part one | part two

How to Write a Humor Blog

1. Begin by assuming a self-important air. This is essential. Without arrogance, you might accidentally realize that you are not funny. If you were funny, you wouldn’t be sitting in your darkened room at 2 am writing posts for your “friends” on the “internet”. You’d be making people laugh in nightclubs or enjoying the wealth associated with a syndicated sitcom.

2. Choose a blogging method. Some people pay for domain name registration, site hosting and blogging software. Others use one of many free services. Decide what’s right for you. Keep in mind that few readers will follow your blog if you’re constantly switching from domain to domain. Pick something you can live with for a while. As a humorist, you’ll probably want to choose a service that’s easily customizable and offers the ability to monitor your site traffic. You want to make sure you know when someone links to one of your unfunny posts.

3. Develop a series of inside jokes. Inside jokes are great for alienating new readers, ensuring that they will never return to your site after their initial visit because they won’t understand anything that’s going on. Become familiar with a graphic design program that you can use to create custom mastheads perpetuating your humorless, incoherent inside jokes.

4. Practice exaggerating even the smallest details. Clerk accidentally forgot to scan your coupon? Tell your readers that she punched you in the face. Mailman dropped the letter from your mail order Russian bride in a puddle? Tell your readers that he punched you in the face. Dog peed on your lawn? Tell everyone that you punched it in the face and peed on it to get even.

5. When your friends come over, show them your blog. Breathe down their necks while they read it. Wait for the laughter. If When it doesn’t come, cry.

6. Offend everyone you know. Begin with family members, as they are the easiest targets. As you hone your skills, move on to members of the opposite sex, foreigners, racial groups and everyone else. When you feel you’re ready, offend other bloggers, the only people kind enough to read your so-called “humor”. They think this is hilarious.

I was ruminating last night on the immigration issue and realized that it bears a striking resemblance to that other national gift from our neighbors to the south. That's right. Illegal immigration is just like tequila. At first, everything's great. You've got cheap labor and delicious mixed drinks. Everybody's having a good time. But then in the morning, the hospital bill comes. Nobody wants to pay it and the fun is all over.


Philips Keeps It Simple

Philips is changing advertising. In this week’s issue of Time, they’ve paid to move the Table of Contents to the first page of the magazine. The Table of Contents normally resides somewhere on the 52nd page of the magazine, in between one ad for Viagra and another for Tampax.

On the inside front cover, across from the Table of Contents, readers will see the Philips logo and the copy: “Simplicity means not letting complexity stand in your way. It starts with the Table of Contents on the first page. And it continues with the last page where you'll see innovative products that will change the way you live."

Several other publishers rejected the Philips Table of Contents proposal, and the deal with Time took several months to broker.

Last October, Philips paid about $2 million to be the sole sponsor of 60 Minutes. The company opted to forego long commercial breaks, giving time back to the program for longer stories. Most of the country didn’t notice, as they were either not watching 60 Minutes or too old to stay awake through the entire program.

In March, Philips had to scrap plans for pre-movie advertising in theaters because the advertising vendor, Screenvision, rejected their proposal and refused to negotiate. Philips had hoped to pay for all the advertising time before the movie and cut it, so that viewers could watch their film sooner.

Philips is very smart. They’re taking a big risk in doing something so different, but I think it’s going to work. Advertising is about building brand preference and brand loyalty. Good advertising can sometimes do this. Great advertising always does.

Running bad advertising is like taking an enormous wooden mallet and driving the audience into the ground like a railroad spike. It’s most car dealership advertising and the Cialis ads. It’s an assault on the viewer and advertisers who do it should be punished with something akin to whatever you get if you push an old women off a curb. Into traffic.

Good advertising is like a freak working for change in the city square. If he does something cool, like licking his own spine, you might watch for a little while and you might give him some change. But you’re not going to stand in the square waiting for tap dancing midget to come along and put on a little show. Good advertising entertains. Viewers kinda like good advertising. If they remember it when they’re in the store, they might buy the product.

Great advertising is like being given fancy cheese by a guy in a tuxedo. That is, if you’re into cheese. Great advertising makes the audience’s life better. And this Philips stuff is great advertising. Nothing could build more brand loyalty than this. Well, maybe free fancy cheese from a guy in a tuxedo.


Steve's House

part one

Part two:

[The curtain opens on a living room set. Simple. Modern. On the couch: 5G, slumped and watching TV.]

5G: [Calling offstage] Hey! Are those cookies ready yet?
[Voice from offstage]: I'm just putting them on a plate now.
5G: Hurry up! This ain't Club Med, Cupcake!
[4G enters, wearing an apron and holding a plate of cookies.]
4G: You mean for me or you?
5G: What's that?
4G: Nothing.
5G: Yeah. That's what I thought.
5G: Well, what are you just standing there for? Gimme those cookies!
[4G waddles to the couch and hands over the plate of cookies. 5G grabs them roughly and begins eating. 4G stares complacently at the TV for a moment.]
5G: Don't you have somewhere to be?
4G: Not really.
5G: You could think about vacuuming this dump.
4G: I did it this morning.
5G: Well, then go get me some milk for these cookies.
4G: [sighs] Alright.
[4G waddles off. TiVo enters.]
TiVo: What's up, buddy?
5G: Nothing. What you got?
TiVo: [Pulling a list from his pocket and reading from it.] Let's see here. We've got last night's 24, some SportsCenter, Lost and Hunt for the Red October.
5G: Hunt for the Red October?
TiVo: Don't look at me, man. I just do what I'm told.
[4G returns with the milk.]
5G: It's about time.
[5G takes the milk from 4G.]
5G: Hey, Sunbeam! Get in here and give me some sugar!
[Sunbeam bounds in, giggling. She plops down on the couch and cuddles up next to 5G. Downcast, 4G scrolls his click wheel and clicks on the 'Sunbeam' playlist. Nazareth's Love Hurts begins to play. Curtain.]

This is what I got. Don't get it? Look here.

You may think I'm lame for having a reference from one of my own writings engraved on the back of my iPod. You would be right.

How to Write a Personal Blog

1. Begin by assuming a self-important air. This is essential. Without arrogance, you might accidentally realize that no one cares about your depression, momentary happiness followed by disappointment, doctor’s appointment, boss, mailman, cat or lunch. Also, if you don’t already have one, buy a cat immediately. A dog will do, but cats are better. Much, much better.

2. Choose a blogging method. Some people pay for domain name registration, site hosting and blogging software. Others use one of many free services. Decide what’s right for you. Keep in mind that few readers will follow your blog if you’re constantly switching from domain to domain. Pick something you can live with for a while. Personal bloggers sometimes find a social networking service, like Xanga, MySpace or LiveJournal, to be especially nice because they can create connections to their friends and then make them all feel guilty when they don’t read their blog. They will also find on such communities a number of other bleeding hearts with whom to empathize. Lastly, make sure to choose a service that will allow you to put red text on a black background so everyone can share in your longsuffering.

3. When you hang out with friends, refer only to events that have been chronicled on your blog. When they ask you to tell them about the event/events, refuse. If they want to know what you’re talking about, they should be reading your blog, checking it seven to ten times every day. Weekends included. Because your anguish never sleeps.

4. Practice getting very depressed about even the smallest details. Clerk accidentally forgot to scan your coupon? Cry. Mailman dropped the letter from your mail order Russian bride in a puddle? Cry. Dog peed on your lawn? Cry. Through your tears, write a post about how much you love your cat and how plainly you can see its love for you in the way it completely ignores you.

5. Refine your rambling skills. The hallmark of personal blogs is the ability of the author to use 75 words to say, “I had lunch.”


USA Today: CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character.

This is why I do my best to make the wait staff cry every time I eat with my boss. I want him to know that I'm tough and I mean business. If I can dismantle a waiter psychologically, I can sell advertising.

The first time I interviewed, we met for lunch. When the waiter spilled some water on the tablecloth, I made him dab it up with his girlfriend's hair. Then I punched him in the gut.

When I went to an M.D. Anderson fundraiser with the big man, the waitress spilled some tomato sauce on the shoe of one of the account executives. So I got on the mic and told everyone that I heard her say that cancer wasn't really a big deal. Then I punched her in the gut.

The last time I had lunch with him, the waiter forgot to bring me some ketchup for my fries. So when he finally brought it, I made him drink the entire bottle. Then I punched him the gut. And then I made him drink the ketchup again. And that's how you know that I can sell advertising like nobody's business.


the sneaky salespeople of American Eagle

I was in American Eagle this weekend with my brothers. They were shopping. I was, as usual, practicing my ninja skills. And shopping.

Now, you think that the folks at American Eagle would reflect the character of the brand: laid-back, easygoing and covered in beach sand. You would be wrong. Except for the thing about the sand. It's uncanny.

Anyway, you would be wrong. It is now my opinion that the salespeople of American Eagle are given high doses of methamphetamine before their shifts. This may sound preposterous. But so does the thing about the beach sand, and that is most certainly true.

I was offered assistance probably 150 times in my first ten minutes inside the store. Seriously. Well, almost seriously. That is a slight exaggeration. It was probably more like 148 times.

These people would pop out of nowhere to ask me if I needed help finding something. Now, I'm all about helpful salespeople, but I felt like I was back in 'Nam. It was ridiculous.

It's like they were holding some kind of contest to see who could scare the largest amount of defecation of out some unsuspecting shopper. They would come up behind you and scream in your ear and jump out from the middle of the clothing racks. I saw one guy jump down from the ceiling while a girl checked out shoes.

Since I was practicing my ninja skills, several salespeople lost their lives when they shocked me into a murderous rage.


[Open on a restaurant interior. The lighting is dim and moody. Several small tables are arranged in a line for Speed Dating. The camera pans across the room, taking in the tables and the women seated at them as the men transition to the next table in line.]

[Close on the last table in line, where Bravia sits. Her date is just getting up to leave.]

Date: Well, thanks for your time. I really enjoyed it. [pause] But not too much. Just the normal amount. The non-weird amount. Totally normal enjoyment levels.

[He hits the chair as he shuffles out, knocking it over and tripping himself. As he falls, he grabs the tablecloth, pulling it down towards the floor with him. The vase of flowers on the table is upset by the action and, upset from its small perch arcs in the air towards Bravia. Suddenly, Gray Box appears, grabbing the vase in midair just inches from Bravia. Their eyes lock.]

Date: [standing up] Uh, sorry. I, uh, tripped and, uh… Sorry.

[The date shuffles away. Bravia and Gray Box continue to stare at each other.]

Bravia: Hi.
Gray Box: Hi.
Bravia; I'm Bravia. I'm a TV.
Gray Box: I'm TiVo. I'm a DVR.

[Bravia and Gray Box begin making out furiously. Orchestral music plays. Bravia pushes Gray Box away.]

Bravia: You complete me.

[Bravia pulls Gray Box back and they continue making out. Fade to black.]

Super: TV and TiVo. Meant to be together.

Things I would have engraved on my new iPod if space were not an issue:

• Warning: If stolen, this iPod will self-destruct, rendering the thief impotent and blind in one eye.
• Digital Rights Management is crippling the recording industry and the artists they represent.  It should be stopped.
• While the iPod may be the trendy accessory for the the fashionable elite, I did not buy this one to fit in with the populace but rather because I quite enjoy the convenience and practicality of carrying all my music everywhere in one convenient package with the best user interface in the portable music player marketplace.
• Please save the Mexican Zebra.

How to Write a Political Blog

1. Begin by assuming a self-important air. This is essential. Without arrogance, you might accidentally realize that no one cares about your opinion.

2. Choose a blogging method. Some people pay for domain name registration, site hosting and blogging software. Others use one of many free services. Decide what’s right for you. Keep in mind that few readers will follow your blog if you’re constantly switching from domain to domain. Pick something you can live with for a while.

3. Come to terms with your political leanings. Don’t spend too long thinking about this. The thought process will only get in your way as a political blogger, and you should start ignoring rational thought as soon as possible. You can choose one of two options. First, you could write from the conservative perspective. This could be tough, because you might need some morals. Second, you could write from the liberal perspective. This is easy because everyone’s doing it and you get to act like you’re smarter than everybody in the entire world. You also have free reign on criticism of the President. This is great, because you can spend hours at work blogging about what a moron he is while he runs an international superpower with very little support from the fourth estate. Or anyone, for that matter.

4. Practice getting very angry about even the smallest details. Clerk accidentally forgot to scan your coupon? Publicly berate her until she runs blubbering into the women’s room or oncoming traffic. Mailman dropped the letter from your mail order Russian bride in a puddle? Stab him with your letter opener. Dog peed on your lawn? Run him down with your SUV and then write a post complaining about ridiculously high gas prices.


The Mexican Zebra: it's more than just an ass with hand-painted stripes. Please do your part.


382 days ago, I was sitting at my desk when the backs of my eye sockets started to tickle. I tried to ignore it. But then I could feel it in my eardrums. And I slowly came to the realization that my brain was melting.

Work had been a little dry for the last month and a half or so. Dry like a Quaker community during Prohibition. I had nothing to do. I would write a headline or rework some body copy once or twice a week. Maybe. I spent most of my time reading, eating, mentally organizing my sock drawer, sleeping under my desk and using my toenails to create a miniature Manhattan in my filing cabinet. My brain had decided to melt into a puddle and find something better to do, like taking up residence in a bowl as soup.

Then I rediscovered blogs. I had seen some blogs before, but they were mostly personal diaries or political. And mostly boring. But somebody emailed me a link to The Darth Side. It intrigued me. I started looking into this blog thing.

Somehow [I can't remember how], I stumbled onto a blog written by Jake Christie, a college kid from Maine. It was hilarious. It inspired me. Here was a guy just writing about life and being funny. Maybe I could do something similar.

So I thought about it for a couple days. I had some trouble making up my mind. Until I found some leaky brain on the carpet under my desk after a post-lunch nap. I decided to try it.

My first post was a picture of my little brother Joe. It was supposed to be a test post. Just to make sure that everything was working. I intended to delete it after I had a couple more posts under my belt. I never did. Joe is still angry. Shortly after that post he began his extensive knife collection.

It was pretty rocky for a while. I'll be the first to admit that my posts sucked. It took a little while for my brain to solidify again.

And now words is one year old. My posts continue to bite the curb on a daily basis. But I'm more comfortable writing them and, until I got my new job, the blog was the only thing that kept my creative sanity in check.

So thanks for reading words. Your patronage is more appreciated than you know. If you're interested in making monetary contributions to the site, please check yourself into a certified medical institution. But make sure you find one with internet access. I'd be lost without you.

Last week I wrote about our neighbors to the north and their generous and syrupy gift to the nation of Norway. While the incident was a lighthearted one, it brings to mind a much more serious matter: the growing threat of invasion.

Canada has a long history with the United States. Most of it involves copying our culture and then mocking us while our back is turned. It's no secret that Canadians enjoy a way of life intensely similar to that of most Americans, except colder and with a lot more syrup. I've known kids who were ostracized at school just for having American relatives.

It's only a matter of time before Canada's conflicting feelings of love and hate for America boil over the lip of the pot of sanity and push them past wacky and slightly schizophrenic to murderously insane. The day is fast approaching in which Canadian citizens take up their snow shovels, march across the northern border and slaughter us all in our sleep. They'll sweep across the nation in days, their thirst for American blood fueled by syrup supply trains and outlet malls.

It's time to start thinking about homeland defense. It's not too late to stave off the great white threat. Some have called for a preemptive strike. An invasion of our own to take over the wintry wasteland and make it the next Puerto Rico. Frankly, what's the point? What's in it for us? A lot of snow and world leadership in syrup production? Meh.

But there's no need to go to extremes. An invasion is overkill. We just need to let them know we can't be bullied. Rattle the saber a little. Fire some warning shots across the bow. My plan is simple: hold all Boy Scout meetings for the next three years within sight of the Canadian border. Abject terror will grip the hearts of Canadians nationwide, securing a continued and proper respect for the might of these great United States.

bad news

It is with deep feelings of sadness1 and regret2 that I inform you of the steady and discouraging decline of the Mexican Zebra3.

For years, the Mexican Zebra has delighted tourists from all over the world4. While they're not posing for delightful group shots for a mere five dollars a pop, the creatures pull elaborately painted carts through the streets of our friendly neighbor to the south.

But tourism is waning in the nation, and many zebras have found themselves out of work as demand wanes. Drug trade-related deaths are on the rise, and tourists are too scared to visit Mexico5.

It's time to stand up for animal rights. We must rally together to save these poor beasts. It's not too late for the Mexican Zebra. So hurry to Mexico today. The Mexican Zebra could be lost forever6.

1 indifference
2 apathy
3 hand-painted donkey
4 drunk college students from America
5 or maybe they're satisfied just watching the immigration rallies on CNN
6 or until the next time some guy tries to make a quick buck by painting a donkey


I took the day off from work today to play golf with some buddies of mine.

As always, I played terribly. After I broke the head off my driver1, the club pro actually rounded up members of the club and collected donations for me, assuming that I suffered from cerebral palsy2.

2Not really.

[Fancy Condominium Complex Name]

The Advertising:
We took this conveniently located property and began renovations from the ground up.  Nestled in the foothills of the [Mountain Range Name] mountains, these condos offer a secluded feel and expansive views of the desert Southwest.  Inside, you'll find open living spaces, a unique architectural style, the finest in amenities and modern paint and color schemes.  A secluded mountain setting.  Moments from downtown.  Modern urban living.  [Fancy Condominium Complex Name].

The Truth:
We bought this apartment complex because it was dirt cheap.  Nobody wanted it 'cause it was rundown and decrepit.  We painted some stuff and added a fancy gate.  You can see the mountain from the poorly paved, cracked and uneven parking lot.  Some apartments have a view of the railroad tracks and the rock quarry.  Inside, be careful not to hit your head on the fan hanging from the low ceiling.  Also, make sure your furniture is small enough to fit inside the bedrooms.  When choosing paint, choose the red.  All the other colors look like vomit.  Close to downtown.  A price tag to match.  [Fancy Condominium Complex Name].  Please buy a condo here.  Also available for a reasonable fee: our souls.

Canada gives gift of maple syrup

Because, really, what else is there?

OSLO (Reuters) - Grateful Canadians have given five tonnes of maple syrup to a Norwegian coach as thanks for helping cross-country skier Sarah Renner win an Olympic silver medal after her pole broke during the women's team sprint race.

Cross-country skiing. Because for Canada and Norway, really, what else is there? Canadians continue to place the blame for the broken pole solely on America.

Bjoernar Haakonsmoen became a hero in Canada for handing Renner a new pole at the Turin Games on February 14, especially because the Norwegian team finished fourth.

Other Canadian heroes: the Sasquatch, Captain Canuck and the guy who invented beer. Apply for your place on the roster today by tying a Canadian's shoes.

"It was a reflex action. I didn't even think about what I was doing," Haakonsmoen told Reuters on Wednesday after a ceremony at the Canadian embassy in Oslo to hand over a truckload of 7,400 cans of maple syrup donated as sugary thanks.

When asked who might be responsible for the impending dental care bills, Canadian officials declined comment.

"I like maple syrup, but not in these quantities," Haakonsmoen said, adding he would keep a few cans.

"And when I say a few, I mean one. Or two. Probably one."

"Much of the news we read is bleak...but your action embodied the spirit of the Olympics," Richard Page, one of the organisers of the drive to collect the cans, told Haakonsmoen. Many donors wrote messages of thanks on the cans.

In response to Page's comments, Haakonsmoen said, "Thank you. Your syrupy generosity embodies the spirit of… pancakes?"

Renner and her team mate Beckie Scott won the silver behind the Swedish team.

Despite a stirring emotional rally in the first few laps of the race, the American team realized they would rather be doing something exciting and quit.

Thousands of cans will be handed out to Norwegians around the country. A Norwegian mobile phone operator also contributed 150,000 Norwegian crowns (13,300 pounds) to Haakonsmoen's favoured anti-cancer charity.

In other news, today Canadian officials denied plans to subvert Norwegian athletes through the destruction of their strict diets.

[The curtain opens on a living room set, lit by two lamps. It's dark outside. Two people sit on a couch. One of them, Woman, is dozing, her mouth open and drool puddling on her shirt. The other, Man, is intently watching a digital clock he holds in his hands.]

Man: Ten!
Woman: [startled awake] Wha-
Man: Nine!
Woman: Stop!
Man: Eight!
Woman: Yelling!
Man: Seven!
Woman: Seriously!
Man: Six!
Woman: [sighs]
Man: Five!
Woman: Why did I-
Man: Four!
Woman: Agree to wait-
Man: Three!
Woman: Up for this?
Man: Two!
Woman: [sighs again]
Man: One!
Woman: [despondent] Zero.
Man: [exuberant] Zero!
Man: Happy OneTwoThreeFourFiveSix!
[Man picks up a bottle of champagne and shakes it.]
Woman: Don't.
Man: But-
Woman: Don't do it.
[Man lowers his arms slowly, sadly.]
Man: But it's OneTwoThreeFourFiveSix! This moment will never happen again!
Woman: Until next month in Europe.
[Man shakes the bottle of champagne and pops the cork.]
Woman: Get out.

[Man lowers his head and shuffles off. Curtain.]

Dear Robert,

You've been using me for a long time now, but it's been especially bad these last couple weeks. It's time for a change. I don't like being used. Not by you. Not by anyone. Believe it or not, it hurts when you take advantage of me. I have feelings, too, and your words are like red hot knives of fire being plunged slowly and systematically into my back while I make small talk with the pizza delivery guy.

It wouldn't be so bad if you were any good at it, but you're not. I've seen dyslexic monkeys with more talent than you.

Sorry, I don't mean to be harsh. It's just easy to get worked up when I think about how badly you've mistreated me. Part of it's my own fault, I know. You say your sorry, you make big promises and I let you back into my life. It's a vicious cycle. But it has to stop. So this is goodbye. I don't ever want to see you again.

Please don't make this any harder than it already is. Don't call. Don't email. Don't talk to my mother about it next time you see her in the produce section of the grocery store. Just don't. I'm not taking you back.

Have a nice life. Consider becoming an accountant. Or a fry cook at McDonald's.

the open letter format

words © 2006-2008
All rights reserved. Reproduction prohibited without proper consent.