I’ve been stupid busy lately with two high-maintenance projects screaming for my time. One of these projects is The Project, and I still can’t write much about it. It’s not just my story.

The other projects is…something else, all mine, and while I’m still not quite ready to thrust it screaming out into the light of day, I can tell you it involves comedy.

Now, comedy…

I know a fair number of people, most of them believe they’re funny, and I’d say they’re right. Given the relaxed atmosphere and common history that only hanging out with friends can provide, they’ll all drop hilarious lines which have me questioning the absorbent power of whatever I’m sitting on.

And, assuming my friends can be believed, I’m one of these people. Whether I’m watching a movie, talking about current events, or commenting on Facebook posts, funny little quips are just one of those things that have always appeared to come naturally to me.

But being funny around your friends is very different from writing comedy for mass consumption.

See, all jokes—or nearly all of them—can be broken down into two basic pieces:

  1. The setup, wherein expectations are established.
  2. The punchline, wherein the unexpected occurs.

When you’re with your friends, all that common history—plus whatever situation you’re currently in—is basically the setup, pre-packaged for, and hand-delivered to, the clown of the group. It’s half the work done, no effort needed. All the “funny” guy or girl has to do is recognize the setup and drop a punchline.

And, because you’ve got that relaxed atmosphere of friends around you, even an obvious—read as “expected”—punchline can bring laughs. Try the same gags on an audience of strangers, you’d be lucky to get a few groans.

Which leads us ’round to the thrust of this post: comedy is hard.

I’ve never done much thinking about comedy, and now I’ve stuck myself in a position where I have to write it. Every. Single. Day.

It’s brutal at times, but I’m adapting, and when I get a few spare hours to write about writing I might share some of the finer bits I’ve learned. Until then, I really just want to write three things about it:

  1. I’ve never, ever, worked so hard.
  2. I think I might be kind of good at it.
  3. I’ve never, ever, had this much fun.

Anyway, since I’ll either be celebrating the holidays or working my ass off over the next week or two I doubt I’ll post anything substantive here until after Christmas. So, until then, have fun and Happy Holidays.

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I’ve been tinkering with the theme of my blog again, in preparation for…something.

I’d write more about that something, but I’m still tinkering with that, and I have almost zero faith in my ability to get WordPress working the way I want without having to write my own plugin.

Sigh.

As I’ve said before, some days I really wish I’d never learned how to write code.

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Dear People Writing Books on HTML5, CSS, Javascript, and PHP:

Stop telling people to download boilerplate files, libraries, or what-have-you and use them without any explanation as to how/why the markup and code in those files works. Because, if you do this, then you are what’s wrong with the web today.

See, any website of sufficient complexity has been built out of innumerable bits and pieces filled with—among other things—all sorts of kludges and workarounds for ancient and diverse browsers. Calling a modern website a house of cards is doing it too much credit. It’s more like an angry pile of half-dead and deranged koala bears someone stapled together and splashed with a little cologne.

And the reason we’re in this situation is that no one, no one, understands what half the shit in all these cobbled-together, hand-me-down files actually does. Cross-site scripting attacks, SQL injections, and hate-fucked user data are the inevitable results of the copy, paste, and get on with your day approach to website development being taught today.

That’s your fault. Yours. Take any book on this shit published in the last couple of years and you’ll see they all offer up their fair share of advice like this:

Our friends in the open source community came through with the perfect solution: ignorant_fucker.css, a style sheet that seeks to eliminate many of the differences between browsers’ default styles. You can download ignorant_fucker.css from http://toolazytotea.ch/i-got-paid-in-advance/. We don’t explain the details of how ignorant_fucker.css works, although you can certainly open it in any text editor and be totally fucking baffled at goddamned near every line of it because we can’t be bothered to do our jobs.

So, enough with the pointing your readers at this or that library or boilerplate and actually do your job.

Thank you.

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“Do you have a moment to talk about [Software X], our Lord and Savior?”

I have this conversation a lot, whether on the social networks, forums, or (occasionally) even in person…

Me: “I’m having [specific problem] with [software I’m using].”

Other Person: “Have you tried [different software]? It’s fantastic.”

Me: “No. I’m generally happy with [software I’m using].”

Other Person: “If that were true, you wouldn’t be complaining about [specific problem]. Seriously, you should try [different software].”

Me: “No, seriously, I just want to solve [specific problem]. Continuing to suggest I switch to [different software] isn’t helping.”

Other Person: “What? There’s nothing wrong with suggesting an alternative. Don’t be such a jerk!”

Mere words alone can’t describe how irritating this conversation is.

In order to really do my feelings justice, I’d have to let loose a torrent of inhuman screaming and start throwing handfuls of feces around the room.

Instead of some kind of line-by-line tear-down of all that is bullshit with this kind of exchange, let me present a (very) slightly different conversation…

Me: “The left, front tire on my Taurus keeps losing air.”

Other Person: “Have you thought about buying a Prius?”

Me: “Uhh…no. The car’s fine.”

Other Person: “Well, if that were true, you wouldn’t be complaining about your tire. Seriously, you should go buy a Prius.”

Me: “Are you fucking with me? Why the hell would I want to get a completely new car when the only thing wrong with—”

Other Person: “Hey! There’s nothing wrong with suggesting an alternative. Don’t be such a jerk!”

See? The people who do this? They sound like blithering idiots, completely disconnected from reality.

Well, they do until they get really wound up about their favorite software.

Then they sound like Jehovah’s Witnesses and I have to turn the hose on them.

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Last night, I had a nightmare (one among many) wherein I was being forced to watch a documentary about a company which made barbecue sauce. I was forced to watch it because it was controversial. It was controversial because it exposed the company’s secret procedures for making barbecue sauce and thus threatened to overturn all of patent law.

First, they slaughtered the pigs. The screaming, swollen pigs, half of which were walking upright and grinning at me through the television screen. They had human smiles and reptilian eyes. I remember someone in the documentary saying: “These are good and ripe.”

Then they simmered the pigs, making a thin, stinking stock which they then poured into these giant paint cans.

That’s when I woke up, with the sound of the screaming pigs still ringing in my ears.

How was your night?

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