I Took Advice From a Unicorn for a Month and It Was Surprisingly Un-Magical

My eleven-year-old niece is obsessed with unicorns. For Christmas 2019, she gave me this:

photo of box for

(Pictured: A rainbow box with a white unicorn and the words “Advice From A Unicorn: 2020 Daily Deskpad Calendar.” The bottom text reads “You’re dope, don’t forget that.”

I appreciated the thought – especially since I suspect this is one of those “I got you a thing based on how excited I would have been to get it” gifts, and my niece would have been very excited indeed to receive this calendar.

Also, I thought, I’m down for some glitter-pooping life wisdom.

It’s been a month, and while I am still pooping, there is…less glitter than one might think. Here are the unicorn’s greatest hits (and misses) for January.

unicorn

When I first opened the calendar, my plan was to save the pages and give them to my niece. I don’t need the extra note paper, and I knew she’d get a kick out of seeing what the unicorn’s advice actually was.

That plan developed a crack on the very first day:

January 1: “How about you kick-off 2020, by getting over anything that held you back last year, you just don’t need that kind of baggage.”

Me: It’s not terrible advice. But getting over my instarage at the THREE punctuation errors in this sentence might be detrimental to my job. You know, because knowing how to use a comma isn’t exactly “baggage” for a writer.

Did I want to give my niece a calendar that nobody actually edited? I didn’t have enough data yet. I’d have to wait and see.

January 2: “Choose a mantra. Repeat it, daily, duh. My mantra is [fill in the blank].”

Me: Is this cultural appropriation? Wait, is this one of those magical entrapment type things? Is “Is this cultural appropriation?” my mantra now? Wait, should “Is this cultural appropriation?” be my mantra? Or is that too 2017?

I knew I didn’t want to have to explain to my niece what a mantra is. Maybe this plan wasn’t such a good one.

January 3: “Tribe, crew, squad, doesn’t matter what you call them, just make sure you have them.”

Me: “Is this cultural appropriation?” is definitely my mantra for 2020.

Also, yikes on handing this thing wholesale to my niece.

January 7: “Create practical steps to achieving your goals.”

Me: *rubs forehead* Look, if blogging has taught me anything over the past ten years, it’s that literally everyone know this is how you achieve a goal. What people don’t know is how to create those steps. 

New Idea, thanks to a brief run of not completely terrible advice: Make a collage out of the not-completely-terrible advice pages and give that to my niece next Christmas.

January 10: “Tell the devil not today, bruh.”

Me: Does he listen if you call him “bruh”?

Also, am I going to get enough not-terrible advice out of this thing to fill a 16×20 canvas?

January 15: “Real recognizes real.”

Me: This isn’t advice.

I can’t make a collage out of the unicorn advice if the unicorn advice isn’t even advice, unicorn.

January 20: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ – Martin Luther King Jr.”

Me: This one is actually not terrible. I would have chosen a different quote, though. Like “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.”

This one goes in the “save for niece” pile, though.

January 23: “You fine AF boo, own it.”

Me: This calendar feels like it was compiled by white Boomers attempting to sound relevant to Millennials because the people they think are Millennials are actually Gen Z, which isn’t even the generation that is Into unicorns right now.

Also, if this calendar keeps calling me “boo,” we’re going to have a problem.

January 27: “Cake may actually be a cure-all. Get you some, boo.”

Me: Did…did the unicorn just Marie Antoinette me?

January 28: “If it doesn’t come out in the wash, it comes out in the rinse.”

Me: WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN. THIS IS JUST ADVICE FOR CHEAP HAIR DYE.

A month ago I was wondering how to explain the concept of a mantra to my niece. Seems like small potatoes compared to explaining…gaaah WHAT DOES IT EVEN MEAN

January 31: “One month down, how are those resolutions looking?”

Me: I haven’t actually murdered any unicorns for using comma splices yet, so that’s something.

I’ll also be getting my niece a Bundt cake.


Here’s some advice you can use: Support your favorite bloggers. Need a concrete plan to achieve that goal? Try leaving a tip or sharing this post on social media.

 

 

Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For, Vol 1: Is That You, Santa?

As a quasi-professional musician (meaning I sometimes actually get paid to perform), I am completely, utterly, pervasively sick of Christmas music.

I’m sorry. I know y’all love Christmas concerts, which is why I play several of them a year. But trust me when I say that playing any tune you recognize as a Christmas song is a sacrifice I am making out of love for my fellow human and the season as a whole.

Especially if it’s Sleigh Ride.

In the interest of expanding our Christmas music canon in…interesting ways, I’ve decided to create some new Christmas carols. With help.

I put the lyrics of several dozen popular Christmas carols into Botnik and used its predictive text keyboard to generate new holiday lyrics. Then I put these lyrics to music using Noteflight.

Here’s the first in a series of horrible experiments designed to make popular music, if not less horrible, at least more amusing.

Is That You, Santa?

Is that you, Santa?
The Christmas baby
My merry cheer
Whispering my good ol’ joy


Is it beautiful again
holding Grandpa in
this house like Christmas?
Michelle yooou baby

CHORUS
oh yeah
this starry night
paradise me and my sleigh
oh you
this merry merry
holy christmas tree lights


twinkle christmas
shining times
drinking cheap and
faster than love

CHORUS
oh yeah
this starry night
paradise me and my sleigh
oh you
this merry merry
holy christmas tree lights

BRIDGE
in my baby ‘s christmas tree
born three sitting chime again
you and jesus hold the snow
the christmas tree such joy

Is that you, Santa?
The Christmas baby
My merry cheer
Whispering my good ol’ joy

CHORUS
oh yeah
this starry night
paradise me and my sleigh
oh you
this merry merry
holy christmas tree lights

oh you
this merry merry
holy christmas tree lights

Here’s the sheet music (pdf).

Here’s the audio file (mp3).

Musicians are underpaid and overworked, especially during the winter holidays. Help me keep going by sharing this post and/or filling my tip jar.

“Happy Birthday” is the Worst Song Ever Written

Folks, there’s something I need to get off my chest.

It’s “Happy Birthday.”

THIS SONG IS A GARBAGE NIGHTMARE DISASTER.

Think about it. If you were writing a song that all kinds of people would be obligated to sing several times a year, regardless of their background in music, wouldn’t you pick something that was, say, easy to sing? Something with notes and intervals that were easy to hear and mimic?

Well, we didn’t get that. We got this monstrosity.

Here’s why “Happy Birthday” is absolutely the worst song ever written.

worstbirthday

First of all, it doesn’t start on do. Try to write this thing down, or accompany it on piano or guitar, based on what you think you know about simple children’s melodies every freaking person in the Western world has known for a century and GET READY FOR THE ACCIDENTALS BECAUSE HOLY CRAP THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.

So the first note: crap.

The second note: also crap. Sol-la is one of the hardest intervals to sing in tune. You can fake your way through “Happy,” but “Birth” is always going to sound like your dog just died. Always.

“Day” is back to sol, but hold onto your cheap paper hat, because “to” jumps all the way up to “do,” and then “you” lands on “ti.” Wanna know what the other hardest interval to sing in tune is? SURPRISE IT’S RIGHT HERE.

We’re four words in and this song is already a nightmare. Not least because the shape of that line puts the emphasis not on any word that ACTUALLY MATTERS. What’s the most important thing about this event? Not happy, birthday, or you. Oh no. It’s TO.

Oh good, at least the lyrics repeat! But wait…

THE MELODY DOES NOT REPEAT EVEN THOUGH THE LYRICS DO.

You think it’s going to. You even get a second try at that crappy sol-la interval. But instead of going back up to “do,” you need to push even higher, to “re.” I hope you practiced your sixths haha just kidding of course you didn’t.

Again, the most important thing in this song, according to the melody, is that it is TO someone. Who they are or what day it is or what kind of day you wish them to have is irrelevant nonsense.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Quick: Name a song that forces you to jump an octave and that is easy to sing. You can’t. But you’re about to do it anyway, because the next leap between “birth” and “day” is one.

Why is this melody so unsingable? Ah well, it’s not like anyone will ever need to sing this in public OH WAIT.

Next up is do-la-do, an absolutely astounding set of intervals. It’s definitely not just close enough to do-sol-do, THE ONE EVERYONE CAN ACTUALLY HEAR, to royally mess with everyone’s feeble attempt to sing it. You can’t even remember who you’re singing to at this point anyway, so mumbling their name wildly out of pitch is for the best.

Also, you are now mumbling a tenth lower than you were forced to sing earlier. Sure. Fine. Whatever. 1000 years of Western music went home drunk four measures ago.

And the chord structure. Dear God, the chord structure.

I’ll accept I-V-V-I, which are the first two lines. Uninspired, but at least it sounds okay.

Then we skip to IV, which is a nice way to indicate that something new is going on. Okay.

But then. BUT THEN.

I. We’re back on I. But it’s not just any I; it’s do-fa-la, not do-mi-sol. And it lasts only two beats before we’re back to IV, aka fa-la-ti.

I would accept this in a normal song, but “Happy Birthday” is not a normal song. It’s a toxic hellbeast bent on making every human with a functioning set of vocal chords sing out of tune. TWO BEATS ON THE ROOT AIN’T GONNA CUT IT.

Now, normal chord structures for simple songs repeat. Does this one? OF COURSE NOT. Have two beats of IV, then V, then I. You haven’t seen this pattern before or since!

HAVE A COMPLETELY BIZARRE AND POINTLESS CHORD STRUCTURE ON THE HOUSE. IT’S SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY APPARENTLY.

The only good thing – I repeat, the ONLY good thing – about this song is that it resolves on do, in a nice solid I chord, allowing everyone present to clap heartily that this overrated vocal nightmare has finally ended.


Birthday songs are terrible; birthday coffee is awesome.

The Celebration of Mothers and Motherhood and Maternal People Who Mothered Us: A Predictive-Text History of Mother’s Day

It’s that time again, folks. I dumped the top 20 Google search results for “Mother’s Day” into Botnik’s predictive-text app, and here are the results. 

Please enjoy this predictive-text history of Mother’s Day in the US and other countries, brought to you by Botnik.

danialexis.net (3)

The Celebration of Mothers and Motherhood and Maternal People Who Mothered Us: A History of Mother’s Face

Mother’s Day was needed.

Anna Jarvis trademarked the first official mother, who was originally imported from Antwerp. [citation needed] 

Anna resented that mother’s traditional commercialization was celebrated. Women were unsuccessful at being seen as much of anything.  Only women’s golf could reclaim their pawned sewing. 

Motherhood needed to improve. The sacrifices mothers made for the holidays would overwhelm most people.

Political Carnations for Mother’s Day

On the first Mother’s Day, cards were slaughtered by the state governors. Children helped mother give herself an occasion for sales. 

The same day, a special cake resembling a white carnation was held at least four times. The special cake made mothers everywhere organize protests, because it cost too much. 

Advocating peace and freedom, mothers fought hard to prevent businesses from profiting by giving away New York. Unsuccessful control of women led to voters.

President Woodrow Wilson named mother goddesses to the Protestant Church, which consumed much of Lent in 1908. In 1925, November was first ridiculed by President Roosevelt. 

Years later, broadened by continuing enthusiasm, peace became popular again. In 1904, 1948, and April 2017, three children were awarded medals for helping their mothers with breakfast. All three children were notorious attention-seekers.

Anna Jarvis never profited from Mother’s Day. Because of this, Anna resented Nazi control of flowers and other gifts. Anna Jarvis died thousands of years later, denouncing mother’s annual remembrance from her hometown.

Families Gather Together

Children spend approximately $2.6 billion on pampering their mothers. Breakfast is considered mother’s favorite, and plastic flowers are the leading food choice.

Kids peak on this day, so tradition is to give their school a public protest. Or mom can just sleep in. 

Fundraisers outside the home offer roses to families that cannot celebrate the individual.

Today, fathers can also receive gifts, including spa services held in Philadelphia. Fathers can be mothers who died, too.

Father’s Day is celebrated in preschools, but only by children. Mother’s actions and patience for disturbing chores power Mother’s Day guilt.

Celebrating This Special Day

Secular American traditions of Mother’s Day have been created by conflicts around the world. War ended in 1865, years earlier than anyone needed.

According to Hallmark, mortality is widely associated with revering mothers. Cards remain the most important choices honoring motherhood. Letters honoring spa packages have withered, but anyone can pick up the phone. Vacuums put mother in a sanitarium.

Honor mothers and humans by spending most of your own money on women. Motherhood can feel bad, so feminist groups are encouraged.

To make Mother’s Day special, practice mother’s favorite ethics. Improve mom with different forms of $, and try to lower your wallet. Society will enjoy the idea.

 

History of Jesus Day: A Predictive Text Guide to Holiday Fun

It’s time once again for holiday joy brought to you by Botnik‘s predictive-text writer.

One of the most bemusing parts of building a predictive text bank for several US holidays is that these holidays are both highly religious and highly commercial in nature. We saw a hint of this with the St. Patrick’s Day post, but it gets even weirder with Easter – arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar and also in the chocolate bunny sales calendar.

I dropped the top 20 search results for “Easter” into Botnik. Here’s everything you need for a “hoppy” holiday.

DANIALEXIS.NET (2)

History of Jesus Day

(a predictive-text guide to Easter by Botnik)

Easter, or White Sparkly Easter, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus’s crochet skills. Consequently, it’s the tutorial we love giving and getting.

Lent: A Great Treat

Easter begins with Lent, a small piece of tape, and a pipe cleaner through the eye. Lent is believed to bring health over the next year, when bunnies lay fertility leaves across your chair. Lent astounds me.

God foam just makes Lent immediately more fun. Special ideas for activities include going to visit church and taking pictures of the foam on the Christian agenda. This is called “Palm Sunday” and serves as the start of Jesus Week.

Passover: Feasts for Everyone

Easter is also associated with the hexagonal corners of Passover, in which one takes less than a second to create this adorable woodland creature. Historians question Easter bunnies’ creativity, but by cutting cupcakes out of Passover feasts, you can probably change everything they know.

Passover feasts are as easy as human sized traditions to share. Crackers and icing make an omelet, or you can eat real food. Some households even let kids get their own template!

 Pagan Origins in Pagan Celebrations

Jesus celebrated fertility and mud pies. In pagan times before Jesus, branches of Christianity had such an awesome handmade craft!

Pagans claimed to create Easter over 25+ years in a DIY plastic egg. Decorating Easter quietly, or turning kids into makeshift stamps, can help historians question this story.

Pagan traditions include salmon crafting, afternoon bunny slime, and recipes for more creativity. Pagans do not be edible, but after Mass, rolling eggs downhill can make even the most popular kids suffer. These sufferings are viewed as an agricultural victory.

Easter Services That Pop

At an Easter service, females with flowers sit on top of the Gospels, while essentially ignoring their own death. Men may dump cold water on potato halves, making handprints on Ash Wednesday to keep in Eastern Orthodox countries. Children run about their rooms, holding onto salvation and flossing with God.

Are crafty things perfect for your perfect kiddos? Make adorable art for your favorite death by crucifixion! Easy peasy fun ideas for making all religions Easter include attaching googly eyes on your family to share salvation.

Surprise the tutorial by cutting eggs into tiny craft balls. Glue gun instructions to Pontius Pilate and wrap a ribbon around the season.  Don’t forget blood!


Whether your Easter involves celebrating the Resurrection or stuffing your face with chocolate – or both – you can share the spirit by buying me a coffee or sharing this post.

Free to Loving Home: This Terrible Raccoon

Friends, I’m not made of stone. I know when I have reached my limits. And I have reached my limits with this raccoon:

55752527_10111330049172453_7151877484286312448_n

LOOK AT HOW RIDICULOUS THIS RACCOON IS. LOOK AT IT.

I didn’t even want this raccoon. This raccoon climbed my husband while we were splitting wood last October, and he begged me to keep it. Sure, his words said “it’s up to you” but his eyes said “please?!?!”

Anyway, this raccoon is genuinely terrible. For instance:

55823791_10111330049531733_3718113932146114560_n
“Don’t eat the plant,” I said to the raccoon.

“Eat the plant and then go to sleep,” the raccoon heard.

This raccoon’s primary skill is destroying household objects. If there were a Destroying Household Objects Olympics, this raccoon would win every gold medal. Those gold medals would be awarded before the opening ceremonies even began. “This raccoon is the only destroyer of household objects humanity will ever need,” the International Destroying Household Objects Olympic Committee would say. “Just give this raccoon all the medals so it can destroy them on the ride home.”

Which is great, because this raccoon will NEVER win an Olympic medal in napping:

D3AHoSfW0AA0vFc

Look at this hot mess? Is this some kind of joke?

56373573_10111330049127543_266645060227956736_n

You have to be punking me here, raccoon. Do you not even understand how to sleep?!

This raccoon’s butt is also made of velcro and sadness. For some reason, this raccoon has to stick its sad velcro butt to my side at all times:

D22UDFkWwAAxLFx

Which would be fine, except that, like most raccoons, it eats trash. Its consumption of trash is directly proportional to the amount and quality of raccoon food in its food bowl. Full bowl of premium raccoon food = trash hoover.

Also, it farts. And raccoon farts are the WORST.

All of which is to say that if you have a large home that needs to be totally destroyed, if you have a dog or small child that needs to be permanently traumatized, or if there just aren’t enough atomic critter farts in your life, THIS IS THE RACCOON FOR YOU.

D2slnJaWoAUOB0n

Next time, we are getting a cat.


April Fools’ jokes come only once a year, but cash is forever. Support this blog by buying me a coffee or sharing this post.

The Traditional Feast of St. Patrick and Cabbage: A Predictive Text History of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, so in keeping with previous holidays, I asked Botnik‘s predictive text engine to weigh in on this history of this historic history day.

I fed the top 20 Google search results for “history of St. Patrick’s day” to Botnik, which produced the mean St. Patrick’s day history based on predictive text. It’s…enlightening.

stpatrickandcabbage

The traditional feast of saint patrick and cabbage

(a predictive text history of St. Patrick’s Day by Botnik)

Saint Patrick is said to have 20 official public houses. This story has coloured numerous Irish people ‘s idea of the saint, who lived during Lent and returned to Ireland in 2007.

St. Patrick’s tradition began when president Dwight the First identified St. Patrick to explain why Ireland began. The saint himself could not know why Ireland was affected by sectarian revelry, but for those who supposedly wielded political power, Irish culture was a significant cause for dyeing its river green.

During the fifth Irish diaspora, which includes celebrations today, people attended schools founded by government ministers. This was a yearly cause for their death. However, after Dublin and Herzegovina banned drunkenness and jerseys, cultural parades began featuring Patrick’s album.

According to Samantha and the Cabbage, Irish mythology has presented numerous parades involving bagpipes and endowed widows. These practices describe St. Patrick’s two tests in Roman Britain: observing baptisms and growing shamrocks in a large church. Many legends grew to celebrate stereotypes, which did not help to celebrate Ireland.

Boston is known for fostering novelty merchandise on St. Patrick’s day, since the city wasn’t always recognised as a place. This all changed in 2008, when Hallmark looked at Notre Dame and was credited with religious beef soup for the day.

In 1961 sanitation workers used Patrick’s downtown house to explain why Ireland began. Everything made clear, Irish families mandated Patrick himself should think of the Irish at least on March 17.

Beginning in Nairobi, the traditional feast day of St. Patrick is celebrated annually on Sunday before making democracy merchandise and cabbage initiatives. Saint Patrick himself could lead his religious procession, if he was not repealed.


Keep ’em coming: Buy me a coffee or check out my book