Three things about these timelines that blew my mind:
1. If you are 75 years old or older, your birth date is closer to the day that Lincoln was assassinated than it is to today.
2. A tyrannosaurus existed closer in time to a living Justin Bieber than to a living stegosaurus.
3. As the sun expands, it will eventually make Earth inhospitable for life, but what if its changing proximity and luminosity to planets further away gradually makes each of them hospitable for life? What if each planet got its own “time in the sun,” but the time spans of intelligent life on each planet is so relatively short that we never overlap long enough to discover each other?
Timber is a pomeranian-poodle that belongs to my ex-girlfriend, and all his life he’s been fast.
The first time we let him out onto an open baseball field, he was still a tiny puppy with stubby puppy limbs who loved to chase you if you ran away from him. I let him off his leash, took off running and turned around to see how far back he was. He wasn’t. He was right next to me, keeping pace even as a puppy.
As Timber grew up, he turned into a gangly beast with long legs that could sprint much faster than before. He got to the point where he could accelerate and turn more quickly than virtually every dog at any dog park. I had no hope of keeping up anymore.
I was not okay with this.
One night, like many nights, I came home very drunk and took Timber out for his night-time walk. When I brought him back inside to the hallway leading to my apartment, I decided he was acting a little cocky that night.
"You know what?" my inebriated brain slurred to itself. "I’m gonna race him."
We were at the back end of the hallway, about 100 feet from my apartment door, which was directly at the front end. I looked down at Timber, gave him a look I imagined was exactly like Vin Diesel in any Fast & Furious movie, and took off.
I was pumping all my muscles as hard and fast as I could. I looked down next to me. There he was: prancing along effortlessly, looking up at me with his tongue wagging out, thinking this was such a fun little game.
This was not a game.
I pushed even harder. My arms flailed back and forth. My legs crushed the floor underneath me. I was a gazelle. I was Usain Bolt. Timber was slowing down. I was going to win!
First my face hit the door, and then my ass hit the floor. I sat there for a few moments. Between the alcohol I’d been drinking all night and the shock of smashing my face into a wooden door, my brain was taking longer than usual to process what had just happened.
My ex-girlfriend came out and saw me sitting on the floor. “What’s going on?” she asked.
The Dos and Don’ts for Messaging Women on Online Dating Apps: Why You Should Delete Your Essay and Just Ask About Her Cat Instead
I had to come up with a couple writing samples to apply for a copywriting job that I’m pretty sure is direct marketing penis pills to guys over the Internet. One of the prompts was to write a dating tip for men. This is what I submitted:
There she is: the woman of your dreams. A beautiful smile, awesome body, great sense of humor—and that’s all just from one profile picture. Welcome to online dating, or as many of us living in 2013 call it: dating.
Yet this new medium for dating comes with new rules for flirting as well. There’s more strategy to it than throwing back two shots of tequila, sidling next to a woman and making up some story about a catfight outside the bar.
For men new to online dating, it’s easy for to be confused and start treating your messages like an email to your buddies or—worse—your co-workers. Here are some quick beginner’s dos and don’ts for guys messaging women on dating sites:
DO send messages to many, many women. Online dating for men looking for women is a numbers game. Women who actively use online dating sites are inundated with messages daily. And if she’s hot? Take that times ten. Yes, you want your message to be that amazing one that stands out above all the others. But if it doesn’t, then you want to have 8-10 more chances. If she’s good enough to consider, she’s good enough to message. In fact—
DON’T add women to your “Favorites.” Just message them! Favoriting your choices is an easy way to build up a backlog of women that you will never contact. Just take the plunge. Now what should you say?
DO be funny. If your message makes her laugh (intentionally, not at you), then you’ve won.
DO say something relevant to her profile. Find a common interest, a funny picture, a place she’s been that you’d love to visit, anything that stands out to you and ask her about it. At the very least, prove to her that you did more than look at her pictures and decide to message her because she’s hot. In fact—
DON’T tell her she’s hot. She knows you think she’s hot. You messaged her. Give her a specific compliment. Tell her you love her sense of fashion. Tell her that her hair reminds you of the girl from Tangled. Tell her you want to wash your shirts on her rock-hard abs. Just don’t tell her, “Wow, you are so beautiful!!!”
DO ask a question in every message. Do you expect her to analyze what you just said and come up with questions for you? She’s not your therapist. Give her something to which to reply. And don’t make your question a Yes/No one. You’re likely to get back just a “Yes” or a “No.”
DON’T use a template. Women who’ve been online dating for a while can tell right away when a guy is sending her the same message that he’s sent dozens of other women. When thinking about what works online, it sometimes helps to imagine it as if you were approaching this woman at a bar. If she knows you’re going down the bar using the same opening line on every woman, she’ll know there’s no special reason you approached her other than that she happened to be there. Come up with something original.
DON’T tell her your life story in your first message. Going back to the bar analogy, would you ever go up to a woman and prattle off all the places you lived as a child, your college highlights, your career arc and every city to which you’ve ever traveled without letting her get a word in? She would walk away in under two minutes, and her online counterpart wouldn’t make it through your second paragraph. In fact, unless your name is David Sedaris—and I know it’s not because he’s not cruising for chicks, don’t write anything long enough to qualify as an essay.
DON’T just say “Hi.” This is the opposite problem, and it is something that will work at a bar but won’t work as well online. Hi. How are you? What’s up? You have an entire profile of information and plenty of time to think up of something interesting to say, and all you came up with was “Hi?” Even if you’re on an app like Tinder with just photos and virtually no information, you can and should do better. “Hi” is for guys who look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy. Do you look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy? Then try harder.
DO sell yourself. Even if she read all 150 of your favorite movies, books and bands that you listed on your profile (spoiler alert: she didn’t), match up your interests to hers. Don’t just tell her why you find her interesting. Explain why she’d find you interesting. This is a pitch. Assume she hears dozens per day. Make it easy for her to have a reason to reply to yours.
DO have substance in your messages, but keep them brief initially. Give her a chance to get to know and like you, and then allow your messages to get longer. Hopefully in person over drinks. However—
DON’T ask her out in your first message. Yes, this will totally work sometimes, but you have a much better chance if you give yourselves a chance to build a rapport first. But as soon as you have a good rapport—
DO ask her out. That’s the point isn’t it? Unless you’re looking for a penpal.
Most importantly, though –
DON’T send her a picture of your penis. Ever. EVER.
It is very difficult for me to act consistently like a mature adult.
I am arrogant. I am condescending. I am petty. I am self-righteous. I hate to lose or even seem like I lost.
Yet I have long-ago discovered that, when arguing with people, they tend to be more open-minded and prone to reaching a mutually agreeable resolution if you remain calm, objective, and even deferential at times.
But really, any time I have to deal with some of these fucking idiots, I’m always on the brink. And sometimes the best way to get away from the ledge is to step off of it and see how far you fall.
With that in mind, I’m allowing the sociopath normally hiding in the corner of my head to write the following open insult to no one in general but many people in particular —
I don’t like you. I don’t respect you. I don’t appreciate hearing your opinions. In fact, I have never heard an opinion escape your putrid lips that hasn’t bolstered my already immutable image of you as a festering sack of feces polluting the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to wander into your radius of stupidity.
I would call you retarded, but that would be a callous slight to those individuals who have no control over the physical impediments of their brains. Your impediment is in your poor judgment. And your lack of taste. And your complete refusal to use logic or reason. I often wonder if your inability to feel any type of empathy and the dim expression that’s always painted on your simian face are indicators of autism or if you’ve made a conscious decision to be as ignorant and selfish as a bawling child shoving a toy into his own anus so he doesn’t need to share it.
Watching your decision-making process actually reminds me of watching an ape lying on its back and urinating into its own mouth. It’s revolting, and yet it’s spectacular in its absurdity. I find myself asking the same questions when witnessing either event. Why would you do that? How could you possibly think that makes sense? Should I call a professional to help you, or are you so far beyond repair that I should just throw you a banana and let you enjoy drowning in your own filth?
I have no hope for you. You have no redeeming qualities. You are a total negative to humanity and to this planet. Even when the day comes, hopefully not far in the future, when your bowels release your ample waste one final time and you sink back below the dirt in which you have wallowed most of your pathetic life, the ground under which you are buried will become so toxic that the only thing that could possibly grow from it will be cancer and incompetence.
If, by some blessing, tomorrow you are struck and killed by a bus as you saunter across the street as oblivious as you always are to the decorum the rest of our population follows, I would laugh. I would laugh, and I wouldn’t feel remotely sad. I would call my friends, and they would feel odd and conflicted because they aren’t as sociopathic as I am, but when they try to give you a half-hearted eulogy, they wouldn’t get very far because nobody likes you.
Nobody likes you, and nobody cares about you except for me. And all I care about is that your life is as miserable and insufferable as you have made the lives of everyone who has the misfortune of your disgusting image stained on their memories.
That is all, and now you have my permission to fuck off.
Earlier this year, I finally had a little success getting some scripts written. It is one of my greatest embarrassments that I moved out to L.A. over three years ago and still barely have any written material that I’m proud enough to show anybody, much less submit to a contest or fellowship. Thus it was a great feeling finally to be closing out script after script, even if they were just first drafts, even if they were just shorts and webisodes, even if initial reactions to them had just been lukewarm. I was getting writing done. Progress was happening.
It wasn’t a conscious or active decision, but I then let my foot off the pedal and decided to celebrate my meager accomplishments in the only way I knew how—by drinking until my mind was obliterated and then going out and doing all the things my happily married friends claim they never spend any time missing.
It’s March now, and I feel like I’ve never stopped celebrating, although I’ve long run out of reasons to celebrate. I’m certainly not writing.
Accomplishing the goals I set for myself is a very broad, level happiness. It’s foundational. It brings stability and makes me feel secure. It’s the type of happiness you feel after staying patient and disciplined long enough to see the fruits of your hard labor.
The happiness I feel in anticipation of an ungodly amount of drinking is different. It’s sharp. It spikes. It makes me want to drop whatever I’m doing and just get started. Nothing gets finished. It’s the type of happiness you feel the moment you realize you’ve just met someone amazing with whom you’ve made a special bond. It’s a crush, that feeling the cynical would call infatuation and the uneducated would call falling in love.
Getting drunk, to me, feels like love.
And then I wake up the next morning, and that feels like headaches and nausea. I don’t get out of bed until the sun is already setting, missing out on the only consistent source of brightness living in L.A. I open my wallet and cringe at the numbers on the receipts crumpled in there. I spend the entire day reacquainting my brain with functioning, and then I go to bed again with the self-imposed burden of knowing two days have gone by without any steps taken toward that distant place of success in my mind.
Of course, that’s not the entire story of my failing grade in Hollywood. I wasn’t popping 30 mg of Adderall XR a day to curb my drinking. But the stress doesn’t help. The distraction doesn’t help. The guilt and the shame don’t help. The pressure I put on myself might’ve been too high, and the drinking to alleviate it doesn’t help. Chasing women around bars doesn’t help. Making snarky comments on Facebook statuses from people I barely know doesn’t help. Taking a picture of a sandwich and putting it on Instagram with a Lo-Fi filter and the sunburst doesn’t fucking help.
And yet — is that the answer? I’ve already given up a steady income, a wonderful relationship, traveling with my friends to all the places in the world I’m dying to see; all because I thought those held me back from being able to do what I needed to do. Am I to give up one more thing that I love? Of course I could do it in moderation, but what’s the point? My love isn’t drinking. My love is getting drunk.
I have always subscribed to the belief that you can’t be creative without a full life, but the further I immerse myself in my creative pursuits, the emptier my life feels. Are these hollow sacrifices that I’m making? And if I’m doing it wrong, what is right? Should I get married and knock out a couple kids? The stress hasn’t helped.
It’s March 2013. Year 4 of the L.A. Experience. I know incredibly more now than I did when I first got here, and I’m still laughably far from figuring it out.
The only thing I’ve discovered is what I’d long already known: this helps. Blogging, I have found, is not writing. Not the writing I’m trying to do, but it’s close. It begets writing, which begets more writing. Just as progress begets more progress and success begets more success. Momentum is so critical to accomplishing goals, and every drinking binge drags that to a crawl if not an utter stop. Yet how much would I have to write about if all I did was right? Doesn’t great inertia build even greater momentum?
I’m not sure what to think. All I want right now is a drink.
The greatest power that exists is the power of creation. I learned that from a children’s cartoon when I was a kid, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Creation is the highest form of power.
I am not a creator. I wish I were. I wish words and ideas and characters and motives and circumstances coalesced fluidly in my mind and flowed through my fingertips onto paper as perfect, pristine narrative. But they do not.
I am a creature of destruction. I am a destroyer. I am The Destroyer. I tear things down, I wipe things out, I bring civilization to ruins and dance gleefully in the rubble. There is beauty in entropy.
And when my task is complete, I move on and let those with true power paint their masterpieces on the canvases that I wiped blank for them. I don’t look back; I don’t monitor their progress; I don’t admire their results. I know if I return to find their creations lacking I will again simply do what my nature is to do.
Writing. Lots of writing. Rewriting. Hating your script. Hating yourself. Rewriting. Begging your friends to read your script and give you notes. Waiting. Rewriting. Reminding your friends you sent them a script to read. Waiting. Reading their notes. Hating their notes. Hating them. Rewriting. Sending your script out to contests, agents, managers, producers. Waiting. Nothing. Sending it out to different contests, agents, managers, producers. Waiting. Getting feedback. Hating feedback. Hating the industry. Questioning why you moved to LA. Drinking. Drinking. Drinking. Meeting an arbitrary friend of a friend of a former co-worker who happens to be a producer and agrees to read your script. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Checking back with him. “Sorry, I lost your email. Can you send it again?” Son of a bitch! Rewriting. Waiting.
All while you work crappy jobs for crappy pay while dreaming of finally selling a script so you can stop asking your parents for money.
This isn't a New Year's Resolution. This is the End of the World.
There are some who say the Mayans never intended 12/21/2012 to mark the Apocalypse, but that it was simply the end of another Mayan calendar cycle. The fact that the world looks eerily similar to how it did before 12/21/2012 would seem to validate their hypothesis.
Fuck’em. They’re wrong. The world ended. You survived. This is the new world.
Whoever you were before, you are no longer that person. You are who you want to be now. Be this new person every day, every minute, every moment waking or otherwise. Think this person’s thoughts, dream this person’s dreams, chase this person’s goals.
All your burdens, all your worries, all your fears, all your guilt, all your shame, they mean nothing now. You are free. You are liberated. Stop carrying that world on your shoulders. It doesn’t exist anymore.
If any responsibilities carried over from your old world, you decide whether or not they’re still worth bearing in the new world. You can only escape responsibilities through death, and you didn’t die. Champion your responsibilities. Leave your burdens.
If anyone you love from the old world also made it, let them know how grateful you are that they’re alive. Never let them forget.
If anyone else you knew from the old world also made it, you decide whether or not you still need to know them in the new world. Don’t bother saying goodbye to anyone who didn’t make it. They’re dead. Move on.
If you’re sure somebody needs to be in the new world with you, find them. They might not fill the role you want them to, they might not even have a place with you after all, but it’s worth finding out.
Take a step back. The world ended. You’re still here. This is you now. These are your beliefs. These are your people. You get to decide how you want your part of the world to be rebuilt.
Everything that has ever happened since the beginning of time until now has simply been a prologue to this. This is it. This is the new beginning. Chapter one. Page one.
Start writing. And watch out for those fucking zombies.
“Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.”—William Safire (via mycolorbook)
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”—Leon C. Megginson, imprecisely paraphrasing—not quoting—Charles Darwin
This caustic blog entry was written by New Zealand ad exec Linds Redding earlier this year, seven and a half months before he died from esophageal cancer on Halloween. In it, he rants against the advertising industry, but it’s amazing how much he says can be directly related to any creative industry (i.e. filmmaking).
A relevant excerpt:
Truly creative people tend not to be motivated by money. That’s why so few of us have any. The riches we crave are acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas that we have and the things that we make. A simple but sincere “That’s quite good.” from someone who’s opinion we respect (usually a fellow artisan) is worth infinitely more than any pay-rise or bonus. Again, our industry masters cleverly exploit this insecurity and vanity by offering glamorous but worthless trinkets and elaborately staged award schemes to keep the artists focused and motivated. Like so many demented magpies we flock around the shiny things and would peck each others eyes out to have more than anyone else. Handing out the odd gold statuette is a whole lot cheaper than dishing out stock certificates or board seats.
Sir, your words are heard and appreciated. Thank you.
Fap fap fap. Hey, what's that? Oh, it's my brain doing something unproductive: beating itself off. How about after you spunk out this drivel, you try writing something that'll actually get you paid?
Each of us is only granted a finite amount of time, a finite number of resources, a finite level of ability.
Each of us can only accomplish so much within the constraints set by whatever higher sentience or cosmic chance exists beyond those limits, but what wonders arise nonetheless out of our ephemeral journeys under the supposed burdens of these existential mandates. Unremarkable drudges redefine perceptions of what is possible, while flawless juggernauts fade from memory without note. Despite clear, constant reminders to the contrary, a peculiar rumor somehow permeates at one point or another through every consciousness coyly whispering, “Anything is possible.”
Each of us is finite. Every person a minute character in an epic story that none of us can read. Yet if we ever can stop being as concerned with determining our individual roles as with understanding the overarching narrative, if we ever can see ourselves as a single organism that functions best when its parts do not act like cancers competing against one another at the expense of killing our own host body, then perhaps human achievement can finally be defined by a purpose greater than merely being and spreading.
Each of us at some point must lie down, close our eyes and trust that someone else will build from the legacy we were able to leave behind. Their vision will not be our vision but will be shaped by it. Our most sacred duties are to ensure those who remain after we are gone see the things we only hoped to see and to teach them to do the same.
Stress has been cited as a potential source for the following negative conditions:
Wrinkles, gray hair, fatigue, insomnia, anorexia, obesity, diarrhea, headaches, heart disease, asthma, impotence, drug addiction, depression, rage, Alzheimer’s disease, weak immune system, cranky nervous system, old man knees, weak handshake, eye crusties in the morning, crying all the damn time, sexual attraction to your own cousin (gross!), animal abuse, shoplifting, falling asleep in church, atheism, necrophilia, dendrophilia (that means having sex with trees, even the ugly ones!), cheating on your wife, cheating on your taxes, cheating in monopoly, cheating on your test even though you’re pretty sure that guy next to you is getting most of the answers wrong and goddammit why didn’t you sit next to the Asian guy you know that son of a bitch studied, eating food off the floor, leaving the toilet seat up, licking all the broccoli in the produce department and then putting them back on the shelf, swimming right after eating a big meal, and death.*
This leads me to draw two conclusions:
1. Stop stressing.
2.Our understanding of what causes many medical conditions is still pretty bullshit.
At my last job in D.C. three years ago, I made around $1100.40 a week after taxes, insurance, and a 10% contribution to my 401(k). That may be chump change compared to what my then-colleagues are making now, but it was a pretty good amount for me at the time.
At my writer’s office job this year, I made $519.26 a week after taxes and insurance. These days I can’t even dig up a quarter to put in the parking meter cup in my car, so the characters 4, 0, 1 and k don’t ever line up in my vocabulary anymore.
The difference between that job I had in D.C. and this job I had in L.A. is $581.14 a week, but that number doesn’t tell you very much. Here’s a clearer illustration of what a difference $581.14 is —
$581.14 is the difference between not even blinking at a $3000 credit card bill … and panicking at an $800 one.
$581.14 is the difference between having a membership at Gold’s Gym … and having a bunch of weights on a gym mat in my living room.
$581.14 is the difference between ordering all my shirts from a clothing store in the UK … and skipping a Friday night out so I can buy a couple from a thrift store down the street.
$581.14 is the difference between bringing home a sushi dinner for two any night of the week … and cringing when my girlfriend asks me to pick up something for her at McDonald’s.
$581.14 is the difference between buying my family lavish gifts for Christmas … and praying my parents give me cash as my gift or I won’t be able to buy any for anyone else.
$581.14 is the difference between going to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Turkey, and Bulgaria with my friends … and staying at home looking at pictures of those places on Facebook.
On the other hand —
$581.14 is the difference between waking up every morning too depressed to get out of bed … and going to bed every night too impatient to start the next day.
$581.14 is the difference between talking to my co-workers about their spouses and kids … and talking to my co-workers about where they got drunk last weekend.
$581.14 is the difference between reading about best practices in IT … and reading about what people are watching on TV.
$581.14 is the difference between a suit and tie … and a t-shirt and jeans.
$581.14 is the difference between going to networking events because I want to drink … and going to networking events because I want to network. And to drink.
$581.14 is the difference between working a job I couldn’t give two squirts about doing … and chasing a dream I’d bleed myself dry to reach.
I went to Carnegie Mellon, and—over a very long time—I’ve developed a fondness for it. But it was a Division III school. I never even knew a football game was going on until I walked by the stadium, which was half the size of my high school’s stadium, on my way to get lunch.
So every Labor Day weekend (and also for three weeks between March and April every year), I watch my Facebook feed blow up with people cheering on their alma maters while I go look up whether our robotics team won anything recently or what Zachary Quinto’s been up to.
Sure, I grew up in Ohio — Buckeye Country. But I hated it there. I went to middle and high school in Bumble-fucking-fuck, Ohio, and those were the most miserable years of my life. Everybody there loved Ohio State. Half my friends growing up went to Ohio State. So FUCK’EM.
Sure, I completed the UCLA Professional Program. But it was clear when I was on campus that professional program students were not considered actual students. They also rejected me from the MFA program three times, and, on the third time, three out of my four recommendations came from UCLA faculty and staff. That means A. my writing samples really suck and B. FUCK’EM.
Then there’s USC. When I turn on ESPN LA Radio, they’re talking about USC. When I turn on a local TV station, they’re talking about USC. When I’m hungover and trying to buy Powerade at 7-Eleven, the crazy guy next to me is talking to me about USC. And asking me to buy him a hot dog.
USC is LA’s professional football team, in every sense of that phrase. It’s just really easy to follow them here.
Yes, USC has rejected me from their MFA program before, too. I’ve been rejected by USC, UCLA, UT, NYU, Northwestern, Berkeley, Stanford, Glendale Community College, the San Bernardino Adoption Agency, the Chinese National Space Program, the 2012 Miss Teen USA Pageant, and approximately 87,436 women in da club.
But if not USC, then who the fuck do I root for today? Fuck it. Go Trojans.