A lot of people will give you advice on writing.
Some say you must sit in the center of a perfectly quiet room wearing noise-canceling headphones and horse blinders to be a writer. Just you and your Royal Underwood typewriter and a maybe a cat missing one eye.
Others say you must stand in the middle of bustling Grand Central Station, nude except for a suit and tie and shoes, also underwear, shirt, and socks. They tell you you’ll need a number two Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencils and a standard 6” by 9” Steno pad. And, as a writer, you need to smoke a cigarette while eating a donut.
Still other people tell you you require only a laptop and a comfy four-poster bed. They tell you to drink green tea and listen to soothing music about our vaginas, surrounding yourself with photos of frolicking African children. At noon, take a break to do yoga and create abstract expressionistic pottery that represents your writer’s soul. Only then will you be a true writer.
Others tell you to go out into the world to find something to write about. They say you should fight forest fires and parachute into war zones and impregnate a Brazilian prostitute. Better yet, be that Brazilian prostitute who starts forest fires in protest of man’s futile nothingness. Only then will you be a writer.
Some say you need to be born a writer. Writing can’t be taught; it is a question struggling inside you, yearning to make its way out of your fingertips. What is that question? Probably some weird Freudian stuff about boobs and poop.
Others say a writer must drink his or her way into writing--be it wine or ale or absinthe. Preferably absinthe, because it will fuck you up. They say you need to expand your mind with drugs and spirit-animal walks and autoerotic asphyxiation. Then they raise their eyebrows suggestively and nod toward the room in back that smells like candles and leather. That’s when you notice they have a creepy mustache.
Others say a writer must be a performer. You must speak the words fire before you can understand them. Take improvisational comedy classes and perform at poetry slams. Find a group of like-minded writers and spend long hours screaming at each other for never having watched The Wire. Spend every waking moment going to shows and not writing. That is how you become a writer.
Some say to bare your soul, to reveal every tiny detail about your childhood and hopes and fears and dreams and past loves and past bosses and number of orgasms and religious crises and adventures abroad and teenage pranks and health scares and gameshow failures. They say that writing is truth, and truth is life, and we must share every detail in order to writer.
Some people say all that. People are assholes, though. So, I don’t know---do whatever you want. Personally, I think you should go back to school to be an insurance actuary. But, what do I know? I’m just your father who loves you and wants what’s best for you.
[sigh] Go ask your mother.
In honor of the royal wedding, I've decided to list off my favorite wedding gifts to give/receive.
Because, let’s face it, wedding registries are weird and transactional. That’s why you’re allowed up to a year from the day of the wedding to think of something awesome. At that point, of course, you can give up trying and just buy the one pickle fork and one corn-on-the-cob holder left on the registry.
But, that all changes right here and right now, goddamnit! Because, you’ve got me on your side. And, besides being the World’s Greatest Wedding Dancer, I’m also in the top ten wedding gifters. Fine, top twenty.
My favorite wedding gifts are:
An ice cream maker, which provides a helpful scapegoat to explain the post-wedding weight gain.
A large silver salad bowl. Have you ever eaten two pints of homemade ice cream out of a silver bowl? It makes you feel powerful.
Monogramed Slap Chop. Obviously.
An ornate picture frame to make any picture look beautiful, even the one of that doggy-looking flower girl. Jesus Christ, I hope she grows into those ears.
Some bullshit shaped like a heart. Honestly, this can be whatever.
A croquet set, unless the bride and groom are the kind of jerks who don’t like croquet, which are the worst kind of jerks.
A pet parrot! It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Responsibility. For eighty years.
Silver candlesticks. They’re not just for murder. You can use them to hold candles as well.
A KitchenAid mixer says to the couple, "Here's hoping that one day you'll have a kitchen big enough to store all this useless shit.”
A crystal vase. With proper pronunciation, please. We’re not animals.
A marble cheese tray. I take cheese far too seriously to serve it on some granite bullshit. Or wood, ugh.
Rosewood salad tongs. Salad-based gifts are like the life preserver you throw the couple during their post-wedding ice cream and cheese binges.
Ziplock baggies. C’mon, admit it---pretty useful.
Superglue. To repair that glass the groom accidentally stepped on at the end of the ceremony. I hope he wasn’t too embarrassed.
A gift certificate to a crib store. Thanks, Mom, we get it. WE GET IT ALREADY!
Matching aprons. Adorable! No wait, too adorable. Gross. Nevermind.
Something the groom might like. I'm just kidding.
Listen everyone, I want to thank all of you for your helpful, well-thought-out comments on my Facebook post. They were not at all weird or off-topic.
I mean, I guess I never did get an answer to my request for a restaurant recommendation, but there was a lot of good back-and-forth.
For instance, Brett's suggestion that "Eating out is for pussies. Bwwaaaa!" was super helpful. How's life, Brett? You’re wife had her baby, right?
The many comments discussing dining out versus buying into a farm share were certainly lively. Clearly there are a lot of strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. I hope nobody’s feelings were hurt. Especially by Dave’s anti-composting jokes. I’m sure it was all in jest. Dave, are you and Darcy talking again?
Thank you to Paul, who went to all the trouble of listing restaurants with poor health inspection grades. Scary stuff.
In a way, though, that was kind of the opposite of what I was asking. I wanted to know what restaurant I should go to, not which ones I shouldn’t. But still, a lot of food safety concerns to process there. Thanks.
Many of you “liked” my initial question but didn’t offer any restaurant recommendations. (For some reason, this was especially true amongst my former co-workers.) Did you think it was a hypothetical question or maybe mine was a philosophical craving? I really just wanted to know where to eat.
I do think we made a lot of progress on the Presidential birth certificate thing. As Samantha, the weird motivational speaker lady I met only once at a friend-of-a-friend's party pointed out, it's sad that the President had to address it.
And, while I understand Tariq’s point that words like “sad” and “unfortunate” serve to weaken the focus on this being an issue of race and power dynamics in modern America, I think we can all agree that we are all upset by it in line with whatever societal context we bring to our understanding of the issue.
So, thanks for all the feedback on my Facebook post this morning. 108 comments sure are a lot. Once again, though, does anybody know a place in midtown where Colleen and I can grab a sandwich after work?
Really try to stick to the theme of sandwiches for these future comments. Thanks.
Excuse me. Yes, I need to return this seventeenth century French tapestry I purchased earlier today from your auction house. It has a mustard stain on it.
Look, right here by the winged dog... gryphon, sure, I knew that. Right here by the gryphon’s tail, there's a big splotch of yellow mustard. At first I thought it was a pond reflecting the sunset or something. But, see, look closely. It’s still wet, and it smells like mustard. It’s definitely mustard.
I don't see how you could, in good conscience, sell such an expensive item with a flaw like that. Setting aside the piece’s historical significance, including the border-thingy you guys talked up during the sale. Strapwork cartouches, that’s right. Strapwork cartouches.
Yes, I am sure the mustard was there when I bought it! Why would I have paid $242,000 for a tapestry with mustard on it? That's a lot of money. I could buy 121,000 hot dogs for that. You know, at the hot dog cart right outside.
Or, I could have gotten 60,500 hot dog lunch specials that include a bag of potato chips and a can of ginger ale, which I think is a pretty good value for one’s money. Unlike this tapestry.
This is a travesty---not just for me, but for the tapestry, itself. Don't you people care about the historical significance of this ... I forget, is it French or Flemish? This French tapestry. Look, it’s got a lion and a deer sleeping beside each other. That’s a beautiful sentiment sullied by your incompetence. If only all lions and deer slept together, the world would be a better place.
Pardon me? Mustard on my tie? OH MAN!!! Your stupid tapestry got mustard on my tie! This is one of my favorite ties, and now you've gotten mustard all over it with your dumb, mustardy tapestry.
Do you know how much I paid for this tie? I don’t remember, but it was a lot. Especially at Filene’s Basement, where I normally find better deals on ties. But, I paid more for this one, because it had ducks on it.
This will not stand, sir. I demand that you return the check I wrote for this tapestry. It’s the one post-dated for next week, when I have a chance to move around some accounts. Not that the details of my personal injury claim money are any business of yours! Just give me back my check, and you can have your stained tapestry.
I'm washing my hands of this entire affair.
Seriously, do you have a bathroom where I can wash my hands? They're all sticky from relish.
Is that a golf pencil in your pocket, or are you just disappointed to see me?
Is that a packet of tissues in your pocket, or are you still thinking about Tiffani-Amber Thiessen?
Is that a pocket in your pocket? Are those jeans?
Is that a cell phone in your pocket, or is your dick playing Chamillionaire?
Is that a bindle of cocaine in your pocket, or did you not realize what a "chili party" was code for?
Is that an iPad in your pocket? That's a big pocket! Oh, it's a tote bag?
Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you very intimidating to me for some reason?
Is that your twelve-point business plan to start a chain of frozen yogurt stands in your pocket, or are you just a prospective investor?
Is that your uncle's hand in your pocket, or did you not want me to bring up bad memories?
Is that a chopstick in your pocket, or is your dinker oddly skinny? [Yeah, dinker. I said it. I'm not afraid to get all NSFW up in here.]
Is that a gavel in the pocket of your judicial robe, or what's going on in there, Justice Thomas?
Is that an engagement ring in your pocket, or have the last seven years been a complete waste, like my mother keeps saying?
Is that a Latin dictionary in your pocket, or do you arrigo, arrigere, arrigas?
Is that a chocolate eclair in your pocket? Me too.
18 Things to Do Before You Die:
1) Watch the sun set across the Grand Canyon.
2) Swim with dolphins in the Caribbean.
3) LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!!!
Whew! Holy cow! Man, are you okay?
Good thing you jumped out of the way! Are you sure you're okay?
Alright… Let’s get back to the list then…
4) Learn to play an instrument.
5) Climb Machu Picchu.
6) Whoa, Buddy, DON'T EAT THAT PEANUT!
Jesus. Did you forget about your peanut allergy? You've gotta be more vigilant about that.
Seriously. Okay, moving on...
7) Drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
8) Make love to... a...
...that ladder looks a little shaky. Maybe don't stand on the top step like that. WHOA!!! WHOA WHOA WHOA!! GRAB HOLD OF THE BOOKSHELF! Here, give me your hand!
Okay, now put your foot on the wardrobe. Stay there while I hold the ladder.
What the hell, man? Do you not want to make it through this list? You need to be more careful.
10) HEY! A cattle prod is not a toy! Don't you realize you're standing in a puddle of water?
You know what? I think that's enough for the list. Clearly you're not interested in doing any of this stuff before you die.
Which is too bad, because I had some great ideas about dancing in the moonlight and reading The Bhagavad Gita in its original Sanskrit. But, you go ahead and keep taunting that cobra.
NO, STOP! I was only joking about taunting the cobra! Don't do that! Jesus, dude…
You’re the new temp, right? Welcome aboard. Let me give you a quick tour of the office.
Over here is the kitchen. Make sure to wash your dishes, or else Deborah the office manager will throw them away. Seriously. You’ll see what she’s like. The bathroom is down the hall to the right. If it’s ever out of supplies, there’s more of everything under the sink.
And, this here is the paper cutter. Have you ever used an industrial paper cutter before? No? Well, it’s pretty easy; you just line up one edge here and slide back the safety latch. Then, it’s zip zup, and there you go. It can cut up to fifty sheets of 90 pound cardstock at a time.
The only advice I can give you is to not think about cutting off your fingers. Whatever you do, don’t think about exactly that while using this machine.
Because, it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whoever worries about cutting off his or her fingers tends to do just that. I don’t know why.
I mean, I always give this same speech to every new temp. I say, “Whatever you do, do not picture yourself slicing off three and a half or four fingers on this would-be finger-slicing machine.” Yet, every time, they get a frightened, distracted look in their eyes. Then, they overcompensate or distrust their grip and adjust in the wrong direction, and then … hello, stumpy.
Gosh, you’d think they’d learn after hearing the many, many cautionary tales of fingers being severed. Sometimes, I’ll even stand behind them, whispering in their ear, “Hey, if you imagine bloody nubs where you knuckles are, that’s exactly what will happen. So try not to think about that.” And, you know what happens next---The Great Digit Drop, as I call it. Repeatedly.
I tried putting up a poster with photos of the last few office befingerings. (The insurance company makes us take Polaroids before any trips to the E.R.) And, underneath I wrote:
KEEP THESES IMAGES OUT OF YOUR BRAINS
AND KEEP YOUR FINGERS ON YOUR HANDS.
I guess folks ignored the poster, though, because there were more fingers chopped off than average that week.
The worst part is that it almost always seems to happen the first time anyone uses this machine. So, nobody gets to be very much practiced at it. Which is too bad, because I’m sure once you get over the thinking about it part, it’d be smooth as non-finger-mangling silk.
Anyway, why don’t you give it a try? If you want, I can blow this air horn to distract you from your thoughts.
On three. Ready? One… Steady… Two…
Here are a few helpful tips on what to do when your smartphone breaks, organized into five easy stages:
- Ask yourself if this is a dream. Is this a dream? I mean, who drops their phone into a pot of boiling minestrone? Who does that?!
- Try drying off the battery with a hair dryer. It’s probably just that the battery shook loose, right? Right?
- Somebody once told me putting your phone in a bag of dried barley overnight can wick away the moisture. (Although, this sounds a little like black magic, so maybe hold off.)
- Hopefully all the info is synced onto your computer. Think of the last time you synced to your... I MEAN, WHO DROPS A PHONE INTO SOUP?!!
- Pace wildly in ever-tighter circles.
- Contemplate whether you believe in A) a spiteful God or B) no God.
- Call the TechGuys Store about repairing your phone. Hold up; their info was in your contacts list on your phone. DAMMIT! It’s a catch-42!
- Wait, 42 isn’t the right number. What’s the right number? Catch-44? Let me just Google it on my… DAMMIT!
- Call Charlie to ask if he can look up the TechGuys’ number one his smartphone. Also, ask him about the catch-42 thing. But... how are you going to call Charlie without a phone? Stupid Charlie!!!
- Check to see if you still have a landline. Where was that phone jack when you moved in? Behind the headboard? If you do have a phone line, maybe you can remember Charlie’s number.
- See someone walking outside the bedroom window with a smartphone. Yell out the window that you’ll give them $100 for their phone.
- Tell your neighbor you’ll only stop yelling if she lends you a bag of dried barley.
- Notice your hand is shaking from Twitter withdrawal.
- Sit in an empty bathtub for a while.
- Go ahead and eat the minestrone. Then some ice cream. Then something salty, to cut the sweetness. Maybe nachos. Or hummus.
- Or potato chips. Then more ice cream.
- Regret the final text you sent before dropping your phone. If only you’d known it was the last one, you wouldn’t have typed “LMAO.” So disrespectful.
- Sit fully-clothed under the running water in your shower.
- Take a long, hard look at your smartphone. It's no longer your phone; it's just an empty shell. Your real phone is out there in the network somewhere.
- Look around. Finally see your apartment for the first time in months. It’s filthy. With no Facebook available, you might as well clean up a little.
- Get eight hours of sleep for once. I guess it’s not that important that you beat your high score at Fruit Ninja.
- Wake up next to someone. Who is this person? Oh, it’s your spouse.
- Try to convince your spouse to stop reading his or her Kindle. Drag them away from it if you have to.
- Take a nice, leisurely morning walk together. Remember what freedom feels like.
- Pass by an AT&T Store. You might as well just pop in a get another phone.
- Sit on the curb and get in a few good tweets and maybe five or six rounds of Fruit Ninja.
- Mmmm… sweet, sweet smartphone. You feel so right.
I like my women like I like my coffee.
I like my coffee like I like my pajama pants.
I like my pajama pants like I like my deep dish pizza, and I like my deep dish pizza like I like peeling the protective vinyl film off of LED screens.
I like peeling the protective vinyl film off of LED screens like I like Mid-Century modern furniture, which I like like I like my Netflix Streaming, which in turn I like like I like my hammock.
I like my hammock like I like old Charles Adams cartoons, and I like old Charles Adams cartoons like I like frozen custard with chunks of banana, and I like frozen custard like I like taking a sauna.
Which is to say a lot. I like all of these things a lot. You know what I don’t like? Killing marine life with soda can rings. Let’s stop doing that, you guys.
The above is what I’d say if I ever become a famous actor on the NBC network, and I get to do one of those “The More You Know” Public Service Announcements. Exactly in those words. And, if those corporate suits try to eff things up and change ONE SINGLE WORD!!! they are going to have a fight on their hands! Yessiree. They are messing with the wrong celebrity, my friends!
I did not scrap my way to the top just so some network stooge can tell me what I can and can’t say. “How ‘bout we say Charles Schultz instead of Charles Adams?” Well, how ‘bout I stick my foot up your dumper, you soulless bureaucrat?
I am an Artist. Capital A. When I say, “Hey, you guys, let’s cool it with the soda rings,” it is because I have chosen those words incredibly carefully. I’m like a goddamn poet with these PSAs. If you don’t like it, maybe you shouldn’t have plucked me from obscurity and given me a makeover and acting lessons and touted me as an up-and-coming star of your television … network…
… Which I guess you haven’t done yet, because this is just an imaginary scenario.
You know what? It’s fine. If you want to change the script for my “The More You Know” PSA, that's fine by me, Mr. Imaginary NBC Executive. Whatever you say. I promise I won’t become a diva.