Question: What do you like most about OS?
No need to answer. I know what you're going to say: The great writing. The spirit of community. Making new friends.
You're here for the same reason I'm here: the bitching. No, I don't mean minor, petty bitching. I mean rich, eloquent, sophisticated bitching. You know, the kind you can't get at home.
Think about it: What was your favorite moment at OS? Was it that beautiful poem that touched your heart? Was it the political essay that changed your thinking? Was it a recipe?
Because each of these events involved conflict. The Pirate Rebellion put men against women. The Great Rasslin' Match put Cindy Ross against O'Really. The Ramesh Incident put the entire OS community against some Indian guy.
Was it civilized? No. Was it inspiring? No. Was it fun? Hell, yes!
While artificial conflicts (like the ones cited above) are enjoyable, real conflicts are essential. They alert us to our surroundings and summon us to action. They create the inertia that yanks us from our complacency. They advance the world.
So let's end this insufferable habit of celebrating writers and artists, and celebrate the real heroes of OS: the people who create conflict -- those who raise their fists with their voices, who stir up trouble and revel in it, who won't let the sun set without having the final word: the strident, the forceful, the indomitable -- the kvetchers.
Here is my list of top 8 kvetchers of 2009. If you don't like my choices, glaze a donut and post it on Tuesday.
Look up "scoundrel" in Wikipedia and you'll find Floyd. Floyd's blog is an endless tantrum -- a superbly written, devilishly clever, grammatically flawless, stunningly inventive, jaw-droppingly brilliant tantrum. Floyd bitches about everything from bad grammar to the GOP. If you haven't been vilified by him, you're either an amoeba or one of his daughters. That he hasn't been nabbed by the Chicago police is a wonder.
O'Really? slithered into OS last June and she's been bitching about men ever since. The only thing that keeps her from strangling John Blumenthal is post-coital fatigue. Don't mistake her for a misandrist; she loves men -- intelligent, loving, handsome, sophisticated, debonair, (i.e. imaginary) men. Her affair with Mr. Wonderful would make you puke if she weren't so talented at describing it. I hope Blumenthal has his camera when she implodes.
John's been bitching about Hollywood ever since he stumbled into OS last August. His previous job? Writing for Playboy. But don't hold it against him: He kvetches even without porn. Midwesterners, beware. John's marvelously witty prose is a vehicle of discovery. In a series of delicately crafted exposés, he reveals that (you should sit down for this) Hollywood sucks! Gee, thanks, John. I guess I'll have to go to Paris to see the Mona Lisa.
Don't get me started. Sally's been at OS since Noah. If you're afraid she's going to attack you, don't worry: You're not important enough. Sally saves her ammunition for presidents and popes. You want to debate her? Go ahead. She had Jimmy Carter for breakfast; she'll have you for lunch. I'm not saying she's mean; she's one of the loveliest people at OS. Just don't get on her bad side unless you want to see your bloodied face on her blog with an EP dangling from it.
Lea never bitches. I've included her because she's smart and pretty. Hi, Lea! Hope you're having a nice vacation! Travel safely!
Sheldon is the most bizarre fantasy/nightmare here at OS. If you think he won't trample on you, check out the archives. He befriends chainsaw-wielding monkeys and dreams of punching Robert Frost in the face. His less endearing traits border on the psychotic. When his barbed wit isn't dipped in pickle juice, it's applying aloe vera to his toes. That's right: his toes. Handle with care. Sheldon is best consumed with aspirin and a heating pad.
1IMom is a woman of sundry moods. She'll make you pancakes for breakfast, then crack your nuts with the frying pan. Don't believe me? Check out her diatribe against Michelle Bernard. Who's Michelle Bernard? It doesn't matter anymore: Madré had her incinerated. And don't look for the evidence: It's been sprinkled into her chocolate soufflé. Enjoy Madré's lush poetry and exquisite humor, but don't get on her dark side unless you want to be a condiment in her next creation.
Shaggylocks is an expert on Coronet Films, instructional films from the '50s that teach teenagers about dating, courtesy, and citizenship. In fact, he's the world's only expert. Why? Because no one else gives a shit. Shags has been bitching about the '50s since I got here. Earth to Shags: the 50s are over. Life's now in technicolor! It's time to join Pedro, my gardener, and come out of the shadows. Shags is one of the funniest people at OS. He'll make you laugh 'til your sides hurt. But be gentle with him. Rapid movements cause vertigo for which there is no instructional video.
Okay, that's my list. If you're on it and want off, stop bitching. If you're off and want on, start bitching. And if you have plans for some major bitching in 2010, send me a PM, because I sooooo want to be part of it!
Happy New Year!