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Right now my mind is absorbed with an article about Stranger Things I’m putting together for  later in the week. I want to watch the series again after reading some other people’s pieces, to make sure I’m not going over any already trod territory.

My initial thoughts on the series are that it is nearly perfect at the game it’s playing. For horror fans of a certain age, it’s a very pleasurable piece of curated nostalgia. It’s Norman Rockwell for Stephen King fans. It’s so specific to what it is, and adheres so much to its own rules, it feels like it resists the usual dreary quasi-academic critical theory you see over at Slate and Gawker. It’s amazingly apolitical and almost completely unburdened by the need to explore modern anxieties. Because of that, it doesn’t do the job of true horror. I’ll shelve this for now.

On to the questions.

Do Ouija Boards work?

I don’t think they work at all. The easiest way to debunk them is the method Penn & Teller used on one of their shows awhile back: blindfold everyone. When people can’t see the board, they can’t spell anything. It’s all being done by your corny subconscious.

When I was in middle school and still believed the boards were real, I came up with the idea to use one to answer the multiple choice questions on a take home test. It did not go very well. Of course, there are stupid people, so why wouldn’t there be stupid ghosts?

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What’s the greatest experience you’ve ever had when your flight was delayed?

I can’t think of anything positive that’s happened because of a flight being delayed. The last time it happened to me I was stuck on the runway in New Orleans for two hours, crammed next to a sweaty woman about to go into diabetic shock, while the technicians tried to fix the A/C.

What’s the best firearm for fighting zombies? 

There are a ton of ways to answer this, but the short answer is: a .22 rifle with a suppressor, high capacity magazines, and some sort of red dot scope. For zombies, all you really need is .22 ammo. It’s light, so you can carry a ton of it. With the suppressor, it’ll also be very quiet, to prevent you from attracting more of the dead.

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If enemy humans are in the mix, you might want something with a little more punch, but this rifle will allow you to dispatch the armies of undead as well as successfully hunt small game.

What’s the best response when Muslims or Jews condemn you for eating pork because pigs eat feces and have parasites?

Pigs eat nasty shit and do have parasites, so I don’t know I could argue with them against it, but mostly I don’t like arguing with people about food. No one is ever convinced and all you can really control is yourself. If someone is condemning you for something, you have to examine if they’re right or not, then choose to change your behavior or not. If you don’t feel like changing, fuck ’em.

Do guys care about the kind of underwear girls wear?

Early in a relationship, sometimes. Later in a relationship, clean and willing to have it removed for romantic purposes is enough.

What are the most notable banned album covers?

The one that made the biggest splash in my own life was the original robot rapist cover for Guns N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction.

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It was designed by artist Robert Williams. At the time the band said it was supposed to represent the industrial system raping our system. After retailers wouldn’t stock the album, they switched the cover to the cross with skull faces of the band image.

Before this, I never really considered whether or not an album’s cover would be banned. As a little kid, the whole thing never made sense, because the image was included in the liner notes anyway. I guess I’ve never thought it did much good to cover things up like a Victorian.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when shooting a gun without having done any training?

The NRA’s safety rules cover most of the dumb things people do. Most mistakes are from people watching too much TV. Don’t point the weapon at anything you don’t want to destroy. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

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The safety stuff is far more important than tactical training. I recommend taking a basic safety course if you plan on getting in to shooting. After that, you can get into correcting stuff like grip and aiming.

Shooting is a martial skill. Just like anything else like it, archery, etc., it takes time to learn and it needs to be done safely. The great thing about gun culture is the people involved in it are very friendly and helpful. I’ve never seen anyone be shitty at a range. If you have questions, there are always plenty of old timers around to get advice from.

 

 

Is it ok to drink alcohol at a child’s birthday party? 

If you’re not driving and you don’t plan on getting too fucked up, I don’t see why not. People forget that kids see everything, though. While you think you’re being clever by calling it “mommy’s juice” just know that your children are already on to you.

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What are some secrets boys rarely share with any girls?

Well, they wouldn’t be secrets if I shared them, would they? I will share this: no man I’ve ever talked to has ever mentioned cellulite. I have never heard anyone say “she’s hot, but she had a little cellulite.” Men do not care at all about it.

But women sure do. I’ve heard women speak in the most jealous, hateful tongues about women who do not appear to have any. No men care. Seriously. This is not a thing. Save your money on that bullshit snake oil for preventing it. No one cares.

 

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I’m almost finished watching Stranger Things. I have a lot to say about it and I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit so far. If you were ever curious what I was like as a kid, just watch the show. But make the characters horribly shy and mean. 

I’m going to write a pretty long 2-3k word piece on it later in the week. So if you want to read that sort of thing, keep an eye out. 

There’s a scene in the show where a character is reading a copy of Stephen King’s Cujo. It reminded me of all the hours I spent devouring King’s books. For me, they were powerful talismans. The covers were so esoteric and creepy, especially during the Satanic Panic of the 80s. I remember reading The Stand in 4th grade and a kid called me a Satanic faggot. 


I tried to ignore him, but he kept asking me if I worshipped the devil. I already liked heavy metal and didn’t go to church, so I said “yes.”  He shut up and that was the end of it.

At that moment I realized how much power there was in horror. People were really scared of it, especially the dumb ones. 

I’ve never been scared of these stories. They never got creepy enough for me and I never got frightened. I loved the monsters. I loved learning the rules of the paranormal universes. The metaphysics of terror have always been my thing. 


Stephen King has always been the best to me. I’ve read a lot of the other writers of his era, but I don’t think anyone was as consistently good. There are writers with more extreme ideas, but King masters the normal. His cul de sacs and rusty cars were so real to me. 

His book On Writing is my favorite about the craft of being an author. The way he describes whether or not a person is a “real” writer is that if a person wrote something, got paid to write it, and paid a bill with that money, then they are legit. This was really important for me. It gave me permission to think of myself as a writer. And once that happened, I was able to make something of a career of it. 

Before the summer is done, I want to finally read The Dark Tower series. But right now there’s a copy of Cujo sitting on the book share shelf at work. I’ll start that Monday. 

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There’s a weak article over at Daily Kos written to scare you away from voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. You can find the same recipe for diarrhea chili being served on the right. The writers of these soft headed, beta editorials are pretending to be journalists to advance the cause of their favored candidate. Do not believe their lies.

The main reason to vote for a third party candidate is to affirm the viability of third parties. If no one moves to a new party, we will be stuck serving the dueling satanic oligarchs who command our putrid ineptocracy for eternity.

It amazes me that a society so interested in rejecting sexual and cultural binaries can still cling to these awful big tents. The suffocatingly hegemonic beliefs of the two party weasels need a major overhaul and they will never change unless we threaten them with the loss of our business. They are selling dull, lazy ideas. If we don’t reject their wares, we can only blame ourselves.

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The foul goblins who write for these online political mags want to criticize informed people for voting their conscience. This is insane to me. How else should you vote? When are the other times shelving your conscience is required? The thought of this sickens me. I will vote for who I believe is the best.

The reason I like Gary Johnson is because his ideas line up with my ideals better than other candidates. I took one of those “which candidate do you agree with most” polls and I matched with Johnson 92%. I imagine it’s because I like guns, weed, and being left the fuck alone by pampered elites and grievance junkies. I am not ashamed of any of that.

I also really enjoyed him on The Joe Rogan Experience. I’ve never heard a presidential candidate in a real conversation before and I liked what I heard (note: I also quite enjoyed Obama on Marc Maron’s show, but he wasn’t running for anything). He seems like a solid dude. And he owns a weed company. Having a dope peddler for president is a glass ceiling I’d like to see broken.

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I also looked into his record as governor of New Mexico and found a lot to like there, too. He lead bipartisan initiatives, got spending under control without fucking over the poor, and left the place in a better way than when he started. He is my guy and he will be getting my vote.

“But, but, but, but…not supporting Clinton is the same as supporting Trump.” Grow up you fucking child. It’s not the same thing at all. The only people saying so are terrified their shitty candidate is going to lose to an even shittier candidate.

The main reason to not vote for a third party candidate is to prevent syphoning votes from a candidate you believe is the lesser of two evils. This is only an issue in a battleground state. I am not in a battleground state, so fuck Clinton.

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I reject her tired boomer Marxism, her optimism towards bureaucracy, her position on the 2nd Amendment, and I refuse to ignore the real and well documented scandals of her career.

And fuck Trump, too. His crassness is certainly intoxicating for the media, but the real concern is he has no real policy, no real experience, and no real values. He is dangerous not because of his views on illegal immigration or radical terrorism, but because he clearly does not know what the fuck it takes to run the world’s only superpower. This is not a time for on the job training. Putin will put his nuts on Trump’s face in the first 90 days and there will be nothing for him to do about it.

If you don’t want to see Trump as president, give more money to Clinton, and volunteer to call people in the close states. Don’t believe for a second it’s not going to be close because it is. But don’t be afraid to make a stand for a diverse future if that’s inline with your values.

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It’s official. I own more books now than I can realistically finish in the next two years. Books are the only purchases I make impulsively. Amazon one-click has been a total curse. Hopefully I can speed up or devote more time to turning pages.

What causes this hoarding are footnotes and citations. When a book or a podcast mentions something worth reading, I’m usually keen to follow up on it. I’ve been really enjoying a pair of podcasts by this guy named Darry CooperMartyr Made is sort of a long-form religious history production, in the style of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. The first series is a deep dive into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It’s totally worth listening to.

Cooper’s second podcast, The Decline of the West, is more of a current event show. I’ve been really enjoying it because it leans pretty heavily on Nietzsche and a few historians from the early part of the 20th century, like Oswald Spengler, who had a cynical view of the future. This is only in its third episode, but has already given me about 15 books to add to my list. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them.

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I’d love to do a show like this one day, maybe about weird occult history or the crusades, but there are at least 200 more books I should read before I even get started. It’s crazy to feel this way. My education is just starting to become developed. There are still huge holes to fill, though. I haven’t read all of Nietzsche or any of Hegel, and there are dozens more like that. I haven’t touched Lacan or any of Freud. As much as I love Simone Weil, I’ve only  read Gravity & Grace.

And literature. I’ve been completely neglecting the classics. I haven’t read Lolita. Can you believe that? It’s eternally frustrating. I never go back and reread things. This is truly necessary to claim a deep knowledge of a text, but who has the time? And what about the fun stuff? I wonder if I’ll ever have time for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I’ve heard it’s great. I would give almost anything to be able to sit and read from morning to night like I did as a kid.

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The person who’s career I most envy is Maria Papova. Her site Brain Pickings is a chronicle of her own reading. Her writing distills ideas and wisdom from important authors and puts them into a modern context. I can’t think of a better job than reading all day and writing blog posts about the books devoured.

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For those who might not know, I work as a copywriter. Though words and grammar are employed, I don’t consider it to be creative in the same way writing a novel or piece of journalism might be. It’s a commercial art with different goals. It can be done well or poorly, just like any job.

I don’t think it’s something anyone could do, though. In addition to having good grammar (this blog is full of chronic violations of the rules) and above average writing skills, you have to be pretty quick thinking, organized, original, and thick skinned. It also helps to have a good understanding of marketing, graphic design, and whatever category the product you’re working on is in.

Hiring a copywriter can be expensive, but you know what’s more expensive? Losing sales because your spelling eats a dick and it looks like your company is run by paint huffing juggalos. There are lots of tricks that can help you get better at it, though.

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The first thing is to get your grammar pretty solid. It doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, there are times when a break from grammar can make sense, but you should be fairly close to perfect unless you have a compelling reason not to be (Apple’s Think Different, for example). For that, there is no better resource than the classic The Elements of StyleThe Elements of Style by Strunk & White. If you’re allergic to books, the Purdue University Online Writing Lab is great.

The second thing is to get your writing tight. There are all kinds of books on efficient writing out there. One I thought was pretty decent is How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times by Roy Peter Clark. In my opinion the best writing on this appears in George Orwell’s  Politics and the English Language.

The last thing that’ll get you moving in the right direction for copywriting is knowing how to sell something. There are innumerable sales books out there, including a few written specifically for copywriters. None of them are as good as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s not really about sales, though. It’ s about how to listen people. When you listen, you find out what people want. When you find out what people want, there is opportunity to get it for them. When you can get things for people, you can make money.

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Anyway. That’s just a quick little blast of copywriter wisdom. I realized earlier today that by the end of my year of blogging my collected advice columns and pep talk entries will be long enough to be the length of a small book. My plan is to edit it, have my friend do some illustrations, and release it as a very cheap Kindle book. The working title is Be Advised.

In that spirit, I’ve always wanted to put together a book about copywriting based on what I think works and doesn’t. I figure if I do one or two copywriting related entries a month, I’ll have a good base for that project. I might even do a regular weekly “ask a copywriter” feature if people are interested.

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Other than going home to New Orleans, I haven’t been on a real vacation in years. I have months of PTO saved up, but not enough money saved to do anything fun. What to do?

Earlier today I had an idea. I’m always going on about the Stephen King schedule; four hours of writing, four hours of reading. My dream schedule bookends the King schedule with weight lifting and some sort of martial arts. Right now I’m terrible at committing to all these things. I write about an hour a day, better than nothing, but nowhere near enough. Same with books. I do a lot of online reading, but that’s mostly political trash. I’ve been more inconsistent with training and I haven’t been on a mat in well over a year now.

The dream staycation would be seven days of the schedule I want to keep. Morning workout, reading, writing, and evening training. It’s sort of a self designed retreat, with the goal of seeing if I could even maintain that sort of pace.

I might be to try it out on my rapidly approaching birthday week or when I hit the halfway point for my 365 days of blogging, which will be August 16th. I’ll keep you posted if it starts to look more doable. I suspect Mrs. Lott and her ruthless workaholic agenda may be a strong interference, so I may have to go into a full retreat mode and hide somewhere. I wonder if there’s a cheap cabin I could hide out in?

Anyway, it’s been weird to have made it this far on the blogging challenge. I sort of thought something would have come from this by now, but nothing has. I guess I have a few funny posts, but nothing that’s really mind blowing. It affirms what I’ve long suspected about quality being superior to quantity.

This whole blogging project was based on The Artist’s Way, which is a program for creative self discovery. Each time I’ve worked through it, there’s been an almost magical shift in my life during it. I got into Berkeley, I started a new career as a copywriter, that sort of thing. It could be that this project has been too secular. The Artist’s Way is explicitly metaphysical.

Whether those forces are real or not doesn’t seem to matter. Tuning your mind to abundance and creativity appears to work well. I’ve been flipping through a copy of  The Lives of Saints recently and there is at the very least an aesthetic quality to dedicating your work to higher forces that could motivate a person creatively. After power watching four seasons of Vikings I’m halfway to converting to the worship of the old gods, though it would be easier to just go Catholic since I know more about that cult.

I often wonder how atheist Christopher Hitchens managed to do it. His output was always high and the quality of his writing was always solid. He had an internal fire that drove him. I wish mine burned like that. People definitely like to take issues with his conclusions, but I’ve never seen anyone of consequence or worthwhile opinion dismiss his actual craft.

Anyway, as is usual with blogging late, this has become intolerably solipsistic. Good night.

 

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I’ve been power watching the TV show Vikings instead of doing anything physically productive with my recovery downtime after my cadaver graft. This was a tremendous mistake. This morning I hit the gym for the first time in about ten days and it was disheartening to find myself still in “before picture” territory.

If I was fighting on the side of Ragnar Lothbrok, the hero of Vikings, I would undoubtedly be killed within the first few seconds of battle. In just ten days of inactivity I found myself smaller, weaker, and completely lost from the habit of early rising. The latter is perhaps the most insidious as this is what allows me to overcome the other two.

Next time I’m recovering from some injury or surgery or whatever, my plan is to wake up as if I was going to the gym and go there. Even if I’m just holding kettle bells in my hands to strengthen my grip, that is something. The habit must be maintained even if progress is not gained.