12.13.2013

Badvertising: Wait, what the fuck are you talking about?

I know: in the realm of dissecting poor advertising decisions, picking on an ambulance-chasing lawyer's local spot is cheating. But this isn't just a poorly made ad. This is...I don't know what this is. A public service announcement? A man's private vlog? I mean, the odds are against this being accidental because it's got his title card at the end of the spot and everything. I just don't even understand how this was made or what the fuck Scott Hoy is upset about.




11.18.2013

I Floated in the Infinite Black Abyss and So Should You


For my birthday, Kat gave me what is easily the most unique gift I've ever received: three sessions in an isolation tank. Normally a loved one telling you to go lock yourself in a water-filled tomb might put some people off, but it was something I had mentioned several times before that I wanted to check out, so I was pretty excited. 

It was surprisingly difficult to find a spare hour to float alone in a silent, dark pod, but I was able to book my first session a mere 10 days later. I wasn't quite sure what to expect: I've heard varying reports on the experience, from "peaceful floating nap time" to "mind-altering, overwhelming dive into your own terrifying consciousness that will permanently alter your thinking or maybe even drive you insane." Which when you think about it would not be a great birthday present at all.

I showed up slightly late because I'd gotten into an argument with Kat, because when you're about to spend an hour alone with only your thoughts you definitely want to be agitated and upset with your spouse. The lady at the counter asked me if someone had told me to come early, which is a really polite way of saying, "You're late, fucker." She asked if I'd done this before and, when I said no, made me sit down with a little tablet to watch a helpful informational video about floating that I pretended to watch while skipping forward when she wasn't looking.

"Any questions?" 

"Nope, I think the video covered it." She nodded and led me to a dark room with a spaceship in it.

Seriously, Barry. Stop it.


Look man, I like it when we can just hang out. But you just KEEP. EMAILING. ME. 

And don't patronize me with this "chat?" thing. You never ask how I'm doing; you just want to talk about your healthcare thing. And I get it; the healthcare thing is super cool. I'm proud of you. But friendship is a two way street.

11.15.2013

Diary of Descent: June


March
April
May



June 8
7:30a
Thought we were out of the woods, but it took all of a day for James to find us. We were scrounging the RV park for supplies; a few people either took off without packing up or died before they could make it out so we were able to come up with some food. I wish anything outside of a can survived the apocalypse; I'm really getting sick of chili. 

11.12.2013

Real-Time Data

I'm sure people smarter than me have commented on this already, but for all its flaws Facebook can give you an amazing insight into how knowledge transcends cultural and social boundaries.

For the last few weeks I've been watching the same story move across my Friends list, popping up in seemingly isolated groups of people only to be dispersed across their own networks, joining up with "in common" friends who remark "Hey, so and so just shared that the other day!"

It's a fascinating glimpse into how information and culture slowly permeate a social group, and to watch it unfold kind of awakened me to some "hidden" networks I wasn't aware of.


But seriously, enough with the fucking invisible bike helmet already.

11.05.2013

That is Terrifying but Not in the Way I Expected

Quick, what's the scariest part of skydiving: 

The earth rushing up to greet you at what seems like a million miles an hour?
The thought that your parachute could fail?
Having a heart attack mid-jump and failing to open your chute?

Somehow skewering yourself on a radio antenna?

Okay maybe that last one is a stretch. I've never wanted to go skydiving, mainly because I'm afraid of heights and I get that weird "Oh god I'm going to fall I'm definitely going to fall it's only a matter of time" feeling when I'm on a ladder at my house, let alone a thousand feet in the air staring out an open door on a plane. I went bungee jumping once when my pal Tim worked at a theme park in Florida. Despite the fact that I watched roughly a dozen people do it before me, when I got all roped up and to the edge of the platform it took me probably a solid 15 minutes to force myself to walk off the edge (I'm glad I did it, but it wasn't thrilling enough to make me want to do it again).

But never in my most acrophobic nightmares have I considered the possibility of this happening:

10.22.2013

The Perils of Democracy

Kat was thumbing through our voters' guide and noticed this:


I wonder if there's a set threshold of silly write-in votes King County is willing to accept before they feel it necessary to place a full-page ad kindly admonishing us idiots to stop writing in "Boba Fett" for County Commissioner or "Goofy" for City Treasurer. 

Surely they expect a few every time. I usually do it when there's only one person running but I disagree with their politics. (Speaking of which, there is a surprising number of these city- and county-level positions where people run unopposed. Want to make a difference and start your political career? Take a shot! I would but, y'know, I think they run background checks on candidates.)

So someone, somewhere, held a meeting. And I like to think they stood at the end of a long boardroom table, slamming their fist on it and screaming, red-faced, that GOD DAMMIT IF JESSE PINKMAN WINS THE PORT COMMISSIONER ELECTION AGAIN I WILL STAGE A COUP AND RUN THIS CITY MYSELF!

But it's city politics, so more likely it was a series of emails sent to and from people working in various cube farms trying to find some voice of reason, some celebrity with whom people would identify, to carry the important message that democracy is a privilege, not a right, and we should all stop electing Jake from Adventure Time as our Mayor because this is serious. So they settled on...uh, J.A. Jance, who Wikipedia tells me "is an American author of mystery and horror novels. She writes at least three series of novels, centering on retired Seattle Police Department officer J. P. Beaumont, Arizona county sheriff Joanna Brady, and Ali Reynolds."

So take it from that lady, kids! This ain't Soviet Russia, god dammit. Stop suggesting Corky from Life Goes On would make a good County Clerk, because he's a fictional character and we already asked him last election but he's busy touring with his band.

10.21.2013

I Married an International Criminal

I spent the weekend in Vancouver with my wife celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary. It was awesome! We walked around the city and played fast and loose with the schedule, just kind of wandering into fun things to do like the aquarium, Granville Island Market, and of course the most fantastic dinner I've ever had in Canada at Hawksworth restaurant. 

My wife picked the dinner because she's a chef and super plugged into the food scene. Which is awesome because I get to tag along on awesome trips to amazing restaurants and markets I normally would pass by on my way to a McDonald's or something. So Saturday night we enjoyed an amazing six course meal with wine pairings as we stole sideways glances at a double date next to us that had gone quickly down a wine bottle. At one point we literally put our hands up in preparation for catching a drunk man before he could fall on our table.

But he didn't fall and dinner was fantastic and it was, I thought, a fantastic cap to our weekend in Vancouver. But little did I know Kat had an ulterior motive for our trip up North. Sunday, before we left, her eyes sparkled with a devious glint.

"We're going to buy some illicit cheese," she purred. I married the dairy world's Carmen Sandiego.

10.09.2013

There is a SAW Movie Unfolding in My Attic

Picture this:

It is a dark, dystopian world. Giant, bloodthirsty monsters roam the land, preying on anyone foolish enough to venture outside. Though you've lost the ability to understand WHY, you carry on. You and your loved ones rush from hiding place to hiding place, seeking out just enough food to fend off starvation while risking life and limb every time you venture out into visibility. You move under cover of darkness and spend your days cowering in any dark recess you can fit in. Your life is basically a Cormac McCarthy novel.


Eventually, you stumble across a cave. It's warm and quiet. There are no monsters in here, but you can hear them nearby. They seem to live below the cave, but appear to be unaware of your presence. You use the cave for shelter, still risking the outside world when hunger strikes, but overall you and your loved ones are much safer.

Then, suddenly, tragedy. One of your party slips and makes a noise that alerts the giants below to your presence. Before you can react one pokes its head up THROUGH THE FLOOR and scans the area, seeking you out. You freeze, terrified. It lasts only seconds but feels like centuries. Eventually the monstrous beast loses interest and disappears below the floor again. Your compatriots rejoice, silently, at having defied death. You have your doubts...

Three days later your daytime slumber is interrupted. The monsters are back! They seem less interested in you than the entrance to your home. One of them bolts a steel plate across the door, locking your group inside. Everyone panics, but in this world the only instinct that has served you well is to freeze and wait for danger to subside. You watch and wait. Eventually the floor moves again, and the ogre appears. He lays out several devices with food on them. The devices, you can tell, are evil. They will smash your brains in should you try to take any of the food. You know this. You've seen it happen before to friends.

But there's no escape. Your home, once so warm and comforting and safe, has become a tomb. Your allies scratch and dig at the walls in futility. The stress rises to palpable levels in the room. Your children cry out in fear. And slowly, insidiously, the hunger in all of you rises. The food beckons. You know in your heart the only escape is going to be the sweet release of death as a steel bar crashes down on your skull as you reach for your last meal.

That's basically what the rats in my attic are going through right now.

10.07.2013

Here's the Most Terrifying Fucking Thing Ever

My wife loves to ski. She grew up learning with her dad, bombing down hillsides as a little girl and not really bothering to learn to turn so much as avoid obstacles. Every winter she buys a pass to one of the local resorts and then laments not getting to go as often as she'd like because she doesn't have a lot of ski buddies.

Growing up in the Midwest, my skiing experience is one outing at Hidden Valley, an artificial-snow-covered hillside in Missouri. I fell and busted my ass and swore I'd never do it again. But Kat has begged and cajoled and sweet-talked me enough that I agreed to go this winter when ski season kicks in.

Of course that was before I watched this:




Now I know, in my logical brain, that this isn't likely to happen to me on a public ski trail. After all, I've never skied. It's not like I'm going to hit the Black Diamond trail or venture into the back country to ski where the Park Rangers warn you not to. 


But holy shit, man. This makes me want to outlaw skiing entirely.

9.11.2013

Diary of Descent: May



February

March
April

May 3
11:00a


I'm running out of room in my notebook. I'm going to have to find a new one if I want to keep this going. Michael doesn't seem to get why I write this stuff down, but Nicole does I think. Sometimes I feel like it's someone's job to keep some kind of record of things. Other times I feel like getting this stuff out of my head and onto paper is the only way to keep it from driving me insane.

Michael was shot at while he was looking for fresh water yesterday. No doubt it was James. I can't for the life of me figure out how this shit has gone this far. What's the fucking point? What's he getting out of this? Luckily the shots missed, but Mike's rattled.

I've been combing over our new "home du jour" since we move around so much to avoid James and the horde of dead people outside. I found what I thought was some kind of weird key to a safe or something, but it turns out it's a Swedish FireSteel. Even more valuable. With this thing we can have a campfire in minutes so long as we have tinder, and we don't have to worry about lighters that run out of fuel or break. It's my newest most favorite possession.

8.26.2013

Readjusting

After three long months, my fisherwoman wife has returned to me! If this is maybe your first time ever reading my ramblings, you might not know that my wife is a commercial fisherman and spends her summers in Alaska catching salmon by the ton. It's hard, grueling work at times and they often do it for 20+ hours a day. I say that to emphasize that I appreciate the sacrifice she makes going up there (she loves it and I'd never ask her to stop) and the toll it takes on her body just to bring home a sizable chunk of change at the end of the summer.

People often ask how life is being a bachelor for the summer, and I usually give the same response: the first month is awesome, the second month is kind of lonely, and by the third month I've reverted to some sort of feral human capable only of grunting and eating cereal over the sink. Some parts, like getting to leave my laundry on the floor until I'm good and damn ready to pick it up, are awesome. Other parts, like eating McDonald's for breakfast, SEEM awesome at first but later reveal themselves to be kind of terrible. And still other parts are just bummers, like having to re-learn to sleep alone.

Seriously. It's weird how badly my sleep is affected by not having Kat around. I wind up crafting some kind of crude scarecrow wife out of the pillows on the bed and snuggling it.

8.05.2013

All in All, Great Lunch.

I just had a Mexican bartender explain to me why no one wants to fuck white dudes. Then a hipster with a waxed, Rollie Fingers-esque mustache called me a pussy for wearing a shirt with a bird on it.

Pretty awesome lunch break.

7.30.2013

I Think I See Your Problem

If your cat was found and you're sick of getting calls, AND you happen to remember where you put up your fliers...why would you write on them that the cat was found and not, y'know, take the fucking fliers down?


7.22.2013

Uh...what?

When I was in high school and college I was in a band with my best friends. A lot of the times instead of doing things like practicing or trying to land gigs we would write and record silly comedic novelty songs. They were usually about sex, eating, or sex. We weren't terribly creative but we amused ourselves to no end. The guys would suggest we drop the whole "funk/rock band" thing (it was the '90s) and do filthy comedy songs. For some reason I always balked at the idea as "not artistic enough," whatever that means. I don't really know why I sort of arbitrarily decided I was above such things, but aside from recording ourselves dicking around for our own amusement I never really did much with those song ideas.

Which is a shame, because now I see shit like this all the time and I think, "I could've been a millionaire."



7.19.2013

Well, if You're Gonna Die Tragically...

As a person with panic disorder, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about death. Specifically, I worry about how I will die (and how my loved ones might die). Death itself is scary enough, but there's something very undignified about dying when I imagine it. One moment you're all there, your soul or spirit or whatever makes you you is present and accounted for. And the next you're just this...thing. Just meat, slowly rotting on the floor or in your bed or at the base of a volcano or whatever. That's actually the scary part to me about dying: becoming this burden on everyone, not only in the sense of mourning or missing me (hopefully), but particularly the part where someone, at some point, has to figure out the logistics of disposing of my corpse. Money will probably change hands. That just feels gross.

Which is why I think, if you have to die, you could do a lot worse JoaquĆ­n Alcaraz Gracia.

7.18.2013

The Wall Street Journal is Making Videos Like The Onion Now

That's the joke, right? They're getting into The Onion-style satire, right? Because otherwise someone at WSJ watched this, thought it was worthwhile, and posted it. Why the fuck is Will.I.Am being consulted for logos? If you're making a video about plagiarizing people's beats, fine. Bring him in. If you're doing a piece on how pandering can make you a multimillionaire, by all means. But why logos? Does he have a graphic design background that's never come up?

Hyperbole gets bandied about on the internet quite a bit, but please believe me when I say this is literally the stupidest fucking thing I have ever seen. I hate Will.I.Am for (poorly) reading these words, I hate the Wall Street Journal for recording this and putting it online so more people would be subjected to it, and I hate myself for having watched it. I need a drink.


7.17.2013

Badvertising: Way to Hedge Your Bets


This is a perfect example of the kind of death-by-focus-group bullshit corporations do to creative work constantly. "We can't just say it's for winners!" "What about people who don't identify as winners?" "Are we liable if someone eats one of these and doesn't win the next competitive thing they do?" "I'm okay with this if we include losers, also. But make sure it's not just for losers."

These are the battles that creative people fight in corporate environments. I love your idea! But we have to change it because we would much rather only slightly appeal to everyone than REALLY appeal to a group smaller than everyone.

7.16.2013

I Bet This Person Left Disappointed


I'm always fascinated by the stuff that leads seemingly random people to my tiny blog.

Last week I was flooded with visitors from Beijing linked from their version of Twitter because apparently there's some pop culture phenomenon in China called "Life with Randy." I'm sure they were pretty bewildered.

Ever since I first posted this piece about getting spammed for insurance sales positions, someone in St. Paul, MN has visited the blog every two or three days. I like to think they just can't stop reading it, laughing hysterically as tears roll down their face. Then again with my luck it's probably one of the insurance dudes who emails me constantly and he's building a lawsuit or something.

Tons* of people click my Life After the Bell story on Lisa Turtle because they seem to be looking for photos of the real-life train wreck Lark Voorhies became. Similarly, each girl from Saved by the Bell mentioned on here gets a regular stream of traffic from people searching things like "Jessi Spano nude" or "Kelly Kapowski sex." There's a search history I'm proud to be part of. "Stacy Carosi" gets the most frequent traffic of the group for some reason. Not even in a sexualized way (although there are some), people just type in "Stacy Carosi" on Google and wind up here. 

But far and away my biggest traffic contributors, for some reason, are a ring of shady Russian, Ukranian, and Chinese websites with names like wreune.ru or azbuka-sro.ru (don't go to those places; I haven't visited because I have no doubt they're malware landmines waiting to blow your computer's legs off). 

I don't know why these places send so much traffic my way. I don't get many spam comments here at all. I think I've had two so far this year. Have I accidentally discovered the secrets to Cyrillic SEO targeting through my fumbling attempts at humor writing in English? Does my style of "mildly-amusing diatribe" just happen to really resonate with the types of people who steal credit card numbers and launch botnet attacks? 

Who ARE these people?







* "Tons" being a relative term meaning, like, six.

7.11.2013

Badvertising: This Shouldn't Bother Me as Much as it Does

Here. Watch this shitty Taco Bell commercial:

Pretty unremarkable, right? So they stuffed more grade-C meat in a quesadilla. Yay! But this commercial bugs me. Sure, at first glance it's a celebrity chef explaining her "decision" to make a new quesadilla thing for Taco Bell. She explains how she told the folks at Taco Bell it's got to have great ingredients or whatever or else she wouldn't do it. Then for some reason she waves her knife in people's faces and laughs about how the Taco Bell folks seemed nervous because it was so much steak. Fine. We get it.


But wait. These people are wearing Taco Bell uniforms. Aren't THEY the Taco Bell people, then? And they seem to be making a double steak quesadilla: one guy's walking around with a plate of steak and there are lots of generic Mexican food-looking-ingredients, like chile peppers and shredded cheese.

They also get nervous right as the chef talks about the Taco Bell people getting nervous. She then threatens each of them that "YOU will love it." Why would the Taco Bell people care that a group of strangers in a kitchen would want the quesadilla? Except they ARE Taco Bell people. And she seems to think it's because there's too much steak.

Is the premise of this commercial that chef Lorena Garcia has become unstuck in time through some sort of chrono-distortion and is somehow reliving future events in the present while discussing them as though they were the past? Is this some sort of Slaughterhouse Five promotion?

I realize I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as annoyances go, but this is so lazy. Did no one read the script before they shot this and realize she is literally explaining a thing that happened to the people it is currently happening to? JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE MAKING A 30-SECOND SPOT ABOUT SHITTY QUESADILLAS DOESN'T MEAN YOU DON'T HAVE TO RESPECT THE INTELLIGENCE OF YOUR AUDIENCE, TACO BELL.

I know, I know. But some of us can't sit still and let injustice go unpunished.

7.09.2013

God Damn am I Glad There Was No Internet When I Was a Kid

Otherwise, I'd have several years' worth of shit like this haunting me. Although these guys aren't really kids any more, so I'm not sure what their excuse is.


7.08.2013

Diary of Descent: April



March

April 1
1:30p
April Fools.

I remember when we had time for things like practical jokes and pranks. Back when my biggest concern was getting to work on time and having enough spare cash to hit up the bar. I can't tell you how many mornings I wake up hoping it's April Fools Day, or that it was all a bad dream. It still doesn't feel real. 

I've got plenty of down time now while I recover. Figured I'd update this on just what the hell happened over the last month or so.

The hospital was crawling with freaks, living and dead, roaming the outside trying to get in. I honestly don't know what was more horrific: the noise or the stench. They reeked of death and disease and their howling and roaring was like a ghoulish drone of locusts rising into the sky. It was punctuated only with gunshots from the group of survivors on the roof of the hospital. All the shooting was a great distraction and allowed me to get the propane I'd lifted from the diner underneath the firetruck, but now I had a new problem: all the monsters were heading away from the truck and closer to the hospital. An explosion might make a lot of noise and distract them, but it wouldn't thin their numbers much.

I threw open the door to the cab and noticed immediately that the truck's dome light came on. I threw my hand down on the horn and the blast erupted. Instantly a group of 10 or so turned to face me. They looked almost comical the way they craned their necks, trying to parse what they'd just heard. My fingers rattled across the dash, flipping every toggle and switch I could hit. Soon enough the siren was on, nearly deafening me, while the emergency lights illuminated the entire square. The dead walking responded with their own unearthly scream and I suddenly became aware of thousands of empty, soulless eyes trained on me. 

I sprinted down the street, weaving in between cars to try and slow down my pursuers. I didn't have enough time to turn and fire at the propane; they would be on me before I could even line up my shot, and if I couldn't hit a zombie from four feet away I didn't like my odds of hitting a propane tank under a truck from 30 yards. I fumbled with the rifle while I dodged grasping hands and open jaws. I thought of Val, stuck up there, afraid for her life, and I turned to fire. I was committed to providing a distraction to free her, even if it meant giving up my own life. I wheeled around the corner of the hospital to try and buy some time when I saw the Emergency Room entryway.

There was a group of three of them beating on the doors to the ER. I stopped and brought the rifle up to take aim, but I couldn't focus through the scope with my heart pounding and my breathing so heavy. I closed my eyes and took a breath, then refocused. I lined up the crosshairs of the scope dead center in the back of one of them. My finger tightened on the trigger and I started to squeeze.

Suddenly everything went black and I was spinning to the ground. The shot rang out wild, and I could hear the bullet embed itself in the concrete of the hospital. I fell to the ground and landed on my stomach. Almost instantly I felt a crushing weight on my back. The screams started at the same time as the blows raining down from above. One of those things had come running around the corner and floored me with a punch to the head and was on top of me, pummeling me. I couldn't shake the fog from my brain enough to try and throw it off, my arms and legs were jelly underneath me. I began crawling, slowly, towards the road to try and get away. 

7.07.2013

A Simple Guide on How to Choose To What You Will Masturbate

The hour is late. The lights are low. You've had a long day. Maybe you need help falling asleep. Maybe you need help staying awake. Your mind begins to wander. Your hand runs gently down your belly…

Congratulations! You have made the most important step towards masturbating: deciding to do so. Throughout our hectic, workaday lives we can lose sight of the important things. Namely, taking the time to appreciate one's body, one's mind, and truly one's self in a carnal manner. Don't let pundits and demagogues fool you; masturbation is harmless and a perfectly ordinary and acceptable way for humans to feel good. However, before we begin you're going to need to make an important decision. Namely, to whom will you masturbate?

7.05.2013

These Kinds of Decisions Should not Paralyze a Man

My wife's out of town, which means I'm entrusted with maintaining our home in such a manner so as to ensure it doesn't burst into flames. The big stuff is pretty easy: pay some bills, mow the lawn, scrub the toilet every 60 days or so. I can handle that. Other stuff is a little harder to keep up with. Specifically, the stuff Kat does not out of preventative maintenance but more for her own edification, like gardening. 

I'm not really into gardening. The couple who owned our house before us definitely were into gardening though, so we've got tons of cool stuff like wisteria and grape vines and strawberries and raspberries and poppies and seriously like 15 more cool looking plants I have no idea what to call. Oh and roses. I appreciate that stuff, too. It's all really beautiful, it brings the yard to life with all kinds of fun bugs and hummingbirds and things, and if nothing else it adds serious curb appeal to our house. Kat's into gardening. She's got it in her genes, too; her mom has a plantation-style garden of everything from pineapples and jade to lilies and avocados (it helps that she lives in Hawaii). By contrast, my mom has killed plastic plants and when trying to buy a concrete pineapple for the front porch (apparently that's like a thing people do to signify "welcome," as opposed to buying a welcome mat) she brought home a giant concrete artichoke instead. It took my dad, sister, and I roughly 20 minutes to convince her it wasn't a pineapple.

The point is I'm bad at gardening.

7.02.2013

OUR FAMILY FEUD POST-MORTEM

Hey Harrison Family, 

I know we're all still kind of reeling after Thursday's taping, but it's best to go over our mistakes on Family Feud now while they're still fresh and we can learn something from them. Let me start this off by saying one thing: I'M PROUD OF YOU GUYS. Seriously. Your hard work has been appreciated since the submission stage, through the auditions, and even when the wheels kind of came off at the end there, you still worked hard. I appreciate that, I really do. This advice is to make us better, not to hurt anyone's feelings, so please don't take it that way. With that said, let's look at what I think were the mental errors that led to our downfall.

6.11.2013

"yeahwe'regood"

Have you ever made a colossal or colossally-embarrassing mistake in front of people and then tried to downplay it to save face? I feel like that's a pretty common human reaction. At least it is for me. I've had many an awkward, red-faced conversation with strangers and loved ones alike as I lie to their faces no, really, I'm fine. I meant to fall out of that swing and rip a hole in my shorts while giving myself a super wedgie on our first date. (that actually happened, PS. And yes, I actually tried to pass it off as intentional instead of just sucking it up and admitting I'm a klutz.)

That's why I can totally appreciate this navigator's attempt to downplay his rather sizable error on the race course. Although if I were him, I would definitely have made a bigger deal out of the fact that I survived:


"You okay?"
"Yeah we're good." 

Nothin' to see here, folks!

6.06.2013

North to Alaska! Part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


We'd had enough fun on my Alaska excursion, and now it was time to actually work. The crew was scheduled for a 30(-ish?) hour opening, and I was coming along for the ride. I'd even purchased a temporary commercial fishing license and pulled some over-sized oilskins in the hopes that I would fake my way through a set or two and get the full experience without killing myself or falling overboard. The license wasn't terribly expensive, but it was required for me to go out with the boat since the Coast Guard would be pretty pissed off if they decided to stop us for an inspection and some random unlicensed dude was on board. Like I said, Alaska regulates their fisheries pretty fiercely.

We set off towards the fishing grounds and I started popping Bonine, which is supposed to fight off sea-sickness without the sleepy side effects of dramamine. I'm not usually prone to bouts of motion sickness, but I'd never been on the open ocean before and we were sailing into, as the crew put it, "a bit of weather," so I wasn't feeling super awesome. But everyone assured me that sea sickness was nothing to be embarrassed about, that everyone on the boat got it at least a couple times a season, and I should feel free to vomit on the deck of the boat and let the seawater splashing over the rail take care of things.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't even make it out to the deck.

I did manage to get some photos from the wheelhouse, though.


6.04.2013

Diary of Descent - March



February


March 1
2:30p
Good a time as any to update, I guess. Holed up in a strip mall across from the county hospital. I tried to keep an eye out for James and Val, but if all the attention I got from the uglies out there is any indication, they probably heard me coming a mile away and hid. Still, based on the crude maps I found there, the hospital was a point of interest for them. Hopefully they come by soon.

I wish I could get some practice in with these guns. I've never really had one before, and I don't want every time I use them to be as up-close-and-personal as they have been so far. Some target practice would go a long way, but I'm worried the noise might scare off James and attract more of those goons my way.

March 1
9:45p
Lights on in the hospital. Looks to be the fifth floor. Probably on its own generator or something. Definitely didn't notice those before tonight. Stupid to think they wouldn't sneak around me; it's too big a building for one person to cover.

Now I'm debating whether I should go in there or wait until morning.

Forget it. This area is not exactly friendly with all the runners and crawlers I've seen roaming around. I'm gonna sit tight and see if I can figure out who's there.

March 2
8:30a
Lights never went out last night. I'm taking the handgun and the machete. Stashing most of my gear and food in the ceiling tiles.

Hopefully I make it back to update this.

5.20.2013

North to Alaska! Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


The 4th of July is a big deal in King Cove. I guess it's a big deal everywhere in the states, really, but it's one of those times when smalltown America really shines. And you don't get much smaller than a town of maybe 800 folks, most of whom earn a living either fishing, canning fish, servicing fishing boats, or collecting a check from the native corporation. 

(I don't know the specifics, but apparently most of the Aleut tribes are incorporated; maybe it's a tax thing, I dunno. Maybe all Native American tribes act like that; I didn't really check. But as a corporation they get to disperse funds to all members of the tribe from the money they get for stuff like fishing rights, land ownership, and whatever other deals they work out with the government. Before you get all Tea Party on me, I don't think those guys are making a whole hell of a lot individually, but if anyone can stretch a dollar it's the people living where food comes in on a barge every couple weeks and bears routinely come prowling around your house.)

Anyway, the entire town comes together for the Fourth, which is often kind of the kickoff to their summer. Kat and I walked around town with her crewmates and buddies while watching all the little kids in footraces and pie eating contests and things. It was just like my memories of the 4th growing up, except there were mountains and volcanoes and an ocean. 

5.15.2013

I Should Just Shut My Stupid Mouth

I've always been too big a smart-ass for my own good. My life is riddled with events where, if I had just shut the hell up instead of trying to get the last word in or needling someone over the edge with one more "witty" barb, things could've gone much better than they did. I've talked myself into way more ass-kickings and public humiliations than a single person should endure before deciding to change up their approach, and yet still I find myself in situations like last night:

5.10.2013

North to Alaska! Part 3

Continuing the tale of my Alaskan exploits this last two summers ago...

I don't know why it's taken me over two years just to tell this story. Luckily I took notes. Thanks to the one anonymous person who commented that they actually liked reading about it and reminded me to finish the damn thing.

As the plane roared off into the sky and left us in a cold-but-sunny valley with a constant barrage of wind buffeting us, it suddenly sank in just how "out there" we really were. Cell phones didn't work. There was no one working the "airfield" (a strip of gravel fenced in to keep out grizzly bears and a single aluminum shed), and from where we stood there wasn't even a road. It was just us and the wind.

I did my best to distract myself from the panic attack that was building in my brain by taking in the landscape: the harsh winds (did I mention it was REALLY fucking windy?) prevented any sort of tree from growing, but this being July in Southwest Alaska it was as green as it gets. The hills were covered in thick, rolling grass as green and verdant as a painting. It swayed and undulated hypnotically under the winds, and the shadows of clouds raced across its surface like ships on an ocean. The sky was a brilliant azure, so bright it bordered on pearlescent. It was like someone had re-tuned my vision and suddenly I was seeing in high definition.

5.09.2013

Ain't That America

I'm from a tiny Southern Illinois town. It's a good place to be from: growing up there I was safe from any serious crime (although it is a minor miracle I wasn't killed by a drunk driver, since that seems to be the official pastime) and I got a decent education despite not really applying myself. A lot of kids have it worse when it comes to the hometowns they fall into. But by far the best part of being from a tiny Southern Illinois town is that being from there means I'm no longer actually there. I escaped. I got a chance to get out and see that the world is not entirely composed of German-heritaged, surburban middle-class white people with a penchant for racism and Budweiser.


Don't get me wrong: I love my little hometown. My family is there. My best friends, some of the most wonderful and amazing people in the whole world, live in Southern Illinois. But as I've spent more time away from it I've gotten some perspective on how weird it can be, sort of like peeking behind a Norman Rockwell painting to see the canvas is actually kind of dry-rotted and gross. Case in point: 





5.08.2013

I am the Nostradamus of Pissing Your Pants

A year or two ago, I helped write this idea for a device that would shame your children out of wetting the bed by tweeting every time they peed:




And today I see that someone not only took us up on our million dollar idea, they made it an honest-to-god reality:


YOU HEAR THAT, VENTURE CAPITALISTS?! I GOT PLENTY OF GREAT IDEAS! 

5.07.2013

The Things You Think About as You're About to Die

At some of my poorest (financially and morally) moments, I sometimes wondered if I could "get lucky" and have some serious-but-not-fatal accident befall me so that I could sue the shit out of somebody and have my financial worries taken care of. Nevermind that in this scenario my financial worries are probably replaced with newer, more tragic worries like eating through a straw and pooping into bags for the rest of my life; in my head it was always something that was serious enough to give me a wicked scar or something but not too debilitating. I think for a brief time when the economy first crashed that became the new American Dream: surviving a horrific injury long enough to have your bills paid by someone else.

This morning I had the opportunity to cash in. Turns out my heart's not really in it (because it's still inside my body).

5.06.2013

Diary of Descent - February

January

February 2
10:30a
I really hope we didn't survive the end of the world just to freeze to death. Had to wait out last night in an abandoned bus. We've been lucky to not have any rain for a couple days, but without the moisture in the air warming things up the temperature has dropped below freezing. I had to physically pull my right eyelid open this morning; it had frozen shut in the night.

I don't know what the hell this is all for any more. I thought if I could get Val and I to safety everything would work itself out, but now I don't even know where she is and I'm not sure there's such a thing as a safe place in the world any more.

Valerie, wherever you are, I miss you. I'm so sorry I left. 

February 2
2:30p

We took way too long to get moving today, and Donovan's starting to feel better but the cold nights really take a toll on him so it's slow going. I floated the idea of heading back to the gas station just in case the rest of the group is somehow waiting there. Matt and Donovan's silence said more than enough. I can't ask them to risk their lives for this, but I also can't just give up on Val and leave. She might be hurt. God, she might be trapped somewhere with those things snarling and howling at her, just waiting it out. 


I need to think about something else for awhile.

Why Me?

Not only am I intrigued to find out if anyone actually clicks on this sort of thing, but I'm also offended that somehow some Facebook view-tracking algorithm decided this sort of thing might appeal to me.


4.30.2013

I Nearly Spit Coffee on My Monitor

It says a lot about how dumb I am that my first thought upon seeing this was, "What the hell did I do to piss off Phillip Seymour Hoffman?"


4.27.2013

Pocket Theater is Go!

One of the few things I've found lacking in my adoptive hometown, Seattle, is the lack of a cohesive comedy scene. Sure the stand-ups run in pretty tight circles, but for my particular vein of long-form improv and sketch comedy, the scene has been tougher for me to find.

Luckily one of the few people I have met is my pal Clayton, who is one of those extremely rare blends of "awesome and fun creative person" and "guy with actual business acumen who can make things happen." A couple months ago he floated this wild and crazy idea to me of leaving his job as the head of one of Seattle's top tech start-ups to start a theater. Immediately I started daydreaming about what it might be.

One of the things I miss the most about living in Los Angeles is the community hub that was always around the UCB theater and the little black boxes around town where people were performing. I haven't found that kind of vibe in Seattle yet, which is why I'm so pumped about the possibility of the Pocket Theater. Check it out!

If you can find it in your heart to give some money, even a couple bucks, it will go a long way towards helping Seattle artists and mean a lot to me personally. Anyone who knows me personally knows I don't usually do stuff like this, and I hope that says something about how much I love this project. We hit 50% in our first four hours of fundraising, and so far we've averaged over $1,000/hour in donations. 

Please consider donating, spreading the word, or both. And let me know when you do so I can buy you a beer sometime and tell you how awesome you are.

4.12.2013

4.01.2013

So Long, and Thanks for All the Clickies

Zug.com, the World's Only Comedy Site and first place to pay me actual real money for writing comedy, shut down today at midnight. I had kind of migrated away from the board there, mainly because I had to if I wanted to hold down a job, but for most of 2005 - 2006 it was like a home away from home for me and the first place to really make me feel like I could get somewhere writing for the internet.

Not only that, but the stuff I wrote there basically comprised my entire "portfolio" when I applied at Woot, which was then acquired by Amazon, who moved us all out to Washington so they wouldn't have to pay taxes to Missouri and bribed us with stocks for all our trouble. So it's no real stretch to say Zug helped propel me to the West Coast and helped me buy a house. We made a video to commemorate the occasion, and it's really neat to see how many people came together over a goofy website.

I was going to share it, but I don't really have their permission and it confirms every stereotype about creepy internet communities and how much we need to get out in the sun and stop playing online. So instead I just wanted to thank John Hargrave again for building Zug and letting us all play.


3.30.2013

First Time Home Owner: The Worst Part of Waking Up

There's always something to scare you when you're a home owner. Fires, for instance, are very scary. Although I suppose they're pretty scary to anyone regardless of their living situation. Flooded basements are terrifying, as are holes in your roof. You basically become a furtive property manager, praying to whatever gods you believe in that nothing will assault your castle and inflict damage or, even worse, cost money to fix. 

But these fears all fall by the wayside when compared to the ultimate terror: the break-in.


3.28.2013

The Cow Song

"I don't think people appreciate cows as much as I do." Truer words have never been spoken, pal.


3.20.2013

Now You Know Your ABCs

I hope you're happy.


Diary of Descent - January

I wrote this thing over there. Now I'll write it over here.

December

January 1
7:30a

I was going to write "Happy New Year," but then I realized I'm not 100% sure I've even got my days straight. I haven't exactly kept a calendar over the last few months while the whole world went to shit. 

It's so weird to think about. I mean, with all the stuff that's happened since July, with people turning into monsters and killing each other and having to escape my city...the stuff that freaks me out the most are little things like that. Is anyone still keeping time?

3.18.2013

Top 5 Worst UFC Entrance Anthems

We were at some friends' place over the weekend watching the big UFC Scuffle-Fest or whatever they call them (side-note: do not invite a bunch of internet comedy writers to your Fight Night party if you want to actually watch the fight in any kind of serious way) when we started taking side bets on whether or not the next fighter's entrance theme would be butt-rock from the '90s, versus butt-rock from the '00s. Butt rock has a long and proud association with fringe sports like your various X-games and backyard wrestling and whatnot, so there was plenty of Godsmack or Puddle of Mudd or Drowning Pool or whatever. Of course it got us thinking about what we'd choose as entrance music. 

What we came up with was pretty much a list of the worst best songs to accompany a UFC fighter entering the ring to pummel another man into blood jelly. (You might want to mute the left video for maximum effect)

Leonard Cohen - Chelsea Hotel No. 2 
Hot Butter - Popcorn
Herb Alpert - Spanish Flea
Sweet Charity - Hey Big Spender
Stan Getz - The Girl from Ipanema

Got a better one? Let's hear it! Lemme know in the comments.

3.15.2013

Let's Snuggle

I surf the internet. A lot. Too much, probably, but if I didn't then I wouldn't learn about stuff like a Cuddle Cafe in Japan, where you can pay money to lie next to a real, live, GIRL. For 20 minutes. With no touching or kissing or anything. But still. A GIRL.

I can only imagine the gnarly, unwashed, barely-human types of people who will show up to plunk down money for a chance just to occupy a bed with a probably-very-afraid Japanese woman. I can't decide if I would rather be a cuddle slut or just a regular ol' prostitute. At least the prostitute can write salacious blogs for the Wall Street Journal or tell-all books or something. Who the hell cares about Snuggle Johns? "Oh, some really weird dudes come into your business where you charge money to lie your head down on their lap? DO TELL."

Then I learned it's not just a "LOL, Japan" thing. There's a place in Rochester, NY called The Snuggery where one of two not-very-attractive women will happily provide you with the "physical benefits of non-sexual touch" for a modest fee. And I say not-very-attractive not to belittle these women (okay, kind of to belittle them) but to point out that there are plenty of people offering FREE snuggling all over the world who can't get any takers due to some sort of physical or psychological abnormality that makes people just not want to cuddle up to them. I can get "run of the mill" snuggling anywhere, lady. If I'm paying, I want to snuggle with a hottie, "non-sexual touch" be damned. 

My wife, after rolling her eyes and bemoaning the state of humanity, joked that I'd be great at this. 

"Yeah, you're awesome at snuggling. I'd pay top dollar for your snugs." It got me thinking. I'm certainly not too proud to sell my body, and I just like attention no matter who's giving it to me. Maybe I am cut out to be a cuddle slut. Cuddling only, of course, no funny stuff, but why not? An idea formed in my head.

"Okay, what if I start a cuddle club, but I also capitalize on Seattle's obsession with food trucks!" Kat stared at me, dumbfounded. "You know, a snug truck!" Still no response. "It'd just be a conversion van with a mattress in the back, and I could pull up to different business neighborhoods on lunch breaks and, y'know, snuggle people. For money."

She didn't say no, but to be fair she still hasn't said much of anything. 

This is Why I Have Trouble Making Friends

I was out for a walk the other day when a guy in a car flagged me down as I crossed an intersection.

"Hey! Hey, excuse me!" he seemed friendly enough, probably a little younger than me and looking scruffily-unshaven with a beanie. Pretty typical Northwestern vibe.

"What's up?"

"Can you tell me where the community college is?" I wasn't a hundred percent sure, namely because "the community college" isn't a very specific location in a city like Seattle with multiple colleges around, but I assumed he meant the one in my neighborhood.

"Yeah, it's actually behind you. Stay on this street but turn around and cross the highway, you'll run right into it." He gave me a dubious look.

"Are you sure?" Well...no, now that I think about it. I mean, I know there's a community college across the highway, and I know this road crosses the highway, so I just sort of assumed he'd see it if he took my advice. But now he had me second-guessing myself.

"Uh, yeah."

"I thought it was that way," he points North.

"No, man, it's definitely across the highway," I turn to walk away, satisfied that I've given this stranger enough of my time and assistance.

"Are you sure, I'm almost positive it's up that way," he yells after me. I roll my eyes. If you're so sure why the hell are you asking me? We've now established one of two things: either I have no idea where the community college is and I'm lying to this guy (possible), or this guy just doesn't trust me and won't accept my directions no matter how emphatically I try to direct him towards the community college. Either way, it seems pointless for him to now try to convince me of the location of said community college, especially when with our opening exchange we determined he doesn't really know where it is either.

"Well fuck, man, go that way then and quit bothering me about it." I walk off, incensed that someone could have the gall to ask for help and then dare to question my, in all honesty, less-than-perfect confidence in my answer. He speeds off in the direction he was pointing and flips me the bird.

"ASSHOLE!"

I hope he's late for class.

2.26.2013

No, I Do Not Want to Sell Insurance

I'm job hunting. It's pretty stressful, but I think that's the case for most everyone who's ever hunted for a job. I'm not going about things the smart way and looking for a new opportunity while I'm safely and securely employed already; no I'm looking for a new gig while not having any paycheck coming in and a mortgage to pay. I think the hardest part of unemployment is the swirling race of panic that can sometimes strike when you're not ready for it as every second that ticks off the clock feels like it's wasted because you should've gotten a job by now. So you set a routine: you get up early, you exercise, you eat something, and you send out resumes. You call staffing agencies. You post helpful reminders on Facebook and LinkedIn in case any of your friends know someone who's looking to hire. And the whole while you have this imaginary pile of your remaining money in your head and it's on fire.

But just when things are looking bleak, you get an email! You hope against hope that it's a response from a potential employer, that someone has deemed you worthy of, at the very least, a 15 minute phone conversation to determine if you're worth talking to in person. A choir of angels sing! Light casts down on you from the heavens, illuminating your very soul! You might just be employable after all! You gleefully click the subject line, which reads something like "Re: Your Resume on Monster," and are greeted with...

A canned form letter asking you to apply to be an insurance salesman.

2.25.2013

First Time Home Owner: Damn That Drip!

If you didn't already know, I recently bought a house. My wife and I agree that this is by far the most grown up and terrifying decision we've ever made, and firmly secures our status as white yuppies no longer able to be cool and hip like our apartment-dwelling friends who cannot possibly fathom anchoring themselves down with a house. But so far home ownership has been pretty nice; I've even painted a room four fucking times! It still doesn't feel completely real to me; there's no graduation ceremony or singular moment where you feel yourself ascending from responsibility-free renter to home owner, and we were in our last place long enough that it still kinda feels like we're on vacation or something.

But last night I learned the true plight of the home owner: the random drip.

2.19.2013

How Do You Achieve Internet Stardom?

Since I've recently become an expert on achieving internet super-stardom, I figured I'd pass along some tips so that you, the not internet famous plebeian, can fight your way to the upper echelons like me.

See, the trick is content. You've got to generate captivating, engaging content that people will not only seek out but pass on, share, and comment on. 

Like these guys.