This will either become a thing or quietly disappear never to be mentioned again.

I wanna start an advice column.

Have a problem?  One that doesn’t need resolution anytime soon, because I don’t have a timeline for launching this yet?

Email me at and tell me about it.

Feel free to make something up if you think it’s more interesting than your actual life.  🙂

Don’t read this post

awful-clipartIt’s not a terribly common thought for me to have, but this is probably beneath you floated through my head as I was contemplating writing this post earlier.  Let it never be said that I have any standards for what I’m willing to whine about over here, guys.

To wit: I’m at the point where I’m seriously considering contacting my local radio station and begging them to move their stupid advice column segment to literally any other time than the fifteen minutes or so where I am driving my son to school and am thus guaranteed to be in the car five days a week.

Yes, I know I could listen to something else.  This particular local morning show is terrible.  It is the worst station in the universe, except for every other station I could be listening to, most of which are less “radio programs” and more “war crimes.”  Sometimes I don’t feel like screwing around with my phone because I’m in a hurry to get the boy to school and choosing something to listen to makes my brain hurt.  And therefore just about every weekday morning I’m exposed to a crowdsourced advice column, starring a question by the stupidest people on earth and responded to by people who think those people need their help.

This morning’s question was about whether the flu vaccine was “propaganda,” for example.  Earlier in the week someone wanted to know if she was terrible for asking half of her bridesmaids to lose weight before she allowed them to be in her wedding.  These are always questions that a sixth-grader with a modicum of emotional intelligence should be able to answer easily, only apparently there are no sixth-graders with a modicum of emotional intelligence listening to the radio in the morning.  It is terrible and it ensures that I begin every single day by questioning the worth of civilization in general and American civilization (my opinion of which is lowering on a daily basis anyway) in particular.  I need them to stop and I need them to air their dumb program at any other time, or at least restrict the advice-giving to the hosts and not the howling apes who are calling in.

Also, I need to start an advice column, most of which will consist of me telling people that they are morons who should have solved their own simple-ass problems before writing to me.

Advice for those from warmer climes

5405943268_e3280ff9f1_z.jpgIt never fails to fascinate me: that moment when you realize that your body has adapted to winter, because what was “cold” a few weeks ago is no longer even worth noticing.

I am a Midwesterner.  If you are from Florida, or Arizona, or Southern By-God California or somewhere similarly godforsaken, you may not be aware of what winter is like around here.  Today was in the low thirties, what we call “t-shirt weather” around here.  Last week it was cold.  If I brought you up here in cold weather, you would die.  I would stand there, wearing a t-shirt, not even shivering, wondering why you were dying and quietly suspecting that the human race’s future prospects were probably being improved.  But you would die.  There is no doubt about it.

But yeah: when the last week has seen consistent below zero temperatures, and especially when the wind chills get into the dozens of degrees below zero (it hasn’t been that cold yet, but it will be) when a day in the thirties or even low forties rolls around, we don’t even notice that shit anymore.  That’s wake up and think about putting on shorts weather.  It’s nothing.

Today was one of those days.  It was damn near warm all day, and sunny besides, and the sun was doing a damn good job of melting the leftover, unplowed ice off of the parking lots and roads and driveways around the area.

And then it became night, and it got much colder.  I’d say it probably dropped 20 degrees in an hour.  And all that water that was on the roads and the parking lots and the driveways because the ice and slush had been melting refroze.

Are you familiar with the term “black ice,” Person of a Warmer Clime?  Black ice is what happens when a thin sheen of ice forms on a surface– generally, on a paved surface, which is why it is called black ice.  It is transparent and can be damn near invisible under the right circumstances, and a lot of the time a patch of asphalt covered in black ice just looks a little wet.  It’s dangerous as hell, to both drivers and walkers.

Sometimes, for example, you’re walking back to your car after a day much like I’ve just described, and you step on a patch of black ice despite knowing what you’re in for and walking very fucking carefully.  And you don’t fall down!  No, instead, you discover that suddenly your foot is next to your ear, but you are still upright and to the casual observer it must look like you are executing some sort of badass martial arts move or perhaps an impromptu Nazi goose-step or Cleesian silly walk, only you’re a fat old man who is incapable of such things by either poor flexibility, personal politics, or both.  Then, somehow, you’re still standing on both feet, only you heard at least three distinct pops out of your hip while your foot was on walkabout (see what I did there?) and you had a brief moment where you thought wow, that actually feels good before the shattering pain kicked in and then you drive home, your thoughts drifting back and forth between Percocet and the emergency room.

tl;dr it’s icy out and I may need a cane tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT:  Managed to get my shoes off.  I have been wearing two different color socks all day today.  The end.

I can haz next Wednesday?

wegotthisHad a weird conversation with a co-worker today who was planning on staying up punishingly late tonight to watch Game 7 of the World Series, yet could not understand why I was not expecting to get any sleep next Tuesday night due to staying up late watching election returns, liveblogging, and generally making an ass of myself on Twitter. To my mind, they are basically the same activity, only mine involves literally defeating the forces of evil.

Do not panic, by the way, if you are a Democrat and prone to such things.  I have been saying this for months: Hillary is going to win, and she’s going to win big.  I don’t care what Nate Silver says, I didn’t care what Nate Silver said a month ago, and I’m not going to care what he says in five or six days.  Clinton is going to win.  Trump never had a chance.  I am more mellow about this election than any in my lifetime, and my memory probably encompasses an extra election or two beyond what you might expect from a 40-year-old, because I have a lifelong habit of paying attention.

I am right about this.

Trust me.

Do not panic.

Meanwhile, speaking of not panicking, the Cubs just went up 5-1.  I will probably watch another twenty minutes of baseball and then consign the rest to history and go to bed; I am working my way through a thousand-page Ken Liu novel and kinda want to prioritize that over grown men swinging sticks.

Goal for the next two days: no naps.  Likelihood of achieving goal: minimal.

Blogwanking: I Get Email edition


This showed up in my mailbox the other day:

Yes, HOW did you get your site to appear so high in google? How many years have you been building your blog and social media? Do you have any suggestions to increase traffic? 

I have read and studied all the stuff, but didn’t know if you had any useful thoughts or insights since you have more experience.

This is interestingly timed, because while I’m currently in the midst of a post starting to go viral, 2016 has so far not been great for blog traffic for me, and book sales have been abysmal.  Most months this year have been around 5500 pageviews, and an average day therefore somewhere in the 180 range.  Compared to last year, even before I wrote the Syria post, that’s low.

The post about consent from Tuesday amassed 1900 views in its first 24 hours of existence, and as of right now, about 47 hours after writing it, it has 3251 pageviews and over a thousand shares on Facebook.  So probably 60% of a typical month’s traffic, for this year anyway, in less than two days.  It is, right now, actually growing slightly faster than the Syria post did.  We’ll see if it shows the weird sine-wave behavior that that post exhibited, but for now it’s doing great and today is showing signs of being better than yesterday.

In the life of the blog, which I started in June of 2013, I’ve had one post go Freshly Pressed (which didn’t generate a lot of traffic outside of WordPress) and three that I can safely say have gone viral– the two I’ve already mentioned and the Snowpiercer post.  Bewilderingly, the Snowpiercer post still is consistently in the top five posts every single day despite the fact that no one has watched that damn movie in months.  It is still the top Google result for the words “Snowpiercer terrible.”  It will probably hold that distinction forever.

How did you do it, you ask?

Hell, I dunno.

(Ducks, runs away)

Actually, no, that’s not quite true.  While, again, the blog hasn’t been as successful so far this year, I know exactly why that’s been the case: because I’ve been boring.  I am committed to posting every day around here, and I haven’t missed a day since December of 2014.  Now, that has advantages: regular posting is critical to gaining and keeping an audience.  But I’ve spent most of the past eight months sick, depressed, and unemployed, which has not made for astonishingly entertaining prose.  It’s hard to have interesting things to write about when you don’t go to very many places and you don’t interact with people.  And while previous blogs of mine have been very current-event/news focused, I’m currently happy with the amount of political content on the blog and, while it will ramp up a bit more as the election draws closer, I’m not looking to turn this into a current events blog.  I could probably drive traffic up if I did, but that’s not what I want this place to be right now.  I did that blog for five years during the Bush administration; it’s out of my system.

So here are some concrete suggestions for how to keep a blog running and generate traffic, with the obvious caveat that there are a lot of people who are a lot more successful than I am at it out there:

  • Write consistently.  This doesn’t mean daily!  But if you’re gonna post twice a week, post twice a week, and try to keep them on the same days.  You don’t want a situation where people pop over looking for fresh content and can’t find anything.
  • Be entertaining and write well.  I like to think I’m at least usually good at these things, but they’re essential one way or another.  You can make a blog about whatever subject you want interesting so long as you write about it well.
  • Read and comment on other blogs, or at least spread some Likes around on WP blogs if that’s what you have.  People tend to follow you back when you do that, and it’s a good way to get the next thing to happen:
  • Try and build yourself a community (or join one) with other bloggers.  Facebook is good for this.  So is Twitter, which is like 70% writers.  I had a hunch the consent post was going to blow up; one of the first things I did was post it on a couple of FB groups I’m in and ask folks for a signal boost.  This needs to be done sparingly, because it can annoy people, but if the piece is good and you’re not constantly asking, it can get good results.
  • As far as making specific posts blow up?  Keep writing and eventually you’ll get lucky.  That’s really all I can say, unfortunately.  Viral posts are frequently a result of luck, good timing, good writing, and luck.  Your first one will probably surprise you.  I had no idea the Snowpiercer post was going to be as successful as it has been– frankly, it still amazes me.  My Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews posts do better than they have any reason to.  Other times you’ll get an inkling beforehand, like with the Syria post and the consent post.  Sometimes you think something ought to blow up and it doesn’t.  Keep writing.  Something will pop sooner or later.
  • Did I say keep writing?
  • Because keep writing.

Any other suggestions, guys?