The Suckiest Suck In The History of Suck

It's hardly new, but I was reminded by a friend of mine today of Kel's Photo Creations.

Usually, I'm very supportive of people who are just learning Photoshop, or just starting out in art and design. Hell, I'm usually supportive of people who've been doing it for years and just suck at it. And I'm downright pleased to support the mentally handicapped when they pick up crayons and produce something creative. But I believe deeply, as do the Dead Milkmen, that there's a special place in hell for people who just won't learn to color right, and yet have the unmitigated gall to charge for it.

I hate these kinds of "artists." These are talentless hacks who spend their lives being talentless hacks whilst hiding under a layer of shame that masquerades as "My Art." They refuse to learn a skill, much less improve on it. They get some idea in their head that, because they can type "Photoshop" and "Torrent" in Google and find an enabler for their particular brand of bad ideas, they have the right to actually do something with it. But who I hate more are the morons who actually hand over good money for the privilege of having their soul sucked right out of their eye sockets by this evil demon:


And then there's this little gem, which I've dubbed The Poorly Laid-Out Collage of Eye Death:

Hi! We're sad to be in this picture!

And what more can one say about this picture that isn't already said by the event horizon that was just created inside your monitor the second you loaded it, due to the severe amount of pure suck:

The bows... The Eyes... The Lips... The cutout of the hair...
Why, it's color by numbers, only with letters,
and they all add up to spell out "SUCK"

What the FUCK? How does one get by doing this shit without ever Googling "good art" and seeing what they're up against? What's more, how did anyone ever hand over a check for this ungodly thing?

If you're reading this, Kel, you suck. You suck you suck you suck. There's no school you can go to, there's no class you can take... Just fucking stop. With art entirely, I mean. And if you refuse to take that bit of advice, at least stop polluting the internet with it. I'd rather see fan fiction illustrations of Decepticons fucking than your grabasstic crap.

Yeah, uh... Don't click that link. Seriously.


Why is "Tina" Slang For Crystal Meth?

Does anyone have a clue why the hell "Tina" is slang for crystal meth? I've Googled it, and all I can find that even remotely explains it is this entry:
"Tina Or Teena - name derives from the fact that meth is commonly bought in sixteenths of an ounce packages (aka "baggies") "

THIS MAKES NO SENSE. It only comes up because my company's name is This Is Not Art! Productions, and sometimes I refer to it as Tina, as in "Tina's picking up dinner" or "Tina just bought a new printer." And my company's site is really pathetic (especially considering what I do and who I've done it for). And when I mentioned to my friend Liz that I'm finally building a proper site for Tina, she was confused - she thought I was building a site dedicated to FAQs about crystal meth.

So really, does anyone have any clue why this name stuck? I mean... It makes no sense whatsoever.


Michael Jackson is dead.

Did you hear?

Well, if not, you're lying, because you're reading this on the internet and there's no way in hell you could have connected to the internet today at any point and not seen it somewhere.

Anyway, I don't have much in terms of emotion regarding this news. I loved Thriller as a kid, but I never owned a red zipper jacket and I never got motivated to dance or sing or anything based on him. He was a constant presence on the radio and TV when I was a child, so in that I feel some sadness that we've lost an icon... But we kinda did already, didn't we?

The moment I saw MJ on TV talking about how he never touched that little boy, it was over for me. He was wierd before that, and strange before that, and larger than life before that... But right then, he was over. It didn't matter if he did or didn't. It was over, and that's that.

But I read an article by Andrew Sullivan this morning that really nailed how I feel about Michael Jackson. He was an abused child who had his childhood taken from him, and spent the rest of his life trying to get one back. And that's really the price of fame, isn't it? The bigger you get, the more you belong to the public. And the more of you they own, the more you owe them.

I never feel sorry for celebrities who make their own careers, and then get all pissy when they have no privacy. You did it to yourself, so suck it up and perform, monkey. But in MJ's case... He never had the choice or a chance. He was a star from childhood, because his father forced him into that position. True, his talent made him lovable, but who knows if he would have chosen to display that talent on his own?

So to that end, I have always felt a little bad for Michael Jackson, but after reading Sullivan's article about his death, I really do feel bad for the guy. He had all the money he could have ever wanted, and it was never enough to buy his own freedom. He was loved by everyone and hated himself. His misery changed music and dance forever.

I do hope he rests in peace.


Tori Amos Fucking Sucks

Ever since the new Tori Amos record came out, I've had no quarter from the hyperventilating 30-something female friends of mine who just can't shut the fuck up about it. I hate her, and always have. And when I try to explain why, they get all pissy and moany and offendy and accuse me of picking on a rape victim.

Not so. And here's why.

I've had enough things happen in my life that are shitty enough to qualify for "life altering." And for the most part, you've never read about any of them. Sure, you've read about flubbed first-ever sexual encounters and porn on Wal-Mart TVs and various mishaps with various body fluids in various places... But none of these things could really be considered "life altering." They're not gross victimizations of my person. They're not serious issues that shouldn't be demeaned by my exploitation.

Which is why I find Tori Amos so fucking gross.

Tori Amos was a fame-chasing trendy pop mistress who failed in her pathetic band Y Kant Tori Read. She dressed like Madonna and and sang like Madonna with Shit In Her Mouth:

She sucked.

Then, the label (Atlantic, who gave her a 6 record deal for whatever fucking reason), decided to repackage her. In their infinite wisdom (and of course, following the trend of grunge music that was rising), they listened to a Sarah McLaghlan record and said "Ok, now you sound like that."

In order to further her artistic whatevers, she drew from these deep dark experiences in her life that sounded a lot like rape. In recent years, there's been a rather large crusade across the net to actually disprove her allegations of rape - I won't ever go that far, because I wasn't there and I take that kind of shit seriously.

Which is my point. I know several assault victims who, even many years later, won't talk about the event. It's not that they're repressed, it's that they won't let it become who they are. And that's what Tori is all about - the personification of her own misery. It's fairly disgusting, and if she were to start to break out now, we'd all pile on and call her Emo. But because a ton of impressionable artsy grungy girls listened to her when they were teenagers and felt like they finally understood what it means to be A WOMAN!!!!! and now all those impressionable artsy grungy girls are stupid whiny adult WOMEN!!!!! who love Tori, she has this grandfathered-in legitimacy.

I don't dispute that her voice has improved over the years, and I don't doubt that she plays a mean piano. But if she wrote out her lyrics and posted it to any forum on the internet, she'd quickly have this graphic pasted just below her posts:

When you're a teenager, this kind of nonsense feels great. It's fantastic to be so misunderstood that only a million-selling recording artist really gets you. But come on... Tori Amos sucks. I have no problem with making a spectacle out of one's misery -- I've made an entire career out of it. But I feel that when the context shifts from "check this out" or "wanna laugh?" to "Oh woe is me!!! I'm a sad artist with a 6 record deal and blew the first record on late 80's clichepop, so now I have to change gears -- quick, what's a subject people will actually take seriously????" then you lose any and all merit. And then you suck.


The "Keys Locked In Truck" Delimma -- What Would YOU Do?

I'm at the post office, about 3 miles from my house.

Those are my keys, locked safely in my truck.

It will take me 30 mins to run 3 miles to my house and grab a spare, then 30 mins to run back.

AAA says it will be an hour and twenty minutes before they can dispatch someone to come and get my keys out for me.

The choice is to spend an hour jogging in 90 degree heat and resent the run, or waiting an hour and twenty minutes in 89 degree shade outside the post office and resent the wait.

So, what would you do?

Right now, I'm in the "Fucking blog about that shit" phase of making my choice. This SUCKS.


"Sales Copy" of the New Mentally Incontinent Book

The actual book will be much smaller, of course. This is the printed and bound version of the manuscript that gets sent around to book buyers (Barnes and Noble, Borders, book clubs, etc) to determine if they want to actually buy my words on dead trees.

I thought it was kinda cool, so I had my editor send me one... Since the book won't be out until November and it starts getting cold in October, I figure I'll need some kindling for the fireplace and I might as well stock up now.


Regular People vs. "Geeks" vs. The Fringe

There we were, the family sitting around the table honoring my father on Father's Day.

The big topic of conversation: My sister and her husband just bought a brand new tow-behind camper. It's fully furnished, and by all accounts, a great camper. They're focusing more on adventure-style vacations, and because they want to include their toddler son, the camper made perfect sense. Now they can go anywhere and do anything, cheaply and as a family.

We were all pretty happy for them, and they were very stoked. My brother-in-law and my father were discussing how much campers had changed from when my father was an outdoorsman, and the two really had a lot to talk about. But I was reminded of when my wife and I went to Yosemite on our honeymoon back in 2002, and we were talking about the camping and hiking and outdoorsy stuff we were into, and my entire family looked at us like we were crazy and wondered why we didn't go on a cruise.

But then came time for me to share my recent acquisition:

"I bought out a guy's entire Akira cel collection, and ended up with a whole lot more than I anticipated! I got all sorts of genga and douga I wasn't anticipating, and it all came in an official scene envelope that the actual animation studio used! It was awesome!"


Now, this isn't the only instance of such inability to relate to one another. In fact, it's not the only instance this week. And as time has moved forward and the things I have been interested in have been co-opted by the mainstream, I am reminded time and time again that - even when the Akira live-action movie comes out in 2011, and my family will have all seen it and everyone's discussing it around the table (just like they did with Star Trek, Transformers, Spiderman and all the other recent transitioned properties), it won't matter how much I was into the film back when I was 12 or 22 or even now at 32. They'll discuss it like it's a current affair and I'll just sit back and listen to the generalists' version of Akira.

This is life on the Fringe. And it doesn't happen just with my family, or people I've worked for / with. This even happens at conventions and gatherings dedicated to genres like sci-fi and anime. Even those who "get it" don't really get it. They can understand why I do, but they don't actually feel the love or have the passion.

It really got me thinking about the dichotomy between Regular People, Geeks and The Fringe.

Everyone has their "thing" that they like. I'd go so far as to say 100% of people have something that they can point to and say "yeah, I like that." These are Regular People. If we're talking about photography, these folks own a digital camera. They may even know how to use it. They snap pics at parties or of their children and print them out at Wal-Mart. To them, photography is the act of taking pictures.

Then, there's folks who pick up a certain hobby or interest and dedicate time to it. These folks get deep into the nuance of, say, photography or knitting or House, M.D. They dedicate blocks of time to the pursuit of information on these topics. They'd be considered "into it." They're interested. It gives them something to learn about and focus on. These are hobbyists, folks who want to know more about it so they can do it right.

Then there's what has become the most recent definition of Geeks. The Geeks not only get passionate about their "thing" - to them, it's absolutely essential to know all aspects of everything associated with whatever it is they love. If we're still talking photography, they save up for the best equipment they can afford (most definitely an SLR of some sort) - and when they buy, you can trust that they've done TONS of research. They have very specific reasons for choosing their products, which usually boil down to the level of sophistication within their budget. They'll relentlessly pursue learning more about photography in order to create not just photographs, but works of art. They want the final image to represent not just an object, but how they see the world. They're Geeks. They love what they do.

And then, there's the folks who not only love what they do, they put a ring on it and marry it. The Fringe - the 1% of people who aren't just passionate about a thing - they make it their life. Where a Geek would sell off old SLR bodies or lenses to afford new stuff, The Fringe has every one of their old cameras on a shelf in order of acquisition, to show their progression through the medium (including a Lomo or two that they got off eBay... BEFORE they got popular and Wired did an article on them).

The thing is, a lot of Geeks think they're on the Fringe... But they're not:
And the big big big problem is that for this tiny, tiny fraction of society, life gets really lonely. 99% of the population looks at you strange, because what is, for them, a mild interest in a thing is a passion for The Fringe. It's just not something they get excited about. But the other 1% who are photography Geeks, they're supposed to get it, right?? They're into this thing! They can grok the love!

Well, no. Because to Geeks, interests are mistresses. They are escapes from their life, something else to focus on which brings them joy aside from the things they do for a living or the rest of daily life. And when you marry a mistress, you leave a void, right? Why buy the cow yadda yadda, right?

But The Fringe, we can't just have a fleeting tryst with our passions. We engulf them whole, digest them and look for more. We adore getting to know this fantastic thing which enriches our lives and we beg for more opportunity to do so. We make permanent commitments to them.

Life's kinda lonely on the Fringe, because we constantly look at those who seem like they know about our passions and instantly go into full-tilt talking about it. And at some point - sooner with Regular People and later with Geeks - their eyes gloss over and you can tell that they're just listening to be polite. And you keep going, because for you it slides into "maybe I can teach them about how great this stuff is" territory. And of course, after that, you're known as the weirdo who's WAY to into comic books or Akira or cycling or football.

But that's okay... Because they don't get it, there's much more room for you to explore and be the expert. The Fringe is where it's at, man. The Fringe brings you all those great forum posts and Wikipedia articles that you turn to when you want to know why there was a furor about Dr. House walking with his cane on the wrong side, or how to tweak your router with open source firmware so you can access its full featureset. The Fringe catalogue all those works by all those artistic masters so navigating museums is a lot less confusing for you.

So when you run into one of us and strike up a conversation about The Beatles and we start rattling off all sorts of knowledge you never even knew could be gained about that band, don't just be polite and listen for the sake of listening. Know that the person talking is the curator of a museum of knowledge that will persist well beyond the next time you're curious about a topic.


Fixing What Isn't Broken Just Breaks Things More

You've probably heard all you ever want to hear about the new iPhone 3.0 software. I won't be reviewing a single thing in this post, nor will I get into my grocery list of how many usability things didn't get fixed.

All I intend to do is point out that, in Mail, Apple has decided to put the full name of the mail account in the "back" arrow to get to the folders screen. And because you can't custom-name your mail account, the icon now stretches to the width of my account's name, which shoves the "INBOX" label over to the right and makes it all off-balance and PISSES ME OFF every single time I open my mail.

It wasn't like that before. But it is now. And because so much else works so damn well and is so thought out across the entire platform, this one little issue is personified a thousand fold.

I hate, hate, HATE unbalanced interfaces. They drive me absolutely batshit. And if there's one thing I hate more than unbalanced interfaces, it's interfaces that used to be balanced becoming unbalanced because someone got a stick up their ass and decided they'd fix something that wasn't ever broken in the first place.

Actually, this extends well past interfaces and into everything else ever. I cannot stand "improvements" made simply to change shit. Either improve it or leave it alone.

***Update 9:07PM***

My friend Mike Andrews gave me a much-needed reality check and told me how to fix the problem (mostly):
  • Medicine cabinet -> Valium
  • Settings -> Mail/Contacts/Calendar,
  • Pick a mail account,
  • Change "Description" to something much shorter....

Thanks Mike. Naming it "Me" makes it much smaller, and re-centers the "Inbox" label. But here's my thing: in 2.x, the description text in the button would just truncate to fit inside the button, leaving the "Inbox" label centered. Why the change? What drastic improvement (or even minor improvement) did printing the whole label inside the button and widening it bring to the interface?

I'll definitely accept the mud-on-face for not knowing to edit the description, but my point still remains. They shouldn't have done that.


Lure, Bait, Hook & Reel - How To Write For An Audience Online

I was helping a friend of mine assess an article intended to be online. She was curious as to how she could make the product more engaging.

Now, I can't show you exactly what I was helping her figure out, since it's an in-progress project for her company, and as such, is still under wraps. So for the purposes of this post, I'm going to pretend the topic was something I know quite a bit about - the movie Akira.

Imagine that I wanted to learn more about this anime that everyone and their brother talks about the second anything anime is brought up. It's tremendously popular -- hell, this wacko guy on the internet even got an Akira sleeve tattoo - why's it so special? So, I Google "Akira Review".

The very first article that popped up (from Animeworld.com) looks, format-wise, VERY similiar to the screen my friend initially showed me and needed help on (I'm focusing ONLY on the review portion):

It's written very typically, your standard-length paragraphs and rich in content. But that's the problem. This is what the brain sees when your eyes initially look at that page:

Yeah. A bunch of blocks of text. When we initially scan a page, this is what happens - we see things in blocks, and text just lumps together as "that's text, the stuff I'll have to read in a moment, what else is there?"

Now, there's nothing "wrong" with what you're seeing above. It's just that, considering the medium, there's also nothing "right" about it. If it were in a book, it'd be fine - people open books with the intention of digesting blocks of text very slowly, to garner information. If it were in a magazine, it'd probably be a "flip-past" article, given the transient nature of magazine readers.

And online, it's practically begging to be ignored -- even if it came highly recommended to me, it'd only be of use if I were specifically looking for that particular information, and even then, I'd be in "scan mode", since my google toolbar allows me to be just a few clicks away from yet more information on my topic.

So, I did just that. I went back to my search results to the 2nd result, and I find IGN's review:

And when we apply the "what does my brain see" filter:

(Note that the ad has been blocked out. That's because we, as web users, have become conditioned as to what ads look like [anything that's 300px x 250px, or at the very top as a banner or along the side columns as a tower ad])

Now, the point here is not that IGN's review is better, per se. It's just that, as soon as I land on the page, they've hooked me. I'm intrigued. I see two images (one of which is incredibly beautiful), and this big bold rating. It gives me instant gratification - I am not immediately inclined to look elsewhere, I'm at least intrigued to read the page.

Basically, in the consulting I've done on "social media" and corporate blogging, the very first thing I try to instill in my clients is that there has to be a reason for me to want to be social with you. The days of "If you build it, they will come" are long since gone. It's harder than ever to build any sort of audience for your product, brand or concept, simply due to signal-to-noise ratio. And while there's a tremendous amount more that companies have to do to overcome people's hesitance to get "social" with them, it's helpful for anyone looking to write on the web to know the Fishing analogy.

Have you ever been fishing? If you have, this is going to make perfect sense. If you haven't, it's alright -- you can still follow along. But next time you're idly watching television and flipping through channels and happen to see one of those "Amazin' Bass Catchin' with Billy Bud" shows, give it about 10 minutes and watch a catch or two. It'll sink right in.

You can linkbait, you can spam, and you can even pay people to send links to your articles. But if you're stuff isn't set up right, they're just going to pass it by. So, first you need something shiny to get their attention:

The Lure. In the case of the AAW review, it was first in the search results list, and I clicked. But then I left and went to the IGN review -- proof that being first doesn't guarantee an audience:

Now, once they've noticed you, there needs to be a reason for your reader to approach. And nothing works better than a nice, meaty piece of:

Bait. For the IGN review, the bait was an 8.0 rating and pictures of the movie (a visual piece of entertainment... It would make sense to put pictures or even a video clip of it in the review).

Now, you gotta snag me with once i've decided to bite so you can set:

The Hook. And it's important to remember that, for the entire article, it's a fight on your part to reel me in. The entire time, imagine that i'm struggling to get off that hook, and you're struggling to reel me in. With IGN, they were comical in their captions, without being offensive or insulting.

If I make it to the end of your article, you've got me in the boat. If I leave before the end, you lost me - I'm one of the ones who got away. That's why it's imperative that you don't just rely on the individual tools and actually become a proficient word-angler. You've got to write with purpose, convey information, and keep me interested while informing me -- but you can't overwhelm me with tons of information all at once.

And with IGN, their review was written... Well, moderately competently (for the record, I think they missed a lot of the point of the film, but eh... It was written well). The paragraphs were just the right size for digestion on the web. There were enough callouts (in this case images, but bulletpoints, charts, graphs, or quotes from inside the article also work) to keep me visually on-pace with the information being presented.

In short, IGN won an audience member today because they understand the nuance of writing for the web:

  • Lure me with in-context promises of what I need (whether it be from search results or someone sharing a link with a friend);
  • Bait me with something that immediately satisfies my hunger for information;
  • Hook me with visually compelling and interesting content;
  • Reel me in with a well-written, well-paced article.

Hopefully, this will help you in producing content for your site.


That's It - No More First Mentally Incontinent

I've sold out of all the copies of the first Mentally Incontinent book I can sell. So if you didn't order one, I'm sorry to say that you'll likely not get one.

To all of those who HAVE ordered one and not received it yet, I'm still getting boxes of books in trickles and drips from various retailers, and am shipping out your orders as soon as I get the books to fill them. Rest assured, if you coughed up dough, you're getting one.

The hoodies, though, I can't promise. I'm nearly out, and as I get to orders that are asking for sizes I have left, I'm filling them. Emails are going out to folks who are one size away from what they asked versus what I have, to make sure it'd be okay to give them one of those.

Okay, break's over, I gotta get back to finishing my anniversary present to my wife - painting every room in the house we haven't painted yet.


Things You Just Can't Get Away With When You're Built Like Shrek

The majority of the human race doesn't really know what it's like to be a gargantuan monster of an individual.

That's not to say they don't have their own situations that I can't relate to -- I have no idea what it's like to be black, short, female, pretty / handsome, skinny, handicapped or blind. I cannot relate to those particular situations. Which is why I find myself reading materials that talk about the difficulties, prejudices and sometimes benefits that come from being who those people are. I genuinely enjoy getting perspectives from others about what their perspective of the human condition is. But I haven't really found anyone who talks openly about being a large hulking mass of humanity.

Now, I HAVE read the "poor me, I'm obese" stuff, and having been obese at one point, I have absolutely no pity for those folks. Unlike the genetically-based features of skin color, height, musculature, beauty (or lack thereof); obesity is a choice. Don't want to deal with the ramifications of being obese? Choose not to be obese anymore. Simple. But I'm not obese. I'm just massive.

And there are things you simply can't do when you're my size. Note that this is not a poor-me list of things. I'm HAPPY with who I am. I love being me. This is simply an attempt to shine some light on what it is to BE me. I write this in the same spirit in which I enjoy reading other peoples' perspectives of their lives.

1) Buy clothes in a normal store.

The vast majority of the clothing I own is from athletic stores. XXL shirts, basketball shorts, and sneakers. It's more than just a comfort thing - it's the only clothing you can buy in your average, ordinary store that fits, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. There is a certain reality to needing clothes to wear each day, and to fill out the closet without breaking the bank, I buy athletic crap from the sports stores. But when I go to get fitted for a suit or try to buy khakis or any other clothing, the Benjamins start hitting the counter.

I can't just walk into Men's Warehouse and say "fit me." Because, while they have a Big and Tall selection, they don't really have a "giant hulk of a person" section. The alterations they make to the pants and sport coats cause blousing and puffing in rather ugly places. With the jacket on, I look like a rectangle with a head and shoes; without the jacket I look like I'm trying to bring back Hammer Pants.

2) Threaten anyone, ever.

You can't even tease with threats when you're my size; not if you want to continue to have some semblance of a social life. I've been threatened with termination from jobs simply because, in a bout of anger at repeated incompetence, I've yelled at someone. Nothing violent, or even mildly threatening -- just the act of raising my voice to them was seen as a threat.

When you actually do get around to threatening people, security and police show up immediately, such as when someone confronts you in a department store or park or bar. And it sucks, because there's definitely a certain subsection of smaller, ego-driven bastards out there who always want to challenge the big guy over just about everything, knowing that either their friends or the security present will back them up. And God forbid you ever do anything approaching physical to these people... You're sunk. Anyone with any authority (especially a judge or jury) will look at you, then look at them, then sentence you with whatever they can as quickly as possible, all because you were supposed to be the bigger man.

My good friend Drew took note recently of my phrasing about how I feel about someone who was openly insulting us. I said "I'd love to box that guy," and he pointed out how much he loved the fact that "I'd love to box him" and "I'd love to beat the shit out of him" mean the exact same thing, but have completely different connotations. This is no accident - I can say "I'd like to meet someone in an organized contest with a referee and padded gloves and go toe-to-toe with them". And I can get away with it.

But to take the context out into the street or in any setting without some sort of rules or referee is, for whatever reason, scarier. My guess is that, when you look like you could run through a wall and not take a scratch, the idea of that person willingly following established rules in a contest brings some measure of comfort, since no one's able to stop you if you go off the reservation and just decide to wail the hell out of a guy. Who knows, I'm not a psychology major. I'm just Shrek.

3) Be clumsy.

I've tripped down the stairs at my house and slammed into the front doorframe. We had to replace the doorframe, while I took only a minor bruise.

You have to be especially mindful of your body and surroundings when you're three hundred pounds of meat, because the damage you do when you fall and hit things is far more dangerous than others -- both to the object and to yourself. Gravity is your constant enemy, and you can't give it any advantage in the eternal battle between you and it.

(Also, apparently we can't spell clumsy correctly, but thanks to Heather, I got that fixed)

4) Pat people on the back / nudge / tickle / etc

It's really, really, really difficult to be physically playful with people when you're a big dude, because getting into the spirit of, say, a slap fight - while permissible to the other player - is just asking for a lawsuit (or, at least, a pissed-off friend). You can't let the adrenaline kick in during a ticklefight with your wife, because when you flail around and try to get her away from your ribs, she could end up flying through a wall -- and don't even think about kicking her away if she's tickling your feet.

5) Eat at restaurants (cheaply).

There's a certain ratio of protein / carbohydrates / fat you have to maintain if you're going to be a healthy hunk of meat, and the food that is served in restaurants tends to be portioned for either a) regular size fit people, or b) fat fucks who don't care what they're putting in their bodies.

Those places that serve good portions are serving fat and carb laden dishes, usually with the word "fried" in the name. Those that serve healthy food are portioning things out on the assumption that you're an average human being. To get enough steak to make it worth ordering steak in most restaurants means you're spending minimum 25 bucks - it's the porterhouse at Outback, or heading to Morton's and coughing up the 60 or so bucks for a plate of meat. Don't bother being a foodie if you want to eat your fill - if you head to any Michelin-rated restaurant, you know you're buying hotdogs after dinner to feel satiated.

6) Appear smart

No one has ever - not once - said as I walked in a room "that guy looks smart."

This sucks for soooooo many reasons, the biggest of which is that, during a lot of my consulting, I've had to be the expert in at least some part of my field. And the fact that I walk in and look like I just came from either the corn fields or the football field makes it difficult to initially establish my expertise on any field whatsoever.

This is personified at any computer, sci-fi or comic-related gathering. It doesn't really matter how much you know about anything that's being talked about. You're a jock. You can't possibly know shit about shit. Even after you pwn someone on a topic (go ahead, try to argue anything about silver or modern age comic storylines with me), you're then ostracized from the group for being too aggressive.

You can't just fit in in almost any intellectual social group, whether in the enterprise or at your average gathering. It's hard work, and most of the time, it all goes for naught, because no matter how passive you try to be, you remind the geeks of the guys who beat them up when they were kids. And in the business world, you played too much D&D and are too geeky to fit in with the fratboy marketing types who continually want to dominate the conversation. And the second you raise your voice to talk over the din of nonsense being discussed and bring some sort of sense to the conversation, item #2 kicks in.

7) Ride most rollercoasters.

I went to King's Dominion in Virginia once. I couldn't ride seven out of the ten rides I tried to get on, because the chest harness wouldn't fit over my chest. Same at Six Flags - there are only two coasters I can ride, the Mind Bender and the Scream Machine, because they have lap bars. To try to ride any stand-up coaster is to have your balls squished as you exhale every ounce of breath you have, just to get the over-the-shoulder and crotch-rising harnesses to fix in place... You have to REALLY want to ride that ride to go through it.

8) See a regular doctor.

I go to a general practitioner who has her basis in sports medicine. I do this because I got very, very, very, very, very, very sick of hearing about how much weight I needed to lose or how obese I was based on height/weight charts. Body Mass Index is a joke. It isn't accurate at all. It's nonsense, especially for big bodybuilder types.

I also can't hear things like "your joints hurt because you weigh a lot." This isn't true, my joints hurt because I work out every single day and I need you to tell me how to deal with tendonitis, thanks. I don't have torn cartilage in my knee due to being heavy, I have it due to training. I can't deal with your churn-rate, masses-of-asses doctor's office - I need a doctor who will actually pay attention to the physiology of the person in front of her instead of just referring back to charts and numbers.

9) Buy a brace / wrap / cuff for any body part except the ankle in a pharmacy.

Good luck getting even an XL knee wrap over my leg, or an XL elbow cuff around my elbow. It doesn't work.

10) Make a list of difficulties about being the size you are.

No one wants to hear any of this. I possess a size and strength that most guys at any gym would kill another man for (and have said so themselves). I cannot tell you how many times a day at the gym I hear some guy talk about how he wishes he was my size (not because I'm overly muscular, but because my frame allows for larger weights to be lifted, and that's perceived as strength to them). No guy who got their ass kicked in school wants to hear the "I'm too big" list either, because all they've ever wished for was the ability to slam a hammer-fist into a bully's face. Everyone always wonders why you're writing software or drawing pictures for a living when you could be playing in the NFL.

Again, this isn't a pity list. But it will probably be seen as one, because these things sound like complaints. In some way, they are - I do wish that nice clothing that fit me didn't cost half a paycheck, and I do wish I could eat out at a restaurant for less than 30 bucks. Those things would be nice.

I don't think that I like being my size, specifically for the qualities of being my size. But I do like who I am as a result of being my size all my life. I like the perspectives I've been able to have on things. I like that I have had to force myself to be more educated on topics because I know I won't be taken seriously when I talk about them. I enjoy that, even though I couldn't ever get away with just fighting some loudmouth prick, if that guy ever threatened my wife, I could defend her (of course, I'd have to act quickly, because she's pretty much a badass who can, and has, beat up guys on her own).

But there it is, a small glimpse into the world of a 6' 3" monster of a guy. Up next: How much it costs to tattoo a canvas that size, and ten ways to whine about it.


Book Editing Highlights and Statistics

So, I just turned in (hopefully) the final edit of the new book. Throughout the process, I toon note of some of the more interesting statistics, most of which point to my lack of formal training in writing:

Overall page count:
  • before editing: 251
  • after editing: 210
  • what this means: I'm pretty verbose. 

Overall word count:
  • before: 71,324
  • after: 60, 462
  • what this means: See? verbose. 

Number of appendices and "about this somethingoranother" sections:
  • before: 5
  • after: 1
  • what this means: I don't think I need to explain as much as I thought I needed to explain to people who have no idea who I am. They'll figure it out, just like everyone else did. This pretty much shows how nervous I am about the book going out to bigger distribution.

Ellipsis (...) ending sentences or dialogue, to indicate trailing thoughts or pauses in narration:
  • before: 834 (holy shit)
  • after: 247
  • what this means: I fucking love me some ellipsis... Also, I tend to go direct from brain to paper without much thought on the actual mechanics of writing. Even after eight years, this is a problem. It also means that my editor is a saint for putting up with marking them all out.

"Smart Quote" errors (the quotes point the wrong way due to auto-formatting):
  • before: 33
  • after: 0 (I hope)
  • what this means: I'm too reliant on technology to format things for me. 

Amount of flat-out bad writing:
  • before: a whole, whole, whole lot
  • after: a whole lot
  • what this means: I are sucks writer. But editing helps.


Oh Boy A Book Release Party!

I'm taking an impromptu poll: 

So, what if I threw a book release party on November 7, 2009? Would you come? 

I wanted to do a small shindig for friends and family, like I did with the first book back in 2005. But then I got to thinking - we haven't really had a Mentally Incontinent party this year, and I've not done any book signings this year (not of any note anyway). And this is a pretty big thing for me; having a book published by a big publisher. So what if we put together an actual party for this release? How big would it be, who would drive / fly in, etc? Would it be a bar-type thing, a restaurant-type thing, a club-type thing? Obviously I'd bring books to sign, but how many? 20, 50, 100?

We've got five months to plan something, so that's plenty of time to begin thinking about location, times, etc. 

Leave a comment or email me if you'd come to something like that.


Being the Nice Guy

The following is purely imaginary - how I imagine things must be. But I bet it's really, really hard being the "nice guy." 

You go around your entire life, and you always look for ways to make peoples' days brighter.  You make jokes, you smile, you compliment. You help people with things as mundane as opening a door when they're carrying stuff, to complicated things like technical support on their laptop or building them a website or designing logos for them. You always try to say a kind word if someone seems down, or help out people if they're angry or upset. And if someone has a bad day, and they haul off and insult you (or worse, hit you), you're the kind to just accept it and let it go, allowing them their moment of weakness. 

And because this is the way your life is led, over months and years of knowing people, the second you slip out of "character" and have a bad day yourself - not really in the mood to talk to someone, or angry enough to snap at a person for making a bad joking insult, you're instantly branded as having "snapped." You're the NICE guy, remember? You're not allowed to take a day off from that, no matter how bad things are that day... Or week, or month, or even year. You're expected to carry the load, and if you put it down even to rest for a moment, you're not who everyone thought you were.

I bet it must be rough, always having to be the grin-and-bear-it guy. I sure feel sorry for those poor suckers. 


No, Mr. AT&T Guy, I Expect You To DIE!

Okay, so those of you who follow me on Twitter and whatnot know that I flew headlong into a profanity-laced tirade regarding AT&T and their penchant for putting penises in their mouths. This is because I got home after a week of driving across the country and was exhausted, but still had a lot of work to do -- and my DSL was slower than Christmas for a sixth-grader. So when I called to ask what the hell was up, the outsourced tech support couldn’t understand anything I was saying (and the feeling was mutual). 

So, an AT&T tech came out this afternoon to assess the situation. And because I’ve been gone for a week, our house is a wreck. We haven’t had a chance to change the cat boxes, and there’s tufts of dog fur floating around the hardwoods downstairs. So I was mortally embarassed to allow the man into my home. Also, all of my internal tests last night (and prior experience with exactly these symptoms a month ago) have me at about 99.9% sure the problem is outside. So when he called, I told him I wasn’t actually at the house (my truck is parked across the street by the woods, since Andrea had to use the whole driveway to unload stuff from her car last night).  He said he could check from outside, and if he needs to get inside, I can reschedule.

As I write this, I'm watching him on my security cameras as he walks around to the various phone company related boxes scattered here and there, working on the problem. And just a moment ago, he stepped in an anthill and reacted as anyone would (poorly), dancing a bit and brushing ants off his pant leg. 

It looked like he stepped in a trap. And there I am, in my upstairs office, watching him on my monitors and cackling at his misfortune. 

The entire point of this post: I have never, ever in my life felt more like a Bond villain than I do right now.

(I feel that I should mention that, to his credit, once he heard I wasn't home he could have just turned around and left and pretended he worked on it, and he didn't. Kudos, AT&T guy.)