Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Burdens of Internet Fame

Wooo! We just hit 1000 subscribers! In honor of this momentous readership event, and because everyone’s been so supportive, Sam and I would like to say thanks and take a look back at the Fresh Pressing that started this electrically unsafe daisy chain of fortune.

I’d always viewed the internet as a vast, unicorn-infested, cat-plagued, time-sucking mega-void that would chop up whatever creativity I was brave enough to offer it into tiny, troll-size bites, but I wasn’t about to let a few grammar-defying kittens stop me.

I knew damn well that I could be mildly, vaguely, intermittently amusing, not to mention the fact that Sam’s artwork is torn straight from the heavens. He declared that any representation of this truth would be self-serving, but luckily I have no such qualms.

And so, it was with a great sense of achievement that I wrote and published my first post, ate some microwavable mini-quiches, and promptly fell asleep.

I awoke to the sound of bells.

My first thought is that a bunch of angels, now armed with the bell-induced power of wings, are hunting us down for stealing their heavenly artwork, but it’s only the doorbell—the computer guy’s here to fix my internet.

I wriggle into pants (the last guy had filed an official complaint), boot up my computer, and briefly glance at my page views—WHAT THE GRAPH?! The number is so huge my atrophied English brain can barely comprehend it. I call Sam to make sure this is real life, but he’s either asleep or at the mercy of the battle seraphim and can offer no persuasive evidence. Before I can come to any conclusions, the doorbell rings again.

The plumbers! My apartment is soon filled with jostling servicemen, and the computer guy has shut off my internet. I have no idea what’s happening out there in the mega-void! The plumbers start sawing into my ceiling all over the place and suddenly it’s disgorging water in three spots with vindictive aplomb, and the now-soaked drywall is collapsing like the Soviet Union.

Long story short, after my internet was revived about an hour later, after the water-spewing pipes had been sealed off and the gaping holes in my ceiling were—well, those are still there. Anyway, after dealing with my assorted apartmental issues, I was able to resume my e-vestigation and found out I’d been freshly pressed…on my very first post!

Still in shock, I scoured my kitchen for smelling salts, only to realize that I live in the present day, so I gave up and proceeded to bask in the joy of one of the most exciting moments of my life. It was a singular experience, receiving ludicrously positive feedback from complete strangers. I still can’t figure out what they stand to gain! Since then, though view rates have naturally never come close to that chart-ruining outlier of a first day, the blog has grown as slowly and surely as a lesson-teaching tortoise, and for some reason, the people reading it seem to actually enjoy it.

And it’s all thanks to you! You, my readers and new favorite people ever, made this happen. You are the first wave of hope in a stormy sea of fear and slimy kelp, helping propel us forward on the journey toward the shores of moderate internet fame. And it doesn’t matter that I’ve already been offered dozens of jobs all over the tropics. I don’t care about the fact that scores of moon women have been throwing themselves at me, and so be it if the state of Rhode Island promised me a small herd of attack lions if I’d only drop everything and compose their official State Poem.

You know what? I don’t even care that Ex-Vice-President Al Gore offered me a position by his side saving baby albino whales from underwater greenhouse gases. I told him the world would have to wait, because by god, I’ve got readership now, and if he didn’t want me ignoring literally every other aspect of my life in the pursuit of becoming internet famous, then he damn well shouldn’t have invented the thing.

Now, it’s not all fun and games. Every week I’m filled to the brim with frothy, bubbling panic as I realize I’ve finally written the post that will prove I’m merely a fraud masquerading as a merry minstrel of the mega-void. Sleep has become such an unattainable fantasy that whenever I manage to snag an hour or two, I invariably dream of more sleeping. It’s like a boring, sedated version of Inception.

And now that I spend all my time alone in my room attempting to befriend the internet, my social skills are going the way of the red wolf—critically endangered in the wild, but thriving in World of Warcraft.

Yes, internet fame may require great sacrifice, but you’re worth it, readers, and you can bet your oversize bonnets I’ll be here for you this Tuesday, and barring serious injury or any non-fictional job offers, every Tuesday after that.

Like an abacus, you can count on me.

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We’d Like to Have Award with You

As you’ll note, especially now that I’m about to point it out, today is a Thursday, which, according to the Mayan calendar, is not a Tuesday. It has been decided that Thursdays shall henceforth be known as the days upon which either, in the rare event that visionary and heartthrob Sam has enough free time, he’ll compose something of great insight and profundity concerning the human condition, or, barring that, I’ll write some sort of gibberish held to a far lower standard than my Tuesday posts. For example, that last sentence was extremely long and unintelligible.

Most likely, we won’t post anything at all. We’re trying to keep you on your toes in an effort to appear unpredictable in that suave, unpredictable-but-I-like-it sort of way.

The reason I’m posting today is because, drum roll, Reasonably Ludicrous got its first ever blog award! For those of you who don’t know, a blog award is like chain mail, only, because everyone in the blogosphere is supportive past the point of sanity, it’s fueled not by fear of being smitten (such a cute past participle) by unseen forces should you fail to perpetuate it, but rather by the common desire to pay it forward, or share the love, as it were.

The self-propagating award we received is known as the 7×7, which is, coincidentally, the hamburger I always order at In-N-Out. The lovely (at least in my dreams), cat-adoring, never-been-kissed, bad-guy-fixated Jess over at Love The Bad Guy has, in her beneficence, presented us this award all the way from down under. If I could tunnel her my gratitude in person, I would, but my arms are a little tired, so I’ll have to settle for simply posting my thanks.

An award! Do you believe it? No matter how intangible, no matter how many strings come attached, I’m ecstatic! Any sort of validation sets my buns ablaze. Thanks, Jess!

Now, as for the award itself, it looks a little something like this:

Ah, the delicious patties of praise, lettuce of laudation, tomatoes of tribute, and grease of glory! This particular commendation requires the receiver to answer 7 pre-determined non-questions and then pass the award on to up to 7 other deserving blogs, thus proving that blog awards, like viruses, meet at least 2 of high school biology’s requirements for life. And now, without further gibbering, I present to you the answers to those seemingly unanswerable questions.

  1. Most Beautiful Post. I’ll have to go with our most recent post, Rich People Are Scary, because that has a naked pic of me in it. It took a lot of cajoling, pleading, and bribery, but Sam eventually agreed to portray me much more beautifully than is strictly accurate.
  2. Most Popular Post. Well, I could say Oops, I Got an English Degree because it has so many comments that it now takes a long time to load on my slow computer, but since the non-question doesn’t specify, I’ll claim that the most popular post hasn’t happened yet. I’m an optimist at heart, and it wouldn’t be right to think we’d already reached our peak. The best is yet to come. Just you wait.
  3. Most Controversial Post. I don’t even want to bring this one up. It was so controversial that I took it down almost immediately, and I’m pretty sure I successfully forced everyone who’d seen it to sign non-disclosure agreements. That was a close call.
  4. Most Helpful Post. Hyper-Sam and the Infinite Potential, no question. Because of this post, I can now take solace in the fact that somewhere in the twisted multiverse we call home, there’s a version of me who’s done it all right. Great work, Hyper-Russ. And if you ever find a way to communicate with me, let me know how that three-way with Amber Heard and Olivia Wilde went.
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful Post. If I had to pick, I think it would be that time I started a brand-new blog with one of my best friends. We posted it online, went to bed, and when I woke up, we’d gotten thousands of hits and hundreds of comments. That was pretty surprising, I suppose.
  6. Most Underrated Post. Uh. You guys are all so awesome. You give us such great feedback all the time. I’m beyond happy. I never expected this blog to do so well, and our success thus far is beyond my wildest dreams. If anything, all the posts are overrated.
  7. Most Pride-Worthy Post. As a writer, I’m convinced that everything I create requires vast quantities of revision and am still utterly baffled as to why anyone pays any attention to the words I scratch into the surface of the blogosphere.

So there ya have it. Now it’s my turn, my turn to spread the joy and the burden, the excitement and the obligation. Here’s hoping the blogs I choose plaster that sexy burger on their pages and tell us a little bit about themselves.

  1. Peas & Cougars. Another blog whose banner cracks me up, Peas & Cougars never ceases to delight with its ceaselessly delightful drawings of simplicity and expressiveness. She’s got a great sense of humor and satirizes those things in life we all relate to…in picture form!
  2. Live. Nerd. Repeat. Home to a half-crazed madman who spends his time playing video games, casting spells, contemplating the end of humanity, and then writing about it, this blog will sate your desire to learn more about the rare and elusive were-beaver, and his artistic representations will send you into fits of giddiness.
  3. The Snarkist. Started just this month, The Snarkist is filled with sarcastic and amusing observations on the joys and terrors of society, from sock monkeys to vanity plates. Entertaining in its derision, it’s also written by a girl from one of my English classes, and I would have really liked to hook up with her, but right after we started hitting it off, she studied abroad in Oxford. What’s that all about? Anyway, maybe giving her an award will get me in her good graces in case we ever run into each other later.

Phew. I think that’s about it. This blog award stuff is tough. Did I do ok?

UPDATE: Live. Nerd. Repeat. was Freshly Pressed mere hours after receiving this prestigious award. Coincidence? I think not! Well actually, it’s almost certainly a coincidence, but I can take satisfaction in knowing that WordPress itself agrees with me when I say it’s a fantastic blog.

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Rich People Are Scary

Remember all those computer science friends I jealously mentioned back in the first post? Well now they’re working at startup companies with so much promise that venture capitalists are racing their yachts at ludicrous speed to arrive in time to be the first to invest. In fact, Brian (the roommate) was so tempted by the allure of nautical-themed, computer-science glory, that he hopped into his silicon-covered wagon and trekked to California’s gold rush 2.0, leaving me to my own devices in our apartment.

Not long ago, I used to work amongst those people, but when the company realized how unimportant writing is to the success of a video game, there was a bit of downsizing. They attempted to make it up to me, however, by granting me a one-weekend stay in their six-bedroom, three-yard, one-pool mansion.

Within minutes of my arrival, their productivity was reduced to a full-scale, mouse-pad-Frisbee war that soon devolved into a highly alcoholic game of Settlers of Catan. Sometimes I have the distinct feeling that nerds don’t know what to do with huge quantities of money.

We pulled ourselves together the next morning because the founders had an important social function on a yacht filled with potential investors and their absurdly hot girlfriends, who I found out later were united by a common affinity for wealth. Now, I was the black sheep of the company, but there was an extra spot in the car, so after a brief automotive nap, I found myself stepping onto a massive, fancy boat, attempting with all my strength to fight my hangover and make a good impression on the surrounding millionaires.

Initially, I tried my hand at small talk, only to receive looks of complete and utter disdain from  numerous beautiful women, a not entirely new experience. One deigned to talk to me long enough to regale me with the tale of her company’s camping trip, during which her coworker had slept without a tent and woken up all wet.

“She certainly didn’t know what she was dewing,” I said, and the girl literally moved one chair over just so she wouldn’t have to be next to me.

I wanted to save face but couldn’t think of anything that would help me recover from that abysmal foray into the world of conversation, so I just sat there, staring into the comforting endlessness of the ocean, trying my best not to be noticed. Luckily, I was soon summoned to meet the owner near the prow of the ship. I’d never met wealth-based pseudo-royalty before (though Christian Slater once told me he liked my shirt), and as I headed toward the bridge, my stomach fluttered with excitement.

The moment I laid eyes on him, however, I burst into hysterics, which is a suboptimal way to make a first impression. He was at least 50, the quintessential cliché of pompous opulence: reclined on a large, luxurious cushion of presumably exotic origin, a glass of fine wine in one hand and a small, fluffy dog yapping with ceaseless delight in the other.

As his 20-something girlfriend, also of exotic origin, sidles up a little closer to him, our group sits down on some tacky Astroturf amidst a circle of lowly peasants bequeathing gifts upon him in an attempt to curry favor. The moment he opens his mouth and greets us with his thick, Eastern-European accent, all I can think of are the countless Eurotrash villains Bruce Willis has dispensed with a vengeance.

I introduce myself, but it’s one of those moments when you can tell the person considers you to be as inconsequential as a speck of dust, which, I suspect, is the fate of most specks of dust. After responding with the minimum required number of hmms and hrms and not making the slightest attempt to mask his disinterest, Richy McWealtherson resumes his conversation with an attractive young woman and they start joking about Tetris, of all things. Apparently they’d watched a competitive Tetris tournament, and this experience had led the boat king to an epiphany: finally, the baron of all technology could understand how the masses might enjoy something as pedestrian and lowbrow as football. I chime in with “Yeah, Tetris is a lot easier to get into. You’ve only got like a half-dozen players to follow.” They both just stare at me. “You know,” I continue, trying my best to salvage the situation, “like L-block, the square one…”

“There were far more than six people competing in the tournament we observed,” Richy replies, peeved by my disgraceful ignorance. My friends are horrified that I’ve offended their potentially life-changing contact, but before things can get any worse, another worshipper arrives with a bottle of wine. The king points to Juan, one of my friends, and says “go open this,” fully expecting his command to be obeyed with haste and groveling, which it is.

I then have to hold my tongue while the pharaoh and the wine-giver transition to discussing the zombie apocalypse. Somehow, he manages to ruin even this topic, sucking all the joy out of it like a zombie-eating vampire. It’s as if he knows the conversation is widely considered to be pleasurable, but he has no conception of why. Like an alien in human skin, he imitates our species’ smiles and mannerisms to determine how best to conquer us, yet cannot grasp why we might engage in such frivolous endeavors as love, laughter, and debating hypothetical, world-ending scenarios.

Moments later, Juan scurries back and hands me the bottle—cork 80% of the way out—and some glasses, and tells me to start pouring while he gets more cups. I give the stopper a swift yank, only to have it completely disintegrate in my hands. All these tiny bits of cork are flooding into the bottle of wine, and I glance up, horrified that I’ve been exposed as a despicable, wine-ruining plebian. As luck would have it, the wine-giver still has the king’s attention, though the rest of the retinue is staring at me like I’d just murdered their first-born child.

I leap up and sprint into the heart of the boat, frantically searching for some tool that can help me remove the rest of the cork. I weave in and out of computer scientists and beautiful women until I reach the kitchen, but the only things on the table are some plastic cups, a carrot cake, and chopsticks. After briefly employing my lateral-thinking skills in an attempt to deduce the connection between the three, I simply grab a chopstick and start stabbing the cork until whatever parts still had a little bit of structural integrity give in to my brutality and fall into the wine, which is about ten percent cork at this point. I haphazardly siphon it into cups (thus utilizing 2 of the 3 tools available to me), fish out the cork with my fingers, and then pour it back into the bottle, doing my best not to spill it everywhere.

It’s actually sort of working; the only problem is it appears that some hideous, and likely poisonous, fungus has been growing inside the bottle ALL ALONG! I’m suddenly very worried that someone is attempting to bump off the non-terrestrial, millionaire vessel owner (probably to gain an inheritance/become the new overlord of his species) and place the blame on me, the unsuspecting and incompetent cork puller.

After all, why did I feel the need to sneak off with the bottle of wine? Why did I head down to the kitchen where I could tamper with it alone, unobserved? I’m about to hurl the bottle overboard in a frantic attempt to save myself, when in walks the king’s girlfriend. “Ah, there you are,” she says, and ominously explains that everyone’s been waiting for me. Too afraid to voice my concerns, I hand her the wine and follow her back to the prow. I cringe as she pours out a full dose of poison for all the guests, but before my friends can drink it, I surreptitiously point out the fungus, and we all watch in dismay as king and girlfriend quaff it with hearty abandon.

Luckily, nobody died, so maybe that guy’s immune to poison by now. Or maybe it was some kind of “cultured” wine, like the cheeses that are supposed to be old and disgusting.

After making a whole swath of faux pas and bad impressions, I escaped the royal party and ended up talking to one of the hot girlfriends who happened to be an English major turned author. It seemed that she had avoided the post-graduation English-major blues by being stunningly attractive and not entirely socially incompetent. I stuck with her the rest of the time.

When we got back to the mansion, I drank away the memories, and, in a moment of metaphor, climbed onto the roof and shed all the physical possessions that were weighing me down. I mean, what good is a boat if you never even leave the dock because there’s a chance it might get scuffed? I wanted to live in the moment, to be the kind of person who judges people not because of their status, but because judging them makes for good comedy. But mostly, I just wanted to jump off the roof of the mansion into the pool naked, because nobody’d done it before and there’d be the added benefit of burning a scarring mental image into everyone’s brain. Oddly, I haven’t been invited back since.

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