This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest, Episode 73

Sometimes I tell jokes on Twitter and then later I explain them here (or usually just make more jokes), and This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest.

WISDOM:

I think this one is very, very funny. One of my top 200 tweets ever, definitely.

STUPID:

This makes no sense.

WORDPLAY:

This is funny because it’s religious.

REACTION:

It’s both. We’re all playing a character, aren’t we? But the character we’re most playing is ourselves. Know what I mean? It’s like, if someone were to play you in a movie, you know who could play you best? Morgan Freeman, probably.

REACTION:

I wrote this after seeing a lady turn left into oncoming traffic, almost getting smashed to smithereens. People are all just zipping around in these giant, heavy hunks of metal all day long, and people — as you know — are giant screw-ups. Plus, all the tweeting while driving. I can’t believe we haven’t already driven ourselves to extinction (PUN INTENDED!).

WISDOM:

Think about it.

WORDPLAY:

I don’t know if this one makes sense, but it’s funny because murder jokes are funny.

WISDOM:

This isn’t much of a joke, but it is a stirring, poignant sentiment.

REACTION:

I hate customer loyalty cards. Don’t make me play asinine games to earn “rewards”. How about you just try to earn my loyalty with good prices and great service? I was a loyal Walgreens customer for years precisely because they didn’t have one of those stupid clubs. Ever since they introduced one last year, I’ve significantly reduced my shopping there. I’m an edge case, I’m sure, but seriously, screw them! I don’t want to have to scrutinize the weekly ads and shelf tags to determine which products are the “right” ones to buy for their stupid game. And I resent the implication that I should be doing that. Bastards.

WORDPLAY:

This is a dumb pun, which I call a “punmb”. Or a “dumbn”.

WISDOM:

Here’s the thing about summing up a TV show in one line: they pretty much all sound stupid. The one-line premise description is about the least accurate indicator of a show’s quality. Some of my most favorite shows sound dumb on paper. Some of yours do too. I would give you some examples here, but I’m still all worked up about those damn loyalty cards. I’m just gonna stop now.

That concludes this episode of This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest. Speaking of conclusions, you should conclude to check out (and subsequently pledge money to) my Kickstarter campaign to write a book called Mostly Lies. Thanks!

Advance Praise for Mostly Lies

You all know that I think I’m great, ((And also very, very awful.)) so of course I’m going to tell you that Mostly Lies is gonna be great too. But you can’t believe me — I’m an unreliable narrator (did you even read the title?). Luckily, you don’t have to take my word for it.

Check out these 100%-real critics’ blurbs about Mostly Lies I received FROM THE FUTURE. They were sent to me through a time-traveling wormhole ((I.e., a hole dug by a time-traveling worm.)) from an unspecified date in the not-too-distant future. Here’s what critics will be saying:

“No one captures the heartbreaking ecstasy of everyday life quite like Conlan can. Mostly Lies is a stirring, poignant, and often hilarious look at the foibles and peccadillos of modern society, filtered through a lens of farts.” — William Safire, TMZ

“When I heard that Conlan was writing a book, I was like, ‘Who’s Conlan?’ I still don’t know.” — Jay Leno’s mechanic

“Did he steal this idea from me?” — Michael Showalter

Mostly Lies was the first book I read after my cryogenically frozen head was thawed. Let me tell you this: scientists may have finally cured all diseases, but — as long as Conlan is around — one thing they’ll never cure is laughter.” — Walt Disney

“I’d like to dedicate my Nobel Prize in the field of Curing All Diseases to my inspiration, Conlan Spangler. His book Mostly Lies is what gave me the determination to keep pursuing my research, even when everyone told me that synthesizing a super-drug from the spliced DNA of reanimated dinosaurs was a bad idea.” — Dr. Guybert Fieri

“As the mutant pterodactyl tore my parents’ bodies apart, with their dying gasps they told me (via Skype): ‘Our biggest regret,’ they said — the black haze of nuclear winter cresting the horizon — “is not supporting Mostly Lies when we had the chance.” — YOUR (FUTURE) CHILD???

As you can see, the critical acclaim will be umamious. Don’t worry though; I promise I won’t let it change me. I’ll always remember those most important little people who helped me get my start by backing Mostly Lies on Kickstarter.

And what about those little people who didn’t help? I will dedicate all my resources and the rest of my life to crushing them — emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Those who are devoured by the dinosaurs will be the lucky ones.

Remember, everybody: The future is what you make of it.

This Is Twittering, Episode 72: Valentine’s Edition

Sometimes I tell jokes about love and lust and leprosy on Twitter and then later I explain them here (or usually just make more jokes), and This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest, 100% Special Valentine’s Day Edition!

SEXISM:

I was reading about bands or something and it occurred to me how few women (relatively speaking) are in bands — at least in bands signed to record labels. I thought this must be a result of cultural pressures that suggest music somehow isn’t “for girls”. And then I thought: chicks in bands are hot. So I’m part of the problem, I guess? Or part of the solution, maybe.

(For girls.)

I do take some comfort in that.

RELATIONSHIPS:

In the context of Valentine’s Day: Just ask every teacher who’s ever gone to jail for being a scumbag.

What’s the deal with chicks putting up with assholes so much, Rihanna?

This bit of cynicism is exaggerated for effect. Not every polite guy is being nice for the wrong reasons. But there are definitely a lot of assholes who use faux respect to manipulate women. And there are lots of women who use various means to manipulate men. I guess my point is, we’re all horrible.

The ol’ switcheroo.

LOVING YOURSELF:

This would be really funny. Try it.

If you find yourself in a position to sincerely say, “Only God can judge me,” then this is probably true.

That concludes this special Valentine’s Day edition of This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest. Speaking of love, if you love me, you should check out (and subsequently pledge money to) my Kickstarter campaign to write a book called Mostly Lies. Thanks!

Mostly Truth About Mostly Lies

Since I announced my intention to try to get people to give me money so I can write a book called Mostly Lies, people have been clamoring to know more about it. I explained a lot of it in a post last week, but I’ve gotten more questions, so I am going to answer some of them here.

Q: What are you talking about?

A: Please refer to the Kickstarter page, and then to this blog post.

Q: What is it like to be a bat?

A: I don’t know because I am not now, nor have I ever been, a bat. This is not a question about the book.

Q: Will it be funny?

A: No one can say for sure. But I will say that I will try to make some parts of it funny. But it won’t all be funny. And you may not think the things I try to make funny are funny at all.

Q: Is any of it going to be sad?

Only as sad as I am — which is to say, very.

Q: Why is it called Mostly Lies?

A: The short answer is, because I always thought Mostly Lies: A Memoir would be a funny name for a book. The long answer is, because I’m afraid of commitment? I want to tell true stories, but I don’t want the facts to get in the way of what I want to say. I don’t want to have to worry about whether I really ate 12 pickles or just seven. The point is, I ate a lot of pickles while watching a man die in Albuquerque. But it wasn’t really a man — it was a dream — and it wasn’t really Albuquerque — it was a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But that’s the point, don’t you see? Sooner or later all dreams die, just like men. And sooner or later all ice cream gets eaten, just like Albuquerque. I just want to lie about it, OK? Do you see what I’m trying to say?

Q: Will it all be lies?

A: No. In fact, it may not even be mostly lies. But there will definitely be some lies, and I’ll never tell you which parts are which. That will be the fun of it. ((Disclaimer: That may not, in fact, be the fun of it.))

Q: Is it just gonna be like a bunch of blog posts collected together?

A: I hope not. The goal is to create something cohesive, that builds upon itself and takes advantage of the book-length format. I’ve made connections between posts and followed themes here on the blog, but a blog is nonlinear by nature. It’s designed for you to jump in at any point. With Mostly Lies, I’m hoping to create something with more structure — if not a story arc, strictly speaking, then something of a logical arc. My ambitions may be overreaching, but that’s the goal at this point.

Q: I still don’t get it. What’s the book going to be about?

A: I can’t really say, because I really don’t know yet. I know about certain parts — I have rough drafts of certain parts — but I haven’t yet found the logical arc I want to build on. I’m hoping that comes together with time. All I know at this point is that it’s going to be an autobiographical narrative about stuff from my life — and so much of my life takes place in my head that a lot of the book is going to take place there too.

Q: What other books would you compare it to?

A: If you forced me to compare it to something, I would say, “Hey! Quit forcing me, dude!” and then I would point to Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter. Although that’s really a post hoc comparison. It’s a pre-book, post hoc, ergo prompter hoc fallacy, but there it is. Showalter’s book is similar in its miscellaneous scope, but I don’t think he made up most of it. (I actually had the idea before Showalter to write a book about the writing of that same book. I had never told anyone about it, so I’m not gonna say he stole it from me, but he probably did.) I liked Showalter’s book, but didn’t think it was as good or as funny as it could have been. There are a few chapters in the middle where he gets more heartfelt, and it starts to really seem like it’s going somewhere, but it ultimately falls apart.

While I’m talking about funny books I like: I like This Is a Book (no relation) by Demetri Martin. It is much funnier than Showalter’s, but much less memoir-y. Those are the only two funny books I’ve read.

Q: Will there be an audiobook version?

A: If there is enough demand, no. I doubt there’s even going to be an visualbook version of it.

Q: Is there anything else you can tell me?

A: Yes. I listed some possible chapters on the Kickstarter page (and those all really are possible chapters), but here are some even more possible chapters:

I hope that provides some more insight in this whole stupid idea of mine. Why not contribute? If it doesn’t get completely funded, you won’t have to pay anything, so you have nothing to lose except your money!

This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest, Episode 71

Sometimes I tell jokes on Twitter and then later I explain them here, and This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest.

By the way, please support my book project on Kickstarter if you haven’t already. I really appreciate it.

WORDPLAY:

Yeah.

WORDPLAY:

I think this one is darn good.

WORDPLAY:

This one is interesting from a writing perspective. Here’s how it came about: I was driving past a bail bond place that was open 24 hours, and I thought it was interesting the kinds of businesses that are open 24 hours. I thought, what kind of 24-hour businesses could be combined? I first thought of 7-Eleven, and then I thought of Denny’s, and then it hit me: grand slam, three strikes, KA-BOOM! Perfect.

WISDOM:

I really do this. Both parts.

WISDOM:

This is a good one. On the surface, it’s a ripoff of that joke about ignorance and apathy (“I don’t know and I don’t care”), except that one of my pet peeves really is people confusing pessimism and cynicism. Strictly speaking, the former has to do with facts and the latter has to do with motives. Cynicism is pessimistic, but pessimism is not necessarily cynical. So anyway, this joke is a play on the ignorance/apathy joke, but it’s also a heightening of it (at least in my mind) because it’s about the ignorance/apathy people have about the difference between pessimism and cynicism. It’s designed to be a teaching tool. Go forth and spread the bad news, jerk.

WORDPLAY:

This one is pretty good because it doesn’t make sense. If it had been, “Note to shelf: Good job holding up those books,” it would have been a very basic pun. If it had been, “Note to shelf: Make appointment with shpeech therapisht,” it would have been a pretty good stupid (but logically consistent) joke. But by phrasing it like I did, it’s logically inconsistent, which makes it truly absurd. By ending on booksh, you’re immediately aware that it’s not the basic pun (like the first example), and then you cognitively try to turn it into a speech joke (like the second example). But if I (the speaker) have that “sh” speech characteristic, then what the hell does holding up books have to do with anything? Why am I holding up books? It makes no sense. And I love stuff that doesn’t make marshmallows.

STUPID:

First of all, this is a joke about how people on reality shows, particularly those Bachelor-type shows, are disgusting (on the inside). It’s also a reversal — you think I’m an asshole calling people ugly, and then I call myself ugly too. And the idea of trying to have sex with myself is funny. But I had to be careful with the technical details. I think I originally wanted to say “if I wanted to see two people having sex with each other…” because I think that makes the “reveal” funnier. But, technically, trying to have sex with myself between two mirrors would show me an infinite number of uggos trying to have sex with themselves/each other. So, in this case, I sided with physics over phunny. It’s always a toss-up. I still think it turned out well.

That concludes this episode of This Is Twittering: Meta-Commentary Digest.

Somewhere to Live

The following is a series of posts that were originally published on an old blog of mine in December 2006, shortly after I started a new job in San Francisco. While searching for permanent housing, I stayed in a dingy transient hotel, and was then kicked out of it (as you can read in part one of this tale). This is the rest of my story.

The Broadway Hotel, December 2

I woke up early last Sunday, the day after being told I had to vacate my home of the past month. I had a craigslist catalog of a few other residential hotels to scout out and, hopefully, check in to before my 2pm kick-out time.

I was sick.

And it was raining.

I hopped a bus down Pacific Avenue to Polk where there was a hotel with free internet access. The problem was, that’s all it had. It didn’t even have managers.

I wandered in, up, and around the moldy old building. A note told me to call a phone number — which didn’t pick up. A flimsy plastic “For Rent” sign outside listed another useless number. A more official-looking “Broadway Hotel” sign finally had a number with a person on the other end.

He asked me when I wanted to see a room, I told him now, he told me 20 minutes. I took a seat in one of the brittle chairs outside the empty office.

Forty minutes later a heavy, foreign man emerged from one of the doors down the hallway. He showed me his cheapest room: a large, damp space on the third floor. It was bigger (and more expensive) than what I’d been used to. And it was dirty.

Really.

It hadn’t been cleaned since the last tenants left.

My throat hurt and my warm forehead was misted with sweat. I felt like I was getting sicker just breathing the wet, stale air in the place.

I said I’d take it.

The man told me he’d have to figure out what to do because “the guy who cleans the rooms” was off.

The Broadway Hotel, like all the highbrow digs I was checking out, accepts nothing less than cash. So I went downstairs to the ATM outside the bar on the corner.

It was out of order.

I walked down the block a bit to a deli with an ATM inside. It only spit out a hundred dollars before running out of money.

By this time, my sister — graciously cutting her holiday weekend short to drive here and help me move — was nearby. And I was miserable. I met the manager in front of the hotel. He tried to tell me where there were some other ATMs, and I told him I’d changed my mind.

My sister pulled up, I got in, and we were gone.

The CW Hotel, December 7

I knew of another hotel — it was actually the one I almost chose in the first place, five weeks ago, when I ended up in the Golden Eagle.

The CW Hotel claims to be in SOMA, SOuth of MArket Street. And technically, it is SOMA. But the artsy, industrial, dotcom-y atmosphere of Yerba Buena Gardens, the SF MOMA, and one of SF’s eight thousand art schools — which, with acronyms like SFAI, CAISF, CCAC, ACISF, SAIF, ISFA, and OMGWTF, I can never keep straight — doesn’t extend west beyond Fifth Street or south past Fulsome. The CW Hotel is on Fifth and Fulsome — the wrong side.

It’s a stark, white building, jutting up from the relative flatness of the gas station and bus lot at its sides. Across the street there’s another parking lot, and a bus stop, and a sleeping vagrant with his cardboard collection.

Fulsome — littered with tiny shops, dirty bars, and seemingly abandoned offices — extends towards the Bay, the arts, and more-promising culture. A few blocks north on Fifth is Market Street — the new Bloomingdales, cable cars, Macys, Union Square. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being amazed and exhilarated by the mash of neighborhoods, classes, and cultures forced so near to each other by this peninsula.

The room is nice. And decorated. With weird crap. There’s a big, backlit mirror next to the bed. The backlights don’t work. Little, dangling, colored-glass candleholders are on two walls. Wedged between a sprinkler pipe and the wall, there’s a bright red tree branch. Then there are various brochure-sized prints on the walls: illustrations of Paris and other things you’d expect to see next to illustrations of Paris. And finally: a small, wooden letter “O” hanging next to the mirror, and, on the opposite wall, a four-foot-tall aluminum “V”.

At first I though the eclectic decor was just a quirk — a conglomeration of whatever could be salvaged from some burned-out old boutique/funhouse. But then it dawned on me. It had a purpose. This was the sex room! The Honeymoon Suite, if you will. The candles, the mirror, the Paris — it all made sense. The “O” is for orgasm. And the “V” — well, I don’t think I have to tell you what that stands for… Victory!

I’m almost certainly lying when I tell you this was used as a sex room, but the thought did cross my mind — and that should tell you something about the state of my mind.

The CW doesn’t have bugs. The CW doesn’t smell bad (as much). The bathrooms are still shared, but they’re actual rooms, rather than just closets with a toilet in them. And it costs the same as the Golden Eagle. Overall, I’d say it’s a step up.

But I don’t live there anymore.

The Process of Elimination, December 16

For the uninitiated, this is how it works in San Francisco: If you want to rent a room somewhere in a real apartment, you apply. It’s like job-hunting, complete with application, multiple interviews, background check. The difference, of course, is that in this process, it’s not illegal to ask candidates about their sexual habits, political leanings, and drug dealings. But none of those things even matter because, in the end, it’s all about intuition and instinct and snap decisions based on first impressions. And I keep thinking you have three chances to make a good first impression, but I’m confusing it with carnival ring-toss. Thus, I’ve had little luck room-hunting.

Three weeks ago, Saturday (the day I’m told to move the hell out of the Golden Eagle — actually, it’s at the very moment the nameless manager leaves me the evicting voicemail): I’m looking at a room in an apartment that I found on craigslist.

The apartment, or “flat” (as you’ll call it if you’re cool), is the basement level of a 120-year-old house in the Lower Haight neighborhood. It has two bedrooms and a living room, which is used as a bedroom. My room would be the one without windows.

Only one of the two roommates is there. She’s small and bubbly and altogether glad to be alive. She shows me the room and the rest of the place, and seems to not hate me (which I think is a good sign). A few other candidates are coming by, she says, and she’ll invite back those she likes, to meet the other roommate — a guy (strictly platonic). So I leave, feeling OK about the situation — better than I felt after leaving the other seven places I looked at over the past couple weeks.

Then I check my voicemail, and hilarity ensues.

The next day, Sunday: As I’m checking out of the ‘Eagle, I get a call from the girl. Her roommate is there now and would I like to come by and meet him? Yes, I would. So I do. And he seems cool, too.

So I leave again, feeling OKer about the situation (although a creeping unease makes me wonder if my hope might jinx the whole thing).

Then, Tuesday, an email: “We’re still considering you, but we’re going to post another ad on craigslist because finding another roommate is somethin we want to make sure we do right.”

Great.

This is death, I’m sure of it.

I reply, reaffirming my interest and expressing understanding of their desire for thoroughness, while silently cursing, reaffirming my hopelessness and expressing understanding at my worthlessness as a human being.

At least The CW doesn’t show signs of kicking me out yet.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: The pickings on craigslist are sparse. I answer a few ads without enthusiasm, and receive equally tepid silence in response.

Saturday evening, a voicemail: “Hi, this is the girl from the place you thought you might get but then thought you wouldn’t. If you’re still looking for a room, we’d love to have you.”

As a matter of fact, I am still looking for a room. And they will love to have me.

If you’d like to read more true and untrue stories from me, consider giving me money.