I’m not going to lie to you. After shutting down my wildly successful Hate By Numbers tm series, I wasn’t coming back. My self-imposed indefinite sabbatical was going really well, and I thought Cracked was humming along just fine without me. But last week I got a call that changed everything. I knew it was my former editor Jack O’Brien before even answering; I’d assigned Madonna’s Vogue as his ring tone. No song better captured Jack’s fluid sexual identity and processed faux chic posturing.“Hey,” I answered with all the ease of a free man. After all, Jack was no longer my boss – just some dude who loved Cracked.com and the sexy pop disco beats of a certain middle aged Diva from Detroit. I settled into my rich leather couch and poured myself two fingers of scotch, enjoying my newfound status. But just then something broke the mood. Something functionally illiterate: “Call him ‘Jack-o-roni & Cheese,’” shouted Dan O’Brien from my opposing love seat. Dan was back on the East coast for Christmas, and crashing at my place after his parents kicked him out for doing something “unholy” to his family Priest with the church’s nativity baby Jesus. Apparently, no one was impressed with Dan’s defense that he was just trying to figure out what Jesus would “do.” (And yes, Dan made the little quote fingers on “do” when he explained the story to me.) “Call him ‘Jack-o-roni & Cheese,’” Dan repeated. “Because, y’know, it rhymes with macaroni & cheese, and his name is Jack.” “Yeah, I get it,” I replied. “Now finish your bag of ketamine and go to sleep like a good boy.” “G-Stone, you there?” Jack asked. I hadn’t heard him so anxious since he lost all his glow sticks and pacifiers in one night. “I need you to come back, G-Stone. Please. I’ll do anything.” “Will you pay me market rates for my freelancing?” “Oooh, no can do,” Jack said, “but I will totally let you have my first edition, autographed cassette single of Madonna’s Lucky Star.” I’m not sure why, but I’ve always liked Jack. Maybe it’s because he worked himself up to Editor in Chief of a successful comedy website when fate would have dictated that he turn to hustling his John Mayer-esque ass for a dollar on the streets of Thailand like so many of his peers. “Can I write about anything I want and make it as indulgent and self-referential as possible?” I asked. “As long as I can figure out a way to title it for DIGG.com, yes.” So I agreed to do a post. Something about how I’ve spent my month or so away from Cracked. The good. The bad. The uninteresting. I’m not sure how that appeals to a wider audience, but that’s Jack problem. (That and his crippling meth addiction.) Still, I thought I’d throw him a bone by drawing some universal advice from each of my experiences for you, the reader. So without further ado:
HOW G-STONE IS SPENDING HIS SABBATICAL (or Suggestions For A Great 2009) As all the papers have reported, I recently underwent a significant life-changing event by imposing a sabbatical on HBN. My silly little three minute videos, lampooning pop culture news, TV, and music did more for my comedy career in a few months than all my preceding years of comedy writing combined. Strong proof that either my dreamy bedroom eyes are simply irresistible or that people can’t actually read anymore. I’m going with the latter. And as shocking and significant as my decision was, it occurs to me that, perhaps, important stuff has happened to other people in the last couple of months too. Maybe YOU are also at a transition. Perhaps, you’re preparing to enter high school or college. (School starts in January, right? I forget.) Or maybe you’re about to graduate high school or college. (That’s slightly less likely if you’re a Cracked reader). Or maybe you’re one of the record number of people who’ve just been laid off as a result of the increasingly bad global economy? In any event, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one doing some reflecting and soul-searching during this Holiday season. What will 2009 bring? And more importantly, what should you do now to make sure 2009 brings what you want? Well, for one… 1. Do What You’re Supposed to Do. I went on sabbatical to write comedy screenplays. How’s that going? It’s going, but I’m behind schedule. I’m halfway done with the first screenplay, but I wanted to be all done by now and on to the second. And I still have to make some dicey Act III decisions. In my defense, I’ve suffered certain setbacks in my personal life recently that may have had a subtle affect on my writing as indicated by this excerpt from a scene I was working on last week:
Bambi (sexy flight attendant)
Excuse me, sir, but are you Layne Wadstone? I love your hilarious video series and your dreamy bedroom eyes.
Why hello. Yes. Yes I am.
Do you think you could help me with something in the airplane bathroom? (giggles and points to her lady parts)
I’m sorry, Miss, but no. You see, I’ve recently contracted chlamydia.In any event, you don’t want to be like me. I don’t care what it is. Getting a new job; curing your acne in time for prom; studying for your finals now so that C- you just got on your mid-terms doesn’t sink your whole GPA; you’ve got stuff that needs doing. Do it. And so will I. Promise. And take comfort knowing that while you’re studying in your dorm room at 3 am, I am fast asleep having rewarded myself with a nap after coming up with a knee-slapping sight gag for my screenplay. (Spoiler alert: The vicious dog bit WHAT part of the bad guy’s anatomy? Oh, that’s rich.) 2. Do Something You Have No Business Doing So it’s all well and good to do what you’re supposed to do. I mean, I think I read that somewhere. But maybe you should use this time to do something you have no business doing. Something different to give you a charge. For example, everyone knows that I was the lead singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist of SlowBurn, the greatest 90’s band to ever hit Ithaca, New York. It’s also well-established that despite writing fairly aggressive and/or moody rock, an A&R guy from Atlantic records came to my gig at CBGB’s and called me a “balladeer.” (It’s also well-know that he showed up during the last 30 seconds of the gig high off his ass, and that I said some not very nice things to him). But what is NOT known, is that I don’t know how to play piano. And I’ve never written a song on piano. So this last month, I taught myself some piano chords and wrote a song. I then recorded it and used my Vegas Video as a multitrack recording device. Mind you that means I had no reverb or eq’ing ability. So basically, it was a really, really dumb idea. And a poorly executed one too. The song is all over the place. It is nothing like anything I’ve ever written, and, frankly, you will be able to tell that I don’t know how to play piano. You will be able to tell that I overdrove the lo-fi microphone. You will wonder if I own a metronome. So given all these deficits you may be wondering why I then made a little video to the song and put it online. Especially since I’m really proud of some of my other music –written and played on an instrument I understand and recorded somewhat competently—and none of that is available online. Why would I want this to be the only representation of my music to a fairly large audience? And why would I set myself up for “keep your day job, my ears are bleeding” abuse from my 75-100 haters on Digg.com? That is a really good question. And I was going to ask my therapist, but I don’t have a therapist so I asked my former co-blogger Mike Swaim. Mike was confused. “Wait,” he said. “What’s the point of even being alive if you’re not constantly on video?” Maybe he’s right. Or maybe I’m trying to prove I don’t care what anyone thinks. You buy that, right? Know what else makes no sense about this song? It’s about leaving the distractions of the internet behind to take care of the more important things in my life. So I recorded it. And put it online. And then blogged about it. Because I am a gigantic bag of contradictory crazy. Looking back, I don’t think you should take any lessons from this behavior. Let’s move on. But if you do watch it, do me a favor and double click on embedded vid so you can choose YouTube's "watch in high quality" option. This video doesn't need any extra help looking crappy.