Up: Eric Reads the Week, #26

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

I'm writing this on a balcony! Actually that's not true anymore. Now I'm at the airport. But when I started this I was on a balcony. So, picture me there. On a balcony, bathed in warm breezes blowing in from Miami Bay, not here, bathed in hot pepperoni air from a Sbarro's.

Not to sound like I was raised by wolves, but I can't say I've ever spent a significant amount of time on a balcony. I'm not Nell; I've just lived in a bunch of different row homes. But all that has changed now! I'm in Miami! On a balcony! Right now! (Not right now but in your mind. I am Juliet Capulet in your head.)

I started each day on the balcony, writing my column and doing some work on a workshop I came down here to run. It transformed my life! I texted David at, like, 7 in the morning to demand that we immediate add an outdoor ledge to our apartment "FOR CREATIVITY REASONS." Now, I am willing to admit that the inspirational qualities of a balcony overlooking palms trees and water in South Florida are objectively greater than those of one overlooking a busy mid-Atlantic city in the bleak mid-winter. But whatever. I'm a balcony person now. Literally catch me outside.

I'm here in Miami for the City Theatre CityWrights Conference. This is my third time attending and every year I come away inspired, invigorated and super motivated to write new things (on balconies only, please.) This year my short play Miriam1234 was a finalist for the National Award for Short Playwriting and I got to see an absolutely breathtaking reading of it. I also got to catch Summer Shorts, an evening of 10-minute plays and musicals by such superstars as Chisa Hutchinson, Steve Yockey and Lin-Manuel Miranda. It's so damn good. If you're in the area, I insist that you come in from your balcony and go see it.

When I got here I still had my base tan from Pride and I was checking into this super fancy hotel where everyone has abs and sports cars, so basically you couldn't tell me nothing. I instantly became Blanche Deveraux, honey. Just in the attitude, though. Not the activity. Well, attitude and attire.

I love this hotel so much but I'm not going to tell you which hotel it is because I also want to make fun of it. Like, it's a ridiculous place but I don't want to burn any bridges just in case they one day want to pay me to send out some promotional tweets or something. Always thinking! This balcony life ain't gonna fund itself.

This hotel is wild. They have a swanky lounge that's always playing the movie Boiler Room. On repeat. On mute. On two screens. For why, though? Everyone has slicked back hair and gets arrested at the end; is this bar with $17 martinis pro capitalism or against? A mystery!

The showers have one of those unmarked knob systems that is, frankly, inscrutable. Why do fancy hotels insist on keeping instructions on how to make water hot a secret? What is gained from this? Another mystery!

There was a mini-fridge in a cabinet in my room and I thought that, since the cabinet was made for the fridge, there was nothing else in there. I was wrong! One night I looked up from my bed on the other side of the room and spotted all this stuff just chilling on top of the fridge, in the 2 inches of space between there and the top of the cabinet. There was a toothbrush, toothpaste, a first aid kid and a razor. With no markings! Did these cost money? Were they someone's secret stash? There was a sign in the bathroom that said "Did you forget a razor? Toothpaste? Deodorant? Etc. Let us know and we'll get it for you." I really wanted to call down and ask for toothpaste solely to find out if a bellhop would promptly show up at my door and stealthily reach into the mini-fridge, withdrawing a tube of toothpaste like a magic trick. I would have loved that.

It was literally impossible to see them if you weren't shoving your entire face into the mini-bar. And why would you do that? Is this what fancy people do in hotels: spend all their time rooting around the room solving mysteries? Seems like a strange hobby. But what do I know? I just became a balcony person so I have a lot to learn.

I only wrote one of this week's columns on a balcony, but pretend that they wee all birthed from the balmy breeze, and the neon lights of a nearby skyscraper, and the sound of someone in a nearby room playing salsa while someone else in a nearby room talks loudly in Russian. Glamour!

In this issue: the new Ken dolls! Health(s)care! The Twins! The Bachelorette! But first... Justin Trudeau hugs a unicorn.

Justin Trudeau Hugs a Puppet Unicorn in a Beautiful Universe Much Like Our Own

Video hit the internet this week of Justin Trudeau hugging a unicorn because, at this point, Canada is actively trying to ascend to a higher, more magical spectral plane. It seems like half of the Canadian news breaking lately could easily be generated by playing a MadLibs called "What's the Most Wonderful Thing That Could Happen?" Today, when someone played the game, the noun they chose was "puppet unicorn" and the verb they chose was "hugging" and the person they chose was "Canadian Disney prince Le Bae." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

All the Ken Dolls You Will Meet in Your Lifetime

"We're all Ken now," I said to my kids, whose main objective in life is to have as many permutations of Ken as possible. Actually, it wasn't to my kids. It was a stranger's kids at Starbucks. Actually, it was just the barista. Whose name was Ken. Ken you believe it?! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

How to Celebrate Beyonce's Royal American Birth

It's been widely reported that Beyoncé gave birth to The Twins last Monday, forever altering our timeline and use of language. Henceforth, the phrase The Twins will only refer to the Knowles-Carter progeny. Condolences to Mary-Kate and Ashley, Daisy and Violet, and the Ying Yangs. You have all been assigned new names. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

All the Totally Real and Not Made Up* Changes That Could've Made the Health Care Bill Even Worse

While many were expecting a drastically different plan from the one that House Republicans failed to push through earlier this year, the Senate plan bore striking similarities to it, including cutting all government reimbursements for Planned Parenthood for a year, allowing insurance companies to charge seniors up to five times what they would charge younger customers, and forcing all Americans to appear on the new reality television show So You Think You Want to Keep Living! [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Snakes on a Boat: The Bachelorette, Season 13, Episode 4 recap

In confessional, Lee goes full villain. His hair is sticking up wildly, as if he’s nervously run his fingers through it whilst plotting, his eyes swim in a soup of duplicitousness and alcohol, and he speaks the line that should be in every Reality Show Bingo Free Square: “I did not come here to make friends.” And then he ups the ante by promising the camera, “And I’m going to have problems with some of these guys. It might get crazy.” Y’all, Lee is trying to be our new Chad Johnson. But Chad Johnson wasn’t actually evil; he just didn’t want to play pretend. Lee might as well be wearing a shirt that reads, “I’m dropping hints that I’m evil.” [READ THE FULL RECAP]

Random Thing from the Internet

Especially this GIF that looks like a shot from a mumblecore remake of The Wiz.


See you on the balcony, fellow wealthy detectives!