5.28.2009

Book Update: First Edition Books Shipping Next Week


A quick update for those of you who have ordered the first Mentally Incontinent book:

Remainders are beginning to ship to me, and will be here middle to end of next week. I had about 20 copies on hand, and those have gone out - so I'll begin shipping out the orders that haven't been filled yet as the remainders arrive. However, I'm going to be out of town until Thursday of next week (June 4), so if you haven't gotten your book yet, look for it after that date. Andrea may package some up and ship them out if she gets the chance, though. Just rest assured - if you ordered one, you'll get one. 

And now, A quick update for those of you who haven't yet ordered the first Mentally Incontinent book:

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!? How can you let this last chance to own The Book The Internet Built? There's less than 100 copies left - IN EXISTENCE! 

After the remainders come back to me and are shipped out, that's it. There are no more orange first-edition Mentally Incontinent books. If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, Penguin Books bought the rights to the first Mentally Incontinent book last week - meaning it may be re-released by them in about 2 years, but if it is, it'll be much different than the edition I designed, wrote, and published myself. 

You can no longer get it from Amazon or any bookstores, only through me - and only while supplies last (and they're beginning to not last so long anymore). So get off your duff and order a copy

5.27.2009

Fine, CNN, If You're Going To Be Like That...

Damn you CNN! I thought we was boys! I thought we was down like four flat! Tight like hallways, tighter than fades!

Oh yeah? Well, why the HELL didn't you call ME for this article on sneaker collecting? I mean, shit... I live right down the road from you. You've used me in articles before... What the hell, man? You know I pay insane amounts of money for old school kicks... And the rest of the internet knows it too! Who better to feature in your article? 

This is a diss, man. Straight up. See if I invite you to my next barbeque... I'm totally erasing you from my favorites on my phone. 

But yeah, I am a sneakerhead. The British Knights that arrived last week makes the 115th pair of sneakers I own. I am a huge sucker for reissues of shoes that either a) I had growing up (4 or 5 pairs) or b) I really, really wanted but couldn't afford (the rest of them). When I was a little kid, we were poooooooooooooooor. My mom could afford a new pair of shoes once a year, and they were always the "not quite the cheapest but almost there" shoes from K-mart, like Traxxx or McGregor. I'd wear holes in the damn things within 6 weeks, and had to duct tape them together. 

When I figured out how to start a lawn mower, around age 12, I began mowing lawns for extra money during the summer. I'd always use that money to buy a fly pair of kicks and some sort of Starter something-or-another, usually emblazoned with the Cincinnati Bengals logo. I can name every single pair of shoes I owned from age 12 until I graduated high school. 

I once got in-school suspension for beating up three guys who conspired to steal my CB94's (Charles Barkley's 94 Nike Air). They stole them out of my locker during PE my junior year in high school. I literally threatened every single kid in school until I finally found out it was them. 

I was an office aide for three of the four years I was in high school, so I had access to all sorts of awesome privileges. One of my jobs was to deliver messages to students left by their parents during the day. So during my office period (I believe it was first period that year), I went to each of their classrooms, said that they needed to go to the office, and escorted each one of them to the boys' restroom and beat the holy hell out of them, one by one. I should have been suspended for at least 10 days. But that's the beauty of being an office aide. I got three days of in-school. 

Unfortunately, they'd already sold them off to some guy, so I never got them back. But they were reissued in 2006, and I bought all three color variations. See, that's the beauty of being an adult with a job - you get to buy your childhood back whenever you want. 

5.26.2009

Prop 8 Upheld - A Victory, But For The Wrong Reasons

Prop 8 was just upheld in California.

The courts made the right decision. They decided that state's rights mattered more than federal mandate, and that each state has the right to decide these matters for themselves. This is the RIGHT CALL.

Unfortunately, the Religious Right and moral conservatives everywhere are going to chalk this up as a moral victory. And it's not - it's disgusting, wrong, stupid and about twenty other adjectives. I've written time and time again about how stupid it is that homosexuals can't get married, and I think it's absolutely gross that Prop 8 was victorious during voting.

But now that it's voted, the state - as a whole - has spoken. And the Federal government has no right to change it. So I applaud the victory for state's rights that took place today... And find myself sick as I type this, because I'm in an auto mechanic's lobby with Fox News playing on the tv, and everyone BUT me is cheering and hi-fiving for the decision. They're co-opting the victory for their moral convictions. I want to stand up and scream "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?" and I know it'll go nowhere. I won't reach them.

5.22.2009

Super Huge Joe's Book Announcement, For Realz


*DRUMROLL*

Penguin has purchased the rights to the first Mentally Incontinent book. This is over and above the book deal we already struck for the new Mentally Incontinent book.

I know, right?

Lots of questions, I'm sure. So I'll go in order of the questions I asked when we began talking about the deal.

Why:

Well, the much-shorter-than-it-could-be version is that, quite simply, both books are titled Mentally Incontinent. Both books are created by the users who voted on the stories that go into them. Both books were born from the same website.

The first book sold a bunch of copies to a bunch of supportive people, who found me strictly through word-of-mouth and on the web. The new book will be on store shelves and marketed by Penguin to new folks.

Naturally, if you are brand new to the wonderful orange-tinted world that is Joe, there will be confusion
when you look for the books on Amazon and at the bookstore. The other side of it is that I self-published my first book, and Penguin is publishing my second. So, this makes me a competitor to my own publisher when people have to make a choice between which book to buy.

So to eliminate all the possible goofiness, Penguin bought the rights to the first book.

What this means for...

The Book itself:

Well, first and foremost, the first book is going out of print. Like, as of now. It will no longer be for sale through major bookstores and Amazon / Buy.com / etc. as of next week (whenever they sell out of their current stock, or return it all to me, whichever comes first). This means there will be no more new copies of the first book (as it exists currently or how I created it, at least). So, if you have an orange-cover copy... You now have a collector's item. And if you have a hardcover, you have a double-super-limited collectors item, as those were limited only to the pre-order buyers and have been out of print for the past 3 years (and before you ask, no, there are no more :) You'll have to resort to eBay, if ever someone decides to sell theirs)

Now, if you don't have a copy of the first book, there's one last shot to get one - I have about 220 copies that are coming back to me as "remnant stock" from stores / Amazon / etc, now that it's coming off the shelves. And I can clear these out myself, direct to you, but after that - they're gone. No more until Penguin publishes the first book (IF they publish it), which will be at least two years from now (18 months after the new Mentally Incontinent comes out, which will be November 3, 2009), and even then, it'll be an entirely different format - new cover, possibly changed content. So if you want a copy of the first book as it was created by the readers, now's your last chance.

I've reopened the MI shop page for just the book, and you guys can order it from there. So if you want one (or two) before they're gone, either:

a) Buy it now, or
b) email me to reserve a copy

Don't comment, don't DM me on Twitter, don't send me a Facebook message, and don't PM me on Mentally Incontinent. EMAIL me. Only purchases through the shop page and
email reservations will be honored, in that order. First come, first served, until they're gone.

Email reservations will be held for 7 days, after that, I gotta sell them. Sorry guys.

Also, I have some orange and grey hoodies left. If you want one, email me your size and you get one. No catches, if I have your size, it's yours just for ordering a book. :)


The actual stories:

The stories that are on this website right now can stay where they're at, and the Google Books version will stay up until either Penguin or I re-publish it and replace it with the new version. So it's not like it's going to vanish into thin air - the project you helped me build still exists, and everyone can still read it.



Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Well, I don't think it's a bad thing. I now have another book through Penguin, which is a good thing. And if the new book sells well enough, they're going to publish it and promote it, which is a good thing. Yeah, paper / e-book versions aren't going to be available for a while, and that could be considered a bad thing, but the Google Books version is still up - and that's a good thing.

So overall, I think it's a very positive thing. What do you guys think?

5.21.2009

Ya, I'm Rockin' BK's... How Ya Like Me Now?



Yep. Those are British Knights I am holding. How 'ya like me now?

I had this exact shoe in 7th grade (circa 1989 or so), but it was black and white. A few days ago, I saw the re-release in my trademark colors on a vintage sneaker site and absolutely had to have them. So now I do. So what. Don't judge me. Whatever. I do what I want.

Check out this fantastic commercial for them:




That song (not even the real "How Ya Like Me Now" - the BK version in the video above) is forever lodged in my head. It brings me back to finer days. And of course, there's the one with MC Hammer:



SEE! MC Hammer endorsed them! That's how fucking great they were... For like 2 years.

British Knights were one of several brands of shoe that got SUPER hot, then died a quick death of such horrific proportions that it didn't matter how new they were, you simply did NOT wear them once they fell out of style (LA Gear is another brand that I can think of that fell in this category at the time). You'd get your ass kicked if you wore them (and not just because wannabe gangbangers who thought they were Bloods took offense). It was almost worse than wearing those awful K-Mart McGregor shoes... At least those were consistently awful. Wearing BK's after, say, 1990 was tantamount to being a poser.

Of course, I mowed yards all fucking summer to get them, so I wore them anyway. Fuck style, I liked them. Still do. Which is why I'm rockin' them in the aught nine. I just might bring back the high top fade while I'm at it.

And yep. That's Tegan and Sara I'm listening in the background.

I'm a girlyboy artjock. What do you want from me?

5.20.2009

Hey Creative Types... Watch This

Yeah, I know it's been a few days since my last post, but some interesting (hold on, let's make that INTERESTING) things have been going on this week. I'll be announcing one of them Friday, and the other in the coming weeks (this second one is the "Next Big Thing" announcement I promised when I reached 600 Twitter followers, which happened approximately two months quicker than I thought it would - but who knew that I picked the precise moment of the rising tide of Twitter becoming a trend to do that?)

But anyway, the point of this thing:

I want you, whether or not you're a creative type, to watch this fantastic TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert ("Eat, Pray, Love"). It's important to me that you do. I can't really explain why it's important to me, except that she really nails how I feel about creativity in a way I could never possibly relate to you. So thank god for the Embed tag:





Now, I don't necessarily think that genius / creativity / whatever are ethereal forces that exist external to us and work through us... That's kinda silly. I can't suspend my disbelief enough to believe exactly that. But I've ALWAYS thought that ideas are things we do not and cannot own. They're not ours. They float on the air everywhere, and we encounter them. In fact, I'm going to say that this happens to us hundreds of times every single day.

The thing is, we rarely if ever recognize these things as ideas or concepts, they're just things. A funny video of a cat playing a keyboard after a guy whacks himself in the nuts with nunchucks. This is not an idea to us. It's just a thing. Same with articles about swine flu, or a Tesla coil playing Rock Me Amadeus. They're consumable bits of media, entertainment, education, information, or just pleasant noises.

To me, this is because our conscious mind is like a radio, tuned to a particular program, and the rest of everything around it just exists with it. Sometimes that program is work, sometimes it's play, and sometimes it's "God, all I want to do is veg out on the couch and watch this Seinfield rerun."

But every so often, our little personal radios are tuned in to a frequency where the stuff we consume and interact with turns from "stuff" to actual ideas. We see the constructs behind it (or rather, feel them). We get something from them that isn't usually what we get - we see this stuff as building blocks rather than "stuff."

And sometimes, this happens without us even knowing it - we consume it now as "stuff", and later digest it as "idea." We get inspired, we write stuff or paint stuff or record stuff that relates what's going on in our head as an interpretation of all this ingestion, and voila. Creation.

This is why I don't hesitate to tell people my ideas, long before they are even close to existing. I share my concepts freely (or as freely as I can), because I don't see ANY ideas as my own. None of them. All I am is the voice that spoke it's name... That doesn't mean I gave birth to it, I just gave it something someone else can call it by.

Now, there are definitely times - like with this Next Big Thing announcement - that I keep it under wraps not because I don't want someone stealing the idea, but because sometimes surprise is just plain fun. I'm not holding back information right now because I'm afraid someone else may take it and run with it - if they do, they'll do it whether or not I do my version of it, so who cares who's first? But there's definitely something to be said about announcing a thing when it's ready to be announced. Once enough of it is together to start conveying the pictures and concepts in my head in a way that you'll actually see what it is I'm doing, rather than my asking you to please just imagine it.

But yeah, this talk is great. And I hope you enjoy it and get something from it.

5.14.2009

Martha Washington Goes To War... ALL OVER MY LEG

So, there was a good bit of confusion about my Twitter update yesterday that I was getting Martha Washington tattooed on my right shin.

Some people thought I meant "Martha Washington" as in "Wife of the first president of our United States":


Of course, this would look silly on my shin.

In fact, I meant THIS Martha Washington, from Give Me Liberty:


There now, not nearly as silly. Right?

Anyway, here's some pics, there'll be better, non-cellphone versions coming once we finish coloring the guns and laying in the background.






So now I have tributes to Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Dave Sim (Cerebus), and both Dave Gibbons and Frank Miller (Give Me Liberty) on me, with a Masamune Shirow tribute coming at the end of the month.

I am a walking copy of Wizard Magazine :)

5.12.2009

The Last Two Years In One Picture



The funny thing is, I bought this belt right around when I started really working out again, and was SO proud because I'd gone all the way down to a size 48. I used to be a 54 at my heaviest. Wow.

I knew I needed a new notch on it when, on a whim, I grabbed a pair of pants off a hanger I hadn't worn in, oh, 9 years or so, and tried them on and they FIT. And I knew they were 9 years old, cause they are Old Navy khakis that Andrea bought them for me as a birthday present in 2000, and they're the only Old Navy anything I own, and I couldn't ever bring myself to get rid of them.

SKINNY JEANS FTW

Come Get a Piece by Todo May 29-31!

If you've seen my Akira sleeve (yes, the one that was in Wired magazine), you already know that Todo is one of the top tattoo artists in the nation. His work is legendary. If you want a great example, here's a recent video I did for him, part two of an eight-part series showing a horror-themed sleeve:



And I'm excited to tell you that he's going to be at the Hell City Tattoo Convention May 29-31, and is welcoming my friends and readers to bring their show-quality pieces and sit in his chair at a specially discounted rate of $150 an hour for the length of the show!

If you've ever had something absolutely amazing you've wanted done, but haven't found the right person to do it, I encourage you to check out Todo's portfolio and come see us that weekend. I'll be in his chair for 8 hours on Friday getting the first part of my tribute to Shirow Masamune (Ghost in the Shell) done on my right arm, so Saturday and Sunday are both still open!

Email me or Todo if you're interested, and it's first-come, first-served, so I wouldn't dally if I were you.

Some of my favorite pieces of his:







5.11.2009

Everquest, WoW, and The Difference Beween "Doing Shit" and "Getting Shit Done"

I used to "play" Everquest.

For those who don't know what "Everquest" is, surely you've heard of World of Warcraft. Well, Everquest was the 1998 - 2002ish equivalent of WoW. It was the first 3D Massively Multiplayer game out there, taking the elements that made MUDs and Ultima Online and making them into polygons, thus sucking you in in a way you've never been sucked in before.

Now, for those of you who might get that these are "games", but don't understand what "playing Everquest" actually entails, and you don't play WoW or know anyone who does, let me enlighten you:

To play Everquest was to spend 8-10 hours a day sitting on your ass, pressing arrow keys and clicking a mouse as you steer a virtual you around a world filled with bad guys who cough up gold and items. As you acquire new items (say, a pretty stick), you show other people who run around this virtual world your new pretty stick, and they get jealous and go out in search of a new pretty stick like yours (or better). Meanwhile, someone else will show you their pretty stick, and you get jealous and go out trying to find one like theirs (or better). You get one, and show your friends, and their cycle starts all over again; meanwhile someone else gets a better stick and shows you and your cycle starts all over again.

Of course, there's more to it than that. Sometimes, it's a pretty earring; sometimes a shiny robe or new shield. But essentially, that's all the fuck it is. For 8-10 hours. A day.

Nothing's changed with World of Warcraft. At least, that's what I understand, as I have never played it. I quit Everquest for good in 2002, shortly after I spent a full two week vacation from work in front of my computer hunting for the biggest, shiniest stick in the game with a few other people who were equally pathetic as committed as I was to the game. My wife basically gave me a choice - continue to be her husband and ditch the game, or continue my marriage to the game and lose her.

I chose her. (Being honest, it wasn't as point blank as that, but she did sit me down and explain to me that what I was doing was not only unhealthy for me, but for our marriage, and I agreed).

Now, those of you who have been following my silly career will note that I began writing on the web in 2002. This is because I diverted my attention from spending hours upon hours in Everquest (and other games), and turned a long-time goal of mine into my new game. I decided to write a book, and put as many hours as I did the game into that goal.

The book got written. People actually read it. It was a fantastic moment in Joe's life.

It was also the moment I'd realized just how much time I'd spent "doing shit" in my life instead of "getting shit done."

I still play video games. I enjoy the hell out of them... In small chunks. There are times, such as when Fallout 3 or Oblivion came out, that I may actually spend an entire 8 -10 hours in a single day playing one game. But usually, at the end of that session, I begin feeling so guilty for putting off all the other crap on my list of things to do that I spend another three days after getting as much as I can done. Then I'll go back to my 2 or 3 hours of playing at a time.

Which brings me to my point, and it's one that could be controversial if anyone else cared:

I don't see anything inherently wrong with spending 8 hours a day playing a video game, so long as nothing else important in your life suffers as a result. If you're single and childless and that's how you choose to spend your time, so be it. If you are in a relationship, and you are able to manage that while playing the game, so be it. If you have children and are able to raise them -- CORRECTLY (i.e., so they don't talk in the fucking theater while I'm trying to watch Star Trek) -- so be it.

Just, please... Don't talk to me about how you wish you could be in shape, write a book, film a video series, build a boat, or anything else you could be doing with that time. Please don't. Because I'll hit you in the face with my fist and / or elbow. And I hit kinda hard, and I don't want to do that, because I really do want to like you. So don't fucking tell me about all your hopes and dreams you'll never fulfill because you choose not to.

Cause that's precisely what's happening: by choosing to spend x number of hours doing y, you actively choose NOT to spend x number of hours doing anything else. Period. There is no getting around it.

5.08.2009

Why the Stanley Cup Matters So Much

I've said it for years and years - the Stanley Cup Playoffs are not an event or a happening, they're a religion. They are the holiest two months in all of sports. There is no other sporting equivalent to the intensity, power, skill and importance of the quest for Lord Stanley's cup. But so many people I know ask me why? Why is it I put off EVERYTHING to see the playoffs, even if my team isn't involved?

Well, as an answer, I ask you a simple question in return:

Ever been ice skating?

I've been a few times. And while I wouldn't say that the actual act of skating on the ice is necessarily difficult -- it takes about 10 minutes to understand balancing on the skates, and another 10 to actually start doing laps around the rink -- I would say that getting beyond those two steps is a feat of athleticism. Going fast, stopping on a dime, skate control... They're skills that take a pretty good amount of time to develop.

Now, add in going backwards, and you've got a whole other level of difficulty.

Put on top of that one-footed steps, stop-and-start skating, the agility required by other sports such as football or soccer, and you've got a sport all by itself.

Now, put a stick in a guy's hand and ask him to control a tiny little four-inch puck with it. Not just move it around a bit, but keep everyone else in the world from getting it while you move it within a micrometer of exactly where you want it to be... While on the ice.

NOW, add the fact that it's okay to smash full-force into you when you have that puck - not to mention the skill it takes me to actually aim at you and hit you.

Combine all of this with the playmaking required to organize five men into an advancing squadron (or a defending squadron) to score points.

You've got a sport that requires the endurance of soccer, the agility of ice dancing, the strength and toughness of football... And we're not done yet - now, we're going to add in a full other sport into the mix -- Boxing. Because when you've pissed me off by taking a bad shot at me, or picking on a smaller player, it's okay for me to drop my gloves and come over and punch the shit out of you.

ON THE ICE.

NOW, do all of that across 82 games across 30 teams during the year to figure out who's going to get a chance to fight it out for this gigantic silver cup, and once you've figured this out, organize a tournament in which you must win AT LEAST 12 games to even see the finals, and have to win 16, against three other teams who also were good enough at hitting, dancing, puck handling, shooting, and fighting ON THE ICE, just to get your hands on that trophy. All in all, you're playing at least 16 games, and maybe as many as 28, to win that cup.

Makes the Super Bowl seem like prom, doesn't it?

And that's why the Stanley Cup matters so goddamn much.

5.07.2009

The Little Wars Within

The time I feel best during the day:
Right after a good workout.

The time I feel worst during the day:
Right before I work out.

The times I feel most accomplished:
When I've completed a big project (my books, a big website)

The times I feel least confident in myself:
Right before I start a big project (my books, a big website)

The times I feel most honest:
Right after I've told someone a truth I'd rather have lied about

The times I feel least honest:
That moment right before I open my mouth to tell someone something important, and I consider lying to them because I'd save myself drama both now and in the future

It's fucking annoying. But that's life, isn't it? A series of little battles. And even though our victories feel small at the time, it's the cumulative balance of the small things that lead up to a life well-lead. Everything, from choosing a salad over pizza for lunch to admitting you screwed up something big, stacks upon one another to make "you".

Be the "you" you want to be, and damn everyone and everything else, because at the end of the day, it's your face you see in the morning when you look in the mirror - and defeat is defined by those eyes looking back at you every day. Do good by them and everything else follows.

5.06.2009

"Yeah, sure... We're friends..."

I got the new Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection game for Xbox 360 today. Talk about a blast from the past...

What's really strange is the memories it conjures up. I myself was a Nintendo / SNES owner, but being a huge gaming nerd as a kid, I did whatever I could to reach out and experience as many platforms as I could. And there was one kid who lived in my neighborhood who had them ALL.

His name was Kenny, and he was a grade behind me in school. His parents won the lottery when I was in 8th grade, and they did everything they could to live the rich life short of moving the hell out of our poor neighborhood (because what fun is lording your gobs of cash if you're in a neighborhood full of people with cash? No, it's way better to add a second floor complete with fucking COLUMNS to the front of your house while everyone else lives in typical ranch-style homes...). As a result, Kenny was spoiled rotten. He had everything you could imagine - every game system, a few stand-up arcade cabinets, Power Glove, pogo balls, a scooter AND a Mongoose freewheel bike... He was a lucky, lucky kid. And he was a total fucking loser.

Kenny didn't tight-roll his jeans when that was popular. Hell, they weren't even stone-washed! He never got into grunge music, and he never wore flannel. He wore penny loafers and button-down oxfords - even while at home. It was insane.

He never watched the cool shows growing up. He had no idea who Seinfield, Ross, Rachel, Hans, Franz, or any of the Ninja Turtles were. He spent all his free time playing violin and taking karate lessons. He could barely ride his bike, never rode his scooter, and couldn't figure out how to transform ANY of his Transformers. Half the GI Joe toys he had still sat in the box, because they just didn't interest him. He was such a little prick.

So it was really, really hard, pretending to be his friend so I could get access to all that sweet loot.

He wouldn't ever shut up when we were playing games, and he really sucked at them. It was awful trying to play Altered Beast with him - he'd continually steal my orbs, even after he morphed, even though I did all the work getting the damn things. He'd continually cheat in Mortal Kombat, doing low kick slides with Sub Zero over and over and over... It was an awful chore to put up with his shit just to play the glorious Genesis machine.

I used to invent excuses for him to go do something else while I played. I'd pick single-player games like Mickey Mouse and the Enchanted Castle, telling him that there were special endings I could unlock if he let me play through it. I'd accidentally kill him in several multiplayer games just so he'd get the hell out of my way.

His mother would come in with the worst snacks imaginable. Celery with peanut butter in it... COME ON. Where the fuck were the pizza rolls, lady?

Eventually, Mike came around in 10th grade and made going to Kenny's impossible, since Mike and I were pretty much inseperable once he moved to town. He pretty much gave up the gig by openly insulting the kid constantly - and I cannot refrain from joining Mike when he starts in on someone, no matter how I might benefit by keeping my composure. Kenny no longer wanted to hang out with us, because we kept calling him Stuart (like the kid in Beavis and Butthead).

I downloaded emulators throughout the years, along with huge catalogs of Genesis and Master System titles, but mostly just to have them. I never really broke them out, except to go through Sonic a few times. So this game is the first real taste of Genesis nostalgia I've had in a long time, and this is the shit I remember - pretending being a friend to a kid just so I could play his game systems.

But I don't feel bad about it, not even a little. I mean, come on... The Genesis was fuckin' SWEET back in the day. You'd have done the same.

Oh yes you would have, you liar.

5.05.2009

Hint: It Wasn't A Toilet Snake

So, about 30 minutes ago, I was sitting on the toilet and heard my wife finally arrive home from work.

"Joe!" she yelled from downstairs. "Where are you?!?"

"Toilet," I yelled.

I heard her march up the stairs. "Hey," she said from the other side of the door, "Look down."

I saw the head of a snake poke through the gap at the bottom of the door.

"What the fuck?!?" I yelped.

"Do you know what kind of snake this is?" she asked.

"It looks like a fucking copperhead!" I answered. "What the HELL!" Thank God I was in the bathroom... At least I was in the right room to shit myself.

I cleaned up and flushed and bolted out the door. There was my wife, holding a copperhead by the tail (out and away from her, a la Steve Irwin) in the hallway. "Where'd you get that?"

"Nikita (our cat) was beating on it... I tried to save it..."

I wasn't exactly sure that it was a copperhead, so I figured I'd ask the internets. I sent this picture out to my various social networks:


And sure enough, my facebook friends and twitter peeps all sent me various resources that confirmed that it was indeed a copperhead.

We took it out and took care of the poor thing, making sure it would never again suffer the fate of one of the most dangerous-to-small-creatures cats I've ever met - Nikita, the Copperhead Slayer. And my wife confirmed, yet again, that her heart is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too big for her own safety.

Definitely not the way I was expecting my evening to go.

GOD this is brilliant...

I have tried so hard to make these kinds of points in religious arguments since I was about 20 or so, and I can't come even 1/10th as close to hitting the nail on the head as this video does:





(for the record, I'm not an Atheist.)

5.04.2009

Knowing When To Fail

Okay, so yesterday's post generated quite a bit of optimistic email from some of you out there. And I'm very, very happy to have had that effect on you. But I feel that, having pumped you up with the whole "be passionate and you'll succeed" thing, I need to go ahead and break out the reality stick.

I stated very clearly that it's very likely that you will fail. And I meant it. It's not guaranteed that you will, and the harder you work and the more you love and believe in your project, the less likely that it is that you will fail... But you might. And you need to know what that looks like, and when to accept it.

Defeats are not failure. Setbacks are not failure. Losses are not failure. Failure is the moment of clarity you have which tells you that you are in a losing battle, and you need to concede. If it were a fist fight, it'd be the moment the guy got on top of you and began choking you. If it were a hockey game, it'd be the moment after the first goalie was pulled that the other team scored three more goals.

It may happen. In fact, unless you're in an elite class of extremely, extremely, EXTREMELY lucky people, it will happen. And it's very important that you know when to bow out and move on, or else you're going to get very seriously hurt.

A good example would be the web show I co-produced for Turner Broadcasting in 2007 (long-time readers know what I'm talking about). There was a moment when I realized I was pouring cash into a property I did not control, would not ever control, and could never realize profit from. There's a lot of nice things that could be said about that situation, but you won't hear them from me - it was a horrible, horrible mistake, and it was my fault entirely. I set myself up for ultimate failure by signing my own name to the contract, taking on all the responsibility, and being completely unwilling to take the kind of control I needed to on the project.

Once I realized it was a lost cause, I had a long talk with my wife, and the next day I told the other producer that I was leaving. He couldn't believe it - why would I walk away from this project when it was "my baby" and I had invested so much into it? Well, it's because I was already in the hole a pretty big amount, I never saw my wife, I couldn't get any of my own material shot and put to film, and I was sleeping about an hour a night. It was damaging my relationship and my health and my wallet, and I had approached a cliff where things were going to get drastically worse if I didn't put on the brakes and get the hell off that train.

Passion is 90% of any success you'll ever have... But that other 10%? Well, there's an old saying: 90% shit and 10% ice cream is shit. 90% ice cream and 10% shit is still shit.

Know when you're stepping in shit. And in the immortal words of Alan Moore: When you realize you have stepped in shit, don't jump up and down on it to punish it... Just scrape as much of it off your boot as you can and walk away.

5.03.2009

Fear of Failure is Fear of Success

I have a friend - let's call him Mike, because that's his name - who has what I would consider to be a paralyzing fear of failure.

I consider it paralyzing because it keeps him from trying absolutely anything in which failure might be an option. A perfect illustration of this fear comes via a conversation I had with him about 30 minutes ago, discussing an upcoming project I'm doing. I've sent a full description and detailed plan of my project out to be evaluated by someone, and he asked me "What's to keep that guy from just stealing your idea?"

"What, you mean doing it himself?" I asked.

"Well, yeah, or claiming credit if he passes on it and you do it later?"

I told him "Nothing. But I trust that he won't."

"But how can you know he won't?" Mike asked.

"I don't know. I trust he won't. And if he does, I'll deal with that if it happens. But I'm not going to let that fear stop me from trying to move forward on it."

And it's not just this one instance, or this one type of obstacle. Mike's brought up all sorts of what-ifs throughout my career.

In 1996, it was "What if you don't get a job writing code? Or worse, what if you get one, and lose it 6 months later? How can you quit school knowing that might happen?"

In 2005, it was "But what if you can't get stores to carry your book? How will you sell it?"

In 2007, it was "What if you don't make the AFL? Will all that training be for nothing?"

And I'm not trying to pick on Mike. His questions come from a very honest place in his heart. He's looking out for me - and never once has he ever told me I shouldn't do something. He's been the second most supportive person in my life next to my wife. And I'll even go so far as to say that he's not the only one who asks this stuff - but he's definitely the only one who asks it in a manner that's positive, and more about looking out for me (it's a shame I can't say the same about most of my family...). But he always takes the time to point out that these sorts of questions are what keep him from doing stuff the way I do it.

And I'll admit, I have a condition that keeps me from ever considering consequences. It's part of the reason my stories are so entertaining, and part of the reason my juvenile record is sealed by court order. So the next thing I'm about to say is, to me, just a plain no-brainer. But the bottom line to any form of success in anything you ever do is to not care about the consequences.

Your passion for your success must outweigh your fear of failure. Period.

You can be scared -- It's okay. You might fail. You might lose some money. Someone might steal your idea. You might sell 1/10th what you need to sell. It's all very, very likely. And you can do some studying and some learning and some research to minimize these risks - that's a very, very smart thing to do. But no matter how much (or how little) you learn or discover or know in advance, there's going to be a point at which you decide to fish or cut bait. To do anything else is to just sit in the boat and get sun poisoning.

The trick is, no matter how scared you are, just be that much more passionate.

And once you get moving, you'll be surprised how much you learn on the job. You'll also be surprised, regardless of the research you've done or how many other things like this you've done, how much you just flat got wrong and don't know. But you get things right pretty quickly, and you move forward and don't stop until you either reach your goal or your legs fall off.

And that's where success starts. Not in selling a million units, or getting a writeup in a magazine, or getting 1,000 fans, or any other metric you think you'll use to measure success. Success happens DAILY. Sometimes, even hourly. It's all the little stuff you never even thought about that you suddenly learn, figure out, conquer... Those are the real successes. They mean you've progressed, and every time you can put one foot in front of the other, you've done something great.

And you simply cannot do that if you're standing still due to fear.

I think that the majority of fear comes from what might happen if you actually succeed. What do you do if, all of a sudden, you have no more excuses? What happens when all the barriers are gone and you have a success on your hands... What happens if you drop the ball? What happens when you actually have to manage this thing you've built?

That's the real problem. Conquer that, and you conquer fear. And the only way to actually conquer it is to get to that point on the map and see what happens.

5.02.2009

There's a GOOD Reason Why This Is Only A Good Idea When You're A Kid...

Okay, this is a bit hard for me. I'm about to rip on myself, to an extent, because when I was a teenager, I wanted sooooooooooo badly to do this:




And now, I'm an adult. And I look at this video, and as much as I don't want to judge, and as much as I want to say "You know, good for them, living out their dream," I just have to shake my head.

This is stupid.

If you're going to actually devote yourself to being a hero who is serious about stopping crimes, you have one of two choices: become a cop, or become a vigilante. Rolling around town in a luchador mask and cape is a good way to get your ass kicked, but that's all its good for.

There are many, many ways to be a hero. I consider my wife a hero, because she's dedicated her life to the pursuit of helping helpless animals and doing sporting events to raise money for cancer cures. That's heroic.

Joining your friends dressed in ill-fitting costumes and bragging to news cameras that you're a hero? Not heroic.

I consider firefighers, paramedics, and most cops as heroes. They dedicate their lives to receiving way too little pay for putting their bodies in hazardous positions to keep me safe. That's heroic.

Fulfilling your inner need to be seen as something larger than yourself? Not heroic.

The big problem here is that these guys aren't doing this to make a difference. They're not actually helping society, putting a symbol of justice into the eyes of the city, or any of that noble shit. They're simply living out a fantasy. They're indulging their inner child with their adult ability to actually leave the house dressed like that. There's nothing heroic about this. It's actually counterproductive to the stated cause. It makes them a laughing stock. It reduces the overall usefulness of their efforts.

If they really wanted to be heroes, they'd go through the training and save people from fires and crimes for real. Or, they'd strap up, wander the city at night in fatigues and a hankerchief, and shoot bad people until they were crippled or died. They wouldn't be on news cameras, and they wouldn't be indulging a need to dress up.

God. Is this what it's like to be old? I kinda hate myself for pointing all of this out - there's still a little part of me that loves the idea of being a hero. But all I can think of is that I lack any of the training necessary to keep me from getting the absolute shit kicked out of me. No amount of movies, comic books, tv shows (even The Wire), or any other media can actually teach me how to spot crimes and dangerous situations. And even if they did, to do anything about it, I'd need to be willing to permanently eliminate that element from the environment - and if you're not a cop, that means you can't arrest them. You have to maim or kill them, or you're doing nothing.

And with that, I'm off to go see Wolverine.