Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween (Observed)

Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year. That's not such a big deal for the kids, because they start trick-or-treating before dark and are done only a little after their normal bedtimes, when the sugar crash takes them down harder than an old casino. But for the grown-ups, who for the sake of this argument I will include to mean people in their 20s and 30s, a mid-week Halloween presents some problems.

Principally: when does one throw a Halloween party? Or hit the bars in costume? Or wait in the bushes for a suitably sexy nurse/French maid/schoolmarm?  It seems to me that the answer is obvious, that the nearest weekend night that's not after the actual holiday is the de facto stand-in non-schoolnight Halloween. Right? Isn't that the way it's always been?

And yet in recent years I have been noticing a steady erosion of this unspoken social contract, with people taking to the streets in costume on non-sanctioned surrogate Halloweens.

At the risk of coming off like a great big bah-humbug Halloween Grinch (note to self: that's a good idea for a costume) I submit the following: Halloween should only be one night. A special dispensation is universally granted when it falls on an inconvenient schoolnight.

But a couple of years ago, when Halloween fell on a Saturday, I couldn't help noticing people were out in costume on Friday night. Now look, I'm not saying I was outraged, or even angry, but when Halloween's on Saturday night, THAT'S HALLOWEEN. There's no need to dress up on Friday when you can do it on Saturday, is there?

I spent this past weekend behind the bar, and while I fully expected to see people in costume on Saturday night (and I did) I was a little surprised to see that Friday night was almost as costumey. On the subway, on the street, in the bars. So that's two Halloweens, before we even get to actual October 31 Halloween, which makes three. It looks like Hurricane Sandy is going to make this question moot, but in better weather would people have been dressing up on Monday and Tuesday also? What about next weekend? My band had a gig booked for November 2 and it got bumped for a Halloween party, so it appears next weekend is in play. So that's four to six Halloweens. How many Halloweens do we need? Why not have one the following weekend?

We also see this phenomenon with people's birthdays these days. As a bartender, I have heard a wide range of questionable behavior justified with the statement, "It's my birthday week." People are so into themselves and their birthdays anymore that one day is not enough to contain it. Once again, if your birthday lands on Tuesday and you want to have a party on Friday, you have my blessing and my best wishes. But your birthday is your birthday. If you want to have an extra dessert or call your freelance pharmacist it's none of my business, but don't bring your birthday into it unless it's your birthday.

I'm tempted to chalk all this up to the steadily swelling level of narcissism in our increasingly coarse culture. One night of birthday, with everyone saying nice things to me and buying me drinks and pretending not to cringe every time I open my stupid mouth isn't enough! I need a whole week! One night of people paying extra attention to my super clever Binder Full of Women costume isn't enough! I need to break it out the night before, and the night after, and then the weekend following the actual holiday.

But I'm hardly one to complain about narcissism in other people, not when I'm constantly pimping my band, my blog, my video series, my self-help book, my solo career, and my line of beauty products, so rather than worrying about the cause, let's focus on solutions to this grave (Halloween pun!) and worsening problem.

I think it's time for the government to step in and solve the problem the same as it solved the Lincoln's Birthday problem. For a long time, Lincoln's birthday was just Lincoln's birthday and it fell wherever it fell, and the people who wanted to celebrate it in the traditional fashion -- the same fashion as we celebrate every holiday, by getting drunk, only in this case with a tall hat on -- were all over the place, celebrating on the day, on the weekend before, on the weekend after... it was a mess. But then the government stepped in and invented a little slice of genius called Lincoln's Birthday (Observed). It was always on a Monday, creating a three-day weekend and eliminating any confusion about when exactly one was supposed to get drunk.

So in Obama's second term I would like to see him lay down the law and introduce Halloween (Observed). If the 31st happens to be a Friday or Saturday, great. Proceed as normal. If not, the Saturday prior to the 31st will be designated Halloween Observed. Anyone caught in costume on any other day will be mercilessly mocked as a crazed narcissist and forced to wear a storebought (cringe) pimp costume.

Now look: I love Halloween. Depending on what I had for breakfast, it's either my favorite or second-favorite holiday (also a big fan of Thanksgiving). Which is why I hate to see it cheapened this way. What would you rather see: one huge, kickass Halloween with everyone in well-constructed, thought-out costumes, or a bunch of half-assed Halloweens with a bunch of half-assed costumes?

Friday, October 19, 2012

You Didn't Build That Binder Full Of Women

So funny I forgot to laugh
It's kind of breathtaking when the entire Internet seizes on the same thing at the same moment, but that's what happened Tuesday night during the second presidential debate, when "binders full of women" became a meme, a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, an Instagram, a tumblr, a Pinterest board, and a sought-after boutique gift item on Etsy about 45 seconds after the words came out of Mitt Romney's mouth.

All day Wednesday and Thursday, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were jam-packed with Photoshopped pictures and links to reviews of binders on Amazon and all manner of commentary on the phrase, be it graphic, literal, or metaphorical. It is kind of amazing how quickly something can catch onto the popular imagination in the digital age.

I was watching the debate on a 20-minute DVR delay, and at some point early on I took a peek at Twitter to see what all the funny people I follow were saying about the candidates' performances. They were all (ALL) talking about Binders Full of Women. I found this puzzling, because I had not yet reached that moment in the debate, but when I got there, I was still puzzled. What, exactly, is so fascinating about this, this... I don't even know what to call it. Slip of the tongue? Misstatement? I feel like "odd formulation" is the best way to put it.
I've seen both seasons of Game of Thrones
and I still don't get this at all
The candidates were asked what they plan to do to ensure equal pay for women in the workplace. The questioner mentioned that women are still, in 2012, paid 78% of what their male counterparts earn on average. President Obama immediately pointed to the first piece of legislation passed under his administration, the Lily Ledbetter Act, which gave women (or minorities, or whoever) greater flixibility in filing a wage-discrimiation claim against their employer. It was sort of a half-dodge, because he didn't say what he'll do IN THE FUTURE to move gender pay equity forward, he at least addressed the topic.

When it was Romney's turn to speak, he spoke of his efforts as an incoming Governor in Massachussetts to hire more women for his Cabinet, and so he contacted a women's group and asked for qualified prospects and was given, in his words, "binders full of women."

Now, admittedly, this was a really weird way to put it, not least because Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and as anyone who suffered through the HBO series Big Love will remember, fundamentalist Mormons (which Romney is not, so far as we know) choose their child brides from a binder full of women called a "Joy Book," with each girl's headshot, accompanied by photos of their hands and feet (fundamentalists evidently have even bigger issues than polygamy). But it certainly didn't change what Romney was saying, which was that he asked for women applicants and got a whole stack of resumes.

When memes collide
Regardless, the giant hive-mind of the Internet locked onto the phrase the way my dog locks onto his tug toy, with a clear sense of relish that felt, to me, a little unseemly. Because, first of all, that odd formulation was like the fourth strangest thing about Romney's answer to the question. The fact that he just straight-up didn't answer the question ("What are you going to do to ensure fair pay for women?") suggests that he has no answer to the question because he's never given it a moment's thought.

The fact that the story he told about valiantly marching into a headwind of chauvinism and returning with a hard-won set of women's resumes was actually more than a little self-aggrandizingly revised (an activist women's group actually initiated the effort, and presented Romney with the binders in question unbidden) suggests that, once again, Romney will say anything to anyone if he thinks it will help his cause -- but there are much, much stronger examples of this principle on the record already.

The fact that, after 25 years in the high-finance business in Boston, the liberal (and, one assumes, gender-equality) capital of the U.S. (if not the world), and was still not aware, either by direct contact or networking connections, of any women qualified to serve in his cabinet points to some deeply ingrained gender issues in the man. Are they an artifact of his Mormon upbringing? Of a 'Billionaire Boys Club' mentality? I don't know, but that's more interesting to me than "binders full of women."

To be fair, Romney didn't just leaf through these binders and ogle the feet (or is that the other kind of binders?) -- he had a good record of hiring equality in the Massachussetts Statehouse, not appreciably worse than Obama's as president.

There are two problems with this meme: it doesn't score any real political points, and more importantly, it really isn't very funny. Certainly not funny ha-ha.

This whole thing reminds me of a few months back when Obama's "You didn't build that" was taken out of context and blown up into a meme of its own. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are populated by very few (vocal) conservatives, so I can only imagine, but I'm sure that the days after "You didn't build that" were as action packed for Righties' feeds as the last couple days have been for mine. 

Nothing would make me happier than to
go back in time and smack that thing
right off her stupid asshole face
Everyone knew that Obama wasn't actually saying that business owners didn't build their businesses. He was saying that businesses need the infrastructure that government provides -- roads, bridges, water supply, the Internet -- in order to function. But Right-wingers played dumb and decided to pretend that he had said something he hadn't said, in order to win that week's news cycle. It was really disheartening and depressing to see the whole Republican convention built around this, even more so because every single speaker who referenced it (which is almost all of them) is smart enough to know what Obama was really saying, and that they were willfully misrepresenting it to score cheap points. It was a low point in the political discourse of the last 25 years -- certainly not as low as the Band-Aids with the purple hearts on them in 2004, which was one of the few things in politics that actually made me viscerally angry -- but a low point.
This is not nearly as bad as either of those, but that's what Lefties are doing now with this "binders full of women" remark. Does anyone really think Romney has a Joy Book, or really thinks women can be kept in binders, or that he's wildly sexist, or that he sees women as objects or commodities, or that they should be literally bound, or whatever? Or is that just the nearest cudgel to beat him with? 

"You didn't build that," even though it was out of context and willfully misinterpreted by Obama's critics (to use a nice word), provided them with real live recorded video proof, straight from Obama's mouth, of all the awful things they've long imagined about him that are in no way reflected by his actual record: that he's a Communist, that he's a Socialist (not exactly the same thing, by the way), that he hates business, etc. They knew deep down that it wasn't true, that it wasn't really what he said, but they were so excited to have something to use against him they went ahead and did it with a relish that was unseemly. "Binders full of women" is giving Lefties the same thing: though his record does not particularly reflect it, Romney just has to be virulently anti-woman because ALL REPUBLICANS are anti-woman, and here finally is the proof!

There are a whole lot of real on-the-record reasons -- policy positions, past track record, campaign promises, temperament, magic underwear -- to vote against Mitt Romney, as the other 96 ½ minutes of the debate plainly showed. (I'm sure my friends who prefer Romney would say the same thing about Obama.) For example: Romney is on the record saying his economic plan is that once he's elected, the economy will improve just because the business community will like him better than Obama, and he doesn't actually have to do anything. Can't we focus on things like that? It feels like the last three days the whole Left-wing Internet has been in a half crouch, arm fully extended to point a finger in Romney's face, screaming "YOU SAID SOMETHING STUPID!! HAHAHA!! YOU SAID SOMETHING STUPID!!" with way, way too much glee. 

All right, this one is kinda funny
Now, if the stupid thing he said were actually funny, that would be something else altogether. But it's just not funny, or that revealing, or that offensive, and the fact that we all want this guy to lose doesn't make it funnier/more revealing/more offensive. You're crying wolf, just like the other guys. You're exaggerating your outrage, just like the other guys. Aren't we better than that?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ben Affleck Suffers From Drew Barrymore Disease

I'm yelling, but I'm smiling! 
There's a new movie hitting theaters this week that sounds like it could be pretty good: Argo, the stranger-than-fiction story of a CIA agent who gets six hostages out of 1979 Iran by posing as a film producer scouting desert locations, and passing off the hostages as his crew. Even better, it stars John Goodman (never not great), Alan Arkin (criminally underrated despite a lifetime-achievement Oscar disguised as a Best Supporting trophy for Little Miss Sunshine), and Bryan Cranston (the Swiss Army knife of American actors). Best of all, it's from the director of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck.

I loved Gone Baby Gone -- it was a surprisingly assured debut that got a career-best performance from its lead (Casey Affleck) and emphasized its Boston setting in part by casting local barflies in key walk-ons. The Town I liked a little less. Even though Jeremy Renner found the perfect follow-up to The Hurt Locker as a borderline psycho bank robber, the Boston setting and Boston accents felt a little reheated from Gone Baby Gone, I never bought the romantic subplot, and Affleck cast a leading man who nearly capsized the whole enterprise, and who I fear will do the same thing to Argo: Ben Affleck.

I am not a Ben Affleck hater. Though he's one of those guys who a certain kind of person seems to just instinctively hate -- actors who succeed at a young age seem to attract this sentiment (see also: Leonardo Dicaprio, Shia Laboeuf)  -- I feel just the opposite, even though I've only liked a handful of his film performances. 

This character has proven
unusually hard to shake
On talk shows and in interviews, Ben Affleck seems like a normal, funny guy whose company I would enjoy even if the word "movies" never came up. He seems to have things in perspective. (On a personal note, I also feel a kinship with him because he quit drinking even though he never bottomed out or had what most people would consider a real problem; he just decided he'd had enough, and quit.)

I can even pinpoint the moment I decided I liked him: during Gwyneth Paltrow's monologue when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 1999, he stood up in the audience and in the course of a bit about her always speaking in an English accent, mentioned that they had dated. "We broke up like a month ago. Didn't you read about it?" he asked. "It was in all the papers." If I were a movie star, and I had an amicable breakup with another movie star, this is the exact kind of thing I'd like to think I would have done.

In comedies, or in comedic supporting roles, Affleck is usually great. Two roles come to mind, and probably not coincidentally, they are both from early in his career, before Hollywood pushed a little too hard to make him a leading man: O'Bannon, the paddle-happy senior football player hazing freshmen with just a little too much relish in Dazed and Confused; and Chuckie, blue-collar buddy to Matt Damon's tortured math whiz in Good Will Hunting. In the former, he's a straight-up heel, a buffoonish bully and the only true antagonist in a movie otherwise populated by nice kids; and in the latter, he pretty much steals the movie with the scene where he goes to one of Damon's math-whiz job interviews in Damon's place, wearing blue Docksiders, white socks, and an ill-fitting suit.

This scene is pretty silly, almost too silly to fit in the movie (which of course won Affleck and Damon a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1998), but it's nicely balanced by the scene, later in the movie, where Affleck tells Damon he would find it insulting if Damon were to squander his potential by continuing to work with Affleck as a laborer. This latter scene sets up the movie's climax, of course, but it is also one of the very few scenes in his career where Ben Affleck is effective as a dramatic actor. After Good Will Hunting, Affleck got drafted to appeal to the young-girl demographic in Armageddon, possibly the worst blockbuster of all time (I particularly love when Bruce Willis kicks him off his deepwater oil rig, then immediately has to go find him to save the world -- in 3 days Affleck has set up his own oil drilling business, complete with hand-painted sign.) Then he did a couple of lame romcoms (one with Gwyneth Paltrow, one with Sandra Bullock). He did another Michael Bay movie even worse than Armageddon, the execrable Pearl Harbor.   Then his strapping, square-jawed good looks were deployed to take over the role of Jack Ryan (previous occupants: Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin) in The Sum of All Fears, a Tom Clancy spy thriller. It didn't work: the movie stunk and the franchise slumped back into its shallow grave. From there, Affleck bounced around in a number of disappointing action thrillers (Changing Lanes, Paycheck, Reindeer Games), assassinated the huge cinematic potential of Marvel Comics' darkest hero (Daredevil), and played the title role in the most critically reviled movie of the 00's (Gigli).
Affleck's Good Will Hunting wardrobe is amazing
Out of all these movies, the only ones I've even seen were Daredevil, because I had a chip surgically implanted in my head when I was 12 that compels me to go to any and all Marvel Comics movies; Armageddon, because a friend took me to a critic's screening; and Pearl Harbor, because the batteries in my remote died one harrowing night a few years ago. All of those movies told me all I need to know about Ben Affleck as a dead-serious leading man: he's just not quite believeable. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can definitely point to a major factor, and that is his low-grade case of Drew Barrymore Disease. In case you don't follow medical journals, Drew Barrymore Disease is characterized by an inability to keep the corners of one's mouth from curling upward while speaking. (There's no shame in it! I suffer from it myself.) He certainly doesn't have as severe a case as Ms. Barrymore, but he definitely has a hard time keeping a straight face often enough that even when he's doing well, I'm watching him with one thought in mind: When's he going to smile? It's not a matter of if, but when, and it's very difficult to concentrate on anything else. So when he broke his long career slump by directing Gone Baby Gone, and casting his brother instead of himself in the lead (Drew Barrymore Disease seems to be a recessive gene, because it skipped Casey), and the movie turned out to be really good, I thought: perfect. Maybe this is what Ben Affleck should be doing. He's clearly very intelligent. He's clearly very knowledgeable about movies. He's clearly a very good writer -- he has the Oscar to prove it. And despite his spotty record as an actor, he's a well-regarded presence in Hollywood, he'll attract great scripts and great talent... Ben Affleck is primed to be the next great American director! Then came The Town, and despite its strengths -- interesting premise, good supporting cast (particularly Renner), the same vivid sense of place (Boston) that Affleck imbued Gone Baby Gone with -- it had a couple of glaring weaknesses, specifically the super thin gruel of the romantic plot (nobody falls in love that fast, and certainly not under those circumstances), the broad-daylight shootout that goes on a little too long without and cops or even sirens anywhere, and of course, the corners of Our Hero's mouth creeping skyward at all the wrong times, including while threatening to kill people. It's possible that I imagined it in this particular movie, but it doesn't matter: I was watching for it, and that was enough to take me out of an otherwise solid B- of a heist drama. Not long after I saw The Town, I caught the Mike Judge/Jason Bateman sleeper comedy Extract, which had Affleck in an explicitly comic supporting role as a drug-addled bartender, and guess what? He was funny and engaging! The movie got better as soon as he came into it! (On an odd side note, he kept a straight face throughout this role. How does that work? Can't keep from smiling in dramas but perfect deadpan in comedies? A lot of comedic actors say the key to comedy is to play everything perfectly straight -- maybe for Ben Affleck the key to drama is to play it as comedy?) This is what Ben Affleck should be doing: directing big Hollywood movies, and doing little comic character roles on the side. Kind of like Jon Favreau's career. I would trust Jon Favreau to direct a drama any time, but I don't want to see him acting in one. Hell, even Drew Barrymore figured out this strategy: she took a small comedic supporting role in her directorial debut, Whip It, and it was by far the most I've ever liked her in a movie (despite persistent symptoms of her namesake condition). So I say this with great affection: Ben? Affleck? May I call you Ben Affleck? I like you. I'm rooting for you. You seem like a genuinely good guy. But Hollywood has been trying to stuff you into the wrong box for 15 years now, and now that you're directing your own movies, it looks like you're going to pick up with the box-stuffing where they left off (right after Gigli). But let's face it: you're a funny guy. Your appearances on Saturday Night Live are easily your career highlights. The Massachussetts Gay Marriage sketch (which I would link to if I could find it online but I can't)? Top-5 SNL  moment of the 2000's. Now, a journalist would research this piece a little more. Go see Argo and see if Affleck's renewed stature has put his DBD into remission. What if he's licked it? Maybe Ben Affleck really can have it all! So I supersized my lunch break on opening day to go see the movie and guess what? Apparently the theater received a hard drive with all the trailers but not the movie, so the screening was canceled. (Thanks again, advent of digital film projection!) I got a refund and a voucher for another screening, so I will go back sometime next week and see, but I worry that it doesn't matter. I can't take Ben Affleck seriously as a Serious Leading Man, and there may not be much he can do about it -- other than follow my advice to the letter. I can be had for only 10% of your future earnings!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Worst Bathtub Accident of All Time

I read somewhere that 90% of all accident-related injuries occur in the home, and that 90% of those occur in the bathroom. I can't remember where I read these statistics, and I don't much feel like Googling them now, but I can tell you from personal experience that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, especially if you have small kids.

Even though my son is a rough and rowdy five years old, well past the age where I have to worry that the weight of his head will capsize him headfirst to drown in seven inches of off-white soapy water, I still feel a little uneasy about leaving him alone in the bathtub.

That's because his mischief meter, already usually hovering around a 7, invariably pegs the needle the moment his feet hit the water. No matter how scary I try to make my voice, no matter how implicitly I threaten severe violence (because explicitly threatening it would be bad parenting) if I see one more drop of water on the floor, the thrill of splashing, sloshing, pouring, spitting, flicking, and kicking us more than he can resist.

You know that move where you slide back and forth from one end of the tub to the other, and the water starts to move with you, but then you push off the other end of the tub so you're going one way and the water's going the other, so there's a big collision/wave-break/splash in the middle? We all did it. Well, he does it too and I now understand why my mother couldn't quit smoking cigarettes till I was in high school.

It's one thing to find a big, wet mess that someone else made and know that it will take at least two clean towels (an embarrassingly precious commodity in our house) to clean it up. It's another to know that at least half that mess is in an incredibly hard-to-reach spot under the bathroom sink cabinet and between the cabinet and the bathtub. But nothing boils the blood like knowing that said mess was created in direct contravention of your own explicit orders.

When he got big enough, I began to make the boy clean up these messes himself, figuring that might help him think twice before swinging Buzz Lightyear at the surface of the water like a golf club, but it was not long after that that he came up with his own bathtub cannonball, where he straddled the tub with his feet on opposite edges, then sprung vertically and landed in a squat in the middle of the tub. I once left him alone in the tub for literally ten seconds to take something out of the oven and heard a hellacious splash-thump; I hurried in there, worried that the boy had hurt himself, and found him giggling in the tub in about three inches of water (with a solid quarter inch on the floor) and so much dripping off the ceiling it looked like maybe the toilet upstairs was leaking.

We seem to have reached some kind of detente: he still manages to get at least half of the water out of the tub with every bath he takes, but he also understands that he has to clean it up afterward, which he does without much complaint. For my part, I have learned to keep smoke from coming out of my ears when he gets water all over the place, and eventually lowered my guard enough to just let him take his 40-minute baths unsupervised. (I used to do all my best reading sitting in there with him, but he was soaking my books!)

So it was the other night when I put him in the tub for his biweekly bath and went out to the kitchen to start cooking dinner. I give him the standard warning that I don't want to see any water on the floor and that if I do, he will be forced to clean it up at gunpoint blah blah blah but by this time it's boilerplate, a mere formality. He nods politely, I leave the bathroom, and pause to listen for the first tentative sloshes that I know will soon resemble the wave pool at a waterpark. But they do not come! The boy seems to be obeying for once. I shrug and go back to the kitchen.

Ten or fifteen minutes go by and I go back to the bathroom -- not to check on him, but by biological madate. I do my business and can't help noticing the boy is quiet. A little too quiet.  First I notice the razor, the one his mom uses on her legs, in his hand. Then I see the hair floating in the tub. Then I see that he's absolutely beaming. Then I see what he's done.

The world's shortest death row inmate
He has shaved a vertical stripe, about a quarter inch wide and two inches long, right in the center of his hairline. My first impulse is to look for blood, but there is none: amazingly, he's managed to shave this line into his head all the way to the skin, taking a good bit of the surrounding hair with it, without cutting himself.

"Does it look like a stripe?" he asks me excitedly, and my first reaction, which is to get angry and yell at him, evaporates before it starts. He's very pleased with himself, of course, because he has not yet been in front of a mirror. When that moment comes a short time later, he sees that he looks like the world's youngest serial killer, and I can see him visibly register some regret-- quite possibly the first sincere regret of his short life.

So I decide to just go with the flow on this one. No need to rub it in. It's not like I'm the one who looks like I need to pull the front of my wig down, so why should I get stressed out? 

Maddox Jolie-Pitt,
fashion icon
Ironically, I think he was going for a faux-hawk, he just got the polarity reversed. He's been asking for a faux-hawk for years and I just can't bring myself to let him have one. I just can't have him walking around the world like that, because it sends a clear message to the world: "my parents take kiddie style cues from the Jolie-Pitts." That is not a message I wish to send.

When his mother gets home, she also manages to keep calm at first sight of America's shortest death row inmate, probably because I intercepted her at the door and braced her for it. After a long sermon about how razors are dangerous and he could have really hurt himself, and PLEASE DON'T TOUCH THE RAZORS ANYMORE, we leave him sitting with a puzzled look with his bangs floating around him and try to decide what to do.

"Maybe we just give him the faux-hawk," she offers. She's never opposed the fauxhawk like I do. I think she's secretly Team Jolie, but she'll never admit that. I point out that what he's done is the opposite of a faux-hawk, and the idea is quickly dropped. Next we discuss shaving it all off, but that would just accentuate the shave line. We could really shave it off, all the way to the skin, like he did to himself in that one spot, but we decide against making him look like the shortest castmember on Breaking Bad.

It's decided that as ridiculous as he looks, what he's got is the best possible version of the lobotomy-scar haircut, because we can tousle what he's got left over to cover up his racing stripe. It has turned out to be more difficult to do that than anticipated, so some otherwise lovely family pictures have been marred by what we now refer to as "the incident."

So going forward, we have a few goals: 1. Don't leave the razors where he can reach them. 2. Even if you have to dress like you're at a Gallagher show, don't leave him alone in there. and 3. Figure out a way to briefly seize Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox, or Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and shave a vertical stripe into the center of their hairline. Next time the kid is in Star or Us or Them or whatever, the Lobotomy Scar will be as popular as the Faux-Hawk was a few years ago, and the Rachel a few years before that and it will seem that we are not only ahead of the curve, we'll have photographic timestamped proof that the Jolie-Pitts are biting our style. (I remain Team Aniston.) 

This should have been a really
nice picture