43 Things I’d Talk About If You Took Me Out Today For My 43rd Birthday


43. I want a flashier car. A BWM X-5, black. If you want to get me something for the occasion. Because I’m a 43-year-old white man, and that’s how we do.

42. Hillary lied about Benghazi, Obama is a Muslim, Obama was born in Kenya, extreme deregulation is good, supply-side economics is good for the middle class and the poor, global warming is a hoax, the mainstream media has a liberal bias….The thing about the hard-core Tea Party conservatives is that they have their belief systems, and those belief systems are impervious to facts, reason, logic, or shame. Thus writing a long, well-researched piece pointing out the many fallacies and contradictions inherent in their platform is a fool’s errand. We’re better off just mocking them for being gullible.

41. The new Bond film was surprisingly good: there is a moral center to it, the plot held together, and it was both exciting and funny in moments. Ian Fleming gave 007 a nemesis: Blaufeld, leader of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., a stateless terrorist organization. Given that stateless terrorist organizations are now our #1 enemy, Fleming was pretty prescient, no?

40. There have been six Star Wars movies. Two were good, one was meh, and the other three were among the worst pieces of crap ever put to film. Why should we expect the new one to be different? Also, I’m 43 years old now, and I don’t give a shit about wookies and ewoks. I have more important things to think about, like…

39. The Knicks may actually be good! Porzingis looks fantastic in the early going, and he’s clearly just getting warmed up! They are fiesty! Phil Jackson, holy crap, put together an actual team!

38. I still think Nick Carter will win this season of Dancing with the Stars, but I would not be surprised if Bindi Irwin took home the Mirrorball Trophy.

37. Grantland was one of a handful of websites I checked regularly every day. ESPN shut it down out of spite, seems like, although that would suggest that that odious corporation is capable of human emotion. Corporations are not people, surely.

36. I miss Mitt Romney. Compared to the latest gaggle of GOP hopefuls, dude looks like Abraham Freakin’ Lincoln. I did not like the guy, but he did have a baseline competence that these other folks lack.

35. I’m voting for Hillary, but I get the Trump thing. He says whatever the fuck he wants without consulting his focus group, he isn’t afraid of taking on anybody, and he’s not beholden to the corporate interests one iota. He cannot be bought, and he’s the only candidate we can say that about.

34. Okay, fine, calm down, people. I know, I know. Bernie can’t be bought, either. He also can’t get elected. (Cue: rimshot).

33. Next year I’ll do a 50 Greatest Active Pro Football Player Names list, because my original list is a bit dated, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is not on it. His first name is so laugh out loud (literally) that we lose sight of how funny the words “Clinton” and “Dix” are when hyphenated.

32. Monica Lewinsky was, and is, a very attractive woman. I get that, too.

31. If I were Phil Collins, I’d come back just to fuck with those trolls who signed the petition to have him stay retired. (I know about this “story” because it turned up in my Facebook “trending” feed). Ha ha ha, you’re so cool, you’re making fun of Phil Collins. You know what? He has more money than God, he’s a killer drummer, and even though he riff-sings a bit too much, he’s a damned good songwriter. I like Phil Collins, okay? I’m a 43-year-old white man. Crank up the “Sussudio” and free Phil!

30. You know who else I like? 5 Seconds of Summer, apparently. Who knew?

29. The Raiders are for real. Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree are saving my fantasy football season.

28. I hate that The Weeknd is a person and not a band, and also that he can’t spell.

27. Okay, I just Googled him, and he dropped the “e” because of copyright infringement. Also, his parents are from Ethiopia and he’s from Canada, but his first language was Amharic, which is what his grandmother spoke.

26. Marco Rubio looks like Emmett from The Lego Movie, but before he went on his adventure and found his soul. Also, his ears are enormous.

25. Also, he’s a year and a half older than me. Two years ahead of me in school. He was a senior when I was a sophomore. I’m not sure I trust anyone my age to be president, let alone a corporate tool like Rubio. Not yet.

24. But better Rubio than Bush (whiny), Carson (insane), Fiorina (incompetent), Paul (named for Ayn Rand), Kasich (the GOP’s Martin O’Malley), Christie (asshole), or Huckabee (Jesus freak).

23. Would I prefer Rubio or Trump? Honestly, I have no idea. All things being equal, I think I’d rather Trump choose the Supreme Court vacancies.

22. Watched some of Trump on SNL. As funny as it could have been, which was not very. The best part was when Ivanka Trump made a surprise appearance, and you know how when random famous people make a surprise appearance on the show, there is applause? Yeah, there was no applause. None. Not even of the polite variety. What is the sound of no hands clapping? Ivanka knows.

Poster for the film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin: Symphony of the Metropolis) directed by Walther Ruttmann 1927 Colored lithograph Printer: Lindemann/Lüdecke, Berlin Universität zu Köln

Poster for the film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin: Symphony of the Metropolis) directed by Walther Ruttmann, 1927. Colored lithograph
Printer: Lindemann/Lüdecke, Berlin
Universität zu Köln

21. I feel bad for people like Ivanka, whose fathers are such douchebags. Like, do the Bush twins know that their dad was the worst president of all time? Do they even vote Republican? Do people call them out about it at social gatherings? Or are they like twin Marine Le Pens? (Ivanka, it seems, is BFFs with Chelsea Clinton, adding more weight to the theory that The Donald is a Hillary double agent).

20. Lorena Bobbitt was also in my Facebook “news” feed. Remember her? She sliced off her then-husband’s pecker back in ’93. I was living in New York at the time, and the Post somehow wangled an interview with the poor guy, who was asked if it hurt when she chopped up his bits. His answer was on the front page, in the super-big type usually reserved for moon landings and presidential assassinations: IT HURT A LOT. Best headline of my lifetime.

19. In my first, unpublished novel, I did a riff about how many Manhattan apartments were vacant at any given time, because rich people like Tom Cruise own real estate there and only use it a few times a year. Well, Bill Maher was talking about this the other day, and he suggested the percentage of apartments empty at any given time was 60. Two-thirds of all Manhattan apartments empty but for the cleaning lady. If you want a picture of income inequality, there it is.

18. The last time we had a Republican president, he entered office with a surplus and left eight years later with a huge deficit, and with the entire economic system on the brink of collapse as a direct result of his deregulation, tax-lowering, and war-mongering. How can these assholes expect us to believe that Republican economic policies work?

17. This is my favorite YouTube clip of all time. It makes fun of how we have apotheosized George Washington. The GOP has done the same with Reagan. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Gipper could fly, stop bullets with his body, and that he tore down the Berlin Wall with his bare hands.

16. Berlin is a cool city. The Neue Nationalgalerie may well be my favorite art museum.

15. As I’m typing this, I have a One Direction song in my head.

14. Forty-three is a prime number.

13. Today is Friday the 13th.

12. Wait…why do we care about the cups at Starbucks? I kind of like the plain red cup.

11. Trump now wants to boycott Starbucks because of the red cups. Can Starbucks now openly be anti-Trump? Maybe they should kick off the New Year with a series of cups, each containing a fact about Trump that he doesn’t want people to remember. Like how those four companies of his went belly-up. Or Trump University. Or that he’s been married quite a few times.

10. Like a pathetic erstwhile lover, Ello is still sending me emails. So someone is still there “curating” content, just for me. This week, it’s someone named Trond. And he’s somehow not one of Sarah Palin’s kids.

9. When I did a Google image search for “43,” this came up. I hope that doesn’t mean it’ll be a bad year.

8. I have a good job, a nice house, a beautiful and talented wife, and two great children. I’ve had two novels published, two film deals, and two foreign translations. If teenage me saw what I’d have at 43, he’d be thrilled. I am very grateful for my life so far.

7. Jesus of Nazareth was probably not a real person. I won’t go into detail here, but I encourage you to read Richard Carrier‘s exhaustive and brilliant On the Historicity of Jesus if you’re interested. In short: the first four books of the New Testament were written several generations after not only the alleged Crucifixion, but also after the complete destruction of Jerusalem, and all of its records, in A.D. 70. Nothing in the Gospels is written by a primary source. There are only two mentions of Jesus anywhere else, in Tacitus and Josephus, and both are probably later interpolations. Meanwhile there are dozens of first-century historians who do not mention Jesus at all. Oh, and if you dared to even suggest that Jesus was fictional, you’d have been burned at the stake for most of the last twenty centuries. The point here is, conservatives believe unequivocally in Jesus despite the scantest of evidence, but when presented with shit-tons of data suggesting that men are responsible for climate change, they decry it as lunacy. Why do we want these people leading the country?

6. At the debate this week, Ben Carson spoke of how the United States was so awesome that within a hundred years of its establishment, it had become one of the world’s greatest economic powerhouses. He talked glowingly about what a great nation we were to have accomplished something so wonderful, so miraculous, in the years 1776-1876, and somehow Ben Carson, the only black GOP candidate, neglected to mention that the reason the American economy was able to grow so quickly is that our labor consisted mostly of black slaves. Slavery, “Doctor.” It was slavery that did that, not American ingenuity or whatever key ingredient is necessary to “make American great again [sic].”

5. Must be always append the title “Dr.” to the guy’s name? We don’t automatically say “Governor Bush” or “Senator Cruz” or “Wingnut Paul.” Why do we have to show Carson such automatic respect, when it is irrelevant to what he’s trying to do now? We treat doctors like the ancients treated their high priests, and then wonder when they wind up being megalomaniacal lunatics.

4. The idea that Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina or Ben Fucking Carson could solve the crisis in Syria is so laughable that it should be mocked openly. Like, Becky Quick should just start derisively laughing as they launch into their answers about no-fly zones.

3. I’m working on a new book, a piece of historical fiction set in the Byzantine Empire around the time of the First Crusade. I started writing on February 2. Nine months later, I’d finished the first “book,” plus all of the introductory material…97,000 words. I’m now working on the second and final “book.” I think this is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’m super excited to share it with you. Maybe next year, maybe no go.

2. If you know what the last sentence of #3 is from, you know me well, and like what I like. If you don’t, there’s something you should know.

1. Thanks for reading till the end, beautiful friend, the end. And thanks for the beer.

The author, on Halloween. Trump Monster.

The author, on Halloween. Trump Monster.

Here’s a mix of Middle-Aged White Male music I made. Enjoy!

About Greg Olear

Greg Olear (@gregolear) is a founding editor of The Weeklings and the author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker, an L.A. Times bestseller.
This entry was posted in Memoir, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 43 Things I’d Talk About If You Took Me Out Today For My 43rd Birthday

  1. M says:

    Happy birthday, Greg. Despite that godawful playlist.

  2. Deborah says:

    Dear Greg,
    Happy Birthday! Numbers 6, 4 and 7 are my favorites. I think we could go out on a limb and refer to the Republican presidential candidates as S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

  3. RBW says:

    Happy Birthday! And re: that last line in # 3, why, oh why couldn’t you save it for the morning after? Or, like, two minutes later?

    your fan

  4. Marni says:

    Can we really call Cat Stevens middle-aged white guy music? My sister and I have always had a theory that Cat Stevens music was mostly consumed by kids and counselors at Jewish camp and that, considering, changing his name to Yusuf Islam was a pretty poor decision career-wise…

    I’ve said it on facebook (thus it’s official) but it’s worth repeating: happy happy birthday, Greg!

    • Greg Olear says:

      Yeah, there are a few things I put on there that I just like. Probably should have been less Cat and more, like, Bon Jovi. But I have to draw the line somewhere.

      Thanks, my dear!

  5. James D. Irwin says:

    Here’s a Blofeld fact that will mean nothing to Americans: Ian Fleming named Blofeld after one of his old school friends. The real life Blofeld’s son, Henry, was — and still is — a popular cricket commentator.
    ‘Spectre’ was brilliant. The Bond films haven’t legally been allowed to use Blofeld or Spectre since the mid-70s. Stromberg in the ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ is Blofeld in all but name… It was only recently they got rights back. It was pretty obvious Waltz was Blofeld — the film being called ‘Spectre’ was a bit of a giveaway…
    Anyway, it wasn’t as good as Casino Royale or Skyfall, but it’s the first fun Bond film in decades.

    • Greg Olear says:

      I didn’t like Casino Royale that much. It was eh. And I didn’t know that, about the rights. That’s very strange.

      I’ll say it again: if I could do anything creatively, I would be in charge of the Bond franchise. My Bond movie would kill. With license!

      • James D. Irwin says:

        I haven’t watched Casino Royale all the way through for a while. It’s on tv here all the time. Like most modern films, it’s about half an hour too long.The first and final scenes are two of my favourites in any Bond film though.

        Have you seen ‘Never Say Never Again’? It’s an unofficial Bond film that came about as a result of the legal dispute. Although Spectre and Blofeld appear in the novel ‘Thunderball’, screenwriter Kevin McClory claimed that Fleming had stolen the concept of SPECTRE from an unused screenplay. The legal settlement was that McClory got the rights to the names ‘SPECTRE’ and ‘Blofeld’, and the rights to ‘Thunderball’.

        In 1983 McClory decided to re-make Thunderball, as an unofficial Bond film. It’s one of the reasons Moore was kept on as Bond. After ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ his contract was on a film-by-film basis. He wanted to step down in 1983, and producers were already thinking about bringing Timothy Dalton in for ‘Octopussy’.
        But then McClory got Sean Connery to star in his unofficial Bond film. So MGM persuaded Moore to stay on, so they had an established Bond up against McClory and Connery’s film.

        ‘Never Say Never Again’ isn’t a bad film, although Connery is clearly too old. It was directed by Irvin Kershner. It’s interesting, if nothing else.

        I’d love to be able to make a Bond film. Failing that, I’d love Mendes to come back for a third one. ‘Spectre’ feels like a film made by a Connery fan, making the Bond film he’d like to see. It has more shooting locations than any previous Bond. The pre-credits sequence is one of the best, and still has a sense of humour. The train fight recalls ‘From Russia with Love’, the mountain clinic is a little bit OHMSS. You have a Spectre agent being horrifically murdered at a Spectre meeting. Blofeld has a secret base hidden inside a geological landmark. It has a torture scene, that Bond escapes with a gadget.

        When I was younger, whenever I saw a Bond film it made me want to be a secret agent. I didn’t feel that with Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace or even Skyfall. I assumed it was just because I’d grown too old — but ‘Spectre’ filled me with the same sort of childish joy I experienced watching ‘Goldfinger’ on VHS with my dad.

        I don’t remember what the first Bond film I saw was, but I remember shortly afterwards going to a shop that had all the Bond films on VHS. My brother and I were allowed one each, and we were trying to decide which films to try whilst taking advice from our dad. I think we got You Only Live Twice and Diamonds are Forever in the end.

        I’ve been wanting to write an essay on the Bond films for a while, because culturally they’re more than just films. They’re an important part of father-son bonding (pun not intended). Since the 1970s there’s always been a Bond film on tv over Christmas. My dad went to see the films with his dad in the ’60s, and he took my brother and I to see the new ones when we were old enough. We still took him with us to see Spectre…

        A few days later I was in a video shop and saw a father and his young son picking out a Bond film to watch together. Impressively, the kid chose ‘Dr No’… Anyway, the whole thing made me smile.

  6. KJ says:

    #42 versus #18, 11, 7, 6, and 4

    I know, you/we can’t help trying. Happy birthday!

  7. Happy belated

    Porzingis is the real deal. I said it the night he was drafted and I’ll say it again: Knicks fans who booed that pick will regret it. Then again, who do Knicks fans not boo on draft night? Excluding you of course.

    Phil Collins. Bone Thugs N Harmony. YouTube it. You’re welcome.

    That Trump is the leading candidate in the GOP says more than enough about the current state of the GOP. If Americans could somehow realize to vote in all elections, not just the presidential race, America would never have a Republican House or Congress ever again.

    Kenny Loggins. Until Google, I was never quite sure of the real lyrics to the chorus. I went through the danger zone or highway through the danger zone. So many discussions back and forth about this when I worked in construction in 2001.

    Glad you are working on a new book. As a reader of yours, I’ve been patiently (anxiously) waiting

    (Excuse the typos. On my phone typing. Hand spread is bigger than LeBron. Call me Byron Scott. I’ve still got one good year in me)

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