Friday, November 30, 2012

Wear a Belt - With Advice to Mary Schmich, Author of Wear Sunscreen

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 1999, because we didn't think he'd notice.

With deepest apologies to Mary Schmich, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and the original writer of the "Wear Sunscreen" column/song that was played to death on the radio.

To the Guys of North America:

Wear a belt.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, a belt would be it. Scientists have proved that exposure of your butt crack is enough to make innocent bystanders within a 20' radius laugh and point at you behind your back.

The rest of my advice has no basis in science, but is probably the result of hearing jokes on the radio, late-night latte and doughnut binges.

Enjoy the power and beauty of all the babes you see at the beach. Oh, I know, you're there with your wife, and she's the jealous type. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at that time on the beach and say to yourself, "I wish I had bought those mirrored sunglasses when I had the chance."

Don't worry about the future. You'll be dead before it gets here. You know, if I were as clever as Mary Schmich, I'd say something clever about solving algebra by chewing bubble gum, but then again, that's why she works for the Chicago Tribune, and I don't.

Do one thing every day that scares you, as long as it doesn't involve snakes.

Sing in your car, but for Pete's sake, remember that other people CAN see you through the car window. No one wants to see a Guy singing "My Heart Will Go On" with Celine Dion.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. It leaves fingerprints, and makes it easier for the police to find you.

Floss. And brush. And use a decent mouthwash. Your morning breath could kill a horse.

Remember compliments you receive. Remember the insults even more. Hatch sinister plots to get back at those people. Sign them up for every telemarketing list you can find.

Keep your old love letters, but hide them away from your wife. Remember, she's the jealous type. Throw away your old bank statements, even though you'll need them during your upcoming IRS audit.

Don't feel guilty if you still have no idea about what to do with your life. Don't berate yourself just because you're a 33 year old slacker who lives with his parents in their basement. Some of the most interesting people I know had no direction in their lives, but they were usually on Jerry Springer.

Get plenty of calcium, or at least the kind that comes in beer. Be kind to your knees. You'll need them to carry that beer gut you're sporting.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you'll just be a stalker. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, and go through a mid-life crisis. Maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. But if you do, rest assured that your children are going to laugh and say "There goes Dad, dancing the funky chicken again. Maybe we should put him in a home."

Enjoy your body, but keep in mind that the stuff you're probably thinking of is still illegal in several states in the South. Don't be afraid of what other people think of your body, unless you're a male stripper. Then, your body is your bread and butter.

Dance, especially if you are a male stripper. Women won't stuff dollar bills down your G-string if you're just standing still.

Read the directions, but for God's sake, don't ever ask for any.

Do not read beauty magazines. They're for women.

Don't worry about getting to know your parents. If you don't know them by now, you have a bigger problem, like whether you'll get any of their stuff after they're gone.

Understand that friends come and go, but hold on to the ones who will help you move. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography, lifestyle, and whether or not they'll help you for beer and pizza.

Live in Canada, but leave before you start saying "about" funny. Live in Indiana, but leave before you start saying "warsh" and talking about Dan Quayle as a viable presidential candidate.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Taxes will increase. Politicians will continue to screw the American people. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll wonder why the heck you never bought your own island in the Caribbean and moved down there.

Respect your elders, especially if they have a lot of money.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But don't be surprised if one ran off with your accountant, taking the other with them in the middle of the night.

Don't mess too much with your hair. It's falling out and turning grey. Remember that thing I just said about getting old being an inalienable truth?

Be careful whose advice you buy, especially if the name "Psychic Friends" appears on your credit card bill. Psychic Friends is a form of a scam. Dispensing it is just a way of making stuff up as they go along, playing mysterious, yet soothing music in the background, and selling the whole package for much, much more than it's worth. Much more.

But trust me on the belt. And you might consider putting on some underwear too.



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Holiday Etiquette for New Married Couples

The holidays are upon us like a zombie at a Mensa conference. And for some families, it's the first holiday together for the 20-something children and his or her new spouse.

Many people say the holidays are a relaxing time. But they are filthy, rotten liars. These people also give parenting advice even though they don't have children, and think "working hard or hardly working?" is funny.

Holidays are anything but relaxing, especially for the "outside member" of the newly married couple. Once you hit about year 10, your in-laws will begin to thaw a bit and welcome you into the family. But until then, you're in for a tension-filled-don't-say-the-wrong-thing holiday season.

As a veteran spouse now on his 19th Thanksgiving and Christmas, let me give you some etiquette and advice for young married couples, both husbands and wives.

1. If you're not married, don't kid yourself. At this point in your relationship, you're still expendable and replaceable. While that may seem harsh and uncaring, keep in mind this is an escape option for you as well. Especially if your spouse-to-be's family is more than a little on the wacky side. And not the good kind of wacky either, where Aunt Tilly lives with 12 cats and shouts at the mailbox. The bad kind of bats--- crazy that involves alcohol, fisticuffs, shouting and tears, and where the night's not over until someone gets their head shoved into the cranberry sauce.

2. Never discuss moving away. You've already stolen their baby, and while they may say they like you, there's still something hidden away in the deep recesses of those pasted-on smiles. Moving to a new city is a sad topic on what is supposed to be a happy-on-the-surface-bitter-underneath day. Save the news for an email.. After you've moved.

3. Never, ever compare your mom's cooking to your mother-in-law's. Don't talk about differences. Don't talk about memories. Don't talk about how your mom slices up canned cranberry sauce instead of making real cranberry sauce. Even if your own mother is a lousy cook, and you think it's funny to regale your new in-laws with how awful your mom's food is, don't. For one thing, it shows that you're disrespectful to your own mom, and moms will stick together over the strangest things. For another, your mother-in-law will wonder if you and your spouse say the same things about her when you're with your parents. Even though you do.

4. Go along with family traditions, especially if one of the traditions is parking it in front of the football game with your father-in-law. This is especially true for the women. Even if you don't like football, find out who your father-in-law is backing on game day. Then, spend 30 minutes reading about the teams, and pick up a couple pieces of trivia on the premier players (usually the quarterback). If you can talk football with him, he'll love you forver.

5. Help out in the kitchen, or at least offer to help. This is especially true for the women too. Yes, I know it sounds sexist, but here's how new marriages work: if you're the woman, your mother-in-law doesn't like you because you stole her son, but your father-in-law is glad his son found someone to put up with him. If you're the man, the opposite is true. So, offer to help in the kitchen as a way to make peace. Ask about her recipes and adviec. And do NOT ever suggest something new or different. See rule #3.

6. Avoid topics of politics, sex, and religion. Especially sex. The last thing you want to discuss with your spouse's parents is the state of your sex life. Or that you're "trying" for children. Because "we're trying" is just code for "we're having more sex than usual. Just thought you ought to know."

If the conversation starts turning that direction — mostly because your spouse's younger brother or sister an idiot/evil and brings it up at dinner — divert attention away from the topic by saying, "Gee, that's a bummer about your candidate not winning his election. Guess that was all part of God's plan, huh?"

This holiday season, don't travel into hostile territory unprepared. Study these tips a few days before your visit, and once again on the ride over. Remember, the life you save may be your own.


The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

A One-Sided Conversation About Life

"I want the red car."

"Because my real car's red."

"Fine, Buddy, you can be the red car. I'll be the blue car."

"Seriously? What color is left?"

"I am not going to be the pink car."

"Give me the yellow one."

"Sweetie, spin the wheel. Highest score goes first."

"A 9 is going to be pretty hard to beat. All I need is a 10."

"Wait, did I say highest goes first? I meant lowest."

"Okay, fine. Highest goes."

"I'll go to college. College grads make more."

"But there are some careers you can only have if you have a college degree."

"Yes, just like real life."

"That's why they called it that, Buddy."

"Honey, are you going to college or straight to a career?"

"No, a gap year is not an option."

"You may not have a sports car."

"Not a game one either."

"There is no thimble in Life. That's Monopoly."

"What? I'm not yelling. I'm being—"

"Yes, I know it's only a game."

"Alright, everybody calm down. This is family game night, so everyone have fun, dammit!"

"Who's turn is it?"

"Already? Okay, lucky 7. 'Study for finals. Miss a turn.' Ha, that's funny. Doesn't sound like me in college at—"

"What? I really didn't study very — uh, that is, I mean, yes, I studied and worked hard every day, just like we want you kids to do, and I never stayed up late to watch TV or drank beer during the week, and I certainly never stayed up all night to cram before my tests."

"I need to choose my career card."

"A police officer?! Woo-hoo!"

"Because any time anyone rolls a 10, they have to pay me $5,000."

"That's a traffic fine, not a bribe."

"Because it's the rules and they don't make any bills smaller than $5,000."

"Look, the chief says we're not going to get new squad cars if we don't raise another $200,000 by the end of the month. So he's riding all the patrols extra hard to generate some more ticket revenue."

"I'm just trying to get into the spirit of the game."

"Buddy, don't make your car crash on the Life road."

"That's not how you get rid of family members."

"Because you shouldn't want to get rid of your family."

"You're 10. How do you even know about shotgun weddings?"

"Yeah, you're not watching that show anymore."

"Honey, you got an 8, you can keep going."

"I don't care what the board says. You don't really have to stop."

"Who says she has to stop and get married?"

"Skipping marriage is optional."

"Especially for the girls."

"Because you girls don't need to get married. You don't need a man to make you happy. You can find your own happiness on your own."

"But Mommy chose me. That's different."

"Fine, you can get married if you want to."

"I don't like that peg. He looks a little shady to me."

"No, make him sit in the back!"

"I am not being unreasonable."

"Fine, he can sit where he wants."

"Your turn."

"Cool, a 10! That'll be $5,000, please."

"I am not on the take!"

"Look, if it was a bribe, I'd demand $10,000. So, quit calling me a dirty cop."

"Oh yeah? How many real doctors actually get paid $30,000 to fix someone's leg after a skiing accident? That's worth $5K, tops."

"Maybe if you had paid better attention in college, you would have been something besides a salesperson."

"I don't care if you make $100,000, that's just the luck of the draw. You should have worked harder. Then maybe you could have been an accountant or even an entertainer."

"Well, if I'm a dirty cop, you're an unethical salesperson. How about that? Maybe I ought to check the back of your car and see exactly what you've been 'selling' all this time. Would you like that?"

"I don't need a warrant. You've got a smashed taillight, and you were driving erratically. I think you had a little too much to drink at your wedding."

"Oh yeah, well, let's just take a little trip downtown and see what we can figure out with some bright lights and a rubber hose. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200."

"Sorry, that was Monopoly. This is Life."



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Political Roundup 2012

It's been a crazy two years, but the 2012 presidential campaign is now over, much to the relief of everyone in the country with the possible exception of political operatives and TV station owners in battleground states.

Everyone already knows what happened, despite Karl Rove's best attempts to derail Fox News calling the Ohio results, and the subsequent on-air dope slap by Megyn Kelly, there were a few things you may not have heard about on Tuesday night.

While we watched President Obama become the president again, he managed to do it at all without Florida. Despite their best efforts to be relevant this year, Florida instead came off like a beauty pageant mom reminding everyone how she had been a pageant queen herself.

First, it was the voting — the last votes were cast at 1:30 am, long after Mitt Romney had delivered his concession speech. People waiting in line already knew the result, and so had no reason to vote.

Not that it mattered. Miami-Dade vote counters went home sometime around midnight, saying they were tired and didn't want to count anymore.

That's okay, the rest of the country is waiting for your results to see who the next president is, but, you know, whatever. You do what you want. We'll wait. No, really, go ahead. Yeah, none of the rest of the country got up at 4 a.m. to — No! No! You know what? That's bush league! That's total BS! The rest of this country has been up for the last 16 hours getting their stuff done, and you guys can't be bothered to count because you're a wittle sweepy?

Rhode Island has been here since 4:30 this morning, setting up chairs and making sure there were plenty of paper towels. Virginia stayed and counted until 2:00 in the morning. And Indiana got all their work done so they were finished by 8:00. Did this day catch you by surprise or something?

Finally, 48 hours after it all began, the votes were all counted, Obama won Florida, and the Romney campaign had to make another concession statement to the press, even though it interrupted their cupcake farewell party.

In stoner news, voters in Colorado and Washington said "wow, yeah, man" to recreational marijuana use, and then asked if you had ever really looked at your thumb.

Colorado and Washington became the first states to break the recreational marijuana prohibition, making it legal for anyone over 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot. In Colorado, people will be able to grow up to six plants for personal use, while in Washington, users will have to buy their weed from state-licensed providers.

These new developments have given rise to new ways of thinking for each state. For example, for their new state song, Colorado has selected Cheech and Chong's "Dave's Not Here." Meanwhile, Washington has declared their official state snack to be Cool Ranch Doritos.

In sore loser news, entertainment and real estate buffoon Donald Trump called for a revolution after Obama's victory, convinced that an angry uprising — a revolution, he said — in our nation's capital was the solution to a democratic election that didn't go his way.

"He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!" read one of Trump's tweets. Trump later deleted that tweet after Obama finally did win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

And also forgetting that the same thing happened 12 years ago. And 124 years ago. And 136 years ago. And 188 years ago.

Also, his call for revolution was pretty drastic. If he had been a Democrat, you can be sure that Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity would have called him treasonous. But Trump figured deleting his tweets meant they never really happened, like a little kid hides his eyes to hide from his parents.

Of course, when you realize he thinks his hair style actually hides his baldness, that actually makes sense.

"Lets (sic) fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us," said another tweet.

No, they're only laughing at you, Donald. Of course, that's not a new state of affairs, since you've been a joke ever since you burst onto the public scene, like a pimple of pomposity.

This year will long be remembered as an important election year, showing that billionaires' money could not buy an election. That voter suppression and disenfranchisement could not keep voters from exercising their right. And that no matter how angry politics seems to make most people, there's still plenty of humor to be found in them too.

After all, the only problem with political jokes is that many of them get elected.




The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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Friday, November 02, 2012

PETA Wants to Memorialize Dead California Fish

Combine California and PETA and what do you get? One of the most woolly-headed, half-baked ideas to ever come out of a Birkenstock-sponsored drum circle.

Dina Kourda, resident of Irvine, California and a PETA volunteer, is asking the city to install a sign to memorialize hundreds of fish that were killed in a traffic crash last month, as they were headed to the Irvine Ranch Market.

She wants the sign to read "In memory of hundreds of fish who suffered and died at this spot."

Instead of the spot where they were all going to be sold for people to eat.

The crash in question involved a truck carrying 1,600 pounds of live salt water bass and several tanks of oxygen used to keep the fish alive, and two other vehicles. Hopefully vehicles carrying jars of tartar sauce and crates of lemons. Ooh, and with a small crate of parsley as a nice garnish!

Kourda wrote a letter, probably with an organic blueberry ink pen and paper made of dryer lint, to Irvine's street maintenance chief asking him to please place the sign at the accident site.

"Although such signs are traditionally reserved for human fatalities, I hope you'll make an exception because of the enormous suffering involved in this case," said Kourda.

Right, because if there's something Irvine's street maintenance department has time to do it's to put up signs memorializing dead animals. They'll get to yours after they put up the sign on Portola Parkway for all the roadkill raccoons. Indiana is even sending out a crew to pitch in after they put up tiny crosses and flower wreaths at the site of every deer road kill in the state.

Kourda's letter said the sign would remind truck drivers that fish value their lives and feel pain.

I guess the sign will help them remember to not crash their trucks, but I'm still planning on eating the fish, so it doesn't really matter what the drivers know about the fish. Also, the ratio of truck drivers who transport fish to the drivers who transport everything else is pretty low, and makes me think this is going to be a sign with a small reach and low ROI.

But Kourda and PETA seem to be unencumbered by things like common sense. She continued in her letter:

"Research tells us that fish use tools, tell time, sing, and have impressive long-term memories and complex social structures, yet fish used for food are routinely crushed, impaled, cut open, and gutted, all while still conscious."

If these fish are so damn smart, why didn't they just drive themselves to the market? I mean, how smart can they really be if they have to hitch a ride to their own market. Or why didn't they just go all A-Team and escape from captivity in the first place?

Now that I think about it, it would be pretty cool to see a little B.A. Baracus fish beating up cats, while a cigar-puffing Hannibal fish fires a homemade machine gun he made with an oxygen tank and truck rivets.

Still, it's California, and I'm sure this is not the weirdest piece of mail the city has ever dealt with. It's probably not the weirdest mail they got that day. Even so, every letter writer has to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter how looney they appear to be.

Craig Reem, the public affairs director for the city of Irvine, told the Los Angeles Times he was not familiar with the city's procedure for dealing with a request like Kourda's.

I am. Throw it in the trash.

Wait, wait. I'm sorry. I was a little hasty there.

I meant, recycle it.

But Irvine made their decision, presumably after they stopped laughing and dried their eyes. Reem said, "I do think it's fair to say we have no plans to erect a memorial."

No matter. PETA spokeswoman Asheley Byrne has said they will ask Irvine again.

It will probably take a while though, because it takes a long time to gather that much dryer lint for another piece of paper.

This isn't the first time PETA has asked cities to set aside funds used for repairing their roads, caring for the poor, and providing fire and police services to their citizens. According to an Associated Press story, Byrne says they have tried to honor pigs killed in Virginia, and cows killed in crashes in Illinois, Kansas, and Manitoba.

The fact that they're a political laughing stock does not deter them, and they will continue to ask for memorial signs to be placed at animal accident sites.

I've got an idea for their next one: "All You Can Eat."



The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.

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