Category Archives: Humor

Dating Advice vs. Writing Advice: Which is worse for your self-esteem?

Those tall dudes get all the chicks!

Those tall dudes get all the chicks!

Hey. This new thing came out the other day ago and it’s called The Internet. You should get one!

The Internet offers four things: The chance to insult people anonymously, porn, photo-shopped celebrities, and relationship talk. All of which, when swirled in that crazy blender known as your brain, conspires to foster body-image anxiety and ruin your self-esteem.

In real life, you prioritize. Your house is burning down = important. The creepy guy across the street who lives in his mom’s basement and never talks to anyone = not important.

On The Internet, however, everything is your house burning down. If some anonymous creepy guy who lives in his mom’s basement says, via an online comment, that you look like a squid, then OMG, people think you look like a squid. If a Love & Relationships columnist makes a generalized statement about attractiveness (you expect her to come up with actual content? She’s on a deadline!), then that statement applies to everyone all the time.

I’m glad the internet did not yet exist when I was a wee, insecure lad. Instead of blundering through my adolescence oblivious to all my shortcomings, I would have discovered just how unappealing I really am.

pierceFor example, it has come to my attention, thanks to The Internet, that body hair below the neck is disgusting. Thank you Pierce Brosnan for wallowing in repulsiveness with me all these years. You’ve been like a brother.

I’ve also learned that my speaking voice is a whole note too high. That’s only about 1/6 of an octave, but the ladies want what they want. It turns out they want blue eyes as well, not the brown ones currently soiling my skull holes like sad circles of fetid mud. And, of course, at 5’9”, I am two inches too short to ever get a ride on the love train. I actually read this matter-of-fact statement online last year: Men under 5’11”, who are not considered attractive…

What’s cool about the internet… the vast amount of information available at a single click… is also one of its problems. Your mind can’t process it all and it blurs together. If 51 percent of people think something, that “majority” turns to 100 percent in our heads. Yeah, probably more than half of the women out there would rule me out because of my height, but there are over 3 billion women in the world. I applied the Barry Manilow approach to dating my whole life without even realizing it. Barry Manilow didn’t care that 95% of the western hemisphere mocked him in the 1970s. He focused on the 5% that loved him and ended up selling 80 million albums.

Writing advice works the same way. We are bombarded with it daily (admittedly a self-induced affliction for most of us bloggers) and read way more of it than we can possibly soak up. The sum of all this advice, once it forms an opaque gelatinous substance in our minds, is that we need to be The Perfect Writer. The one who hits every possible style and substance point with each sentence. Nothing less than total awesomeness will do.

Rather discouraging, isn’t it, to try and please everyone?

If someone hopes to fit a (fictional) beauty standard that is attractive to 100% of the population, he is going to end up a hopeless wreck with shattered self-confidence. One doesn’t need to attract everybody, just somebody who appreciates the combination of quirks and qualities that make him unique. Fair warning: you may have to meet 50 people before you find that one. Now consider that your reach as a writer is rather broader than your reach as a potential romantic partner. If 1 out of 50 potential readers appreciates your quirks and qualities that make your writing unique, you’ll end up with a successful story.

♥♥♥

This post partly inspired by a comment thread on Timi’s blog, which included contributions from Timi, Uju, and Nancy.

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Hilarious Amazon Recommendations

A small but very representative sampling of my DVD collection, which runs very heavy on trashy 70s and 80s horror and monster movies.

A small but very representative sampling of my DVD collection, which runs very heavy on trashy 70s and 80s horror and monster movies.

Anyone who shops online or browses free content knows that websites use search algorithms (or something else mathy) to get an idea of your interests and then make recommendations for additional purchases or other forms of consumption.

YouTube is pretty good at this. I watched a video of former Prince protege Sheila E on a whim the other day, and the right-side column of recommendations included a bunch of other 80s-era Prince proteges like Morris Day, Vanity 6, and The Family.

Amazon, on the other hand, is comically off target most of the time.

As you may deduce from my lead image, I am a fan of horror and monster movies, particularly the grimy, “video nasty” kind that played at drive-ins and urban cinemas in the 70s and 80s. “Why” is a different post; suffice to say that you won’t find many mainstream films on my shelf. Which is the reason I shop on Amazon in the first place. Best Buy and Target simply don’t carry much in the way of Japanese giant monster flicks or Spanish werewolf movies.

I receive nutty Amazon recommendations… or should I say “wreckommendations,” and took a few screen shots for your amusement. Note the reason for the recommendation in the red box at the bottom of each screen shot:

Amazon wreckommendation - Mickey Xmas

 

Look, either you’re one of them Disney people who can’t get enough of It’s a Small World, or you are obsessed with giant, toothy destroyers of worlds. There is no overlap. This is from Godzilla vs. Biollante:

godzilla vs biolante

 

******

And then there’s…

Amazon wreckommendation - breathless

Because they both start with B? Because “breathing” shows up in the poster art?

beast of hollow mountain

*****

 and…

Amazon wreckommendation - my girl

Look at the picture from Demons 2 below and tell me what complex statistical analysis determined it was made for the same audience that enjoys a sappy, gentle love story featuring two precocious children.

demons 2

*****

or…

Amazon wreckommendation - The Interview

Yes. The controversial 2014 comedy starring two current high-profile movie stars is practically an unofficial sequel to a trashy, no-budget splatter flick from 1977 that played at 3 drive-ins for all of a week.

Amazon wreckommendation - melting man

*****

and finally, my favorite:

Amazon wreckommendation - sound of music

scream blacula scream

One is a lush, sweeping epic featuring the most glamorous, beloved movie stars of the era, full of unforgettable music and directed by a Hollywood legend. The other is some drivel about a governess who falls in love with a Nazi and gets in trouble for turning the drapes into ugly clothes and putting them on his obnoxious, entitled children.


I hate onions

You know what I love? Grapes. All kinds of grapes. Purple grapes. Green grapes. I love grapes in bunches, one at a time, or in groups of twos and threes.  On the other hand...

You know what I love? Grapes. All kinds of grapes. Purple grapes. Green grapes. I love grapes in bunches, one at a time, or in groups of twos and threes.
On the other hand…

I hate onions. I hate them raw. I hate them cooked. I hate their “flavor” (as if horror were a flavor) and the way they crunch and the way the horror explodes in my mouth and won’t ever leave. I hate them fried. I hate them caramelized. How is caramelized even a thing?

I hate onions.

Why does everyone insist on putting onions in my food? I never said I wanted onions. Stop making assumptions.

The food people put them on my burgers and sandwiches. They put them in my salads, including potato. I’m glad my soda has a lid.

To me, this is the same as blowing cigarette smoke in my face and then saying, “Oh, I assumed you wanted smoke in your face.”

This week was the last (onion) straw. I bought cranberry-almond chicken salad at Costco. What I got was ONION chicken salad, with chaser lights. Big-ass chunks of diced, crunchy, unbridled, sociopathic onion. I cannot taste the chicken, the almonds, or the cranberries.

If I want onions (which I never would), I’ll ask.

People use the “layers of an onion” metaphor to describe people and things that are full of surprises and mystery. Why? Every layer of an onion is exactly the same as the one above and below it: Nasty.

If I were dictator of the world, I’d be benevolent. Free tacos on Sunday and all that. But, I’m sorry; no freakin’ onions. If you want onions, visit Onion Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the only place I permit them to grow. Don’t think about smuggling one out, either. Your punishment will be legendary!

Pray I never become dictator, onions.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading.

I feel about onions the way this poster promoting the 1897 horror comedy "Psychos in Love" feels about grapes. It takes all kinds!

I feel about onions the way this poster promoting the 1897 horror comedy “Psychos in Love” feels about grapes. It takes all kinds!


I’m a dude and I’m wearing nail polish

My friend Kristen, who does nail polish tutorials and blogs for a cosmetics brand, and who uses the superior -en spelling of her name (who am I to argue?), recently commented that her husband will not let her do his nails.

She conducted a quick verbal survey of the men within earshot, asking, “Would you let a woman put nail polish on you?” I summarize the collective response thusly: NOOOOOOOOOOOO FREAKIN’ WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!

That is, the ones who didn’t immediately run and hide said that.

Witnessing this event unfold, my inner non-conformist felt a surge of adrenaline. My inner non-conformist is also well aware of my slow philosophical evolution on gender roles in modern society (in short, I’ve come to believe gender roles are largely meaningless constructs that often hold us back from being happy and pursuing interests for fear of being judged and ostracized).

All of which led to me announcing, “I’ll do it.”

The way I remember this moment, it was a TV show and the camera cut to me just after I spoke and the room had instantly fallen silent. A fine piece of comedic editing.

I picked the colors, but otherwise, Kristen knocked out this design in about 10 minutes today with no planning. And you know what? I’m just as much of a dude as I was before. Imagine that.

Eric's nails

nails 014

nails 013

Eric's nails

nails 001

nails 004

If you click on the last picture you’ll (probably) get a closer look. My favorite is the ring-finger web, though the middle finger bat is cute.


Fat shaming

No, I said "fat" shaming, not "hat" sha... never mind.

No, I said “fat” shaming, not “hat” sha… never mind.

Don’t worry. I’m not getting on my soapbox twice in one night.

Of course, no one is entitled to fat-shame others, and I doubt it produces the allegedly desired effect of  weight loss in the recipient of the shaming.

Unless that recipient is me! That’s right. I’m fat shaming myself. I’m allowed to.

For the past several years my Sketchers have been holding up 200 pounds, or 91 kilograms, of dude. Though I am only of average height, I carry my weight well because I am solidly built. That said, 200 pounds is not great for my health. I didn’t get this way eating carrots.

I decided it was time to lose weight (for real this time). Unfortunately, my willpower is far from amazing, which is why I often diet down to about 195 pounds and then put it right back on.

Two weeks ago, when I started dieting again, I said, “I’m going to do a post about my weight loss goal. Fear of public embarrassment helped me hit the first and second draft deadlines for my novel, so maybe it will work for my diet.”

My Significant Other said, “Yeah. I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You’re far more disciplined as a writer than as an eater.”

The actual comment was probably closer to, “Don’t embarrass yourself, Chubsy Ubsy,” but I’m trying to make her look more supportive than she really is.

Anyway, the scale read 195 pounds this morning. My goal is 175.

I’m not setting a deadline because I have no idea how long it will take, and because I don’t need one. I will either continue to lose weight, or I will cave in to the lure of junk food well before I get anywhere close to 175 pounds.

Wish me luck!

If you’re curious, my diet method is the only one that ever works without the assistance of a surgeon: Burning more calories than I take in.


I’m finally one of the cool kids

If you want to be popular, you usually have to be good-looking, wealthy, charismatic, famous, athletic, or have some sort of talent in the arts. I arguably possess a bit of the last one, but widespread dissemination of said talent is often needed before you can go clubbing in New York with an entourage that may or may not include current NBA stars, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and at least two former Nickelodeon starlets who are now 25-going-on-50 and totally wacked-out on cocaine.

However, there is a secret side-door for us normies into the world of the cool kids: Resembling a newly famous celebrity. Remember all the girls getting their hair straightened to look like Jennifer Aniston back in the ’90s? Teenage girls are probably dressing and styling themselves after Rihanna and Taylor Swift these days, though I wouldn’t know because I haven’t worked in a shopping mall since VCRs.

I’ve never had the good fortune to resemble a trendy famous person. I look more like Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, than I do Justin Bieber, and I can’t believe this sentence now exists.

Then, two weeks ago, things changed. British actor Peter Capaldi took over the lead role in BBC’s global phenomenon Doctor Who. Whenever a new performer steps into that iconic role, he instantly becomes the most talked about actor in Great Britain.

And what are people discussing about Mr. Capaldi? His acting? No. His eyebrows. Dude’s brows are already legendary.

I was chatting about the latest episode with a friend the other day when she stopped in mid-sentence. “Holy crap, Eric,” she said. “You got Capaldi brows!”

I immediately took to Twitter with this boast and, as if to prove my point about side-door popularity before I even thought of it, BBC picked it up and retweeted it to thousands and thousands of people. Somehow I doubt uncool kids get retweeted like that.

Here’s the photographic evidence:

 

Capaldi vs Baker

Capaldi vs Baker

Note: If you’d like to be in my entourage, please submit an essay explaining why you are cool enough and how many drinks you are willing to buy me. Thank you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A bit of sad news this week: Lost amid the chatter about the Jennifer Lawrence photo-hacking scandal was the death of singer Jimi Jamison of the ’70s and ’80s pop-rock band Survivor, whose hits included  Eye of the Tiger (with a different singer), The Search is Over, I Can’t Hold Back, and High on You. Survivor never received critical recognition and, to be real, their music didn’t have much substance. However, they did know how to craft a good pop song. Regardless of their place in music history,  Jimi Jamison had a killer voice. You don’t have to like their music (which I do) to admit the guy owned serious pipes. He could have sung for Journey.

Jamison died this past Sunday at age 63. Rock on, Jimi!


People of the Internet: Please stop writing in clichés

Shove your cliché in there and see what happens.

Shove your cliché in there and see what happens.

Communicating in clichés is nothing to be proud of. It means you are thinking on autopilot, lack creativity, or are not articulate enough to express yourself with originality.

If you pay attention to what you type on message boards and in comment threads, and you pay attention to what other people say on message boards and in comment threads, you should be able to identify when a phrase starts becoming rote. And when everyone has that same cluster of words playing on an endless loop in their brains and can no longer not use it, it has become a cliché.

For those who are unsure: Clichés suck donkey sausage.

Alas, a new cliché has taken over the internet. I hate it more than I hate the 1998 American Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. It is typically expressed when the commenter is exposed to something he dislikes, and it is now being “shoved down my throat” about 50 times a day.

As in, “Why is gay marriage always being shoved down my throat?”

Or, “Why are people always shoving their religious beliefs down my throat?”

Or, “Stop shoving your political views down my throat.”

Or, “Whenever I get an endoscopy, the doctor shoves a black hose down my throat.”

Not your fault dude.

Not your fault dude.

Well, maybe the last one is okay. But otherwise, for the sake of the language, and for the impression you give of yourself to the world, and for my sanity, please stop freaking saying things are being shoved down your throat.  You sound like a moron. If you are angry about other’s beliefs (and if you are like almost everyone on the internet, you are damn angry about something), don’t be a cliché. Find another way to say it.

Warning: If you leave a comment below making a joke that I shoved this post down your throat, I will shake my head with bitter disappointment at your predictability. It will be a withering headshake you won’t soon forget!

  ~~~~~~~~

In other news, and the real reason I created this post, is to report that I beat my August 31 deadline for completing draft # 2 of my novel. You have the option of reacting in one of more the following ways:

  1. With resentment and envy because you haven’t touched your WiP in months.
  2. By feeling inspired to set and meet your own deadlines, thus bringing you closer to your goal of writing a literary classic or, if not that, a bit of commercial tripe that nevertheless becomes a blockbuster and gets turned into a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Shaquille O’Neal.
  3. With indifference because you lack empathy for the dreams of a humble man who only wants to make people happy.
  4. With derisive laughter because you finish a novel draft every two days.
  5. All of the above (in which case you might need to see a specialist).
  6. Any combination of the above.
  7. Other.