Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Tolling of the Quarter Century Bell

Today is my birthday! Happy birthday to me! Release the streamers! Release the clowns! Release the stream of clown--ghastly grinning, pearl-white faces gazing into the blackness of your immortal soul, smiling, smiling, smiling in the face of oblivion forever!

Or something.

My birthday has pretty much arrived. I'm getting myself a house. Extravagant, maybe, but I think I'm worth it. My wife got me a set of those nifty ceramic non-stick pans, which go nicely with our kitchen and will be super exciting to cook on.

She also got me...er...something unexpected.


This might require some explanation.

Chuck Wendig wrote a post a while back about how self-publishing's lack of gatekeepers is both a blessing and a curse. On the bad side of it, he wrote:
"I can literally write the word 'fart' 100,000 times and slap a cover of [a] baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie."
This guy, Phronk, did exactly that. He literally wrote a book that is the word "fart" repeated 100,00 times. Holy Christ, you guys.

The thing is, I appreciate the sort of biting critique of the self-publishing thing that Phronk did, but this book is actually much much more than that. And no...I'm not actually joking. Because I took the time to skim through the book. I mean, I didn't literally read it word for word, as it's just the word "fart" 100,000 times (Seriously, holy shit, my wife bought me a $12 book that just says "fart" over and over again. This is why our marriage works, people), but it's the formatting that kills me.

It's clear that this guy didn't just spam the word "fart" over and over again. There's formatting. There's mechanics that mimic the English language--commas, quotation marks, periods, semicolons. There's dialog lines broken up like conversations of statement/response patterns, a seemingly...dream-sequence type thing. Chapter names. It's pure and glorious madness of the highest degree.

There are also a few deliciously hilarious hidden jokes.

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But enough about Baboon Fart Story. I want to dwell a moment on turning 25.

In my quarter century of experience, I've seen my share of ups and downs. I've seen some shit. I've also met the woman of my dreams, married her, we've got a house, a dog, two cars. I'm damn close to living the quaint American dream so many pursue. I also see how easily it could be ripped away from me.

We've got some things coming to us soon. They're some big scary changes, and buying a house is only the start. This is a year of us making Big Plans and hoping those Plans aren't soap bubbles in a sneezing child's palm.

Birthdays when you're a kid are times to get excited. Birthdays when you're old are times to get all clammy and shifty-footed as you see the Reaper queuing up to shake your hand. But birthdays when you're in the middle? I think they're times for reflection. A sort of personal New Year's Day. And so far, I've done okay. I have places I'd like to improve, but I'm doing okay.

But I want to take a moment to thank you, Dear Reader, for following along with me. Thanks.

Now grab some cake, try the punch, and try to keep your pants on this time. I barely had enough Lysol to get your butt-prints off the copier last time.