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Category Archives: rules

Blogging etiquette. Should that be blogiquette? Maybe. Kids today, with their words and such.

I think we need to have a chat about blogging etiquette, my most lovely readers.

What? Who does Amy think she is, Emily Effing Post? Nope. I never know which fork to use, and I don’t understand the white-after-Labor-Day rule, so I don’t wear white at all. (That’s actually not that hard, since I only own one white thing, and that’s a white teeshirt, and it has crazy pitstains, so I can only wear it under things now. TMI? Yep. So now you can see I am SO not Emily Post. I don’t even play her on teevee.)

Oh, screw this, I know nothing about this crap.

Oh, screw this, I know nothing about this crap.

There are a lot of bloggers in the world. How many? Don’t know. This pretty infographic tells us about the state of blogging in Merka:

The most important thing you can learn from this? Other than I couldn’t find one for the world (sorry, world)?

There are a LOT OF BLOGGERS. You are one of MILLIONS.

Also, odds that you’re going to make your fortune as a blogger? Slim to none, sunshine. Sorry to burst your bubble. I have made $25 from blogging in the past year and a half. It’s not something you do because you want to make a lot of money. (Well, it might be, but you’re going to be disappointed pretty damn quickly. Or unable to pay your rent. Or eat. Or feed your cats. Dumbcat disapproves of this plan. He likes to eat quite a bit.)

So, because there are so many bloggers, I think it might be time that we mention some of the general rules of blogging.

I know! You’re all, “What? There are RULES?” and no. No, there aren’t, not really. But there is etiquette. And a lot of people aren’t being polite. And it’s bothersome. You want to be polite, don’t you? Sure you do.

Now, I’m not the queen of polite. I mean, I TRY to be, but I’m sure some people think I’m the rudest person to ever rude it up. I’m cool with that. I do my best. I can sleep at night. But some people…well, I think it’s one of two things. Either you’re new to the blogosphere, so you don’t know the ropes, or you just don’t care. Either way, let’s have a chat, ok? Cool.

Now, remember how up there I said there weren’t really rules to blogging? I lied. There’s one.

Here’s the one, which I will center and make all-caps and bold with stars because it’s just that important:

***HAVE FUN***

There. That’s it. That’s the number one rule. That is THE rule. Don’t do it to make money, or to become the most famous blogger EVAH, or for whatever other weird reasons might compel you to blog. Do it because you like writing, and because you have something to say, and it seems like it might be fun. And if it continues to be fun? And if you meet amazing people? Well, good. That means you’re doing it right. And if it stops being fun? Well, it’s something you should stop doing. I mean, listen. Work’s not fun, but if you quit doing it, you couldn’t pay your bills. Paying your bills isn’t fun, but if you quit doing it, you would have no power. Or water. Or home. But if you aren’t having fun blogging – well, why the hell are you still doing it? It’s an extracurricular. So quit it. It might not be your thing. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re broken. I mean, soccer isn’t my thing, but that doesn’t mean I’m broken. Just uncoordinated. You’re still ok. You’ll find something. Promise.

ANYWAY. Let’s talk about etiquette, ok? Because it’s necessary.

Write good posts with actual information in them. So! You’ve started a blog. Great! Now, what to write about? That’s up to you. What do you like? What are you good at? Are you funny? Are you serious? Do you want to talk about your kids? Tell stories? There are a million things you can blog about. Only you can decide what you’d be best at. What not to do? Write one or two sentences (too often – once and a while, sure. Shake things up.) Reblog other people’s posts and do nothing but reblog other people’s posts – again, once and a while is ok, but if it’s all you do, how are you going to develop your own voice? I promise, people want to get to know you, not just see what other people are saying. If they wanted to see what other people were saying, they’d follow them. Just be YOU. Seriously. If you don’t know who you are? Figure it out. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your footing. That’s fine. You’ll find it.

Don’t steal. You saw what happened to Jean Valjean, right? Right. OK, so you’re new to blogging, you’re reading a lot of other blogs, they seem SO COOL…so, they wouldn’t mind if you took their post ideas, right? I mean, they have a lot of followers, and you WANT a lot of followers, so if they’re doing this neat thing like they’re recapping an episode of Game of Thrones using X-Files action figures or something, well, that’s a cool idea! Yank that right off of there! It’s not like stealing from a store, right? WRONG. It’s WORSE. It’s intellectual property. That person worked hard on that. They worked hard on the post; they worked hard on getting those followers. But AMY! What if I steal the idea but TWEAK it a little? NO. Us bloggers, we are a savvy bunch. We know when you’re yanking our ideas. We know when you’re stealing the way we talk, our blog designs, a cool idea we worked weeks on developing. And here’s the thing: a., can you really sleep, knowing your cool idea was just stolen from someone else? and b., any followers you get are eventually going to figure this shit out, you know. You’re not fooling anyone, not for long. (Also, this goes for the big blogs, too. I won’t name names, but there’s a big-name genre blog that steals from the smaller bloggers within that genre ALL. THE. TIME. It’s a shady-ass blog, and it’s getting tons of followers and hits on the hard work that the smaller bloggers are doing. I’ve got my eye on you, big blog. And someday, you’re going to get yours. Seriously. I believe very strongly in karma being a bitch.)

Do you really want to be the kind of jerk who swipes? Well? DO YOU? Dora would totally shout at you if you did.

Do you really want to be the kind of jerk who swipes? Well? DO YOU? Dora would totally shout at you if you did.

Read and comment on other blogs. Now you have a blog, and you’re writing (hopefully non-stolen) posts that are awesome and full of kitten-rainbows. You want people to read your stuff! And your best bet? Other bloggers. Listen, I just counted, and I am subscribed to 191 blogs. And I add more every day. And I’m SELECTIVE about the ones I subscribe to, mostly because I don’t have time to read the ones I DO read, so I have to be careful about adding new ones. Now, not all of those update daily, but some update MULTIPLE times a day. I read them all. I comment when I am moved to do so and if it’s a WordPress blog, I hit the like button when I’m moved to do so. A lot of bloggers are very engaged with other bloggers, more so than most readers, I’d dare to say. Because we write, and we love to read what others are writing. You need to engage with other bloggers. Follow their blogs; learn from them (but do not, per the last paragraph, STEAL from them. There’s a fine line between inspiration and thievery.) Comment, and comment thoughtfully, if you are moved enough by their post to do so. If you like their blog, RSS it, or get the new posts emailed to you. This is your community now. Dive right into the pool.

Dive right in there. Wear floaties if you have to. No one will judge. Promise.

Dive right in there. Wear floaties if you have to. No one will judge. Promise.

BUT, don’t comment with nonsense. NOW! You’ve read a post. This blog has a lot of followers! You know if you comment on it, your name and a link to your blog will be in the comments! THEN ALL THOSE PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW YOU AND YOU WILL BE FAY-MUSS! Well, you might get a click or two from those comments, sure. I’ve gotten some wonderful followers from comments I’ve made, both the bloggers and others who follow that blogger. HOWEVER! Here is a tip. Do not just comment with the following, or a combination of the following: “LOL good post”/”Ha ha this was funny”/”I read this, good”/”Good writing”/”Thank you”. Why would you even comment with such a thing? Please put content of some sort in your comment. I mean, yes, comments are awesome, and bloggers love them? But we don’t know much about what to do with that kind of comment. Do we respond to it? Ignore it? Also, we’re aware you’re here to draw attention to yourself and your blog. YOU ARE NOT FOOLING US, SLAPPY.

And, don’t link-spam. If you’ve commented correctly, your name and a link to your blog will neatly show up in to the left of your comment. You do not need to put a link to your blog IN the comment. That’s overkill. And it’s rude. It’s one of those unspoken rude things. Don’t do that. Also, and I don’t know when this became a thing, and I blame WordPress, but apparently there’s a setting now where you can blanket-spam a bunch of people with a link to your blog. I’ve gotten a ton of these in the past couple of weeks. “Check out my blog!” “Read my blog!” “I follow you, now you follow me back!” And – my personal favorite, and if you’re reading, whoever did this, yes, I’m totally talking about you – “Send this to 21 more people now.” And that was all. IT WAS A BOSSY BLOGSPAM CHAIN LETTER. Let me tell you something. I delete these when I get them. I don’t even click the link. If you’ve commented on my blog, I’ve checked out your blog. I promise. I’m diligent about such things. You don’t need to link-spam me. I might be reading; I might not. As I said, I can’t read every blog in the world. I have to be selective.

I can only assume you don't want to be a processed meat-like product, so cut that out, you.

I can only assume you don’t want to be a processed meat-like product, so cut that out, you.

Don’t overpublicize. You don’t need to put up links to your most recent post a billion times. Once or twice on Twitter/Facebook/wherever else you publicize your stuff? Cool. Ten times? More? Tweeting it to a bunch of people asking them to read it? Spamming blog comments with it when the post has nothing to do with the post you’re publicizing? (I’m not saying NEVER put a link to your blog in someone’s comments. If you know the person, it’s ok. Or, I’ve put a link to someone ELSE’S blog in someone’s comments before. THAT’S ok. But don’t be a spammer, yo, see the paragraph above. It’s rude.) People are going to get sick of seeing all those links and they’re going to stop paying attention to you. Seriously. Trust me on this.

Be polite. Don’t be rude in people’s comments. That’s not your house. You want to be rude on your blog, cool. That’s your house! Someone else’s blog is not your house. So don’t walk all through there with muddy shoes. AGAIN, there’s an exception – if you know the blogger, and you have one of those jokey sarcastic relationships with them, go to it, jellybean. For example: I like to use SHOUTY ALL-CAPS and be very sarcastic. But I wouldn’t do that on someone’s blog I didn’t know well. I would do it on someone’s blog I’ve known a long time. If I didn’t, they might think I was sick. Otherwise, be polite. Your mom told you to be polite, and she wasn’t kidding about that.

I'm sorry, but this made me snort-laugh. I never said I had a high-brow sense of humor.

I’m sorry, but this made me snort-laugh. I never said I had a high-brow sense of humor.

Reply to your comments as much as you can. You have readers now! And they are commenting! Now, once you become a big old huge blogger, you might not have time to respond to all your comments. But are you The Bloggess? Are you Wil Wheaton? No. No, you are not. You are cutting off a dialogue between you and your readers if you don’t talk to them, and where can you talk to them? In your comments. Reply to them. Joke with them. Ask them things. Respond to their questions. And guess what? You might even make FRIENDS with some of them. I know! Shocking! Seriously. Try it.

Use social media, but do not abuse social media. You are a blogger! With followers! And commenters! A good thing to do is make a presence on social media. Twitter and Facebook are good. Some people have luck with Google Plus, Tumblr, things along those lines. Do what you’re comfortable with. Or what you’re NOT comfortable with, maybe. Go outside your comfort zone. It won’t bite you. Probably. Don’t abuse your social media presence, however. Don’t annoy people; don’t harass people; don’t post like a zillion links to weird stuff that isn’t even FUN or GOOD, don’t just retweet things. Think before you post. PAY ATTENTION. I can’t emphasize this one enough. If someone’s not talking about something? Probably don’t needle them about it. If someone seems sad, maybe ask them what’s wrong. If someone’s celebrating, congratulate them. Paying attention shows you’re a good listener, and potentially, someone people want to get to know. Also, don’t beg people to follow you. Ask them, nicely, a few times, but don’t constantly harass them. It makes me crazy when someone’s constantly in my face about following them. If I wanted to be, I would. I’m pretty savvy about the interwebs, dudes and dudettes. (SIDE NOTE! This is a me-thing and not an anyone-else thing, but I don’t use my personal Facebook for blog stuff. So while I appreciate people who have found out my REAL IDENTITY ZOMG and want to be my Facebook friend, odds are very good I will not approve your friend request. I’ve mentioned this in my FAQ’s, I think, but that’s where I keep my family and friends. I don’t invite strangers in there. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, and please feel so, so free to follow my blog Facebook page, or friend me on Twitter, where someday I might actually post shit again. But odds are very good you’re not going to be accepted on Facebook, and I’m sure you’re lovely, and not at all a stabmurderer. But, sorry. I have to have a certain level of knowledge of you, and trust, to let you onto my Facebook page. Thanks ever so for understanding.)

Be patient. Nothing good happens overnight. I know, it’s easy to look at some bloggers who have like 2,000 followers in 6 months, and be all, WHY NOT ME! I AM THE WORST! and freak out. I know. But keep doing what you’re doing. Have fun. Write what you know how to write. Make friends online. And if you get your 2,000 followers? Cool. And if you don’t? You know what? Not at all the end of the world. Don’t compare yourself to others. You’ll never measure up. You know why? You’re not them. And, there’s someone out there attempting to measure up to YOU and failing miserably. Just don’t. Measure your success against how happy you are. Are you happy today? Then you’ve succeeded. Are you sad? Then what are you going to do tomorrow to make it a better day?

OK, this is insanely long, and you know what? It stops being fun for me if I can’t get any sleep. So to bed I go. Have fun is the number one rule. And the number one etiquette rule? Well, it’s simple. Follow the golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated.

Then take that, and your happiness, and go out into the world and CONQUER it. You’re invincible now. And who doesn’t want to be invincible?

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I avoided people like they were zombies *before* they were all zombies.

I realize you are probably totally all disappointed in me because I haven’t been discussing the end of the world and you have come to count on me for your apocalypse updates. Sometimes I have personal shit occurring that prevents me from discussing the apocalypse in a timely fashion. Listen, you need to be a little proactive. It’s not like I’m going to be there to protect you when the zombies come. Well, not all of you. Dumbcat and I do plan on hiking our asses on over to wherever The Nephew is. The zombies won’t be getting The Nephew, nosiree Bob. 

The zombie apocalypse is nigh and don’t even think I didn’t warn you like eleventy-billion times this was coming. It’s your own damn fault you decided to be all blithe and ignore me and go trip the light fandango or whatever it is you do in your personal life and not prepare for this shit appropriately. 

In Miami, some guy ate another guy’s FACE. He ATE HIS FACE RIGHT OFF. 

JUST LIKE THIS.

How often do I mention eating your face on here? I’m going to do a search. Because I’m pretty sure it means I’m psychic. Oh, the answer is 15. Fifteen times in a year I have mentioned either eating your face off, biting your face off, or chewing your face off. I AM A PSYCHIC WONDER. I knew this was going down. I just wasn’t sure WHEN. You can’t put a timeline on face-eating. Don’t try to puzzle out my powers. They’re inscrutable. 

So, in Miami on Sunday, the cops found a naked man (zombies don’t need clothes, why would they need clothes? They have no shame. That part of their brain is dead as disco. DID YOU HEAR THAT JIM? DEAD AS *DISCO*) chewing on a homeless man’s face on an off-ramp. They were all, “Sir? Sir, could you please stop the face-chewery? That’s totally the grossest, no joke. Back away from the man-buffet, Naked McGee.” The naked man IGNORED THEM. Also? CNN says that “When the officer approached him, told him to stop, pointed a gun at him, he turned around and growled like a wild animal and kept eating at the man’s face.” The cop was all, “AW HELL NO” and then shot him. Well, the cop obviously didn’t watch (or read, the comics are better) a lot of Walking Dead, because the bullet didn’t stop him. He just kept on a’nommin’. Nom nom nom.  Well! You KNOW that cop shot him somewhere non-lethal, right? Like, in the leg or something. Like cops are trained to do. Guess how many more times the cop shot him? Five. FIVE MORE TIMES. It took SIX SHOTS for that man to stop eating the homeless man’s face. SIX. (One good head shot and that homeless man wouldn’t need to wear a Phantom of the Opera mask, copper-copper-crime-stopper. Just letting you know. Do your research. It’s your civic duty to know these things. We COUNT on you. Sheesh. Rick Grimes is a cop, he knows these things.) 

I like comic-book Rick better. TV-Rick, although pretty, isn’t badass enough for me.

The naked man (let’s just start calling him the zombie, ok?) was killed. Or he was already dead and he was put down, I suppose. The victim, Ronald Poppo, was transported to the hospital with critical injuries. According to this article, “most of his face, save for his goatee, is missing.”  Well, this is a new one. Zombies don’t eat beards! Good to know. You should all grow beards. This is good news for those of us who find bearded men attractive. (Now, listen, I’m not saying the victim is going to die and then rise again with a hunger for human flesh and brain matter, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be his nurse. Or at least wouldn’t be his nurse without a fireaxe strapped to my hip or something.) 

Jake, most of your pretty face is safe, safe, safe.

The zombie, before he was a zombie, was a man named Rudy Eugene. (TWO FIRST NAMES! That’s already suspicious. I mean, look at James Earl Ray! He had THREE first names, and NOTHING good came of that. NOTHING.) People say that “Eugene could often be seen wandering the area looking confused.” That is because HE WAS ADJUSTING TO BEING A VERY DEAD ZOMBIE.  

Now, the cops, in a massive coverup attempt, are all, “NO NO NO, it’s not ZOMBIEISM, it’s a new drug, it’s so new…um…you’ve never heard of it…we call it…um…bath salts.” They SAY “bath salts” are like meth and also amphetamine and maybe also bear testosterone. I made up part of that. NO I’m not telling you which part. This “drug” that I am not sure exists causes you to “use your jaws as a weapons.” So does zombieism, you cover-uppers. I don’t buy this for a minute. 

His girlfriend agrees with me about the unlikeliness of this bath salt scenario, by the way.

The man being depicted by the media as a “face eater” or a “monster” is not the man she knew, she said. He smoked marijuana often, though had recently said he wanted to quit, but he didn’t use stronger recreational drugs and even refused to take over-the-counter medication for simple ailments like headaches, she said. He was sweet and well-mannered, she said.

Eugene’s girlfriend has her own theory on what happened that day. She believes Eugene was drugged unknowingly. The only other explanation, she said, was supernatural — that someone put a Vodou curse on him. The girlfriend, who unlike Eugene is not Haitian, said she has never believed in Vodou, until now.

You do realize that voodoo creates ZOMBIES, right? Right.

Google Images says this is “bath salts” but I say LIKELY STORY GOOGLE IMAGES. LIKELY STORY.

So, there’s that. There’s a zombie in Miami, who, before he died, made WHO KNOWS how many more zombies. Likely amongst the homeless community, which is, if you think about it, a very good place to start, because they already sometimes have dead eyes and shamble about, so they could fly under the radar until they’ve got their numbers up, and then kill us, kill us all. Now, if that was it, I’d be all, ok, maybe we can contain this. MAYBE. But I’d still stock up on canned goods and shelf-stable milk. 

(Side note: I shared this story with K. that I work with. K.’s response: “That’s not true. That’s disgusting. That’s not zombies. Why do you think everything’s zombies? You always think things are zombies. It’s not zombies. Probably he was just a cuckoo. It was in Miami? He probably had sunstroke. Was he wearing sunscreen? Did the article say he was sufficiently hydrated, and wearing sunscreen?” IF YOU PEOPLE KEEP BURYING YOUR HEADS IN THE SAND THE ZOMBIES ARE JUST GOING TO BITE YOU IN THE ASSES. Also? You can still be infected by an ass-bite. I CAN’T TELL YOU EVERYTHING, PEOPLE. You need to do some RESEARCH.) 

Then a guy in New Jersey CUT HIS OWN ABDOMEN OPEN and THREW HIS OWN INTESTINES AT THE COPS. 

NO, I’m not kidding. How could I make something like that up? Come on, even I’m not that twisted. Heh. Intestines. Twisted. Nice one, Amy. Thanks, Amy.

When the cops showed up at this shouty dude’s house, he started stabbing himself. They noticed his intestines were hanging out of him. He continued to stab himself, then PULLED HIS INTESTINES OUT and WIELDED THEM AT THE COPS. I like that he furnished his own disgusting weapons. You have to admire that kind of MacGuyverism. 

MacGuyver never used his own intestines to get out of a jam, but if the situation called for it, you can bet he would have. I have FAITH in you, MacGuyver.

The cops sprayed two cans of pepper spray at him. It did nothing. Well, why would it? Zombies can’t feel pain. THEY ARE ALREADY DEAD. 

(Although, listen, I’m not sure this one’s a zombie. I think this one might just be a demon or a revenant or something. This one seems to think and use crude tools too well to be a zombie.) 

This article doesn’t even tell us why this guy was using his own intestines as sticky weaponry. Just that he’s been treated in the past for mental problems. Huh. This is a worry.

You think we’re done, don’t you? WE ARE NOT DONE. Listen, you’ve been relaxing for FAR TOO LONG. The apocalypse is HERE, people. This week it HAILED on my HEAD in MAY. That’s total apocalypse behavior. 

On Memorial Day, this tweet was sent out from the University of Illinois: 

Um. UM YOU GUYS. Um. 

Now, the university is immediately all “ha ha! No, no. All is well! All has been contained. THERE IS TOTALLY NO DANGER AT ALL. But, if, you know, you see glow-in-the-dark monkeys with laser-beam eyes or maybe tentacle-beasts in the campus library bathroom, you might want to, oh, I don’t know, lock yourself in your dorm closet for the time being. With a sharpened dining-hall butter knife as a weapon. Just a thought.” 

I find it horrifying I did a search for “genetically altered monkeys” and THIS PHOTO CAME UP. You GUYS! There ARE glow in the dark monkeys! Oh, no no no.

Genomic Biology? Andreas, we’re in deep shit right now, right? Well, you’re not, you’ve got an ocean separating you from the glowing monkeys and tentacle-beasts and I don’t know that they can swim. But we are, right? I mean, I’m totally prepared for zombies but I don’t know how prepared I am for monkeys. They’re cunning, monkeys are. I can only assume whatever got spilled would make them MORE cunning. Oh, this is bad. This is so, so bad. Zombies are slow. Monkeys are NOT AT ALL SLOW. When I went to the zoo last month, there was this one monkey that was SO FAST. It was zipping all around its cage. And Dad was like, “Isn’t that baby monkey cute?” and I apparently looked horrified and he said, “What?” and I said, “I’m just imagining how fast that would be if it got in your bedroom at night in the dark and ripped off your face.” 

Dad just shook his head and worried about how my brain works but WHO’S LAUGHING NOW DAD. Not me, I’m too busy worrying about GLOW IN THE DARK GENETICALLY ALTERED MONKEY BEASTS. 

Now, I know, you want to know what you can do to prepare. I’m really kind of mad at you all for not already BEING prepared, but fine. I’ll help. Because I don’t want you to all be dead. Then who would read my blog? 

Stock up on non-perishable food items (and water, don’t be a dummy.) Also, if you can learn to hunt and can your own food, that’d be good. The non-perishables are only going to be good for a year or so, and then you’re going to get pretty hungry if you can’t fend for yourself. 

Learn to use weapons. Also, if you can get good at weapons that are self-sustaining, like axes or swords or something, that’d be good. Once all the bullets and arrows are looted, you’re shit out of luck, Good-Time Charlie. 

Find a place to hole up and be ready to defend that sucker. You might have to kill non-zombies to do it, because other people are going to try to steal your hidey-hole. If you’re squeamish, be ready to die. Nice knowing you. 

Bone up. Zombie movies/shows/literature. I know, it’s like homework. Well, it’s homework that can save your life, Slappy Jones. So put down the Draw Something and read a damn comic. 

Try not to get too attached. Your friends and family are going to get eaten. It’s just the way of the apocalypse. I mean, sure, you can mourn a little. But mourn too much, and your tear-soaked eyes are going to miss that zombie sneaking up on you to eat your face off. 

Learn basic survival skills. You already know you need to know how to hunt and can your own food. You also will need to know how to build a fire. Swimming would be good. Driving a standard. Building a shelter. Growing your own food. Purifying your own water. It’s kind of like competing on Survivor, except Jeff Probst wants to eat you. 

Fire is LIFE on the island. And your fire is about to GO IN MY MOUTHHOLE.

And, above all else, what did we learn from Zombieland? Which you watched as part of your homework, right? Right. The Double Tap, mofos. YOU NEED TO BE SURE THEY’RE DEAD. 

Don’t come crawling to me when the zombies come. I’m looking out for myself, Dumbcat, and The Nephew. A girl’s gotta have priorities. You’re on your own, my little squash blossoms. 

In the meantime, look out for the glow-in-the-dark monkeys. Speedy bastards. 

(I know there’s no way to PROVE this, but I’m totally writing this WEDNESDAY, and then this came out today, so now I look like a thief. I promise I’m not. It’s very good and any similarities are due to perhaps some sort of mind-meld vortex because I finished this at 1pm and read the article at 3pm so I don’t know. I did mention I was psychic. So maybe it’s that. Or you could just call me a liar and say I stole it, either way. But if I stole it, would I put a link to this article in my post? Am I really that devious a mastermind? Am I really?)


You are a strange species. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you?

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I am on VACATION. I get one more vacation day, and I am using it like a BOSS. So far, I have eaten breakfast, and now I’m slumping around in my pajamas and writing. BUT NO! I totally have further plans. I got invited to join Pinterest today? So that probably’s going to consume me, it seems to consume everyone else who’s joined it. AND I have the final episode of this season’s Sherlock to watch, thanks to my super-secret Sherlock hookup who I won’t tell you about because it’s totally illegal but the things we do for love, right? AND I’M TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. And I need to watch last night’s The Good Wife, because instead of watching it like I should have, I watched The Golden Globes, which were totally a hot mess that I wasted three hours on. The only things that were worth my time were Peter Dinklage and Jessica Lange winning, and this clip happening when Morgan Freeman won his Cecil B. DeMille award:

This is the best thing that happened all night. Well, also Ewan McGregor was just delicious. I mean, I’m pretty sure the man couldn’t get more handsome if he TRIED. Yowza.

Anyway, so we need to talk about something totally important that I found online that is very worrisome.

I’m pretty sure aliens or maybe robots are taking over wikiHow.

I found this on wikiHow the other day, not on PURPOSE, but when I was researching another post (I think it was that one last week about dating advice, or something) and when I read it, here were my thoughts:

  • Huh.
  • What the hell.
  • Who needs someone to spell out how to do this?
  • This just HAPPENS. You don’t need TIPS on this.
  • ZOMG ALIENS. ALIENS would need tips on this. OR MAYBE ROBOTS.

(YES, this is how my brain works. Are you totally excited about seeing how my brain works? I thought you might be. Or, wait, are you calling the men in the white coats now? Please don’t. I don’t think I’d fit in well at the mental institution. I’d be the worst at being medicated, and the food there seems really bland. Although I do hear there’s pudding. Who doesn’t like pudding?)

Let’s look at this article, because I’m pretty sure we need to defend ourselves against these robot aliens that are infiltrating our dating pool as we speak.

So, first. “How to Fall in Love.” Well! That’s nice and not-at-all a tip-off that this was written by an alien or a robot. Because you need to PLAN falling in love! You don’t just FALL in love. You have to plot it and work at it. It’s like a JOB. Good.

  1. Meet a lot of people. Aliens and robots want to meet a lot of people. Probably so they can perform experiments on humans or whatever. Or, wait, “fall in love” with us. OK. Also, “The person you love will most likely be your best friend or someone that you have known for a while.” Oh, so the aliens and robots are taking cues from romantic comedies. That always works out for everyone! Good job, aliens and robots!  And, “try hard not to fall in ‘love at first sight’ – it’s romantic, but it isn’t very smart.” See, this is how you KNOW it’s aliens and robots without human feelings, because who puts “love” and “smart” in the same sentence? Love isn’t SMART. It’s usually very STUPID. It’s fun and it’s awesome and it’s butterflies and shit, but it’s not always the most intellectual of pursuits. Come ON, aliens and robots. Try harder.
  2. Give it time. The aliens and robots have NOTHING BUT TIME. They’re here on Earth to STAY. They want to colonize our Earth with little alien-robot-human baby HYBRIDS. So they’re patient. They’ll wait. They’ll watch. They’ll observe. Quietly. From corners. With their creepy alien robot eyes. This step also says to “be friendly and open to everyone you meet.” Aliens and robots! That’s called “being a slut.” You don’t want to get an intergalactic reputation, now do you? NOW DO YOU? Plus, you’ll totally get crabs.
  3. “Read” the person. You’ve found your prey…I mean your POTENTIAL LOVE INTEREST, alien or robot. “Watch for signals, body language, catching him or her looking at you, etc.” Watch them. WATCH THEM. Stare at them. For long, extended periods of time. Are they staring back? Are they mouthing “What the efffff?” to their friends? That’s good. That means they LOVE you, aliens and robots. Time to set your phasers to stun.
  4. Take the plunge. No, not into water, robots, CALM DOWN, I know that would make you short-circuit, IT’S A METAPHORICAL PLUNGE. Oh, yeah, I guess you, too, aliens, if you’re the aliens from Signs that were all water-averse, too. It’s not a real plunge. Please don’t annihilate my planet because the wikiHow foolishly used a water metaphor. “Ask him or her out. Don’t worry that you will be turned down – and never allow yourself to be intimidated by extreme beauty or social status.” Never? So, the aliens or robots should ask out, say, oh, I don’t know, Mila Kunis? She looked totally luminous at the Golden Globes last night. NEVER ALLOW IT, this says. OK, well, I guess if you’re an alien or a robot, you could ask anyone out. If they say no, you could probably enter their house in the middle of the night and probe them or something.  “If s/he seems interested in you despite the fact that you consider yourself ordinary while you consider him or her extraordinary, remember that you are a worthy person with much to offer. It’s no big wonder that s/he would find you interesting, fun, and attractive!” You can tell aliens and robots wrote this because it says “it’s no big wonder.” WHO TALKS LIKE THAT. No one. Someone who’s attempting English as a first language and failing. Miserably.  “Remember everyone is unique and so are you.” ESPECIALLY YOU, aliens and robots. ESPECIALLY YOU.
  5. Open yourself to love.  No, this doesn’t mean show them your motherboard, robots. Come on, save something for the third date. We have very stringent sex and dating rules here on Earth. “Share your heart, your dreams, your fears.” You know who loves to hear all your fears? The person you’re dating. Like, they love to hear them for HOURS. Aliens, probably this applies to you the most. Tell them for HOURS ON END about how you’re totally afraid that the third sun over your home planet will burn out, leaving your planet cold and desolate. THIS WILL MAKE THEM LOVE YOU MORE.  “Holding back at this stage will only result in many tears and the erection of barriers that may never fall – allow yourself to open up and be vulnerable and transparent.” HEE HEE ERECTION. “This is the only way to find out for sure if the person you are falling in love with can be trusted with your most valuable resource: your heart. Let him/her know who you actually are.” Aliens and robots: your most valuable resource is YOUR HEART. Not our water supply or our wombs that you’ve come here to obtain. YOUR HEART. Or, I guess, aliens, your multiple many-chambered green hearts, and robots, your battery. Also, I feel like maybe this is backward. The only way to find out if you can trust someone with your heart is to…give them your heart? Um. How about you give them something small first. Like, your Price Chopper savings card. Then, a week later, ask them, “Do you still have that Price Chopper savings card I let you hold onto for me?” and if they do, maybe move up to something more valuable, like a lip gloss, but your heart seems like you’re giving away something shatterable pretty early on, no? Oh, crap, I’m not thinking about this like an alien or a robot, I’m thinking about this like a HUMAN. My fault, sorry.
  6. Give yourself fully, receive wholeheartedly. Um, this whole step is very confusing? Because it goes into this whole thing about how Peter Pan realizes he is loved by Wendy in the 2003 movie. There was a 2003 Peter Pan movie? Where, on the alien planet? I don’t know about this. I mean, I’m not a Peter Pan scholar, but I think I would have heard about it. Also? Peter Pan didn’t care if he was loved by Wendy, because Peter Pan was eternally a little boy, and poor Wendy was always throwing good love after bad at him. ALIENS AND ROBOTS. Stop trying to parse our cultural tropes. You’re doing it wrong. Also, this stellar sentence is in this section: “The one you love has much invested in being The One to answer your prayers, to heal your hurts, to make a huge difference in your life.” Things that make me want to stab a sack of kittens here, aliens and robots: “The One,” “answer your prayers,” “heal your hurts.” There is no “one,” and you need to be able to do these things FOR YOURSELF. You can’t rely on someone else to do these things FOR YOU. Aliens and robots! I’m pretty sure whoever you enslaved to write this for you has been watching too many sappy 70s Love Story-style movies. You should probably disembowel them now.
  7. Tell your love that you are in love. JUST LIKE THAT, too. All stilted-like. “MY LOVE I AM IN LOVE.” That won’t tip them off that they’re in the presence of a robot or alien AT ALL. Also, this step says you can’t say “I love you” but that you HAVE to say, “I am in love with you” or it doesn’t work. Like it’s a passcode to get into a mystery cave, or something. The mystery cave is a euphemism. In case you were wondering. I thought you might be. Well! I’m glad I know this. This is also a good tip for humans. If you’re dating someone who seems a little alien or robotic, and they come up to you one day all “I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU” probably they read this wikiHow, and also want to have alien or robot babies with you. Just a warning.
  8. Defend the honor of your love. AWESOME. This is where we get to the dueling portion of the wikiHow. This step says not to make jokes about “your love” (from this point forward, the wikiHow calls the person you’ve snagged “your love” as if this is Elizabethan England and seriously, I’m totally going to vomit) and also, if someone tells you they’re cheating, don’t believe that person, ONLY BELIEVE YOUR LOVE. I mean, that makes sense. Who would cheat on a robot or an alien? Unless they wanted to be laser-murdered or something.
  9. Do nothing to compromise trust. Best sentence in this section: “Don’t do anything that even looks funky.” What about the Funky Chicken? SHIT. Also, this step’s going to be hard for aliens and robots, who, I assume, are often going to be talking into intergalactic communicators and nipping off to plot with co-conspirators to take over the world and such. Shit shit SHIT.
  10. Believe in your love. (puke) The gist of this is that you should never threaten to break up with “your love” because that’s rude. I don’t think that’s an issue for the aliens or robots. I’m pretty sure at this point in the game, the aliens and robots will have you tied in the basement gestating their alien robot babies or something.
  11. Do something every day to make your love’s life worth living. WHAT THE HELL. Why are the aliens and robots dating someone whose life is SO BAD they don’t have anything in their lives worth living for except whatever stupid thing the aliens and robots do for them every day, like make them pancakes or some such shit? Aliens and robots! You are choosing people with totally low self-esteem! I think you can do better. You know who seems totally filled with self-worth? Kate Winslet. She ran into a burning building recently to save someone’s grandmother. She’d be a good mate. Don’t worry if she turns you down: remember that step up there that said that said NO ONE IS BETTER THAN YOU. (Also, this step says to “mend his favorite shirt.” Screw that, he can buy a new damn shirt. I’m not mending shit. Aliens and robots, you shouldn’t, either. Or, “bring him orange juice” or constantly text him those stabbifying “<3” things. Don’t do this, aliens and robots! It’s not going to end well, I promise.)
  12. Celebrate! I think the only sentence in this step that bears repeating is “hold on tight and never let go.” NEVER EVER EVER. Not with your robot-grip or your alien-pincher. NEVER.
  13. Fall in love for the right reasons. OK, so this is the final proof we have that this was written by and for aliens. Because it says to NEVER fall in love based on physical or sexual attraction. Because you know what’s totally clinical and you’re totally able to separate it from hormones? Love. It’s like being in a doctor’s office. No sparks! Cold! Analytical! (Not THOSE kind of sparks. Put away the taser, Gkluntak the Punisher from Planet Xortax.)

Helpfully enough, there is also a wikiHow for “how to fall OUT of love” which I will go into another day, because this is already much too long and I am tired.

Aliens and robots! WE ARE ON TO YOU. We know what to look out for, now. YOU CANNOT FOOL US with your “I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU MY LOVE” and your constant fetchery of glasses of orange juice and shirt-mending.

Earth triumphs! EARTH TRIUMPHS! Aren’t you so glad I noticed this article? I mean, imagine if I hadn’t. OH THE HORROR. Alien robot babies! Dogs and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!


The play’s the thing (wherein you’ll stretch the patience of the Artistic Director)

My head hurts.

OK, so if you’ve been paying attention (you have, right? You totally have, gold stars RIGHT at the top of your papers) you know I’m a theater person. More specifically, I work at one of our amazing community theaters. I’m on the board, actually. I’m the Artistic Director. I KNOW RIGHT. Totally fancy.

This means a number of things. I get to help pick the season of plays we’re going to produce each season; I get to make sure that, from an acting and directing standpoint, the shows go forth as smoothly as possible; I get to send out email with “Artistic Director” after my name (I know! Exciting! I mean, you could do the same thing, but it would be LIES); I get to make reports in front of the board of directors on a monthly basis; and I get to coordinate the two showcases we have in the summer – the Director’s Showcase (we ask a director who’s new to us to direct a one-act play, so we can see how they do, and, if they do well, we consider them for a full-length play the following season and seasons thereafter) and the Playwright’s Showcase.

The Playwright’s Showcase is where we solicit one-act plays from local playwrights, the Artistic Director (paying attention? THAT’S ME SLAPPY) reads them, chooses the right fit, then we put on a staged reading of the one that is the best written and fits best.

There are rules:

It needs to be a one-act. A one-act play, usually, runs between ten and ninety minutes.

It needs to be by a local playwright. The actual borders of the Capital District are a little fuzzy, but if you live, say, four hours away, probably that’s not as much “local” as it is “long-distance.”

It needs to be something that can fit a staged-reading format. A staged reading, for those of you who aren’t stage rats, is when the actors don’t memorize the lines – they have the script in their hands – but they do move around the stage in a general approximation of blocking (i.e. what they’d do if it were a real production of the piece.) There aren’t real full-on costumes, but the actors do attempt to wear what they think the character would wear, to the best of their abilities. There aren’t full props/furniture/set/etc., but there are basic pieces, as needed, to approximate what would happen, were the piece fully produced. Lights and sound are very basic.

It can’t be a children’s play, a monologue, or a musical. (These are rules that have been in place for years, long before I was at the theater. I didn’t put them there. I don’t know who did. I assume there is a reason for them. Probably because children’s plays are annoying, monologues are simpler to write and therefore wouldn’t give the other plays a fair shake, and musicals are difficult to produce? Just guesses. They’re not my rules, I’m just following them, and they seem fine to me.)

It can’t have been produced or published elsewhere, ever, in any way, shape, or form. Why would we want to do something that’s been done elsewhere? There are a lot of plays that haven’t been done yet, let’s give them a shot.

We don’t hide these rules. These rules are very well-publicized. Website, Facebook, submission guidelines posted hither and yon. I mean, why would we hide the rules? That wouldn’t help us. We WANT you to follow the rules. We WANT everything submitted to be correct.

We got about thirty scripts submitted this year. Now, on the off chance that one of the playwrights happens to read this (highly doubtful, honestly, I think I can count on one hand the local people who read this, but you never know, it is the internet, stranger things have happened) I will not name names, because that’s rude, and that’s wrong, and listen, I know how much work goes into writing something. No, seriously, I do. I know it looks like probably I just eff around on here but I actually kind of work at this shit. Also, I’ve written plays, and poetry, and short stories (but those were horrible, I’m not going to lie) so I’ve been there. If you are reading this, you might recognize yourself. And this might hurt your feelings. And I am sorry, but maybe a truth bomb is what you need? I don’t know. You need something. SOMETHING IS NEEDED.

Playwrights: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU.

I’ve read about half of the submissions so far. Two are possibilities, which, listen, WHOO THANK YOU MOMMA, because last year, I didn’t get to the one we ended up going with until it was the last one I read, and I was PETRIFIED I wasn’t going to find anything, and then it was amazing and I was so happy. A number of them have been produced elsewhere, which I suppose you could have hidden from me, but you admitted it in your cover letter? So I can’t consider them. One of them would have run about three minutes, because it was three pages long, and there were about four lines on each page, and each line had about six words in it. So, not a lot was accomplished in that play. A number of you live in New York City, and I know we like to think that New York is one big happy, but the Capital District of New York and New York City are not local to one another, and listen, New York City-ites, don’t EVEN tell me you’d call me your “neighbor” if the shoe was on the other foot. You totally wouldn’t. I’ve seen your faces when I say I’m from Albany. The word for what you do is called “sneering.”

Just to be clear: I am not looking for the next Neil LaBute (although, *swoon* if I found him.) I’m just looking for the next thing that isn’t like rubbing sandpaper over my eyeballs while my feet are roasted in a George Foreman grill and someone pulls my fingernails out with needlenose pliers. And, before you’re all “wah, wah, Amy’s so BITCHY about this” – listen, I actually very much enjoy this part of the job, for the most part. I’m just really, really confused, sometimes.

So listen! I have learned some really valuable tips, in reading all of these plays for the last couple of years, and also watching the ones we’ve selected for the past five years, which I’m going to pass along to you. And then YOU, TOO, can write a play!  And, if you are local, SUBMIT IT TO ME so I CAN READ IT! Are you totally the most excited? I thought you might be. I mean, I know there have to be some burgeoning playwrights out there who are looking for tips, and I have tips. MAN DO I HAVE TIPS. And, as you all know if you’ve been paying attention (I told you they would come in handy, your paying-attention skillzzzzz, why aren’t you listening to me?) there’s nothing I like more than being the most helpful.

HOW TO WRITE A PLAY FOR SUBMISSION FOR YOUR LOCAL PLAYWRIGHT’S SHOWCASE
(based on the plays submitted to my theater over the years)

Ignore grammatical conventions. You’re an ARTIST. What need have you for using the word “they’re” correctly? You’re a free bird, baby! And this bird you cannot change! So you just go ahead, love child, and say, in your stage directions, “She looks over they’re as he walks away” and DAMN THE MAN for trying to keep you down! Also, go ahead and don’t run a spell check before final submission. ARTISTS DON’T SPELL CHECK.

Ignore the rules clearly stated in the call for submissions. They’re just guidelines, clearly. Once they read YOUR brilliant masterpiece, they will LAUGH. LAUGH at the FOLLY of RULEMAKING. They clearly did not mean YOU when they said “local” playwrights, Jenna from Juneau; they clearly did not mean you when they said no musicals, guy-who-writes-JUST-LIKE-SONDHEIM; the deadline they posted was just a silly joke, Six-Weeks-Late Sammy. Send it anyway. They’ll be glad you did. Baby, you’re a firework, ridin’ on the back of a special freakin’ snowflake.

Demand Broadway-level production values. I mean, sure, they SAY it’s just a staged reading, but the fact that you need someone to fly in on Spiderman-Turn-Off-the-Dark-quality wires won’t stop them, right? I mean, not once they read YOUR masterpiece. Or the fact that they need full darkness with only a strobe light for most of the show to make sense. Or the fact that most of the play takes place on a fully-functional spaceship, hovering four feet above the audience. They’ll read it, and be so blown away by the play, they’ll throw a year’s worth of budget into their pay-what-you-will show for you. I mean, I can’t imagine any other possible other outcome, can you?

Use jargon. Nothing endears an Artistic Director to you like having to puzzle through the following sentence: “I’sa allus gwanna be wondrin’ bouchu, Elsabetta, iffin youse be uppa heada me, or iffin youse be off yonder. I’sa allus gwanna be wondrin’ bouchu, becuz you be my whole worl’.” I take it back – you know what the Artistic Director likes better than this? Reading a whole one-act written in this style. And the AUDIENCE will love it, too. No question. DO IT DO IT DO IT. It is not at ALL offensive.

Use affected phraseology out of nowhere. For example, if your character is American, OF COURSE he would say “I’d like a right spot of supper, Mumsy,” when he’s shown no sign of pretending to be British in the past and then never shows it again. Or have someone’s sister call him “brother wuther bubsy boo” for no reason but then have no one call attention to it and never explain why it happened or have her either be the victim of a traumatic brain injury or involved in an incestuous relationship with him. Also, it’s not at all jarring to have a character who you’ve spent twenty pages setting up as very, very stupid throw in the words “stellar denouement” and then move onto something else as if he hadn’t just Rainmanned out. So yeah, do this. It’s what’s done.

Write rude, demanding cover letters/emails to the Artistic Director. In your cover letter, please be sure to do the following: explain how good of a writer you are, EVERYONE SAYS SO NO THEY DO; explain that theaters of this size/type are “usually” beneath you, but you’ll make an exception, just this once, because you’ve heard slumming can sometimes be good times; explain that you KNOW this is just a staged reading, but when YOUR play is chosen, you’ll expect a full production of it, because, you see, it DESERVES it; and, by all means, please try to find the email address of the theater online somewhere, then send odd emails to the theater, sort of threatening them if they don’t choose your work. It’s just polite. And you want to be polite, right? RIGHT.

Be vague. Don’t explain. It’s up to the reader or viewer to figure out the following: who the character who just walked in is; what his or her relationship is to the other characters in the play; why they’re there, what their motivation is, why they’re talking in this totally cool jargon patois-y slang, and why they’re flying in on guy wires. MAKE THEM WORK FOR IT.

Don’t read any other plays, ever. Why know what else is out there? It’s all garbage, anyway. Yours is the only work that matters. You’d just clutter up your head with other nonsense. Keep your EYES on the PRIZE. And the PRIZE is your own work, not the crap that other playwrights are putting out. I mean, seriously, do you really have time to keep up on the field you want to break into? No. No, you don’t. Get to writing, Scribbly Pete.

Make sure it’s as boring as possible. I mean, life is exciting, right? There are SO MANY SHINY THINGS. Television! Zap! Movies! Bam! The interwebs! Zowie! When people go to the theater, they want SLOW. They want DULL. They want TALKING without ANYTHING HAPPENING. They want NO MOTION. They want BLAH. I mean, what if someone were to have a heart attack in the theater? You could never live with yourself. Best to keep it sloooooow. Safer for all involved, really.

Don’t let there be any stakes for anyone ever, why do that, LAME. You know what’s the worst? When characters in a play have stakes. I mean, like, let’s take a play you all know. Hamlet. You all know Hamlet, right? (Oh, please tell me you do. If you don’t, please just go out and get a film version, if Shakespeare makes you twitchy. Hamlet is lovely. LOVELY. Ignore people that tell you otherwise; they are out of their minds.) Hamlet’s characters have stakes. Hamlet wants revenge on the man who killed his father and married his mother; Ophelia wants Hamlet to love and marry and cherish her, and not be such a freakin’ loon; Claudius wants Hamlet out of the way, because Hamlet’s getting way too suspicious; Gertrude wants to go on schtupping her husband/brother in law; Polonius wants everyone to be true to thine own selves; Laertes wants to be stabby and revengey. EVERYONE HAS A WANT. EVERYONE HAS STAKES. Well, I say nay! I say, DOWN WITH STAKES. Why’s everyone need to be all stakey? Let’s all get placards and go march on the town square: NO MORE STAKES. NO MORE STAKES. Who needs ‘em? Let’s just have our characters wander, aimlessly and stakelessly, sniffing flowers, peering at clouds, petting the occasional puppy. It’s all good, yo. Your audience will APPRECIATE the STAKELESSNESS.

Copy something that’s already been done, I mean, that’s tried and tested, right? I mean, someone already did the legwork. It would be completely reckless of you to GO OUT ON YOUR OWN and COME UP WITH AN ORIGINAL IDEA. You already know, say, vampires are hot. So probably write a script about a teenager who falls in love with a vampire. IT’S NOT LIKE THAT OTHER ONE THOUGH. This vampire doesn’t SPARKLE in the sun. He…GLIMMERS. Yeah, that’s it. Or! Or, you know what’s also tried and true, is having, at the last minute, someone drop out of the sky and save the day. It even has a name! Deus ex machina. Isn’t that pretty? I mean, how can you NOT use it?

Don’t include your contact information anywhere on the script/envelope. I mean, I know I shouldn’t have to tell you this one – you already KNOW this, right? But don’t let anyone know who you are. A., they should ALREADY know, you’re JUST THAT WELL-KNOWN, just from your writing style alone, and B., why make it easy for them to contact you? They should WORK for it. Also, if you foolishly DO include contact info, you know what’s awesome? Don’t include email. It’s just a passing fad, this internet thingy. Don’t give in to it. Everyone likes the telephone, and has plenty of free time to talk to you on it. Everyone should call you on it and talk to you. They’ll want to, I mean, you’re the next big thing, and who WOULDN’T want to talk to you? For hours on end? And hours? And HOURS?

There. This should totally get you all on your way. Now, when you’ve written your amazing script, and you’re getting your awards, PLEASE don’t feel like you HAVE to thank me in your speeches; I mean, it’s only POLITE, but it’s not MANDATORY, or anything. I can’t FORCE you to. Of course, karma’s a bitch, and if you don’t, you’ll probably lose a limb in an industrial accident of some sort, but don’t let that influence your decision! No no no! NOT ONE LITTLE BIT!

Write, my little Shakespeares and Shakespearesettes! May your characters be lifeless, your exposition dry as dust, and your plot so full of holes the whole cheese industry of Switzerland will shudder with envy! YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS!


People say, “You must have been the class clown.” And I say, “No, I wasn’t. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him.”

Once, a friend was taking a Humor Writing course, and I attended one with her because I had nothing better to do at the time.

I don’t remember much, other than the class was SO EFFING BORING YOU GUYS SERIOUSLY.

Like, the teacher was this old guy with the “Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” voice, and nothing he was talking about was funny. At all. Except making fun of it afterwards. That was funny. Because my friend and I were HYSTERICAL. But that’s really neither here nor there.

The only two things I remember him saying were things you ABSOLUTELY HAD TO DO TO MAKE SOMETHING YOU ARE WRITING FUNNY was to make up nonsense words, and to use a lot of alliteration.

So, using his rules (I’m sure there were more, but I was drawing unflattering but super-accurate and awesome caricatures of him on notepaper I stole from my friend through most of the class so I don’t remember anything else) the sentence “I was beaten by a group of thugs outside the drugstore last Tuesday” is NOT funny, but “I was roughed-up by ruffians, rather raucously, rowrgh!” IS HYSTERICAL.

So of course after the class my friend and I tried to think of the worst situations we could, then make them funny by applying the RULES OF COMEDY to them. Like cancer, and stabbings. OH! Also, I remember him saying the word “Cheetos” was never NOT funny. So I guess you were also always supposed to say the word Cheetos in everything you wrote.

Now, there’s always a lot of debate whether writing humor can be taught, or it’s something that you just either have, or you don’t. Here’s the thing. I think almost anything can be taught. But I think, with humor writing, you also have to know what’s funny before you start. Like, you can take a shit-ton of creative writing classes if you want to write fiction, but if you don’t have an ear for dialogue or any idea how to come up with plot points without them having holes so big you could pilot the Titanic through them or maybe you just TOTALLY SUCK AT WRITING, probably no amount of classes you take, and no amount of good books that you read, is going to fix that. I think there’s more than a little innate talent in every good writer, whether they’re writing the next Great Gatsby or the next Me Talk Pretty One Day.

But this does not stop the internet in trying to tell you how to be funny. No, no no. The internet wants you to know how you can write things that are funny, and that you DON’T NEED ANY INNATE TALENT. And who am I to argue with the internet? No one. No one at all.

Now, people tell me I am funny. And I’m inclined to agree, only because a., I crack myself up daily, b., my dad is hysterical, and I sound more like him every day, and c., people keep reading my blog, so probably it doesn’t totally suck a bag of dicks. So here, I’d like to help you be funny, too. Because I can’t even tell you how many people are all “AMY! I wish I could be as FUNNY as you! Isn’t Amy HYSTERICAL!” And I’m totally helpful. If it helps, I wish you were all as funny as me, too. Funny people are my favorites. If you were all funny, I would love you MORE. It’s lonely up here on top of Candy Mountain, Charlieeeeee.

Plus, although I’m already totally the most hysterical? Maybe I can be FUNNIER. So we’re learning TOGETHER, my little hamhocks!

So, you already know that you have to use a lot of alliteration (repetition of a consonant sound in the first syllables of words in a phrase), say “Cheetos” a lot, and make up nonsense words. Awesome. You’re totally already on your way.

Next, we get advice from here, where the writer tells us the following:

Write a comedy piece, then re-read it and edit it at least fifteen times. Um. That seems…excessive? Fifteen times? If I re-read something I write twice, it’s a good day with a lot of free time, seriously. FIFTEEN TIMES? I can assure you that nothing I say would be funny if I had to read it fifteen times. I’d probably want to stab myself in the eye.

“Humor is based on truth, literalness, humility, objectivity and possibility” (she goes on to say that these are all traits we have as children) So…we should write humor as if we are children? Hmm. Well, I do have to say that The Nephew is just about the funniest, without even trying to be. Also, he totally cracks himself up regularly. Which is awesome, and apparently hereditary. So ok, point taken, I will write more children’s humor. Here’s one that cracked The Nephew up over the holidays: “I made you this Lego dog! Want to see me smash it? Aw! Now I am sad, I have smashed my Lego dog! Boo hoo hoo hoo!” Good one, right? I know. The Nephew certainly thought so. It made him laugh so hard he tipped over and kicked up his little heels and say “Again! Again!” I win aunting.

In order to understand how to write humor, you have to understand why people laugh when they are physically tickled (she goes on to say that you laugh when you are tickled because it is a physical assault and you’re not allowed to physically retaliate, so laughing is the only defense you’re able to put up) How does this analogy work, exactly, then? Humor writing, like tickling, is a physical assault, and you’re not allowed to attack the writer, so you laugh like a moron instead? I don’t think your analogy means what you think it means. Also, who says you can’t physically attack someone for tickling you? I can tell you right now the last time someone will tickle you is the first time you kick them in the nuts.

Exaggeration is funny. Yes. It IS funny. It’s funnier than a gazillion twenty-gallon hats overflowing with sour cream, it’s so effing funny. 

Some things are funny in themselves, like anti-aging cream or the traits you share with your dog You know what would be hysterical? A dog covered in anti-aging cream. Mostly because that shit is expensive, yo, and also useless? So I’d like to use it all on a dog, then see the person who spent like a week’s pay on useless garbage be all “MY ANTI-AGING CREEEEEAAAAAMMMM!” Heh. Also, wouldn’t the dog just be so confused?

This seems like it wasn’t all that helpful. My apologies. In my defense, this woman’s name was Rochelle, so I thought it had to be a joke.

OK, let’s move on. This comes from a blog by the guy who draws Dilbert. I’m already a little worried. I know a lot of people think Dilbert comic strips are funny but I don’t get it. I think because I work in an office, they’re not funny, they’re just my daily life, and there’s nothing funny about that. Other than death. THE SWEET SWEET RELEASE OF DEATH.

So Scott Adams tells us that in order to be funny like him, we need to pick two of these six topics, or else it’s not funny: Clever, Cute, Bizarre, Cruel, Naughty, or Recognizable.

So a story about a sexy librarian with three heads would be SO EFFING HYSTERICAL because it’s bizarrely naughty. Point taken, Scott Adams, and I will be sure to blog about that later. Unless one of you guys wants that one. I’ll let you have it, I’m not grabby-hands about dirty three-headed librarians at all. I’m a sharer.

Also:

Use simple sentences, as if you were writing an email to a friend. Um…my emails to my friends sound like my blog. Nothing about me is simple. Just ask my friends. Sorry, friends. Wait, does this mean I have to use LOL and TTYL and ZOMG and shit? And use 2 instead of to? I AM HORRIBLE AT THAT. I don’t even do that when I’m texting. Would that make things FUNNIER? Shit shit SHIT. I feel like I’ve let you all down. I AM SO SORRY.

Be smart, but not academic. So you’re ok to talk about the periodic table of the elements, but not to mention beryllium. CHECK AND MATE SCOTT ADAMS.

Humor is about people. Period. I don’t know. My cat’s pretty effing hysterical. He fell off the bookcase yesterday and knocked over a lamp.

Leave room for the imagination. Or what? OR WHAT? This totally sounds threatening, like “if you don’t leave room for the imagination…the imagination will break in, under the cover of darkness…and stab you to death with a knife made up of pure conjecture.”

Use funny words such as “vagina” or “shish kebob” whenever possible. I’m sorry, but the preceding sentence has me in hysterics. I’m going to use those two words on my blog more often. Probably in combination with one another. Seriously, you should all try to work these two words into conversation, like, immediately. Maybe even in the same sentence. Here, I’ll give you an example: “Maureen, is that a shish kebob, or are you just having problems with your vagina? CHEETOS.” (I threw in the Cheetos because you have to, in order to make things funnier. It’s totally a rule.)

Refer to animals and pop culture a lot. I already DO this. But not to be funny. Because I know a lot about them. Who knew it was also funny? WINNING.

Exaggeration is never not funny. Wow, Rochelle and Scott Adams agree on this one! A kajillion times, they agree!

Then Scott Adams finishes his post with this: “Humor is like any other human capacity; some people are born with more of it than others. No amount of advice will help if you don’t have the humor gene.”

Oh, ok, since Scott Adams agrees with my theory that you kind of have to be funny to write funny and you can take all the classes and still not be funny when you’re done, disregard all the snarking I did on him up there. He’s obviously brilliant.

OK, one more. We can’t stop at two. I think three is funnier than two, right?

This is an eHow on how to write humor, so you know it will be good and smart.

Be observant. Oh! Good. I WILL THANK YOU. Because there’s nothing funny about walking around with your eyes shut. Well, I guess if you trip over something and fall, that’s funny, in itself, though. I AM TORN.

Humor is pain. The author says that people tend to find a lot of humor in the suffering of others. OK, if you mean like America’s Funniest Home Videos-style suffering, which I personally don’t find at all funny but some people do, fine, but I don’t especially howl at genocide, guy who wrote this eHow.

Accentuate the negative. The author says, “like celebrity roasts!” LISTEN THESE AREN’T FUNNY. Do people really find these funny? I totally find these cringe-worthy. I won’t even turn them on. It’s like they’re making fun of someone for money and the person being “roasted” has to sit there and grin. It’s like HIGH SCHOOL all OVER AGAIN. No, thank you, I had enough of that in the eighties and nineties, thanks.

Surprise people. BOO! Are you totally laughing? Oh, wait, sorry, I’m supposed to be talking in text-speak, aren’t I, are you ROTFLYMFAO? I know. You’re welcome.

Exaggerate. Ok, that’s the trifecta. I’m going to exaggerate more from now on. What’s that? I couldn’t exaggerate more if I TRIED? I’m like the QUEEN of exaggeration? Yes. Yes, I am. Thank you. But there’s always room for improvement, Heckle McGee.

Confuse people. I’m ZIGGING! I’m ZAGGING! Are you laughing yet? This guy says an example of this is “standing in line at the DMV behind a Viking.” ZOMG people like this are the ones who write those Capital One credit card commercials with the Vikings, which leads to someone thinking a Geico Caveman series is a good idea! I HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT EHOW GUY. Also, I have to disagree with this. The only laughter you get if you confuse people is CONFUSED laughter. Which, if you’re a connoisseur of laughter, is the same as polite laughter. And no one likes polite laughter. It’s like when a man takes his pants off for the first time when he’s with his lady-friend (or man-friend, don’t mean to exclude anyone) and the man- or lady-friend says “Oh! Well! Isn’t that just the cutest thing!” NO ONE LIKES THAT.

Be specific. I specifically think these rules can bite me until I’m dead a million times over, is that specific enough for you?

Use funny words and sounds. Listen, douchecanoe, you can go straight to Ronkonkoma for all I care. (See what I did there? Total brilliance. Also: VAGINA SHISH KEBOB CHEETOS.) This guy says to use the word “rhubarb.” I don’t think rhubarb is all that funny, because whenever I hear it, I think that it’s one of those words bad community theaters (NOT MINE) use onstage to pretend they’re talking, all “peas and carrots peas and carrots rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb” and that’s not funny to me, that’s just sad. If this reference confuses you, hie you immediately to Netflix or your library or the video store, if your town hasn’t turned them all into Dunkin’ Donuts, and get a little movie called Waiting for Guffman, also known as THE BEST MOVIE ABOUT COMMUNITY THEATER EVER MADE. No, no need to thank me now. You can thank me after you’ve watched it and your stomach’s stopped hurting from laughing so hard. “If there’s an empty space, just fill it with a line, that’s what I like to do. Even if it’s from another show.”  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

OK! Well, there are three very good* (*not really very good at all) lists of ways to be funny. The main ones that keep coming up over and over seem to be:

Use funny words and sounds
Exaggerate

So now you KNOW how to be funny!

I expect you to use these tips ALL THE TIME NOW. Go around and be all nonsensical and say vagina and Weehawken and shish kebob and Cheetos ELEVENTY GAZILLION TIMES. Now you are the funniest! Don’t you feel awesome? I know you do. I’m glad I could help. Probably you’ll want to name your firstborn after me; I’m cool with that. I suggest naming him or her Vagina Cheetos, though, because Amy is totally overused, and also, can you even IMAGINE how FUNNY that child would be, with a name like that? I mean, the LAUGHTER that would result JUST FROM GETTING HIS OR HER NAME CALLED IN CLASS. You can’t NOT do it now. I mean, seriously.

(Title is a quote from Waiting for Guffman. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, GO GO GO. I mean it, my little macaroons! It’ll make your YEAR.)


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