. We first scheduled her baby shower about a year ago, at which time we — and Amber herself — anticipated that she would be “with child” by now, but it hasn’t happened yet. In Amber’s own words, “I kinda forgot.” But the shower must go on…and indeed Amber would still very much like to be a mom, for a little while anyway, so if anyone could contribute a baby to the cause, that would be terrific. If more than one person is willing and able to give or lend Amber a baby, let’s please coordinate so that we don’t overwhelm the woman of the hour with rugrats.

Thanks, everybody! Can’t wait to see you in the break room at 11 a.m. next Wednesday!

p.s. Plates?

JARRED

A therapist’s office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, present day.

Therapist: Do you remember the day it began? Do you remember where you were?

Patient: Zabar’s.

Therapist: What did you notice first?

Patient: The raised print on the jars — the swirled font, and the words “Mason” and “Atlas.”

Therapist: Had you recently had a baby?

Patient: I don’t see the relevance.

Therapist Don’t you?

Patient: No.

Therapist: Do you own any how-to-make-baby-food cookbooks?

Patient: I have a friend who works in publishing.

Therapist: Are they illustrated?

Patient: No.

Therapist: No?

Patient: Yes. But not full page.

Therapist: Not full page?

Patient: OK, fine, full page. Full page color photographs. Are you happy now?

Therapist: Farmhouse sinks next to delicately spattered blenders? Freshly made buckwheat pancakes piled on blue china plates in the dappled morning sunlight?

Patient: Stop it. STOP IT.

Therapist: Let’s get back to your earliest memories. The first jars were brand new?

Patient: Yes. There were some Italian jars as well, with gold tops. They had no words. They were…fulsome. And they had bunches of grapes cut into the glass.

Therapist: A little bit of Tuscany at a deli on Broadway…

Patient: I bought a bunch. Then I went home and decanted everything I could find. I decanted cashews and peanuts. I decanted quinoa and I threw out the plastic bag with the cooking times and proportions, even though now I have no idea how to cook it. In a frenzy, I persisted. And then…

Therapist: Then?

Patient: I poured the remains of some animal crackers into the last jar. The broken cookie bits filled less than a quarter of the jar. Crumbs fell to the floor. I felt my pupils dilate. That hurts — but in a good way. I put all the jars above the sink.

Therapist: When did the scraping begin?

Patient: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Therapist: Don’t you?

Patient: No.

Therapist: What’s that gummy substance under your nails?

Patient: I don’t know, Sherlock, but I have a kid, so it’s probably related to that.

Therapist: When did you start the scraping?

Patient: (She exhales.) The baby was napping. I’d started washing dishes and I saw the Newman’s Sockarooni jar in the sink, its gaudy label masking that lovely glass…then I saw the glint of the jar’s golden top next to it and I realized I had a complete set! I began to peel. I worked a good two-thirds of the label off the jar. I began to sweat. I was so close. But…­­­­it was — gummy.

Therapist: So you scraped.

Patient: I scraped. Hard. I tried olive oil to loosen the glue but some of the paper stayed put. I put it through a dishwasher cycle but that only made the paper stick more. I had to give up on that jar eventually, but I was learning. The next time I used canola oil and it came off­­­­­ — cleanly!

Therapist: When did your husband notice?

Patient: One day I organized our child’s crayons in jars.

Therapist: Those Crayola boxes shred and it’s so hard to get them all back in the box, especially those 64 count ones.

Patient: Yes! YES! I divided the crayons by brand.

Therapist: Brand?

Patient: Yes. They make beeswax crayons now. All natural. I mean, who knows? But bees, you know?

Therapist: Yes.

Patient: At night I dream of rows of glass beside a hammock on a rainy day. I awake drenched in sweat, the sheets in a tangle, my mind in a torpor. The scent of freshly-cut grass hangs about me like a fog.

Therapist: Consider this: a jar begins as a vessel.

Patient: Oh!

Therapist: And then you…

Patient: Fill it!

Therapist: But once one is filled…

Patient: I see.

Therapist: Our time is up for today. Stay away from web sites featuring farms and home-schooling. Don’t make soup stock. Guzzle water from a bottle lined with BPA — while breastfeeding. You can conquer this.

Patient: (weeping) Do you really think so?

Therapist: I’m not going to lie. Once you’re in as deep as beeswax, it’s bad. It’ll be hard work.

Patient: Thank you, Doctor. Here’s your check.

Therapist: Leave it in the jar on your way out.

Patient: I—I don’t understand…

Therapist: Don’t you? (He sighs.) You think you’re so dark with your little secret? Yeah, I’ve got jars. We’ve all got jars. No one can manage this alone. It’s too big. Who doesn’t want to sail an antique boat in Cape Cod? You think I want to be stuck in this dark little office off of Lexington Avenue in the middle of August, with the soot on the ledge and the honking of taxis, eating processed food from newsstands for lunch? Or worse, getting a salad from Chopt in a plastic container? Let me have my etchings of sailboats and yes, my goddamned Mason Jars. I—I’m sorry. Forgive me. Just leave the check in the jar and have a great day.

Patient: I’m sorry Doctor; I didn’t mean to upset you.

Therapist: Just leave the check in the jar. (beat) WAIT. Don’t go.

Patient: Yes?

Therapist: The jars. You fill them and the void inside you only grows.

Patient: I understand.

Therapist: I know you do. But — you’re married.

Patient: MY HUSBAND DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ME! Well, he doesn’t understand about the jars.

Therapist: It isn’t just that. I’m your therapist.

Patient: But we could be so much more! Think of the labels for chutney, and for home-made tomato sauce, and for marbles, like an old-time drugstore’s toy counter.

Therapist: You’re crazy.

Patient: Like a fox.

Therapist: Please go.

Patient: Banjos. Ukuleles. Knitting. Weddings in barns. Square dancing. Bonfires. You want it.

Therapist: No! It’s all just close-ups taken with SLR cameras in good lighting. It’s a lie.

Patient: What is a lie if not a truth we tell ourselves?

Therapist: What?

Patient: Kiss me. I’ll give you the moon on a string; a model sailboat in a glass jar. We’ll read Time of Wonder and make love on a quilt.

Therapist: With fat pillar candles burning all round?

Patient: In front of a wood-burning stove. We’ll drain sap from maple trees by hand and have sugaring parties. We’ll lick the syrup right off the snow…

Therapist: I could be myself… No more hiding. I could leave out copies of Flea Market Décor with no shame.

Patient: Fill up my jar. Fill it up.

Therapist: No charge for today. You’re all the payment I need.

Patient: We’ll name our first kid “Mason.”

Therapist: God, you’re bad.

A crash, as they knock over a jar.

Therapist: Break it. Smash it! Right there! Don’t stop!

Strains of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre on the Air play from a Philco radio as the lovers cavort. The two sounds grow louder, culminating in an enormous smash of glass and then — static.

An Open Letter to Dead Writers

Dear Money-Hoarding Corpses,

Like most people, I used to admire you. Your books broke new ground and opened up whole new avenues of fictional expression. As a naïve young reader, I more than once picked up one of your florid efforts and eagerly laughed at jokes about stovepipe hats and irregular whiskers. Even the condemnation of public whippings had some merit. However, as I grew up and started trying to write my own books, I realised the uncomfortable truth about writing: you can’t beat a corpse.

That’s not strictly true. As I discovered while taking out my fury on the body of Nathaniel Hawthorne following yet another rejected novel, you certainly can beat a corpse. But I wouldn’t recommend trying it. I got soil all over my clothes and at one point a piece of shinbone got stuck in my eye – all because of some Puritan slut-shaming. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the dead in general. Some of my best friends are the recently deceased and they’ve achieved great things. My grandmother still manages to keep her children in the Catholic Church despite being buried six feet under and ten miles away. What galls me, though, is the total lack of effort on your part, necrotic authors. When was the last time you actually did anything?

An example: Mark “Oh Look, A Funny Steamboat!” Twain. No one can deny the man was the first national smartass and set the benchmark for tearing morons to shreds in print. But what has Twain done for you lately? Is his humour topical? Timely? Has he deployed his talents to eviscerate today’s crazy ammo-sexual tea-swilling jackoffs? Hardly. We haven’t heard a word from the father of American satire about anything since the Cleveland administration. Just think of the tricks he missed with hanging chads and WMDs. And his excuse? The same old thing – he’s “no longer with us”. The truth is, Twain is no longer with it.

I can hear friends of the deceased now, bemoaning my harsh words, crying out that dead writers can’t be expected to keep on top of things. Oh really, Herman Melville? You write a book about whales and stay on bookshelves for 150 years, then conveniently die so no one can call you out on glamorising the murder of innocent cetaceans? Seems highly convenient to me, whale killer! Meanwhile, we moderns trying to highlight the problems with finding a Starbucks in the rain or cooking noodles without a kettle get sidelined. Overcoming Millennial ennui is the real white whale, Herman.

Finally, I would like to appeal to you cadaverous attention monsters. If you want to go on dominating literature just because you write in old-timey language and can get away with saying really offensive things because “that’s how things were”, you have to do one of two things. First option: you start giving us new authors some credit once in a while. We always hear modern authors praising Dickens’s style or Dickinson’s poetry, but when was the last time Shakespeare claimed a play was inspired by Fight Club? Alternatively, you can stop lazing around in well-appointed graveyards maintained at taxpayers’ expense and start earning your keep instead of living off reputational welfare.

Yours falling from the shoulders of giants,

An As Yet Unpublished Writer

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