Working On It: Eric Reads the Week, #63

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

This week: a hot dog cannon, WackDonald's joins the Wesistance, and the Bachelor refuses to end.

This is going to be quick because I'm about to board a plane and the free wifi I've accessed in the terminal is counting down like the clock on 24. That is a television show I would watch: Person Tries to Finish a Thing Before Having to Pay for WiFi. I would also watch a show about a person who valiantly tries to keep from checking their work email on Sunday night. Sometimes they would succeed, sometimes they would fail. These are their stories. DUN DUN.

The television above me in this terminal at O'Hare is playing a documentary about apartheid, apparently. I only know this because all of my attention was momentarily wrenched away by the sentence "White domination would continue for the next 100 years." Like, wow. Okay. Just some casual Sunday flight information. I've filed a complaint with the airline that just says "The narrator was a little too excited, tbh. Take that glee out your voice when you're talking about white domination, thanks so much."

There are a lot of people traveling with children, which will never not look like a nightmare. Like, I'm fine with computer bag and the 16 magazines I won't get around to reading but I feel bad for you. I think what I love most about watching parents and children navigate the airport is how blithely ignorant every child is to the project of the airport. Airports are super dynamic places when you don't have to worry about the tyranny of a bottle containing more than 3 ounces of liquid. I feel bad for parents who are struggling to corral tiny, suitcase-bearing manifestations of id. But I also want every kid tottering through an airport, touching every single thing, and randomly shrieking to be my new life coach.

I went through the line to get to the security gate behind a woman who was pushing a stroller and being casually followed by a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old girl. They had their hair done in beautiful puffy ponytails all over their heads (is ponytail the right word? are any of these the right words.) These little Rudy Huxtables must have thought that they were on a stakeout of their mom because they were following her a safe distance that, to the outside eye, reflected absolutely no relation. The mom went through the gate and kept walking. The two little girls stayed outside the stanchion, futzing with the bag handles with great intensity. Everything at the gate ground to a halt. All of the adults stayed still because we didn't want to separate the kids from their mom. The security guards seem to have never encountered two humans who couldn't care less about the process, and the little girls gave no indication that there was anything more important than the task at hand, which changed from playing with the handles to repeatedly pushing their tiny suitcases over and then picking them up again.

We all looked helplessly at the mom. She stared back at her kids as if all of this was totally normal and honestly it was odd that we were commenting on it at all, albeit with silent pleading and swallowed throat clearings. The 4-year-old finally ambled through the gate, leaving only the youngest, who had busied herself with falling over on top of her bag over and over again. The mom, who had not stopped walking through a now-empty security line, called over to the 2-year-old in the measured tone of a work performance review. "Elaine. I'm going this way," the mom said. Elaine (ELAINE!) looked at her mom and replied, "I'm working on this bag." The mom nodded and kept walking.

All of the adults looked around like "Well, Elaine seems to have this under control." Elaine did not look at any of us. Frankly, it would have been beneath her. Finally, she picked her fallen suitcase over, grabbed the handle, ignored the security guards, and marched through the empty expanse of stanchions, zig-zagging across the suggested queues with a wild intensity that suggested that she was the only person in this airport who knew what she was doing and she was determined not to let any of us get in her way.

Elaine. What an icon.

This week's columns were all about people putting in work, outside opinions be damned, from The Bachelor producers who decided that the show should just never end, to the Oscars which re-purposed to set of Frozen. But first, an icon and a bunch of hot dogs.

I'm Never Going to Get Over Armie Hammer's Oscars Hot Dog Cannon

Armie Hammer, that gigantic slash fiction illustration come to life, toted around a huge hot dog cannon during the 90th Academy Awards and I am still undone by it. I am lingering at the precipice between life and the hot dog-filled afterlife like Harry Potter in the last book. But with hot dogs. I have to stress that point. There are hot dogs. Hot dogs are prominent. It's like a stadium concession stand. But, like, otherworldly. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

The Bachelor Finale Was Like a Home Invasion Horror Movie

After the family meeting, Arie goes on one final day-long date each with Becca and Lauren. He and Lauren take the Hogwarts Express through the mountains of Machu Pichu and it's like watching a sequel to Harry Potter in which two bland Ravenclaws studiously avoid any of the interesting things happening in the wizarding world. One wonders if they are even able to do magic. They sit and talk and Arie's like, "What do you think our life together will be like." And Lauren's like, "Oh, we'll do things and stuff. We'll Netflix. We'll chill." OMG vows. I'm crine. [READ THE FULL RECAP]

The Bachelor Returns to Torture Becca Some More

After that they show Becca's journey home. Every leg of it. Packing, wheeling her suitcase to a car, listening to a podcast on the flight home. Like, they actually filmed her on the plane, in the dark, in the middle seat. The actually are taking this woman through purgatory. This is a Lars von Trier film. [READ THE FULL RECAP]

Companies Make 78% of an Effort to Celebrate International Women's Day

It's International Women's Day again and there's never been a better time to show your support of women than by buying as much as you can from a large, multi-national corporation. Grab your purses and, at the very most, 78 cents of every dollar you have, because IWD is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Like the other major spending holidays, Black Friday, Veteran's Day, and Taco Tuesday, International Women's Day is the perfect time to remember that the only way we can value a cause is by throwing money at things. Not people. Definitely not by paying people money, but rather by buying a microwave or something that is 65 percent off regular price. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

A Guide to Reality Shows I Wish Would Happen

I am super excited that American Idol is back on television if only because it answers the question: Hasn't everyone who is in remotely good at singing already appeared on a reality show? Between The Voice, The Four, American Idol, Sing for Your Supper, Jingles for Freedom, Banned Bands et al., television is chock full of musical reality. Television is the most real right now, musically-speaking. Add to that the vast landscape of Celebrities Living Their Lives reality shows, Game Shows Hosted by People We Like, Games Shows Hosted by People We Don't Like, Dating Game Shows, and Dating Shows About Dating Game Shows, we're living in the golden age of real life being filmed for cameras and sometimes for a prize of some sort! What a time to be alive. But, we could also use more. It could always be more real! So, here are some reality show pitches that I've been working on day and night for my new show Reality Show Pitch-Off. Please alert Hollywood. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Trump to Meet with Old Friend King Koopa to Talk About Video Game Violence

Today the White House is meeting with ::spins wheel:: members of the video game industry to talk about ::throws dart while blindfolded:: violence! The President is summoning video game makers to Washington today for an unspecified purpose that is most definitely somehow related to Trump's lifelong quest to figure out if Zelda is the boy or the girl. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

All the Things the Oscars Set Looks Like

Welcome to the 2018 Academy Awards, currently taking place on the set of the new Broadway musical Frozen, apparently. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Let's Hang Out! THIS MONTH

Chicago: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE is now running! It's fabulous! I'm so so proud of it and if you're in the area, I want you to see it! On stage at Theater Wit through April 7! MORE HERE.

Philadelphia: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at World Cafe Live on April 2. Online tickets are sold out; but there are some left for day of door sales.

DC: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at The Howard Theater on March 19. Tickets go on sale March 12 here.
Also hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at The Miracle Theater on April 5!

Random thing from the internet

One of my editors, Estelle, said that the piece I did on Reality Show Pitches reminded her of this great Mindy Kaling New Yorker piece on romcoms. I'd never read it and, of course, was delighted. Mindy is the best and this piece is wonderful.

Keep working on it, Elaine!