I wrote this up many years ago (in college, obviously), but it's still pretty relevant:
I frequently stay up late, as most college students do, because I’m either working late or had downed a whole gallon of coffee (as per my caffeine addiction requires) and I flip through the channels looking for entertainment. Inevitably I end up watching the home shopping programs, which entertain through their sheer outrageousness.
The home shopping programs seem to come in only three flavors, as it will—sports collectibles, jewelry and miscellaneous.
Miscellaneous shows are usually just that. One moment they’re selling a $799 camcorder, the next moment they’re selling butt scrubbers. It’s really that random.
On several occasions I’ve seen the “Carousel of Values” which is a rotating display platform that sells—whatever. Whatever they have in inventory or in their pockets at the time goes on the platform. Imagine taking all the items in a junk drawer and putting them on a rotating platform and then having the audacity to sell it for 200 times of what it’s worth.
What’s even more amazing about those shows is that they usually have some guy with a think southern accent saying things like “these be some beauty items here.” Yes, a rotating pile of glass marbles, a wooden hula girl, a plastic necklace, a paperweight from Maryland, and a ceramic napkin ring for $700 is certainly what I would consider “beauty items.”
It’s even funnier when these southern-drawled salesmen start talking to some other person in the room. They will say something like “How’s the fish bitin, Verle?” To which I presume “Verle” replies (I’m not sure, since you never see the people’s faces) something like “They be bitin’ fine, cutie.” Great, not only do people have listen to these genetic dead-ends give a sales pitch, you get to hear them hit on each other.
Moving along to the jewelry programs, there seems to be no limit to the ways one can name worthless pieces of junk to make them seem valuable. “Cubic Zirconium” is the most prevalent name people hear, but the second most is “White Gold.”
“White Gold,” is that the white, as in ivory white, or white as in trailer-trash white, the shopping programs’ core market? My guess is the latter. Further, just because something has “gold” in the name, doesn’t mean that it’s good. A “golden shower” is a perfect example.
Further, the size of the gems they sell cannot be measured in inches, but in microns. Nay, possibly, atoms. They do a remarkable job of making the gem look gigantic of course, but once a finger or a tweezer gets in there to move the gem around, the staggering proportion of gem to say, a fingerprint ridge, becomes apparent. One sharp intake of air might suck the gem into somebody’s lungs. That I would like to see.
“Look at this precious g---GURK!” (cough, cough, body hitting ground)
Also, any time they sell a “precious” gem, they sell it for an outrageous amount, say, hypothetically, the amount a college student would pay for tuition at some Arizona college, and then bring the price down when Bill Gates doesn’t call right away. I once saw a gem go from $5,000 to $50 in the span of five minutes. That’s like making a bluff in poker, getting impatient after not winning in three seconds and saying “oh, okay, all I have is a pair of twos! Are you happy?”
Lastly, there is the sports collectable shows. Every one of these have a Mark McGuire rookie card in perfect condition, and every time they claim it’s their last one. They also say that whatever they’re selling is worth about a twenty times what they are selling it for. Like, say the Mark McGuire rookie card is selling for $200. They’ll claim it’s worth $6,000. This could mean one of a few things:
1. They’re lying.
2. They’re selling fakes.
3. They really are just going temporarily insane as they claim and you better call right now because this won’t happen again
There’s one show in particular where they have this regular cast of characters on it. They have a normal-sounding salesman, then they have this guy who screams as loud as possible and repeats things, and then they have this guy who is supposed to be their distributor saying how he’s feeling nice and is only going to make these deals tonight. Here’s an example of the dialogue:
NORMAL GUY: Okay folks, we have got an amazing deal for you here. A Mark McGuire rookie card for only $200.
LOUD GUY: FOLKS, GET ON THAT PHONE RIGHT NOW! THIS PRICE WILL NOT COME AGAIN EVER IN THIS SHOW! TONIGHT’S SHOW PRICE WILL NOT COME AGAIN, EVER! GET ON THAT PHONE RIGHT NOW FOLKS!
PHONE GUY: This is crazy. If you look at any price guide, a card in that condition will sell for at least $6,000.
NG: It truly is a deal.
PG: It’s an amazing deal! I could go and sell these cards for more than that, but tonight, I’m feeling generous. I want to provide your viewers with the best deals possible.
NG: Get on those phones right---
PG: GET ON THOSE PHONES RIGHT NOW! OUR DISTRIBUTOR HAS GONE INSANE! INSANE, IS OUR DISTRIBUTOR! YOU WILL NEVER FIND THIS DEAL AGAIN! AGAIN, YOU WILL NEVER FIND THIS DEAL! PHONES, NOW! GET ON THEM!
NG: We must be ins-
LG: WE MUST BE INSANE! INSANE MUST WE BE! WE BE MUST INSANE! GET ON THOSE PHONES NOW! NOW ON PHONES ON GET! BRAAAAAA--
(his head explodes)
Okay, the last part doesn’t happen. I wish it did, because then it would make my insomnia-induced late-night T.V. viewing much more interesting.
One thing that I'm glad of is that as a teenager I had an interest in computers and technology. I think that's partially because the cold, hard boxes of silicon gave back more to me than the soft, warm bags of carbon we call people.
That's a whole other blog post.
Anyway, this was important because I learned one of the most fundamental skills for today's modern society - typing. Now I can type really fast and accurately, so I can write at almost the speed of my thoughts. Example:
"There's a rabbit named Jim who hates carrots and wants to eat broccoli all day and fart."
See, no editing there.
In High School, like many people, I took a typing class. I should mention that my school had ancient technology for teaching typing, known as "type-writers." These devices created text on paper through mechanically imprinting letters individually. No spell check, no autocorrect, no easy way to correct mistakes. It was be perfect or...mess around with correction tape.
Oh, yeah, correction tape - this was basically a plastic strip with white paint on it. To correct mistakes, you had to get the typewriter to go back to the place you missed and then type the incorrect typing again with the plastic strip carefully held on the page. That way, the incorrect letters were printed white and you could go over again with the correct letters.
Also, lets not forget about formatting - there was no automated formatting. You typed and then had to remember the tabs and the spacing for certain documents and how to get the damn archaic machine of chittering metal to actually line up properly, like some test Jigsaw would give you to keep your head from being sliced off by a giant blade that swung down from the ceiling in a very under budget special effect.
So, yep, months of that and I became a very neurotic person. Okay, I already was a neurotic person, but now I was a really good typist. I'm glad of that because it now allows me to make these terrific words, really fast. Also, it's been instrumental in getting every job I've ever had.
However, I wouldn't recommend learning to type on a typewriter. Stick with these computer things so you don't have nightmares about apostrophes.
As a guy who has been on stage telling poorly-executed jokes about childhood tragedies, I know a few things about comedy.
One thing I know is that some people are funny. Some people are not. I would never venture to say that an entire gender isn't funny, though. That's incredibly stupid. Here's an example: John Belushi believed women weren't funny, and he worked with Gilda Radner. He also thought injecting cocaine and heroin into your veins at once would be a fantastic idea with no downsides, so there you go.
When I hear from guys their reasons that women aren't funny (usually in their stand-up routines) it usually boils down to "Women aren't funny, just look at (a few female comediennes)! Yet people get mad at me when I say that! It's not fair, MY OPINIONS SHOULD BE UNCHALLENGED!" Then they talk about how ugly they look, while they themselves have a beer gut the size of whatever liver cancer tumor they currently have.
Hey, you know ditcto simliciter, guy? Yeah, all of those women you named could be unfunny, by chance. Highly unlikely.
Also, unfunny according to....what, the strict laws of comedy, as first written down in the Comedia Principia in 1781? Oh, no, wait, that doesn't exist because comedy is an art form and not physics.*
Is it ok for you to not like certain female comics? Yes, of course. I hate so many male comics. I think Jeff Dunham is a blight on humanity, but he's a multimillionaire so not everyone agrees with me on that. I don't go and say that every male comedian is Jeff Dunham. Though if they were, the comedian lobby in Washington D.C. would be much more powerful.
So, I've gone and exposed myself to female comedians.
Okay, wait, "exposed" is probably the wrong term. I've watched them, listened to them, bought albums, etc. I've treated them like any other comic. There's a lot of guys who just don't want to take the time to do that. They've already made their judgement and administered their comedy justice. Women just aren't funny to them, AND DON'T YOU DARE CALL THEM SEXIST! I mean, they know that being sexist is "bad" but they don't understand what the fuck it means. Or care.
Point is, stop saying "women aren't funny." Stop being a dumb asshole.
* Yes, I realize that some mathematicians would say that physics is also subjective. Shut it.
"Why are you writing this?" is a question that everyone asks me. "Why are you writing this blog on your personal website that is embarrassing and nobody will find interesting, you stupid paramecium?"
Okay, I'm the only one who is asking that. Still, let's address this question. "Why write this blog?"
Well, for one thing, it helps me to address the questions in my head without being in my head. You can get so lost up there, you know? So much clutter. You will be trying to address the problem one minute, then unicorn pinecone apple butter mango.
See? So cluttered.
Also, if you are the type of person who feels compelled to write all the time, then you write all the time. For writing. Not because it's something that you can sell, something that people will care about, or something that is yellow organ smell pants. You have to write, so you write. Then you aren't thinking about how you have to write, and you calm down a bit, then you write some more.
If know what I'm talking about, you are probably getting fidgety while reading this, thinking about how you could write this better, or how you are reading this and not writing and OH MY GOD YOU NEED TO OPEN UP A WORD DOCUMENT RIGHT NOW AND START TYPING.
Thirdly, people write online blogs because that's what we do now. Writing about ourselves is not something new. People have been writing journals and diaries since we could.
It used to be that people would write journals, diaries, what have you, and they would be secret. Locked up. Nobody could read it until you were dead. It was writing for yourself. Thoughts out, on paper, for you and you alone.
Then, suddenly the option came along to share those journals with everyone in the world.
So it became a choice between the old way of doing things (keeping things completely secret) or the new way (never having secrets) and people's minds broke and decided that every little scrap of information about themselves needed to be out. For everyone. Always.
Except of course, there's so much stuff out there that you probably don't read anything. Mostly because it's boring and terrible, but also because you are too busy writing stuff yourself.
So, really, if we used to write to ourselves and now just try to write to everyone and nobody is reading either, then what does it matter?
At least werewolf clam popcorn radio shrimp.
I've not had a lot of success sleeping. Actually, I've had a lot of success not being entirely awake.
I don't know about you, but there's some days I will be an hour into my office job (I know, you are amazed someone of my writing caliber makes a living doing clerical work) and I will suddenly say "Wait, what am I wearing?" Then, realize for the first time that I've dressed myself and gotten all the way to work without consciously being aware of any of it.
Most times I am wearing something work appropriate. The rare times I'm not is when I've put on a work-appropriate shirt, but inside-out. Yep, don't mind me, just wearing a button-up shirt with the seams on the outside. Also, I'm not sure how I button up shirts entirely inverted and not notice; I probably should get David Copperfield on that.
"Maybe you should see a doctor?" Is a question that you might be asking if you if this is the sort of thing that would bother you. I have. I've gotten an array of health checks which just reminded me that I need to stop piling candy on froyo and thinking it's still healthy. Also, I've gotten a sleep study for apnea.
Yes, sleep apnea. It's a nice way of saying "YOU PARTIALLY SUFFOCATE WHILE YOU SLEEP." Usually it's a narrow airway or blocked sinuses, or a demon trying to steal your breath as you sleep.
For those of you who haven't had a sleep study for apnea, it's an all-night lab test. If it's a decent place, it won't be as David Cronenberg as you imagine. Just picture a nice hotel room where you go to sleep, except you know for sure that people are watching you. Oh, and lots and lots of electrodes. It is counter-intuitive that a study to see if you sleep normally puts you in an abnormal sleep state, but the tech must not be there yet.
Also, they are checking to see if you stop breathing. So, you know, the more alerts they can get, the better. If you stop breathing they slap a machine on you to help you breathe and then tell you to go right back to sleep, because THAT'S going to happen.
It's pretty calm and serene. You sleep for a normal eight hours, they monitor you, you wake up, they give you a snack and then you are out of there. Later you may have to get into an argument with your insurance company as to why this wasn't covered despite you following all the rules, but that's just normal everyday healthcare in America.
Anyway, my sleep is completely normal. No sudden gasping for air, no problems with my vitals. It just seems to be that period between waking and sleeping that I have a problem with - the fuzziness that one normally has for a few minutes can extend for hours. In fact, am I even awake right now? What did I write?
Okay, good. I'm sure there's some typos in there I've already corrected that I don't see during this first draft, but overall, coherent.
My birthday is here again, which comes at the end of February. It’s nice having a birthday at the end of February because you start the depression off in December. It goes Christmas, New Years Valentine’s Day, and then Birthday for me, like an ever increasing level of loneliness, with the goal of not stepping in front of a UPS truck towards the end.
Speaking of package trucks, my sister has her birthday right after Christmas, so the loneliness equation is slightly less, but my parents always skimped on her birthday, I’m pretty sure in any positive parenting guide that “try to cut corners on your kids’ birthdays so you can have more money for yourself” is not in there.. My parents were less the gold standard and more the jagged rusty nail standard of parenting.
Suffice it to say that birthdays have never been happy affairs for me, regardless of my mood. I still have a hard time getting people together to celebrate it. For one thing, “celebrating” anything relating to myself is something I never quite got growing up, so it feels alien. If birthdays were something where you got a cake and then everyone left you to eat it alone, that would feel pretty normal. I would be totally on top of that. I could even get a blank card for myself that I seal in an envelope and never open. It would be more of a birthday lamentation than celebration.
As I get older I do feel somewhat amazed that I’ve been around this long. I’m not sure if that’s because of the experiences I’ve had, or that the technology now allows me to watch videos of people being accidentally killed at the touch of a button. I mean, have you seen the videos where someone is minding their own business and are suddenly killed when the side of a building falls on them? It reminds you that God doesn’t exist. No, rather, it reminds you that if God does exist, then he’s very prone to writing anti-climactic endings for our lives.
“Jim struggled his whole life, but scrimped and saved and finally went to medical school. One day, a chimney fell on him. THE END.” I mean, seriously, there’s some lazy writing there, supreme being.
Anyway, there’s no God, just a series of random events and human beings making choices. It’s not entirely depressing. Well, okay, from what I’m writing it seems entirely depressing. Let me see if I can spin this to a positive.
We celebrate birthdays, because we all know how unlikely it is for us to get through he Kafkaesque world we live in for an entire orbit of our speck of a planet in a universe of stroke-inducing size. Small victories deserve a giant sugary confection with candles we blow out as if to say “Fuck you, universe! I live.”
Hm, okay, that wasn’t quite positive. Let me try again.
Despite my bleak outlook, I am glad that I don’t have to worry about returning to my dark apartment to have lights suddenly blinding me as people shout “surprise,” causing a PTSD flashback in me that--
Still not positive.
Maybe endings to our lives may not be positive. That's just how it is. However, between life and death we should at least try to make the happiest narrative for ourselves, yeah?
There we go. That’s the ending that will prevent a wellness check! Win!
I have been doing research on women in their 30's in Chicago on dating internet widgets. This is purely research. I mean, I have no reason to actually use a dating app, MY LOVE LIFE IS FINE. Anyhow, I came up with a dating profile I think I will never see:
I am a mean spirited, complimentary, logical, fake, cold, incredibly serious, delusional, unfunny girl who hates to laugh.
I am looking for someone who is dumb and is will hurt me emotionally on a regular basis. I want a man who hates the outdoors and never wants to go outside. They definitely do not want to explore this terrible city, and hates life itself.
Also, I hope you don't have a passport, because I hate traveling.
Seriously, I hate travel so much.
Things I like: non-alcholic drinks, decaf coffee, sitting in a room and hearing recorded music, going to the same restaurant over and over, doing absolutely nothing physical (certainly not yoga), playing with my tarantula, and running away from the mere mention of sporting events.
Most of my large family are dead, and the ones who are alive I wish were dead.
VERY interested in random hook ups. Want a relationship built on lies and subterfuge. Guys only below 5'10" in height, please.
(picture of woman from behind sitting in a dark room. It's the middle of the day but no light is coming in because of her visible hoarded collection of computers from the 1980's)
Like many comedians, I was pretty depressed after Orange-Facey got elected, but I've been coping pretty well by being positive. Here's 10 positives for comedians to think about.
1. You are probably white and male, so you're going to be fine!
Whew! Congratulations on privelige making it easier to do activities like stand-up comedy! Now you also won't be murdred by roving gangs of Nazis!
2. Easier to get prescriptions for psychological disorders!
Psychologist keeping you from your benzos because they are afraid of you getting addicted? Take heart! They're probably too busy now and cutting themselves to care how much you are taking. They might even have Xanax instead of mints in the waiting room.
3. Nothing improves comedy like impending doom!
Stand up comedy just isn't as good when everyone's happy and frolicking. Now that everyone is feeling like the Grim Reaper is getting his band together for a nationwide tour, laughter becomes more accessible!
4. Larry "The Cable" Guy likely to get a big tax break!
I mean, he's a multi-millionaire, and a conservative, and when they get tax breaks they create jobs. Since he's a comedian, he's going to create a bunch of comedy jobs! This is how this works, right?
5. Future censorship laws make it easier to narrow down material!
So you can only make jokes that the government approves of or go to prison. So what? It's not like you actually like all your material anyway.
Everyone likes wars, right? Now you can uh, be a comedian...in a war!
7. Endless screams of the tortured!
I mean, who...doesn't like ambience?
So there you go! 10 reasons to think positive about a Trump presidency! So get up off your couch and go be funny!
I have learned a lot since this:
By Shaun Clayton
SCENE – A lunch room in an office building. BILL, an office worker, limps in, brown bag lunch in hand, obviously in pain. He sits down at a table in the center of the room. He starts opening his bag and taking out the contents. FRANK, another office worker, comes in, also holding a bag, but he has a hard time finding the table as he is blinded, with gauze over his eyes.
It’s over here, Frank.
FRANK sits down at the table and begins to take out his lunch. A third man comes up to the table, JOHN. He has hooks for hands, with one of the hooks through his bag lunch. JOHN fumbles with the bag and starts tearing it up. He struggles, frustrated to get any sort of handle on things, then gives up when he realizes he isn’t going succeed in getting a hold of his lunch. He sits back in his chair and sighs.
You need some help there, John?
No, just forget it.
JOHN gets up and walks off.
John trying to eat lunch again?
Damn the weather!
Boring Midwest Hit By Exciting Tornados
The mind-blowing dullness of the Midwest was suddenly shaken up this week by an outbreak of amazingly exciting tornadoes.
At least 32 tornadoes were spotted, a glorious spectacle of nature's awesome power, one of which that completely demolished dozens of identical suburban houses and an outlet mall.
“It was quite amazing,” Said Earl Blonk, a resident of Williamsburg, Iowa, “This giant funnel came roaring out of the sky like God's wrath, decimating an OshKosh B'gosh."
Man’s Friends Tired of Waiting for Him in Heaven
Complaints have been mounting from the dead friends of 97 year old Earl Sommerland, who say that they are tired of waiting for him in Heaven.
“It’s just selfish,” said Pete Edson, who was a long-time golfing partner of Sommerland before he died of a heart attack in 1984, “I mean, yeah, I want him to have a long life, but I have all these golf games up here that are just begging for a second."
“Most of us died off in our twenties,” said Korean War buddy Nate Olen, who got his torso blown off his body in an artillery strike, “I’d been hoping to see Earl again, but maybe that asshole would rather live than play poker with us."
Area Gen-Xer's Middle Age Now Fits His Cynicism
Friends and family of 41-year old Glen Smith are relieved this week after realizing that his cynicism has now caught up to and is matching his middle age.
"When we were dating in the late 1990's I remember him saying how fucked everything is," said his wife, Sarah, "He kept going on about how there is no future for anyone, which was strange for someone in their early 20's, but now it suits him."
Longtime friend Steve Eggers, 39, was pleased to see that his views on voting matched his grizzled visage.
"Since 1993 he's been going on about how they take too much out of his paycheck in taxes," said Eggers, "Which sounds more like a middle-aged guy wearing flannel than a 19-year old wearing flannel."
When reached out for comment, Smith said “Fuck everything.”