Low-Tech: Eric Reads the Week, #40

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

A few years ago my mother got me and my brothers little black leather-bound books in which to keep our internet passwords. You could tell that they were for keeping your internet passwords because the cover said "Internet password logbook" and then the cover page said "Internet password logbook."

She'd seen it on CBS Sunday Morning and immediately bought three. It was a very thoughtful gift (all of hers are) but I was, I have to admit, very tickled by it. It seemed an almost farcical addition to my already peculiar home security system (most of which involves inconveniently placed boxes and ghosts whom I bribe.)

This was before the 2016 election, but I still wish I had responded "You want me to write all my sensitive information in a publicly accessible, easily hackable place? Who am I, the Democratic National Committee?!" To which everyone would have responded: "We don't know to what you're referring because it hasn't happened yet but it's still too soon."

I brought it home and showed David. I was like "When that Nigerian prince from the internet breaks into our house, this is going to be the first thing he looks for. Well, I'm not going to do his dirty work for him! That's not the American way." To which David responded, "What are you talking about?"

I put the book in a drawer for a month or so and went about my business. At the end of every month, I pay all of the bills at once in a crazed spree. Like supermarket sweep but with student loans and also you get no prize except the exact same credit score you had last month. Paying bills is such a weird experience for me because I like to hoard money, Scrooge McDuck-style, but I also love spending money. Paying bills sort of feels like buying something so the part of my brain that is constantly in the middle of the Rodeo Drive montage from Pretty Woman feels delighted. But the part of my brain that just wants to swim in gold all the time is pressed.

(Side note: Scrooge's coin vault is honestly one of the most influential images from my childhood. It's kind of surprising that I'm not a Republican, tbh. Although, who's to say if putting all your riches in a vault that you swim in is actual fiscal responsibility. What it is, however, is totally gross. Money is so disgusting--actually, not just conceptually--and he's putting his face on it! He's getting it in his mouth?! Scrooge McDuck definitely has E. coli.)

Anyway, I don't have time to get into all of that now. I could honestly talk about Scrooge McDuck for hours. When I was a kid, my grandmother used to give me and my brothers old Tylenol bottles full of coins as gifts (I'm not unpacking that right now, thanks) and we would pour the coins on the bed and roll around in them, pretending to be a rich cartoon duck. Ah, that's living.

ANYWAY! I like paying bills but also I hate paying bills. And the whole thing stresses me out and gives me the late stage capitalism blues. And it's not helped by the fact that every single website seems to have different requirements for passwords, passwords that I am always forgetting, with security questions that I never know the answers to, and usernames that I don't know why I would ever have chosen. It's a mess! And every month I rant to David that this situation with the bills and the locked accounts and the password hints is untenable!

Are people just walking around knowing the name of their childhood best friend for security question purposes?! And don't even get me started on the ones that ask you for your favorite author. Like, that is a volatile question and I will not entertain it. Do you mean of all-time or in this moment? Who wrote the book I love the most or whose entire body of work is my favorite? What genre? Are we talking books only or are magazine writers also included? I'm my favorite writer, OBVIOUSLY.

Just kidding it's probably a transformer made out of Toni, Colson, Alice, Ta-nehisi, Samantha Irby, Branden Jacob-Jenkins and poet Donte Collins.

All of my security answers are "Black Power."

This is only part of the monologue that I give to David every. single. month. Who knows themselves this well? It's too much. Why have we created this prison for ourselves?

AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON CAPITAL LETTERS AND SYMBOLS. I can't put any more in my brain. My brain is closed!

In the middle of one of my passwords rants, David gently suggested that I use the Internet password book. I laughed but then I started using it and I realized that I don't have to keep this knowledge in my brain any more. And when a password changes, I just scratch the old one out and write the new one in and go about my life. True, the book starts to look like a conspiracy diary, but better out than in, I say.

Honey, I love this book. I love it. Sometimes I worry that I'm making it too easy for a hacker or something but then I realize, if I hacker actually leaves the dimly lit warehouse where they're kept, finds my house, gets through security (all of the boxes near the front door) and then manages to locate an actual physical book in this, the year of our Lord 2017, they can have my stupid identity. I'll choose a new one. I'm Idris Elba now.

This week's columns were fairly low-tech: we got into about colanders, raved about Meryl's bootleg Michelle Obama bag, and realized that sitting and watching Sutton Foster tap dance was actually a fitness plan. But first... the OG Scrooge McDuck: Mr. Monopoly....

Pressing Questions for the Person Who Dressed as Mr. Monopoly at the Equifax Senate Hearing

Amanda Werner showed up to yesterday's Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing dressed as Mr. Monopoly and I'm living for it. It's just barely October and Halloween has already been won. Sorry to everyone who is dressed as a Unicorn Wonder Woman or Sexy Jared Kushner; please try again next year. Amanda Werner, sporting a gleaming white KFC mustache and a Colonel Mustard monocle, plopped themselves right behind Equifax CEO Richard Smith and stole the show. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Everyone Needs to Stop Bothering Kim Cattrall About Sex and the City 3

Who is demanding another Sex and the City movie? Look I’m sorry to be that person but we must acknowledge that Sex and the City 2 was a travesty. I'm just going to say it. I've been going to the Kim Cattrall School of Telling the Truth and Leaving the Drama for Your Mama. SATC 2 was rough, honey. I was rooting for it. We were all rooting for it. How dare it? I wanted to love it so badly. I showed up on opening night! I sat on the front row! I wore a fascinator! But 15 minutes in I was already over it. Sticking a Post-in to the screen like “I’m sorry. I can’t. Don't hate me.” [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

This next one is probably the most on-brand thing I wrote all week. Broadway puns and throwing shade at physical fitness? Present and accounted for!

Seeing a Musical Is as Good for You as a 30-Minute Workout

Sorry, Planet Fitness. I regret to inform you I must cancel my membership. I have greatly enjoyed the free pizza Mondays but I have landed on Planet Funny Girl and my workout now consists solely of marching through early 20th century New York while singing about the weather forecast for parades. Everyone, I'm a health fiend now! Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter. Count those macros or whatever. I start my day with some Lin-Manuel Miracquetball and end with a Karen Zie-umba class. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Meryl Streep, Hero That We Need, Is Still Rocking a Michelle Obama Purse

This lewk is so on-brand for Meryl. Meryl is totally your aunt who is in 16 Sister Resister Facebook groups and signs all her emails, "Yours in solidarity!!!" She is perfect. And this bag is perfect. This is the kind of thing you buy on a late night Etsy adventure from a store called "Yes We Candles and Gifts" or something. This bag comes with a list of all your representatives numbers already sewn inside for easy calling. When they ship this bag, they throw in a couple of Maxine Waters lapel pins because they know their audience. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

The Internet Thinks You've Been Using a Colander Incorrectly

I'm sorry. I'm screaming. I have a lot of pasta-related feelings. But really, what the (Wolfgang) Puck is this? This is a true culinary bad dream. A kitchen nightmare, if you will. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Heidi Montag Gave Birth in the Most Speidi Way Possible

You have to respect Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, the former Blair and Chuck of The Hills, who have spun early 2000s reality show villainy into a sort of latter day Marlon Brando-style kookiness. It's hard to hate them as much as we once did because they're just so eccentric and isn't that the American dream or something? Don't we all want to go from being despised to being patiently tolerated? Speidi's post-Hills career has been one extended drag performance of Madonna singing "You Must Love Me" from Evita. You have to admit it's at least fascinating, if not completely endearing. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]


I'm recapping Scandal on Man Repeller! I'm so excited because it has been my favorite drama for 6 years and all I want in life is to scream my thoughts about it to the internet!

I wrote a catch-up summary of last season and then recapped Thursday's season premiere:

SCANDAL: Six things to know before Season 7 airs tonight

We head into the final Olivia & Co. go-round having borne witness to the complete transformation of Kerry Washington’s steely central character. Is this a becoming or a destruction? Who can say. Gone is Olivia’s black-and-white morality (and with it, her blazing white suits — how many stain sticks does this woman own?). Like the pontiff Jude Law played on HBO last year, this Pope is a mess of contradictions: fully human but still somewhat otherworldly. It remains to be seen whether that other world is ultimately good or bad. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

I’m Not Bossy; I’m the Boss: Scandal, Season 7, Episode 1 Recap

Cyrus meets with an Elizabeth Warren-type who tells him that she thinks he should start planning his run for president in four years. She rattles off all his details: gay, ran with a Latino Democrat, serves under a Republican woman, adopted a black daughter, spent time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. She describes this as “the liberal dream,” which feels kind of like a read, to be honest. Like, good for Cyrus that people think he’s not a political poison but I just don’t see it. No shade but Cyrus Beene is not the liberal dream, honey. The liberal dream is 1) Literally anyone who can beat Trump or 2) Michelle Obama. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Random thing from the internet...

Donte Collins' book of poems, Autopsy, is so good, so raw, so beautiful and so painful. You must buy it. You can also watch his extraordinary performance of his poem "Grief Puppet" here. It's MASTERFUL. It starts off funny and a little ribald and then becomes more and more revelatory with every second. It's the kind of poem that I watch 20 times on repeat and shout every time.

Have a medium-tech week!