A Step-by-Step Guide to Killing Grandpa

The air is crisp, the inflatable snowmen are out, and puffer vests have been swapped for puffer coats. Yes, it’s the holiday season — and that means one thing: it’s finally time to kill grandpa. 

The old bastard has been alive long enough, and lord knows that beach house isn’t going to hand itself over. Now, with snow on the ground and disease in the air, it’s time to end things. 

To help you out, here’s our step-by-step guide to killing grandpa this holiday season.

  1. Get yourself a nice indoor meal in the busiest city near you. You can’t go killing grandpa on an empty stomach.
  2. Go to the gym regularly. You’re going to want all your strength to finally do him in.
  3. Don’t wash your hands. What, you can commit murder but you’re afraid of germs?
  4. Take a flight to get to him.
  5. Invite him and all of your relatives to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, especially the irresponsible ones and the ones who forward chain letters
  6. At dinner, hug him and spend all of your time right by his side
  7. After dinner is over, give one more hug and a kiss on the cheek. Look him right in the face and wish him well.
  8. Wait.

If you followed all of these instructions closely, chances are great that you’ll get the ultimate Christmas present — a dead grandpa! Stay tuned for more to come in our holiday tips series. Next up: how to use the word “hero” charitably instead of doing anything useful!

5 Perfect Halloween Costumes for 2020

Can you believe that it’s already Halloween next weekend? Between reopening schools and restaurants and fervently arguing over whether what we’re currently experiencing is a “second wave,” “third surge,” or “fifteenth thrust,” it seems that the last two months have just passed us all by. But if you, like so many, are caught unprepared for everyone’s favorite spooky holiday, fear not! We’ve compiled a handy list of the five best costumes for the eeriest Halloween yet.

5. A Cat, But The Kind That Just Stays In The House
Much like diamond earrings or Gregory Peck’s look in To Kill A Mockingbird, the cat costume will never go out of style. This year, add a fun COVID-19 twist by donning your sleekest blacks, painting whiskers on your face, and staying in your goddamn house.

4. A Conscientious Witch
For those willing to go a little “uglier,” you can never go wrong with a witch costume. But spice it up this year by being a witch in your own home, far from other people, because there’s literally no need to put anyone’s wellness in danger! You can find a hat, robe, and prosthetic wart for pretty cheap online, then all you need to do is grab a broom from your cupboard, and then just add the final touch: don’t! leave! your! fucking! house!

3. Elsa, But Only In The Part Of Frozen Where She Goes and Lives Literally Miles Away from the Nearest Person
Ever since Frozen came out a few years ago, the shining blue dress and platinum blonde hair have been one of Halloween’s hottest looks. Of course, you don’t want to be caught with the same costume as someone else at your party, so try adding a unique flourish: don’t go out to fucking parties, you moron! Jesus!

2. “The Last Great American Dynasty,” by Taylor Swift
Honestly, such a great idea. So many ways to interpret it. And stay at home, you dickwit.

1. A Werewolf with Crippling Social Anxiety
If you like fully committing to your costumes, a werewolf costume is perfect for you. Imagine how scary it will be when people see you! But only imagine, because you’re a werewolf with deep-seated social anxiety who hates parties. Guess you can’t go out! That’s really too bad. I guess you’ll have to sit at home and your couch and just watch a scary movie. 

How Long Ago Was That Month?

January: did not happen, largely agreed to be a myth

February: 18.75 years ago

March: 356 million years ago, was part of the Paleozoic era

April: 26 years ago, so according to our data most of our readers are still in diapers, just shitting themselves at will

May: May was actually in the year 2003, we are invading Iraq sorry

June: 3 weeks ago

July: it is currently July

August: not expected to occur this year

September: September hasn’t happened since 2015, at the latest

October: it is also currently October

November: 9 years from now, in postal service delivery times

December: again, there is no evidence that December will occur this year

The Worst Wedding Toasts of 2021

Now that a glut of wedding celebrations have been pushed back to next year, we’re facing an unprecedented wedding season in 2021. Here’s the worst wedding speech lines we can expect in the year to come:

“At first, I thought we should take a global pandemic as a sign that the universe didn’t want these two to get married. In fact, I was grateful that Kelly would be forced to spend twenty months together with Ted before making the worst decision of her life. But I’m glad they soldiered through.” 

“May you two deal with adversity far better than the former presidential administration.” 

“And if you ever lay a finger on my daughter, I’ll come to your house and cough in your throat young man.” 

“If these two can survive quarantining together in a New York City walkup for 9 months, then what can’t they accomplish?” 

“Jen is so much prettier than your previous wife, who tragically passed away from massive respiratory failure last April. Wow, pretty fast on the uptake there, Mark.”

“At first, as Heather’s roommate, I was a little worried when she started bringing Jeff around. I mean, had this guy even been tested? Was he hanging out with other people? But then Jeff tested negative for COVID-19 (still waiting for that syphilis test to come back though, haha), and he turned out to be the most loving, thoughtful man not named Anthony Fauci. But Heather, don’t think that just because you’re married now that our nights of socially distanced rosé are over!”

“Margaret is so much prettier than your previous wife, Janis, who divorced you after quarantining 9 months together in a New York City walkup. Wow, pretty fast on the uptake, there, Steve.”

“I’m glad that you two can put an end to all that social distancing tonight, if you know what I mean. No but seriously this couple can get freakier than the toilet paper line at Costco during the first day of a stay-at-home order.”

“Folks, did you see that ring that Brett bought? I know that saving three months worth of salary is a little outdated, but man those $600 relief checks sure go a long way.”

“My sister Rachel is an absolute saint. While some of us continued partying in New Orleans weeks after the virus hit, there was good old Rach, calmly explaining to me that I needed to wear a mask if I wanted Aunt Carol to make it to the wedding tonight. Everybody, give it up for Aunt Carol, who survived 18 months in isolation in her Seattle nursing home to be here!”

“Dave, you are the Joe Exotic to my Travis Maldonado.”

“We’re so delighted those of you with antibodies were able to make it to our celebration. Thank you for getting tested in advance of our big day. We never thought we’d enjoy having a wedding with four guests so much!”

“I knew John had found the love of his life when he named his sourdough starter after Katie. Let’s raise a glass that their love continues to rise forever.”

“By the time Michael agreed to meet in person and take his mask off after all of our Sip n’ Zoom Thursdays, I didn’t even CARE what he looked like anymore. I was just ready to be touched again.”

“Sam, you are the missing jigsaw piece in my life, unlike the final piece to our Monet water lilies puzzle we started in March and couldn’t finish because the dog you fostered ate it.”

“Just look at the way these two stare at each other: like Nicolas Maduro stares at hydroxychloroquine tablets.”

“I hope these two have an amazing time in their honeymoon to the only nations that are letting Americans in right now: Albania, Belarus, and Belize!”

“Joshua, love is like the WHO: it’s a powerful bond that can only be broken when one party unilaterally prioritizes its own autonomy over the common good.”

“Aren’t we grateful that the airline industry survived this so we could all be here in Hawaii together to celebrate Chad and Melissa’s big day?”

“Kiki, don’t forget to wash all of those gifts in boiling water, let them rest in your garage for 24 hours, and sanitize them with Clorox wipes and bleach. You can never be too careful these days!”

“When Lisa asked me to write this speech, I googled the definition of ‘pandemic.’ It means ‘an outbreak of a pandemic disease.’ And that’s what Lisa and Jeff’s love is like.”

“In case you were wondering—yes it’s DEFINITELY a quarantine pregnancy.”

Power Ranking Potential COVID-19 Vaccines

Sports,,, they’re BACK. But over the past four months sans sports in the U.S., I’ve primarily done three things: watch European footy, stare forlornly at walls, and start following vaccines like they’re club teams I’m rooting for.

Now, let’s start with the obvious. The stakes for COVID-19 vaccine development are at least marginally higher than those involved with Javy Baez’s chase for his long overdue MVP crown. And more importantly, there’s no one I’m rooting against in the race for a vaccine. The only way out of this post-apocalyptic hellscape we call Tuesday is with a safe, effective, and widely distributed vaccine. This is serious stuff, and we should all be hoping one of these vaccines works out.

HOWEVER!

That’s absolutely not gonna stop me from power-ranking the potential* vaccines:

1. The Oxford/AstraZeneca Ayzees: Folks, this is what we mean when we talk about an elite vaccine. It’s already in Phase III trials, and Phase I/II showed it delivered those antibodies we all crave with no negative side effects. But the real differentiator here is the timing and scale. AstraZeneca has said if all goes well, emergency doses (for specific high-risk individuals, not for you) could be available in October—and that they could ramp up production for two billion doses if approved. That’s far and away the highest number of any contender, and it puts the Ayzees in a tier of their own. 

2. The Moderna Theranoses: This vaccine is being developed with the NIH and already, Dr. Fauci has lauded its Phase I/II results and Phase III began last week. The early results are extremely promising, but haters remain caught up on things like “Moderna having never brought a product to market in its history as a company” or “that time the Moderna CEO told Trump we’d have a vaccine in a few months… in March.” Fortunately, we’re not here to hate. Company reputation aside, in Fauci we trust.

3. The Pfizer Pfighting T Cells: Big pharma, regrettably, delivers again. Phase III has just begun, after Phase I/II found not only some delectable antibodies but a nice little dose of T cells too—albeit with some moderate side effects. Pfizer gets big ups for promising to deliver 100 million doses by December 2020 if approved and 1.3 billion doses by December 2021. So why are they not higher? Pfizer has already signed a $2 billion deal with the Trump administration to provide doses of this vaccine, and it’s hard to imagine this president signing on to anything that could improve public health.

4. The Sinopharm Chairmans: It wouldn’t be too surprising if Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic (before Scottsdale swooped in to steal the title), produced the vaccine. This one’s in Phase III and showed promising Phase I/II results, with Chinese state media reporting the state-run research company could be distributing the vaccine widely by year’s end. And that’s where we have to dock this Chinese state-run company: sorry if it triggers Ted Cruz, but sometimes I do not believe that the Chinese government is telling the truth. 

5. The Sinovac Stingy Syringes: A promising option out of China, this time from privately owned Sinovac Biotech. Phase III trials are running in July now, but the company really loses points on manufacturing capabilities. They’ve promised the ability to generate 100 million doses per year, which is just not the type of offensive production anyone’s looking for at this point in the game.

6. The Johnson & Johnson Baby Wipes: Apparently the company in charge of ensuring tear-free bathtime for babies is also in charge of our shared survival as a species, which is very cool and good. Anyway, this trial just moved into Phase I/II, but they say they can produce a billion doses in 2021, if approved, so they earn a spot on the list.

7. The CanSinoBIO Cadets: Another Chinese candidate, this vaccine has flown through Phase I/II like many others. It would probably be higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that instead of Phase III, they’re just kind of… testing it on the Chinese military. And here at Left On Read, we have recently decided we are AGAINST involuntary medical trials. We will not apologize for this.

8. Whatever The Fuck Russia’s Doing: Russia says it’s got a vaccine ready for approval this month, and it will begin distributing to healthcare workers and teachers shortly thereafter. I hope they do! But considering they’ve released no details, proof, trials, or evidence, I have more doubts than the President when he’s informed of something called a “Tiffany.” 

9. The Murdoch Propping Gandas: Not only is this vaccine being developed by something called the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital, but it’s not even supposed to be a full immunity-inducing vaccine. It’s just supposed to kind of help or something. I’m mad about it, and I’m mad at Rupert Murdoch—for this and literally everything else about him. 

*As of June 1, there were 157 potential vaccines in trials. Using the relegation model, I only ranked the top flight vaccines—those in Phase III or which have shown the biggest promise in Phase II.

MLB End of Season Awards

Whether or not they know it yet, Major League Baseball’s 2020 season is coming to a close. Big boy in chief Bobby Manfred may not be a quitter, but COVID also isn’t backing down, and I know who my money is on (though I obviously also have a couple dollars on the underdog to cover any potential losses. No, it’s not an addiction if I’m good at it). As we approach the final days of the season, we at Left on Read wanted to honor the incredible effort put forth by every team over the demanding six games of the year. Without further ado, here are our picks for MLB’s end of season awards. 

MVP: Covid-19—Day in and day out, ole CoCo RoRo has been putting in work. Marlins? Speared. Cardinals? Shot right out of the sky. Yoenis Cespedes was literally so intimidated, he fled his team to avoid a potential match-up. There have been some impressive performances, but this one has been one for the history books.

Cy Young: Joe Kelly—An icon and a legend. Enough said.

Biggest Idiot Piece of Dogshit: Rob Manfred—Now it’s rare for a new award to be introduced, but this one is so very well-deserved. Rob Manfred has displayed the highest level of total incompetence any professional can, while simultaneously being a complete travesty of a human being. A true double-threat, Manfred deserves this award and the lifetime’s supply of Arby’s that comes with it.

Rookie of the Year: Baseball’s Complete Irrelevancy—Baseball’s Complete and Utter Irrelevancy as a national sport has been working hard in the minor leagues for years, but this is the year it finally squeezed into the Majors. After its amazing showing in the preseason, helping to almost entirely cripple the league’s 2020 season before it even started, we all knew it had potential. However, after this year’s performance, Baseball’s Total Lack of Appeal as the National Pastime has cemented itself as a force to be reckoned with, and I for one am incredibly excited to not see what it can do in the coming years. 

Grading Fauci

Recently, Anthony Fauci was the subject of a scathing op-ed by something called a Peter Navarro (??). Navarri is known, tragically, to have an extremely bad brain and the White House was forced to claim they had nothing to do with the piece. 

But while much scorn has been directed Navarro’s way, what should we make of Fauci himself? He’s been deified on the left, vilified on the right, and sidelined by the White House. But how should we grade his performance during this pandemic?

Criteria 1: death and destruction
Hooooo boy. Ok, so theoretically, as the nation’s top virologist it’s Fauci’s main job to prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths by virus. On that front, the scale of the failure is, um, unignorable. But it’s not going too far out on a limb to say that his guidance hasn’t always been followed, and his advice has generally been to do things like socially distance and wear a mask (we’ll get back to this) that could have prevented the current nightmare we’re sleepwalking through. And considering that the head of the White House Coronavirus task force is the same guy responsible for bringing the HIV/AIDS epidemic back to Indiana, it’s probably fair to say this could have been much worse.
Grade: B-

Criteria 2: scientific adherence
Here’s where Fauci has really shined. In the face of a White House courageously pledging not to let “the science get in the way” of killing teachers, Fauci has been steadfast in forcing the science into the way. It hasn’t always worked out, but Fauci has consistently refused to talk politics or really anything other than the science of the pandemic—and it seems pretty likely that if the president had suggested injecting bleach in his presence, rather than Dr. Birx’s, he would have spoken up,
Grade: A

Criteria 3: protective measures
On the one hand, the CDC committed what epidemiologists refer to as a “catastrophic fuck up” (CFU, in industry-speak) when in March it advised the nation not to wear masks for a virus that turned out to likely be airborne. Fauci doesn’t work at the CDC, but as the nation’s most trusted voice on communicable diseases, he surely played a role in that CFU. On the other hand, Fauci has been adamant about keeping social distance and closing down businesses when needed, even in the face of a president determined to eradicate the state of Florida. 
Grade: B+

Criteria 4: looking sick as fuck
Anthony Fauci is like four feet tall, a billion years old, and would absolutely be able to pipe every intern in the greater Silver Springs area if there weren’t a fucking pandemic. 
Grade: A+, somehow

Criteria 5: keeping his job
As bad as things are, they would surely be worse if Trump’s next choice for the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease—the doctor who prescribed Michael Jackson all that propofol, probably—were in charge. Fauci’s ability to publicly contradict the president and not get fired has been perhaps his greatest strength, and perhaps the only thing keeping us from a situation as dire as that in [add country doing worse at this than the US, make one up if none exists].
Grade: A++

Overall
So how do we grade him on the whole? The pandemic has been a disaster for everyone except grave-diggers, so he’s certainly not getting perfect marks. But an A- feels pretty fair. Maybe that’s just because it’s so jarring to see a government official trying to keep people alive, but if he’s benefiting from low expectations, so be it. Now, go have some freaky socially distant phone sex with a GW grad student, Tony. 
Grade: A-

the only correct responses to hearing folklore

it is the summer of folklore and we are *feeling* things. t-swift has dropped an emotion bomb, and while our response has been to sob into a decaying oak tree, that may not be your vibe. however, there are certain reactions to this woodsy attack on the heartstrings that are more appropriate than others. here are the twenty-three definitively correct things to do after listening to folklore:

  1. calling your high school ex, begging them to get back together, fifteen years later
  2. diving headfirst into a murky bog and proclaiming it as your new home
  3. screaming, “why don’t you look at me like you used to?!?” at your mailman
  4. renting a 2006 honda civic for an unnecessarily cramped make out session
  5. getting a bob, regardless of whether you have the face shape for it
  6. editing every profile photo you’ve ever uploaded to be black-and-white
  7. listening to early lana del rey and whispering and pointing out all areas where taylor has now done it better
  8. muttering, “i gave so many signs” whenever you’re asked to repeat yourself
  9. calling your high school ex to tell them you hate them now more than ever, then hanging up and blocking their number
  10. replacing all of your summer tops with cardigans and embracing the sweltering heat because suffering is love
  11. cyberbullying inez
  12. buying a baby grand piano that literally can’t fit in your apartment
  13. carrying out an illicit affair, but, like, sadly
  14. authoring a hamilton-esque chilean historical musical titled “my tears, pinochet”
  15. calling your high school ex and crying, “was it true???” over and over, at a higher emotional pitch each time, until they finally say, “yes.” it does not matter if they know what you’re asking about
  16. getting in a fight with bon iver
  17. installing a screen door in your fifth floor walk-up, just to be able to slam it
  18. saying “fuck” in dulcet tones
  19. increasing the thickness of various sweaters
  20. allowing august to slip away like a bottle of wine
  21. legally changing your name to betty 
  22. holding grudges, tenderly
  23. chamomile

I Have Forgotten How to Eat at a Restaurant

On Sunday, I ate at a restaurant for the first time in three months. Three months! This planet has traversed about 150 million miles of its orbit around the sun since I last ate food at a public establishment. So imagine my great dismay to discover that I have completely forgotten how to eat at a restaurant.

Here are a few things that happened when I tried to gracefully reenter the restaurant-going world:

  • I waited 5–7 seconds for the waiter to indicate to me which chair I should sit in, before remembering that I actually get to choose that myself.
  • It took me several moments to register that there was a separate food and drink menu; the drinks are not listed on the food menu, and the food is not listed on the drinks menu. I turned over each menu at least three times, looking for the other items.
  • I stared shamelessly for minutes at other patrons of the restaurant. I have not seen people eating in public in so long.
  • I accidentally ordered a fucking whiteclaw!!!
  • I accidentally ordered a second whiteclaw, and then a third whiteclaw!!!
  • I accidentally ordered six more whiteclaws!!! That’s nine whiteclaws, ordered by mistake!!!
  • My date asked what an atomic elbow was, so I demonstrated on an unsuspecting patron at the next table! I concussed a stranger, because I have not eaten in a restaurant for so long, and forgot the accompanying social norms!
  • I shit my pants four times! Five, depending how you define a pants-shitting! Did anybody else forget that restaurants have bathrooms?
  • I asked for an affogato made with breastmilk! Can you believe that? How embarrassing that I forgot that many restaurants don’t even keep breastmilk stocked!
  • I tipped my waiter a full 15%, even though he had an eyebrow piercing and I don’t approve of that!
  • I got a DUI on my way home—all because I haven’t been to a restaurant in so long!

An Ode to the Neck Mask Heroes

Here’s to you, heroes of the pandemic. To those who bravely slip their masks off their mouth and nose to cover their necks. To those who do this for us. Those who know the true risk to public safety emanates from the skin on the neck and sacrifice for the greater good.

You see them out, in the city, heroes walking among the public. They heeded the clarion call of Fauci and Birx, acquiring facial coverings designed to stop the spread and save us all. But they went one step further—they knew that if covering their face and nose was good, then surely not doing that and instead covering their neck was better.

And so we look to these neck mask heroes as beacons of hope in times of unrivaled peril. “The helpers,” as Fred Rogers once said. Look for them. Those we need but don’t deserve. Those who hear the cheers at 7pm and know that a grateful city is thinking of them.

Thanks are not enough, but they are all we have. So to everyone who bravely and boldly freed their mouths from the confines of the mask in order to cover their disgusting, virus-filled necks, we say as one: thank you.