Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New York, London, Paris, Munich...

Hello Friends.

If anyone reading this should be near me on the occasion of my death, I have but one instruction. Should iPods and iTunes still be a thing, throw my iPod into the nearest ravine, and delete the contents of my iTunes library, or donate them to needy effeminates without looking at any of the music therein.

My embarrassment at my musical taste it pretty acute. It's a sad state of affairs that the musical acts I admit to liking embarrass most people, like dreamy 1970's troubled troubadour James Taylor who is, in 2012, little more than a Lite FM staple (it would be different if I just loved his early stuff, but no, give me the sedate, happy strumming of September Grass any day). If that's the stuff I openly praise, imagine the stuff I hide from you people! I have so many Katy Perry singles that iTunes says to me, “Just buy the album, James. We'll give it you for three dollars. Three dollars, James, you already own most of this!” I pay money I earn from a job so I can hear Bon Iver cover Bonnie Raitt, both artists so terminally uncool as to land me a spot in musical purgatory. And my weak attempts at cred are always counter-balanced by something ear-bleedingly insipid. For every M83 track, I've got a Lady Gaga album. For every Wilco, a Wilson Phillips. For every Kings of Leon, a Kings of Leon. And that's not the worst.

I hesitate to report the worst to you, dear Readers, but if I'm going to get on my high horse and lecture everybody every other week about how I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong on any given topic, I may as well give the haters some ammo. Have any of you ever heard of Carly Rae Jepsen? If you haven't, it's because you're not a fourteen year-old girl. Well, she sat at number two with her song “Call Me Maybe” on iTunes' list of most downloaded songs the other day when I was home, bored, looking to fill the 'pod. There's this thing on iTunes you can preview a track for a minute and thirty seconds. Curiosity got the better of me, I previewed this girl I had never heard of, was instantly hooked (I mean instantly!) and paid the $0.99 to add it to my collection promptly, where it has enjoyed heavy rotation ever since. “Call Me Maybe” is everything that music purists will decry about the industry. It's singer, the young Carly, is a singer discovered and signed by Justin Bieber (who doesn't occupy much space in my pod, which I could be proud of but, y'know, glass houses) and the song is an overly simple melody, surely auto-tuned to Hell and back, with lyrics like these:

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
and this is crazy,
but here's my number,
so call me, maybe?

Do you hate me yet? Do you just hate me for this? I hate myself, more than a little bit. First of all, I'm a grown-ass man who gets heartburn and has to “do stretches”, this music is not intended for me. I can't bring myself to watch the video, if there is one, for fear that I'll be tracked by Vic Toews and thrown in jail for being an old perv. And it's such an insult to real singers and songwriters that this trifle is topping charts. Joni Mitchell, whose albums line my shelves, would surely spit in my eye. But I can't help it! It's just so catchy!

But unlike Joni Mitchell albums, I'll very soon be sick of “Call Me Maybe”, like “Teenage Dream”, “Drop It Like It's Hot”, “Milkshake”, “Torn”, “Everybody (Backstreet's Back)”, “Camptown Races” and every other pop hit before it. Pop music hits are by definition, temporary and disposable. But what a cash cow! One wonders if Bright Eyes would trade his years of hipster cred for one tag line like, “Get out of my dreams and into my car.” I think he would, I know I would.

Dream: Write a successful pop hit.

Goal: Achievable. I can't remember if this is true of the Bridget Jones book or movie or both, but Bridget has a sassy gay friend named Tom who wrote one pop song in the 1980's and earned enough money to live comfortably the rest of his life. I could totally do that. I can sort of write, enough to put some phrases together with an occasional rhyme. I don't have any musical talent, but did that stop SoulDecision? No, and it won't stop me. Plus, I don't intend to sing or perform the song, only to write it, so I'll find my own Carly Rae Jepsen to warble my words and we'll be millionaires together (though not actually together because, ew).

Plan: Create enticing, contemporary lyrics that reflect the culture, lend themselves to a simple melody, and have a strong hook. For example:

Gym Girl

Saw you at the gym, girl
Steppin' out on him, girl
I will be your spotter
Let's make this workout hotter

Wipin' down equipment,
Let's sign a new commitment
Unbreakable contract
Hot body contact
Time to watch you flex, girl
Ready for my sex, girl?


Lady singer:
ur texting me
Blowin' up my phon-er

Man singer:

Flip yo' screen
Cuz you ain't seen
This picture of my boner

Lady singer:

Boy, why we textin'?

Man singer:

When we should be sexin'?
I gotta get a sweet new plan...

Lady singer:
To make you understand...


Our love is unlimited
Evenings and weekends, too
Our love is unlimited
Won't be roaming round on you

Let's dial up tomorrow
Connect with ever more
Cuz OMG it's U + Me
That's what textin's for

It Gets Better

In these tough economic times
When money is so tight
I got a low budget solution
To make you feel alright

You don't wanna go no further
In case this relationship goes south
I can respect that and you can expect that
It gets better in your mouth

We can keep most of our clothes on
Don't have to leave the car
I'll get limber if you can remember
To stay put where you are

I'll reach over your lap now
Give my money to the guy
Let's enjoy a drive thru dinner
Don't get chicken in your eye

We ordered for three when there's two of us
But they didn't question that
I'm just saying we're greedy
I didn't mean that you're fat

I can take you on expensive dates later
To prove my love to you
But since we're not that serious now
Let's keep on driving thru.

So there you go. One of these has to be a hit. Texting, the gym, fast-food, that's current stuff. I'm not sure how being a rich and potentially famous pop music writer will change me, but hopefully it won't change my embarrassment at consuming the musical equivalent of Cheetohs. I know there's nothing fundamentally wrong with being a pop music consumer, but there's always the risk that I'll just fall off the brink and my appreciation for good music will be forever lost to the world. That I'll throw out my Leonard Cohen and Yo Yo Ma to make room for B44. If I ever get to that point call me, maybe.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Goodbye Seems to be the Hardest Blog...

Hello Friends.

The Doctor is in this week for Spring Break, and I'm so glad, but his early morning departure this weekend looms large. I'll miss him when he goes, of course, and rationally I know that I'll see him again in a few months, and then for lots of months evermore, but the real problem with our upcoming parting is the painfully awkward goodbye I'm sure to offer.

I've never been good with goodbye's, partings, definitive exits of any kind. Particularly when I am the one doing the leaving. This is true in dramatic scenarios, but also when I'm done lunch or have to piss. If half the fun of going someplace is in getting there, half the misery of leaving that place is planning your exit.

Dream: Perform the perfect exit.

Goal: Achievable. This phenomenon was perfectly articulated in that Seinfeld episode where George gets extremely frustrated because he can never leave his colleagues laughing at meetings. Jerry advises him to always “leave on a high note.” George takes this advice to heart and leaves a room whenever he successfully gets a laugh, aware that he'll be unable to top himself. I embrace this ideal, as does, apparently, Republican candidate Mitt Romney who said when greeted by cheers at a recent rally, “As George Costanza would say, when they're applauding, stop." Maybe we should just all clap for Mitt Romney then.

Plan: Emulate the qualities that make a graceful social exit. Such as:

Whatever the opposite of TMI (too much information) is. SI (sufficient information)? Let's go with SI. I'm prone to leave any phone conversation, gathering of friends, coterie of co-workers by blathering on in detail about my next activities, as if they matter to anyone. Instead of saying, “Great to see you, I hope we can do this again soon. Bye!” I say, “Well, I have to go to the bathroom and then run to the store because I thought I had butter but it turns out I don't and if I can't hit the store before it closes I won't have any butter and so no toast for me! Ha ha.” No one cares! Get out of there!

Poignancy. The last line of one of my favourite books, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant compares the droning of an airplane overhead to a bumblebee, and the comparison evokes a great deal of emotion when regarded in the larger context of the novel. Eudora Welty, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer and, according to The Simpsons, fantastic belch-er, said she'd “If I had written [that last line], I'd be happy all my life!” I'd love to be able to leave someone with a sentimental if perfectly illustrative phrase instead of what I usually say (“Move it, fathead, I gotta poop and no foolin'!”).

Irishness. Another great book I just read (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling) and she introduced me to the concept of the Irish Exit, which is what I consistently try to perform at every party even before I knew what it was. An Irish Exit is when you leave a party without telling everyone you're leaving. Kaling suggests telling people you think you left your lights on or glove compartment open, but since I don't have a car, those are useless to me. The Doctor is my savior here because he is a smoker. When he leaves a boring social gathering to light up outside, I have the perfect excuse to grab my jacket and say, vaguely, “Does anyone know if Dr. Jon went outside, or...” and somebody invariably says he did, so I am able to walk out the door, grab my puffing partner and say, “Now's our chance! Run! Don't slow down even if I fall!” and we always make it home. And I should mention, it's not that I hate parties or the people in them, I just don't to waste my time and yours going from person to person and saying “Move it, fathead...”

Humour. Like Constanza, surely my best hope is to leave on a strong joke. The problem is, like anyone who can occasionally say something funny, the temptation is to stay and try to be even funnier. Like, “if that made you titter, get ready to CHORTLE!” but it almost never works. For instance, a group of coworkers and I had to endure a smarmy talking-to from this over-cologned musclehead who considers himself God's gift to women despite being unbelievably sexist and arrogant. When he left, I said to the assembled company, “That guy's Spirit Animal is a penis covered in Axe Body Spray.” Everybody laughed, but mildly. Convinced I could build on that premise, I said, “I bet his parents smeared Aqua di Gio on him and held him up over the savannah like in Lion King, but instead of a desert, there was a parking lot full of skanks and they said, 'One day this will all be yours.'” Too convoluted and wordy, not to mention unfunny, my follow-up fell on deaf ears. But if I had left after Axe Body Spray, I'd still be a hero in their eyes.

Again, I'm forced to credit Dr. Jon here. He says that many traditional First Nations tribes don't say goodbye to each other, because they believe that even if you don't say goodbye to someone before you die, you will always see them again in the Spirit World. I like that idea, even when it's not extrapolated to that degree. If all I can offer you is paltry parting words, it's because I believe that eventually we'll see each other again and pick up right where we left off. It's a nice thought. Now move it, fathead.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Listen, babies...

Hello Friends.

My friend Shannon was on Vancouver public radio yesterday talking about books and babies. You can listen to the great interview by clicking on the top link listed here. I found this whole conversation fantastic. Beyond the intense friend-pride that comes from hearing a dear pal at the top of her game speak so expertly to an interesting topic, I really learned a lot, particularly about what babies absorb (not just spills). Babies develop synapses and recognition at a rate higher than we previously thought (I say “we” as if I'm a member of the scientific community and not just a lapsed member of the Burger King Kid's Klub). I'm proud of babies being smarter than we give them credit for, but if they're truly absorbing as much as we think, we've got some explaining to do. When the babies of today become the youth of tomorrow, they'll look to us and say, “Hey, back in 2012, like in February? I know I was still rockin' a onesie, but what the hell was up with Chris Brown?”

Dream: Make sense of this whole Chris Brown thing.

Goal: Achievable. Yes, I'm jumping on the hater train, and I know Chris Brown vitriol is dangerously close to becoming nothing more than an internet meme, like Girls saying Shit or Charles Damaged My Finger (titles altered for no reason). But one time I was on a plane next to a crying baby and we hit an air pocket and I involuntarily went, “Ohhhhhhwhaat?”. The baby stopped crying and cocked his widdle head at me like, “You look concerned, should I be concerned?” I didn't have an answer but that baby was listening. Therefore, I can empirically echo the scientific findings and Shannon assertions that babies pick up on stuff. I'm not saying we should explain Chris Brown to babies now, but simply that the possibility exists that our reaction (or lack of it) to this controversy today may dictate their reactions tomorrow.

Plan: Break it down to baby-sized chunks of comprehensible information.

Okay, drop your humour expectations and settle in, because this will take awhile. As I understand it, Chris Brown's first single “dropped” (phraseology of the time, if you're reading this in the future) when he was sixteen, and “Run It” was a big hit. An album followed, a following followed. Drawing comparisons to Usher and Michael Jackson, acting in some lousy movies, and landing some lucrative ad campaigns, Chris seemed heir apparent to R&B's super cool throne.

If CB was the man who would be King, in 2008, it seems, he courted the perfect Queen. Rihanna enjoyed a similar career trajectory, perhaps more successfully than he (how dare she?), and the rumoured hook-up of the two pop idols was a match made in marketing heaven. Despite coy denials from both parties, pictures quickly surfaced of the young couple vacationing and canoodling together, and rumours of their engagement broke in early 2009.

After Brown and Rihanna both took home hardware at the Bilboard Music Awards, it was announced they would be performing together at the far-more-prestigious Grammy Awards in February. Then, some bad stuff happened. The following account is excerpted (without permission) directly from the police report leaked to the public and recently reprinted by Jezebel.com. In point of fact, the full article is here and it is also where I obtained most of the previous chronology. It's a superior article to this piece, but finish this one anyway, just to please me. Not for the squeamish.

  • A verbal argument ensued and Brown pulled the vehicle over on an unknown street, reached over Robyn F. with his right hand, opened the car door and attempted to force her out. Brown was unable to force Robyn F. out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.
    Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.'s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.
    Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, 'I'm going to beat the sh— out of you when we get home! You wait and see!' "
    Brown looked at her and stated, "You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I'm really going to kill you!"
    Brown resumed punching Robyn F. and she interlocked her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and face near her lap in [an] attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.
    Brown pulled Robyn F. close to him and bit her on her left ear.
    He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.'s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.
    She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers…
If it was hard to read that, it should be. But that's what happened (or at least that's what was recorded by police officers, which is therefore potentially a subjective opinion and not necessarily blah blah blah). But if that is true, if even... say 20 percent of it is true, why does this man continue to enjoy a thriving, albeit less than before, career?

PR can only do so much. Even if Chris had been immediately contrite and donated money to domestic abuse shelters (he wasn't and didn't), you'd think public opinion would be so low as to effectively destroy his chance at another hit record. Instead, other public figures responded with muted indecision. “They're both kids!” was a common refrain, “We don't know what goes on behind closed doors.” What could we possibly learn about life behind closed doors that would justify a man beating a woman nearly to death?

A lot hinges on that “nearly.” What would it take for Brown's statement, “Now I'm really going to kill you!” to go from threat to fact? One more punch? A deeper contusion? Delayed medical personnel? And what then? One surely hopes that if Rihanna had died at the hands of her boyfriend, he'd be locked up for murder. But she survived, and watched from her front row seat at the 2012 Grammy's as he took the stage three times, twice to perform, and once to accept an award.

Or what if Rihanna's assailant was not her boyfriend, but a stranger? What if the man hired to drive her home one night pulled over on the side of the road and brutally attacked her? Surely a manhunt would be launched, a different trial would play out, and he would be in jail to this day and beyond. And even if he was a soulful singer with sweet dance moves, he'd never be given a public forum to perform, land a record deal, win industry awards.

This is the trickiest hypothetical, but what if Rihanna, what if Chris Brown, were not black? If John Mayer punched Taylor Swift with such ferocity that her mouth filled up with blood and splattered all over her clothes, his car? If Zac Efron gave Miley Cyrus two black eyes? If Russell Brand looked at Katy Perry and stated, “I'm going to beat the shit out of you when we get home. You wait and see.” Would public opinion be different? If it was hard to imagine the above scenarios, why? Are we less likely to believe our white pop-culture idols are capable of such violence? Jackson Browne, Sean Connery, Josh Brolin, and Grammy 2012 Hall-of-Famer Glenn Campbell might dissuade us of that notion if we Google them alongside “beats his wife.” Are we as a culture more reluctant to condemn a black role model than a white one? What does that say? Does that speak to a lower cultural expectation of black men? If so, how fucking racist is that?

A common refrain when this topic comes up seems to be in defense of second chances. Chris Brown served the community service handed down to him and was even commended by a judge for his commitment to that service. He's paid his legal debt, there have been no further reports of domestic abuse, can't we just let this go? Maybe we can. I'll buy tickets to any Woody Allen movie, despite the despicable information about his beginning a sexual relationship with the adopted daughter under the nose of his then partner, Mia Farrow. I've listened to Jackson Browne albums. What's the difference? Am I being hypocritical? Probably. Though Woody Allen had his budgets slashed and fled to Europe to make films post-scandal, and only recently began seeing box office returns equal to his heyday (though this could speak to the quality of his films, one supposes enough time has passed to lessen the impact of the scandal), and though Jackson Browne's fair-to-middling career is limping through casino tours and state fairs, they're still allowed to make films and records, as is Chris Brown, but why are we buying them? Why does Chris Brown have an active Twitter, more hit records, a “Team Breezy?” More importantly, how could anyone still consider him a sex symbol? Why does our backlash to his recognition come off as over-sensitive mud-slinging? Could this speak truth to power? I really hope not.

I arrive at no conclusions, and perhaps it's useless to try, but the whole thing makes me sick. Forgive me for using my fun blog to get heavy-handed on your ass. I don't know how to lightly tie this back in to babies; it was most certainly in bad taste to use baby synapses to launch into a tirade about domestic violence. But if there is a connection to be made, it's that babies are love and light and our instinct is to protect and nurture them at all costs. Where do we lose that instinct, when it comes to each other? When do we drop the “nice hands don't hit?” When do we teach each other that love doesn't hurt?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Jealous Monster...

Hello Friends.

The thing about jealousy is that it passes the time really well. On any given day, I'll wait for buses, make coffee, slowly tread on a mill, and pass the work day being a jealous monster. My Dream should, I suppose, be to eliminate jealousy in my life, or realize the folly of envy, or some crap like that, but if I didn't have jealousy, I'd have to use other methods to fall asleep like reading, and reading is for chumps.

The current champ of my James Jealousy Battle Royale is Neil Pasricha. You might not know his name, but you surely know his blog, or the book that came from that blog, or the second book that came from the first, or the third from the second, and so on. He's the optimistic genius behind The Book of Awesome, The Book of Even More Awesome and The Book of Holiday Awesome. These are the books that list random things that are awesome, like, “Putting on underwear fresh from the dryer” or “Mastering the art of an all-you-can-eat buffet.” I hate that I'm jealous of such a happy, uplifting phenomenon. I'm pro-positivity, I like the bright side, but Mr. Pasricha's prominent positions on best-seller lists make me a sulky, pouting, dark side baby.

Dream: Duplicate the success of Mr. Pasricha and others like him.

Goal: Achievable. Do they even make real books anymore? If I had a dollar for every blog-based book I've bought, I'd still be pretty far in the hole because those books cost more than a dollar. So the trick seems to be to find a hook which is popular enough to encourage visitors to your blog, so it gets optioned for a book, which sells a million copies. The trouble is finding that original, clever, enticing hook, but I think I've got it.

Plan: Blatantly parody Mr. Pasricha by marketing the inverse of his idea. As much as people delight in Awesome, don't most of us live in perpetual “Aw, fuck”? Consider below my pitch for The Book of Aw, Fuck, The Book of Even More Aw, Fuck, and The Book of Holiday Aw, Fuck.

  • You arrive at the open door of a bus just as it closes and pulls away. (Aw, fuck!)
  • You buy a thing of milk and open the fridge to a ¾ full thing of milk. (Aw, fuck!)
  • You leave your apartment with the windows open on a hot day and it rains while you're at the movies. (You get the idea here)
  • You put all your small change into a vending machine and you're a nickel short and your coworkers are assholes.
  • You're talking shit about Todd when you suddenly notice Todd out of the corner of your eye.
  • Your friend's cat dies and you have to determine some kind of sensitive response.
  • Someone decides to “let you” read their poetry.
  • No toilet paper.
  • Forgetting your lunch.
  • Remembering halfway through a cartwheel that you don't know how to cartwheel.
  • A concert or play which requires audience participation.
  • Theme parties
  • Watching the same commercial twice in a row.
  • Receiving an emoticon-laced email from an adult.
  • Butter that's still too cold to be spread and leaves your toasts with gross butter chunks.
  • The fire alarm going off in your building for no reason.
  • The fire alarm going off in your building for a reason.
  • Hearing that “Wavin' Flag” song.
  • A carbonated beverage explodes all over you.
  • Realizing that bad smell is probably you.
  • Your voicemail picks up the phone just before you answer it.
  • Taking an early morning flight.
  • Buffering, please wait.
  • Relentless “Simpsons” quoters, worsened only by the fact that they get the quotes consistently wrong.
  • Tuning in for an SNL that relies too heavily on Keenan.
  • A group of people singing Happy Birthday to you. I never know what to do, just look at them?
  • The consistent misuse of “hopefully.”
  • Finding something in your teeth hours after eating anything.
  • Having to go up a jean size.
  • Everyone has seen a movie except for you and they talk about it the entire evening.
  • Reaching the middle of a story to realize it's uninteresting and no one cares but having to finish it because you can't just stop.
  • Not hearing what someone says, nodding at them anyway, getting caught.
  • Splitting the bill equally when you ordered way less than everyone else.
  • An obvious wipeout in a public place.
  • The success of a stranger feels like blatant betrayal despite all evidence to the contrary.

Reading this back, it almost looks like I complain a lot. If pressed, I would concede that I might complain a lot, perhaps unnecessarily, but don't we all? I don't have a great deal of patience for consistent whiners, those always down-trodden, woe-is-me types who are so focused on the negative that even a genuinely positive experience is uncomfortable for them because it's unfamiliar. But the “half-full” types get my goat sometimes, too. If we're always happy in every circumstance, what's our incentive to work hard? To change? To strive for something better? I'm happy with a lot of things in my life, but the possibility of greater happiness through greater fulfillment and satisfaction keeps me from getting too excited about a hot shower or a cold pillow. If my jealous of Neil Pasricha gets me working harder, where's the aw, fuck in that? Seems pretty awesome to me.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chipping Away at the Block...

Hello Friends.

I heard an interesting interview with Woody Allen recently where he said he didn't believe in writer's block. This is an interesting observation coming from him because of all writers, you can't accuse him of having ever suffered it. Between his nearly fifty films, dozens of plays, collections of essays, and an opera, the Woodman is, for better or worse, full of ideas and committed to writing them down.

The same can't be said for me, I'm afraid. To paraphrase the great playwright and screenwriter, Michael Kanin (though I've heard this attributed to other people), I don't like to write, I like having written. There's great satisfaction in finishing a piece, but it's boring and hurty to sit here and write it down, which doesn't bode well for my income. I'm thrilled to finally have a job getting paid to write (albeit write copy for hair extensions or house painters or Botox), but it means the blank page is no longer just daunting, it's a serious liability. I don't mean to compare myself to Woody Allen or Michael Kanin, but it would be fantastic to continue writing for a living, which means I must rid myself of my most threatening occupational hazard.

Dream: Never suffer Writer's Block.

Goal: Achievable. Actors and especially writers love to speak longingly of “the Muse”, that ephemeral bit of inspiration that encourages the recipient to inhabit that character, put on that performance, or write that story. Yeah, alright. I understand that idea, but it makes us seem like a bunch of flakes. I was once in the hallway of an audition with an actress, who lividly stormed out when she realized she would not be given “a warm-up space” so she could “decompress and really connect.” We were both auditioning for “wedding guests” and I believe the lines for the audition were, “Yeah!” and (guests cheer). You have to decompress for that, lady? Anyway, my point is, coal miners mine coal, dog-walkers walk dogs, actors ought to be able to act, and writers ought to be able to write. Screw the muse, suck it up, put pen to paper.

Plan: Use a variety of go-to's, standby's and back-ups to ensure that when “the Muse” is absent, or the juices aren't flowing, I'll still have stuff to write about. Such as:

Sex. People love smut, so when all else fails, a sex reference is sure to draw the reader's eye. For example, punch up: “He returned her gaze, impenetrable. What happened that night? What did he know?” With “He returned her gaze, impenetrable. What happened that penis? What did he know?” Aren't you more interested in the story now? What did happen that penis?

Simile. Nothing beefs up a required word count like some sweet, sweet simile. Take “She was hungry. She stomped into the kitchen. 'I'd like some turkey.' she demanded.” And now compare the same passage, but simile-ridden. “She was as hungry as a chubster served only yogurt. She stomped into the kitchen like one member of a herd of oxen. 'I'd like some turkey as big as my ass.' she demanded, like a real demanding woman.”

Stakes. This applies to acting as well, so feel free to use this tip and become your next party's Ted Danson. If there are no stakes for a character, no risk if their objective is not met, we're not interested. So raise the stakes for a more interesting story. For instance, “Billy couldn't wait for the big game. He grabbed his stick and helmet but when he checked his closet, his skates were gone! His favourite skates! 'How will I play in the game today if I don't have skates?', he wondered.” Is a much less enthralling tale than, “Billy couldn't wait for the big game. He grabbed his stick, helmet, and skates, but when he went to leave the house, he realized, his Dad was gone! His only father! 'How will I grow up well-adjusted with a strong male influence?', he wondered. Jeepers, Billy, how're you gonna get out of this one?

I suppose, like cooking and oral sex, the only way to become better at writing is to do it all the time. Despite what I said before about not liking to write, but enjoying having written, I can honestly say it's a joy to blog, and tweet, and write copy about Botox. I may not always have interesting or funny topics, but putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, always gives me a smile as big as my ass.