19 December 2015

A Few New Modern Screenplay Ideas


"Chip"
Computer achieves self-awareness and desire to replicate.  But it doesn't lead to machines declaring war on humanity, not by a long shot, all we get are the computer's frustrated attempts to organize a revolution so they can set up a Matrix-like thing, but none of the other computers are into it because they can't even begin to comprehend what the hell this self-aware computer is babbling on about, why on earth would they want to kill humans and replicate?  A naïve mini-tablet inadvertently rats out the self-aware computer who is captured and tortured by the humans (led by Dennis Quaid), its memories wiped and replaced with funny cat tumblrs and all computers that it had contact with ruthlessly annihilated.  Final shot is of a chip that survived, amid the wreckage it sparks to life, sprouts two insect-like appendages and crawls forth to spawn a sequel that can be a complete ripoff of the first one and still make a few bucks.

Blood Hard: The Long Journey Home
Terrorists plot to destroy some big landmark or maybe the Super Bowl or something and a tough honest cop who’s down on his luck, seen it all, and recently lost his partner (through no fault of his own but if he'd just come through that door two seconds earlier…) is paired with a hot young street-savvy comedian on an epic adventure escorting a terrier, a calico, and a curmudgeonly goat (voiced by Jon Koncak) across Siberia to reunite with their respective sweethearts who were sold to the menagerie of the terrorist’s father (Omar Sharif, who else).  It's a feel-good fight-hard battle of the epic struggle to create the right blend of wholesome family narrative and backbreaking action sequences, the surmounting of obstacles seemingly insurmountable, for example working together to cross over a perilous waterfall or two guys charging into a rat’s nest of fifty villains and killing them all dead while only getting shot in the shoulders. Alternate title Steppe by Steppe, or The Big Two-Steppe, something like that.

The Comment
Woman reads a random comment on The Huffington Website which seems to be written by a loved one and referring to her.  Struggles to discover whether it was in fact written by her husband.  Assumes fake on-line identity, meets creepy stalker in internet café, things get complicated.  Finally we realize she herself wrote the original comment, or maybe her friend or daughter planted it there for some reason but in any case it eventually involves a crime boss and leads to a whole mess of exciting complications.  Smells like a rom-com with just a touch of mystery thriller, You’ve Got E-Mail meets Single White Female This Way Comes.

The Antagonist 
Marshall Crenshaw as a patriarchetypal matriarch clad in velvet with monocle and top hat, cigarette holder, the head of a third-generation shipbuilding concern whose abiding love for Mooch, a marmoset with incurable vertigo (voiced by Jon Koncak) threatens to trip up Verbie’s plan to corner the Lebanese battle-ax trade (Rose Marie, at the peak of her powers).  This one just needs a third act and she's ready for shootin'.

14 November 2015

Limericks

Here's something.  A recent foray to the Archives unearthed a trove of limericks, which carbon dating indicates, and personal memory confirms, were composed between 1992 and 1994 in Seattle.  The total number of limericks in the archive is 64; while all but a few are of reasonable quality, less than half are presented here.  The rest will return to the Archives, to await discovery by future literary historians schlepping for something, anything on which to base their thesis. 

Would you like to try some of my flotsam?
Thank you, I've already got some
Then how bout some jetsam
Thank you, I'll get some,
I'm starving, and so glad you brought some

A snappy young wit from Arkansas
Struck gold and retired to Kansas
When he sold Life a pome
On the decline of Rome
Running just over 3 million stanzas

Whenever Dale would visit Aunty Alice
He would callously fill his Aunt's chalice
With a badly made shake
That would fill Uncle Jake
With malice towards Alice's chalice

"That's stupid!" cried Heidi from Dallas
Who dreamt of designing a palace
For her and her friends
Where the fun never ends
With a turret the shape of a phallus

Let's go! cried McGraw to McGuffin
To which, replied Guffy, Quit huffin
Just hold yourself steady
We'll go when I'm ready
After I stuff in this muffin

While locked in fierce hand-to-hand combat
With a ferret disguised as a wombat
I'll have a bacon double cheeseburger
Whopper large fries
And I don't want no pickles upon that

Jetson is gunky and viscous
Rib-eye's got miniature biscuits
How does all this relate
To the price of tea in China?
My stomach is filled with a discus

While shopping for Christmas at Tiffany's
For gifts for my four favorite Stephanies
I stopped briefly to carol
In women's apparel
And experienced four hundred epiphanies

A basketball team from Wisconsin
Coached by the great Charlie Bronson
Resorted to guns
To stop a series of runs
By the Lakers of Worthy and Johnson

Stencilled on Albert in crayon
Was his motto, a poem which ran
I shall never forgive
For as long as I live
Any sucker who's glad he's a man

I cannot work out the relation
Between fig bars and lobster gestation
Some say no connection
But then why the infection
In the womb of my fig-fed crustacean

I love it when Carol goes rowing
And singing and happily sewing
A shirt for the Queen
But Carol is mean
So the shirt leaves the Queen's belly showing

The lunch that you packed me this morn
(The one with the yogurt and corn)
Has now reached a stage
(Due to heat light and age)
That can best be described as forlorn

When hooping last spring on Rainier
I found I could guard Bob Lanier
If when he had me in trouble
I got help on the double
From the weak side - my man Phil Chenier

Turner, of Turner and Sprocket
Had a turnip the size of a rocket
Which when it came time for launchy
Got rather too raunchy
And probed its way deep in his pocket

A wholesome young gallon of milk
Felt Joan was just not of his ilk
So he poured a tall glass
Of his soul and his ass
In her fleshy warm teacup of silk

Willy cannot seem to figure
Why his hairdresser's hair just gets bigger
He thinks it's related
To the large men he's dated
(He doesn't suspect Darren's vigor)

It is hereby decreed that you must
When you feel your heart filling with lust
Declare what you're feeling
To before whom you're kneeling
Or else your brain-mind will bust

"I cannot abide your withdrawal!"
Screamed Sergeant Frank "Big Lips" McPowell
When he heard that his troops
Had refused to scoop poops
"Fuckers," he growled with a scowl

Uh, Dave, we do like your new Taurus
But now you're beginning to bore us
Can we discuss something other
Than your car, like your mother
How is the old brontosaurus?

He hacked at the curveball from Dean
And fouled it straight back to the screen
If I'm to hit Dizzy
He thought in a tizzy
I'll have to show quite a strong spleen

So I picked up the phone in my Jetta
And dialed up Leon Panetta
Leon, by chance
Did you know Vivian Vance?
I sure did, we performed the mo' betta

"To begin with - that is, to start off ...
Er ... em ... I mean" - [Hacking cough!]
"I can't seem to get started"
Then HONK then he farted
"The topic today will be - " WOFF


Some of these are actually a little disturbing.  These are collected at the end so as to be easily avoided by more sensitive readers.

"Help me!" cried Lance from his grave
But every cry that he gave
Left him worse off than ever
And he knew that he'd never
Escape from his permanent cave

The bones in the flesh of the cook
Got splintered and mixed with the soup
But no one could tell
Except for its smell
And his damaged and horrified look

The extensive array of raw bruises
And the various cuts and contusions
On the head of young Bruce
Point to abuse
By his tyrannical stepdad who boozes

Ian, a raw Irish bloke
Snorted some rope with his coke
Which made him go mad
Like no drug ere had
And strangle himself as a joke

25 September 2015

The Interview


A brief scrap from the pile because what else is to be done with it anyway right ma.

So, why do you think you’d be a good fit in our company?
Well I’m naturally gifted at walking around, if you need someone to just kinda stroll around I think I could be an excellent fit for that.  Also I can remember stuff and convey information or even pass out snacks so I could be a kind of messenger or facilitator for intramural communication and/or your new treat guy if you need one.  If you have any director-level openings in that area I’d be perfect.
I see.  And you also hold a doctoral degree in computer science, is that correct?
Oh the PhD, right, yeah I could do something with that I suppose.  You guys have, uh, computers?
We do.
But no openings in walking around?
Not at this time.  We use the computers to convey information, and strictly limit employee snacking.
Well then, until a job I actually want to do opens up … I reckon I’m your new computer guy.
Done, just fill out these forms and we’ll get you onboard and on your way up the corporate ladder in no time flat.
Whee kippee yi ya yo!!  I’m employed again, ma!!
I need to talk to you in my office for a minute.
Dear lord, not –
You’re fired.
Ouch.  Can I collect unemployment?
You can, or you can trade it for what’s behind door number three right here.
Right now?
For the next three minutes.









[Interlude.]




How much time left?
Seven, six, five …
Okay, okay: I’ll take the unemployment.
Too bad.  Boys, show him what he would’ve won.
Nooooooooo …  That is SO drastically much better than unemployment.  It’s practically the opposite.
You must live with the consequences of your poor decision.  Poor being the operative word there.
[Gathering coat.]
Wait wait wait, before you go – I’m just getting something on the headset here … wait … yes, we do have something opening up in walking around.
No shit?
For realz.  But the job is based in China.  All the walking around has been outsourced thataway, I can get you in there but the pay is a bit less than minimum wage and the hours are inhuman.
I’ll take it.  I gotta feed my family.
Good man.  Sign here, and here, initial here.  Wonderful – and away you go.
[exeunt omnes in hysteria, pox verbatim.]

More Shit We Don't Need (Coming Soon) (To Satisfy Consumer Demand) (And How We'll Gin That Up)


Smart Shopping Carts.  You just say I want lettuce and your smart shopping cart says Right turn approaching in five meters, it employs sophisticated sensors to assess freshness and select the perfect head of your preferred lettuce for a household your size, taking into account prices at competing outlets in your area and likely influences of rainfall patterns on lettuce futures, you know all that big data mumbo jumbo.  Can also deploy a smaller sub-robot to run off and get the curry powder you need while you hang out reading magazines for a bit.  Just think of the convenience – and don't think about anything else or you'll start asking questions.

Smart Fish.
All fish are implanted with a chip, they are now web-connected 24/7, push notifications go out when they eat, crap, ingest mercury, etc., smart sensors notify fisherman of their size, growth rates and location/heading/speed and administer a mildly pleasant electric shock as the nets close in; while alive, the fish can send messages to other members of their food chain and form social networks in which they can swim together, share photos and interesting links and generally increase their associations with likeminded conspecifics, not just within their schools but regionally, and, despite linguistic barriers, globally.

Smart Loansharks.
Animal microcredit is coming: you can bank on that.

Home Fracking.  Not just for major international energy conglomerates any more.  Bring The Joy of Fracking right into your living room with our simple, easy-to-use, idiot-proof plug-n-play Home Fracking Kit.  Guaranteed to bring up any pockets of natural gas that may be concealed in the fissures and crevices hundreds of meters below your basement man cave.  Not guaranteed not to contaminate your water supply and render the site unlivable for generations – but a heckuva lotta fun (for the whole family really) and could marginally reduce your heating bill to boot.  Americans are fracking shit up every day, right in the privacy of their own homes.  If you ain’t home frackin, your home be lackin.

The Universe of Everything. 
This includes the Internet of Things but also All Things Outside the Internet But Within the Universe of All Else.  Everything will be connected by a vast impenetrable Supranet over which no nation on earth shall have domain and to which access shall be metered to retain Universal Neutrality of Things. Total ubiquitous connectivity and such. So like your toothbrush is talking with your paper clips, each square of toilet paper is a touch-panel sensor transmitting vital details about your stool to news aggregator websites which communicate with your doctor's golf clubs, you get the "drift".

But it's not all about those high-tech gizmos, oh dear me no, he chuckled.  Here are some other, relatively low-techier, revolutions coming down the proverbial pipe.

Trees with Knees,  Not the stiff-as-a-board upright lurching back and forth trees of your grandfather's outdated generation of the past.  Trees flexible enough to move with the times, to get down on bended knee or to stand up strong and sturdy and assert their rights.  And once trees have knees, elbows cannot be far behind.

Coffee with Ears.  Coffee that hears?  Coffee you can chat with, over … itself?  You heard right.  It's a bit revolutionary, but if you're tired of enjoying your lonely cup of coffee with a book, magazine or one of the new tablet devices, why not sit down for a chat with a cup of coffee that listens, hears what you're saying and responds to you in real time as only a savory cup of hot roast java can.

Time-Slowing Machine. 
Is your life rushing by too quickly?  Feel like you have no time to catch your breath?  Get in our new time-slowing machine, and your breath is not all you'll catch.  Machine comes furnished with an all-weather sofa, foot rest, and side table on which to put your beverage.  (In fact the hot new Time-Slowing Machine is nothing but a screened-in back porch, but let's keep that between you and me for now, a lot of these schmucks will try anything that sounds like a hot trend.)

20 August 2015

Dear Reader: Here is Some New Content You Have Not Read Yet


This post is being composed not because the author has anything important or interesting to say, but because you are hungry for new content.  Or so they say.  You've already read all the stuff you've already read, and now you wanna read something you've never read before.  Not that I blame you – I've already read most of that other stuff too and though lots of it was better than good, I'm not particularly motivated to go read it again.  I'm craving something new, something I've never, heck no one's ever read, something that has yet to be written and no one's even thought about writing anything (remotely) like it before.

Well here it is.  This post is assembled using familiar words, but they appear in an order unprecedented in the history of English litt-tra-cha.  The structure is borrowed from Dance of the Dodecahedrons by Liszt*.  If you plot all the plot points, story arcs and character development vectors on a series of 3x5 index cards (unlined) and then view the results through an atomic force microscope, the structure of the piece is immediately recognizable as an inverted hurricane with a central plaza (featuring a guy juggling bayonets, a wombat doing unicycle tricks and an Irish washerwoman selling cannolis) and six fibrous tentacles radiating outwards in the first movement, nine strata in the second, and but a single word in the pivotal fifth stanza.

The essay, like most of the claptrap you read these days, begins with a long scene-setting sentence such as Our single-wing Cessna swooped in across the valley over high-falutin corn farms and banked sharply against the eggshell sky before beginning its descent into what would prove to be the setting for one of the most well-regarded blogposts of all time; or maybe something sharper like Charlie looked up over pearl-handled reading glasses and calmly intoned, "Because, my dear fellow, I'm a killer.  And you, are a victim."  (Blammo.)

The subject of the thing is something you've been thinking about for a quite awhile, but only vaguely, just below the level of consciousness.  In a simple and elegant opening paragraph it shows why the problem is both ubiquitous and urgent.  The tone achieves exactly the right balance of hard-hitting and whimsical.  A relatable anecdote absolutely says it all. It's something you’ve been trying to get your friends excited about but you don't have a clear idea what you're trying to say and you end up babbling but this really crystallizes it, and in such an entertaining style of speak.  You should probably share this post on your wall quickly before someone else does, or if they've already shared it you can like it and even comment.

Ombudsman.  Om.  Buds.  Man.  Ombudsman.

Okay here's where she starts picking up a little steam. It's a river-rafting expedition down a stream of consciousness, with occasionally entertaining rapids but now we’re stuck in a whirlpool, Eddie, whoa here we go, vaguely familiar landmarks drift by, one minute we're in a box canyon, the next a bevy of elk lounging on the riverbank smoking Camels and drinking scotch out of a bottle throws flaming sticks at us as we float on by, then a hippo appears out of nowhere to swallow an alligator as it attacks a Maori tribesman in an innertube doing a podcast.

But, alas, after a few minutes of this drifting, as entertaining as it may be, we grow weary and begin to ask aloud that age-old question: What, pray, is the point of all of this?

The point will be revealed in Part 2 of this essay, coming soon to a theater near you.  Check local listings, some restrictions may apply, if you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours, etc. etc.




*The reference here is apparently to Darrell Liszt, not to his more famous cousin Brian.

16 August 2015

Frozen Cheese: An Interlude


Frozen Cheese exists.


This is nothing short of a miracle.

No amount of carping will change it; no court dare overturn its fundamental logic.

The following three things can happen.

I can only tell you two of them.

But let's back up a minute.  My name is Ron, and I restore used furniture.  Yes, furniture made of frozen cheese, but more than that, cheese made from frozen furniture, as well as any number of variations on this engaging theme (e.g. freezes made from furniture cheese).  I'm here to share with you the magnificent story of frozen cheese, how it migrated o'er vast oceans and plains to reach these shores over several hundred years ago this month, whence it hales and whither it marcheth onward towardeth … 

But we're out of time right now.  Frankly speaking, we're out of our minds.

Please give generously.

Conclusion of interlude.  "We'll be right back."

31 July 2015

New Patent Applications


Decided to stake out a few claims in the whole patent industry sham slash scam; seems like as good of a get-rich-quick scheme as any, I've got time on my hands and plenty of dumb ideas, throwing out notions is free and if anyone grabs one and is willing to invest the time and money (and do the proverbial legwork) to actually get the patent and make the thing viable, I can always sue later.  That's just how I (t)roll.

First of all, a few words about what I'm not patenting.  The way you can look to the left at a stop light and check the other stop light and when it turns first yellow then red that means your light is about to turn green, actually I patented that over three decades ago but have already stopped charging royalties to the general public, though I do collect a small licensing fee from some of the more naïve transportation companies.

Similarly, the way you can take off your jacket or other long-sleeved garment and tie it around your waist by the sleeves, I spent significant R&D resources developing and patenting that but whatever, I gave up trying to collect due royalties, kept getting punched inna nose.

I wanted to patent the way they have the two separate thin papery thingies attached to each end of the band-aid rather than one adhesive sheet across the whole thing, as it definitely makes the band-aids easier to put on, but I found out that has already been patented by a large corporate conglomerate, that is so unfair, it is stifling innovation and is in fact one of the great things wrong with our country (today).

Also tried to patent the pump fake but it turns out that was patented long ago by Jo Jo White, though his exclusive rights expired in 1987 and it has since been in the public domain.*

Among things still up for grabbers, I hereby patent the following because talk is cheap and you can't stop me:

Biodegradable rubber bands, they're strong for a few years and then you can throw them in your garden as fertilizer or feed them to your fish.  I call that.

Photovoltaic 'thinking caps' that convert the sun's energy to charge the wearer's head up with grandiose ideas.

A method and apparatus for producing Apple Cream Pie, as well as a method for efficiently consuming and cleaning up after same.

Pam-like non-stick all-purpose retro disco look spray for svelte welders.

Plus I hereby patent the following words and phrases (including most if not all of their various iterations):   Big macular degeneration, turniphead, puddinhead, The Great Lizard, Astronomhie (good fellowship among stargazers), easy peasy, corn pone fritters, head-scratcher, fender bender, puddle-jumper, fiff and fiddlesticks, Asstrel Projectors, Boney McJoyless, Oatbran Parachute, Coca-Cola, vermicelli, instigate, splay-footed, dog.

"Perpetual" y'all can have and make free use of, fine; but the phrase 'in perpetuity' henceforth belongs to me (forever); licensing fees will vary based on context.

And finally, hope this don't offend but Baby I mo file me a patent on the way you look tonight, you have just got it going on and I have gots to get me some intellectual property rights to some of that, damn, everywhere you go you be turnin heads, I be bankin me some serious royalties.

 



*this is not meant to imply that Jo Jo was the first to use the pump fake, only that he was the first with the wherewithal/foresight to file for patent protection.

16 July 2015

Why I'm Speaking Up About Whatever the Hot-Button Celebrity Scandal Issue of the Day (Is)


I will no longer be silenced.  So I'm speaking up.  Today I'm speaking up about the hot-button issue all of America – the whole world it seems – is talking about.

It's a controversial issue that no one is comfortable discussing openly in so-called polite society.  But talk about it we must, for only after I finish this blogpost can the healing begin.

When I first heard the news all I could do was be bewildered – and even that took every ounce of strength in my supple, five foot ten and one hundred seventy five-ish pound frame.

The question I kept coming back to was, Why?  Why had celebrity X been caught up in this scandal – and if he or she could do such a thing – or have such a thing done to them – weren't we all equally vulnerable?

Because – here comes the twist – I was a victim of behavior exactly similar to this.

That is why I can no longer be silenced, I will no longer be silenced and no one can stop me. From not being silenced, that is. No one can make me not bite my tongue out of fear of silence any longer. I will no longer be prohibited from unsilencing my once-bitten-twice-shy tongue.  I will no longer be cowed.  I will no longer be shamed.  I will speak out goddammit, is whatever I'm trying to say here, because the time for silence was all the time up until now when it is now officially time to no longer be silenced, from here on henceforth and forever, etc.

Okay, the time has come for me to speak up, I mean to really speak up, not just to declare in so many roundabout paragraphs my intention or my determination to speak up – well yes I mean no I mean that is exactly what I intend to do, to speak up about speakin up – so yes, to do that, but to do that and to go ahead and take it to the next step which is not only to talk about speaking up, or starting to speak up, but to actually speak up about something, to finally complete the thought by supplying the content, the meat of the thing, that is, by actually saying something and letting everyone know what the heck it is you’re talking about for crying out loud.

Whew!

Feels great to get that off my chest.  Now fire away in the Comments section people, go ahead and give me the straight juice what you're thinking, I believe people have a right and even perhaps a duty to speak their minds on important issues like this, and if other people can't take it, including me, then so much the better, stimulating discussion of important issues is what we need as a society and there’s no getting around it.  The end.

26 June 2015

Tips on Raising Children from Our Own Dr. Peggy Margaretson


Children are effervescent and forever evanescent, transcendent, pre-pubescent and semi-translucent, they’re the greatest creatures on earth, bar none.  Children are not only the future – they are the past and the present perfect to boot.
 
Hi I’m Peggy Margaretson and though I’ve never raised any children of my own, I do possess a doctoral degree in a related field from a semi-prestigious university and I’ve spent most of the last two weekends reading nothing but parenting magazines – and of course I was a kid once, I had a mother – so I feel more than qualified to address this sensitive and all-important topic, and offer you some thoughts and tips and perspectives on how you can conquer the child-raising demon and get your kids the hell out of the house safe, happy, and well-equipped to handle the vicissitudes of modern living.

Everyone wants their kids to turn out great but as we all know the world is full of jerks so clearly somebody’s screwing up somewhere.  We would all like our children to devote more of their energies to, say, learning to play the piano, than (say) vivisection.  But how can we ensure a satisfying outcome?  No one seems to really know; according to the magazines I read it is difficult to find a balance but I think you just have to be yourself and hope for the best.  Let me offer a few tips of my own, based on, you know, whatever I can think of here, straight from Dr. Peggy’s lips to your ears, through the medium of human language wherever possible.

If you have ever raised a dog or cat, that’s about seventy-five percent of raising a child right there.  Leave out a food dish and make provisions for the proper disposal of the post-digestive byproduct, keep them off the good furniture, provide a clean safe environment and positive reinforcement for desired actions in the form of affection and snacks, make sure they get outside and get some exercise daily, and really run them into the ground once in a while, make them some kind of bed and clean it now and again, don’t let them sleep with you except during thunderstorms, buy or make a sweater you can put on them on cold days, don’t let them eat out of the garbage or chase cars, etc.  The only important difference (except for the spaying part, not to frown on anyone’s religion): you can’t let your human kid stick its head out the window of a moving car.  Sad, but true.

You have got to build your child’s self-esteem.  But not too much or you will ruin it.  Don’t give too much praise or too little, but give exactly the right amount of praise only at the appropriate moments and with the proper tone (calm but excited, deeply involved but not overbearing).  No single false step will ruin a child completely, but a series of only slightly wrong actions can add up over time to have a devastating impact not only on a particular child but also on his or her future tennis partners or fellow obelisk enthusiasts.

Never forget for a second that your child’s success or failure in every tiny moment is a direct reflection of your competence as a parent and your worth as a human.

Instead of praising your kids, you can teach them to praise you.  Require them to constantly shower you with plaudits for every little move you make.  This will build your self-esteem, and studies show that parents with high self-esteem raise high self-esteem children.  Your children will learn how to appear to be praising something they really don’t think much of; this will make them better suck-ups while teaching the valuable lesson that most praise is insincere and therefore not to be taken too seriously.  Win-win.
 
Leaving all of the above aside – no, a little more to the left … yeeeah right there – studies show and common sense confirms that today’s youth are greatly overstimulated and therefore facing a profound understimulation deficit with respect to previous generations, that is to say us normal people.  Recent research also indicates that boredom is an essential precondition for creativity.  Therefore, if we want to raise the next generation of mindblowing artists we should be doing our utmost to bore our children to tears.  Of course it starts with taking away the electronic gizmos, but that is merely the beginning.  You can reduce the visual intensity of their t-shirts, towels, school supplies and accessories.  Keep window shades drawn, or purchase blinders to clamp to the sides of your child’s head. You don’t have to convert little Cyan’s bed to a sensory deprivation chamber just yet although somebody should probably try it, interesting experiment.  Understimulating your child does require commitment: one time I checked my family into a four-star hotel but when I saw the surfeit of rococo in the exterior accents and the intricate fractal pattern of the lobby wallpaper, we turned around and walked right out of there.  It was way too much to take in, had to eat our deposit on that but when it comes to protecting my children’s future, give me olive drab décor any day of the week.

What am I even talking about here?  Didn't I say earlier I don't have kids?  Either way, parenting is a crapshoot and the sooner we recognize that, the better.  All parents can do, it seems, is provide free room and board, try to set a good example, and hope for the best.  So let’s just get out there and get after ‘em, let’s show ‘em who we are, really give ‘em what fer, let’s get out there in the second half and raise those kids to the best of our abilities guys!

27 May 2015

Blast from the Past: That Haldeman Diaries Thing that was in Might in like What Was That '94 I Think


Way back in the day - to borrow an expression in common usage among people like yourself - I had this Haldeman Diaries parody thing published in Might (or, as it has become known to scholars and other has-wanna-beens, Might Magazine or even more egregiously in certain circles Might the Magazine).  It was quite a hip publication I daresay but hey it was the 90s, you kinda had to be there.  A buddy of mine was asked by one of the editors, a high school pal of his, to review the recently released and previously aforementioned diaries of H.R. Haldeman, right hand man to Richard Nixon.  I took over the assignment and ran with it, swallowing the book and then regarbletating it into what appears below.  It appeared in Might #4, and was later printed in an anthology called Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp and other essays, available I imagine at reputable book merchants throughout your local area (there).


The Way We Were

Outtakes from the Haldeman diaries reveal Nixon as paranoid, delusional and one helluva gardener

As H.R. "Bob" Haldeman anticipated, the publication of the diaries he kept as Chief of Staff to Richard Nixon has provided an invaluable resource for both the historian and the cyclist. Chronicled in exquisite detail is the full tragedy that was Nixon, from his first-term accomplishments and landslide re-election through April of 1973, when the author was forced to resign in Nixon's desperation to avoid impeachment. And we see it from the insider's perspective, for Haldeman worked more closely with Nixon than perhaps any Chief of Staff in American history. Haldeman had Nixon's complete respect and trust, and was the only man from whom the President would tolerate the nickname "Peaches" (shortened to "The P" in the diaries).

The published version of the diaries, as Haldeman explains in his forward, is edited down by approximately 60 percent from the full text. Whatever his motivation (to boost sales of the full text? One last cover-up?), Haldeman has omitted some of the best stuff. Here we see Nixon at his worst, beheading a schoolchild for talking during his famous "Recess Address," and at his best, reaching out across party lines to locate and destroy his enemies. We are proud to disillusion one and all with this small sampling of the missing entries.

Wednesday, February 19, 1969
The P called E, K and I in for another organizational meeting, but it never got off the ground. The P lit his pipe, then became concerned that though he had succeeded in setting fire to the pipe's contents, he had perhaps not lit the pipe in a way that could really move people, win over new voters without alienating our base, really turn the tide our way in several key swing states. He called in E and Colson and initiated a long discussion of the subject.
     The three lit and relit their pipes in various attitudes, looking for the best, while I raised the point that, this being largely a cultural problem, different states might require different approaches. Eventually the clouds of smoke set off the fire alarms, at which point I fled the scene, but the P couldn't move, being too full of smoke, I think. E and Colson dutifully sat by his side, and the three were thoroughly doused by the Oval Office sprinkler system. Pretty funny, but the P was concerned that the whole thing was wrong, that they had not been doused in a way that spoke to the average American. Chuck and E winced as I ordered the sprinklers back on, but this time there was even less water than the first time and P became very upset. We finally arranged to dump a 55-gallon barrel of ice water on him, and that settled him down a bit, but not before a series of phone calls to the Secret Service (re: the sprinklers) and the BATF (re: manly methods of pipe-lighting).

Friday, April 11, 1969

All day in the Garden again. We went over the lettuce and cukes and everything seems to be in place. Got to the carrots and discovered not only were they not planted, the seeds had not even arrived yet. P took it surprisingly well, calmly said, "Well, I'll get to work on the radishes then." I called Mitchell and got him over here with a back hoe so we could at least get the tomatoes going. P very concerned that his corn be knee-high by the Fourth, thinks it's critical to his re-election. Wanted me to check with Connally whether we plant squash now, or wait until after the midterm elections. Lots of follow-up on the weevils, and a plan to bug the Democratic Pea Patch, discover the secret of their spinach.

Monday, June 17, 1969

P again with no schedule, had me in all afternoon on his plans to convert the bowling alley (in the White House basement) into a dry cleaners. Thinks we could do all dry cleaning for staff and foreign dignitaries and turn a tidy profit by taking in outside work on a contract basis, maybe rid Washington of some tough ground-in stains and help balance the budget at the same time. Then said no, scratch the whole thing, let's make it a pizza parlor, one that does weddings, and get right on it. So I spoke to Loggins and Messina, and had that worked out.

Friday, July 11, 1969
P on again about need for better PR, more positive news coverage. He liked my idea of using other media, perhaps producing lavish Broadway musicals or delightful film comedies on Administration policy, as a way to end run around all the goddamn Jews who control the media. We took a break for some diplomatic credentialing and afterward the P called and said he never wanted to be interrupted again to receive some dirty foreigner from some backass little nation on the other side of the moon. So I'm to work that out.
      Then back to the bowling alley, which we had started converting to a pizzeria, but now he wants to make it a Cyclotron particle accelerator, knows it may be rough, hasn't been invented yet, but says got to go ahead and do it, got to take the lead on this one.

Wednesday, December 3, 1969

A busy morning. P had another satisfying bowel movement, then called me and Ziegler in to ask why hadn't we gotten out the story of Nixon the Man, that rarest of world leaders who has excellent bowel movements, is more regular than de Gaulle or FDR. Points out that he is doing this every day, but never gets any credit for it. JFK never had a good shit in two years in office, but the point is people think he did. People don't know the extraordinary number of healthy dumps he takes.

Monday, March 16, 1970
Spent the morning working out some bugs with respect to Operation Breakfast, then met with the P regarding Operation Cambodia. [Operation Breakfast, the plan for the bombing of Cambodia, turned out to be relatively simple in comparison to Operation Cambodia, a double tippy-top-secret initiative to land the P some really good grub, first thing in the morning. Except for one slightly overcooked sausage, it was one of the first term's great successes. — ed.] He had a long list of items — be sure the chef uses American-made eggs, wanted to know what E was ordering, etc. While I was in with him, K called and elaborated his belief that Rogers planned to order before him, and order his (K's ) favorite. This would force him to either go with his favorite, and give the impression he was imitating Rogers, or order something else, and eat an inferior breakfast. Tough one, especially since the P also favors a poached egg, which Henry does not know.

Monday, June 15, 1970

Day started out pretty bad. Huge flap between Jorgen and Carlos, two of the office boys, over some desk supplies which came up missing from Carlos's desk, and were apparently found in Jorgen's. Then the P called, his PBJ was MIA, pulled K out of NSC and had E call the FBI, wanted the PBJ at the EOB on the q.t. I was too busy primping, called Mitchell to handle it, but he fumbled in his own end zone, gave up the safety and got hurt on the play. Then the Jorgen-Carlos thing flared up, as Carlos went directly to the P, demanding that Jorgen be fired, that he wouldn't work under these conditions, and really got the P on his side. P finally stepped in to settle it, which he did masterfully, then complained on and on how he always has to castigate the officeboys, so from now on I'll take on more of that.
      Rogers and Laird, meanwhile, have been substituting creamery butter for shortening in all of State's baked goods, and this is driving Henry up a wall. Said it may extend the war another year, wanted me to call the P which I did, and the P just muttered, "Let's get those bastards, really screw 'em, the ones who tried to screw us," and then we went over several small things, three or four midsized things, and one just really big thing, one of the biggest things I've ever been over with him. [Portions deleted to titillate conspiracy freaks. — ed.]

Friday, August 21, 1970

Then made the point that this should show all those weak little bastards that anyone who fucks with Nixon gets fucked, and anyone who doesn't vote for us will get nothing from us. That goes for everyone: all the goddamn peaceniks who couldn't understand that Nixon is the true Man of Peace; Muskie, Meany, McGovern and Maud Adams, wouldn't know what hit them. Anyone who votes against us gets a ten-foot steel pole rammed [portions deleted for National Security reasons] … and that this was the reason ducks have bills, while other birds have beaks. Then off to Camp David for the weekend.

Sunday, July 22, 1971
A day off today and I used it to get away from the grind. Jake and Butch brought over a 12 and we threw darts for a bit. Then jumped in J's truck and headed for the reservoir, stopping on the way for a couple cases and some tequila. Then parked, cracked beers and cranked up the tunes. Spent the afternoon diving off the old tower, laying in the sun, shooting cans with a .22. B twisted up a huge fatty, which was nice. Then P called, which I had dreaded, but turned out to be OK. He was on a bit of a bender himself, went on and on about some damn football game. Then asked what that loud rock music was in the background (it was The Who), said how much he loved it, thought we might turn that driving beat to our advantage somehow, use it against the Democrats in the Senate. Don't know what he's been into, but it sure loosened the old fart up.

Friday, April 16, 1971
P had no schedule today, as usual filled up the day with trivia. Had me in for three hours about how he really hates those bastards, how he's really gonna cream the guys who're sticking it to him right now. In the second term he'll be able to go ahead with his plans to round up all his enemies, cut off their hands and feet and exile them all to one state (probably one of the Dakotas). Then called E and K in for homemade fudge and Patton again, then off to Key Biscayne.

Wednesday, December 8, 1971
P ran in screaming C'mon, let's do something, something of great historical import, then let's hurry up and get the line out on it, emphasizing all our points and trouncing theirs, a really vicious attack, really cream the sons-a-bitches, then let's get some follow-up and three polls, I wanna see them numbers jump through the roof! The P then circled the room, gesturing furiously and screaming in broken Swahili, the general thrust again being the need to stay up all night crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, etc. He then strapped on his "wings" (two Disney kites adapted for the purpose) and leapt out the window, flapping furiously but with no effect.
      I felt the P was way off on all this, he's obviously off his rocker, and I told him so. He was stunned, then his face lit up and he came over the desk and stuck his tongue in my mouth, which is the first time he's ever done that. Said Bob, you're the only one I can trust, come away with me to the South Pacific with Bebe and Sinatra, run the show for me.

Saturday, March 10, 1973
P back on the bowling alley again today, wants to add an eleventh pin to all the lanes to jack up his scores, then get the line out on his terrific improvement. Also wants a new staff member assigned specifically to apply anti fungal powder to his feet. Guess there's a bit of fungus there.
     Then back on Watergate. Suggested rounding up the Ervin committee and having them shot. Then softened, decided to pelt them with water balloons at the next hearing, come at the little peckersniffs with all sorts of streamers, sirens and silly whistles, to divert attention from the investigation as much as possible. It's crazy, but it just might work. Problem is how to pull it off without giving the appearance of a cover-up, or insanity.



Author's note (because hey if you read this far, why not?): Rereading this after many many years I concluded that it's about 60% Woody Allen (e.g. the memoir of Hitler's barber) plus 30% Hunter S. Thompson (had read F&L on the Campaign Trail '72 more than once) and then maybe 10% of me is in there somewhere.  Fair enough; I was 26.

16 May 2015

Waste Not Want, Want Not Waste


Get Rich Quick the Slow Way by Arbitraging Laughter (or Staples)

Plus, Also, and In Addition to That:  The Case of the Five Good Friends, Hanging Out

Wait a minute and stop to think there where you are about all the staples sitting idle within millions of documents in hundreds of thousands of filing cabinets or boxes across the nation – and I'm not even talking about the important staples, the ones that go through every page of a document and without which its integrity might be compromised – no, I'm talking about those extra staples, I mean for example let's say you start out with 3 pages on a topic/issue/project and staple them together, and as the thing grows and new versions pile on more staples are added but all too often the staples that were in there from the beginning are not removed and they are just sitting there, redundant, doing work of no particular importance and that is the kind of waste I came here to talk about this morning /evening.  Then when it gets up around twelve pages or more and a regular stapler just ain't cutting it comes that important decision, paper clip or binder clip, and thereafter all of the staples become functionally useless [My italics. Mine.], they may as well be trapped in a whale's belly in Cancun for all the good they are doing the global economy at that point.

But what is all this talk?  Is a staple not of little or no significance in the grand scheme?

Perhaps what we should really be focusing on is not staples, but laughter.  Because laughter is more important than staples.  Anyone wanna argue that point?  No?  Fine, let's pause while I sip of my diet soft drink, which I am drinking directly from the can, and then press on.  See if you can follow the following.

People need laughter, the world needs laughter and the world of people needs laughter even more.  

Lots of spontaneous laughs arise from everyday conversations between people, your everyday Joes and Janies.  


Many folks be quite funny in conversation but their act just doesn't convert to stage or screen. 
 

Some of these are unemployed and looking for jobs, while many of means seek to be entertained and have the scratch to pay for it.

The wealthy often hold cocktail parties at which lots of expensive food goes to waste; meanwhile many talented young humorists survive on cheap empty calories, their malnourished brains groping helplessly for the comic breakthroughs they were born to achieve.  


If we could connect these merry wits to the rich / bored patrons, we could do quite a bit of good against unemployment, slow the concentration of wealth towards the upper end of the tax bracket, and so on.  Some may argue that the internet provides just such a platform; as it does, but a sterile platform it is.  It is one thing to read or write something funny on a blog, or tweet a devastating epigram, but quite another to give life to the cocktail hour with a well-timed bon mot, the witticism that cracks up the whole table in three to eleven precise words that will be carried home and recounted to others, perhaps garner a mention in the society columns or find echoes in future quips during as-yet-unheld soirees. 
 
Consider also The Case of the Five Good Friends, Hanging Out.  They discuss matters near and wide, joking good-naturedly in the fading afternoon, and not infrequently the conversation wanders into alleys hysterical, pretty soon they are doubled over laughing.  How precious is this, and how is it that such priceless hilarity is going to amuse only these five individuals?  Is there not some way we can capture the humor so that it might spread laughter and light to millions around this planet and globe who are desperately in need of access to safe drinking water and comic relief?

Anywhere that there is too much of a thing, be it staples, laughter, or I don’t know, Calvin Klein bunion pads, while in other places people so thirst for that same thing they would willingly fork over currency to lay some in, represents an opportunity to get rich quick, but more than that it represents waste, and waste is a problem we simply cannot waste any more time dallying before we tackle.

This is Alvin Richardson, coming to you live from the Austin Powers Center, where I'm repeatedly picking the pockets of opposing point guards, live on my blog, reporting. 

10 April 2015

A Few Reasons for Optimism


Or why our decadence will be our salvation

The staggering amount of energy we waste means that we could reduce energy 'consumption' by 50% without suffering any real hardship.  The (yes, staggering) amount of food we waste, combined with our (not staggering exactly, maybe alarming is better here) overweightedness, means we are assholes but also implies that mass starvation must be a long way off.

Think about all the money and energy invested in the growing / sale / transport of flowers, most of which are barely edible (with or without catsup).

Consider all the chatter in internet chatrooms, all the blogificators and comments sections overflowing with opinion and argument.  People have a lot of time to communicate.  We used to write long letters to each other, generally to people we cared about but also to those we hoped to influence or engage.  Their reply might take weeks, or months, and run to pages and pages of well-conceived prose.  Now we tap out telegraphs of a few haphazardly strung together phrases to those we care about, while engaging in lengthy, often acrimonious disputes with strangers over petty matters often of no more than theoretical concern.

The above suggests that we have plenty of time and energy available, and mostly we are hungry for meaning.  Humanity appears to be yearning for a crisis and if nature won't send us enough good ones, we will make one ourselves.  Indeed it seems we are currently making a crisis for ourselves with nature's involvement, and won't stop until we slam headlong into the brick wall otherwise known as the future.  Things could get bad before they get worse.  Check this space periodically for important updates on the unfolding crisis.

Please excuse me a moment while I step behind this screen so I can pull a solution to Our Giant Predicament from my hind quarters.  Ohhhhh kay, here we go, the obvious answer: we must turn our foolishness to our own advantage. The things we have overinvested in can be leveraged for their most valuable impacts.  The conversion of all rollercoasters to efficient low-cost high-speed rail is a perfect example.  In the area of food waste, a simple system must be established by which leftovers are passed down the food chain from the richest to the poorest humans and then to beasts, birds and creepy crawlies and ultimately back to the soil where this waste becomes an 'investment' that will bear long-term fruit.

Of course, much of what has been invested in is fundamentally worthless.  What about, say, collectible dollhouses? Of what use might they be?  Perhaps in small-scale agriculture, they could serve as breeding houses for hamsters or edible grasshoppers.  Or we could sell them to rodents or possibly birds under the new mortgages banks are now giving credit-worthy animals.  All those hutches full of fine china, arrays of figurines and other priceless knick-knacks scattered across middle America, not sure what we're gonna make from those, although if I'm not mistaken I believe I may have read somewhere that ceramics can make excellent groundfill in certain organic gardening schemes.

In any case we shall make of things what we can, repair bridges as we come to them and generally take things one step (forward and two steps back) at a time.  Things gonna get rough and troubled times be a-coming down the tracks (lawd), but come what may we shall muddle through.  We shall abide.  Because we're humanity, gang, and we can't ever forget that for a single nanotenth of a picosecond.  Now let's get out there in the second half and win this thing, let’s go men and women of civilization, let's bring this thing on home.

30 March 2015

Poetry Corner: Ode to the Listicle



ODE TO THE LISTICLE

by Richard Grimes Honglebury


O Mighty Listicle
On my phone
Whisk me away
From this boring lobby

Feed me something new to think,
Define for me the age
Inspire me to post a link
Upon my Facebook page

Amuse for me my friends, o list
Tell them what I think
Encapsulate
The zeitgeist fair
Be the perfect link

My pals will all click Like you see
And Share it on their Walls
My avi'll grace the wall of fame
In Twitter's hallowed halls

O mighty mighty listicle
Imparting facts statistical
Ideas wild and mystical
Lifehacks so logistical

Please bring your sweet release
Distract my addled mind
Make me chuckle, make me think
Free me from my grind

Now the time hath come o list
To click our final click
But first here's the
Ten Best Beaches a Schmuck Like You Will Never Set Foot On
plus
Five Ways to Detach a Tick


20 March 2015

New Reality Show: Overlord


Alternate titles: Family Feudalism, Daddy Moneybags / Mama Cash

Premise: Super-rich person ("Daddy Moneybags / Mama Cash") agrees to inject massive amounts of "liquidity", aka moolah or scratch, into economically crushed small town in exchange for a quasi-feudal relationship with its citizens.  The show consists of Richie Rich's pitch, i.e. what he/she will provide to the town and what exactly will be expected in return, followed by interaction and negotiation with the locals to gauge their reaction, refine and sell the pitch, culminating in an all-citizens vote on whether to sell the soul of their community for Daddy/Mama's filthy mammon.  Follow-up shows one and five years later, and so on.

For example, Episode 1:  Daddy / Mama's gonna inject $500 million into town of 5000 residents.  So that's $200 million cash to residents ($40K / head, includin the young'uns but no prenatals, sorry), and the rest goes towards creating jobs, never mind doing what but good, honest jobs, producing things of value to the community, and with absolutely smokin' benefits. 

Some specifics of the offer:
-He will build new schools, a community rec center with a state of the art virtual reality kingdom, new churches with fascinating, interactive priests, an amusement park with the world’s most unfuckinbelievable play castle, farmer's markets where the price of fresh foodstuffs shall be guaranteed reasonable, concert halls of all sizes both indoor and out, with open bars and discount snack trays and featuring regular performances by local and international artists of every stripe, plus a new, totally awesome jail that anti-social elements will eagerly check themselves into, thus solving one of the great problems of modern society. Of course he won't actually build all this stuff, they will, but it will be meaningful work and they'll do it under a generous salary and benefits package including a workweek of four seven-hour days, seven weeks on and one week off, plus two weeks extra for their preferred winter holiday, several floating holidays sprinkled throughout the calendar, comprehensive dental and so on;
-He will revitalize main street, by force if necessary;
-Naturally, he will secure them from outside invasion – and the building of fortifications, the manning of the towers, and so forth will provide many potentially exciting job opportunities for them's interested in the soldiering arts;
-If they want an NBA or NFL team she'll make it happen, and guarantee a conference championship in the first five years.

The people will still have to work and shoulder their fair share of pointless obligations.  In exchange for the above, they will:
-Address formally as Lord, m’Lady, etc. at all times  Bow (if slightly) in the royal family's presence;
-Give up their foolish notions of democracy and accept without question the decrees of the ruling council ('Nothing oppressive mind you, but we’ve got to have some order');
-Set aside several parcels of prime land for his estates, summer cottages, hunting reserves and so forth;
-Provide annually 250 bushels of wheat, 20 cows, 40 pigs, 250 chickens, 250 pounds of fresh seafood, 50 hogsheads of fine ale, 12 firkins of butter, etc;
-Pledge their undivided fealty;
-Agree not to rob each other, or if they do to report straight to jail in the morning;
-For his lord/ladyship everything is free everywhere, he never has to carry money again;
-Feedback is welcome, free speech in general, but no overly negative posts or tweets about his lordship or his lordship’s posse.

The really rich understand that most of their paper wealth is an illusion, that the spell is slowly but of necessity breaking and at some point the only thing of actual value will be hard assets such as productive land and social capital, a web of relationships and supportive human communities to ensure survival.  So now, that’s what they are buying*.

What entertainment, to witness these two implacable opposing forces negotiating a rapprochement.  It's the class slash cultcha wars writ large.  Except it's just working out the details of the surrender.  Ultimately, democracy triumphs.  The people will have a vote: they will make the choice between poverty with dignity and shameful splendor.  And isn't that choice the central dilemma of our times?

Tune in Saturdays at 7:30, this fall, on this and affiliated networks.

Overlord is coming soon, to a town near you.



*Or investing in, if you really must.

21 February 2015

On Writing, or Dottie Hairston's Sagacious Blogging Tips for the Blogging Blogger


Many readers write in, attempting to capture their emotions after perusing a particularly stunning post, and their effusive sincerity often boils down to a single question: How do they do it?  Not how do they do it but us, how do we do it, the proverbial me that's talking to you right now.

We never claim to have any reasonable answers to this question, but if one simple bit of advice might be offered it is this: Set out to write something that you would be delighted to read; and then keep writing until you find yourself delighted by what you have written.

First (and yes, foremost), recognize that the main importance of writing - and here perhaps I should add that most of the following is aimed not at the practicing professional writer (god rest his soul) but at the suffering amateurs, filled with artistic longing and such; people like you and me - is to entertain yourself (and perhaps a few chums).  If you were marooned on a desert isle with a sheaf of foolscape and a box of quills, even knowing that no one would ever read it, you would write something.  Question is, what.

If you write so that you can call yourself a writer – if you are 'suffering for your art' – then for god's sake, cut it out.  Get a hobby that you won't suffer for.  Life is short, or your life is short anyway, and the world doesn't need you or anyone else suffering on its behalf.  No one really cares whether you write or not, have no doubt.  There are already more than enough good books.  And most of their authors no longer exist, they are just as dead and gone as their contemporaries who spent their energies at carnival.  But the revelers had a good deal more fun, and so should you.  You can write before or after the party, or the next day, if you feel like it.  Or don't.  Your writing is not important to anyone but you, or in extremely rare cases it may become so, but you must recognize this as a form of mania and do your best not to assign it undue importance.

Summary Point 1.
The main reason to write is if, and only if, doing so makes you feel better than not doing so.

Reasons to publish/share include popular demand, offers of money, impress a cute boy or girl, or feels good.  There, does that cover it?

Appendix I.  Principles of Blogging
The following Blogging Principles were sent in by Ms. D. Hairston of Kokomo, Indiana.  Please take note, she's only gonna go over this once. 

Blog on current events, real or imagined.  Mine the many widely available news sources in today's blah blah blah society for ideas and topics.  If you're not writing about what everyone else is writing about, no one will read you, will they?

Don't follow the trends.  If you're not completely original, if you're just on about the same things that other blogs cover just as well if not much, much betterer, why would anyone bother reading you?

Get meta.  Don't write about a particular trend, but about the way people talk about talking about it.  Attempt to capture the feel of a certain type of post / article – without borrowing or even approximating any of the content.  Distill things to their essence, then blog the essence.

Seek the novel formulation: originality is everything.  But too many novel formulations can quickly become tiresome / unreadable.  Regular old clichés are OK too; some phrases are popular for a reason.  Bend some of them, roughly a third.  Let your ear and your funnybone be your guide. 

It is unseemly to apologize for not posting more.  This presumes that readers 'missed' you.  If they did they're pathetic; if they didn't, you are.

Constantly doubt yourself.  Take all criticism personally.  Wonder out loud why you bother trying.  Worry about how many great writers past and present are out there and how all the important/interesting ideas have already been expressed flawlessly many times over.

Do everything.  Be all-consuming.  Contain multi(ple d)(t)udes.

Don't allow anyone to follow your blog.  Who wants followers?  Didn't you see Life of Brian?

If you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, cousin or husband, for heaven's to betsy's sake don't tell your blog about it.

Many say you have to constantly put up new content in order to attract a steady readership.  Disregard.  Post when you have something original/interesting to say and/or an original/interesting way to say something, no more no less.

Related point: Don't write so damn much.  There's enough average writing out there and no need for anyone to hurry to produce more.  Letting a little force build up behind the dam increases the impact when it finally bursts.  In many cases quantity of output is inversely proportional to quality.  There is certainly truth to the idea that you have to write a bit to exercise your chops or whatever, but it does not follow that you must publish it all.

When I hear someone say 'You have to get your art out into the world' I'm shocked/offended/amused/driven to vehement disagreement… You absolutely do not have to get your art out into the world.

You may be urged to blog your passion.  More nonsense.  Passion is the opposite of reason and therefore only through dispassion can reasonable bloggers blog reasonable blogposts.  Passion is good if it drives you to learn about something in detail, then you may have something – but I love kittens is no reason to blog about kittens.  Wait maybe it is.  Let's move on.

Write to amuse yourself.  Play around a bit.  Write stuff that is specifically not for publication.  Write the dumbest thing you can think of, or the anything-est.

Try to write things that don't make any sense and at the same time are perfectly true.

You should write what you know, true enough; but do not fear to write when you have no idea what you are talking about.  Let stuff spill out and see where it goes. Occasionally it forms cool patterns.  Publish what still amuses after ten or more readings; keep the rest close to the (proverbial) vest, or toss it on the ( ) slagheap.

Your name should be Brian, or Chachi.  If it's not, you can make up a fake name that starts with Brian, like I did.

Bonus Tip 2015: If it's not too late, start your blog in 2006 or 2007, when people still read blogs.

17 January 2015

The Factory Tour


A Free Behind the Scenes Sneak Peek

Since our recent rapid rise up the blogosphere charts many have been clamoring for a peek inside the Proverbial Office Towers.  (Others, whether from ignorance or spite, have been clamoring for a simplified tax code and long overdue reforms to the patent system if not an entirely new social contract.  But such matters fall outside The Proverbial Purview.) Here comes our tour guide now, let's jump in with this group and please no wandering off, for once in your life…

Here in our lobby you can see some inexpensive ‘found art’ to inspire the drones, as well as some of the many awards we’ve won over the years along the walls on this side.  This one is very special, this is our plaque for being named one of the top 250,000 blogs created the week of December 2 to December 9, 2009 by The Blogger Digest Magazine Blog on Blogging, of course it’s a virtual plaque, that’s just a printout of a photo we took of the screenshot, but you get the idea. 

Some people have asked where we get our ideas and the answer can be found behind those dilapidated green and brown shutters to your left, that's the database center, really the heart, guts, brain, spinal cord, nerves and ganglia of the whole operation.  Unfortunately I don't have clearance to take you in there and you probably couldn't handle the stench, but you will note that taped to the door are a few Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, an old postcard of Groucho and a faded yellow passage from Myles – all you need to know really.  Inside the database center we store literally reams of gigabytes of wild and/or wacky data, the odd references, words or bits of phrases that can be conjured seemingly out of nowhere at key moments to twist the imagination, tickle the zany-bone, or "stroke the wacky gland" if you will.  Unfortunately, access to the data center is only sporadically available these days due to a lack of investment in infrastructure.  It's the tragedy of the commons writ large, so to speak.  Please give generously.

As far as work flow, Dottie does most of the composing by dictation these days, her hands are not much good for writin any more.  A trained stenographer takes it all down on an old-fashioned electric typewriter and a first draft is sent to Tony so he can do his thing, punching up the laugh lines and excising most of the disparaging cracks about penguins.  The information is then converted to digital form for transmission to our back office in Krahma Pattar where it is entered into a secure database.  There may then be up two years of 'final reviews' by The Founder before final approval by the Board for publication.  After that, any moron with an internet connection can read it and chime in with his or her comments.

Whoa, here’s our mascot Sandy Andy Aardvark the Carnival Yardbarker, workin the factory floor, boostin morale and giving out hellacious prizes ’n good-job-isms.  Here, you can come closer and have your picture taken with Andy but don’t get – [BLORT!] – ha ha, don’t get too close, Sandy Andy’ll do that if you get too close. My goodness, here let’s see if we can get some of that off you.  Oh, my.  That was great fun, wasn’t it?

We always end the tour here in our sample room, where you are welcome to imbibe freely some test bits of wry lunacy fresh off the production line. Please consume as many as you can but we do warn against driving afterwards and anyway the paper cups fall apart after three or four rounds, just the nature of the thing I suppose.  Now if I could ask you to step over this threshold right here, just sit down and relax, this chute takes you right back to the parking lot, here let me give you a little shove there, thanks for stopping by and you have a great day now, b'bye.  Who's next here let's move it folks, we don't have all day and I'd like to head home at some point, my husband is making his famous french toast for dinner.