Here’s the deal. I took on Patton Oswalt in my very first blog post back in 2011. I challenged Mr. Oswalt to a Google-off, a gentleman’s duel to see whose name would get more Google search results. In what some called a cowardly move (others referred to it as, “He doesn’t know who you are or what you’re doing”), he did not reply to my challenge. Undeterred, I began my quest to dethrone him. And a refocusing of my efforts is definitely past due.

A quick refresher. Simply put, Patton Oswalt is me with a five year head start. He was born in 1969, five years before me. He graduated from the College of William and Mary with an English degree in 1991 – I did the same exactly five years later. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a comedy career in 1995. Guess what I did in 2000? In 2005, Oswalt married Michelle Eileen McNamara, I married her in 2010.

Okay, that last one isn’t true. But the rest is 100% accurate. A little crazy. No, I wasn’t following him around (not back then, anyway). I discovered all of this only when I started this blog. And it’s very difficult to achieve success as a humor writer when someone else is living your life five years before you can. (I’m tempted to do more research on what Oswalt is doing this very moment, so I can see what I’ll be doing five years from now, but I don’t want to screw with the space-time continuum).

When I started this blog, Patton had just published his first book. A few months ago, his second book – Silver Screen Fiend – came out. I know what you’re thinking, and I can’t believe it either. I’m losing a Google-off to a guy who can’t even spell friend.

patton

Look – the Google logo is in the background. They’re in this together!

And I’m here to tell you, this new book of his is no prize pig. Here is an actual excerpt from the first page – “Copyright 2015 by Dagonet Inc. All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever…” And so on. Snooze fest. Sorry to say so, Mr. Oswalt, but no one cares about your precious copyright laws, how about writing a book where something actually happens? (Side note: by quoting the part of the book that says I can’t quote part of the book, did I again just screw with the space-time continuum?)

So, let’s all double our efforts to make me at least as famous as Patton Oswalt. (If you don’t happen to know who Patton Oswalt is, please do not Google him to find out…that would only help his cause. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned his name forty two times in this post). I can only defeat him with your help. This blog needs to be tweeted about, facebooked to death, and myspaced until that site is no longer relevant. Those of you reading this right now – you are my allies. And I need you now more than ever. Remember, a fiend in need is a fiend indeed.

Here’s the deal. It just occurred to me that I haven’t posted anything on here in 2015. To be fair, there are a lot of other things I haven’t done in 2015. I haven’t jet skied or written any political speeches or had a really good fajita. So, I suppose it’s not entirely surprising. There are a lot of things one can do in 2015 and most of them aren’t going to get done. It’s just a numbers game.

Flickr elisart 324248450--Beef and chicken fajitas.jpg

But even though this blog may be on life support, I can’t give up on the little guy just yet. I just don’t want my blog to become one of the countless online carcasses littering the information superhighway. Honestly, there should be some type of government service to scoop up this internet road kill. Once you haven’t posted in over a year, that’s it – that’s a dead blog.

Take, for example, Stuff White People Like. Perhaps one of the most successful blogs of all time. It even got Whitey Whiterson (or whoever wrote that blog) a book deal. But I just checked and the last post was November 11, 2010. That’s a very dead blog. Sure, the last comment on that same post was only three days ago, but someone just has to help those mourners move on. I’m sure there are other blogs about white people if you look really hard. I’m white. I like stuff.

I don’t know, maybe it’s true that you can’t teach an old blog new tricks. Perhaps my little buddy is on his last legs. Maybe I do need to open an Instagram account and start instagramming every day. I think I may have waited just long enough that by the time I get it figured out everyone else will have moved on to the next thing. I mean, it was just last weekend that I finally perfected my Friendster page. But I wildly digress. (Another symptom of a sick blog)

Here’s the good news. When I started this blog I had two goals: defeat Patton Oswalt in a google-off, and create a blog that would get 69, 575 hits. I recognize now that Oswalt simply has me out-classed. On my very first blog post four years ago, Oswalt had over 800,000 Google results and I had 560. I Googled myself today (as I do each and every day – if there was someway to attach dental floss to Google, dentists wouldn’t have to keep begging us to take care of our teeth…hmmm, I’m going to have to Instagram that) and I have 1,510 hits. Yes, I’ve nearly tripled my online exposure, but Patton is now closer to a million. What was I saying? Oh, yes, here’s the good news. My unspoken second goal was to create a blog that would garner 69,575 hits. As of today, I have 69,572. We can do it, people. If we all work together, I can achieve my lofty goal. It actually won’t even take all of us working together. If three of us can work together that’ll pretty much do it.

Check your rear view mirror, Oswalt…I’m still coming for you. This blog’s not dead yet.

Here’s the deal. Those who have been reading my blog since the beginning will know that two weeks ago I wrote the classic post, “Vs. WikiHow Part I.” Since then, I’ve given a lot of thought about how to best follow this up…then it hit me – Part II. It’s perfect. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t have taken so long for me to come up with it.

WikiHow (or WikiWhy as I prefer to call it) has a tremendous collection of thought-provoking, useful articles. Just kidding. It’s got stuff like this –

(1) How to Get Rich Quick. This article honestly contains the following suggestions: play the lottery, gamble, and sell your plasma. “Gambling is one of the easiest ways to make large sums of money instantly,” says WikiHow and no one who’s ever been to Vegas ever.

blood(2) How to Fake Your Own Death. “Sometimes in life you may need to fake your own death.” WikiHow, you know me better than I know myself, there have been many times in my life when I’ve needed to fake my own death. I’m on my fourth identity already. Here are their actual steps: Decide whether or not you really want to do this, Stop using anything that will be traceable back to you, Watch out for little things that may give you away, Decide on a death method, and Do it. I just love how they make the most complex things so incredibly simple. Faking your own death – Just Do It.

death

No, she’s not deciding on what to order at Starbucks, this is a woman figuring out whether or not she should fake her own death. Hmmmm…it could be fun…

(3) How to Make Your Girlfriend Want to Have Sex with You. Some pictures really are worth a thousand words…

sex

(4) How to Convince Your Friends to Buy You a Llama for Your Birthday. Finally, a how-to article we can all relate to. Step 1, “Make your love for llamas obvious…mention llama fun facts at dinner.” This is great advice but, unfortunately, there are no llama fun facts. All facts about llamas are decidedly not fun. Other suggestions include “Discussing llamas over coffee,” and “Writing llama related articles for WikiHow.” Sounds to me like someone wants a llama for their birthday…

llama

The only thing she loves more than llamas is meth.

(5) How to Start Your Own Country. First things first…

country

I know I’m just a beginner here, but it looks like the language is going to be English. I love how dedicated this guy is to naming his new country, he even wrote down “Name” in case he forgets what he’s doing. And my favorite line so far from a WikiHow article, “You can think about it.”

Okay, you’ve picked out a nice name for your new country, what’s next? Well, you’ll need some land. WikiHow suggests that you “conquer an existing country. There are many small island nations dotting the Pacific, and it’s unlikely they have much of a defense force. Sure, it’s crazy—but crazy enough that it might just work! All you need is an army, a navy, and the support of the world community.” That’s right, all you need is an army, a navy, and the support of the world community…of course, if you already have those things, chances are you already have a country.

Nice. You’ve got a name, you’ve got some land. Now what? “Invite your friends. One of the key requirements for a nation—aside from territories—will be a population. If the land you conquer or build doesn’t come with an indigenous people, you will have to bring your own to the party.” Oh, WikiHow, is there anything you haven’t thought of? (Seriously, you’re telling people how to get others to buy them a llama…is there anything you haven’t thought of?)

Perfect. You’ve got a name. You’ve got land. You’ve got a population. Anything else? “These days, if you’re serious about anything (and creating a micronation can be serious, indeed), then you will have a website.” Right, you used your army and navy to conquer a small island nation – time to post about it!

Of course, WikiHow also notes that, “You are free to declare yourself a country, anytime, and anywhere. However, nobody will take you seriously, which translates to the simple truth that you will have no legitimacy as a nation.” Well…every plan has its downsides.

WikiHow is truly a treasure trove of useless information. I could go on and on, but I have to go get a llama, fake my own death, get rich quick, start my own country and (this is the tough one) make my girlfriend want to have sex with me.

Here’s the deal. Friends recently introduced me to this awesome thing called the internet. It’s on computers and some phones. It’s full of funny videos, cats, and people you almost remember from high school…look, my words don’t do it justice, you should just check it out for yourself.

Unfortunately, in addition to being the greatest thing ever, the internet is also quite terrible. And some argue that all of our screen time is making us stupider and badder writers and stupider. Take, for instance, WikiHow. How silly are most of the how-to articles on this site? So silly that I titled this blog post “Part I” not knowing what my hypothetical Part II would consist of, but confident that this site would provide ample fodder.

WikiHow features such essential articles as “How to Check Out a Library Book” in 6 easy steps. That’s 100% true, there is an article that stretches this process to six steps. I can simplify the process a little – How to Check Out a Library Book in 1 easy step: Check Out a Library Book.

Or how about “How to Rip Paper” (also in 6 steps). This article begins with the wise words, “Have you ever needed/wanted to shred unwanted documents, homework, junk mail or papers the right way, without a pair of scissors or a paper shredder on hand? Now you can!” Okay…is there really a human being anywhere on the planet who has a pile of paper they need ripped and can’t figure out how to do it? A single one? A solitary organism that could find this article even remotely useful? Their target audience is nobody.

But I’m going to focus my energy today on the WikiHow article, “How to Make Friends.” As with the above examples, they include quite a bit of filler and stretch this one out to 24 steps. Unlike the above examples, there are some people who genuinely need help in this area. But, like the above examples, they will find no help in this article.

Let’s dig right in. Step 1. “Spend more time around people.” Are you taking notes? In order to make friends, you will need to be in the company of humans other than yourself. Great tip.

Steps 2 and 3. “Join an organization or club with people who have common interests/Join a sports team.”

ping pong

Or, apparently, invent a new sport. Such as a version of ping pong where two new friends stand next to each other and both serve a ball into play simultaneously.

Step 5. “Talk to people.” This actually helped me a lot. I used to try and make friends by walking up to them and then just staring at them with saying a word. Not terribly successful. I’ve begun to implement their speaking strategy and it’s really working out.

Step 7. “Start a conversation.” This is a bad sign. They’re only seven steps into a twenty four step article and they’re already repeating themselves. Sure, if you want to make new friends, try talking to people. And if that doesn’t work, try starting a conversation. They even offer conversation starters. For example, they suggest saying, “At least it’s not raining like last week.” Yeah, that’s a humdinger. If someone came up to me and said that, I think I will have found a friend for life. Another conversation starter from the geniuses at WikiHow, “Can you help me carry a few boxes?” That’s right, there’s no better way to make a friend than to go up to a total stranger and ask them to do manual labor for you.

Step 8. “Make small talk.” Seriously. I’m not making this up. They just keep suggesting that you talk to people.

Step 11. “Pursue common interests.” Wait, this sounds a lot like Step 2, where you “Join an organization or club with people who have common interests.” Did they think we would have forgotten already as it was nine steps ago?

nose

“Hi, do you want to talk and start a conversation about a common interest?”

“Yes, I can see that we both are missing noses. Shall we make small talk about this, potential friend?”

Step 15. “Be a good friend.” About a third of the steps in this article are more about how to act towards your friends than how to make a new friend. I imagine that in the WikiHow article How to Shop for a New Car, they would provide such advice as – park your car in the garage to protect it from the elements.

minotaur

“Even though you’re a minotaur, I’m going to be a good friend to you. Let’s go drive my car I need to shop for.”

Step 22. “Be confident.” This is the closest they ever got to being helpful. Feelings of inadequacy and self-esteem issues could actually prevent people from making new friends. Unfortunately, WikiHow took a topic that therapists could deal with for years and reduced it to a two word solution. Thanks, WikiHow, now that you’ve told me to be confident, I’m fully equipped to be confident. It’s like that time you cured my fear of heights by telling me not to be afraid of heights.

So that’s the problem with WikiHow, they take an issue and simultaneously oversimplify the important parts while endlessly repeating the obvious points. And the pictures are kind of creepy.

So, if you want to make new friends, all you really have to do is spend time around people and talk to them. That is, as soon as you finish using the internet to scroll through a 24 step article about how you need to get out more.

Here’s the deal. The world has a proud history of individuals and groups successfully protesting injustice. But not every protestor has a great game plan…

Take, for example, Mr. Chris Sevier. As a means of protesting gay marriage, this gentleman petitioned for the right to marry his computer. He claimed that he should have the equal right to marry his “preferred sexual object.” Wow. Trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage, that’s like…trying to marry a computer to protest gay marriage. Yes, it’s so absurd that the action itself is the best example of its own absurdity.

This would be like protesting the death penalty by stomping on Twinkies. It’s just difficult to make a logical comparison between an action involving a person and an action involving an inanimate object. But I’m sure you and your laptop will have many happy months, until it’s rendered obsolete.

If you want your protest to be taken seriously, it really needs to make sense. In Sweden, the Feminist Initiative decided to protest the discrepancy in pay between men and women. They calculated that women made 100,000 kronor ($13,000) less than men every minute across the country. An important issue? Sure. But how did they protest this gap in wages? By burning 100,000 kronor. Hmmmm, what exactly is this message? Pay us more money or we’ll keep lighting fire to money? You’re destroying that which you’re asking for. How do we know that if their wages aren’t increased, they won’t just build another cash bonfire?

And, while we’re on the subject of taking the time to have a clear message, let’s talk about signage. The Tea Party, for example, is notorious for being able to almost spell a lot of words. Come on now people, most of these signs have fewer than a dozen words on them – would it kill you to take five minutes to double check? If you’re trying to make an informed comment on politicians, the constitution, and issues of the day it never hurts to be able to spell “politicians,” “constitution,” and “day.”

respect-are-country-english[1]

You see, protesting used to be about something, nowadays people just like to make noise. Have you heard of rolling coal? For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, people with big trucks are spending lots of money to outfit their vehicles so that they emit giant plumes of black smoke. Apparently, this is somehow a protest against environmentalists. But the online videos that show these people blasting pedestrians with clouds of toxic smoke raise some doubt as to the thought they put into their “protests.” Guess what, most people don’t want to look like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and shoving your exhaust down everyone else’s throat only proves one thing…you’re just not very nice.

Of course, no one is better at being just not very nice than the Westboro Baptist Church. Their bread and butter is protesting homosexuals, but, because they know God’s opinion on everything, they are ever expanding. They’ve protested Jews, Catholics, Harry Potter, Lady Gaga, the Kansas City Chiefs, HBO, iPhones, Swedish vacuum cleaners, and probably just about anything else you can imagine. On the positive side, they did tweet that God loves bagels. So…there’s that. Yes, the church’s twitter page (with the exception of church members, they only follow Fox News and Sarah Palin…how’s that for a horrific endorsement?) is one long string of hate. The only thing they do without discrimination is protest. If there’s something out there (other than bagels), they’ll find a reason to condemn it.

And maybe that’s the biggest problem. People used to protest because they believed in something. Now it seems that most people aren’t protesting for a change – they’re protesting against one. They’re not offering a way to make the world a better place, they’re just blasting away at all the things that don’t fit into their world view. Having a sign is fine. Having an idea is better.

Here’s the deal. Have you seen the infomercial for the Rapid Ramen Cooker? If not, go youtube that sucker real swift like. Here, I’ll do it for you, THIS is the link. I’ll wait…

Okay. Now that we’re all on the same page, what the hell is up with the Rapid Ramen Cooker? Let’s be perfectly clear, this is a small, plastic container for cooking ramen noodles in your microwave. Which is very close to the definition of something no one needs.

The main selling point is that it cooks the noodles faster. Am I missing something? Weren’t instant noodles already the absolute easiest thing to cook in the universe? They’re called instant noodles. How can instant not be fast enough for you? Do you want the noodles to appear, fully cooked, before you even know that you’re hungry? What is happening to the world?!?

Nobody needs a way to get this “food” into your body faster. These pre-cooked blocks of dried noodles have a shelf life of three to four centuries. We’re not in a hurry.

It’s a miracle!

But let’s break down the infomercial beat by beat to see just what makes Rapid Ramen so revolutionary. Here are a series of actual quotes from the Rapid Ramen infomercial and website with my thoughts…

“You know you love Ramen noodles.”     Are you a college student… we’re hoping you’re a college student.

“But it takes too long to cook in a pot.”     It does not take too long to cook Ramen noodles in a pot.

“Rapid Ramen makes perfect noodles in half the time.”     If you want perfect noodles, you should probably be willing to spend more than fourteen cents on your dinner. And if your time is so valuable that the difference between a six minute meal and a three minute meal is a deal breaker, chances are you’re not eating this stuff in the first place.

“Heat resistant handles.”     It has handles.

“Engineered in the same dimension as a block of Ramen noodles.”     It’s a rectangle.

“The patented reservoir design circulates just the right amount of water for ideal heat distribution.”     If you put water in a plastic container in the microwave, the water will boil.

“Reusable.”    Of course it’s freaking reusable, it’s a small, plastic container.

“Easy to remove from microwave.”     As opposed to what? That time you tried to microwave a greased up bowling ball?

“Never use pots or pans again.”     Sure, if the only thing you’re ever going to eat for the rest of your life is microwaved Ramen noodles.

“Clever cooking design”     Seriously?

“We are not responsible if information made available on this site is not accurate, complete, or current. Any reliance on the material on this site is at your own risk.”     At last, we agree.

Here’s the deal. There are roughly fifty states in America. And each state has at least four cities. But that’s no excuse for lazy city naming. For example, twenty-eight states have a city named after the state (New York, NY, Kansas City, KS, et.) – is there any way to put less effort into naming your city? Why not just call it City City? Pitiful. Then there’s Alabama, NY, Montana, WI, Alaska, NM, New Mexico, MD, Texas, NY, and New York, TX. Seriously? There are so many words out there, why do we keep using the same ones over and over? Thirty-five states have a Greenville. Look, if I was that 35th state, I think I might have raised my hand and suggested a name that wasn’t already a city in every other state – at least change the color. Magentaville has a ring to it.

Fortunately, some cities have stepped up to the plate and come up with truly interesting and unique names. Lest I be accused of xenophobia, first let me acknowledge the three international honorable mentions.

Top Three International Best City Names

3. Humpty Doo, Australia

2. Moose Factory, Canada

1. Middlefart, Denmark

And now, the moment virtually none of you have been waiting for…

Top Ten Best U.S. City Names

11. Humptulips, WA – States need not feel the pressure to have their city names make any kind of sense, just put some sounds together and see what happens.

10. Ninety Six, SC – And when you can’t come up with an original word, try using a number. This city name is even more interesting as no one seems to have any idea where it came from…they got 96 problems but an unoriginal town name ain’t one.

9. Disco, IL – You have to have big disco balls to name your city after a seventies dance craze. My fingers are crossed for The Hustle, Oklahoma.

8. Toad Suck, AR – What happens in Toad Suck…no, really, it’s a question – what does happen in Toad Suck?

7. Nothing, AZ – Actual sign outside of the city: “Town of Nothing Arizona. Founded 1977. Elevation 3,269 feet. The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic. Through the years these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.” Unfortunately, the town was recently abandoned and there’s now nothing there.

6. Pee Pee, OH – I try to be mature. I try to be an adult. But, come on, a place called Pee Pee? That’s almost as good as Middlefart. So, if you go to Ohio, you can actually visit an area where over seven thousand people live in Pee Pee.

5. Nimrod, AR – Do we call them Nimrodians? Nimrodites? Or just plain Nimrods?

4. (tie) Why, AZ and Whynot, MS – The question so many people have asked when moving to the Southwest…”Why Arizona?” And the answer to why people choose to live in Mississippi – why not?

3. Zzyzx, CA – Probably the most fun to say on the list. And points for not worrying about being at the bottom of an alphabetical grouping.

2. Unalaska, AK – This is the exact opposite of NY, NY. It’s Unalaska, Alaska. How is it possible? It’s simultaneously Alaska and not Alaska. I like it. 

1. Monkey’s Eyebrow, KY – Strangely specific and entirely nonsensical. We have a winner.