This Blog of Mine

I’ve been making around nine posts a month on this site, usually talking about whatever strikes me at the moment that I’m inspired to post (like now). I’ve been struggling to find an identity for my blog, and I think if I had a more consistent approach to writing posts it’d be better for the handful of readers, and this writer.

My buddies derryX and The Fat Lantern have their niches –dining and comic books, respectively. Do I need to carve one out for myself too? I’m not sure what that’s going to be. I collect different types of toys (mostly Transformers, LEGO, and Marvel figures), so I could do posts about new things as I get them.

Last week, I picked up the turtles that I said I wanted just under a month ago, and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with them. I’m really in the mood to take some pictures and talk them up, and I’m probably going to do that this weekend. So there’s one new post, and we’ll see how the figure reviewing pans out. I don’t know if that’s what I really want to delve on, though.

I’m 29 and I’ve listened to Howard Stern since I was ten or eleven, and I’ve always been inspired to be open and honest about things happening in my life. The problem is, I don’t actually open up about things the way I should, and shit tends to fester and get out of control. Then, it gets to a point where I’m entirely over-stressed and miserable, and it all comes out in a fervor of rage and anxious energy. Thanks, Mom, I got this from you!

It’s unhealthy and I need to break out of that habit. Maybe this will become a private journal that I publish publicly for ridicule and mocking. I’ve done it a few times in the past (check out posts I’ve tagged as ‘bio’), and they’ve been the least viewed posts on the site. I’m entertained by the idea of sharing things most people wouldn’t, but the reception hasn’t been as significant as I hoped. I like getting reactions to the things I do, and it seems that the really personal things aren’t what get the attention I want.

It seems to be the stories I tell about the things I encounter that really shine, so I guess I just need to have more interactions with people so I can tell more stories.

I’m a Disgrace to Vets

It was Veteran’s Night at the ValleyCats game tonight, so they had some dude come out and sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. Since the attacks on 9/11, this song has become some de facto religious-infused anthem for our nation, and it drives me crazy. My interpretation is that those of us that want to have some cool secret message of how great of a Christian nation we are, have elevated this song to be on par with our actual National Anthem. I want no part of it. Apparently, me not taking off my cap during this ridiculous fucking song at a baseball game makes me a terrorist traitor that people just have to hassle.

I’m not marching around trying to get you to keep your hat on your head, or omit this song from the half-inning ceremony. I’m simply exhibiting my free speech to silently object to the use of this song as a symbol of my country. I stand to alleviate the majority of the morons that want to pick at me for wanting to ignore the song’s existence, but I will not concede  as far as supporting this song on the same level as our anthem by removing my hat and covering my heart. It’s a rather small distinction I’ve made for myself, isn’t it? What harm does this cause you?

During the Cold War we added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to show that we weren’t dirty heathen communists, and strangely enough, no one in school seemed to care that I always skipped over that part. It’s amazing that children can tolerate different opinions, but full grown adults won’t have any of it.

I don’t even want to rant about the Pledge so back to this evening. This ridiculous song is being sung by some guy on the field, and I’m standing there looking over numbers from the game on my Kindle, since I couldn’t remember how many strikeouts this guy had. I feel a slap on my right shoulder; one that was obviously not a mistake and meant to grab my attention. I spun around to see what the hell was going on, and why some asshole behind me had the gall to smack me. He was red in the face and made a motion that I should remove my hat. It became clear that he was actually angry about my decision to leave my hat on, and wanted to hit me to show me that I was pissing him off. What a fucking maroon. I shot him a dirty look which said not to fucking touch me again, and I turned back around and went back to the stats from the game.

A few seconds later he mutters to his wife, “What a jerk, why isn’t he taking his hat off?” I threw my hands up in disbelief that this douche bag was so concerned with my hat. He leans over and says –and I quote, “There’s men and women fighting for our freedom. You leaving your hat on makes you a disgrace.”

Really? Really?  Last time I checked, part of the freedom that our armed forces are “fighting to protect” is my right to not recognize religion at all if I so choose, and regardless of you agreeing with my outward expressions, I’m free to make them as long as I’m not portending harm that I intend to inflict.

I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to not overreact to stupid bullshit like this, so I did my best to ignore this mook and not escalate it further. Needless to say, in spite of my best efforts to let this slide, it’s been eating away in the back of my head since I got home from the game. I’ve lived my life with an expectation of mutual respect. I don’t go around cramming my belief that there’s no such thing as a god (no matter which one –or many– you decide to align faith), but there’s absolutely no respect given to me for my stance.

The last time I was vocal about my atheistic views was with a person I considered a friend. I was told that I needed to grow up, open my eyes, and become educated. Right, because I don’t believe what you do, I’m the one that needs to change. Makes perfect sense. The same fucking feeling hit me tonight when that asshole was telling me I was a disgrace.

My decision to not believe in a supreme being isn’t an attack on what you believe, though it’s sure as hell taken that way in almost every circumstance. When atheists want to return the Pledge of Allegiance back to its pre-Cold War lyrics because we’re uncomfortable with Christians trying to impose their religion upon us, we’re trying to upend their entire way of life and we need to be stopped.

When Muslims wish to build a community center that happens to have a Mosque in it, miles away from where radical Muslim terrorists attacked our nation, we can’t allow it because everyone that follows that religion is obviously a terrorist, and it’s only a matter of time before they raise suicide bombers in our very own city! Keep in mind, though, we don’t ban churches after radical extremists fly planes into tax buildings or blow up our parking garages. They’re just one-off nut jobs that don’t warrant any concern.

When I don’t give credence to a shitty folk song that basically says our nation only exists because of god, I’m a disgrace to our army and way of life. Fuck off. Seriously. I stomach your religious overtones on a ton of things in our country, so please, for the love of your god, let me retain my modicum of dignity when I silently reject those ideals to appease my stance.

Your free speech is not better because in your head it’s backed by your god. I’ll continue to leave you alone, how about you start leaving me alone? Deal?

I Failed as a Man Today

I needed printer paper at work earlier, so I go down and grab a ream from our copy area. As I’m walking back, there’s one of the chicks in the office in front of me, in a form-fitting dress about five or six steps ahead of me.

I was quite hypnotized by her ass as we were walking, and for no reason at all, she turns and looks directly at me. Totally out of the blue, and I was so focused in on it that I didn’t even notice her head had spun around until my eyes lazily moved upward to make eye-contact.

It’s every man’s job to not be caught while looking. Sure, as we get older and more desperate we don’t try to conceal it as much, but I totally blew it today. It was the first time in almost 15 years that I was so obviously and blatantly caught while staring –discounting the times Dorena has caught me staring, of course, since you know, we’re married and shit.

Anyway, I remember the last time like it was yesterday. I was working as a cashier at Hannaford, age 16. A woman in an unassuming sundress comes down my line and pays by check. Luckily for me, I was on the register without one of those wings that comes up and away from the terminal, so she had to bend toward the belt to write it out. As she leaned over, I saw all the way down to her feet.

She was still hunched over with her arm extended with the finished check before she cleared her throat two times and stood back up. The horny teenager in me was saying, “She noticed and she liked that I liked it, and she wants me to know she knew.”

The pragmatic truth-sayer part of me was calling my other half incredibly stupid, and I made it my goal to never be caught again. I suppose once every 15 years isn’t a bad mark to strive for…

The Advice Asshole Saga: Part Three

You don’t need to read part one and two of the saga, but what’s a downfall without a build-up?

My site was popular with celebrity fans, amateur picture seekers, and people that liked out of this world random content. A lot of my WTF? Gallery was distasteful. I’d post pictures of crime scenes and car wrecks with varying degrees of gore, and I wound up with about five or six members that really liked that type of content.

One of them started talking to me through an instant messenger, and I figured that if I made him the head honcho of an entire section of that kind of content, he would regulate it and I’d be tapping into another subculture of internet users. More users, more popularity. More popularity, more income from ads. The great part of the arrangement was that I could focus on the content I wanted to deliver, and he could focus on the other stuff that I was growing tired of. We’d be working independently under one hat to drive up traffic and our own notoriety.

Thus was born the Sanity Fades section of The leader of the section started branching out and making new connections with web sites, and driving up memberships and visitors over the next few months. I continued on with the syndication of  random pictures and videos. You know how the popular kid in school always gets in trouble for doing something stupid at some point? When you’re weak you make really unwise decisions when you get into a position of “power” and popularity.

I was posting thousands of dollars worth of copyrighted content for public consumption daily, without any sort of buffer between my site and the rest of the world. MSN and Google started ranking me very high on a wide variety of search requests. At one point, typing “Met-Art” into google would link you to threads on my site, containing premium picture sets, ahead of the links to the same pay-only content on Met-Art itself. You can imagine how annoyed they were when they saw sites higher, especially when those sites were distributing their content for free.

I started fielding takedown notices weekly. They started slow, requesting a post in a thread be removed here, an entire topic there. I always responded to the requests and removed the content, and eventually resorted to a disclaimer that linked to a specific form for details on which pages you wanted me to take down. This sated the lawyers for the copyright holders for a while, but it wasn’t enough. The culmination of this battle was a request to remove 127 individual threads that contained proprietary content at once. They were gracious enough to give me 24 hours to remove the content, and if I did not comply within the allotted time, they were going to formerly press charges.

I remember delegating the deletions amongst my staff, and it took the four of us about two hours to go through and remove everything. I decided it was high time to lock the site down, and only allow members to view the content we were posting. I was naive and thought that it would stop the requests, and that we’d be left alone to continue on as we always had.

I restricted access to the existing posts, but they were still indexed in search engines from before the lockdown. My host started to get takedowns, and they were not happy. They’d just lock my site down for hours at a time, since they were afraid for their own well being. They’d wait until I was on the phone with them to open the site up to my IP so I could remove the problem content before they put the site back up for everyone.

After this happened six or seven times over the span of a few weeks,  things became contentious between the two factions of my site. I was being forced to censor my part of the site, but it was adversely affecting Sanity Fades, a no-holds-barred harem of debauchery. I really don’t want to go into what was being shared, as I’ll have to pull out some of the horrid imagery buried in the deep recesses of my brain, but I assure you it was egregious.

What started off as a spot for some gory pictures had now devolved into the most wretched hive of scum and villainy. When I came to my senses I was disgraced by my ignorance, and I wanted to shut down the section altogether.  My half of the site was on its last legs, and I wanted to consolidate the ‘normal’ members and have a ‘normal’ forum. I killed the porn and Sanity Fades sections, and the SF people got incredibly pissed.

They started to post their content all over my site, so I started deleting the threads. They started to post more and more, so I started banning them. They’d sign up with shill accounts and spread more of the shit around, so I started to ban their IPs. They got together and hit my site with denial of service attacks daily for two weeks.

My host decided to dump me once and for all, and I threw in the towel on the whole Advice Asshole web site. I have suspicions that my one-time friend was helping facilitate the attacks. The instant I shut down my site, opened up with all the same users that I was removing from mine.

I was going to go all out and slam the guy in this post, but I’m better than that. It’s not my place to speculate about the demons he was facing, or in what state of mind he may have been (if his Sanity hadn’t completely Faded, har har har). It was a cantankerous end to a friendship, and we’ve moved on in the years since. There’s no point in bringing it up to the surface and dealing with all those emotions again.

For three years, I ran a very successful site and had a great time doing it. There were a lot of laughs shared, and I made some really great friendships. Let’s leave it at the good times. A slight validation of my success was that once my domain expired after closing down, the registrar left it as an ad page for three additional years. I know because I was nostalgic and wanted to try again. I went to claim the name and they wanted almost  $3,000 for it. It wasn’t worth it then, and it’s not worth the $10 now. The outlet of an angry teenager with emotions he didn’t understand was pivotal, but I don’t need to live in the past.

It’s time to say goodbye to The Advice Asshole one last time, and what better way to do it than by letting everyone in on who shot JR?

The Advice Asshole Saga: Part Two

So we’ve covered how I started out, as a monthly column posted on Let’s get into my time as a very successfully porn distributor.

My Advice Asshole site started small, hosted on geocities. I paid the ridiculous price of $20 a month to have mapped to my geoshitties subdomain. As I grew through the fall of 2003, Yahoo! got mad about my bandwidth consumption and content, subsequently banning me from their server. Worst parts were losing the data, including somewhere around 50-60 questions/answers that where not posted to Orsm, and the loss of my domain name, which was gathering a lot of steam.

I remember battling with Yahoo! to release the domain so I could register it, but they said that they were the sole owners. After I was banned, they turned it into one of those ad placement pages, so they kept making money off my damned name. Still irks me to this day.

I forged ahead, setting up (early 2004). I continued my advice column, started my own forum, and made my own version of Orsm’s Random Shite, called the WTF Gallery. Where Orsm tried to stay “clean” with his images, largely limiting postings to ‘R’ ratings, I thought I’d be gritty and post anything and everything I stumbled upon, regardless of how tasteless it was. I got grossed out pretty early on, and a contributing member took over the nasty stuff, creating a subsection on my site called Sanity Fades. This turns into a really weird story, which is covered in part three of the saga. You do not want to miss it.

I’ll tell you this much, I very rarely entered that section of my site. It was indeed a drain on your sanity seeing the gross shit that was being posted, so I wanted to avoid it. I focused on pictures of women instead, starting with a weekly Who Would You Do? (WWYD) feature that pitted two hot celebrities against each other in a cutthroat poll. The winner returned the following week, and took on a new challenger. We wound up with a fairly popular celebrity section on the forum, but I wanted to see and share much more.

A few of the founding members of my site and I found ways to procure the full sets of images from pay-only sites. We’d painstakingly upload them to galleries on my site, and  we forced people to sign up to download the archives of the sets. It was a great ploy to get members, and we hit a high of 30-40 people online at a time, all browsing and contributing different things.

We already had a great connection with Orsm (and their forums), and after a few spats with rival sites, we actually became friends with people at BakerMedia, Phun and Microdoted. We formed some sort of an ultimate alliance where members comingled and enhanced all of the sites, without any jealousy or anger about where everyone was most loyal. Each forum had its niche: BakerMedia was tech, bullshitting, joking around, Phun  had the best collection of celebrity and internet model pictures, Microdoted members were ruthless with insults and mostly focused on current events, while Orsmforums became an aggregate of all the types of content.. really hit a groove with amateur pics, though. Whether the girls had willingly allowed their boyfriends to post pictures of them fooling around, or if they came out after nasty breakups was inconsequential. We became a museum for these pictures. Around the same time as we were picking up loyal members and decent hits, Maxim became the magazine of the millennium, and girls were going around posting pictures of themselves to get some of that girl-next-door fame.

We fell in love with a big-assed Latina, Keyra Augustina, and it soon became our primary drive to find and syndicate every picture she slipped out to the public. It was so hot from the combination of her body being amazing and that she never showed her face. As you can clearly see, from the google results, she turned out to be a butterface. It’s alright, though, we were thoroughly enthralled with her.

I hit the jackpot one winter afternoon, finding a video of Keyra doing a little striptease. At the time, videos weren’t really big yet because you’d have to set your computer up to download long clips over night, or you’d download 45 second clips over an hour and be disappointed by the quality and content. I didn’t care that the video was five megabytes and that it was going to take four hours to upload. I knew I had to get it posted as soon as possible to capitalize on the opportunity.

I got the video published around 9:00 pm and my site crashed around 11:30. I accrued over a 100,000 hits over the two hours and melted my shared server with more than 2,500 people at a time requesting the file each second. I was shut down that night, learning that ‘unlimited bandwidth’ was most certainly not unlimited, and had to upgrade to a dedicated server before dawn the following day. The popularity of my site skyrocketed over that weekend, and I started to average 20,000 views per day. Over the next six months, my site broke into the top 50,000 on Alexa’s rankings, the highest ranking of 46,000 coming over the summer of 2005. I’ve got screenshots of it on a DVD somewhere, but I was unable to find them for this post.

Through trying to verify dates and timelines to the best of my ability, I was reacquainted with the Wayback Machine, and my ranking was good enough that my site was archived with some regularity. The peak of my site from 2005 into 2006 is fairly well maintained. It’s pretty nostalgic for me browsing this old stuff. Pictures aren’t stored, so you’re stuck with only the text content, and apparently the CSS isn’t stored reliably, so some pages look like shit.

What’s cool, though, is that my advice section is mostly intact. If you read any of my answers in yesterday’s posts, you’ll notice the refinement in my style after doing it for a few years. Sure, there’s still some that are flat out mean, but mostly they’re well-rounded satire. I touched upon social issues, made wild conjecture, shared second-hand medical advice, quoted Confucious, name-dropped my famous firends, and my wife even makes an appearance. Awesome stuff.

I was popular enough to have merchandise too! I made a few bucks off this stuff, and that money was rolled right back into hosting the site. I wonder if any of the people out there that bought a shirt or a hoodie still have them. I loved my hoodie, but it was thrown out long ago after ripping. Such is life.

My site was huge, I was having a ton of fun being an asshole, and arguably there was a time where I was internet’s most well-known asshole. Sure you can throw Maddox at me if you want to, but I never bought into him. He’s really overrated, and I don’t think he’s ever been as socially engaged as I was. He certainly didn’t have a solid network of contributors around him, or the support of what should have been rivals and competitors, but I digress.

As we all know, aside from those that think dionsaurs and humans co-existed,  what goes up must come down. The fun came to a crashing halt in 2006, and there’s a lot of drama to unfurl and dissect. Let’s see if I can get it all together before tomorrow, when I unleash the exciting conclusion of The Advice Asshole Saga.

As an added bonus, I’ll drop the bombshell of who shot J.R. You don’t want to miss it, especially if you’ve been living under a rock for the last 31 years!