Im not going to lie to you. After shutting down my wildly successful Hate By Numbers tm series, I wasnt 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 OBrien before even answering; Id assigned Madonnas Vogue as his ring tone. No song better captured Jacks 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 OBrien 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 churchs nativity baby Jesus. Apparently, no one was impressed with Dans 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, yknow, 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 hadnt 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. Ill 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 Madonnas Lucky Star.
Im not sure why, but Ive always liked Jack. Maybe its 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 Ive spent my month or so away from Cracked. The good. The bad. The uninteresting. Im not sure how that appeals to a wider audience, but thats Jack problem. (That and his crippling meth addiction.) Still, I thought Id 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 cant actually read anymore. Im 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, youre preparing to enter high school or college. (School starts in January, right? I forget.) Or maybe youre about to graduate high school or college. (Thats slightly less likely if youre a Cracked reader). Or maybe youre one of the record number of people whove just been laid off as a result of the increasingly bad global economy? In any event, Im sure I wasnt 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 Youre Supposed to Do.
I went on sabbatical to write comedy screenplays. Hows that going? Its going, but Im behind schedule. Im 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, Ive 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)
Im sorry, Miss, but no. You see, Ive recently contracted chlamydia.
In any event, you dont want to be like me. I dont 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 doesnt sink your whole GPA; youve got stuff that needs doing. Do it.
And so will I. Promise. And take comfort knowing that while youre 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 guys anatomy? Oh, thats rich.)
2. Do Something You Have No Business Doing
So its all well and good to do what youre 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 90s band to ever hit Ithaca, New York. Its also well-established that despite writing fairly aggressive and/or moody rock, an A&R guy from Atlantic records came to my gig at CBGBs and called me a balladeer. (Its 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 dont know how to play piano. And Ive 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 eqing 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 Ive ever written, and, frankly, you will be able to tell that I dont 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 Im really proud of some of my other music written and played on an instrument I understand and recorded somewhat competentlyand 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 dont have a therapist so I asked my former co-blogger Mike Swaim. Mike was confused. Wait, he said. Whats the point of even being alive if youre not constantly on video? Maybe hes right. Or maybe Im trying to prove I dont care what anyone thinks. You buy that, right?
Know what else makes no sense about this song? Its 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 dont think you should take any lessons from this behavior. Lets 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.
Now this is a good idea. About six weeks ago, I had the presence of mind to consider that, perhaps, leaving all the joy that comes from being a ridiculous, internet pseudo celebrity might cause me to sink into a depression. In order to avoid a downward spiral of late night beer and cheese doodles, I decided to get into shape. And I did. Im more fit now than Ive been in years. I am firmly within my BMI. So much so that I won second runner up at Maines Don Draper look-alike contest this year:
My weight loss secret? Crippling depression. Yarp. Its been a tough month. It killed my appetite and I just went with it. Used it to my advantage. There is only one problem with this diet. I started to get so pleased with my appearance that the depression lifted, and I began to overeat. Gained a few pounds, but I think Ive got it down now, and I fully expect to return to my first job as a Calvin Klein underwear model when I drop the final 8 pounds.
So how does this apply to you? Im not sure. Maybe youre already fit? Or maybe you have some sort of glandular problem that prevents weight loss. I dont know. Or maybe youre one of those people who manages to be happy in life for reasons aside from body image. (Freak). But in case you wanted to lose weight, and you were waiting for some random, no-talent internet dude with delusions of grandeur to let you know it was OK, then rest assured, Ross Wolinsky says its fine.
4. Spend Way Too Much Time on Facebook
What else can you do to make 2009 great? Well if youre like me, youre prepping for 2009 by spending way too much time on Facebook. Is using Facebook to fill the void in your life a good idea? No. Actually, I think it might be the worst idea ever. Or at least the saddest thing Ive ever heard. Oh wait, I take that back. Mike Swaim begging me to help him write the script to Internet Party 3, Electric Booga-You-Tube, was the saddest thing ever. But still, its pretty bad.
Without doubt, I overindulged in the old FB this last month and its just not cool. I have met some lovely people, and my status messages are just delightful, but it's no way to live. Facebook makes you feel like youre doing something while doing nothing and yet, in its own way, makes you too tired thereafter to actually do something. Its a lot like filling out a moveon.org petition online. (Of course, that shouldnt stop you from becoming my Facebook friend and joining Gladstoners the hippest fan club on the web).
So in summary, what advice can you take from my sabbatical for a great 2009?
1. Do what youre supposed to do.
2. Don't do what you're not suppose to do.
3. Put down the jelly donut, fatty.
4. Easy on the Facebook (after becoming my friend).
5. Replace your popular web series with an incredibly indulgent column that is even more self-centered and insufferably arrogant than even you thought possible.
*This column's shout out goes to the incomparable Twig the Wonder Kid
Like G-Stone even more than he likes himself? Then check out his website Kafka Lives In Maine.