One Quote Does Not Belong

I just found myself on a Facebook profile page of a random guy and when I scrolled to the Favorite Quotations section, screenshot below, I started laughing uncontrollably.



Muscle weakening, to me, is a good litmus test for humor. At the present moment I do not know whether I will have the strength, for example, to move the mouse and press the "publish" button.

Recall the Jan Helfeld interview of Congressman Peter "Shut the Fuck Up or I'll Throw You Out the Window" Stark — after watching I was unable to open the disposable soap package in my hotel room, so intense was the humor-induced muscle weakening.

Short. Bursts. Of Advice. To Do Something.

Leo Babuta, on his very popular blog Zen Habits and in a post titled "Do Interesting Things," writes:

Do something.

Do something interesting.

Be a part of the conversation, and say something remarkable. Create something unique, new, beautiful. Build upon the works of others and transform it into your own.

How to do this?

Write a book. Or an ebook. Write poetry and publish it on the web. Create interesting, lovely or funny videos, put them on You Tube. Be passionate. Write a web app that will solve a problem in people’s lives. Become a watchdog to replace the faltering newspapers. Explore the world, and blog about it. Try something you’ve always been afraid to try, and put it on video. Be yourself, loudly. Start a new company, doing only one thing, but doing it very well. Start a business that does a service you’ve always wanted, or that you are frustrated with in other companies because the service sucks. Put your heart into something. Say something that no one else dares to say. Do something others are afraid to do. Help someone no one else cares to help. Make the lives of others better. Make music that makes others want to weep, to laugh, to create. Inspire others by being inspiring. Teach young people to do amazing things. Write a play, get others to act in it, record it. Empower others to do things they’ve never been able to do before. Read, and read, and then write. Love, and love, and then help others to love. Do something good and ask others to pass it on. Be profound. Find focus in a world without it. Become minimalist in a world of dizzying complexity. Reach out to those who are frustrated, depressed, angry, confused, sad, hurt. Be the voice for those without one. Learn, do, then teach. Meet new people, become fast friends. Dare to be wrong. Take lots and lots of pictures. Explore new cultures. Be different. Paint a huge mural. Create a web comic. Be a dork, but do it boldly. Interview people. Observe people. Create new clothes. Take old stuff and make new stuff from it. Read weird stuff. Study the greats, and emulate them. Be interested in others. Surprise people. Start a blog, write at least a little each day. Cook great food, and share it. Be open-minded. Help someone else start a small business. Focus on less but do it better. Help others achieve their dreams. Put a smile on someone’s face, every day. Start an open-source project. Make a podcast. Start a movement. Be brave. Be honest. Be hilarious. Get really, really good at something. Practice a lot. A lot. Start now. Try.

Ugh. I think we have enough of this type of advice. At its worst, it is short little sentences that are meant to be bursts of inspiration but more often turn out to be random, contradictory collections of shallow sayings. 

So in closing, do remember: Love yourself. Love others. Start now. Start! Drink lemonade. Eat peanut butter. Write. Listen to your heart. Be rational. Be emotional. Jump high. Jump low. Travel widely. Tell those you love that you love them. Cook. Walk. Run. See Spot Run. Listen to music. Close your eyes. Breathe. Focus on the breath. Eat organic. Blog. Blog some more. Blog till you fall asleep. Fuck planning, give me action, dammit! Help others. Be altruistic. Read Ayn Rand. Read Plato. Be the change you want to see in the world. For the raindrop, the joy is entering the water. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single sock.

Quote of the Day

It's from the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs on the new Google operating system:

What the fuck is going on inside Google? How much more out of control and undisciplined can this place get? How many new goddamn operating systems are they going to create? They've already got Android, and nobody wants it. Now they're going to make yet another operating system, this time out of a browser that nobody wants. What's next? A Gmail-based operating system? A YouTube-based operating system? Honestly, Google, is there anyone in charge over there? Is there anyone who knows how to criticize anything in that fucked up little Montessori preschool of yours? I mean I guess it's nice that you all get to spend 20 percent of your time dreaming up useless shit, and I guess you have to use the Montessori method and tell everyone that whatever little piece of shit they've created is just so wonderful and perfect and beautiful — but really, as I've told Eric before, that doesn't mean you have to release everything these bozos dream up. There's a word for this. It's called "no." Have you heard of it? I mean, fine, let them fuck around with stuff. Engineers like to tinker. So let them tinker. Then when they bring you whatever it is they've made, first you say you're too busy to meet with them. Then you say you've changed your mind and you will meet with them after all. Then you wait until they're all in the conference room with everything set up, and you send Katie down to tell them that you're going to be a little bit late. You make them wait an hour. Then two hours. Then, at six in the afternoon, you send Katie down to tell them that you've changed your mind again and now you can't make it. Then, finally, you set up another appointment and this time you do meet with them — but before they can even speak you just look at whatever it is they've made and you say, I'm sorry, that's a piece of shit, and you walk out. Trust me, engineers love this. They're all masochists. That's why they became engineers in the first place.

The Best Jokes are Hardest to Recall

If you can't remember exactly how a joke goes, it is probably a winner. From the Sunday Times (UK):

Scientists have found that the most successful gags work by subverting the listener’s usual thought patterns, making them inherently less memorable. By contrast, clichéd jokes are easier to remember because their structure and punch line are so predictable.

Experts say this over and over: If you want to be funny, surprise the audience. The full article is good, as is a "related article" titled So a Gay, Blind Suicide Bomber Walks Into a Bar… in which the author says jokes about physical or mental disabilities "are the real howlers these days. And that’s because the disability lobby has become so preternaturally sensitive, so disposed towards pouncing on anything which might be construed as disablist."

A couple years ago I thought hard about humor in the business world — here are the notes from the Junto conversation we had on the topic. Everyone at the lunch agreed that the most effective executives deftly use humor to get ahead professionally. I am especially impressed when I see executives use humor to defuse tense situations.

Recently I've been contemplating how I can integrate more humor into my writing. In particular, on this blog.

My humor in-person tends to be kinesthetic, and strong on sarcasm, irony, feux-pretentiousness, storytelling, and exaggeration. These things are easier done when you have the advantage of body language and tone of voice. In writing, it's harder to do sarcasm effectively, for instance, because people can mis-interpret it or mis-understand your point.

A blog is especially hard because it can be read by anyone. Aren't you funnier when you're at a table with three other people rather than a dinner party with twenty? When audience grows, the chance you're going to offend someone or riffle some idiosyncratic feathers goes up. We're more risk averse.

This is why I'm especially envious when I read a blog that is consistently funny. So at the least, I'd like to make this blog more reflective of my in-person humor sensibilities, even if I am not a witty enough writer (a la Michael Kinsley or David Brooks) to pump out daily the subtle, wry humor that succeeds best in this medium.

Other random thoughts:

  • Recently a friend asked if I could send him my resume. To this point we were talking in serious tones. I replied, "Bitch, I ain't got no resume," in my best ghetto voice (AAU basketball will do it to you). It was funny because it was unexpected.
  • It's good to have a few go-to stories in your back pocket for in-person humor. I have a Chuck Norris story/joke that is a sure winner.
  • Think about your sources. So much of humor is taking other people's material and slightly iterating on it. My sources include my brothers (who send me stuff every day), Seinfeld, movies (Old School and Wedding Crashers, for example), The Onion, and talking to my funny friends as much as possible.
  • Here's my humor tag on delicious. It is my most popular tag with 280 items. Here are blog posts in the Humor category.