No Comment

While I can prattle on endlessly about orangutans, sex robots and Applebee’s here on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please, I often find myself at a loss for words when I’m reading your blog and fail to leave a comment.

Part of my reticence comes from a fear of being embroiled in internet drama, as I have a couple of times in my blogging career, such as the time I told one blogger he was full of hooey and that other time I told another blogger she was full of hooey.

Another part has to do with my anxiety over turning into an internet crank, you know, one of those people who spend their time on different websites, commenting on every single godforsaken article, even the daily horoscope. Does anyone really need to know about that disastrous blind date you went on during the first phase of Venus retrograde? No, I don’t think so. I only came here to get my lucky numbers for the day, not to hear about some loser who made you split the check at Olive Garden.

cheesecake-1555634-639x606

It’s cake. No! It’s pie!

Next, I’ll blame my lack of comments on the fact that maybe I’ve matured enough to where I no longer feel the need to correct or confront people on the internet. For example, I’m happy to just let you go on thinking cheesecake isn’t a cake at all, it’s really a pie, even though you could not be more wrong, but, hey, it’s your blog, I guess, and, anyway, you just got 117 Likes on your “Cheesecake Should Be Called Cheesepie” post, so I must be the only person in the world who believes names matter, goddammit, and we shouldn’t call something one thing when it’s really another thing, so fuck you and your idiot readers.

Like I said, maybe I’ve matured.

Other bloggers have taken a different approach, such as the good folks over at Above the Law, who decided to turn off all comments, so even if readers are drama queens, or internet cranks, or immature, they won’t be able to display those tendencies all over that blog. In a post published a few weeks ago, the site explained its reasoning.

Today the comments are not what they once were. Although occasionally insightful or funny, ATL comments nowadays are generally fewer in number, not very substantive (often just inside jokes among the commentariat), yet still often offensive. They also represent a very small percentage of our total traffic (as we can tell because of the click required to access them).

After I read that post,  I started to question my understanding of blogging. I’d always thought the ability of readers to comment, to talk back to the author as well as talk to one another, was one of the unique features of blogging, and bloggers who did not want to engage with their readers would be better served by going to a public park and standing up on a soapbox than by this particular medium.

But what if blogging is not a conversation, like the folks at Above the Law have come to believe? What if blogging is just me droning on and on about cheesepie cheesecake and you saying absolutely nothing at all?

Can you blog without comments?

DJT_Headshot_V2_400x400

I’m sure he thinks his farts smell awesome.

While I was composing this post, the state of Indiana held its presidential primary. Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders won for the Democrats. Looking for some insight into the race, I turned to the blog FiveThirtyEight. If you’re not familiar with that blog, I’ll explain that it focuses on the statistical analysis of politics, economics and sports. Lots of numbers, lots of graphs and charts, lots of smart bloggers blogging smart stuff. Here’s a comment that was left over there.

Chris Valentini

Haha Hillary lost. You were wrong but you can’t admit it, because your farts smell so awesome.

 

After I read that comment, I reflexively thought, “The bloggers at Above the Law are right!” and everything that I believed about the free flow of information and ideas and the tolerance of divergent opinions on the internet went out the window.

And I know there have been far worse (far, far worse!) things said on the internet, and I’ve blogged about how women, especially, are attacked and harassed (here and here and here) but this stupid comment just struck me as the poster child for disabling comments.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject, other than I’ve enjoyed leaving comments in the past, and I always look forward to the comments left here, but now the Chris Valentinis of the world have got me wondering.

Anyway, what do you think?

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com. The image of Donald Trump is believed to fall under the doctrine of Fair Use.

Should You Force Your Child to Play the Cello or the Oboe?

rejected-1238221-1279x1881

OMG, make it stop hurting!!! Can’t you make it stop hurting?????

I got rejected, again, and it’s feeling a lot like that time this guy Kevin told me he didn’t want a “serious” girlfriend after I let him feel me up at that party in Bickmore Hall junior year.

This past week I sent out a short piece I wrote titled “Buy the Cow, Even if You Can Get Robot Sex for Free.” The next day, I received what my blogging friend Ross Murray from Drinking Tips for Teens would call a “kind rejection.”

Thanks for your submission and interest in our site! Great post, but not a great fit for us right now. Sorry about that! General humor is always in demand, so feel free to submit additional work.

Samantha A.
Senior Content Manager

I read and reread the rejection email, parsing each word, the same way I had parsed Kevin’s statement on girlfriends. He said he didn’t want a serious girlfriend. Samantha A. said great post. Surely there must be a way to interpret their words to mean something other than what they apparently meant. I just needed to stare at this email a bit longer, grasp at more straws, the same way I had held out hope for Kevin when he appeared to look my way in the dining hall, before he headed back into line to get a second slice of pumpkin bread.

“He didn’t have to look in my direction,” I remember thinking. “There are any number of visual routes his eyes could have taken to find that pumpkin bread, but he did, sort of, look toward me. That’s got to mean something!”

I kind of wish that both Samantha and Kevin had been more heartless in their rejections. I could have been spared several weeks of pining after him if Kevin had told me straight out, “Look, thanks for letting me touch your boobs, but I’m never going to ask you out!” Likewise, maybe it would have been better if Samantha said, “Karen, go die in a fire and never, ever, ever send out crap like this again!”

But she didn’t. She said “great post” and that got me thinking, just like all those years ago with Kevin.

“She called it a ‘great post,'” I thought. “Maybe it’s good enough to be published somewhere else.”

So I got it into my head to send the piece somewhere else. I made a few changes, and sent off “Buy the Cow, Even if You Can Get Robot Sex for Free” again, on its way to another editor’s inbox.

And that’s when I got what Ross Murray might call an “unkind rejection.”

We appreciate that you took the time to share your work with us and that we had the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not quite right for us.

No “great post” here. No “feel free to submit additional work.” Just a whole lot of “Die in a fire!”

Or at least that’s how it felt.

Rationally, I know that my piece is probably not a good fit for a website that’s publishing

Lesson 1: Drink out of the toilet.
Lesson 2: Sniff everyone’s crotch.

articles like, “Was I Wrong to Force My Child to Play the Cello? Or Should I Have Made Her Play the Oboe, Too?” and “10 Parenting Lessons I Learned from My Golden Retriever” and I kick myself for submitting it there, but I was awash in Samantha A.’s rejection compliments and not thinking clearly.

By the time I publish this post on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please, it will be 24 hours since I got that second rejection and perhaps the sting will have worn off some. Perhaps I’ll feel better and I’ll be able to drag myself off the floor and out of the fetal position.

Perhaps I’ll even look up Kevin on Facebook to see if he ever got serious with a girl.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

Under the Vatican Dome

Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia, and I’m doing all I can to avoid him.

No dinner until you answer this questionnaire!

You can find Jesus in a casserole.

I know there are some readers of this blog who think I should do everything in my power to seek out the Holy Father and ask forgiveness, for both the thoughts and deeds I’ve commemorated here on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please. You may be surprised, or perhaps not, to learn that this blog is followed by a whole flock slew of Christians who write about how God is improving their marriage or revealing the mystical secrets behind tater tot casserole or losing weight through Jesus.

(Dear Christians: Just my opinion, but God may be sending you mixed messages with that tater tot casserole and weight loss stuff).

I’ve never been able to understand why this blog has so many Christian followers. Maybe they’re praying for my salvation. More likely they’re using me as an example to scare their children.

Behold the fate that awaits you if you turn from the path of righteousness: Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please!

Anyway, as I said, the Pope is visiting for a couple of days at the end of the week and, as a lapsed Catholic, the papal visit didn’t register more than a “Gee, that’s nice,” on my own personal Richter scale until a colleague contacted me to reschedule a meeting. Why did we need to reschedule? Because it appears the whole freaking city is shutting down this week, including the public schoolspublic transport, and entire bridges and stretches of highway.

So I doubt I’ll get much done in this week, except for maybe this blog post about my Christian followers.

Let me start by saying that I am not a follower of Christianity and my relationship with religion is complicated. It began with my parents: my Mom was a devout Roman Catholic and my Dad was an unrepentant atheist. How this horribly mismatched couple ever got together in the first place  remains a mystery, but you could probably place a safe bet on the involvement of alcohol. Why they stayed together has more to do with my mother strictly following the Church teaching against birth control and yet feeling a bit more loosey-goosey about the admonition against premarital sex: I was born not quite seven months after my parents married.

After my birth, I went through the motions of being a Catholic through my Confirmation, and then declared that I was an atheist as my mother wept and my father cheered.

Still, while I’ve left the Church, I remain what I’ll call a cultural Catholic, and I identify with that particular experience. If I had to choose sides in, let’s say, a game of dodgeball, I’d be on their team.

While I’m an atheist and have been since early adolescence, in my twenties I married a former altar boy. That’s maybe not too surprising. What may surprise you is that my husband, who comes from a large, Irish-Catholic family that attended Mass every Sunday, rejected the Catholic Church much more emphatically than I ever did. Even though my husband didn’t grow up in a home with a drunk guy shouting from the front porch at random passersby that all priests are “queers” (that would be my Dad), my husband refused to allow our children to be baptized. The atheist in the relationship (that would be me) would have been okay with it.

Don’t try to make sense of my beliefs. It will just make your brain hurt.

My beliefs have made my own brain hurt for a while now, including a few months I worked as an office temp several years ago. Because I was a temp, I occupied a place in the office hierarchy alongside the cleaning crew. There was a guy there who did most of the maintenance: replacing lightbulbs, fixing the lock on the women’s room door, painting the conference room a pale green called “Seedling.” In a foolish moment of proletarian solidarity, I introduced myself, my small act of rebellion against a workplace that did not acknowledge my his existence, let alone my his labor (perhaps you can understand why my career there did not progress beyond the status of a temp). He told me his name was Arthur. From then on, Arthur greeted me thusly (if the sun was shining).

“The Lord has given us a beautiful day, Karen!”

If it was raining, he would say

“The Lord has given all the plants and trees a good drink of water today, Karen!”

God sees all and knows where you left that paintbrush.

God sees everything and He knows where you left that paintbrush.

Fortunately, no natural catastrophes struck during my stint as a temp in that office, so I never got to see how Arthur’s Christian optimism would interpret an earthquake or a tsunami. Still, he did relate to me his experience of other divine interventions on his behalf. For example, there was the time he misplaced his brush while painting that conference room.

“The Lord must have been looking out for me, Karen, because he showed me right where it was, on top of the step ladder!”

And that time he parked his car, yet remained inside, fiddling with the radio for a few moments, when a speeding Toyota Camry whizzed down the street. Again, he credited the Lord with his inability to find the Washington Redskins broadcast on the AM dial and avoiding certain death in a gruesome traffic fatality.

Arthur’s need to share his faith with me remains inexplicable, sort of like the reasons why I have so many Christian followers. If I had to guess about his motivations, I think I’ll say that he was dropping what I’ll call “God hints”: little cues in conversation he hoped would start a larger discussion that would open up an opportunity to convert me. Maybe that’s what the Christian followers are doing, too, when they follow my blog. I don’t think I’m out here in the world sending a message that I need saving, but maybe with all the flailing around I do in life, and on this blog, that’s the message Christians hear.

Ahead of Pope Francis’s visit, the Washington Post published a story about all the Catholics, like my husband and I, who have left the Church. Like so many others, we’ve stopped following Catholicism. Yesterday, the paper published another story about how Americans really, really, really like Pope Francis but we really, really, really don’t like the Catholic Church.

I don’t know if the Pope’s visit will be able to bring disaffected Catholics back into the fold. So far Pope Francis seems to be saying the right things on a lot of issues that are important to Americans and American Catholics. I do know that this part of the country where I live is in an absolute frenzy during his visit, and I’m just waiting to come out the other side.

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia on September 26 and 27. You can find his schedule here.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

Blogging: You’re Doing It All Wrong

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Back at the end of July, I had a bright idea: I signed up for the WordPress workshop Blogging 101, a month-long series of assignments designed to introduce brand-spanking-new bloggers to the whats, hows, whys and wherefores of blogging, scheduled to begin August 3rd.

In my mind, I thought I might find some humor as an ancient experienced blogger working my way through daily assignments for creating, writing, and maintaining a blog.

Here’s the first assignment (I know, I know, it’s late. The dog ate my homework, or something):

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click “New Post,” and tell us why you’re here.

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post on your blog.

I saw the assignment and thought if a reader wants to know who I am, he/she can click on my About page.

Now, if a reader wants to know why I’m here . . .  Well, that’s more of a mystery.

I started blogging 212 213 posts ago, back in 2010, when I couldn’t find steady work and thought I’d write to keep current on professional issues, but even the very first post on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please is only tangentially related to law (and not even American law). By the way, you don’t need to go back and read that first post, it’s absolutely cringe-worthy, but I keep it in the archives because I’m a masochist to maintain historical accuracy.

So despite my intentions, I wound up blogging content that was very different from what I set out to blog.

Fast forward about five years, and it’s August, 2015, and I’m signed up for Blogging 101. One morning, two blog posts show up in my Reader that get me thinking more about this “Why We Blog” issue. The first came from Amiecus Curiae in Writer’s Life Wednesday–Blogging to Build an Author Platform and it’s a response to a post from Dylan Hearn over on Suffolk Scribblings. Dylan’s post shows up in my Reader, as well, as I scroll further down: There Are Easier Ways To Sell Books Than Through Blogging.

If you read both posts, and you also read Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Pleaseyou’ll probably already have guessed that I’m mostly in agreement with Amie’s perspective on writers who blog in support of their writing careers.

But, and here’s the big but, the way to make this work, to actually build a following is to blog about something other than writing!

I’m reluctant to give writing advice (because, after all, who the fuck am I to give advice to anyone?) but let me share my experience as a reader: the last two novels I’ve bought were because I read op-ed pieces written by the authors on subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with the novels they’d written and that I (eventually) purchased. Ann Patchett wrote a very funny take for the Washington Post on what it’s like to own an independent book store (I bought State of Wonderand Diana Spechler wrote about sexual obsession in the New York Times (I bought Who By Fire).

And I mostly agree with what Dylan’s got to say–at least, I don’t disagree with it.

So why should writers blog?

Because it’s a wonderful opportunity to write something different, to let off steam, to connect with like-minded . . . to find comfort and community, to help others much earlier in the process than yourself and be helped by those further down the line. It’s a way of making new friends, for discovering excellent books and for improving your craft. It’s a place to be yourself, to be someone else or to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

All good reasons to blog, to be sure. However, I’m not sure if Dylan’s approach is going to support a goal of making money (even just a little bit!) from writing, but I realize that’s not everyone’s goal. And while there are established authors who do not blog, and do not have much of a social media presence, any new author is expected to play the social media game (on FB, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on and on and on). I’m not sure if being all over social media sells books, either (you can read more of my thoughts on this topic in Is Your “Social Media Platform” Killing Your “Brand”?), but if you’re a novelist who’s blogging, you need to find a way to connect with readers, the folks you hope will buy your book(s). That’s my “big but” (heh! That sounded like I said “my big butt”) which is different from Amie’s, as I don’t have a tough time droning on about any number of topics other than writing (see my recent posts on adultery, ants, and, um, summer activities)–yes, blog, but find a way to reach readers of novels.

It would probably be helpful right here if I could tell you the ways to reach those readers, wouldn’t it? I’m sorry, I wish I knew. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t going to be offered the opportunity to write op-eds in the Washington Post or the NY Times anytime soon.

Anyway, if you came here looking for useful advice, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

Ok, so back to Blogging 101 and that question about why I’m here: I guess I’m here ’cause I got nowhere else to go.

What We Talk About When We Talk on the Internet

I’ve been reading your blog and I’ve been wondering about something.

Some people eat cabbage when it isn't even St. Patrick's Day.

Some people eat cabbage when it isn’t even St. Patrick’s Day.

Remember that post you wrote about your grandmother’s cabbage rolls and how you’ve been trying to recreate that dish for your kids, but you haven’t been able to get it just right, and anyway, your kids hate cabbage, and now the house smells funny, and the UPS driver just gave you a dirty look when you opened the door to sign for a package?

Was that post really about cabbage rolls?

I didn’t think so.

The other day, I got an email that mentioned the “crazy, weirdo Moms post” I had written. For a moment, I thought my email friend had mixed me up with another blogger. “What crazy, weirdo Moms post?” I wondered. Then I realized the emailer meant this post, “The Mom Race.” “Oh!” I thought. “She thinks that post is about crazy, weirdo Moms.”

And just like your post about grandma’s cabbage rolls, I don’t think my post is about crazy, weirdo Moms. If you ask me, I might say that it’s about running (that was the topic I intended to write about when I began drafting the post), but, after seeing what I’ve written, I’ll probably say that post is about alienation.

But maybe I’m all wrong about that post. Maybe it is about crazy, weirdo Moms. If you read the comments on “The Mom Race,” you’ll see that more than a couple of other readers reacted similarly to the person who emailed me. So, I have to ask, is a blog post what the blogger thinks it’s about or is it what the reader experiences?

I’m going to say: it’s what the reader experiences. I say that not because I think I’m a crappy blogger who is unable to convey my feelings of isolation and instead can only make lame jokes about those whacky Moms and their kids and, for God’s sake, cancer. Ok, well, that’s not the only reason. I think it’s also because what we talk about when we talk on the Internet isn’t always what we mean.

Nothing in life is free. They'll keep peeing on the kitchen floor until you buy that fancy cat food that you got one time by accident. That's what it's gonna cost you: 95¢ a can.

Nothing in life is free. They’ll keep peeing on the kitchen floor until you buy that fancy cat food that you got one time by accident. That’s what it’s gonna cost you: 95¢ a can.

So as a public service, I’m providing a free translation of all (well, most) of the blog posts on the Internet which you can refer to as you slog through enjoy all the blogs you’re following.  For a nominal fee* I’ll even come over to your blog and translate your latest blog post.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Universal Blog Post Translator

What You Wrote What You Meant
A Cabbage Rolls Recipe My kids only eat chicken McNuggets and does the UPS man think I filled my house with farts?
The Mom Race Good God, I’m insecure.
Top Ten Rules For Twitter Would you assholes stop clogging up my feed with your bullshit? Also, follow me on Twitter.
A Book Review of a Book I Read Look! I read a book!
The Whacky Things My Kids Do My children are psychotic. Call 911.
The Crazy Stuff My Husband Does I’m “this close” to hiring a divorce lawyer
My Dinner at Applebee’s My life isn’t really this pathetic, I swear. Seriously, though, don’t order the cedar plank salmon.
Why I Love/Hate A Celebrity Will this get me pageviews?
Why I Love/Hate My Body Will this get me pageviews?
Sex This will definitely get me page views.**

*an order of cheese fries.

**No, it won’t. I’ve been trying that schtick for years.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

There Needs to Be More Disagreement on the Internet

I’ve had it up to here (FYI: I’m holding my hand up to my chin) with all you people agreeing with one another on the Internet.

Doesn’t anyone like to fight anymore?

Maybe not, and maybe we never did. According to this article, “The Science of Protecting People’s Feelings,” there’s some research that shows human beings want to treat all opinions, even objectively proven false ones, as equally valid. They’ve named it “equality bias.” This research might explain why human beings give credence to the anti-vaxxers, climate change-deniers and flat-earthers.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree with the study’s conclusion, as I’ve been known to disagree. Instead of believing that humans strive for “equality,” I think the experiment shows that humans naturally work towards consensus or accommodation, even with idiots, and especially when we are working/living in close quarters with them, as opposed to across a natural boundary like a river or a mountain range. When idiots live on the other side of the mountain, the idiots on one side gather sticks and stones and mountain climbing gear and then head over to take what they can.

Anyway, I’m not going to weigh in on the import of this new research. Long time readers of this blog already know my opinion: lots of supposedly “scientific” research just confirms the existing biases of the researchers. In a few months, there will be a new study that contradicts this one, and confirms the biases of a whole new set of researchers. Still, I won’t dismiss this research entirely, and I like to think of it as a starting point for argument debate discussion.

So let’s argue debate discuss.

I’m intrigued by what this new research might mean for something that has long puzzled me: why do people leave comments on blogs such as, “You are so right! Great post!” and “Is it ok if I re-blog this? You put the words to my thoughts exactly!” I mean, they leave those sorts of comments on your blog posts. I don’t get those sorts of comments on my blog posts, because no one reads my blog who wants to be seen endorsing porn, or admit they were Googling the best places to have sex in public or reading about, um, Miley Cyrus?

I'm terrific at everything!

Dunning-Kruger effect, unskilled version: Yes,  I am terrific at this!

Now let’s see what “The Science of Protecting People’s Feelings” has to tell us about why people leave those comments. If you didn’t click on the linky-link to the article, don’t worry, I’ll catch you up: The article reports on an experiment examining the Dunning-Kruger effect. From the Wikipedia entry (despite what your teachers told you, Wikipedia is a great source of information on all things), here’s the definition, because I know you slept through Intro to Psych, on account of that was the semester you were dating the guy in a band who played a bunch of gigs out of town and what were you thinking when you signed up for an eight am class, anyway?

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

The Dunning-Kruger effect: I'm pretty good at this. Other people must be good at it, too, like that goofy guy over there holding his finger in the air.

The Dunning-Kruger effect, highly skilled version: I’m pretty good at this. Other people must be good at it, too, like that goofy guy over there holding his finger in the air.

So that’s the Dunning-Kruger effect. This new experiment looked at the behavior of those high-skilled individuals when they encountered the unskilled. To the surprise of perhaps no one except the researchers, the highly skilled folks worked toward consensus with the unskilled, even after the incompetence of the unskilled was exposed, time and time again. Instead of being discounted, the view of the unskilled was treated as being just as good.

Ok, I can’t be the only one who was reminded by this experiment of the various “teams” I’ve participated on in the workplace: the goal of the workgroup isn’t so much to come up with some great new idea or process (Yay, synergy!), it’s to control the PITAs. It’s not that we believe their ideas are “equal”; we just want to go home at 5 o’clock.

By now you’re probably thinking, What the hell does this have do with comments on blogs? Am I suggesting that you, or your readers, are idiots incompetents unskilled? No, I’m suggesting this explains why you got 274 comments (of which, 137 were your reply of “Thanks!”) on your last post, all of which said, essentially, “Great post! I agree with you so, so, so much!” and not one “You could not be more fantastically, historically, gargantuanly wrong!” There seems to be a human need to reach agreement, or at least the appearance of agreement, and the evolutionary benefits are obvious: if we didn’t mostly agree with one another, we’d rip each other’s throats out, and long ago the earth would have been over run by amoebas, who don’t have enough brain cells to form an opinion, let alone a cohesive argument. (I wonder what amoebas would argue about if they could. Perhaps whether  phagocytosis or  pinocytosis is a superior method of absorbing nutrients. Again, Wikipedia comes in handy!)

Except, every once in awhile, a reader (like me) comes along and says, “Hold on a minute. I don’t agree with your blog post and here’s why.”

As a person who enjoys arguing debating discussing things, and, as the writer of a blog that occasionally veers from its stated goals of humor and sex to discuss the way we behave on the Internet, I often wonder why people bother to express their agreement in comments on posts.  If all I have to say is “Right on!” or “Word!” or “IKR” (depending on your generation), why bother? The blogger has already said what I wanted to say in the post, apparently, and better than I could have said it. Do I really need to give him/her a thumbs up in the comments?  Isn’t that why we have a  “Like” button? (Oh, man, don’t get me started on the “Like” button). Does what I will call a “cheer-leading comment” really add to the discussion?

Or maybe I’m thinking about it all wrong. Maybe it’s not a discussion. Maybe the comments section of a blog are just a bunch of human beings milling around, trying to convey a more primal message: “I’m not dangerous. Please don’t attack me. See? I agree with you. Now let’s go off and hunt a mammoth together.”

Of course, that doesn’t explain why I don’t want to go off and hunt a mammoth agree with you.

I’m sure if I were born out on the tundra somewhere 2 million years ago, I would have slowly starved to death because I pissed off the rest of my tribe.

ZogetteCro-Magnon Me: Do you think this makes sense, what we’re doing? I mean, there’s an awful lot of walking.

My Cro-Magnon Colleague: What else would we do all day? It’s not like there’s TV to watch.

ZogetteCro-Magnon Me: I don’t know. Maybe we should sit down on those rocks over here and we can brainstorm some ideas.

My Cro-Magnon Colleague:  That’s a waste of time! We only have eight hours of daylight to hunt this mammoth!

ZogetteCro-Magnon Me: Is it a waste of time? Can you give me just five seconds to let me explain how it’s not a waste of time?

My Cro-Magnon Colleague: That’s it! No fucking mammoth for you. I’m tired of your bullshit arguing all the time about everything!

Anyway, don’t worry. Despite what this research says about me (I’m an anomaly? A weirdo? A jerk?) I’m still going to wander over to your blog to argue debate discuss. You’ll write some nice post about the dinner you had at Applebee’s, and then you’ll see my little gravatar show up in your comments and you’ll  think, “Oh, no, not this asshole again.”

Royalty-free stock photos, including the images in this post, can be found at freeimages.com

Is This Blog Even About Sex Anymore? Why, Yes. Yes It Is.

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Perhaps you, like  many some a few  other readers of Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please, have been scratching your head and asking the question, “Is this blog even about sex anymore?”

Because this blog is supposed to be about sex, at least a little. The tagline promises Humor and Sex. See? Right there, up near the title. And before you start complaining that I really haven’t been delivering on the humor end of the deal, either, let me just say I’m tackling one problem at a time.

I’ll admit that lately I haven’t written much about sex. Instead, I’ve been writing about Twitter (you thought that post was about being in a book club, didn’t you?), texting, and, for God’s sake, orangoutangs and beavers (and no, I wasn’t just using a vulgar slang term for vaginas in that beaver post, much to the disappointment of my biggest fans the random weirdos who find my blog).

Let me assure you, dear readers, this blog is still about sex. Or it’s as much about sex as it ever was, which is probably not much, but still . . .

Do Not Hump in the Sink, Please.

Do Not Hump in the Sink, Please.

In my defense, do you know how hard difficult it is to write about sex all the time? I imagine it’s like being a sex worker, only without the pay. And without the exploitation. And without the constant risk of physical and emotional abuse. And instead of lying on my back with my feet in the air, I’m usually sitting at my dining room table, staring at the blank screen on my lap top, panicking because it’s Wednesday and I still don’t have a blog post up, while  a cup of coffee turns  cold in my hand.

So, um, I guess it’s not at all like being a sex worker.

I can’t tell who’s braver–the firefighters putting out this fire, or the woman who caused it by having an orgasm.

Anyway, this blog claims to be about sex, and not so much about rap songs from the nineties, so let’s talk about sex. Over on Yahoo!Style, there’s an article right now titled “Five Brave Women Reveal What An Orgasm Truly Feels Like.” I suppose you and I could sit here all day and argue with the editors who came up with that title about what, exactly, constitutes an act of bravery, but surely we can all agree that talking about orgasms ≠ racing into a burning building to rescue small children, can’t we? We can’t? Ok, then, Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please should be nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor because I’ve been  “brave” for a long time, at least when I haven’t been talking about Twitter, texting, beavers and orangoutangs.

I used to make the joke that I write about sex in the least erotic way possible, but these women may have me beat with their descriptions of orgasms. They make sex sound stupid and silly, instead of filthy and dirty, the way God intended. Since you probably didn’t bother to click on the article (who wants that page showing up in their web history?) let me recap.

This is what an orgasm feels like, according to the orangoutangs courageous souls on Yahoo!Style.

  1. A sneeze stuck in your nose.
  2. A pot of boiling water.
  3. A free fall. “[It feels] like your vagina is being tossed off a cliff and free falls for a second before landing on a really bouncy trampoline!”
  4. A prize.
  5. A skydive.

I had to include the totality of Lady #3’s comment because it’s just so demented. Really, Lady #3, your vagina falls off a cliff and then lands on a trampoline? Have you been having sex in a Road Runner cartoon?

Still, I think each of the women’s descriptions unconsciously reveals much more about them than they realize. Let me armchair analyze each of them.

Lady #1 suffers from allergies.

Lady #2 has been burned by love.

Lady #3 never had an orgasm, and maybe never even had sex.

Lady #4 married the first person she had an orgasm with.

Lady #5 engages in lots and lots of risky sex.

As for me, I’d say an orgasm feels like a crescendo. And what does my description say phila_alt_greentext_0_1406314447about me, except that I played in the high school band and like the sound of foreign words? I think it also says I’ve thought an awful lot about this topic, enough so that I can come up with the word “crescendo” without much prompting,  and maybe it also says that I married a guy who likes classical music. You don’t hear the word “crescendo” spoken much in relation to the alt-pop of which I am a fan, so he gets the credit for inspiring the word, as well as the orgasms.

Royalty-free stock photos, including the images in this post, can be found at freeimages.com. Use of the Radio 104.5 logo is believed to be permitted under the Fair Use Doctrine and is not an infringement on copyright.

Can the Humor-Challenged Be Saved?

I’ve been thinking about humor again.

58874_5498

The Humor-Capable.

I’m almost always thinking about humor as I’m winding through the first draft of a novel I’m working on, keeping myself awake at night wondering if this scene is funny or is that chapter funny? I got to thinking even more about humor when I read the post, “It’s a Joke, Son” over on the blog FiftyFourandAHalf. In that post, the blogger (Elyse) identifies a whole new class of people out there, the Humor-Challenged. I would call these folks the Hopeless-Stupids, but let’s go with Elyse’s nomenclature, since it’s less likely to get a gang of Hopeless-Stupids over here leaving comments like, “No, you’re stupid.”

Anyway, the Hopeless-Stupids Humor-Challenged are the folks who don’t get the joke, never get the joke, and wander around the internet trying to ruin the joke for everyone else.

Now most of you know my good bloggin’ buddy, Peg-O-Leg.  Well, Peg was Freshly Pressed just yesterday!  It was a delayed FP’ing for a post she wrote over a month ago, entitled: Facebook Ruined My Life, Now They Must Pay.  It’s about how she wants to sue Facebook because somebody put up an embarrassing picture of her from her childhood.

It was a joke, son.

But the thing is, she got comments from strangers criticizing her for suing Facebook.  I’m not joking, she got nasty comments about the lawsuit she was clearly making up for a humor blog.

Then I read another post, “Jokes, Gobbledygook, and Cardboard Cut Outs” on This Page Intentionally Left Blank. The blogger (Liam) touched on a number of topics in the post, but the part that interested me was his perspective on writing humor.

Brandon Sanderson believes humor can be cultivated into the tool I mentioned, every time you need it.  Many others believe humor is spontaneous, a gift for those lucky enough to have an edge.  More and more, I’m finding Sanderson’s opinion correct.  He’s not a funny fellow, all by himself and spontaneous.  But when you give him the time, he writes killingly funny quips.  He’s admitted to purposefully raising his humor level in books, especially Warbreaker.  While he isn’t quick on his feet as, say, Howard Tayler, he knows the system of humor and uses it as a tool.

Moral of the story: humor is a tool, not something you’re born with.  Practice it, perfect it, and use it.

And then I remembered a comment that had been left on an excerpt of fiction I had posted for a Blogging University Writing 201 workshop.

And to answer your questions Is it funny? Not yet. Try and spark up a conversation with some witty comments, a conflict that will make them laugh out loud or bring back old memories.

YKYKPAcLc

See? This is what funny is.

The upshot of all of this is I think that there is a segment of the population that believes “humor” is one liners, what I would have called “Yo’ Mama” type jokes before Joan Rivers died last week and I began reading about her career so now I will call them “Joan Rivers” type jokes. In short, it’s insult humor. These same folks are not going to recognize humor that arises out of absurd situations such as suing Facebook over a childhood photo or, let’s say, eating Irish babies as a solution to famine. To them, satire is not what funny is.

Perhaps Liam on This Page Intentionally Left Blank is right in his belief that people can be taught to add humor to their writing. I think I’d only agree that people can be taught to add “zingers” to their writing. And I’m all for adding “zingers.” Here at Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please  I traffic in lots and lots of self deprecating humor: that is, I insult myself for laughs, so bring on the zingers!

But I don’t know if the Humor-Challenged can be taught to appreciate, let alone write, satire. Satire is not something that they are going to find funny, ever. All humor is very subjective, anyway, which is why Arrested Development got cancelled in 2006 and why Two and a Half Men is still on the air. 

And because the robo-bots at WordPress will link to all the wrong posts at the end of this post, let me add the post that should  be linked to, “Is This Even Funny?”

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One More Reason Why I Have No Followers

Lately, I’ve been witnessing a disturbing trend among bloggers: they’re writing what people want to read.

You can see it here on Lara Chase’s blog in the post, “So Are You Still Writing or What?” where she explains why she’s writing what she’s writing about:

When I started this blog I mostly wrote about the craft of writing, and some tips about the publishing market. For the last several months I’ve had posts on fall pilots, cooking, how to button tuft a couch, exercise, etc. Occasionally, this has led to someone asking me, “Hey, what’s the deal?”

In case you didn’t read the articles and statistics that lead up to the switch (according to my blog stats, few of you did), I realized that no one but other aspiring authors care about dialogue and how to write a convincing antagonist. So, I started writing blog posts about other things that interested me: food, home décor, TV, and whatever else I thought others might find informative. Turns out, you guys seem to find these topics more interesting as well.

cheezit-logo(Lara’s post is awesome for another reason: go over and look at how she’s organized her work space for writing.  I’m absolutely ashamed and humiliated that I write at my dining room table, hunched over my lap top eating Cheez-its® while my husband, children and two cats mill around me).

And then I saw it again, over on Musical Wishes Blog, where the blogger came right out and asked readers to vote (there’s a poll!) on what they wanted to read next.  Head on over and vote!  I voted for The Closeted Bisexual because I’m a Democrat and couldn’t vote for Rick Santorum in the Republican primary.

I’m about a year and a half late with that Rick Santorum joke, aren’t I?  Or maybe I’m a year and a half early.

Anyway, I’m not sure how I feel about the audience dictating the subject matter of my posts.  I mean, why should I write what they want to read?  That would be like feeding my kids just because they’re hungry, or paying my mortgage just because it’s due.

So if I’m not going to take cues from my readers, how do I come up with topics to blog about?  Usually, I get some ridiculous moronic idea for a post and then proceed to have an inner dialogue with myself.

Oh, and you bought me lube!  How thoughtful!

After I blow out the candles, let’s have anal sex.

Me: Maybe I should write a post about anal sex.

My Inner Voice:  Are you crazy? What’s wrong with you?  No one wants to read about anal sex!  Why do you think of these things?

Me: Well, it could be funny.  I could tell that story about how I got drunk on my birthday that one year and decided that would be the night I would try to have anal sex with my husband. That was pretty funny.

My Inner Voice:  That story isn’t funny! It’s embarrassing!  There really is something wrong with you!

And because whenever I hear that little voice in my head telling me “No! No! No!” I absolutely must do whatever it’s warning me against, you can expect a post on anal sex from me in the near future, whether you want to read it or not.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.  The Cheez-It® logo is from the Kellogg Company web site and is believed to comply with fair or acceptable use principles established in U.S. and international copyright law.

My Tagline is Killing My Blog

I think I’ve finally figured out why Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please has not propelled me into blogging superstardom, despite years of writing raucously funny posts about France and swinging and bugs (oh, wait, that post is not really about insects).

It’s my tag line.  It’s killing my blog.

I figured this out after taking a look at the writing prompts over at the Daily Post Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog. Here’s the prompt from Friday, January 2, 2014 (day 2 of the challenge):

 
zero-to-hero-1
 
Day 2: What’s your name?

We make snap judgements about websites all the time — how many times have you disregarded a site because it wasn’t immediately clear what it was about? Today, you’ll name your blog and expand on that with an “About this Blog” widget, drawing on the introductory post you published yesterday. Let no reader click away to the next site because they were unsure of your focus!

I was explaining all this to my husband, about how the name of my blog and my tag line were probably turning off readers and how I really needed an “About this Blog” widget and then, look out,

Why do you ask?  Did you stop reading it???

Yes, I’m still writing that blog.

there would be no stopping Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, PleaseI had worked myself up into a lather while pacing the floor and making wild hand gestures as I spoke when he pulled earbuds out of his ears and said, “Sorry, I’m listening to a lecture.  What did you say?”

This grievance was multiplied a thousandfold after I repeated what I had been saying and he then asked, “You’re still writing that blog?”

Realizing I’d receive no help from the man with whom I had made the disastrous (or so it seemed at the moment) decision to procreate with, I sat down and tried to think of a new tagline that would make readers “immediately clear” about Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  Humor.  Or, at least, I think it’s funny.
  2. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  Humor and Sex.  Not really that much sex.  You perverts will be disappointed.
  3. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  Not really about plumbing.  You plumbers will be disappointed.
  4. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  Blogging and Swearing.
  5. Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.  Humor and Sex.  Mixing them together with embarrassing results since 2012.

If you’ve read this far and you remain disappointed, check out P Simpson Plumbing and Heating.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.  The Zero to Hero logo was snatched from the Daily Post @ wordpress.com page.