Down Home Stories

The NPR affiliate in Washington, DC is WAMU. It’s run by American University, and is the home of the Diane Rehm Show. For a few years in the mid- to late 80s, it was also home to Down Home Stories. Down Home Stories were three-ish minute weekly commentaries written and read by my dad. As the name suggests, the subjects were slice of life-y little vignettes that addressed whatever happened to be on his mind at the time. Not unlike my humble offerings here, when you come right down to it. This was at the height of the Garrison Keeler/Lake Woebegone craze, and people listened to Prairie Home Companion like it contained secret important details about the coming apocalypse that would ensure survival. My dad’s series was well received, and the radio station even had him record a dozen or so of them on cassette to use as an incentive during their fund drive one year. I don’t remember all the subjects he discussed, but a couple stand out in my mind.

At the time we had a Burmese cat, and a twenty year old washing machine. The relationship between these two as described by my dad was that they were the two things in our house that made the most noise. Burmese cats are similar to Siamese; they have a similar deep, distinctive meow. The cat, whose name was Barnaby, used to stand in the stairwell leading from the first to the second floors, and meow. The acoustics of that space were such that his voice was amplified by a factor of about ten. The problem was, he would not shut up, and he often decided to do this at two in the morning. I don’t remember what else my dad  had to say about it, but this torment ended only with our move to a new house in 1987.

The washing machine was in the basement, and was there when we moved in. It had a maddening feature (for want of a better word, but feature seems to me to imply a positive trait, which was not the case in this instance) that would cause it to stop and buzz if the load got off balance. My father said he couldn’t understand why it needed to do this, as, he pointed out, water seeks its own level, but it did. If you didn’t hear it buzzing (and because our house was built in the 1930s and used plaster and lath and was well insulated, you often did not) you’d go downstairs after the amount of time it should have taken the wash cycle to complete, only to find it had stopped twenty minutes previously and had been making a noise like an enormous angry bumble bee ever since. The only solution was to redistribute whatever was in the drum and try to get it started again.

These commentaries had a fairly devoted fan base. It wasn’t large, but it was enthusiastic. My dad said the nicest compliment he ever got was from the movie critic for WAMU. He said, “Whenever one of your segments comes on, I stop what I’m doing for three minutes and just listen.” Another fan was my history teacher, Bill (I went to a fairly progressive school started by then-hippy types—who ended up, of course, being guys like my dad—and we called all our teachers by their first names).

On Valentine’s Day of 1985, Bill walked into History class and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Trace.” I’m pretty sure I gave him a weird look—why was he wishing me a happy Valentine’s day? Freak. (I was fifteen.) He asked me if I’d heard my dad’s commentary that morning. Being the teenage asshole that I was, I’m sure I rolled my eyes and said no.  The subject of that day’s offering  was Valentine’s Days through the years, with me being the final mention on a list of recipients of his affection. What Bill was repeating to me was the last line of the piece.

In retrospect I’m a little surprised I didn’t know about that particular mention, because I would help him time them after he’d written them. Once he’d typed them out on his Smith Corona using the fairly low quality yellow typing paper he always bought (low quality because it was cheap and he went through a lot of it) and typing in ALL CAPS, which was a hangover from his television news reporting and writing days, he would read them out loud while I timed him with an analog stop watch he had. They weren’t supposed to be over about two and a half to three minutes, with three and a half minutes being the final cut off. 

For all their local success, my dad’s commentaries never went any further than WAMU. It may have been that he was considered a poor man’s Garrison Keeler. He told me himself at the time he was probably too much like Keeler to be viable, and like so many writers, he wasn’t great at self-promotion. He never figured out how to differentiate himself, which I can sympathize with. It’s even harder today with the accessibility of blogs as a publishing medium. Explain how your funny words about X are different from fifty peskillion other people’s funny words about that subject. It can be hard to come with something beyond, “Because they’re my funny words.” No longer is voice sufficient; you have to have a hook, an angle, a twist.

Periodically I  have the urge to dig out his tapes (the print versions are long gone) and do something with them. Maybe I will. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Chipdrunks

I'm rerunning an old favorite today.

When we bought our first “big” house (one with more than two bedrooms), it came with an in-ground pool. We couldn’t believe our luck. We could actually afford this? Really? It was true. So we jumped on it, and spent four years with an amazing luxury in our yard.

Yes, it cost us some money—about $300 a year to get someone to open and close it, and each year we had to shell out on average $300 to repair or replace some piece of equipment or other. Ultimately we had to have the pool deck replaced, and the pool resurfaced, but honestly I don’t think if you added up those expenses, plus the cost of the chemicals (which was minimal), it would add up to more than we would have spent on a pool membership, with the club house minimums and dues that involves. Plus it was ours all to ourselves, was open from whenever we wanted to whenever we wanted (not Memorial Day to Labor Day), and available 24x7. The pleasure far outweighed the pain.

There was, however, one experience we had with this pool that a pool membership would have spared us. Drowned chipmunks.

Overhanging the pool deck was a mulberry tree. All spring, summer, and fall, as the mulberries ripened, they fell on the pool deck. They’d sit in the hot sun, and ferment. They’d become boozy, high octane berries. Chipmunks like mulberries and they weigh about 3 ounces each, so they have the alcohol tolerance of a 19 year old sorority girl. They’d eat some berries, and be half in the bag, staggering around the pool deck.

The stages of drunk must be slightly different for chipmunks than for humans. It’s my experience that thirst doesn’t really hit until the alcohol wears off, and it’s part of the hangover stage. Evidently chipmunks get thirsty right away. These stupid chipmunks would lurch over to the pool and try to get a drink of water. The only problem was the level of the water they were trying to drink was about 6 millimeters further down from the lip of the pool edge than the length of the average chipmunk. You probably don’t need me to spell out the result of almost every single one of these attempts.

Another fact about chipmunks is they can’t swim. Squirrels can—one jumped in and went for a dip while I was sitting out there one day, and I chased that little asshole right out. But chipmunks are hopeless and pretty much drop like sinkers as soon as they hit the water. Chipmunks have a lung capacity of about ¼ of a teaspoon, so they also drown almost instantly. We were constantly hauling drowned drunken chipmunks out of our pool.

I hope you’re curious about what we did with the corpses, because you’re going to find out. The house behind us was empty—the people who lived in it moved out about two weeks after we moved in (a coincidence? I don’t know) so the yard was overgrown with ivy and other vines. We would scoop the chipmunks out of the pool with the long handled skimmer, and using it as a sort of catapult, fling them over the fence into all that brush.

Just about the time we were moving out, someone started renovating that house behind us. They started with the house itself, and hadn’t gotten to the yard before we moved to the other side of the country, so I have no idea when they may have discovered the chipmunk mass grave at the far edge of their property, nor what they concluded when they did. I myself would probably have assumed it was some kind of Jonestown/Heaven’s Gate scenario, but with chipmunks. I’m also not sure what the people who bought our house are doing with the drowned chipmunks now since our disposal option is not available to them. Because I’m quite sure those stupid chipmunks are still getting shitfaced on fermented mulberries and drowning in that pool.

Halloween Candy: What to Avoid

Kids love Halloween and kids love candy. As we grow older, we forget that all candy isn’t created equal. Just dropping a morsel of sugar, regardless of its pedigree, into a tyke’s sack isn’t enough. It needs to be decent candy, good candy. With the rare exception, good equals chocolate. Tread carefully around things with peanuts, even if they're chocolate, (although it’s hard to find candy that doesn’t have some form of peanut in it), but by all means, lean toward chocolate. The problem is that candy that is not chocolate is so often something completely weird and beyond consumption.

Take Bit O Honey. Having recently read the ingredients on these, I can assure you that the name is well suited, as they contain about as much honey as my body contains manganese (which is to say, very fucking little). These are bits of sweetened hard plastic shaped into squares. I believe they were invented by a dentist whose business was slow. Once he started distributing them, he saw an increase in child patients with cavities, and additionally in their parents, who had yanked their fillings out and needed to have them replaced.

Similar to Bit O Honey are Mary Janes. Instead of honey flavor, Mary Janes are peanut butter flavored. They have an almost identical consistency, and were probably created by someone who was both a dentist, and whose father in law was a peanut wholesaler. These are made by the same company that makes a candy that is in competition for the Worst Candy Ever Made in the History of the World. I speak of course, of NECCO Wafers.

Anyone who grew up in New England, or to a lesser extent in the Middle Atlantic states, knows NECCO Wafers. Because they’ve been manufactured since 1847. Because of this NECCO wafers have a shroud of nostalgia-induced legitimacy around them. Your grandmother remembers getting them for Halloween when she was a little girl. They’re imbued with cultural history. They’re an historical part of the fabric of society.

This is all fucking bullshit. NECCO wafers are round disks of sugar which, based on their consistency, are made of chalk. They are flavored with the polishing paste your dental hygienist uses when you get your teeth cleaned. The flavors are similar—chocolate, orange, wintergreen. No one actually likes them, and children despise them because eating them is like repeatedly licking a flavored blackboard eraser.

On the other end of the consistency spectrum are Jujubees. Not gritty or dusty, but more like chewing a wad of allegedly fruit flavored rubber bands. Jujubees come in the approximate shape of the fruit they’re supposed to taste like, but the shapes all look more or less the same, so you have to go with color to determine flavor (assuming you want to eat them in the first place). Like Gatorade and Kool-Aid (and probably any other product whose name ends with the sound –ade), Jujube flavors are usually described as their color. Red flavored, yellow flavored, etc. Their actual flavor (corn syrup) defies description.

But worse than any other candy (maybe worse than NECCO wafers—it’s a close call) are Circus Peanuts. Circus Peanuts get my vote for the worst candy ever. Worse than anything made of chalk or rubber, Circus Peanuts seem to be made of foam insulation. I’m sure that I could take the spray foam my husband uses to seal off the cracks around our hose bibs and form it into this candy. To make it less edible (in case you didn’t realize that was possible) Circus Peanuts are banana flavored. I am not a fan of banana in any form, but artificial banana flavoring is what sin and betrayal and despair and failure taste like. All in one.

Please avoid all of these candies unless you’re eager to redecorate the exterior of your home in the style commonly referred to as November First Shitty Candy Givers. It’s easily recognizable by a notable presence of both toilet paper and broken raw eggs. Remember, when in doubt, give out chocolate

Salted Caramel Cheesecake: I'm Cheating

This is cheating, I suppose. This is a post from another blog I used to have. Republishing it because I need content for this challenge!

This post has gotten so much traffic via Pinerest that I have to comment further on those who say, "It's too salty." The idea is that it's a salty caramel dessert. But, everyone has a different level of salt tolerance. So, here's my suggestion--make the crust with just a little salt--a teaspoon or two. Then make the filling with just a teaspoon or two of salt. Then TASTE IT. People watch Food Network and see those people just scatter in some salt, take a small taste, and go, "Mmmm GOOD!" But that's just TV--they're supposed to say that so they don't spend precious air time adjusting the seasoning. You MUST TASTE as you go. Make the filling with everything but the eggs (raw eggs can be dangerous--I can't recommend eating anything with raw eggs in it) then TASTE it. The idea is that you taste some salt, but not that you go, "Ugh, salty." You're supposed to taste the contrast between sweet and salty. If you don't like things pretty salty, just leave the majority of the salt out and make a caramel cheesecake--caramel cheesecake is delicious too! If you taste it and it's not salty, and you want it salty, add a 1/2 teaspoon salt at a time until you get it to where you think it tastes OK. But I strongly recommend you taste as you go.

N.B. It was brought to my attention that if this recipe is made with regular salt, it is WAY too salty. I always use kosher salt. Don't use table salt or this will be truly inedible. My apologies to anyone who may have tried it already without that caveat!

Here it is at last. I’ve been trying to get a picture of a single slice of this for months. And you know what happens? That’s right—every time I’m ready to photograph it, I look for the slice I saved as my “model” and it’s gone. Someone has eaten my model. So you’re just going to have to content yourself with the picture of the whole cheesecake that I happen to have snapped once with my camera phone. It doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea.
I made this for Thanksgiving in 2010. It was proclaimed, “The best dessert you’ve ever made.” Praise, indeed. Well, actually, considering all the desserts I’ve made in 15 years of marriage, plus probably 3 years of dating, that could be saying quite a bit. In the event, I was asked to make it again for Christmas. And again for my husband’s birthday. And again for our anniversary. And every time I made it, I would post about it on Facebook, and my friends would say how much they wanted a piece. Finally, in August of 2012, I made a cheesecake, and invited all my friends over for a Friday night Happy Hour and Cheesecake Devouring Event.
I could have taken numerous pictures of my friends eating it, but when the dust settled, once again, I was left with no model. In fact, I didn’t even get a piece. So the next day, I made another Salted Caramel Cheesecake. I took it to a birthday party for a friend, where once again it was completely consumed, and while I didn’t have anything left to take a picture of, at least I got a slice of it this time.
So, rather than make you wait until November for this recipe, when I might actually be able to get a decent picture of it, I’m giving it to you now and you can make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas and your husband’s birthday and your anniversary. I hope it’s the best dessert you’ll ever make.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake
Serves 2
Ha ha! Just kidding—I’ve served up to 20 people with one cheesecake. Ideally it probably serves about 10-12 people.

For the crust

About 15 graham crackers
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (note: I reduced this from 2 teaspoons. A number of folks in the comments said they found it was too salty. I made this recipe 4 times before posting this, and checked the measurements pretty carefully, I thought. However, I made it for Thanksgiving 2011 and realized that they WAY the crust is distributed in the pan can make it seem quite salty--if there's a significant slope between the bottom and the sides, that fairly dense piece of crust can be overpowering to the rest of the recipe. So I'm recommending the reduction to the salt to account for the possible variations in the way people make the crust.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, grind graham crackers to crumbs. (If you’re using premade crumbs, you want about 8 oz or 2 cups, and you’ll want to do all these steps in a bowl.) Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. With motor running, add butter through feed tube. Process for another few seconds until combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a 9” or 10” (I have a 10” myself) springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2”. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even around the top; you just want to be sure it’s deep enough to hold all the cheesecake mixture.
3. Bake crust until slightly brown. You’ll just be able to smell it. This will take anywhere from 10-12 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
For the cheesecake

3 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 13-14 oz. can dulce de leche
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

1. In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese until smooth, add dulce de leche and beat to combine.
2. Add flour and salt, beat to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. There should be no lumps.
3. Add the sugar and beat to combine.
4. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the eggs one at a time until just combined, about 30 seconds each. Don’t overbeat once the eggs are added; the cheesecake will puff up too much while baking, and the top will crack.
5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
6. Bake at 300 degrees F for 55 – 65 minutes. The center will seem to be only slightly set, and will be wobbly if you nudge it. The sides will puff slightly.
7. Cool completely on a rack, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (I have gotten away with a 5 hour cooling, but I was on edge that it wouldn’t turn out; overnight is really best). When I put it in the refrigerator to set up, I remove the ring from my springform, and put the cheesecake on a cake stand. You can leave it in the springform if you don't have a cake stand.
For the caramel

½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine. All those warnings about stirring caramel and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystal formation? I avoid all that by just never stirring it at all. If I need to move it around the pan, I just swirl it.
2. Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You’re looking for something that’s about the color of dark honey. The problem with caramel is that it goes from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye, so just when you find yourself thinking, “Any second now…” pull it off the heat. It should take 3-5 minutes.
3. Off the heat, carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
4. Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for awhile over a low heat. I've actually let it boil a bit--unintentionally--and just when I thought I'd ruined it, it turned out to be perfect.) Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top. I try to encourage mine to pool in the middle, but if you’re more of a drip-down-the-sides type, you can go with that. I just think the drippy makes sort of a mess on my cake stand, but maybe that doesn’t bother you.
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices (it’s pretty rich) with a sharp knife, wiping the blade clean after every slice.

Six Children's Games That Teach Adult Skills

Kids, I know you think your fun and games are all…well, fun and games, but what you may not realize is that some of your games are teaching you skills that will serve you well in adulthood. Not all games are both entertaining and prepare you for the challenges you face as a grown up and a parent, but some do although you may not realize it, because they may be quite subtle.

Matching games
At first it may not seem that remembering which card was Elsa and which was Olaf in the Frozen memory game is applicable to adult life, but this skill will actually prove more useful than you imagine. When doing laundry, sorting socks is nothing more than a never ending game of matching pairs. Remembering where the Hanes ankle sock or the Adidas soccer sock was when you pull the other one out of the basket will save you from having to root through the entire goddamned pile in front of you on the table. It may also be beneficial in the endless search for your car keys that will consume your entire adult life.

Although the concept is somewhat reversed, loading the dishwasher is very similar to this game. Instead of removing pieces from a precarious stack of intricately entwined blocks, you’re trying to create a pattern that maximizes the number of items you can get into a predefined space. Of course, there’s almost no chance that the dishes will topple and break, but a poorly configured load of dishes will result in some of them not getting properly clean, which means they’ll either have to go through again or be washed by hand. This can cause the same sort of “Oh shit!” reaction as the destruction of a Jenga tower.

Your suspects may no longer be a collection of fictitious characters named after various colors, but your ability to make keen observations and keep track of facts will go a long way toward figuring out who’s responsible for the drawing on the wall, the milk spilled on the kitchen counter, or the dent in the driver’s side rear fender.

Pick up sticks
The skills you gain in this game may not seem particularly applicable to parenting, but you’d be surprised how similar easing the sticks away from one another without moving any of the rest of them is to getting out of a sleeping infant’s room without waking it. You move extremely slowly, hoping that shifting your weight from one foot to the next doesn’t make the floor boards squeak. You ease your way to the door with bated breath, sure the sound of your heart pounding with fear will wake the little bugger up. As with pick up sticks, just when you’re sure you’re free, you realize you didn’t take into consideration the complete trajectory of the stick—or in the case of the baby, the click as you turn the knob to slip out into the hall. Dammit!

There’s no better practice for the jumping and balancing required to avoid the dreaded experience of stepping on a fucking Lego in the minefield of the playroom than a few rounds up and down a numbered board in quest of a rock or bottle cap.

Left hand, feeding spoon; right hand, sign permission form; left foot, push puking dog off rug; right foot, prevent toddler from reaching scissors on kitchen counter.

Signs Your Boss Secretly Hates You

Your performance review includes a section describing in detail all of your annoying personal habits
This includes the way you constantly click your pen in meetings, picking your nose in the elevator, and the fact that you sometimes chew loudly. It’s the reason your performance rating  is downgraded from “on track” to “falling behind/needs immediate improvement.”

He or she leaves Post It notes on your monitor that say “I Hate You. Signed, [Your Boss's Name]”
This may seem like a lighthearted, playful gesture, but studies have shown that when a boss leaves a note saying they hate you, signed with their own name, there’s a 1 in 5 chance it’s true.

Your boss “forgets” to invite you to every single staff meeting, and the company holiday party and picnic
All through the year you hear your coworkers talking about the helpful time management seminar from the last staff meeting, or that hilarious thing Jason from IT did to Mike from Finance with the ketchup bottle at the company picnic, and you realize that the invitations to those events never showed up in your email or mailbox. If you confront your boss directly, she’ll deny having excluded you, saying it must have gone to your spam folder, or that everyone knows the mailroom guy is a total stoner jerkoff who should be fired.

When you walk up to your boss’s office door, he picks up the phone as soon as he sees you, and starts pretending to talk to someone
As soon as you appear in the doorway, your boss grabs the handset of his phone and says, “So, Pete, about that RFP we were discussing. I have a long list of questions for you that will probably take at least an hour and a half to get through. Maybe two hours. Definitely until lunchtime, if not longer. You OK with that? You are? Great!” Then your boss then looks at you and shrugs his shoulders to say, “Whatever you need will have to wait; this is has to take precedence.”

During fire drills, your boss tells you it’s OK for you to stay at your desk and work instead of practicing how to evacuate the building in the event of an emergency because your work is so vital to the success of the organization
This one is really subtle. It sounds like he’s doing you a favor, not making you get up and walk down fifteen flights of stairs, and then having to wait around for the elevator for ten minutes to get back up to your desk. But the day there’s an actual emergency, you’re going to be at the mercy of your boss to know just where that emergency exit is at the bottom of the stairs, and since your boss hates you, he’s not likely to tell you where it is, or worse may intentionally point you in the wrong direction. Don’t be fooled by this one.

When you mention you have weekend plans, your boss asks if you’ll be doing anything that might result in a tragic life-threatening accident
You know what? Forget this one. She’s probably just worried about your safety and well-being.

So You Want to Be an Internet Troll

So you want to be an Internet troll. Bravo. It’s a growth industry.

Having said that, there are a lot of trolls who make some very basic mistakes when leaving nasty comments. You don’t want to be one of those—you want to be the best troll you can be. Here’s a quick primer on some things to watch out for when spewing your venom and vitriol across the Internet.

Actually read the article, not just the title
Understand what the author is saying, and what their intent is. Try not to intentionally misunderstand the author’s message. If they’re expressing an opinion, do not assume what they’re really saying is, “This isn’t just my opinion; it is the truth and the light. If you don’t agree with me, you are wrong and you should be ashamed of your shameful wrongness.” If they’re trying to be funny, even if it isn’t your style of humor, try not to be a massive dick about it. If they’re suggesting something completely ridiculous (like, oh, people actually setting out to be Internet trolls and needing instructions for things they shouldn’t do, to offer a completely random example) don’t take them seriously. Try to act like you have a sense of humor that extends beyond knock knock jokes and the kind of shit you read on Bazooka bubblegum wrappers.

Brush up on grammar, spelling, and punctuation
Remember, you’re slashing a writer here. There’s a pretty good chance he or she knows the difference between your and you’re, and when to use who versus whom. Stupid shit like using 12 periods in between each sentence, or blatant misspellings (hint: almost every comment section has a Spell Check built into it; make it your friend), are going to arouse scorn and mockery, and we will laugh at you in our writer secret Facebook groups. Your comment will be dismissed as pathetic bullshit from an uneducated moron. I mean, you’re leaving a nasty trollish comment anyway, so you’re pretty sure to be dismissed even if your prose is a miracle of linguistic composition with flawless syntax and dazzling arguments, but try not to embarrass yourself on a technical level as well.

Don’t bother slamming the piece as “poorly written”
You may as well just skip that part. Especially if you haven’t heeded the previous tip. But even if your comment meets the aforementioned bar of flawless syntax and dazzling argument, your critique of our writing style really doesn’t matter to us. You’re not our editor or our English teacher, so you can fuck off with condemning our output as poorly written garbage. If you think you can do better, we challenge you to try.

Which brings us to…

Consider doing some writing and trying to get published yourself
I’m willing to bet most people who troll sites have never published a damned word. I said most—I’m sure there are authors who are also assholes who would go after a fellow writer. But most writers know the pain of rejection, the struggle it is to make it into print (even digitally), and the fierce competition for eyeballs on the published work. They’re less likely to lash out at a comrade who has traveled such a long and agonizing path for even the most minor of professional exposure. We suggest you write about something that’s important to you, then get it published (yeah, good luck with that) and see how much you appreciate the trolls coming in and passing judgment on your feelings, with no opportunity for you to reply to their nasty attacks. (Because, please—you’re a troll, and this isn’t a dialog; just vomit up your rude and hateful opinions and never darken the door of that comment thread again.)

I hope with this list to improve the quality of the nasty responses I see on websites. It’s incredibly frustrating for an author to write about something that’s important and personal to them, and have a bunch of people come in and leave asshole comments that are that are rude, conceived from a position of ignorance, and poorly constructed. As a troll you owe it to the author you’re slamming to provide the highest caliber of nasty comment you can.