Stoic Comforts

By Shawn

The ancient Stoics had lots of helpful ideas about how to console yourself whenever you’re feeling blue. Unfortunately, their writings aren’t very accessible to us today. To fix that problem, I offer you Stoic Comforts, a series of choice quotations from Epictetus and Seneca made into inspirational posters. Get motivated to abandon your attachments to trivial objects and perform your duties without emotional disturbance!


What the Hell is Wrong with Dove Chocolate? (A Brief History.)

By Ann

This is an old grievance. I have been asking this question of myself and others since I first noticed the bizarre messages inside of my Dove Chocolate wrappers.

By no means am I the first person to notice this. And by no means will I be the last. But while many write off Dove’s wrappers as nothing more than slightly misguided branding attempts, I believe that Dove knows exactly what it’s doing.

For decades now, Dove Chocolate has been executing a masterful three-pronged marketing scheme, born of Hell itself. And they’ve been doing it right under our noses.

Allow me to explain…


For those of you who have seen The Witch, I call this the Black Phillip stage: “Hello, consumers. Do you like the taste of… unprotected sexual encounters?”

Actual advice from Dove chocolate wrappers:

-“Wear short skirts.”

-“Flirt with strangers.”

-“Temptation is fun… giving in is even better.”

-“Stir your sense of pleasure.”

-“Indulge your every whim.”

-“Wink at someone driving past today.”

At first, you may be thinking, “Boy, this seems like strangely intimate advice to be receiving from my chocolate. ” But what you may not have realized is, Dove is playing the long-game.

While those other chocolate-selling chumps were trying to cast a wide net, ensnaring as many consumers as possible, Dove thought: “No. We don’t need them all. We need loyalty, dedication, a select following that will heed our every wrapper. There’s a word for that, isn’t there? Ah, yes. A cult! A cult that doesn’t know it’s a cult. That we’ll lure into getting themselves or others pregnant, and who will feed their babies delicious Dove—thereby imbuing them with a bloodthirst for chocolate at an even earlier age. As the generations pass, Dove’s zombified horde will continue to breed, growing ever larger, wearing even shorter skirts and flirting with even more strangers!! Yesssssss. Soon, SOOOOOOOOOOON.”

And so, Dove’s marketing team sat back, twiddling their thumbs, waiting to unveil their newest tidbits of wrapper-advice: “Skip your pill today!” and, “The Withdrawal Method—Works Like a Charm!”

But then they realized: wait. Wait a second.

Our plan is contingent upon our unsuspecting zombie-worshippers having lots of babies. Maybe even a family. But you know what’s distracting? Families. Loved ones.

We can’t have our minions surrounded by love, feeling quietly fulfilled, and leaving Dove Chocolate by the wayside.

This brings us to…


Again, Dove’s marketing team leapt from the shadows and took to their white-boards: “But how can we make our brainwashed candy-serfs love Dove more than their ever-expanding herds of children? How can we compete with the affection of a cherished loved one?”

They knew their cultists loved Dove. But what they realized was, it had to be more than that. They had to fall in love with Dove. They had to develop an all-consuming romantic attachment, sure to baffle themselves and others, to an edible object.

And how to accomplish that?

A voice called out with the answer: “I’ve got it! Quick, hit on them! Hit on the chocolate-chattel!”

And a new wave of chocolate wrappers was born.

More actual Dove wrappers:

-“You know what? You look good in red.”

-“You’re gorgeous.”

-“You have a great laugh.”

-“Chocolate loves unconditionally.”

-“Chocolate won’t let you down.”

-And last, but certainly not least: “Chocolate. Always your Valentine.”

To that last wrapper, they considered adding, “ALWAYS. DO YOU HEAR ME, CHRISTINE? YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE DOVE, CHRISTINE.”

But they thought that might be tipping their hand too much.

So, again they sat back, and watched and waited and lurked. With delight, they saw their cult fall head over heels for Dove, brimming with false confidence—wearing red and laughing—and, all the while: swelling and bloating, stuffing chocolate into their children’s faces and their own.

It was all so easy.

But. That was just the problem. It was too easy.

As it turns out, Americans take almost no convincing to become emotionally dependent on chocolate. If they’d fallen so quickly for Dove, what was to stop them from—*gasp*—falling for another? What if some flashy new chocolate came along to sweep them off their feet?

There was only one way to ensure they’d never leave.

Which brings us to…


“We have to destroy them.” Dove’s marketing team realized, “It’s come to this. It’s not enough for them to be lovelorn zombies. We need ego-shattered, chocolate-dribbling husks. We need them to shipwreck their own lives, and to grasp at Dove as if it were the last plank in the vast, roiling ocean that threatens to consume them. It’s the only way to be sure that they’ll never have the courage to leave.”

It wouldn’t be hard. They’d do it gradually—sneak in questionable advice that would mount with each wrapper. By the time their victims realized they were destroying their own lives, it would be too late to salvage them. A grim task, but it had to be done. It was for the good of Dove Chocolate.

Thus was born their newest wrapper initiative, the ruthless deathblow in their three-pronged reign of chocolatey terror.

Yep, still actual Dove wrappers:

“It’s okay to be fabulous AND flawed!”

-“Sleep late tomorrow.”

-“Wing it.”

-“Quote your dad.”

-“Calories only exist if you count them.”

-“Don’t settle for a spark… light a fire instead.”

-And perhaps most cruelly, once they were confident that their prey had been ensnared in a web of helpless despair:

“I don’t know what else to tell you.”

They stopped just short of, “Quit your job!” and, “Medicine is a trick!” Also, “Stop seeing your therapist,” and “Dove hears great things about day-drinking.”

Because, again, subtlety is important to Dove.

But there you have it.

The plan was complete. Dove had founded their following, bred and brainwashed droves of Dove-crazed addicts, and then… crushed them all in its velvety palm.

The rest of us look right past Dove’s scheme, hiding in plain sight.

We open a Dove wrapper and raise an eyebrow. Maybe we think, “Oh, Dove, you sure are a little strange sometimes!” But then we eat the chocolate, and we don’t give it a second thought—just as Dove intended.

After all, Dove’s nefarious trap would never work on us. We’d never be stupid enough to follow advice printed inside a piece of chocolate.

But then, that one I read the other day was actually a little inspiring.

And, I don’t know, I do look good in red…

Trump Announces First Manned Mission to the Sun

By Shawn

WASHINGTON, DC — On July 4th, President Trump announced an ambitious plan to put a man on the Sun by 2020. At a press conference held in the Rose Garden, Trump claimed his administration has drawn up plans to send a crewed mission, led by Jared Kushner, right into the heart of the Sun, where Kushner and the others astronauts will plant an American flag that will “shine like you’ve never seen.”

The President explained the mission as part of his ongoing project to assert American supremacy on both the terrestrial and extraterrestrial stage. “For too long, the Sun has been sitting up there, laughing at America,” Trump declared. “But when our guys punch a huge American spacecraft right into its big, stupid face, it’s not going to be laughing anymore. Believe me.”

Sources within the administration report that the proposed mission has been in the works for months. Behind the scenes, not every White House official is thrilled with the plan—some, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have privately cautioned that it might wind up becoming another expensive boondoggle like the administration’s abortive venture to “subdue the sea.” In addition, a few protested the president’s insistence that the spaceship not use ordinary rocket fuel because “Coal, it has to be coal.”

But most are enthusiastically in favor, including Vice President Mike Pence. “Mike stands one hundred percent behind the President on this one,” explained a source close to the Vice President. “He’s pretty sure the Sun is where God lives. And he’s hoping the astronauts will be able to ask Him a few of Mike’s big questions, like why did God make gay people and is it really okay to poop? Repeated assurances to the contrary, Mike strongly suspects it’s a sin.”

Although the administration is publicly billing the audacious initiative as a demonstration of American greatness, a dozen anonymous sources claim that private motives underlie Trump’s decision as well. According to one source who describes himself as a friend of the president, Trump has a longstanding resentment of the Sun that has been festering for some time.

“I first noticed it one time we were out golfing together,” this friend said. “The Sun seemed to be getting in his eyes a bit as he was lining up a putt. He kept trying to reposition himself, and he was doing a lot of looking up and grimacing. As this was going on, I could hear him muttering things at the Sun, like, ‘Oh, I’ll get you for this.’ The way he said it, you knew he meant it.”

The President seemed to lend credence to this assessment in a pair of tweets lashing out at the Sun:

Responding to the President’s tweets, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed that Democrats weren’t trying to “defend the Sun, whatever that means,” but that they did object to spending millions of dollars just to send astronauts to a fiery death. The fiery death point is much disputed by Republicans, including Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who insists the Sun is not nearly as hot as scientists keep saying it is, and, anyway, “there’s only one way to find out.”

No doubt the controversy is likely to continue, and the mainstream media is getting in on the act. The New York Times is purportedly working on an in-depth investigation into what white working-class Americans think about the Sun and how warm it is. Democrats need to reach out to those voters if they’re to have any hope of retaking the House of Representatives in 2018.


The Great Cat Wars

By Ann

There is a small space: on my desk, behind my laptop, under my lamp. Little did I know, that in the 3,000+ square feet available in our house, this itsy bitsy less than a square foot would become the site of what can only be known as The Great Cat Wars.

It only seems fair to properly introduce the warring parties.

Contender #1: Ollie

Ollie, draw me like one of your french girls

Contender #2: Sophie

Sophie noticed the spot first.

(Please excuse the quality of the following images. I’ve done my best, but the lighting in the spot is terrible. Objectively, most things about the spot are terrible.)


Over time, Ollie noticed Sophie noticing the spot.


It is worth mentioning that, if Sophie hadn’t noticed the spot, Ollie never would have noticed the spot. He generally prefers beds and couches, and you know, actually comfy spots. He does not especially like the spot. However. He does not want Sophie to have the spot.

There is a long and sordid history of Ollie coveting ALL the spots. In response, Sophie has become somewhat creative:

Not pictured: her current favorite spot, which is inside our bathroom cabinet.

Sophie has proven quite a match for Ollie in hand-to-hand combat if she cares to fight, but frankly, she’d usually rather hunker down in garbage spots, because she’s a pretty big fan of garbage spots anyway. Still, Grant and I do not appreciate Ollie encouraging her garbage-troll tendencies. So, if she’s sitting with one of us, and he tries to harrass her, we send him on his merry way. Otherwise, we try not to interfere too much as long as Ollie isn’t being a mega-jerk.

It’s a thin line. And, through trial and error, Ollie has found exactly what that line is. If Sophie is sitting with us, he may not bite her or otherwise attack. But no one said he couldn’t sit next to her. Or stare at her. Or ever so gradually scoot closer and closer until neither one of them is comfortable.

This does not always work on Sophie. She can wait it out, and eventually, he’ll give up. She can nudge him back, and possibly make him slightly more uncomfortable than he is making her. Or, perhaps most deviously, she’s learned that she can occasionally poke him into biting her, which she knows will get him kicked out.

Most often, it is a Cold War. A war of glaring and nudging and patience. And it is waged daily, on my desk.

The most recent battle, as told via Ollie’s inner monologue:


Hello, Sophie. Fancy seeing you here again. I’m so excited to see you here that I shall bestow completely innocent kisses on your forehead.


Oh, hi, cat-mom. Just saying a considerate hello to my favorite cat-sister.


Look how much I love my cat-sister. I love her so much I’m going to lick the inside of her ears relentlessly because I know how much she enjoys that.


Oh, did you happen to scoot over, Sophie? Here, let me join you.


AHAHAHAHA, SIMPLE FOOL! You’ve stepped to the side, leaving room for me to lie down. Now, the light of glorious heaven shines down upon me and you have been shunted into darkness. DESPAIR, CAT-SISTER! DESPAIR IN DARKNESS!




Hmm? What’s that over there? Has Sophie… moved on? So soon? What is that she’s playing with?


Ooh, neat! A spider!



This is usually how it goes: I start with a cute cat on my desk… I end up with nothing. And so, while sometimes Ollie wins and sometimes Sophie wins, inevitably, the real loser of the Great Cat Wars is me.

United Kingdom Divided Over Craigxit

By Shawn

Yesterday saw another set of salvos exchanged in the ongoing public debate over the secession of actor Daniel Craig, or “Craigxit,” as it is popularly known. Following the surprising outcome of a March referendum in which the forty-nine-year-old movie star declared himself a sovereign microstate, British politicians are divided over how to implement the Craigxit vote and its significance for Craig’s future relations with the United Kingdom.

“Craigxit means Craigxit,” declared Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech to the House of Commons. May had been in favor of the latest actor to portray James Bond remaining a part of the United Kingdom, but has promised to respect his decision. “It is time to come together and forge a new, deep and special relationship with Daniel.”

May is not the only “Remain” politician to have reconciled herself to the referendum results. Craig was invited to address Parliament in the wake of the vote, and he managed to win over a number of Tories with a dramatic reading of his poem, “I Know a Place Where the Daniels Are Free.”

“It changed me,” said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. “I hadn’t wanted an independent Craiglandia. But at one point during his address, Daniel Craig looked me right in the eye, just as he was reciting the line, ‘They have made me a James in Bonds,’ and it shook me to the core. I love Daniel, but we have to let him go. It’s what he wants.”

This sentiment was been echoed by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, who had campaigned half-heartedly for Craig to stay and has now taken to reassuring the British public that they will still have Timothy Dalton.

Yet others, such as First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, remain staunchly opposed. “Scotland voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom in the expectation that Daniel Craig would still be a part of it,” Sturgeon asserted. “Casino Royale was very popular up here. If Daniel is permitted to leave, then I pledge to seek a second referendum on Scottish independence, a third if we lose the second, and a fourth just to drive home the point. Needless to say, if we go, we are taking Sean Connery with us.”

The only person eligible to vote in the Craigxit referendum, Craig himself remains adamant that the outcome must be respected. “Daniel Craig must have liberty,” the actor proclaimed. “Daniel Craig must reassert control over his borders. Daniel Craig will use the tax money he saves and a couple of syringes he found to start his own National Health Service.”

At this time, Craig has begun work on a makeshift Capitol Building outside Westminster Abbey, and is currently soliciting cardboard and metal scraps from sympathetic members of the public.

A Beginner’s Guide to Accidentally Alarming Your Spouse

By Ann

What you will need:

  • A profound level of exhaustion
  • A series of disconcerting decisions
  • Your unsuspecting spouse



  1. Get home after long hard day.
  2. Immediately retreat to bedroom.
  3. In your hurry to get into bed, forget to turn on lights.
  4. Set yourself up with a heating pad and prepare to watch TV.
  5. Be so tired, forget to turn on heating pad.
  6. Sit there so long the sun sets and now you’re in the dark.
  7. Hope your Amazon firestick crashes right as spouse comes in to check on you.
  8. Spouse finds you sitting in the dark, lying on an unplugged heating pad, staring at blank TV screen.
  9. Mission accomplished.

If You Give a Politician $5…

By Shawn


Whenever I donate to political campaigns, I’m impressed by the relentlessness of their e-mail follow-up. Within a matter of days, my inbox is deluged by e-mails, trying every conceivable tack, in every conceivable emotional register, to elicit just one more small donation. Since I enjoy receiving these so much, I thought I’d share a few.


To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician

Subject: GREAT NEWS!!

Dear Shawn,

President Donald Trump just SHAT HIMSELF, because AN OUTLIER POLL shows that SENATOR POLITICIAN is AHEAD of his rivals! Imagine it, TASTE the sweet feeling of Senator Politician lapping up President Trump’s glowing orange tears. Mmm, his DELICIOUS SADNESS is EXQUISITE, is it not? Don’t you want to ensure this GLORIOUS FUTURE comes to pass?!?

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician



Dear Shawn,

Congressman PAUL RYAN must be laughing his butt off, because Republicans just ran a DESPICABLE ad claiming that I am actually HITLER’S DOG BLONDI. I won’t lie to you, Shawn—they made a $40 MILLION ad buy, and we’re in desperate need of cash to respond. Unless we can raise $3 BILLION to run an ad explaining I am not the GERMAN SHEPHERD of a MASS-MURDERER, we’re in serious trouble! PLEASE help us!

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician

Subject: I Need Some Money for the Bus

Dear Shawn,

We’re e-mailing on behalf of Senator Politician because… Well, this is a little embarrassing, but Senator Politician took a bus out to one of his campaign events and forgot to bring enough cash for a bus ticket back. We swear, this never happens to Senator Politician—he’s usually very responsible. But if you could help him out this one time so he can get home, it would be a big help. Please. Just a few bucks. Please.

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician

Subject: holy fucking shit

holy fucking shit oh my fucking god it’s a goddamn emergency the only thing that can stop the dawn of the fourth fucking reich is your donation please it’s so bad we wouldn’t ask if we weren’t literally all going to die but we’re all going to die unless oh my god you wouldn’t happen to have five dollars or so would you holy fuck that would be awesome give it to us now right now oh my sweet fucking jesus in the name of the virgin mother hurry up the end of freedom is goddamn fucking nigh




To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician

Subject: Here’s a Riddle—What Has Five Dollars and So Far Has Done Nothing to Advance the Cause of Freedom Today?

Hint: It’s you, bitch.

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician




–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician



Following his successful siege of Ironforge Keep, Congressman PAUL RYAN has all but one of the pieces he needs to complete THE TESSERACT. No one knows the TRUE POWER of the ancient artifact, but it will doubtlessly grant PAUL RYAN the dark energies he needs to transform MEDICAID into BLOCK GRANTS. The last piece rests at Castle Valor, where SENATOR POLITICIAN has assembled a motley crew of HEROES determined to hold out against RYAN at all costs! The cause looks hopeless, their future bleak, unless…!

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician

Subject: Hey.

Hey Shawn,

Listen, we need to talk. A month ago, when I received $5 from you, I was pretty excited. My aides and I were all like, “Whoa, who’s the new guy?” Hell, it’s a little embarrassing to admit, but after that first donation, I was thinking about you a lot. Like, I’d be trying to focus on legislating, but I’d find my thoughts drifting, and… well, you get the picture.

But now it’s been a month, and nothing from you. No calls to my staffers, no small donations, nothing. I’m like, what happened here, you know? It seemed like things were off to such a good start.

Have you… have you been donating to other campaigns? It’s the special election in Georgia, isn’t it? You’ve been giving money to that little hussy in GA-06! I thought our election was special to you! WELL I GUESS I WAS WRONG. Why am I even RUNNING when you don’t give a shit?! Maybe I’ll drop out! Yeah, fuck it, maybe I’ll just drop out and to hell with our party controlling the Senate! Would you like THAT? Do I have your attention NOW?

–Senator Politician



To: Shawn Friar
From: Senator Politician



Congressman PAUL RYAN is currently in your house CHOKING YOUR MOTHER. At this very moment, RYAN’s hands are tightening around YOUR MOTHER’s neck, his lips twisted in a cruel smile. “Time to answer the question, what if Atlas strangled?” the wicked Speaker of the House chortles. His laughter builds as your mother struggles for breath, already anticipating the pleasure he will take in her final, desperate convulsions. SENATOR POLITICIAN looks on in horror. “If only I had $5!” our hero thinks. “Then I’d have the power I need to save her…”


Senator Politician


Houses Fix Themselves, Right?

By Ann

A couple weeks ago, our thermostat broke.

I noticed when it got really cold.

My husband also noticed when he got home from work, and it was really cold.

Him: Sweetie, I think there’s something wrong with the thermostat.

Me: Oh, yeah. It’s broken.

Him: What do you mean it’s broken? Did you put new batteries in it?

Me: Yeah. And they didn’t work, so…

Him: So… were you going to do anything about this?

Me: I mean, I put on a sweater.

Him: No. If the thermostat’s broken, we need to get it fixed, right?

Me: Oh. Right.

Him: Because that’s what normal people do. When things break.

Me: Right, right.

Then, we called out the repair person, and I had another conversation with eerily similar themes…

RP: I see the problem! See this battery plate? It’s caked over with some residue, so the new batteries aren’t able to transfer the charge. I’ll just clean that off, and it should be good as new! (Cleans it off. Thermostat turns on.) Yep, there we go! Good as—hold up, what’s this? (Thermostat’s numbers glitch out so that it’s impossible to read.)

Me: Oh, yeah, no worries, it’s been like that.

RP: What? How long have you been using it like this?

Me: Not that long. Just, um… a few…

RP: Days?

Me: No…

RP: Weeks?

Me: Months. Several months.

RP: Are you serious? How can you even read this screen?

Me: Well, you can’t really. But see that half a number that shows through there? If you look at that, you can kind of guess.


Me: And then, if you get it wrong, you can definitely tell in an hour or two.

RP: Um.

Me: Because boy does it get uncomfortable. You know?

RP: Right. That’s because your thermostat is broken.

Me: I see.

RP: It’s been broken for several months.

Me: I see.

RP: You need a new thermostat. Because I can’t do anything with this.

Me: I see.

The good news is we got a new thermostat. So problem solved, right?

But then, a couple days later, my husband is looking out the window…

Him: Hey, is there something lying on the ground over there?

Me: Hmm? Oh, yeah. That’s been there.

Him: What is it?

Me: I dunno. I guess a piece of the house.

Him: A piece of the house.

Me: I assume so.

Him: How long has that been there?!

Me: I dunno. At least a couple…

Him: Days?

Me: Um. No…


It occurs to me, there might be some sort of trend here.

Handy Mnemonic Devices

By Shawn

1.) righty, tighty; lefty, loosey (turning screws)

2.) ROY G. BIV (colors of the rainbow)

3.) my very excellent mother just sent us nine pizzas (planets of the solar system, plus Pluto)

4.) churches have steeples, it’s wrong to eat peoples (cannibalism)

5.) i before e, except after c (spelling rule)

6.) leaves of three, let it be (poison ivy)

7.) om nom nom so right it’s wrong (cannibalism)

8.) never eat shredded wheat (cardinal directions)

9.) thirty days hath September … (days in a month)

10.) don’t keep a second refrigerator filled with children (storage tip)

Haikus to My Ineptitude

By Ann

Because, as we know,

Being a grown up is hard.

Harder when you’re dumb…

If I could count the

Countless times I found too late

My shirt was backwards.

Out of socks again.

I could simply do laundry,

But we know I won’t.

Now I work from home.

What is this so-called sunlight

Others talk about?

Cookies for dinner

Is not a healthy choice, but

Nothing can stop me.

Yet another plant

Gifted to me, so unwise,

Soon I will kill you.

Don’t judge me, Netflix.

Of course I am still watching.

You know this damn well.

I cannot get up.

There is a cat upon me.

Yes, a good excuse.