Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Gojira Diary

Dear Diary.

That's how this is supposed to start, right?  My parents got me this thing to hold my thoughts now that I'm out of high school and moving to Japan. (Japan!  SO excited!)  They also got me a phone.  Something went wrong with my Instagram filters, though.  Every picture comes out in black and white.

Selfie time!
Pardon the goofy look on my face.
Dear Diary.

First day in Japan.  Man, everything here is tiny.  I can barely fit into my room with the door closed.

Me in my new pad.
Had to get out and ground myself.  Decided to hit the mall.  Everything's expensive, but YOLO, amirite?

Tried some noodles for lunch.  They said it was Ramen, but I ate a ton of that in college and this was completely different.

Thicker than I'm used to.
Went to a spa.  The guy said the oxygen destroyer bath would help me lose weight.  What do you think?

Too much?
Dear Diary.

Made a new friend!  His name is Angiurus.  Hope I spelled that right.  He's also new in Japan.  Thought we'd hang a bit.
Hangin with my new bud.
Dear Diary.

Had a fight with Angi-whatever his name was.  He decided he "needed some space."  Like we're dating or something.  Do I give off a gay vibe or something?

Got a new job working at an ice rink.  The Japanese skate!  Go figure.  Crap job, but at least I don't have to wear a uniform.

Wage slave.
Dear Diary.

Spoke to my parents.  They're worried about me.  I've been pretty morose on Skype.  No friends.  Crap job.  They said they'd pay for me to see a therapist.

I picked someone out of the phone book. (remember phone books?)  Doctor Ghidorah.  Told him how much Japan sucked.  How sad I was.

I don't like the looks he gives me.
He said it was probably culture shock.  I should take time to get adjusted.  Seems like good advice.

Dear Diary.

OMGOMGOMG!  I met a girl!  A HOT girl!  She was walking down the street and I was walking down the street and she looked at me and I looked at her and like.

CLICK.  We just happened.  Spent the whole day talking.

We have a lot in common.  She's from Infant Island.  So we're both new to Japan.

Did I mention she's a model.  A model!  Here's some of her runway work.
10 out of 10 on the hottie scale.
Her name is Mothra.  No last name.  Like Madonna.  Or Moby.

I sent this selfie to all my friends from high school.
Cuddling with my best girl!
Eat that Miss "I'm going to college so I don't want to be tied down" Rodan.

Dear Diary.


Thought things were going well with Mothra, but...

Okay, I fucked it up.  She invites me over to her place and just springs it on me.  She's got these two little girls.
They don't look anything like her, either.
Who springs that shit on a guy!?

Anyway, I lost it.  Right in front of her kids.  We had a fight.  She dumped me.

Dear Diary.

Saw Dr. Ghidorah again.  Told him about Mothra.  He says "What part of  'take your time to get adjusted' didn't you understand?"

Dear Diary.

Met a guy named Kong. He was like "Nice to meet you.  How are you?"  And I went all verbal diarrhea over Mothra.  And he was all "Bros before ho's, amirite?"  And I laughed.  First time I laughed in a week.
Dancing with my homeboy!
He's got this weird robot in his apartment.  Looks just like him.  I asked him what it was for and he just winked.
Dear Diary.

Ran into Mothra.  I apologized.  She started crying.  We made up.

Okay, we're dating again.  It's hard to accept the kids thing, but DAMN she's hot, amirite?!
Finally got the color filter working on Instagram.
Dear Diary.

Mothra insisted on changing my "look."  Cut my hair.  Made me buy new clothes.  How do I look?
I look like an asshole.  I look like a bag of assholes.
Kinda embarrassed to go out during the day.

Dear Diary.

Mothra dumped me again.  For good.  Said we weren't "sexually compatible."  Guess she saw the robot.
Can't believe Kong got me to buy that stupid thing.
Dear Diary.

I just couldn't handle another day of working on ice, worrying if I'm going to run into Mothra again, trying to make the rent.  I moved back to San Francisco.
Me on the Golden Gate Bridge!  Do I look fat?
It's expensive, but I'm sharing it with two roommates.
I think they're a little... Gay.
Here's to starting over!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Kids Are Back in School To Do List

Things I can do now my kids aren't around all day

Eat in a restaurant
Eat sitting down at a table
Eat with utensils

Read a book that isn't about Ash Ketchum
Watch a show that isn't Pokemon: Indigo League
Play a game that isn't Pokemon Go

See friends
See movies
See friends' movies

See the carpets again
See my feet again
See my face again
See my wife again

Nap in the afternoon
Nap in the morning
Nap in the middle of the night

See the doctor about those voices that tell me to drink cleaning fluid
See the pharmacist about the pills that make the voices stop talking
See tomorrow

Listen to the radio
Choose the channel on the radio
Dare to turn the radio on


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ebenezer Macintosh

Today, I'd like to talk about the  Revolutionary War hero Ebenezer Macintosh.  We all know about his activity in anti-British mobs in the 1760s, his controversial appointments as town sealer-of-leather, and his later decline into poverty as he...

Wait, you don't know who Ebenezer Macintosh was?

Neither do I.  Well, I should say "Neither did I."

Let me take you back to the late 80s.  New York Seltzer and Max Headroom were still around.  The Reagan Era was fading into the First Bush Era (or, as we called it, the "Oh my God, I can't believe there's going to be four more years of this" era.)  Member's Only jackets were still almost cool.

I went to Beloit College and, needing to fulfill a history requirement, I took Early American History.  I mostly remember the teacher.  She was proudly and vocally Native American.
She had a poster like this on her wall.
She also had a weird idea on how to give out assignments.  On one biography assignment, she gave us a list of important Revolutionary War figures to write about.  Each student had to pick a different one.  I was nervous about the assignment as I hadn't heard of half of them.  I called my parents.

My parents: Why don't you ask her for a specific one before class?
Me: That wouldn't be fair.

The day came and she read off the names.  We raised our hands if we wanted to write about them, and she picked who got whom.

I raised my hand for Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams.  They went to other students.  Daniel Webster and Pocahontas went to students who raised their hands faster.  Dorothea Dix and Paul Revere also went to others.

I panicked.  I scanned the list of names, but they were assigned before I could remember who they were.  Finally, I raised my hand and just held it up.  I got Ebenezer Macintosh.

I approached my teacher after class.

Me: Who the fuck is Ebenezer Macintosh?
Professor: I don't know.  Why didn't you ask for a specific figure before class?

But I had an ace in the hole: my father, who taught Early American literature.  I called and asked for his help.

Me: What can you tell me about Ebenezer Macintosh?
Father:  Who?

I hit the library.  That was how you did research back in the 80s.  You went to the card catalog and scanned every single book you could find. I spent weeks searching both the Beloit library and the giant one at the University of Illinois.

I found the following information:

  • He was a cobbler.
  • He organized riots.
  • He put a boot in his window as a sign it was time to riot.
Some day, when you're bored, try writing a five-page biography with just those three facts.

I explained the problem to my teacher.  She sympathized, told me she'd remove the name from next year's list, and promised she'd be lenient when grading.

I got a D.

Yesterday, I thought back on my Macintosh Experience (now a software package available from the Apple Store).  On a whim, I did a web search on Ebenezer Macintosh.
Yeah, I use Bing.  Bite me.
Elapsed time: five seconds.  Note how many results.
Twelve thousand.  Twelve thousand. Twelve thousand.

Nope, doesn't matter what the font is.  I still want to find my old teacher and kick her in the shins.

And no, those aren't twelve thousand (Twelve thousand? Nope, still in a kicking mood.) results of "He was a cobbler."  There's an extensive Wikipedia page.
"Well, he was a cobbler who organized riots..."
Even the slideshows had more information than every library in the midwest in the 80s. 
"He put a shoe in the window."

"He always complained that they 'Ne'er had enough window boots.'"
I found a reference to his career as a "sealer of leather" that wasn't explained.  It took me an additional twenty seconds to find out what that meant.

This came from my second search.  The first search yielded a list of epoxies.
That additional search in the 80s would have taken me several hours.

When I've been a teacher, I told my students to avoid Wikipedia.  I told them to use the library as much as possible and to get information from books and journals.
Yeah, fuck that shit.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Most Awesome Way to Commit Suicide

I understand that while suicide is funny to a lot of people (a heck of a lot of people) it isn't funny to everyone. If this post is going to upset you, feel free to skip this blog post.

No, no.  It's okay.  Go ahead.  You can come back next week.  I'll be talking about puppies and rainbows and things that make me cry at movies.

So, let's say you're going to kill yourself.  I don't know what your motivation is, but (in order to maintain the humorous tone of my blog) let's assume you're killing yourself because you're just too awesome.

Almost happened to me, once.
How do you kill yourself a way that befits your awesomeness in life?  How do you make a mark on the world with your death that's equivalent to the mark you made in life?

Other than the obvious.
I've puzzled over this ever since I was an impetuous youth in a suicide-metal band.

Suicide Metal is like Death Metal with creepier groupies.
At first, I thought the best way to go is to stand on top of a pile of gunpowder-filled barrels and light them.  But there's many logistical problems, the least of which is the visit you'll get from Homeland Security when they realize you're amassing 1000 Metric Tonnes of black powder.

The most of which is that the character Longinus does it in the 90s TV series Roar.
Then I hit upon the idea of freaking out the coroner.  Now, before you get upset at me, keep in mind the following facts about coroners:

  • They need excitement.
    "Hey, Fred.  What'cha doing today?"
    "I dunno.  Maybe sit around and stare at the freezers full of dead guys."
  • They deserve being humiliated.
    "Hey, Fred.  What'cha doing today?"
    "Thought I'd tattoo I'm a loser on this guy's face.  Freak the family out during the funeral."
  • They need to be kept occupied.
    "Hey, Fred.  What'cha doing today?"
    "I've got nothing to do butd rain the blood of seven corpses to perform Satanic rituals."

How do you freak them out?  Easy. Stack so many methods of suicide together they'll never figure out what did you in.  I spent a few minutes reading the available research on suicide and came up with a method.  You'll need:

  • A gun
    With at least one bullet
  • Rope
    A long one, tied into a noose
  • A dose of extremely strong drugs
    Ten times as much as you can safely take
  • A can of gas
    Or kerosene
  • A train schedule


  • Find a bridge over train tracks and get there half an hour before the train comes.
  • Tie the rope to the bridge and put the other end around your neck.
  • Take the drugs (enough in advance you'll feel yourself blacking out as the train arrives).
  • Pour the gas over yourself.
  • Put the gun in your mouth.
  • Jump.
  • Shoot yourself on the way down.
If you planned it right, the gunshot will ignite the gas.  You should be shot, hung, poisoned, immolated, and crushed by the train all at the same time.  If you did it right, every newspaper on earth will cover your death instead of the five mass shootings that happened that day.  If you did it right, you'll keep the coroners busy for years.

Okay, next week we'll focus on puppies, rainbows, and what makes me cry at movies.

Oh, wait, I already did that.  Back to the offensive humor, then.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Comedy Lessons: Sketches

This week's lesson on comedy (hopefully helping to grow my meager toolbox* of humor tools) is about writing sketch comedy.  I'm a few chapters into Jenny Roche's Comedy Writing, and I've become disillusioned.  There isn't much on how to be funny.  I'm sure there are many people out there who would benefit on lessons on how to sell your comedy, write in the correct format, and so on.  It's just that my problem is I'm not funny, and I need to be funny.

Oh well.  I'll keep trying.  At some point, I will look down at one of the eggs I've laid and see a great chicken of comedy hatch forth.

So, let's get going.

Exercise 1: Study a radio sketch show and a television sketch show.
Me as a 2 year old: Do I have to?
Jenny Roche: You love humor.
Me: I want to finish my novel!
Her: Honey, you've been writing your novel for literally twenty years!
Me: But it's almost finished!
Her: No it isn't!
Me: It's almost almost finished!
Her: No.
Me: Okay, it's almost almost almost finished.
Her: Close enough.  How about you think about sketch shows you watched in the past?  Can you think of any?
Me: Monty Python.  Saturday Night Live.
Her: What about for radio?
Me: Rush Limbaugh.
Her: No.
Me: The Bob and Ray Show?
Her: Close enough.  There isn't much funny on the radio anymore.  Just Michael Krasny.  There's podcasts....
Me: Ugh.

Exercise 2: Come up with premises for five radio sketches podcasts.

Who has time to listen to podcasts?

Exercise 3: Come up with premises for five four television sketches.
Made Fresh
A man and a woman meet at a bar.  He introduces himself as "Fresh."  He's upset because he's just been laid off from his cushy job as a chef.  He explains he works for a large food service corporation just sitting on the floor where the food is made.  He legally changed his name to "Fresh Ingredients" so they could claim their food was "Made with Fresh Ingredients."  They fired him because they hired a guy named "Fresh Daily."

First World Nooooo Theater
People from the audience recount their (minor) annoyances from their lives.  Some examples:
  • Getting a parking ticket because the meter was broken.
  • Waiting in line for food and having it run out just as they got to the front.
  • Not being able to go to a movie because the babysitter doesn't show up.
At the end of each piece, a clip from a movie is played where a character screams "Noooooo!"

Stephen King for Kids
Note: Of course this requires Mr. King's participation.  Can be switched with any other horror author or an actor pretending to be creepy and reading made up stories.

Stephen King reads a truncated version of his stories to a group of small children.  When the kids start to freak out, a more cheerful author or character jumps in and changes the story.  Some examples:

  •  The Shining: In the end, the Torrance family throws a big party for the ghosts who go away happily ("Until next year!").
  • Christine: The car has bad brakes and repeatedly crashes before it can hurt anyone.
  • Carrie: After the bad kids dump cherry Kool-Aid on her head at the prom, she uses her powers to spank them.
The author grows increasingly agitated until he storms out in disgust.  The kids reveal themselves to be monsters in disguise and attack the cheerful guy.

Modern Twilight Zone
Stories with terrifying, twist endings that are immediately undone by modern technology.
  • Teens are chased by a monster until they call 911 on their cell phones.
  • A couple lost on an endless, mystical highway, turn on the GPS and find their way back.
  • A man visited by horrifying visions takes antipsychotic medication and they go away.

Aaaaaaand I'm going back to my novel.

*Meager Toolbox was my nickname in high school.