Saturday, June 18, 2011

Comedy Articles: A Guide to Writing Bullshit

This will probably be the most ironic article you will ever read.

Me, giving others advice on how to bullshit your way through writing a comedy article on something you know absolutely nothing about. It's like your ugly friend giving you tips on how to keep creepy guys from hitting on you. "Thanks for the help, sista. I'll just hang out with you."

Like I said, the most ironic article ever.

Because I'm usually the ugly friend.

Anyways, allow me to walk you through this atrocity.

Step One: Pick a Topic

The point of this article is to help you write an article you know nothing about, so let's assume by now that you've exhausted all of your pointless knowledge on articles you've already written; including that ever-popular one that lists all of the reasons why Wheatley is awesome in Portal 2.

My advice for choosing an unfamiliar topic, is to choose one that you think will generate a fair amount of traffic. It's pointless to work on an article for longer than you normally would if no one's going to read it. Chances are no one will read it anyway, but why subtract from zero when you can just as easily add. Also, choose something that you can think of a few puns for. No one will respect you for puns, but if it's all you have... Well, if you're having fun, that's all that counts. *grin*

Step Two: Do Some Research

Yes, research. Don't expect to just start writing and all of this info will just "flow". This isn't 2196, there is no Google-brain interface you can download crap to just by thinking about it. I will still teach you how to "bullshit" an article, but you must know the basics on your topic before you start or your readers (even the stupid ones) will see right through you.

Just do a quick skim through Wikipedia and the like. Seriously, if you're already so far into this project that you're reading my ridiculous (and likely completely unhelpful) guide, you can spend a few more moments skimming one more webpage. Put down that burrito. Good stuff. Now we're getting somewhere. While you're at it do a few sit-ups, you could use them. Self-improvement. Think about it.

Step Three: Get Into It

Here's the most important part. Get into the mind of someone who is really into your topic. If you're already a writer of sorts, you should already know how to do this. Although it is easier to "write what you know", you can't always do that. If I did that, all I would have is several short stories about navigational frustration, using proper grammar, burning grilled cheese sandwiches, and the benefits of talking to one's self.

My point is, if you're writing about Barbara Streisand in her "Memories" era, you should get into the mindset of a 55 year old gay man. Think like your subject matter experts. Be the article. Once you do this, you're set. Set like a vet on a jet using a Gillette after you get a pet that's wet and you forget your debt and fret. Like poetry, that. Let the bullshitting begin.

Step Four: Write Good


Writing comedy is very difficult. Writing comedy about something foreign is even more so. For every one line someone chuckles at, there are ninety thousand others that people smirk and think "I see what they were going for there. I'm sure it was funny in their head, but it just didn't really translate. I think they need to focus their energies on something more like that last line about confusing the hand soap and the hand lotion. That was slightly humourous." Well, or something along those lines. One person's funny is another person's confused eyebrow raise.

If I could give one tip for writing comedy, it would be this. Be very specific. I wish I could give you a new example, but that is a recipe for disappointment. However, I will refer you to a sentence from earlier. I wrote a sentence that referred to the character of Wheatley from the video game Portal 2. Now I didn't have to mention that fictional example of an article, but using a specific instance of something (real or not) is much more effective than saying "Yeah, you've written stuff before. It was about stuff you knew information about. Try something else." I know absolutely nothing about Portal 2, or any video games for that matter. Case in point.

If you aren't sure you can be funny. Just switch your intent. Write a serious article. Perhaps you will impart some of your actual wisdom upon people with your killer intelligence and talent for communication.

Like me.

Oh, who am I kidding...

Maybe I should just tell a dick joke.
I don't know any.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Art Photography: A Guide for Aesthetic Conceptualists

Sometimes when taking pictures, I'll get a single photo that catches the light just right or frames the subject in an interesting perspective and I'll say to myself, "Golly, that's quite a sublime still photograph. It could perhaps represent something deeper than what I had originally intended but need to explore further in the photo-editing phase." As much as that might be underpants-twistingly silly, I still thoroughly enjoy those one-in-one-hundred-and-twelve photographs that really stand out as "artsy".

However, after I get all giddy about a picture, I realize that "art" is in the eye of the beholder (or in the eye of the "artist" but the term "artist" is also in the eye of the beholder, so now I feel like I'm trapped in a Russian nesting doll situation of personal labels, but that's beside the point). Somehow, art has become one of those things that has been popularized as "something that everyone can do" (which I whole-heartedly disagree with, but that's something I'll tackle another day, preferably while drinking and sucking on Costco-sized Pixie stix). I'm not sure who gets to decide what qualifies as art, so we've kind of just been running on an honours system, haven't we? There's a picture of a sad child with a hole in its T-shirt. Art. There's a picture of a bug taken with a macro lens. Art. There's a picture of a man holding an up-side-down burning cross wearing only a clown wig over his junk. Art. There's a exhibition of 99 photographs of soap-on-a-rope. Art. Who gets to freaking decide?

What made my photo "art"? Was it? I thought it was kind of interesting to look at. I took it with my nice camera. But just because I liked it, doesn't mean anybody else would. What if no one else liked it? Does that mean I can't consider it art any more? Then I had to sit down because I could feel the vein in my neck throbbing and the balls of my feet were going numb. This was way too much anxiety for a photograph I took of my dog looking contemplative (not easy, by the way; she's like the Groucho Marx of the animal kingdom).

Someone once said, "Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner." As a Canon owner, I completely agree. I joke, but the essential message is true. You also need an eye. A good eye, and one that can see beyond the lens and the mechanics of light, lens, click. I'm not saying I have this, but I enjoy photography and I would like to keep it as soap-on-a-rope free as I possibly can. If we work together, I believe we can achieve this.

Here are some basic categories of what has come to be known as "art" photography. This won't be a instructional guide but an informative or suggestive guide. A photographer's eye cannot be taught, so I'll just give you the goods on the styles and you can decide which one you "see", if any at all. Good lord... The pretentious part of me is winking and smoking a large Cuban cigar at that last sentence, while the down-to-earth part of me wants to jump off of a plateau into a pile of mutant scorpions.


This is a very basic category; plants, animals, landscapes, etc. Anyone can take a nature photograph. I think the point to taking "art" nature photographs is to find something unique that gives the viewer a new perspective on that particular form of nature. Standing on a road and taking a picture of a mountain does not take any skill whatsoever. Showing nature in a new "light", if you'll pardon the photography pun, is something that takes practice. Nature photography can be considered either very easy (I mean it's right there, just put down your X-Box controller and go outside, find a leaf and click), or very challenging (everything near me is so boring, I'd need to drive four hours into the mountains or fly to Timbuktu to get any interesting nature). I think you can turn anything boring into something interesting through the lens of a camera, you just need determination, patience, and talent. The talent might be more difficult to conjure up though, but that's where the patience comes in (and a little bit of magic in some cases).

Example of a good nature art photograph. I did not take this.

Example of a bad nature art photograph. I took this. I think the rock looks like a face.


As much as I enjoy portrait photography, I've found that there really isn't any middle ground to their quality. They either look like really bad High School graduation photos taken of some kid with a lip twitch and painful constipation, or they look like they could be in Vanity Fair. Anything else doesn't qualify as portrait photography (yes, people that take their own self-portraits for their Facebook profiles, I'm talking to you). OK, I suppose photos that are taken as headshots can be somewhat considered portrait art, but that's walking a very fine line (and usually depends on the attractiveness of the subject, it's the painful truth). My advice for portrait photography is to find someone attractive, just use one bright key light and shine it on their face from the side, do their hair all edgy-like, pop some strange coloured contact lenses on them, and shoot it in sepia. That, or find your own creative style. Either way will work.

Example of a good portrait art photograph. I'm starting to feel very insecure.

Example of a bad portrait art photograph. This is me. I call this one "Don't mess with me, because I'm in medium contrast grainy black & white."


Fashion photography can be very fun as there are no limits to the creativity that exists in fashion. You just need to find someone who owns or even designs some interesting articles of clothing. If you don't, don't fret! Slap some sunglasses on your model and then it doesn't matter what they're wearing. Just have your subject lean against a building and you're set. If you happen to have a higher budget, then you should go all out. Make sure your final design includes plenty of shiny clear plastic, asymmetrical lines, jagged edges, half-zipped zippers, holes placed in borderline pornographic areas, and some kind of biodegradable materials like bread, soil, or animal tears. Once you have an extraordinary outfit, the photograph almost takes itself. The more effort you put into the clothing, the less effort goes into the photography and vice versa. Simple math.

Example of a good fashion art photograph. The weight of the hat broke her ankle.

Example of a bad fashion art photograph. Another one of mine. It may not be perfect, but it has what the critics like to call "badassery". Model credit: Micah Henry (I'm sure he doesn't mind...)

Still Life

Taking photos of random inanimate objects can be kind of boring. That's why this subject requires a particularly creative mind in order to find the beauty, the originality, or the strangeness in everyday life. Use your wildest imagination. Shoot the underside of a coffee table. Shoot a rainbow in black and white. Shoot your shoes so they look like they're chasing eachother. Be dangerous! Go crazy! Stack things that don't normally get stacked together!

Example of a good still life art photograph. Who still uses a Walkman? Exactly!

Example of a bad still life art photograph. This is my mom's lighthouse lamp. I'm not sure what you were expecting out of this caption. It's a lighthouse lamp.


This is my favourite. Not only because it's where you find the most utterly f***ed up photographs ever, but also because the whole "genre" is a lie. There really is no way to categorize this type of art, so they cram it all under "abstract" or "surreal". That's what makes it so awesome. A red wine stain shaped like heart on a coffee stain shaped like a skull on a white carpet? Abstract! Several paring knives stuck into a tomato with "the man" written on the side of it? Surreal! Sure, some people need to be reminded of what these terms actually mean, but who are we to argue with their art-making ways? Anyway, go nuts. Just make sure you have an intent, or people will call you out on your lack of talent. Or they won't. This isn't very good advice, is it?

Example of a good abstract/surreal art photograph. That looks uncomfortable.

Example of a bad abstract/surreal art photograph. I like to tell people that this was supposed to turn out this way, but in actuality, I just accidentally left the shutter open too long.

I think it says something about my talent that all of the "bad" examples of art photography in this guide were taken by me, and none of the good ones. I'll work on that. To conclude, I suggest just taking as many photos as you can. Some of them won't suck. Take those good-ish ones and give them clever titles like "Water as an Existential Loophole" or "My Consciousness in Fava Beans" or "Deliberation!". Then print them and frame them. You're as good as gold. Maybe not gold, but at least a nickel-chromium alloy.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Day I Realized That I'm a Criminal

That would be today, ladies and gentlemen.

Today, I realized that I am a criminal.
What makes this discovery worse is that I hadn't really thought about it before, even while I was commiting these acts. I would excuse my actions as completely justifiable and moral within my own strange principles. It was only today, as I was commiting an act of bus ticket fraud, that I realized how many things I do are actually prohibited by law. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a moron. I do know that certain things are against the law and I was aware that the things I was doing at the time were borderline wrong-doings, but it was only today that it hit me that these things could actually get me an annoying fine, or even some jail time.

However, I only do these things because I hadn't registered that they were necessarily "illegal" at the time and, thus, kept doing them. One of my evil supervisors at work got mad at me one day because I was doing something wrong (something very trivial) but she had the nerve to say "What's worse is that you had no idea you were doing something wrong at all." I then had to add "How is that worse than me knowing that I was doing it wrong all along but just kept doing it wrong because I felt like being a total ass-hat?" I think the fact that I say things like that to her is the main reason that she doesn't like me all that much.

But that's beside the fact.

Here are my crimes:

Bus Ticket Fraud:
Since I mentioned this earlier, it's a good place to start. Often, I will use one bus ticket to pay for my trip to a certain place. This will then be exchanged for a transfer. Then I just use the same transfer for the return journey as well. If I use the train before a bus, I just keep the stamped ticket for the next morning and put it into the little ticket box anyway. If you do it swiftly and casually enough, the bus drivers can't read the actual date stamp on it. This means I get twice the distance out of one packet of bus tickets. The bus drivers never notice, or if they do notice, they don't care. I think this is fair. Breaking some sort of transit bylaw, sure. But if the drivers don't care, then why should I. Totally fair.
I think what made today different with regards to my fraudulent actions, was that the bus driver actually gave me a weird look. I think this triggered a slight fear in me that he might have realized that I was trying to fool him and he would catch me. He didn't. He just gave me the weird look and let me continue walking. Maybe it had nothing to do with the ticket at all, maybe he just thinks I'm strange. I'm not sure which situation upsets me more...

Grocery Store Self-Check-Out Fraud:
I'm sure I can't be the only person who thinks that this system is flawed. I enjoy (or used to enjoy, at least) bulk candy from Safeway. More specifically, chocolate-covered jujubes. Now, these happen to be substantially more expensive than the chocolate-covered almonds or the chocolate-covered cashews, for example. It also just so happens that these particular bulk candies look identical. So, I just write the number from the chocolate-covered almonds on the tag for my bag of chocolate-covered jujubes and then go through self-check-out and pay a few dollars less. Self-check-out is really only necessary when you are doing this with bulk items that don't really look the same. Like when I get Jelly Bellies (which are about $2.50 per 100g) but I write the number for salted peanuts on it (which are about $0.69 per 100g), it's best not to give them to a cashier who can then look at a computer and see SALTED PEANUTS come up on the monitor and then have you escorted out of Safeway by the pimply "security guard/LOTTO MAX teller". I justify this type of fraud by saying to myself, "Safeway doesn't need the $3.00 I happen to be stealing for something they've marked up by 912%. I, however, could use this $3.00 on my bus ticket home. Oh, who am I kidding..."

Minor Assault:
This might seem a bit more serious than a bit of fraud, but it's really not. By "minor" I really do mean "minor". Like I've hit and slapped my sister a few times, but that's just normal sibling stuff. Since she has broken my glasses by punching me in the face and knocked one of my baby teeth out in the same manner, I reckon we can call it even. However, there is one incident that was outside the family. I was at a house party with a friend and a bunch of guys that I'd never met before. As the night progressed, some of the guys got quite drunk. One in particular started pulling at my shirt. I told him to stop a few times but he didn't listen, so I slapped him across the face. He just held his face and started laughing drunkenly so it wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped it would be. He was also calling me "princess" the whole night, so I'm pretty sure most of you agree with me that it was totally justified.

Downloading Free Music:
Oh, like you don't do it too. I also stream movies online for free as well. I don't download movies, though. That's where I draw the line. Good job, Jackie; now's the time to get moral. If I like a band enough, I will certainly buy their CD. I do like supporting my favourite artists. But I'll be damned if I'm going to shell out $1.29 for "You're A Superstar" by Love Inc. but that little ditty is most definitely on my iPod. Don't judge me.

I do this all the time. Sometimes I just dart into traffic because I'm too impatient to wait for a car to actually stop for me. A friend of mine always says that this is how I will die; getting hit by an unsuspecting motor vehicle driver after not seeing me sprint out in front of them. Crosswalks are for cowards.

That's probably not a complete list, but it's all I'm willing to admit to at this time. Also, a few of you may have heard of my penchant for pick-pocketing. I have never done this in a criminal sense though. I usually just take people's phones when they're not paying attention, or their pens. It's really not that exciting. I always give them back.

If you are an officer of the law and you are reading this, I copied this off of a website. If you saw through that blatant lie just now (or you believed the lie but are now adding copyright violation to my list of offences), my lawyer's name is Don Schindle, 403-869-3102.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gardening: A Guide for the Horticulturally Impaired

For the last several years I have tried my hand at growing my own plant organisms of the "flora" variety using clay pots, potting soil, seeds of a certain type, and armed with my intuition and knowledge of the biological engineering required to produce a successful garden. It was soon after my very first expedition into horticulture that I realized that the whole "intuition and knowledge" thing is fairly important, and it's also something that I lack.

Unfortunately something that I do not lack in the slightest is stubbornness. So, every year I keep trying my hand at growing plants, and every year I realize that i suck massively at it. Why do I keep trying? I don't know. Trust me, if I knew, I wouldn't keep doing it.

So last year I did tomatoes. They struggled hopelessly for the months that I was in charge of their well-being. Frankly, they deserve a vegetation medal just for being able to survive on the irregular waterings they got (pretty much whenever I remembered to do it) and the ridiculous amount of sun that very nearly turned their leaves into something resembling kettle chips. When I went on vacation for abut three weeks and asked a friend to look after them, they thrived! I came back and they were twice the size with actual tomato flowers! Go figure. That's when I realized that it wasn't just bad luck that made me fail at growing plants, it was that I was just generally terrible at gardening.

In the years before that (in which the plants included green beans, carrots, and wildflowers) I had just chocked their utter failure up to the fact that Canada was just an inhospitable climate to grow anything. It couldn't possibly have been me. Not a chance.

In my five or so spring-summers of growing things (or attempting to, at least) I have learned a fair bit about the practice. Not necessarily about how to grow things, but mostly about how not to grow things. Have any of you seen How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? This guide will kind of be like that. If you haven't seen it. Good on you.

Don't plant a single seed and expect it to grow.
My virgin year of gardening I planted wildflowers, but being the niave gardener that I was, I only planted a single seed in each pot. So I had three pots, each with only one seed. As a result I waited nearly a month for... one tiny sprout in one pot and absolutely nothing in the other two. At that point I just dumped the remaining seeds, which was probably like... 40 into each pot in a last stitch effort to grow something. Mostly a last stitch effort not to feel like a failure at something as simple as germination. Dandelions do it all the freaking time when nobody wants them to, yet I couldn't get a freaking daisy to grow without effing it up! The secret is sheer volume. Simple as that. They don't write on the package that some of the seeds don't work, or that they're dead, or they malfunction, or... What's the proper term for a seed that doesn't grow into a plant?


Don't underwater them.
Not watering your plants and expecting them to grow is like trying to have a cup of tea by sucking on a dry teabag. Unsuccessful. Water is one of those things that is key for photosynthesis, which is kind of a big deal to plants. However, if you are planning on neglecting your plants (which makes no sense, why would you plant them in the first place?) my recommendation is that you dehydrate them before they sprout and not after. It's a lot more cruel and depressing to let a little plantling shrivel up into a brown twig-like thing with crusty leaves than to let a seed just dry up under a hardened pot of soil. Think about it. Consider their feelings.

Don't overwater them.
This is where things get delicate. It's also the area that I cannot seem to master. I was tired of my plants getting dried up and frantically watering them in order to rescue them from the brink of becoming an interior decoration for pretentious sun-dried-flower connoisseurs. So I decided to just flood them with as much water as would fit in the pot, as frequently as I could. Turns out that just a great way to get your seeds to float to the top of your little garden pond of sadness and get waterlogged. Oh, and if it gets humid outside, the soil will start to mold. Just bad all around (unless you enjoy the smell of baked penicillin).

Don't grow carrots in a neighbourhood that is known to have an abundance of rabbits.
It was like a scene from a freaking Bugs Bunny cartoon. The moment my carrots were of any substantial size (which was, at most, about an inch long), I would wake up to find a quarter of them either gone, or dug up and dumped across my back yard. Thanks rabbits. It only took me an agonizing three months and daily waterings and depressing moments of feeling inadequate should I ever need to grow my own food in case of an apocalypse, to grow those gosh-darn carrots (that still only grew to a couple of centimeters) and then you had to go and eat them all! I'm glad you've been fed, there aren't enough of you in my neighbourhood already. Just watch, the next time I see the carrots you stole from me will be when they're all over the road after your innards have been scraped across the pavement by an SUV.

If it gets really hot, take them out of the direct sunlight.
Like I mentioned earlier, I almost made sun-dried tomatoes while they were still on the plant. The surfaces of the little tomatoes were actually getting sunburnt! I looked it up! I didn't even think they could do that!

I'll stop here because I've once again realized that I am really not the person that should be giving gardening advice to anyone.

I have decided that growing plants is a lot like raising children. If you don't have time to take care of them yourself, give them to someone who does, but preferably don't have them in the first place. Give them lots of water and protect them from sunburns, but they'll still always be happier with the babysitter.


Stray by Sheri Joseph

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Taking Public Transit: A Guide for Impatient Germaphobes

This morning I decided to make a list. This list would be of things that we all hate with every fragment of our substance but would complain tirelessly if they were to suddenly disappear. And while I did come up with some other options (corporations, government, traffic cops) I found something that went straight to the top of the list: public transit.

We've all been there. Public transit is never perfect, and never will be. The bus or train is always late, or dirty, or cold, or hot, or filled with pungent, obese vagabonds with crazy beards, three fingers, one shoe, grocery bags full of avocadoes, and penchants for small talk that involve the doors closing too fast on their imaginary friends.

In order to deal with these issues properly (and by "properly" I mean swiftly and tolerably), I have prepared a guide. This guide will deal with the primary complaints that (I feel) are most commonly associated with public transit travel: Time, Atmosphere, and People.


In a regular school week, I spend about 500 minutes riding (or waiting for) city transit. That's approximately 8.5 hours (I'm rounding up for obvious reasons) every week. In more of my shoddy calculating skills (even with a calculator I can bastardize the act of calculation, I'm that good), that means I spend about 270 hours of my life every year on city transit and that's just me going to and from school! If I added in the summer months, working, going out with friends etc. it's more like 750 hours. If you take that number and throw it against the 8760 hours in a year, that means I spend approximately (and again I'm rounding up for obvious reasons) 9% of my year riding or waiting for public transit.

Even with that appallingly depressing number, I don't think it's the total number of hours that people complain about, but the number of minutes that they wouldn't have to spend waiting if the bus was always on time. Think of all of the other things I could be doing in the meantime! Watching ten extra minutes of The Best of Just for Laughs, resewing a button on my coat, petting my cat a couple dozen times, spending several more minutes debating whether or not I should make a lunch, playing peek-a-boo with my idiot dog through the window to the backyard, repeating my mantra about not making anyone cry that day, or even learning a phrase or two in another language. The world would just be a better place if I didn't have to wait for the bus.

Unfortunately for you, I don't have a solution for this one. Time is always going to be an issue with public transit. Unless you decide to become a bus driver, I just don't see a solution. Oh wait, here's one.
Get a car.
Oh and bring something along to help pass the time: an iPod (or other such portable music-playing device), a book, a crossword, a Rubik's Cube. Whatever gets you through the hard bits.


Whether it's cold, hot, or just dirty, public transit has a reputation for being uncomfortable. My theory is that they want people on and off the train/bus as fast as possible, so if you hate being there... It works out perfectly. However, that doesn't help when you need to be stuck in a bus shelter or a cramped train car for a long period of time, whether you're waiting to get on or off. The best time of the day to travel by train is between 3:30am and 5:30am. It's right after they clean the trains, but right before the early morning rush. If you really hate the C-Train enough that you are willing to use it at these insane hours of the morning, I think it's time that you invest in a vehicle. Also, get some counselling, you obviously have bigger issues...

My advice is to find a seat that doesn't have stains, smudges, spills, crumbs, dirt, mold, gum, rotting food, strange smells, single items of clothing, balled-up newspapers, or abandoned infants already in the seat. That's just asking for trouble, for what you think might be just some crumbs, could be anthrax, and what appears to be an abandoned infant could actually be just a really creepy doll. No one wants to sit near that. My advice?
Look before you sit.

Trains and busses are also severely demented when it comes to their heating and cooling systems. In the summer, when it's insanely hot outside, they decide not to use air conditioning at all even though I know they have it. It's like they think "It's Calgary, I'm not going to turn on the AC, it's just going to get cold outside again in 35 minutes." So you walk from the hellfire that is Calgary in the summer, into a slightly more shady hellfire. In winter, they decide to use the equipment. They overcompensate the heat inside the bus because the temperature outside of it is about -30. In my mind, I associate getting on a bus in the dead of winter as being similar to what it must feel like to be thawed after being cryogenically frozen, only in about two-and-a-half seconds. My advice?
Wear layers.


If you haven't run into at least one weird guy on the train who will sit staring at you for a good eight stops, then blurt out how much you remind him of his dead mother/wife/child, then try to ask if you are by any chance related to pretty much anybody he's ever met (Are you Marnie's cousin? Or Sally Burns? No? How about Nathan Patricks? No? Really? Spitting image, I tell ya...), then you're just not doing it right.

Alright, let me cut to the chase. Here are your basic "targets of avoidance".
Avoid anyone who sniffles, coughs, wipes their nose on any article of clothing, or is covered in pustulating boils; unless you wish to catch the plague. Avoid anyone who appears to be holding their breath, they can be unpredictable (most likely, they're either crazy or about to explode in a fit of rage). Avoid children, yeah. Avoid anyone wearing glitter, you don't want that stuff on you, you'll never get it off. Avoid people holding open food or drinks, one quick stop and it's everywhere. Avoid overly happy people, they will want to talk to you, you don't want that. Avoid pretty much anyone that looks like they might be about to rape something, because you can never be safe enough.

How do you avoid them? That's easy enough, just don't sit or stand in their general vicinity. However, if there is only one seat left on the bus/train and it is next to one of these "undesirables", and you choose to stand... It's pretty obvious you're avoiding them. I say screw it, your comfort is more important than their freaky-ass feelings. You'll only have to deal with their insulted glances for 15 minutes, tops. My advice?
Put headphones in your ears, wear sunglasses and a thick coat, do not smile at all. This should keep people at bay. You may also wish to take it one step further and pull a hood up over your head and put your hands in your pockets. Nobody will bother you if you look like a criminal. The best way to beat them, is to become one of them...


Cell by Stephen King

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Conversations With Myself

Hello darlings.
It's good to be back.
I haven't been gone that long, you say?
I know. I know, but any time away from you seems like an eternity. My heart yearns to tap my fingertips lightly on each key as if I'm sending pure love into cyberspace with every stroke.
That's stupid, cheesey, and slightly pathetic, you say?
Well, you said it, not me. You just don't appreciate the pure poetry that exists within the confines of this blog, and I pity you. I pity you.
I should pity myself, you say?
That's just not very nice of you, and I think I will end this little exchange of unpleasantness before I resort to verbal assault on your moral character (most likely referring to your complete lack of tact and possibly your free-wheeling attitude when it comes to sexual practices).
No retort? Yeah, I thought so.

What I've learned this weekend is that sleep isn't all that important as long as you have enough natural adrenaline to keep you going.
What do I mean, you ask?
Good question (and I'm glad we got past the whole "pity yourself" thing really quickly). This weekend I managed to survive 48 hours with a mere 3 hours of sleep under my belt, but I powered through it. The secret, my friends, is motivation.
What kind of motivation, you ask?
The good kind, my friend, the good kind. The reason I was able to keep my eyes and my limbs functional on 3 hours of sleep for 48 hours is that it was because I was doing something that I love (filmmaking). With pleasure and excitement, comes adrenaline. If I was getting up after 3 hours of sleep to watch sheep graze, I would become the fastest case of spontaneous narcolepsy ever on record.
What's narcolepsy, you ask?
Look it up, lazy ass. Who do you think I am? Your mother?
Why do I have to be so mean, you ask?
I don't know, maybe it's because I have to talk to idiots like you.
You don't actually exist, you say.
That's a very good point...
I'm the most brilliant and creative mind that has ever functioned and anything and everything that I think about lights up like a thousands suns everytime I mention its very name, you say?
That's more like it.
I'm being very pretentious, you say?
That's not really the word you were looking for, but we'll work on that later. You're lucky you have me, man, or you'd be just another one of my idiot personalities.

So I broke my camera this weekend. Unfortunately, this happened the night before the big production day, so I never got to take any still photos. It was probably for the best, as it might have been a distraction.
How do I know it's broken, you ask?
Well, unless a camera is supposed to make a little crunching sound every time the lens extends or retracts, I think it's broken.
Just fix it, you say?
Who do you think I am? R. W. Canon. I can't fix lenses. Can you open up a point-and-shoot, tap out all of the micro-shards of optic lens, melt them down into a little puddle of glass, and pour it back into the camera? Ta-da! Fixed!
I don't have to be so sarcastic, you say?
Actually I do.
No, I don't, you say?
Yes. Yes, I do. I very much do.
Do I realize that I'm still talking to myself, and therefore, I am just mocking myself, you ask?
Yes. Yes, I do. Now.

I would like to apologize to anyone reading this for it's weirdness. I would also like to apologize to those who are now slightly scared of me because they read this. Please don't be. I'm actually a very nice person and I keep my insanities mostly to myself. That's such a lie. I'm sorry.
Why would I lie, you ask?
Because while I never lie about important things, and I value honesty above anything else, I am actually quite a gifted liar.
That's getting pretentious again, you say?
It's not pretentious if it's true. Think about it.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, March 7, 2011

Your Childhood: A Guide for the Maladjusted

I'm sure everyone reading this has, at one time or another, been told they have had a deprived childhood. I'm also sure that it wasn't told to you by a malicious sociopath just trying to hurt your feelings, but by a friend or aquaintance who had learned that you had been lacking something in your precious early youth that society seems to think is essential in the process that is child-rearing (or at least was in the early nineties). Now, don't take their word for it. I'm sure you've turned out just fine. Here is a random selection of said "essentials". I will also assign a trauma level rating to each, measured in therapy hours required to fix the subconscious psychological issues that stem from not having that specific thing in your life when you were a wee tot. Like Pogs.

Riding a Bike: I don't really know why not having ridden a bike (or owned one, I guess) is considered more deprived than not having ridden or used a skateboard, rollerblades, a scooter, or a pogo stick. I suppose bike-riding can pull the "I've been around for nearly two hundred years" card, but that's really no excuse. They all fall under the "alternative modes of transportation that border on unnecessary and do not require the aquisition of a license to operate one" column heading. I say we rise up and start badgering people about rollerblades and pogo sticks as well. It's only fair. So you missed out on a parental unit pushing you on your two-wheeler until you could ride all by yourself without training wheels like some happy Hollywood family. Boo frickin' hoo. I'm sure they bought you ice cream at some point. That's just as effective with a lot less screaming. I rode a bike recreationally for many years in my late single digits to early double digits and the only thing I gained is a few pairs of torn jeans, probably a hundred dollars in bandages, and countless scars. Bikes are not for the uncoordinated.
Trauma Level: One hour. You can tell the therapist that you didn't really need one and aren't bothered by it, then still have time to talk about how you were always picked last in gym class (like that system ever really existed).

Playing Video Games: This is probably more relevant to today's preteens than to my generation, but I find it still applies. I still get weird looks when I say I've never heard of, let alone played, Starcraft (whatever the hell that is). The only thing I ever really played as a child was Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. at my grandpa's house when I was 6 on the original NES (like I know what that is...). Seeing as how I was one of the youngest of like... 15 cousins, I never really got to play much. So my experience with video games is watching my cousins shout at a dog that made fun of their obscenely poor water-foul slaughtering skills. However, we have to take into account that some video games are quite violent and, perhaps, people that never really played them as a child are better because of it. I mean, Mario jumps angrily on fungi and spits fireballs at unsuspecting turtle creatures. I know he's Italian and all but... it's unnecessary.
Trauma Level: Two hours to talk about how you never got a turn at the console and now you have self-esteem and assertiveness issues, and one hour to use one of those therapeutic punching bags to let off some steam.

"I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing at the idiot holding the gun like a bouquet of flowers."

Flying a Kite: Unless you're Mary Poppins, chances are you have precious little kite-flying experience. In today's world, the kite is a "toy" that has suffered serious neglect. When I was a kid, I flew a kite. Not often but, let's be honest, once a year is enough to satisfy that little slice of the "stuff to do in the summer to get out of the house" pie chart. Even when I was a kid, not many people did it; and yet, people are scrutinized for never having done it. It's not fair, really. It's like judging people for not having seen Gone With The Wind, when really... Who has?
Trauma Level: None, just go watch Mary Poppins. You'll see what you haven't been missing.

Playing Monopoly: If you haven't done this, what's wrong with you? I think this one is the one I need to back 100%. Not only do you learn how to play nicely with friends; you learn basic strategy, real estate procedures, and money-management and business skills. Not to mention that you get to be a tiny part of a franchise that has been around for a century and has versions based on every decade, every species of animal, and every television series in existence. If you haven't played Monopoly, go play it now. I'll wait.
Trauma Level: Eight hours; one hour to talk about those nightmares you've been having about being molested by Uncle Pennybags for never having played the game, and seven hours to play one game with your therapist. At a leisurely pace of course, we don't want any cases of PTSD.

Sending children to jail since 1936.

Having Seen the Entire Disney Animated Feature Collection: I am guilty of judging people based on their lack of connoisseurship when it comes to the classic Disney animated features. Unless you didn't own a VCR, I just don't think there is an excuse for not having seen The Lion King, Aladdin, or Beauty and the Beast. I really don't. Sorry. What a sad existence you must lead. Not quite getting any James Earl Jones/Mufasa references, not enjoying Angela Lansbury as much as you should, and not experiencing that tingly feeling in high school when you've read the first half of your translated copy of Hamlet and you clue in.
Trauma Level: Seventy hours. Yes, seventy. That is how long it will take you to watch the entire Disney animated feature collection. Not counting Pixar. It's the only cure.

Having a Pet Goldfish: I understand why parents buy their children low-maintenance pets. It's so they can experience and understand what death is before a major human death has a chance to affect them. How depressing. Seriously though, a goldfish is the worst template for death a parent could use. My goldfish (and I had several) lasted, on average, about a week and a half. Goldfish are easier to kill than WWI fighter pilots. I'm sure a good number of children think that by adjusting the thermostat by one degree or by tapping on the door to grandma's bedroom, it will send her to McNally & Sons funeral home faster than you can say Teletubbies.
Trauma Level: None. Thanks to not having a pet goldfish, you dealt with death like a well-adjusted child; not knowing quite what was going on until a few years later and then thought "I probably should have been sadder".

Camping: Who doesn't love a crackling fire, roasting marshmallows, playing a harmonica, hiking through the woods, stringing up your food in a tree at night to avoid bear attacks, mosquito repellant, using outhouses in the middle of the night, minus thirty degree temperatures, and the smell of weed from the next campsite? It is truly a coming-of-age experience. I camped for many, many years. Raised on it, I was. Even with all of it's drawbacks, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do understand, though, that not every family is as outdoorsy as mine and it's a shame. Nowadays, there are ways to take video games into the wilderness, so there's really no excuse not to. The bears are waiting.
Trauma Level: One night in your backyard with a flashlight, a sleeping bag, a book, and some snacks. It's not the same, but it'll do.

It's OK, I'm sure with the appropriate amount of therapy as prescribed by me, you'll be just fine. Or at least slightly less damaged than you have been. No promises though.


Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl