PLEASE READ: A New Project: The Book That Never Ends?

Hi all,

So, Richard Branson launched Project on the iPad today, and I personally love it.

The world is now pondering: "Is this a fad?" I'd say that Project is the answer to this very same question, asked six months ago when Wired first published their iPad edition. I'd say that a super smart rich guy who makes his money making good decisions watched the market and determined this is the way to go.

And that's what I'm doing here, now. Except I'm not super smart or rich. I'm just a guy who writes shit. And I have this idea: What if I did a Project-type app for iPhone, Android and iPad, where I publish Mentally Incontinent and Blog style stories, every single month? Would you subscribe? I'd treat it like a Joe Peacock book that never ends. Well... as long as people are subscribing, it wouldn't anyway.

I need your feedback here. Is this a good idea? Would you subscribe?

Some answers to questions you haven't asked yet:

1) No, this wouldn't be the end of paper books. I'd still make those. In fact, I could probably make them much faster (more than one every 18 months) this way.

2) The price -- I have no idea. I'd say for a story a week or so, I'd charge 1.99 a month, or free with ads.

3) It'd be a universal iPad and iPhone app, and also on Android and probably Windows phone.

4) I already have ~100 stories ready to go for this, about 60 or so no one's ever read. They were held back for future books. This would be that future book.

I'm thinking of doing a Kickstarter fundraiser to start this. I would need roughly $5,000 or so to get the development on the app done (I will be doing some myself, but will need to hire in help). Thoughts? I'm serious, I need input here. Even if you don't think you'd subscribe, tell me why. Show me the pitfalls here.


For a Friend

I hate to see you this way.

You have so much potential. You're smart, you're funny, you're a damn fine human being. And you keep getting in your own way because you let someone else's damage stop you. 

I know the drill all too well. You believe what you've been told -- that you're not good enough; that you're a loser. Those words weren't words. They were living things... Parasites, unleashed upon you which then burrowed deep into you and began to feed on your spirit.  They live off you. They devour you. 

 Those who hurt you, they meant to hurt you. They're winning every single time you let what they say affect you. They couldn't have loved you; they couldn't have ever been your friend. They did this to you. Friends don't do that. 

I wish I could have gotten to you first. I wish I could give you the weapons you needed to fight off the ticks and leeches who used you and then left you scarred. I wish the words I say could counteract all that damage and kill the parasites and help you see how wrong they were. I wish I could take it from you. Like I said, I know this all too well. I know the pain, I know the suffering, and I can handle it. I'm big and I'm strong and I've been there before; several times. I know how to fight them. I know how to beat them. 

I wish I could teach you. I can tell you how I did it, I can give you the words to repeat in your mind and the methods to combat all that damage... But just showing you the moves is no different than teaching someone another language by constantly repeating it to them, only louder and more emphatic each time you don't get it. You have to immerse yourself in it. You have to live it. 

Live like you love yourself. You don't right now -- I get that. But it's not real. It's because of them and what they said and the things they did to you. It's not that you loathe yourself; it's that you loathe what THEY convinced you you are. 

It's not enough to say "don't let them win." They already have. The way to win is to draw a line in the sand right here, right now, and cross it. Treat that line as a whole new life, one where you're going to treat yourself right and love yourself. Cook good things for yourself to eat. Buy clothes you like. Exercise. Cut them off -- don't listen to them. Don't let them in. Treat them like dogs barking on the other side of a door you just closed. 

And take it all one day at a time. Stop looking at the end of the tunnel and wishing you were on the other side of it. Just put one foot in front of the other. And know that those who really know you and love you know what you are. Not what you can be, but what you ARE. And all we want is for you to see it for yourself. 


What If?

Ever wonder how I come up with anything, or decide I can do things, or basically live my life? Ken Rayburn explains it quite well: I ask "What if?"

"What if?" is THE most powerful question we can ask. Period. It allows us to not only come up with new crap, but it also gives us permission to be stupid, because it's not "HEY THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE" -- it's "What if?"

Every writer, illustrator, designer, scientist, engineer, and ponderer uses "What if" in their daily life whether they realize it or not. But all of you who aspire to be such creative types but just don't know how, there's the secret. You ask "What if?" and you ask it all the time, in public.

And if anyone insults you or thinks you're stupid, you just say "I was just wondering." Or, even better, you say "What do YOU think?" Or, even better than that, you say "Fuck off, I've got work to do."

Anyway, enjoy:

Can't see the video? Click here


Joe's 1st Annual Christmas Present Common Sense Guide

It's coming up on holiday gift buying time. Yay for presents! Buy me presents! Okay, I'm kidding, you don't have to buy me presents*.

I am getting asked a lot for advice on gifts. People know I'm into all sorts of shit -- technology, gadgets, comic books, anime, movies, video games -- and they want to know what I think. To save all of you time asking (and then ultimately foregoing my sage advice and buying the thing you really wanted to buy in the first place but asked me advice in the hopes I'd lend some weight to your poor judgement), here's all my gift giving advice, in one quick post.

Understand, this guide has nothing at all to do with telling you what YOU should like and get for yourself when you're being self-indulgent. This is a guide for what you should get other people. So spare me the whole "BUT I HATE APPLE" and associated crap. What you like is what you like, because you're a hardcore nerd like I am. How many other people in your family and life can name every color of the Darkest Blackest Night rings? (Thanks, Anonymous -- I originally wrote about "The Dark Knight Returns" and rethought it, deciding instead to go with something modern. Also, I'm an idiot). 

For friends and family:

1) It's a no brainer -- if you're buying a slate/tablet device for anyone, pony up for the iPad. The HP and Dell tablets are at least 2 years behind it in usability and platform. I get that some of you are into "openness" and "extensibility" and whatnot, but buy your own slate / tablet on your own time for your own experimentation. Don't subject grandma or non-techies to a sub-par user experience. 

2) No, seriously, I don't care what your justifications are. GET THE DAMN iPAD. 

3) DO. NOT. BUY. INTO. THE. BLURAY. BULLSHIT. Most of us are already watching movies through Netflix streaming. In 5 years, EVERYONE will. If you're a hi-fi snob, good for you, go waste your money, but don't force your relatives and friends who don't share your penchant for $4000 stereo systems to invest in yet another physical media format. Get them a Roku Netflix streaming box and 6 months worth of subscription for less than the price of just the BluRay player. The quality isn't as high, sure, but for 90% of the movie watching public, 720p is inperceptable from 1080p.

4) If you're going to get someone a Nano, go ahead and get them the watch strap. I bought my wife a Nano for our dating anniversary (yes, we celebrate our dating anniversary after 9 years of marriage. Why? Because not only do I get laid, but I get popcicle makers and other kitchen gadgets. You'd think it would be to keep romance alive and whatnot, but no, it all comes down to popcicle makers). My wife has lost three iPods in her lifetime. Three. So to keep her from losing something 1/5th the size of an iPod, I got her this nifty watch strap. It's my favorite of what's out there -- but there's a really great Kickstarter project for a VERY nice Nano strap in process right now. If you want to be pilanthropic AND get a watch strap out of it, consider that. There's also this really interesting "slap bracelet" style Nano watch strap coming from Griffin, which I dig.

The Nano Watchband is pretty darned great.

5) Netbooks are dead. You are stupid for buying one in 2010.

6) 3D TV is a "leapfrog" technology, in that the world will likely leapfrog over it for the next thing. Even ESPN gave up on it. You should too.

7) LCD or Plasma: LCD. They last longer. I like my plasma, and it's really beautiful. In about 6 more years, I won't be saying that. But with the LCD, even though it may not be 100% capable of the depth of clarity as the Plasma, it'll still be tickin'. And don't let Best Buy and others deceive you into the refresh rate myth to the tune of several hundred dollars for special cables and whatnot. It's a scam

For the kids:

1) Game consoles:

If your kid is...
  • 4-12: Nintendo Wii
  • 12-18: Xbox 360
  • 12-18 and a total shut-in with no interest in playing decent games with friends: Playstation 3
  • A chubby little bastard who needs exercise but refuses to go outside (or, you as a parent are so overprotective you refuse to let them go outside on their own and experience what the rest of us had: A normal childhood): Xbox 360 with Kinect

2) Yes, Call of Duty Black Ops is a great game. No, you shouldn't get it for your 9 year old, unless your 9 year old is a lot like I was and is already so much of a handful that watching humans get their heads blown off and hearing curse words would actually be a catharsis that keeps them from setting fire to things.

3) Yes, your kid is going to absolutely destroy any remote control flying device on the first day. I don't care how good he is with his toys, he's going to destroy it. You hear me? Destroy. So, buying the Parrot AR Drone for your spawn is tantimount to putting your $299 in a stripper's garter. It's gone. You've wasted three hundred bucks on a damaged child.

It's cool and it's awesome and it'll be in pieces within an hour.

4) I gotta say no on the trampoline. And it really hurts to say it. I wanted one SO bad when I was a kid. In fact, I became friends with one of the most dispicable kids in our neighborhood when I was growing up specifically because he had a trampoline. But before you judge me, he did the same to me -- the fat kid was always the best for setting up double-bouncies. It was a win/win... Until I double-bounced him off the sucker and into the wooden privacy fence, breaking two of his ribs and his wrist. And when you factor the deductable of the emergency room visit into the cost of the trampoline, you're way better off taking your kids to an aventure world / theme park every other weekend during the summer.

Need more convincing? Just Google "Trampoline accident" and watch any of the videos that show up... Or just watch this one:

(Can't see the video? Click here)

4a) But if any of your neighbors ask, you tell them absolutely YES on the trampoline. You get all of the benefits with none of the lawsuits. And it gets your kids out of the house.

5) Your kid is actually pretty much ready for an iTouch. You may think it's a bit beyond him/her, but I have seen with my own eyes a three and a five year old pick up an iPhone for the first time, consider it for a minute or two, and figure out how to not only get Angry Birds to launch, but how to play Angry Birds... Better than I do, in fact. And these aren't abnormally advanced kids who were grown in a vat with Vivaldi piped into their tubes while being fed genetically engineered fish-and-carrot souflee. And the reason I recommend the iTouch:

6) Yes, your kid's going to lose a Nano or Shuffle. Hell, YOU are going to lose a Nano or Shuffle. See my suggestion on that below in "For friends and family."

7) Gift certificates are a lame present for kids, but they're perfect for teenagers. Little kids want what they asked for. A gift certificate isn't received very well by them, and not for the reasons that adults like to hate them. They don't show lack of initiative or thought or whatever to a kid -- all they represent is opening a present and not getting what they were hoping for. It's SO MUCH BETTER for a kid to get duplicates of what they wanted than for them to get a stupid gift card. Seeing the 2nd Buzz Lightyear means "I asked for a Buzz Lightyear, and I got TWO!" Seeing a gift card means "I asked for 19 things, and this stupid plastic thing was given to me instead of one of the 19 things." Don't be lazy, get the kid a present.

But with teenagers, it's perfect. Teenagers are growing into their little consumerist materalistic selves, and love the idea of a) getting the hell out of the house and b) acquiring stuff while they're gone. Getting the gift they asked for is nice and all, but teenagers, more than anything, are turned on by the thought of possibility and discovery and wonder. And gift cards mean not only being away from the parents for a while, but getting anything. they. want. But all of that is gone the second they get a gift card to someplace lame, like Men's Warehouse or Applebees. For boys, it's Best Buy. For girls, it's Kohls. Don't be an idiot. And pony up if you're going the gift card route. A $10 gift card to anywhere but Starbucks blows.

8) No clothes. Ever. I don't care how bad they need them, just don't do it. Take them shopping, but don't give clothes for Christmas. The only exception to this are super fresh sneakers or a jacket they asked for. But shirts, jeans, socks, underwear... Lame.

Don't do it. 

7) Ditch the dolls and action figures. Get them something that makes them creative. When I was a kid, I wanted Transformers. I adored Transformers (and still do). In 1986, I wanted Ultra Magnus more than anything. Now, we were very recently poor. Like, bone dry dirt poor. We were living with my grandfather at the time because whe had to hastily leave our former house, and along with it, every Transformer I had collected up to that time.

The only thing that gave me any comfort whatsoever about leaving Optimus Prime and all of his heroic Autobots behind in the former house was the fact that I was going to get "Optimus Prime but on steroids" for Christmas in the form of Ultra Magnus. I begged for Ultra Magnus. I put him on my Christmas wish list every single week. I left torn pages from Sears, JC Penny and Speigel catalogs with Ultra Magnus on my mom's bed.

I bet you can surmise by now that I didn't get Ultra Magnus for Christmas that year. I got my first ever set of "real" markers (not Crayola, Faber-Castell professional markers), my first comic book (Transformers:Universe #1) and a pad of Bristol board instead.

What kid WOULDN'T want this glorious primary-colored piece of plastic?

I hated that Christmas at the time. It was so damn lame. I wanted one and only one thing, Ultra Freakin' Magnus. And here I had some stupid markers and some stupid thick paper and a stupid comic book. So, I started drawing Ultra Magnus. I drew Ultra Magnus a lot. And he looked a lot like how a 9 year old would draw Ultra Magnus, provided he never drew anything really ever. But I drew him anyway, and then moved on to draw Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave, and so on.

I went on to really love drawing and illustration, and that goes double for comic books. I spent most of my high school days drawing and reading comics. I left college after 6 months go to build and design websites, and my early interest in drawing and layout got me there. I love who I am, because I didn't get Ultra Magnus -- a plastic figure which would have held my interest until the next fad toy showed up -- in 1986. And yeah, someone reminssing about his misspent youth being poor might bore you, but the point is important: When you take your kids' life as a whole instead of just a fleeting moment on December 25th, 2010, you'll realize that foregoing Barbie and Yu-Gi-Oh cards for something that gets them actually thinking and doing stuff is the better investment.

Or, you know, don't. I don't care. I hate children.

*No seriously, buy me presents.


How Not To Do Home Maintainence, #72771: The Heater

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook saw a curious little post last night:

To understand what's going on here, I need to set the stage:

For your heater to blow hot air, two things have to happen: the air has to get hot (from the burner), and the air has to blow (from the blower). The blower has a motor. The motor has a fan, and in order for that fan to move, it sits on a spindle. All of this sits in a vented case.

A long time ago, whoever installed the air conditioning up in the attic was a genius and somehow set up a funnel made of the loose end of a zip tie where the condensation from the air conditioning would trickle right down it, through the venting, and onto the motor. After a few years of this, the whole thing began rusting up.

The HVAC guy said that, to save us a bit of money, he could just replace the fan and spindle for the blower, but every few years I'd want to get up there and throw a little WD-40 on the whole thing to keep it moving smoothly. I asked how I'd know when it was time, he said "When you turn on the heat and all you hear is humming or buzzing, it's time."

Well, that happened last night. So I went upstairs to check out the issue, and sure enough, the motor was "humming" (it had juice), but the fan wouldn't spin. It just sat there and buzzed, basically. So I took the cover off and moved the blades with my finger, and it chugged along with a good bit of resistance.

"QUICK!" I said to no one. "To the Garage!" I ran down, grabbed some WD-40, and headed back up to get the thing unfrozen. Thinking smartly, I also turned off the main blower motor via the switch near the assembly, lest the gas furnace blow up in my face.

Because I can't actually get at the blower motor spindle directly, I had to spray WD-40 through the vent slats and casing around the blower motor spindle and fan blades. This took a while (and a good bit of WD-40).

Having trouble imagining what this looks like? Just know this: A TON of WD-40 was being bandied about because I had no direct access to a fan spindle which was frozen up.

But one thing I didn't do: Turn off the pilot light. And when enough WD-40 collected on the blower spindle and fan to begin dripping down, it did so right on the open flame. And for bonus points, ignition took place just as I went to go spray the blower motor spindle again.

To give you an idea of what sort of treat I got to see when this happened, here's a dumbass wearing a stupid MMA shirt being a retard, set to the dumbest song I've heard in a while:

(Can't see the video? Click here)

There was a huge "dripping" fire blowing all around my furnace assembly, and furthermore, I was holding an improvised blowtorch.

Without even thinking, I turned the spray of the WD-40 away from the furnace, but didn't think to let go of the nozzle, so now I was basically napalming all of my old toys and useless CDs in the attic. But only for a split second -- enough to scare the shit out of me. I am a safety freak (you wouldn't think so by how stupidly I behave), so anywhere there's fire, there's a fire extinguisher -- and in my attic, it sits right on top of the heater case. I grabbed it and put the fire out quickly, so there wasn't any damage. It just stunk to high heavens and left me shaking to the point that I had to sit in the frigid attic for about 15 minutes before I could brave the stairs down to the house.

So yeah, that was my night last night.


How I Got Happy (a Not-Quite-How-To Filled With Examples That May Not Work For You But They Worked For Me So Like Whatever)

Those who read this blog regularly (WHY? WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF?) know that, around this time last year, I was pretty miserable. I'm not going to cover it all here. What I will say is that, in the past year, I have found what I consider an entirely new life, and its one I'm extremely happy in. Not faux-happy. I'm not telling myself I'm happy so I won't focus on how miserable I am. I'm not practicing retail therapy, saying to myself "This particular purchase has caused my overall misery to subside temporarily! All I have to do now is string enough of these together over time and I'll always be happy!"

I'm happy. Genuinely happy. Here's how I got there:

1) I Cut the chaff. There were people in my life who did nothing for me, but expected everything from me. To hang on to these people was a desperation move. I told myself these were my friends. I saw my giving to them as a way of helping out a buddy.

But nothing (or, very little) came back my way.

So, I instituted a very simple, blunt policy: It works both ways. I still help those around me. I haven't turned into a bald-face asshole. I hold doors for strangers; I cover the change for people in the line at grocery stores who come up a little short. And the same goes for people in my life who consider themselves my friend. I do favors. I help out with moving something heavy, or loan a bit of cash, or build a website when they ask.


And then, I wait and I watch. What's the next communication (if any)? Thanks? Another request? A favor returned? If I'm shafted, I don't just flat out tell these people to go fuck themselves when they leave me high and dry, I simply cut off the favor pipeline. There's no discussion, no lofty conversation about ideals and payback and the true nature of friendship. There's simply a realization that friends don't treat friends that way, and if they're treating me that way, they're not a friend.

Being kind is not synonymous with being a door mat. I'm not sorry. I deserve better.

2) I go to bed. I'm getting actual sleep now. Not weeks of 2-3 hours a night, followed by a crash for a weekend. I sleep at least 6 hours a night now. At first, I felt like I was wasting SO MUCH TIME -- there was this block of 2-3 hours every single night just sitting there, and I'm not doing anything with them!

But then after about a month, I started feeling something I never felt before in the mornings: awake. I can actually function. I don't have to sit there like a zombie while the coffee brews. I still drink coffee (lots and lots and lots of coffee. And Red Bull), but it's not what wakes me up anymore. I can get right out of bed, let the dogs out, fix breakfast, and read the news without the dull film of DURRRRRRRR coating my brain. And for the past, oh, 10 months or so, I get more done between 6-9 AM than I used to in an 8 hour day -- and I'm not bragging, but if you consider exactly how much I do in my day between writing books, articles, ad campaigns, designing crap, running an art exhibit, travel and running a small business... Trust me, it's made an impact in more ways than one. It allowed me to actually follow through on the next thing:

3) I put shit away when it's time to put shit away. There's a time for work, a time for play, a time for family, a time for eating, a time for being with yourself -- and only yourself... And I had to realize when those times are and not let them interfere with other times. That's not to say I had to go put everything on a calendar. But for some things, that did help.

The major thing was to quit working when my wife got home, and carving out a dedicated 2 hour block each day for the gym (that's travel time included). Unless the project or job is an emergency -- like this Scott Pilgrim thing I did for Fark, where we got the go-ahead a week before launch and had 100+ hours to do in a little less than 40, or the roof caves in on my house, I don't let work interfere with my family time. And almost more importantly, I don't let family interfere with the work time. I play video games when and if I have time between those two things, which as it turns out, there usually is.

4) I read a book a week (at least). I buy some of them, and borrow others from friends or the library. But I read at least one book a week. Some fiction, mostly non-fiction how-to books. It puts me into a state of absorption. I take in new information, perspectives, and views, regardless of the subject matter. I get to see, just for that week, what someone else is thinking. I may disagree with it; I may not be able to view a fantasy world the way the author did, but I was there, at least for a bit. It's like a muscle; it lets the brain relax from being so contracted with thought. Blood gets to flow back in, and it gets to rest for more flexing later. And if you're wondering how I find the time: I read on the toilet and during travel. If you ever borrow a book from me, there's a good chance it was once in my bathroom and/or on an airplane. I practice good hygiene, so don't be too grossed out... Think to yourself how much stuff you touch right after you get out of the toilet. Same thing with those books, I just touch them while I'm there too.

5) I stopped reading Reddit and stopped watching CNN, MSNBC, The Daily Show, etc. I don't give a shit about other peoples' opinions on the news anymore. I now just read the actual news. Instead of letting someone broadcast to me what they think is important, I subscribe directly to sources (AP, Reuters, etc).

Leaving Reddit was by far the biggest boost to my overall happiness. There's no easy way to say it: Reddit is a hive-mind. Much more so than Fark could ever be, because Fark's stories are submitted by users but promoted by editors. Reddit is 100% groupthink. And that's fine, if you like it and are able to cope with it.

But I found that reading what the hive mind produces can't help but make me part of it, and that particular hive mind is, by and large, depressed, lonely and unhappy. Not stupid, not losers, not a waste of time... They're very smart. They're very productive (at least most of them are). They have fine jobs. But they're unhappy. I don't want to be unhappy. I'm not saying this is true for everyone, or even a majority of people. I'm saying it was true for me.

There came a point where I just couldn't read all the negative comments or thoughts (or even headlines) about the daily news, and all these AskReddit threads about people whose spouses cheated on them, or they're abused, or whatever. The same goes with cable news and The Daily Show. While entertaining, they ultimately are exposes on current events, and exposes can't help but be dissatisfied with the source material. E.G. They're unhappy.

Being around negativity affects you. Reading negativity affects you. Hearing negativity affects you. PERIOD. You are what you ingest -- not just nutritionally, but informationally as well. And I now ingest good, healthy stuff.

To be clear: I'm not just burying my head in the sand. I still read bad news. I still realize people have problems. I'm just not letting the wave of emotions generated by people to wash over me anymore.

6) I let go of the past. I know everyone says this is a key to happiness. But I also know that, like everyone else, I had no idea how to do this. I couldn't figure out how to just let it go, move on, and be happy... Because that shit MATTERS SO DAMN MUCH. You feel like, if you don't think about it, you don't care about it. And if you don't care about it, you're not a good person. So you allow yourself to dwell, either on the guilt or the pain or the reasons why whatever happened to you hurt you so bad.

The trick to letting go of the past is to realize that, those past few seconds where you thought about my whole tirade about Reddit, you weren't thinking about what troubles you. Did anything change? Did the world collapse? Did everyone in your workplace get fired? Did your spouse suddenly stop being an asshole, or suddenly forgive you for what you did, or any of that?

No. So if you let it go for just a few more seconds, not much else is going to change. Expand that to an hour or a day, and you'll find the same is true. Guilt and dwelling on pain and whatnot fixes nothing. It doesn't help. All it does is make you feel better about shit going South because it gives you at least a small sense of caring about it.

I figured out that I can still care without obsessing. I just do the right thing when it's time to do it. I apologize when I get the chance if I screwed up. I tell people they screwed up when the time comes for me to be able to do that. I change directions when a path becomes blocked instead of dwelling on why it became blocked.

7) I stopped feeling trapped by life. The only way to really illustrate how I came to this realization and changed my brain is to try to get into yours, so forgive me for putting this on you. But here goes:

Sitting here right now, you have choices. You can close this window. You can get up and go get a glass of water. You can keep going to the door. You can walk out of it and go to your car. You can drive... Well, anywhere. Sure, there's obligations... But obligations are YOUR DECISION. You decide what matters. And if your boss's approval (which you never seem to win) or your parents' approval (which, ultimately, comes with love and not with deed) or anyone else's approval of your actions matters to you, then fine. Those are your obligations.

But you have a choice. You can stop letting what they think of you affect what you do, and that's where it starts. First, you stop letting it affect your actions (but you still care). Then, you stop letting their guilt or disapproval get into your heart and mind and soul and you realize that, if they love you or like you, they'll support your decisions to do what makes you happy, because that's what people who love you want for you -- your happiness.

And if hopping in your car and driving to Chicago this weekend just to see what the pizza's like makes you happy, or just getting in your car for a drive, or just getting up for a glass of water, or just closing this window makes you happy... Do it.

That's what I did, because...

8) I realized I deserve to be happy. What did I do to deserve to be happy? Well, I was born. And a natural consequence of being born is death. And I realized that I'm going to die. It's inevitable.

So then, I realized I have a finite amount of time between right now and the last moment I'll be alive, and only I get to feel the feelings, think the thoughts and do the things that I'm going to feel, think and do, which means that I'm actually the only one I answer to for all of it.

So I might as well be happy.


Armchair Activists, 2010 (The Scary Kind)

Armchair activists piss me off. 

Take this fuckstick, Ricky Vee, for example:

Back in the early 2000's, I railed against the liberal left who sat in their Aeron chairs and blogged about how the government failed us and the war was unjust and Buy Nothing Day was a huge slap in the face of consumerist America and Earth Hour and whatever. I hated them. You know why? Because they were lazy inept retards who thought that opening their mouths (physically or digitally) actually did shit.

But then, they got out in 2006 and 2008 and voted and showed a little initiative. Good for them. I didn't necessarily agree with some of their decisions, but I admired the work. I too hated the way the government was run, and I got out and I voted. But I also put my money where my mouth is, donating to the NRA, ACLU, EFF and Ron Paul's election campaign in 2008 -- yes, that's right, I was once a Tea Party member, back when it meant something. 

These days, however, there's a whole new class of armchair activists -- the uneducated, fearful Right -- and they're actually causing quite a ruckus from their Lay-Z-Boys. It's not the same as the "progressives" bitching on blogs about how change is needed and the best ways to go about promoting advancement of our culture and civilization... Those things take work. These guys just sit back and scream over you and insult you and basically heap their ignorance on everyone within earshot... And THEY actually do create change. For the worse. 

Because fear is contagious. It's a virus. It destroys what it infects and uses its host to infect others. Love and patience and peace and intelligence? Those are the antibodies and vaccines against fear, but they have to be administered -- and before that, they have to be synthesized into word and action. And it takes a LOT of work from intelligent and thoughtful people, which are in shorter and shorter supply. 

Update - 10:53 AM: Victoria shared this link with me about one man's civil disobedience against backscatter scanners and groping at the airport. I saw the report Friday, but didn't think to link it - thanks Vicki!


Akira Sleeve Tattoo 1.1

I just spent the last 8 hours with my artist Todo getting the Akira sleeve retouched. Todo and I knew when we finished it a few years ago that we'd eventually want to get back to it and brighten a few colors and reline some of the bits that would eventually fade.

We ended up pretty much redoing the entire thing from the elbow down. Here's the results from today:


Dear Parents: Fuck You And Fuck Your Fucking Kids

Got your attention? Good.

This isn't meant for every parent on the planet. In fact, it's not meant for the majority of you who decided, on purpose or by accident, to propagate our species. The majority of you are fine, upstanding hard-working folk who I respect and like. You understand that life does not suddenly bend to your will because you hatched a kid. You're exempt. You're the model by which society should be measured.

But the rest of you -- and you know exactly who you are, because you fucking blog about it incessantly -- FUCK YOU. Fuck your kids. Fuck everything about you.

Why? Well, here's a perfect example of why. Two parents who decided to start yet another "Corporate America Owe Me Something!!!!" blog and twitter account because their baby had a diaper-exploding shitstorm (not even hyperbole, the article describes it as such) and the gate agent wouldn't let them on the plane.

They think that, because standby fare on another flight wasn't going to cut it and they -- by their own will -- bought fare on another carrier, Alaska Airlines owes them compensation for the fare.

Now, while I agree it's insanely good PR and a great way to keep your customer base happy by comping these two for their trouble, it's absolutely not an entitlement. First, the airlines -- ALL of them -- state explicitly in no fewer than 5 places that you should be at the gate 30 minutes before departure to board, and that anyone arriving 10 minutes before departure time is subject to losing their seat.

But these two don't agree. They think that because their kid had a shit that spilled out of the diaper and they had to go change it and missed the flight because of that, the airline should bend over for them. So, they started their "Alaska Airlines hates Families" blog and twitter and whatever (not linking it because fuck them), thinking they'll get the same kind of response that the "United Breaks Guitars" guy got.

It's not even remotely the same situation. To insinuate that "Alaska Airlines hates families" because you couldn't operate within the bounds of their policies is NOT the same as a careless baggage handler -- who was clearly a neanderthal -- breaking an expensive guitar due to carelessness. And now, you think that you can mediawhore and shame the airline into doing what you demand they should do because your kid shit itself and you were too stupid to a) change the diaper fast enough or b) wrap the kid up and change it in the airplane bathroom?

That's the attitude that makes me want to kill all of you. The whole "Well I have KIDS!" argument.

SOCIETY OWES YOU NOTHING. You're not doing the world a favor by making more of us, regardless of what you think. You don't have some special new insight to the way the world works. You don't suddenly get to speak for the rest of us about abortion or how precious life is or policy on flights or anything else. In fact, you actually owe us.

You owe us the courtesy of not bringing a shitstained screaming child on a plane, or into a theater, or a restaurant.

No, I don't think you should hibernate until your mueling little cabbage of a child is 18. Somehow, millions of parents the world over find a way to make this work. They go to matinees, or family-friendly restaurants, or DON'T TAKE THEIR FUCKING BABIES TO LAS VEGAS. They make it work.

It's those of you who think that the rules should change the second you hatch your spawn that need to just break off and form your own little country with it's own ruleset and get the fuck out of our lives. We'll set up firewalls and traffic shaping to keep us from having to deal with your bullshit blogs about how parenthood gives you some right to broadcast your newfound perspective on life, so don't worry about that.

But if you choose to stay here, in our society, you need to learn to behave. Your entitlement issues are not my problem. Learn to be a part of society and shut the fuck up, or don't, and shut the fuck up. Either way, just SHUT. UP.

To make it absolutely clear: ever meet a PETA member who won't leave you alone about eating meat? They want you to change everything about your diet and life to accommodate their beliefs about animal cruelty? You're just as bad. And if you're one of these kinds of parents AND you're a member of PETA, do yourself a huge favor and never, ever introduce yourself to me, because I'll slap the taste right out of your mouth.

And yes, fuck your kids, too. They're not my problem. They're not anyone else's problem. We don't need to love them or even accept them. We, the rest of the world (both spawners and the childless) have the right to life as we've come to know it. Your brand new addition does not suddenly enlist us into this new army of the All Children Are Special movement. All children AREN'T special. They may become special, but they're just not. They can't even control their bladders. You want me to give a shit because your little kid is somehow unique and different and whatnot? Show me how. Cute and drooling is not special, it's being a baby.

(Note: I DO think that children are, however, innocent, and it's not their fault that their parents are fucking shitheads. But hey, that's life -- you play the cards you're dealt, and for these particular kids, they came up with two Jokers. Sucks to be them).

And for all of you who are sitting there thinking to yourself "Boy, I can't WAIT until Joe has kids... Boy, will he figure out how wrong he is!" -- Fuck that. I'd make a horrible father, and I know that well enough not to inflict my spawn on the Earth. But more than that, if we ever DO have children, I'm going to raise them the way my father raised me when he adopted me -- as a part of the family, not the focus of the family.

Look, kids JOIN the world, not become the center of it, and shutting down shop to focus exclusively on them without regard to the rest of everything is your choice. Go for it. But don't think that that's normal or even an acceptable tact. It's selfish and stupid and causes blog posts like this one.