Textually Explicit Conversations With Strangers

There was a little down-time between meetings while I was in Los Angeles yesterday. So I thought I'd strike up a little text conversation with my super dooper e-friend Melissa Oyler, illustrator, blogger and marathoner extraordinare. We'd recently exchanged numbers in preparation for a collaborative project we're discussing maybe trying at some point in the near future, and she's a great cure for boredom. So I figured what the hell.

(Please forgive the txtspk on her end. I refuse to use it, and I hate leaving it, but I don't want to edit it since this is how it happened)
Joe: Psssssst

Melissa: Really?

Joe: Totally

Melissa: That is nice to know

Joe: Thought you'd appreciate the tip.
A few minutes pass, and no response. That's not very Melissa-like at all. So I thought I'd ask the obvious question:
Joe: ...You have no idea who this is do you

Melissa: Nope, m or f?
That's funny. She apparently didn't put me in her phone. So what the hell, why not play a little game of 20 questions!
Joe: M

Melissa: What state?

Joe: Well That'd just give it away. But which one, where I am now, or where I live?

Melissa: Where U Live

Joe: Ga

Melissa: Dickey Betts

Joe: Uhhhhh no. 17 questions left

Melissa: Greg Allman?
Okay, now she's just messing with me.

Melissa: I was sensing Allman bros thru the whole conversation

Joe: It's hard to text an arpeggio. Glad you figured me out

Melissa: Im Quick on the uptake

Joe: Tis why I read your blog

Melissa: Tis? U must be an Irishman

Joe: 15/16ths

Melissa: U r Not in Ga Now i take it

Joe: Nope, Los Angeles. 13 left

Melissa: Business trip?

Joe: Yup

Melissa: Do you work for a software company

Joe: I guess you can say that. Wait - How many people in ga that read your blog do you know??

Melissa: Must be dozens

Joe: Wow, suddenly I feel soooo not awesome

Melissa: U Know that Im Humble and your still awesome

Joe: :( :( :( :(

Melissa: Did U & i Speak today

Joe: Nope. Except for this convo.

Melissa: Ok Im thinking u Texted the wrong number
Wow. Is she serious? How could she not figure me out by now?
Joe: Nope. Give up?

Melissa: Sad to say i do

Joe: Psssh, so disappointing. Joe peacock, the so not awesome, at your service

Melissa: How do we know each other
...Ooooh, boy. It's finally sunken in - this is not Melissa. From what I've gotten to know about her, she'd definitely give in by this point.
Joe: Uh oh, maybe I did text the wrong number. But more weird - you have a blog?

NOT Melissa:  No i Dont i Was playing along. But Im Interested in your blog

Joe: Joepeacock.com - you'll hate it it sucks.
Well, there we go. It definitely wasn't her. But hey, I made a new friend and a reader. HI NEW FRIEND (you know who you are). Thanks for curing my boredom in LA.


Do Your Own Goddamn Work

I like Facebook. I really do.

Social networking is fun. I like seeing other peoples' status thingys and commenting on them and getting to know folks from all over the nation (and the world) who have found the things I write interesting or funny or really really bad, but they still friend me anyway.

But one thing I do hate: Facebook mail. I can't fucking stand it. It's actually surpassed the telephone in ways I hate communicating with people. It's not that the Facebook mail system is particularly terrible in and of itself. It's just that the medium itself invites only a very small subset of communication types. It's not as private as email, but more private than posting on my wall - so it's the perfect way for people to passively harass me into doing things for them.

I have now gotten enough messages on Facebook to bear out the math. Out of 100% of Facebook mail messages I get each week (around 50 or so):

10% of them are people who email me who are impatient and can't wait for a response, and see me on facebook, and try to get my attention there.

5% are glowing reviews of my writing

5% are scathing reviews of my writing

And 80% are exactly this:
FROM: [person I rarely if ever communicate with outside of Facebook's "Like" feature]
MESSAGE: Hi Joe, I was blah blah blah CAN YOU HELP ME / MY FRIEND WITH A PUBLISHING DEAL THANKS, also i loved your blah blah blah let's catch up sometime.

Now, please note that I am not aggravated when people ask me for ADVICE. Advice is that thing that empowers you to do your own work and make your own way. And I love giving advice. It's most of what this blog is all about. PLEASE ask me for advice. Ask me how to break into an industry, or how to  self-publish your work, or how to lose 100lbs, or how to train for a marathon... Just don't ask me to do it for you.

To all of you in the 80% range, this is my response to the entire lot of you, all at once.

MESSAGE: Dear so and so, 
First, thanks for writing. It's been [a day for fly-by friend-count seekers, or 15 years for ex-highschool folks] since we last spoke, so it's nice to know you're still alive. 
Listen: you're asking me to do for you in one email what it took me 8 years to accomplish on my own. The problem is, those 8 years were entirely necessary for me to do what I did with any success whatsoever. I took the hard, long road toward producing something, and it's paying off for me. 
But you want the benefit of those 8 years of labor for yourself, without putting in the time. You're essentialy telling me that whatever it is you're up to is special without that amount of labor. In other words, I wasted my time, and should have just asked someone else who made it to help me out. In other words, I worked harder, not smarter.
In other words, I'm stupid and you're smart. 
Thanks for the pick me up. 
Your best friend in the world,


How To Stop A Man From Cheating

Last week, I randomly tweeted about a small pseudo-adventure that Drew Curtis and I had at a bar where we convinced a man not to cheat on his wife. I was asked about that event tonight - I didn't even give it a second thought at the time, but one of my readers was interested in the how and the why of it all. So, the story:

Drew was in Atlanta for a layover, and was crashing at my place. Usually when Drew comes into town (or when I go visit him), we have a nice dinner at someplace with steaks that don't resemble flip-flops - but this was late, and not many places serve past 10pm on weeknights here (unless, of course, you want the flip-flop).

But Drew was hungry, and is also always up for an adventure. So, on the way home from the airport, we stopped off at a place a few miles from my southside suburban home called simply Sports Cafe for a few brews and some wings. And while we were there, a young man whom neither of us had met before began chatting us up about the woman that wouldn't stop flirting with him, hoping to commiserate with us about just how hard it was to stay loyal to his wife with this "young hot ass wavin' in [his] face." He added that he'd never cheated before, but was seriously considering it.

I took this as a cry for help.

Now, Drew and I are both married, and are both fiercely loyal to our spouses, but it's one of those topics that - when discussed in the "guys in bars" dynamic, is approached with great delicacy. Too much adoration for the wife, and you're "pussywhipped" and "ball-less" and you lose face with the dudes you just met. Too much disdain - especially around people who already know better and have seen you completely "pussywhipped", and you lose face with your friends for putting on an act.

But I really didn't want this guy making a horrible mistake, so while Drew laughed and nodded, I proceeded to play the pragmatism card. You see, no man considering cheating on his wife is truly "in love" - this does not mean that he doesn't feel love for his wife, just that he's not IN love with her. And you can't convince someone to be in love, and if you have to remind them that they're supposed to be in love (and thus maintain fidelity), it's not actually love. So I just went with common sense.

"Say you did hit it with this chick," I said. "What's the best case scenario? You bust a nut for a night?"

"Yeah," he said, with a smile on his face.

"But then, you love your wife right? And we have to think about the worst case, which is she finds out."

"Oh man," he said, "That'd be pretty bad."

"Actually, that's not even the worst case. Worst case would be this chick you hit up tonight, she thinks she loves you, and starts begging you to leave your wife, which will absolutely guarantee your wife will find out... Now you have TWO women mad at you."

He thought for a moment. Drew smirked.

I continued. "I don't know about you, but I can't even handle my wife yelling at me about forgoing a salad to eat a steak... Imagine the fight when she finds out where you put YOUR steak."

Drew crept in with just four words: "And also, remember alimony."

And that's how we convinced the guy to go home to his betrothed.

In my life experience so far, I've found that people - typically men - cheat on their significant other mostly out of ego. The ego is satisfied by only two things - creation and conquest. Those who cannot create seek their self worth from others, usually from the opposite sex, and usually through sexual conquest. 

And if a man feels he's not attractive to his wife, rather than solve that problem with her (because, let's face it, it's really, really hard to have that kind of conversation with anyone, much less someone you don't love enough to stay loyal to), he'll just go out and start cavorting with women who'll pay him some mind.

Now MOST men, they won't go the next step. Knowing they've "still got it" is enough. But then again, most men are neanderthals incapable of thinking with both heads at the same time, and in every single instance of logic vs. natural instinct, nature will win every single time.


Art of Akira IS GO!

I'm sitting at my kitchen island, enjoying a nice early morning breakfast and watching the hilarity unfold on Fox News over the Healthcare Reform Bill that passed this weekend (an event so rare and momentous, it actually has me watching Fox News to giggle at the reaction). The only reason I'm even up this early is because of the work that must be done today - today's the day my selections from my collection of Akira animation cels and backgrounds ships up to Toonseum.

We are about three weeks away from an exhibit I've been dreaming about for 10 years and working toward for nearly three, and it's very, very exciting. I'd say I'm almost more excited about this exhibit than I was about the release of either of my books (but if we're talking "nervous", then yeah, the books absolutely beat this exhibit).

So, in honor of this, I thought I'd share a few more pics of the cels and backgrounds that will be on exhibit. This is the Flickr slideshow of some of the items headed to Pittsburgh today - enjoy!

If you're in the Pittsburgh area the weekend of April 9-11, please let me know - I'd love to have you out for a VIP view of the exhibit's opening weekend.


A Joe Peacock Podcast? WHAT???

Yeah, I don't know either. I don't think I'd make a good podcast person. For one, I am retarded. Second, I'm boring. 

But I am now officially a recurring co-host on Pixelated Live, which is the Pixelated Geek podcast. And every Monday night at 10:30pm Eastern / 7:30pm Pacific, I'm gonna get on the mic and rock that shit or something. 

But I've been told by several people that they'd watch a weekly show where I just go off on crap. I don't know why they'd want to do that. But they said it, so... Who knows. If you were to watch a Joe Peacock podcast, what the heck would you want to see (besides my naked buttocks)?


Discomfort In Friendship and Chess

Those of you who have seen me give talks (or readings, or seen me on Pixelated Live, or merely attempted conversation with me) know that I have a very peculiar sense of humor. I tend to be overly blunt, especially when I first meet someone, and doubly especially when they think they're going to be the "funny guy" and try to catch me off guard... Usually by making some sort of reference to my last name, Peacock.

"OH I GET IT!" I'll shout. "You're referring to the fact that my last name contains the word "cock," as in penis. And this is funny to you. You know what I find funny? Vaginal discharge! Isn't it a hoot?" That'll teach that Presbyterian minister to go snickering at my name ever again... Motherfucker.

I find it best to go ahead and put people off-balance immediately, both in life and in chess. The moment someone sits down to play chess with me, I'll pick the black side and then move first anyway. And my first move is to castle my king with a pawn, and if they look at me funny, I stand up and shout "FUCKING CHALLENGE IT, I DARE YOU!" I snarl and I pound my fist into my palm and I state very clearly that if they dare question the move, I'll beat their face in and then pour lemon juice in the wounds.

You see? It throws them right off their game. They concede, and my "W's" go up another tick.

It's not like I can help it, either - it's my instinct. I can't help it. It's not some act - I just think it's best to whap people over the head with my personality from the get-go and see what kind of stuff they're made from. It immediately lets me know if I can be friends with that person or not - and it's remarkably effective.

Except it did get me expelled from the Chess club in high school. The guys who ran that club could NEVER be my friend.

And that's why I love Drew Curtis, Jon Lee and Peter Zillmann - fantastic guys who never flinch in the face of my insanity. And of course my wife Andrea and my friend Mike, neither of whom are linkable. Except that they are in my book, which I guess I can link here too. Today was the sort of morning where I was able to interact with all of these people and fully appreciate the greatness of their friendship.

But none of them will play Chess with me. I wonder why not.


The New Gig - My AOL Articles

So far, the response on the articles I've filed with AOLNews has been really great. People seem to be laughing, and I'm getting a good bit of email.

Actually, I'm getting a LOT of email. A metric buttload, in fact. And most of it is nice, but a few of them have been from very, very crazy people. Take, for instance, this woman who wrote in response to the article about the guy finding Jesus in a skillet full of burnt bacon:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Message for Joe Peacock
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2010 09:47:15 EST
From: [redacted]
To: joe@joethepeacock.com

Hi Joe,

I just read the story on the man seeing Jesus in his pan of burnt bacon. It warms my heart to see the way Jesus shows up in the most inconspicuous places for those who believe. My mom says I find Jesus everywhere I go. I don't know if it's me finding Him or Him finding me but I like it.

One day, while I was sitting on my bed and just dazing into nothing I seen a tiny picture of Jesus sitting on my desk. When I seen it I thought how small of a picture it was and didn't remember having a picture of Jesus that little. I pulled at it and it came out easy and it was no picture at all. It was a receipt to a very well known store. If you want to know which store all you have to do is write me back and I'll tell you. If you know or have any idea's which store it is then please let me know. I have intended for years to let the store know but to date have not. Reading this story makes me want to share my story too. It's amazing the power our Lord has and how desperately He wants our love.



...I mean, WOW. And I'm sorry, [redacted], I don't mean to insinuate that I think you're crazy or wrong. It's just that I don't think you really undersand the point of what I do or why I do it. People who see the face of Jesus in anything aren't necessarily to be avoided - I mean, I can see the face of Jesus in the things people see the face of Jesus in. It looks like Jesus because it looks like Jesus. No brainer.

I just don't put any value to it. It's a clever way of painting a picture, I guess... But I think if God wants to send us signs, things like this are pretty silly mediums when you have volcanoes, earthquakes, and world-ending meteors at your disposal.

Plus, I think that any message from the divine beyond really should be more important than a simple "Hi there, just thinking of you." I want the secrets to life and a reason for existing, not "Yo Dawg, I know you pray for bacon, so I put my face in it so you can worship while you worship."

And yeah, I'm taking shots at other journalists and traditional media in my Fark-releated pieces. Because that's what Fark is all about - but more than that, it's because I'm sick to death of fluff and nonsense being bandied about like it's news. I do realize this is the internet, and as such, there's an infinite amount of space for an infinite amount of crap to be published - but videos of cats playing pianos with an orchestrated accompanyment are not the same as "news organizations" doing everything except reporting actual news.

It's not a content issue, it's a context issue. And yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm making enemies. It's nothing new; I've been doing that since I was a teenager. I routinely target things I never want any part of and hack at them with impunity.

I'm not really a fan of burning bridges... I prefer to take them out with a missle launcher before I even get to them.


Joe + AOLNews = Probably Awesome... Maybe

So, I'm sure just the headline alone brought a groan and possibly a "Wait, WHAT?" But yes, I'm now a contributor for AOLNews.

Why: Well, the biggest thing is that AOL has a MASSIVE audience, and the type of writing I'll be doing is right up my alley: if you like articles I've done like The Insane Energy Drink Experiment or How To Actually Get A Decent Tattoo or How to Actually Win A Fist Fight, you'll likely love what I'm going to be doing with AOLNews. I'm working on a regular column which will basically put me in the path of the most insane, disastrous things happening in our society right now, using me as an example to others how things like The Taco Bell Diet and Acai Berries might not actually be smart things to build your life around.

Why AOL: It might seem a bit weird for someone like me to be working with something like AOL. But there's a few things going on over there that have me really encouraged. AOL is completely revamping the brand and their efforts are moving toward becoming a fully-fledged, original news and content group. And if you look at their team page, they've got some HUGE talent signing on. Ex-Google president Tim Armstrong is running the place, and he's no dummy. They've jettisoned the wire-based news they used to offer in favor of completely original stuff.

It seems like they're really taking the rebranding and new direction seriously. Instead of just talking about a new direction while doing the same old crap, they're seriously moving a completely different way - and they're doing so smartly, by experimentation and testing, keeping what's working and abandoning the failing bits.

Why it is probably awesome, maybe: Okay, look at that team page I linked above. Pulitzer prize winners. Writers from ABC, NBC, FOX, AP, Reuters... And then, the tattooed dork who got puked on during his first sexual experience and who set fire to a Hooters. Yeah... Not the same league. Not even the same sport, actually. But I'm going to do my best to make you guys laugh. I'm not out to reboot the world of journalism with some zany, madcap version of writing that'll set the world alight and make me famous. I just want to make some funny things that people have the opportunity to read, and this seems like a great opportunity to do that. I hope you agree.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share this with you guys. And no, I won't be blogging less here (despite the last, like, two weeks being a complete wasteland here - more on that tomorrow). If anything, I'll be putting up a LOT more stuff here, as there'll inevitably be stuff I pitch to my editors that won't make the cut - and I won't let it just die a soft death.

But yeah, that just happened.