Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blog Advice

Hey Paul,

Have I told you how much I love what you write and how you write lately? How do you do it? Sometimes I feel as though I don't have the inspiration to blog. I've been feeling a lot of mixed emotions.

It's been a while since I've had the time to read anyone's blogs and I've stopped caring about who reads my site. And then I read other peoples' blogs and wonder how they get all those comments. Sometimes I just want to be these other people, just to see how it's like to be a blogstar. Am I contradictory? I'm trying to figure this all out, like what am I blogging for? Has this happened to you? How do you deal with it?

xo,
Jase*




Hi Jase,

I am happy to hear from you and I am even happier to hear that you enjoy reading my little blog.

What it sounds like to me is that you're experiencing a Blog Burnout. It's a very normal thing to happen.

I think that people view "blogging" as writing an online journal, which may be the case for many people. But I think that for many others, like you and me, blogging is more than that: it's artistic, it's feedback through comments, it's interaction, it's a social network, it's a goddamn popularity contest.

I think this happens because we become wrapped up so much in our blogs that it takes over our lives. Then blogging starts becoming a chore and a job instead of being fun. You are constantly trying to find material such that you can't enjoy just doing the things you love, like sucking cock, without thinking about how to blog it.

And comments, whew! they can be very tyrannical. I know that feeling, the anticipation, the dread, when you open up your site to see if the number of comments increased. And then you find yourself, refreshing refreshing refreshing to see if it changes.

For awhile, I have considered turning it off because I've always felt that my posts speak for themselves. But then, I realized that people wanted, needed, to have a way to interact with me. So I left it on, but made a rule to only comment back if there is a question that is directed towards me specifically.

Don't worry about who reads your site, as author John McNally said in my interview with him, you don't choose your audience, they choose you. Therefore, you cannot make them like what you write. You can make them like your pictures of shirtless celebrities, but that's another matter.

Write what moves you. Write about your feelings and opinions. If you write about what you had for breakfast or what you and your friends did over the weekend, you've got to say why it was so important for you to do so. And don't write about what happened on a TV show unless you have a point of view.

If you write what moves you, hopefully it will move others, or at the very least, move their bowels. And speaking of that, write about poop, farting and puking--people seem to like that a lot.

As for being a BlogStar, we're only stars in our own minds. The truth is, we're a dime a dozen. If you truly want to be a star, like DailyKos or Wonkette, then you have to have a real point of view about matters outside your own daily life such as the war in Iraq, activist judges, or why Tom Cruise couldn't stop calling Katie Holmes "Kate" on Oprah. And then, I would take out a $5,000 banner ad to promote your site.

We've missed the bus on early days of blogging where just having a blog made you famous. But if you write well, you stand a better chance of being "successful," whatever that means to you.

Yes, it does happen to me. Every week, I wonder, why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much of my time writing this bullshit? Shouldn't I be spending more time doing important things like getting a pedicure? My cuticles need help really BAD. I don't know the answer to this, but if I do, I'll write a book about it and you can buy it at Amazon.

Chill out, man. Step back. Cut down on the number of posts. Quality, not quantity. If you write 3 posts, consider publishing them over 2-3 weeks to give yourself some breathing room. Get your life back. Here, I'll even give you a head start, you should post this letter on your blog, coz I am.

Good luck,

Paul a.k.a. "No Milk"


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*Jase's e-mail was edited for content and brevity. See the original version. Please show him some comment love, let him know I sent you!

Need some (dairy) free advice? Send me an e-mail!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wicked

If Ann Coulter had a button to press that would instantly kill all the homosexuals from the face of the earth, I bet she wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Ok, maybe that was too harsh. Maybe she’ll do what every compassionate conservative would do: she’ll consider just where and when to hold the press conference first. Theeen, she’ll press the button.

I think that for the ultra-right wing conservatives, gays are not human. We’re just deviant animals, not worthy of living, let alone in fabulously furnished high-rises with a sunset view. Sometimes I think that if we had the Holocaust all over again, the URWCs wouldn’t find it too hard to herd the gays into the gas chambers--all they have to do is stage a musical in it and we’d all line up and buy tickets.

(But seriously, if these URWCs want to do this homo-slaughter properly, they should disguise the gas chamber as a Prada store with a sale of unbelievable magnitude. The sale has to be to-die-for or else don’t bother thinking that gays are going to die. Sure, maybe a few heteros, some metrosexuals will get caught in the carnage, but that’s just the price of morality isn’t it?)

I mean, take my best friend Joe. He didn’t find it hard at all to get group discount tickets to Wicked. He needed 20 people. He got 35 without even trying. All he had to do was go to that gayest of gay places: the Gym.

There were more muscled gym bunnies there than a gay Easter parade. It was funny to see the flurry of excitement as gays hopped over barbells, skipped past the pec deck, and jumped over the hairy, sweaty fat mound doing sit-ups to get discount tickets. And twenty minutes later, Joe was done.

Yeah, it was quick and painless, plus we got discounted tickets to the hottest show in town. God knows what would’ve happened if he went to a leather bar and yelled “Ballet tickets!” instead. People would’ve gotten hurt in the stampede for sure--not to worry, that's just foreplay to them.

Wicked is based on the novel by Gregory Maguire about the life of the Wicked Witch of the West before Dorothy came to Oz.

The Oriental Theatre in Chicago, with its baroque d├ęcor featuring gargoyles and semi-nude Roman figures seemed perfect for this show. There was an enormous animated dragon with fiery red eyes mounted above the stage and extended over the orchestra. The sets had the inner workings of a old clock, gears and hardware, interspersed with more cartoonish elements. It was cool, but I had expected it to be more outlandish, more Cheesecake Factory, so I was a tad disappointed.

The story follows the story of Elphaba, a green baby girl born to the Mayor of Munchkinland and his unfaithful wife. Elphaba grew up being taunted and jeered by people because of the color of her skin. She also had to control the great magickal power growing within her. She grew up to be an outspoken, yet shy girl, with a pure and tender heart.

When she goes to college, she meets the bubbly, air-head society girl Galinda, the future Glinda the Good. After some initial girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks / haughty-rich-girl conflict, they become very close friends.

Then, Elphaba blossoms into a beautiful, yet still green, woman. All is wondrous and fair until she learns out about the terrible secret of the Wizard of Oz, then the story spirals into its dark third act.

The show invents the origins of many of the characters from the original story: the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Flying Monkeys, which for the most part was very entertaining, although somewhat forced.

I loved wonderful, powerful performances of the lead characters of Stephanie J Block (Elphaba) and Kendra Kassebaum (Galinda) which thankfully, overcame the show's weak songs. I did love the song “I’m Not That Girl.” The participation of Carol Kane as Madame Morrible was an added bonus.

I loved the story of this infamously Wicked woman. It fleshes out this one-dimensional character by giving her a touching backstory and a push-up bra.

I think that many queers can relate to this story. We all understand being viewed as one-dimensional and evil--except SpongeBob--he's two-dimensional. But even he must feel awful, being labeled as the cause of the decline of civilization in Bikini Bottom and everything else above the Pacific Ocean.

To many of the so-called “conservatives,” gays are indeed a wicked bunch. We are lumped together with pedophiles, murderers, tourists, which wouldn’t be so horrible if they didn’t wear so much polyester. It just makes us look bad, you know?

Anyway, I hear there is a direct correlation to crime and the amount of synthetic fibers in your clothing, which only proves that the gays and Simon Cowell are innocent. Duh, everybody knows that we like our spandex clothing to be as tiny as possible. All the spandex thongs in the world would fit into Elton John’s suitcases.

For here are the lessons of Wicked: If you knew what it was like to be gay, if you walked a mile in our ruby slippers, without Dr. Scholl’s inserts, would you still hate us?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Interview with Author John McNally

John McNally, author of the novel, “The Book of Ralph,” in a bit of self-indulgent googling, found a post on a blog about his book.

In the post, the blogger debated on which book to read next. John, ignoring his instincts and courting danger, decides to write to the owner of said blog and presented the case for why his book should be next.

After a flurry of e-mails, a request for an interview emerged. This is the result of that interview.

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No Milk: I have never heard of you or your book before. I bought the book for very superficial reasons: One, I liked the name Ralph because it is one of the names I would've picked for myself if I had more than three personalities; Two, I liked the artwork on the cover of your book because it showed a kid biting the ear off another kid and I was hungry at the time; and Three, because the first chapter was called "The Vomitorium." Man, you had me at "Vomit." I shelled out the full price of $12.00 for your book, cheapskate that I am. What do you think of that?

John McNally: I think this is the best purchase of your life, Ralph. May I call you Ralph? You may still decide to legally change your name to Ralph -- there’s nothing stopping you -- but this book may inspire you to make that final plunge. As for the book’s cover, it’s not just artwork; it truly is a work of art. Ralph biting another kid’s ear? Priceless. When you’re done reading the book, slice off the cover with an X-acto knife and then frame it.

The title of chapter one – “The Vomitorium” – is, of course, the clincher. Keep that page open when you’re on a bus or train, and see how many people talk to you. Your social network will grow in ways you can’t even fathom. “What are you reading?” they’ll ask, and then, a few weeks later, you’ll be trying to squeeze in a movie with them, much to the annoyance of all your other new friends.

And how much did all of this cost you? Twelve bucks? A large pizza costs more than twelve bucks. This book is worth at least three or four times that much. Let’s face it. For twelve bucks, you stole the frickin’ book.


NM: This interview came about because you wrote an e-mail to me. You said that you were "doing a totally self-indulgent google search" on your book. Are you in the habit of finding out what people are saying about you? You must have a cast-iron stomach. Once, some guy wrote this completely humiliating post about how stupid my blog was and it made me throw up for days. The good news is I lost 10 lbs and now I can fit into my pants again. What have you found people saying?

JM: I almost never write to people who’ve written, for better or worse, anything about any of my books, but since you wrote in your blog that you had already bought my book but weren’t sure when you were going to read it, I felt that it was my obligation – my duty – to get you to read it.

Actually, I did write to one person who posted a negative review of the book on Amazon. She wrote, “i gave this book two stars instead of one because, while it was really bad, it did make me giggle... and i suppose i did enjoy reading it, if only to scoff at it.” Her only other Amazon review was for the movie “Legally Blonde” and begins, “i am a youth director at a small church, and let me tell you how impressed i was by this movie.”

So I sent her an email, thanking her for taking the time to write a review of the book, that it had taken a few years of my life to write it, and that I was grateful for her thoughtful feedback. My real wish, however, was for a church bus to flatten her early one Sunday morning. Otherwise, I take criticism well.


CONTINUED: "You are very sexy, I MUST MEET YOU"


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John McNally is currently on tour promoting The Book of Ralph, check out his website for locations and dates

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Self-Googling is Masturbation

Self-googling is masturbation. For me, it often comes late at night, when I am feeling lonely and a little depressed, a sweaty, cold beer bottle in hand.

It’s that dark time when you start googling all your old exes to see if you can find a hint of where they are now. Did they move to a different city? Do they regret breaking up with you? Do they think about the time when you slashed their tires? And when you have exhausted the list of 43 names, you start googling your own to see if anybody is talking about you.

If you’re unlucky to have a common name like me, it will be harder to sift through the morass that is the World Wide Web. If you’re lucky, your name is unique, like Fartogus Ishmael, and you can easily find that the people you used to go to high school with, who still refer to you as “Ishmelly Farts.”

Author John McNally must’ve been doing quite a bit of ‘masturbation’ when he found my site. He had been looking for notices for the paperback release of his novel, The Book of Ralph. I had written a brief post about buying his book along with a photo of the growing stack of unread books on my nightstand.

The post was the result of a problem that plagues some normally verbose bloggers: opinionus interruptus – the temporary exhaustion of opinions. When this happens, there is suddenly a spate of photos of their pets instead of a post. You get photos of cats doing cute tricks; photos of dogs in goofy sweaters; photos of gerbils in anal cavities.

I don’t know how some people are able to write post after post, some almost daily. I admire how committed they are. I hope they will be released very soon from their mental institutions.

I had debated whether I should get started on The Book of Ralph or try to dig through that stack. Upon reading this, John felt that he had to make a pitch on why I should start with his:

"Hey. John McNally here. Now, listen: I know you have a shit-load of books on your nightstand -- I saw the photo -- but you really should read my book next, and I'll tell you why. It's funny, it's moving, it'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry. Actually, it just came out in paperback, and now's the time to get some groundswell of grass-roots support going for the book, so my reasons for getting you to read it soon are completely selfish."


This was a start of an exchange of e-mails that resulted in my first Author Interview, which will be in my next post.

Even though I am only in the third chapter as of this writing, I laughed out loud when the titular Ralph tries to make money as an eighth-grade hitman. I hope the rest of the book is good, it is very promising.

Funny what happens when somebody who self-googles acts upon something they find.

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Even though I am happily in a relationship now, every so often, I will turn on the computer and start googling those names again. I don’t know what I am looking for. I don’t know why I do it. It’s spontaneous and impulsive, you know, like winking or burping or giving your mother-in-law the finger.

I don’t know what I would do if I found anything.

I don’t know what I would feel if I were an ex of mine, and I found this site, this post, these words.

Yeah, I still think about you sometimes.



NEXT: An interview with author John McNally

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Nightstand

I cannot stop by a bookstore without spending a few minutes going through the New Releases stack. I don't know what it is, but the sight of rows of books makes my heart flutter. Maybe it's because I am always on the lookout for the next About A Boy or Perks of Being A Wallflower--that amazing book that takes you completely into the character's head, into another world. I don't think there's anything else as satisfying as reading a good book, except maybe stealing it.

I bought The Book of Ralph by John McNally today, which given the number of books on my nightstand waiting to be read, may have been a bad idea. I don't know when I am going to be reading it, although reading the blurb, I can't wait to get started.

I am currently reading Dan Chaon's You Remind Me of Me. It's written well, but a tad slow--it doesn't rock my world. I am already looking forward to the next book.

I thought it may be fun to take a photo of the books on my nightstand. I haven't read any of these books, except the hardcover copy of Perks, which I got as a gift on my birthday last month from Annie, so read them at your own risk. :)

Just a little glimpse into my bedroom, my side of the bed.

What's on your nightstand?



a closer look:



For a complete list of all the books on the nightstand, look here

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Other books in my bookshelf
A post about my love affair with books