The Joys of Airplane Travel

I feel like I’m teetering dangerously close to bad stand-up with this topic, but I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences on planes, I swear, so bear with me. They may be sadly devoid of gremlins and thus not up to a Shatnerian level of greatness, but I’ll do my best to be a worthy replacement. After all, my parents didn’t name me Russell Kirk Nickel for nothing.

I’m under the impression that everyone shares the fantasy of meeting a tall dark stranger on a plane, hitting it off over a mutual hatred of the shoddy in-flight entertainment and, thanks to the cramped seating that ensures levels of intimacy which would normally take months to develop, deciding to share a cab fare to the hotel (for the sake of economy, of course), and as long as you’re both staying in town for a couple of days, there’s really no reason to waste money on individual rooms when hotel beds are so sizable…and so lonely.

At least, I know I’ve been waiting for this to happen ever since that whole puberty fiasco. This unspoken desire that I assume is shared by every passenger adds an exciting and erotic undertone to all those forced conversations of uncanny politeness. The people who refuse to talk to me when I assail them with an unending barrage of friendly inquiries into their line of work, reading material of choice, and sex life aren’t actually trying to sleep or work; they’re using body language to convince me that they’re not particularly interested in getting a hotel with me. Most likely because they’re already spoken for. What else could it be?

But I don’t let failure after failure get me down. Every flight, I disregard my A-priority seating, wait until about half the passengers have boarded, then try to sit next to the person who looks most receptive to hours and hours of friendly conversation and a little flirting. College was a golden era for this, since every flight to or from Spring/Christmas/Thanksgiving break was packed with students.

The very first time I flew home from Stanford was at the end of admit weekend. I spent the whole weekend wandering campus and taking in life with a beautiful girl (with whom I was very honorable since my then girlfriend was waiting for me back in San Diego), and before I knew it, I was taking a flight home. And just by chance, aforementioned beautiful girl Emily was on the very same flight. So of course I sat with her…and her mother, who’d come along to keep her safe from predators like me. Having a girl you’ve just met’s mom sit a foot away from you makes hormone-driven dialogue a difficult endeavor, and age-specific innuendo becomes the better part of valor. I kept having to engage her mom in conversation to seem polite, and somehow the discussion shifted rather unfortunately to their belief in Catholicism, a topic that God in no way intended for in-flight banter. What followed was nigh on an hour of high-minded philosophizing that my half-semester of Dante could never have prepared me for. Attempting to atheistically deflect the good-natured religious prodding of a cute girl’s mother is like walking on eggshells (or water), and meeting the parent(s) after just 2 days made me feel like things were moving faster than locusts on plague day. Still, I must’ve been sufficiently charming and uncontrarian, because during the descent, Emily offered me her number.

Before I’d left for admit weekend, Klaus (the ex) had informed me that I’d better not come home with any cute girls’ phone numbers. But how could I turn down Emily (especially in front of her mother)? It would’ve been one thing if I’d simply input her into my phone, but this was a plane, and apparently turning on a free-with-a-two-year-contract piece of technology causes multi-million dollar flying contraptions to crash. So good, ol’ fashioned writing it was. I didn’t have anything to write on, so Emily solves this problem by retrieving a giant colorful pen from her purse and scrawling her digits across my entire arm, then decorates my guilt-limb with cutesy hearts and stars.

I got off the plane, bid her farewell, headed toward the baggage claim, and ran right into the girlfriend, who’d come to pick me up as a surprise. Yay! Well, at least I had fond memories of the flight to keep me happy throughout my stay in the dog house.

But wait! There’s more! Like that time the pilot made an announcement on the P.A. during our descent. Apparently someone had left one of those extremely useful and cost-effective Juicy Couture handbags in the bathroom, and when they’d gone back for it, it was gone!

Suddenly, the plane was abuzz with rumor, and the witch hunt was on.

No one would fess up, and the plane quickly became a cramped prison, but without the amenities. The pilot announced that no one would be allowed to leave until the purse was recovered, and once we landed, police would be brought on board to search our belongings. Chaos broke out. People erupted in anger, jumping up and yelling at anyone and everyone, and I huddled in the corner attempting to appear as unobtrusive as my massive girth and witty t-shirt would allow.

The shouts continued, the threats escalated, and the pilots promised ever-increasing retribution, from “we’ll turn this plane around and go straight back home” to “we’ll force you to eat a second in-flight meal.” Finally, from just a couple rows in front of me, the purse hurtles through the air, flung with the vigorous abandon only a criminal fearing his or her capture can achieve. In this case said criminal was a her, and the her was a 6-year-old girl. Everyone watched as the purse sailed over their heads, bounced off an elderly man’s shoulder, and came to rest in the aisle, the lone testament to the purloining atrocity that had occurred.

Or what about that time I sat next to the very professional looking Asian man? We made a bit of small talk but mostly kept to ourselves. Then halfway through the flight an old man collapses in the aisle literally right next to me. A woman starts screaming, and a flight attendant rushes to the situation, then shouts those classic words: “Is there a doctor on board?!”

The guy next to me is already leaping into action, checking the old man’s pulse, looking into his eyes, trying to rouse him to consciousness. I can’t believe I actually got to experience that scene from all the movies, and first-hand, too! Dr. Lin helped the guy regain consciousness, then helped him back to his seat and administered some friendly and charming advice along the lines of “no more collapsing!” As the old man stood, the plane erupted into cheers and applause, and the doctor waved graciously. “Just doing my job,” I think I heard him say before he proceeded to get all the ladies.

I’ve found myself on some flights even that soulless character from Up in the Air would’ve found interesting (including a four-hour flight during which this guy paced up and down the aisle the entire time like a crazy person, casting waves of anxiety over every other passenger), but the most important flight of all was the one on the way to Stanford’s admit weekend. A lot went down going to and from that place. You see, that was the day I met life-long friend, sexy hunk of man, singer extraordinaire, and best artist in the blogosphere, Sam Julian. I guess technically we’d met before since we were both captains of our rival high schools’ Improv teams, and thus had needed to organize our fair share of competitive Improv battles, but it was on this flight that we truly got to know each other. Sam’s mom (in classic mom fashion) had forced him to get to the airport 3 hours early, you know, just to be safe, which meant that he arrived at the same time I did. Nothing particularly interesting happened, other than my sitting next to someone who would end up changing my life. We’ve kept in touch ever since, and look where it’s gotten us.

So even if I’ve never managed to have that airplane fling, I did end up with that special someone who’s more about the long term, and even though he can’t quite fulfill all my wishes (try being female, Sam. Seriously), he can certainly draw them.

Do you guys have any good plane stories?

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I Made a Music Video!

I hope some of you out there are Game of Thrones fans, because for some unknown reason I was inspired to write a song and make an embarrassing video. And by write a song, I mean take the music from a Flo Rida song and write new, Game of Thrones–based lyrics for it. Then I talked my buddy’s girlfriend into singing and my cousin into filming the thing. Ah, the joys of impressionable friends.

Check it out!

Woohoo! I hope that cross-dressing didn’t frighten you too much, or worse yet, arouse strange new feelings you weren’t sure how to handle.

If you liked it enough and are reddit folk, I posted it over here and it could probably use some upvoting:

Sorry that wasn’t a blog post per se, but I hope you enjoyed it!

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Go Viral in 10 Underhanded Steps

As the cofounder of the most successful blog I’ve ever cofounded, I’m well aware that you reader types are filled with envy toward me, or if not envy, at least a weird, tingly feeling. But you needn’t see a doctor about it, because I’m right here with your diagnosis: tingling sensations are pleasant; enjoy them! Now, Sam and I are nothing if not gluttons for some healthy competition (or unhealthy, now that you’re refusing to see a doctor), so we thought we’d explain how we became so tremendously successful. And trust me, we are successful. After all, we’ve sold nearly 8 items on our store, and my parents only bought 4 of them.

We’ve already taught you how to write a blog post, and in merely 39 steps, no less. But we neglected to explain what to write about.

This post will remedy that oversight. You see, people read our blog not because it’s entertaining or well-written, but because Sam and I, in a freak accident involving leeches, some exposed wires, and the color purple, stumbled upon the exact keywords and components that turn a blog from standard catnip into cat cocaine—you know, in a world where all blog readers are cats and internet virality is a physical drug.

And now, without further hilarious introductory paragraphs, we give you the 10 keys to generating massive blog traffic.

1. Write Posts in List Format and Bold Each List Item

People don’t like the idea of reading an endless series of paragraphs, even if the endlessness stops after 4 or 5 paragraphs. The more numbers and bulleting the better!

2. Link Back to Your Old Content!

People often rest their hands on their mice, and if they’re startled by a loud noise, they might accidentally click on one of your links, increasing your page views.

  • Examples: This link right here. Go ahead, click it.

3. Link to Other Content!

But don’t just link to your own content! Link to everything you can possibly imagine! Through the magic of pingbacks, referrals, and actual magic, this will direct people to your site. Maybe a fellow blogger will be too curious to resist investigating why you’d link to them, or maybe your wife will come on here to tell you about the cease and desist order her lawyer filed for always directing people to those risqué photos of her.

  • Examples: I think that was enough examples.

4. Google Trends!

When choosing a topic, it’s important that you not fall into the trap of writing on a subject you’re passionate about. Rather, you should go to http://www.google.com/trends/ and see what the nation is searching. Choose one of the top 10 hottest searches at random (any method will do—ten sided die, random number generator, augury).

Then take an extreme stance and write about the search term in an angry and divisive fashion. This will rile up readers and get you loads of angry comments! Remember, it’s not the type of feedback that matters. It’s the quantity!

  • Examples: Basketball playoffs are happening? I hate the most beloved team; it’s an outrage they’ve made it this far!
  • Dan Harmon fired from Community?! Good riddance. He probably didn’t have any impact on the show anyway!
  • Facebook stock is dropping? But Facebook is the next Google! Instagram is the next Apple!
  • There was a solar eclipse? That’s not science, it’s an act of God! Therefore, it’s impossible to predict when the next one will be.
  • There’s a thing called the Preakness? I thought the triple crown was just a special prize you got for winning the Kentucky Derby really well.

And if you can’t think of anything trendy, just include one of the 5 standbys of the internet: animals being cute, people accidentally hurting themselves, whatever magical/vampiric/arena-death-match book series is popular for teen girls at the time, cats doing weird things, or Star Wars.

5. Revealing Pictures of Female Video Game Characters!

You know what’s always trendy? Guys spending time on the internet for unsavory purposes. Nobody’s at their computer more than nerds, and those same people are the ones without girlfriends (myself included). Tap into this market. Their searches for “naked princess peach,” “star fox slippy sex” and “ecco the dolphin cosplay” will bring in hundreds of sexually frustrated new readers! They may not do any reading, but your new content will definitely make them come repeatedly to see if you’ve updated.

  • Examples:

6. Tag Overload!

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t get enough of tag? It’s time to bring back that spirit and ignore all those “adults” who tell you to have fewer than 100 tags per post. Tags help you show up in search results no matter what you’ve written about. That’s the beauty of it. They don’t even have to be related!

  • Examples: Barack Obama. Fire-Spitting Dinosaurs. Blake Lively Nude

7. Begging

There’s nothing like begging to emotionally guilt people into doing what you want. And don’t be afraid to toss in a threat or two. Seriously, would you please beg? For the love of god, beg! If you don’t beg right now, I’m going to come over there and break both your two-legged stool’s legs.

  • Examples: Would you please share this post on Facebook? No really. That’d be awesome. If this post went viral it would be so meta!
  • You could share it on Reddit too!
  • Might as well click the stumbleupon button too. Do it! DO IT! Click every single button!

8. Be Freshly Pressed by WordPress

We don’t really have any tips on how to accomplish this, but we sure as hell wouldn’t have any readers at all if it weren’t for the people over at WordPress who thought we were funny. Or maybe they just threw a dart and it landed on us, I don’t know. As much as I hate to admit that others have power over me, it’s the truth. This isn’t very informative. We just thought we’d put it in here on the off chance that this post gets Freshly Pressed. Then we can say things like “Whoa. Meta” and “Boo-yeah!” and have them be applicable. And if it doesn’t, then we can say things like “I never liked WordPress anyway,” and “whatever those sounds are you make when you’re crying.”

  • Examples: This post, hopefully.
  • Making it to the front page of Reddit is also acceptable and equally inscrutable.

9. Lie to Your Audience

It’s important to keep readers on their toes. Nobody wants what they think they want. I mean, I was pretty sure I wanted Bruce Willis to be alive while I was watching the Sixth Sense, but Mr. Shyamalan knew me better than I knew myself. And I wanted The Last Airbender not to suck balls, but once again, he showed me who was boss.

  • Examples: Tell them it’s a 10-step list but run out of ideas after 8 steps, then make the 9th step a joke explaining away your deficiencies. That’s way better than having an 8-part list.

And there you have it! Follow these “10” simple “steps” and you’ll generate thousands of page views in no time. Sure, page views don’t mean anybody’s reading anything, and probably people will just be enraged by the fact that they didn’t find what they were looking for. But in the end, I think we can all agree that we blog not because we want to disseminate useful or entertaining information, but so we can see that little number go up on our stats page.

And if you’re interested, check out our new webcomic: The Joy Cannon!

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