Category Archives: Observations

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.


Filed under Observations, Stories

Hyper-Sam and the Infinite Potential

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Internet.

I am Sam Julian, artist and cantankerous co-editor of the blog Reasonably Ludicrous. First of all, let me thank you for your support of our fledgling blog these past few weeks. It is a great privilege to address you now, this time with words. I post today with very important news, so important that it had to be posted on a Thursday.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a man. That’s not the news. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a man who lives in perpetual fear, fear of a man that I will never meet. I cannot see him; I cannot feel him, but I can perceive him. He exists in a timeline parallel to my own, mirroring my every step, my every movement…

Until that crucial moment, when I’m not quite paying attention, when I think that for once, things are going my way. That’s when he changes things up.

Every time I make a mistake, every time I let a ball slip through my fingers or trip over the finish line or  whatever sports-based faux pas you want to apply,

Every time I miss the apple, my parallel universe self (Let’s call him Hyper-Sam for brevity’s sake) takes a big, juicy, delicious bite of out of it. Hyper-Sam doesn’t balk in surprise when a situation-Hydra rears its hundred heads of branching possibility. Ever confident, he weaves his way forward silky smooth and cuts them all off in an incredible combo chain attack, turning misfortune into opportunity and opportunity into unadulterated win. If life gives him lemons, he will pulp the lemons in a juicer he won from a ring toss at the county fair, and offer it to his guests sweetened with Agave Syrup and Pimm’s. Hyper-Sam is charming and quick-witted, sensitive but never vulnerable. He is eloquent but efficient in his speech, reserved and knowing, but never pretentious. And even though he always knows precisely what he means to say, it doesn’t matter, because his winning smile says enough.

Hey There.

See, I am none of those things. When someone asks me a direct question it takes a moment for me to register that the person is actually speaking to me, and that the phrase out of their mouth was an interrogative, so by the time I sayanything it’s well past the point of spontanaeity, let alone wit. At parties and clubs I have to shout to feel like I’m being heard, and as soon as more than two people start listening to me, I get so self-conscious I derail my fossil-fuel powered train of thought. God forbid someone be anything less that friendly to me, because I will bluster defensively before my brain even registers they were making a joke. And should anyone of the female persuasion engage me in conversation and seem actually interested in what I have to say, I become highly suspicious.

Super'spicion aint the way.

Needless to say, Hyper-Sam excels at all the social situations I’ve grown accustomed to witnessing devolve into massive fiascos of monstrously cruel insignificance. And as I sit in the corner, watching Stacie dance with Yosef, in my mind’s eye I see Hyper-Sam pulling Hyper-Stacie ever so slightly in towards his crisp and not-at-all-wine-covered collared shirt. Hyper-Yosef stands next to me, muttering resentments into his Dixie Cup of Jungle Juice and humiliation.

The other day I was talking on the phone to a very friendly, very tragic government worker who was so happy to have someone call him back that I couldn’t possibly deny him a quick twenty-minute survey, but because he was out buying organic groceries, he said he’d call me back when he got to his office. Thirty minutes later I have to get to work, and naturally Dan Fillin (not a pseudonym) calls me just as I’m getting into the car. I answer and don’t think anything of it as I drive along my easy, suburban commute. I was feeling pretty good about myself, totally making this guy’s day. He was just so happy to speak to someone, and I rediscovered the joys of talking about myself without fear of Judgment. I had fun answering the questions, and we joked about his computer that still ran a MS-DOS program that didn’t have a mouse. Then, just as the program was rebooting after the first crash, I heard the quick clip of a police siren and dropped the phone in angry realization.

The Gentleman Police Officer didn’t even have the courtesy to run the siren for a full wail. He sidled up to my pulled-over car.

“License and registration, please.”

“Here you go. This isn’t my car; I’m borrowing it from a friend.”

“Okay, and the friend?”

I told him, and he began scribbling on his pad. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I thought I’d bring up the elephant in the room.

“Is this because I was talking on my cell phone?”


After that I pretty much sat quietly while he input things into his laptop or whatever they use on motorcycles and wrote me up a ticket. I didn’t know what else to say. And staring at my ticket, I knew that Hyper-Sam would never have gone down like this. It would have gone something more like:

Hyper-Sam avoided the ticket and got a great story to tell Dan Fillin when he called back. Me, I pretended to still be enjoying his terrible, terrible 40-minute survey.

Now you might say, “but Sam, if this were true, Hyper-Sam wouldn’t even have been in this situation in the first place. Hyper-Sam would have a Bluetooth headset that he bought at a reasonable price online, and what is he doing borrowing someone else’s car? Hyper-Sam owns a Tesla.” You might say that this is a sloppy metaphor and that it falls apart upon further investigation. That Hyper-Sam is merely a figment of my overly-neurotic, self-flagellating brain.

Scumbag Brain

But no. It’s far worse than that. The reality is that there are actually an infinite number of Hyper-Sams, spawning off of me at every causal juncture. A new one is created every moment, and he goes off to live a life of self-actualization and purpose while I watch him fade off into the extra-dimensional horizon.

The other day I was moving out of my old office. As I left, the cute secretary, the one with the straight dark hair, the one who always smiles with a knowing twinkle, who always seems to want me to talk to her but I never do because what would I have to say to her anyway, asks, “Hows it going?”

“Good,” I say, blushing. “Heading out.”

And as I walk past her I realize that I should turn around and talk to her because I have nothing to lose. I’m leaving the building now, forever. I could be telling her about my awesome, cool-sounding job at a start-up and our fancy new pad that’s just like in The Social Network. I could ask her out to dinner and even if she said no I’d never have to see her again. I could even tell her she was beautiful, and she might even be flattered. I could do anything. I realized I could always do anything, but I just keep getting in the way of myself. Life was about experiences, not obstacles.  This was the dawning of a new era, a day when Hyper-Sam and Sam would merge and become one.

But I just walked out the doors without saying anything.






Filed under Observations, Stories

Oops, I Got an English Degree!

This morning, I woke up to a horrible realization. Actually, that happens pretty much every morning, the realization being that I’m awake and no longer in the blissful world of dreams.

But on this fateful day, I came to recognize a much more devastating truth: I had spent four years of my life studying English.

You’d think kids who get into Stanford would be smart enough not to pursue their dreams, but I’ve always been quixotic (and as an English major, I can tell you that word’s based on a character…from a book!), so I studied what I loved, future be damned! My parents, idealistic saps that they are, actually encouraged me towards this! They said, “Russ, you can do anything if you put your mind to it!” Can you believe that?

So I kept at it. I enjoyed my major, and I’ve never been one to deny myself any desire, no matter how whimsical or potentially hazardous.

And it was just so easy. Wait until the final paper is assigned, read (or skim) a single book, then write an eight page treatise on the main character’s Oedipus complex. How could I turn that down?

Unfortunately, it just so happens that people in “real life” expect you to have these pesky things called “skills,” and for some reason, nobody mentioned them to me until it was too late. All my computer science friends had these amazing resumés, and I didn’t have an iota of work experience. I assured prospective employers of my vast intellect and chronicled all the fantasy books I’d read, but still I didn’t receive a single call from any of the companies to which I’d applied. Didn’t they see how well I’d praised myself? Didn’t they understand how my comprehensive knowledge of potential post-apocalyptic scenarios could come in handy?

Suddenly it’s graduation and all my friends have moved to San Francisco and New York to do important work, so obviously I have to pretend that I have my life together too. I decided to take a year off to “find myself” and “work on my writing.” They seemed like good excuses at the time, but then it turned out that finding myself was hard to do when there was so much good TV on, and working on my writing was nigh impossible when you end up joining a fraternity that’s always throwing booze and women at you (not that I succeeded with the women). When I was working toward my degree, I didn’t mind the distractions, but now I was starting to realize that without an outside force giving me a series of easily attainable goals, I had developed some sort of weird conscience/guilt complex that made me feel horrible about myself.

It was terrible! Before this year, I’d always loved myself (heck, somebody had to!), but now my life was a travesty of my ill-formed childhood plans. I was supposed to be a multi-billion-dollar writer person who lived on the moon.

Sure, living in San Luis Obispo is nice, but it’s no the moon. Now, I could blame the lack of lunar accommodations on the government, but there was no excuse for the unearned billions. Clearly, I had to start doing something that would get me paid, or laid, or anything really. And with that, we’ve returned to the head of this ouroboros* of a conundrum: I have a degree in English. Where could I find people crazy enough to pay me for that?

*It’s a thing.

And then it hit me: the internet!

There are plenty of people who make money on the internet, right–plenty of people who are (presumably) a lot less “qualified” than I am? If they can earn a living by remorselessly spewing out their life stories and pointless observations, why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I enter this modern-day gladiatorial ring and battle my fellow English majors for the love of the wealthy masses. After all, it’s up to us to stave off the ennui of conquering the known world, and if we’re good enough, somebody might pay us.

On the web, everyone can put themselves up for examination, and if they’re pretty or funny or ugly enough, never have to do any real work. And in the end, isn’t avoiding real work what being an English major is all about? That’s why I’ve started blogging. Even if I can’t achieve anything real, I might at least become internet famous. So here goes. This is my blog and my chance to show my parents that their money wasn’t wasted, or that it wasn’t quite as wasted as they previously thought, and that I’m not quite as wasted as I was five minutes ago. Funny how that works.


Filed under Observations