Ryan F. Johnson

As I replay the movie 2017: State of Emergency in my head, I mostly just feel exhausted. For a year, news alerts have felt like the boy who cried wolf—if that boy was always right because wolves fucking everywhere.

To pick one example out of a million: Can you imagine a few years ago getting excited that a guy banned from a mall for preying on children barely lost an election? We found out that ONLY 49 percent of people in Alabama wanted a guy to pass bills who wasn’t allowed to pass a Sbarro, and that instantly made the highlight reel of 2017.

It was shocking. Even with the progress we made over the last few months led by the incredibly brave people who spoke out as part of the #MeToo movement, it made perfect sense to everybody that the two options for a man to avoid losing his job are (a) not sexually assaulting people or (b) running for office.

Because 2017. Fucking of course 2017.

That complicity is dangerous. The worst is almost certainly still ahead, and we’re going to need strength. So while I usually use this space to take aim at the most critical issues of the previous year, I’m going to use this end-of-year list of complaints and grievances to exclusively talk about stuff that isn’t important in the least.

Consider this a cheat day for your news-consuming brain.

Hopefully all these petty, carb-heavy jokes will help you recover your energy, because at some point we’re going to have to relocate all these goddamn wolves.


Getting Excited About a Baseball Team Coming to Portland

Just stop it, you guys. It’s not happening. Major League Baseball in Portland is like a comet: Every 8.5 years it comes whizzing by, and even when experts say it’s “close,” it’s a million miles away.


Winking

A barista winked at me as he handed me my coffee the other day, and it was very strange because I didn’t know what part of the transaction I wasn’t supposed to tell my mom about.

For 2018, please stop winking. All of you. There are only three times it’s okay to wink at somebody:

1) We’re both spies... but it’s your first day so you aren’t very good at it yet.

2) You work at Costco and even though you’re only supposed to give anybody a single sample, you can tell that I love waffles so much I deserve two squares.

3) You’re the real Santa (not like bullshit mall Santa, but the REAL Santa) and it’s summer, so you’re not wearing your work uniform, and you’re feeding ducks at the park and I recognize you anyway, and I’m like, “Oh my god, are you Tim Allen?” Then you look up surprised, wink at me, and disappear.

Those are the only legal winks. All you non-spy, non-Santa, waffleless people, open and close both eyes at the same time.


The Friend Zone

Let’s make 2018 the year where nobody says “friend zoned” ever again. Because what it sounds like you’re saying is, “I pretended to be nice to a lady and she didn’t want to sleep with me. I’m the victim of a huge injustice.” Like she’s a candy machine you can’t figure out. “I don’t get it, I put in two compliments. Where does the sex come out? This one must be jammed.”

I’ll save you the trouble. If you’re the kind of guy who says you’ve been friend zoned, you haven’t. Because now she hates you.


Cookie Dough Cafes

This hurts to say, because I wanted to love it. I expected to love it. My stretch-marked thighs are the target demographic. But it just doesn’t work.

I think the key reason cookie dough is so fun is that you know you’re not supposed to eat it. As soon as I’m allowed to have as much as I want, the joy vanishes. If you really want to make a cookie dough business work, I highly recommend that, as you hand out the cookie dough, you tell people they’re not allowed to eat it. Tell them you’ve counted and you’ll know some is missing. Then casually turn your back for a minute. The adrenaline will cut the sugar and make the whole thing fun again.


Star Wars

I know this is a long shot, but I’d like Star Wars to stop. I didn’t think I would get sick of it so fast, but when the cardboard cutouts of stormtroopers popped up in Target in September this year, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. Star Wars is coming earlier and earlier each year, and even if the present is nice, the half-year of decorations and songs isn’t worth it.


Encores

I love live music except for that one moment in every show. That part where the band pretends the show is over, even though every single person in the building knows they’re going to come back to play four more songs.

They put on this little play. “Now the show is over. There’s nothing at all you could do to get us to continue and play our one hit song. I guess if you clapped sufficiently we could be persuaded... but that is unlikely because we are for sure leaving now.”

You’re not fooling anybody, bands! You say the show is over, then why did your crew run out on stage and tune up the guitars, set up a new piano, and tape a new playlist to the ground that says “Encore” on it? It’s ridiculous.

And why do we have to cheer to get the rest of your show, anyway? Bands are all doing this Tinkerbell shit, like if we don’t clap enough, they’re going to die. I shouldn’t have to prove through noise that I’ve earned the rest of your show. You know how I earned it? I paid. for. the. show.

With money. That’s how this is supposed to work.

When I bought the ticket, I assumed the end of the show came with the package. I paid $12 plus $75 in fees; I should get the whole show. When I play your album on Spotify, does a song stop at the bridge and then I have to click thumbs up seven times to hear the final chorus?


Fingerprint Scanners at the Gym

Nobody is going to rob you. Literally everything here is too heavy to lift. Chill out with the biometrics.


Ventriloquism

Former Portland comedian Preacher Lawson made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent this year, which was pretty exciting for us as a community. But then he lost... to a ventriloquist. That hurt.

Oh, and she was a 12-year-old ventriloquist. Not even a full-grown string-puller. This is not the America I thought I lived in.

It gets worse. This was the THIRD TIME a vent won AGT. Did you realize that America had three ventriloquists?

It gets worse. This was the third out of 12 seasons. Did you know that 25 percent of America’s talent was tied up in puppetry? Yep. Across America, thousands and thousands of kids are choosing not to play sports or learn instruments, because they’re spending all their time talking while drinking a glass of water.

They have to cancel the show, right? Maybe America doesn’t got talent after all? If Ronald McDonald won Top Chef three times, the whole show would pack its knives and go.


Bad Sex Ed

It’s been a problem for a while, but it’s time to push the panic button. A study that came out in 2015 showed that 60 percent of kids are looking to porn to learn more about sex, and that’s TERRIFYING.

That’d be like teaching kids to walk by showing them parkour videos. Yeah, it is technically possible to do it that way. But nobody will want to do it with you that way, and if you try you’ll probably die.


Huggers

I don’t buy into what Big Hug has been selling these last few years. I prefer greetings to be a handshake over a hug, which is much more like a wrestling hold.

But whether or not you want to hug, you definitely don’t get to say, “Nah, get in here. I’m a hugger.”

You don’t get to be a hugger. That’s not a unilateral decision. If I’m not into it, then you aren’t a hugger, you’re a very short-term kidnapper.

You don’t just get to do something because you added “er” to the end of a word. We can’t be leaving a meeting and when I offer a handshake, you say, “Get that out of here. I’m a finger banger!”

If you’ve decided we’re rubbing bodies because you’re a hugger, well, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise, because I’m a crier.


Mishandling the Cold

I know I mention snow every year in this column, but then every year y’all come up with a new way to blow it over the winter. So please disinvite a few snow reactions:

1) Let’s never say “snowpocalypse” again. Instead, why not use words like “snowstorm,” or “snow,” or really any other human word that means something.

2) CALM YOUR JETS. Remember when there was nearly a half-inch of snowfall, and people abandoned their cars on the freeway, making it look like only dumb people got raptured? And then the Blazers canceled a game... which is an INDOOR SPORT. Safety first, I guess. Even Dame can’t drive in the snow.


Mishandling the Heat

It was so hot in Portland last summer you could cook a tofu breakfast scramble on the sidewalk.

It was bad, but the worst part is almost nobody has air conditioning. How is that even possible? Everybody in our liberal paradise knew climate change was real decades ago, and yet nobody took a second to plan for it? You know Al Gore bought a few shares in Ben & Jerry’s.

I actually went to an ice cream parlor that didn’t have AC. Really? You didn’t think this might be a problem? Either cool it off in here or change your motto to “Here, drink this.”

But my prize bad heat reactions go to the local meteorologist who tweeted that we should be thankful for all the smoke from the nearby forest fires, because otherwise it would have been even hotter. Um, I guess? But it’s kind of like a doctor saying, “You’re lucky you crashed into that particular tree because the beehives broke your fall.”


Telling Me About Male Fragility

It really hurts my feelings!

The problem with talking about male fragility is it’s too well named. If I may make a suggestion, maybe just tell us that other men are much better at taking criticism, because then we’ll try harder because of toxic masculinity.


Post-Credit Sequences in Movies

If you want me to see a scene, why not go ahead and put it in your movie.


Using the Phrase “Netflix and Chill” Wrong

Baby Boomers on social media got ahold of “Netflix and chill” and have been using it just as recklessly as they did the environment.

The New York Times blogged about the various streaming subscription options and titled it, “‘Netflix and Chill,’ Sure. But There are Others, Too.” Closer to home, the Oregon Department of Transportation tweeted that because of snow, people should “Netflix and chill” instead of driving on the slick roads.

It means fucking, you guys. NETFLIX AND CHILL MEANS FUCKING. Neither of these uses is technically wrong—especially if the Times was saying, “Sure, you can have casual sex, but you could also watch Hulu.” You could also choose between masturbating and buying oranges.

Or if ODOT was saying, “The roads are too icy! So to be safe, stay at home and mess around with somebody you just met.” But since you’d probably have to drive to meet up with your Tinder date, maybe it’s not actually helpful advice.

Or maybe... I don’t know... Google phrases you just heard before you toss them into professional writing? Just an idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a busy afternoon of Hulu and oranges.


The Eclipse

My favorite thing about 2018 is we don’t have to have another bullshit eclipse.

It was fine. It was overwhelmingly, devastatingly fine. It might have even been a little bit cool if it weren’t for six months of news stories about how it’s the most important life-changing, mind-blowing, hippocampus-fellating thing that will ever happen to anybody. Because after that, watching the sun get blocked for three minutes really felt like a letdown. You know, because of NIGHTTIME.

Most of you are probably inside right now, so the walls are creating your own tiny eclipses at this very moment. HOLY SHIT.

Or if you really miss it, you can just go outside and then... close your eyes. THE ECLIPSE WAS INSIDE YOU THIS WHOLE TIME.

And of course, the award for best overreaction went to the Oregonian for tweeting, “Experts don’t believe there will be an increase in sex trafficking during eclipse.” Whoa. Why did you even bother to ask experts that? I hope experts never take your calls again, because Jesus! It was an eclipse, not a purge. “In other news, experts don’t think three minutes of darkness is enough to bring unholy cleansing upon all people. But no promises.”


Bonus! Four Stupid Things I’d Love to See More Of for 2018

Longboards

Keep it up, you guys. You’re like skateboard limos.

Snacking and Sporting

Baseball players cram their mouths full of as many seeds as they can when they go up to bat, like they’re worried they won’t have enough calories to get through the winter. Other sports need to catch up with that level of dedication to snacking.

Vaping

For reals. People have been so harsh on vapers because it looks silly, but instead of smelling like a garbage fire when you walk, it smells like you’re in a Mike & Ike factory, and that’s way better.

French Bulldogs

They walk like they’re always drifting. And I like it.


Wasn’t that easy and not particularly important? I hope it helped. Now let’s go get some wolves.