Tag Archives: Advice

Trickle-Down Humanity from Amy Alkon

When looking for advice you may reach out to a friend or loved one. If you are particularly lonely you could seek counsel from a psychologist, a televangelist, or even a bottle of drugs. Pretty lame options considering you could always email a real-life goddess known for her red hair and deep fascination with evolutionary psychology. Though it never occurred to me to ask her for advice, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with…

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What was your first published work?

I wrote a column for my high school newspaper. I won an award, and I thought, “That’s cool.” I wanted to do it some more because when you do something well and people give you some props, you keep doing it to keep getting those props.

What were some prime motivators at that stage in your life?

I grew up in suburban Detroit, in the whitest neighborhood. Even the Puerto Rican people and the black people seemed kinda white. It was very character-free, so my great ambition was to get out of there and go to New York City. That was my prime motivator: You have to do well so you can go places and get out of Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Have you been to New York recently?

I was there a few years ago. I lived there for a long time in various slum apartments. I paid $937 for a 10×12 room and I was dating a guy who had an eight-room, pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side on Weston Avenue for $400. That’s rent control in New York. I could never manage to get that rent-controlled apartment. In my last apartment the landlords were in the Mafia, and you pay your rent on time when the Mafia are your landlords. They were great landlords. They always fixed things and were really nice. I saw my landlord being hauled away on garbage-piling violations on one of those newer “Nightline” shows. All of these places were herbal-dumpy-slum apartments. Living in Venice, I live in a little house and it’s so fantastic. If you’re having a miserable day, you look out the window and there are palm trees and hummingbirds and you think, “Oh, I won’t kill myself today because it’s so pretty out.”

What was your favorite part about living in New York City?

I give advice for a living, science-based advice, and my house right now looks like a giant fire hazard with a bed and an oven because I have these books and papers and scientific journals all over the place. But one of the pranks that my friends and I did in New York was to give free advice on the street corner. We called ourselves The Advice Ladies. We were only going to do this once because we liked to make people laugh and make ourselves laugh.

We had a servant for a while but he fired us–it was a BDSM thing and we weren’t really into that. We just wanted to have him come to our friend’s apartment and have us throw a ball across the floor so he could catch it in his teeth and crawl back to us. Then he said, “My former mistress peed on me.” And I’m like, I’m from Michigan! I’m sure there are people who do that in Michigan, but I wasn’t one of them.

We would have these adventures, and with the Advice Ladies it was so much fun. Our sign said “free advice.” We thought about doing it like Lucy from “Peanuts,” but we thought, “Who’s even going to pay a nickel?” People lined up! It was amazing–New York, free, they lined up around the block! It was fun and interesting and we really helped people, the miracle of miracles. People started asking us serious questions. We had examples on our sign like “wigs and beards, directions and nail biting,” but people would ask us serious questions. I’m thinking, “Oh my God, I didn’t even take psychology in college.” So I started reading through all of psychology. I would read through Freud and realize, “Holy shit! He just made stuff up!” I became a fan of Albert Ellis who started cognitive behavioral therapy. He and Aaron Beck created it both separately and together. It was based in reason, and he became a fan of my work. I told him I didn’t even have a PhD and he told me, “To know what you need to know, it would be a waste of time.”

Sonja Lyubomirsky researches happiness. But I look at her work and all this other work, anthropology and psychology, and I bring it in when I’m answering questions, since I do this science-based advice column that’s also funny. I translate it to normal-person language from professor-ese and try to give people some direction on the stuff they’re doing outside of the perspective of, “Hi, I’m a girl and I publish out of my house because someone gave me an advice column because they didn’t have anybody else to write it at the newspaper.” I just don’t know how other columnist can do that–give their opinion based on nothing.

What advice do people tend to seek from you the most?

It’s generally dating and relationship advice and occasionally manners, because I wrote the book Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say Fuck. People write me saying, “My neighbor’s doing this horrible thing. What should I do?” A lot of stuff people ask me I don’t put in the column because their questions are boring, but I print the interesting ones. The big problem is that people think the world should be a certain way and it should work the way they think it should, but it doesn’t work that way. There are ways things work and they may be counter to people’s intuitions, so I lay out what the science says why, especially evolutionary psychology. It’s explaining that in ways that makes sense and giving practical advice–that’s basically what I do every week.

Kill Myself

Continue reading Trickle-Down Humanity from Amy Alkon

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The Annual Mailbag April 2016

At the start of every month, we open our mailbag to answer reader questions! Send yours to Mailbag@TheAnnualOnline.com 

Are you weirdos okay? I’ve noticed half of your posts have been going up irregularly in the past month. Usually you keep to a crisp 9am schedule for fresh material. Somedays I’m waiting until 1pm or even 4 in the afternoon. Yesterday you failed to post anything! What gives? -Jason D.

Ah, the inevitable “are you okay?” question. Posts have been slightly erratic the last month. I’m balancing a full time job and rehearsals for Oedipus Rox! at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre (casual plug) in addition to running the site. Sometimes that means I come home from work and sleep for 24 hours instead of writing a post for the next day. We’ll be back to normal and feeling relatively healthier in a week.

My favorite Stone Cold Pack of Weirdos, I love your site but I’ve got some personal issues I’m dealing with. Namely, it’s prom season and I’m staring down the barrel of loneliness. Is there a way I can psych myself up to ask anyone out? Am I just typing into the void? – Stephen J.

Hey Stephen, can we call you Steve? How about Steph? Let’s go with Steph, change that ph to a if you have a real issue with it.

Of course you’re not typing into the void! We’re here for you now, we always have been and we likely will be for months maybe even years to come. Now Steph, if you want a hot date for Prom, you’re going to need to learn how to ask questions properly. You can’t half-ass this and you absolutely can’t pick a random girl (or boy) at school and shout “WILL YOU GO TO PROM WITH ME OR AM I SHOUTING INTO THE VOID?” at them. At best they will say no, more likely than not, they will refuse to acknowledge you at all, leaving your classmates to assume you’re some freak shouting into the void. I recommend enrolling in an Intro to Communications class at your local community college, there you are sure to learn the basics of inquiry. It won’t guarantee you a yes, but it’ll likely get you a “maybe” or an “I’m already going with Steve.”

Y’know what, scratch all that. Change your name to Steven. Go by Steve. Problems solved.

Any interviews coming up this month? -Karen P.

We just spoke to Michael Gerber of The American Bystander, technically that was last month but don’t miss it (also support them, because I’d really like to buckle down and subscribe). In the weeks to come, we’ll speak to Gabriel Gundacker and Bill Schelly the author of Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created MAD Revolutionized Humor in America.

Weirdos, I am currently stranded on the side of I-295. Supplies are running low. Can anyone pick me up? -Nick V.

Hi Nick, please go through the official Uber app when scheduling rides. We don’t exactly trust you to “venmo us back” after what happened last time.

Dear Weirdos, my parents have been fighting a lot lately. How can I teach them to love again? -Anonymous

Have you considered funneling their discontent into a one man show? Many find the experience to be cleansing and your parents will be able to look on proudly as their only child shares their insecurities with the world via “character study.”

Are you sure you’re okay? You look awfully tired. -Wesley C.

YES!

Weirdos, my little brother has gone through my vast collection of Where’s Waldo novellas and circled Waldo on every page. The damage is irreparable. I simply cannot enjoy the travels of Mr. Waldo when I am able to find him within seconds. How can I make this right? -Shirley B.

Shirley, as an older sister it is exceedingly simple to gain the upper hand. With enough preparation you could potentially see every PG-13 movie before your younger brother. Consume this content. Every DVD in the house. Write the ending on a slip of paper and leave it in the DVD box for your brother to find as he grows older. Check Mate.

Hello, I am Mr. Mohamad Yasin the Chief Financial Officer of my bank,I am sending this brief letter to solicit your partnership to transfer USD7.5M.I shall send you more information and procedures when I receive positive response from you.  Yours Faithfully, Mr. Mohamad Yasin

Mr. Yasin, this is truly exciting news! Please forgive me for not referring to you by your first name, other humor publications have gotten in serious trouble for that in the past.  I hope you will accept this open response as positive, I could really use 7.5M to settle some of my gambling debts.

Listen, a lot of your coworkers and family have been talking and we’re really worried about you. You need help. Please just be honest with us… are you okay? -Jordan M.

Yes! Yes! Everything is under control, just give me til the weekend. I’ve got a lead on 7.5Mil and once that comes through it’ll all be okay.

How did you have so many letters in your first mailbag when this is a brand new segment? -Peter P.

We wrote them ourselves*, but you can get into the May mailbag by emailing mailbag@theannualonline.com

*Credit to Mr. Mohamad Yasin who did contribute his own letter.

Trouble in Paradise? Cheeseburger in Paradise?

Hello readers, listeners, and those who receive their entertainment through smell,

Marry Me! wants to help you with any/all of your marriage advice needs. The only problem, we’re running out of questions! We need you to write in to marryme.annual@gmail.com with any inquiries you may have. No topic is off limits, we’re here to help in whatever ways possible… well, help as much as two comedy writers and an Episcopal Priest can. Okay, one of the three should be pretty useful in your quest for advice, we can’t vouch for the other two.

Completely Serious Advice with Sam Walker #5

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Question 1:

I am about to head off to college. I have always heard that it’s completely different from high school, and I don’t know what I should expect. What can I do to help myself, both academically and socially?
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College coming-of-age romps are a cornerstone of American cinema. If this genre has taught us anything, it is that starting out college not knowing what to do in college is basically the best way you can enter college. You have become a protagonist without even knowing it! Luckily for you, I have quite a bit of experience with these sorts of things, so let me throw out some scenarios to watch out for.
Maybe you see an amazingly attractive woman on the quad or whatever place you crazy kids use to avoid class these days. Try to introduce yourself to her. If this seems hard and is entirely out of character, you are in luck! Anyway, if when you are trying to talk to her a giant douche-machine appears out of nowhere, calls you something really uncreative, then puts his arm around her as they walk away, have yourself a little party, because you are going to end up with her. No Neanderthal ambush? No worries, the other way this can work is running into her at some sort of group function, and then he acts like a dick. Both are quite plausible.
If someone approaches you with an idea for something, do it. These days, all the college film focus is on offbeat ideas some obscure group hatch and become super rich. Not some kind of genius? Latch on to someone who is and ride some coattails!
Perhaps you find yourself interested in a frat, but don’t think you’re “cool” enough to get in.  Just make your own frat! It matters not if you are a nerd or some kind of social outcast, because there are a bunch more people like that surrounding you. This may seem daunting, and it may incur the wrath of those preexisting brotherhoods, but this is exactly what you want. If they come after you, who do you think the public will side with, a group of people just trying to have fun and avoid loner status, or a bunch of salty, entitled social terrorists?
So as you can see, you have a bright future ahead of you. Even if none of these things happen to work out, you could always get an office job and then be wrangled into some sort of odd made-up thing that ultimately allows you to have the college experience you have always wanted. No matter what, just don’t become a creepy stalker that makes hair dolls from their prey. Looking at you, Jason Schwartzman.
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Question 2:

So I was out at a bar a week ago, and I ended up bringing a guy home with me. Admittedly, I had a pretty good time, so I gave him my number. I told him upfront I wasn’t interested in dating. The thing is, he won’t stop texting me, and he is getting far too attached—even texting me that he is having these weird dreams about me. Needless to say, I haven’t seen him again. I brought him to my place, though, so he knows where I live, and I have seen him around my place. It’s starting to freak me out, and I don’t know how to get him to stop.
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The old “I think I am in love with you and am having dreams about you” situation, eh? There is only one truly effective manner to deal with this, and that is to fight crazy with crazy. I particularly like this one a whole bunch, so I’ll throw a few base ideas your way.
If he is watching you, you can always give him a show. What comes to mind will require some errands. First, go to the store and pick up corn syrup, red, blue, and green dye, and some flour. Buy a whole bunch of red candles as well. Next, go to a local costume store (if there’s not one around, there are tons of sewing tutorials online), and buy some red robes with hoods (4-6 should do). Call in a few favors to get some people to your place so they can fill the robes. Last, and probably the hardest one to acquire, is a goat. I don’t know if there is a rental place for goats around you, but I have faith in you. You’ll get one. Oh, and a tranquilizer gun. That will be key.

Wait until nightfall, and invite your accomplices over. When you know he’s watching, start making it look like you and your buddies are having a casual get-together. Maybe throw on some music, get some drinks going, the usual bullshit. Once you have things feeling regular, walk over to the stereo and dramatically turn it off. Loudly proclaim, “It is time!” or something like that. Have your buddies don the robes and make a circle around a low table, which you will cover with the candles (it’s key to leave a large open space in the middle). Lead the goat in to the center of the circle to a nice layer of background chanting.

Obstruct view of the goat and pull out the good ole’ tranq. Now, PETA may get mad about this, but it’s just a tranq, everyone sleeps, cool your jets. Put the goat to sleep, and place it on the table. Pull out your handy bowl of fake blood (which you make with the ingredients I mentioned), hand it to a select friend, disrobe and kneel. It’s important that you are naked. If you feel weird about it, he has already seen you naked, so that’s stupid. Plus, showing your naked body to people in a circle really helps sell this as real to an onlooker. Have your chosen acolyte pour the blood over your head, arise and scream, “The ritual is complete!”
Presto! Stalker gone! At least he should be. I will admit, this strategy is a double-edged sword. If he is just crazy, he will run. If he is super crazy, however, you may now very well be his dream girl. Guess you’re just going to have to roll the dice on this one.
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Question 3:

I am starting to date this girl and I want to take her out, and I’m looking for exciting, unique things to do. I’ve been going through the possibilities in my head over and over, but I keep coming up short. Any suggestions?
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Keeping things new and exciting is key to making sure your significant other doesn’t run off with some random Portuguese dude. I have a few ideas I have been storing for a rainy day:

  1. Write a puppet play, make puppets, and perform the puppet play for her. Go with some kind of puppet rom-com, except the further this play goes, the more will transition into puppet erotica. She will never see it coming, because no one sees that coming. It’s a perfect transition into something a lot more intense, and worst-case scenario, she will remember you forever. You know, on account of the puppet erotica.
  2. Inform her you rented two unicycles for a ride around town. Don’t worry if you didn’t actually get the unicycles, because she is going to say no. No one unicycles. The bonus is she will think it was sweet you tried, and you don’t have to do anything!
  3. Tell her you aren’t a sexist and that you are offended that it should fall to the man to make the plans. Also, throw in that such actions would only further perpetuate the male-dominated media.
  4. Take her out to a bar. Make sure she looks really nice. Buy a small transceiver and attach it somewhere on her person so you can hear from a distance. Instruct her to stand alone at the bar, and encourage a sultry expression. Whenever a man walks up and asks her if he could get her a drink, she will say yes. Once she has it sprint up and grab the drink, and issue a staccato “Psych!” It both gets you free drinks, and delivers a hilarious moment to savor. It even boosts your girlfriend’s self-esteem. Probably.
  5. Go out and grab yourself a pair of gas masks (or some other device that may help to prevent airborne particles take hold in your body), and tell her to prepare for a spelunking trip. The twist is, you are actually going to take her into the sewers. That’ll show her for unconsciously placing this much pressure on you by dating you just like you wanted!

So there you go, five golden ideas that could never go wrong ever. Most likely.
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Well, I hope this has helped some people out there. Have any issues or questions you need advice on?
E-mail them to CompletelySeriousWithSam@gmail.com

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Completely Serious Advice With Sam Walker #4

Question #1:

There is a squirrel in my attic, and he as been there for two weeks so far. I can’t find him when I go to the attic, I have no idea how he is getting in, and I can’t sleep much at night because he is always loud. How do I get rid of this horrible squirrel?

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Answer:

Straight up, I don’t know too much about squirrels, so bear with me. Before this goes any further, yeah, you could call pest control, but that would be taking the coward’s way out. Who wants to admit that they were shamed into cowardice by a squirrel? Drop that phone.

You should first try to find out what type of squirrel calls your attic home. I would guess you’re dealing with an Eastern Gray Squirrel. They are fairly common in most of the United States, favoring the backyards of houses as a foraging ground, for relative ease and a lower predator presence. These squirrels have been known to set up nests (known as a “drey” in the scientific community) and forage in a localized area around the “home base.” These specific squirrels are also extremely fond of hiding things, which leads to exploration—resulting in your current predicament. Seeing as the squirrel has been in the attic for two weeks and your every search attempt ends in failure, I think it’s accurate to say the squirrel knows more hiding spots than you do.

Honestly, there isn’t much you can do in this situation, if you rely on conventional methods. No, this squirrel is too smart, too resourceful. There is only one way out now: Raise and train another squirrel to be a one-critter war machine, whose sole purpose is the elimination of its own kind, should they invade your lands.

Are you ready to raise your own little ruthless animal companion that you will manipulate and brainwash into becoming the living embodiment of vengeance on this earthly realm? Sure you are! You’re going to need good stock to start with, which means searching for a very specific type of squirrel. First, let’s look at what you need to beat. The species of squirrel you are dealing with tend to average 380-525mm in total length, with a weight range of 300-713g. Therefore, the best squirrel to choose to defeat your current pest is the fox squirrel, with a total length anywhere between 40-75cm, and an average weight range of 500-1000g, so it has nothing but advantages. Lucky for you, the fox squirrel is found in the same areas as your current suspected perpetrator, so let the hunt begin!

Start your search by looking for freshly hatched squirrels (“hatched” isn’t the most accurate term, but it sounds cooler for the birth of your avenger, who is part Stuart Little and part Batman). You will need to find a suitably sizable young one and kill both of its parents, leaving hairs of the gray squirrel behind. You will then nurse the baby fox squirrel back to health and find a way to teach it to fight with mini-weapons. I won’t tell you how to train this loose cannon—making you figure out a way to do that is about 46.2 times funnier than if I told you. I will give one hint: Training montages. To the max.

Once you feel he is ready, deploy him to the attic and hear the sweet sounds of justice at last. One important thing I feel I should mention: Do everything in your power to make sure he never learns you killed his parents, because he will become Squirrel Batman. You don’t want any kind of Batman against you. Ever.

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Question #2:

My female friend wants me to wingman her at a bar, but I have only done it for men. I feel it’s a totally different thing, so what do you think I could do to make this work for her?

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Answer:

This great classic friendship-based tactical partnership with a new-age, cross-gender twist? Women are moving up! Personally, I don’t really see the need for a woman to have a wingman. As Confucius once said, “Women can always get laid. Every. Time.” Basically, normal wingman advice would be boring. We’ve all heard it before. Say good things about them; always deflect compliments received to the “topgun” of the situation, blah blah blah. Boring.

Instead, I shall invent a new wingman style for you wonderful conspirators, THAT TIPS THIS GAME ON ITS HEAD! THAT SUCCEEDS IN TURNING THE TABLES WITH NONE THE WISER! THAT…well, basically just does something that’s not terribly original, but original enough to get a name. THE INDY 500! That name totally makes sense, so I don’t want to hear shit about it. This is what it feels like to be a trailblazer!

As we know, most wingman situations are positive in nature, focused on carefully crafted compliments and subtle herding tactics to make the group shift how you want. We are going the go in the complete opposite direction, deep into the lands of the extremely horrid public displays of the utmost negativity. You see, you guys have a unique situation here. One of you is male, while the other is female. You see, with one small visit to pretend land, the prestigious outer-pretend land acting academy, and the far less prestigious pretend land liars guild: this game is yours to win.

What you do is pretend to be an item of at least 3 years, who on this particular day (your “anniversary”), has come into the bar screaming the worst made-up (or legitimate, because pulling punches are for people who pull punches) things you can. Whatever seems more real. The brutality of the breakup should be the main focus, and you my friend should be playing the part of the villain, to give all her “potential suitors” a uniting factor. It will literally be a race…to get from where they were to be closer to her.  They will also probably bunch around her for some protection nonsense, but it will allow her to get a close-up look and really make an informed decision as to what the best choice would be.

So, mission accomplished? Not even a little, Cowboy. The situation that was just created also serves as one of the best extraction set-ups in the world of scheming. Come up with signals. They can be anything you’d like and done via text. One is “Good job! Take the night off!” and the second is “Call me immediately and scream a lot on the phone to make things seem like a real emergency,” so your female partner has an instant get-out-of-an-awkward-mistake card to use. Set a third signal for the next day, which would basically mean they answered incorrectly the night before. I should mention that you can’t enact this scheme very often, or people will catch on. Then, they will probably tar and feather you.

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Question #3:

I recently found out that there is a surprise party being thrown for me. How should I handle this?

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Answer:

Whew! Here I was thinking we could get through one of these without a list, but surprise party with reverse surprise to foil a whole group’s feelings of teamwork and general community togetherness had to show up. I’m totally into that! You think that responding in kind with similar surprise isn’t necessarily the only way to deal with the situation, but it clearly is the most fun for you. What other options allow you to drink in the despair pouring from the recently outdone? Logic shows that a reverse surprise causes an equal or higher amount of surprise. That’s more surprise for everyone, and too many people suffer from a dangerously low level of surprise. It’s just the right thing to do. So about that list…

  1. When they shout surprise, pretend to have a heart attack! Classic! Keep in mind that if this in turn causes an actual heart attack, it is in poor taste to yell out, “Two times heart-breaker combo!” It’s a tragic joke.
  2. Take out your entire life’s savings to hire professional-level movie make-up artists. Give him/her a sealed briefcase loaded with pictures of the underside of a horseshoe crab. Instruct him/her to make a horrifying mask based on the provided reference and to make it in a way that a regular mask could be worn over it and go by unnoticed. This, of course, means you need a mask of your face. On the big day get suited up right before the event and walk in. You will respond with no response. After five seconds start laughing, and build it to full maniacal laugh by 20 seconds. Announce the surprise is on them, rip of your man mask to reveal your…horribly unsettling mask. Chase them around making hissing noises until it bores you, the law steps in or a sweet-looking new show is premiering on TV.
  3. Act sarcastically surprised…if you want to be a dick.
  4. Pick up a fake gun and badge, and don’t be too cheap. When they yell surprise you quick draw your gun and shout, “Freeze! Police!” After this point, you have two options. First, immediately start laughing to allow everyone who reacted to realize that they are, in fact, fools. Or, fake your new sweet undercover life for as long as you can.
  5. Genuinely enjoy the party, and express your gratitude and honor that they would think of you enough to throw such an elaborate event for just one person.

That should be enough for now. I would go with one through four, but that’s just me. I’m just a guy who gives advice.

 

Well, I hope this has helped some people out there. Have any issues or questions you need advice on?

E-mail them to CompletelySeriousWithSam@gmail.com.

This installment of Completely Serious Advice originally appeared in The Annual #4

Send in your questions

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Our upcoming podcast Marry Me! is looking for some questions.

It’s a marriage advice podcast featuring Annual Writer’s Kevin Cole and Cullen Dolson, and the coolest priest they know (after all, she agreed to be on a comedy podcast) Susan Daughtry. They need questions from married folk, soon to be married folk and folks who are generally anxious about marriage. Why? So they can help you. These two unmarried men and their happily married counterpart are jumping at the bits to ease your marital struggles. So send your questions in to: marryme.annual@gmail.com OR you can fill out the form below:

Completely Serious Advice with Sam Walker #3

Question 1:

Should I date this bartender I know? She seems really flirty and nice, but I’m just not sure. Should I go for it?

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Yes, you fool. She is a bartender; she tends bars. Free booze. That’s about all that you need to know to make a well-informed decision.

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Question 2:

I recently found out my father has been cheating on my mother. I want to say something, but I don’t know how to go about it.

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You have a few options here. You could either tell your mother (lame), or put into motion a ridiculously over-articulate plan that will scare him into stopping (badass). Lets go with the second one, as that is clearly more fun. If you are familiar with the Christmas story of Scrooge, then you may know the direction this is going in. If not, number one, go culture up, fool; and number two, it’s basically about a man who is shown the error of his ways by a series of ghosts. It will be tricky, but I think you have it in you.

Now, I’m assuming you don’t have an amazing special effects crew on hand, so you will have to find another way to sell the ghostliness. For that, I recommend getting a hold of some acid, as well as a taser; more on those later. You will then need to make either one ghost costume or many, depending on the script you want to write. Don’t stress out too much about the costume’s quality. On a night when you know your mother won’t be home, slip that acid you procured into the old guy’s drink, close to when he goes to sleep, and wait for the fun to begin. Keep a close eye on him, and when he starts to show signs of tripping (rubbing anything with an interesting pattern for longer than should be okay, screaming at the floor for trying to eat his feet, speaking to a couch as if it was Jabba the Hutt and he, Boba Fett, negotiating a bounty, etc…), make your move.

Pounce into the room in character and proceed to explain to your bewildered father the follies of cheating. If he freaks out and tries to attack you, use that taser you picked up earlier. If it doesn’t incapacitate him, it will make you seem like some kind of lighting god, and his fear will keep him at bay. Go on with your speech as you have prepared. Some good things to mention might be a horrible pocket of hell (if religion is his cup of tea) reserved for adulterers, a sad lonely death, walled out from the love of his family after he is found out, or even something like if he does it again, your badassery will return to give him a far more stern talking to with a lot more “lightning.” After you feel the message has gotten through, ask if he understands, and don’t take no for an answer. The next morning, bask in his terrified face and know that you have done right … or at least kind of right.

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Question 3:

I can’t really bring myself to like people. I mean, they exist, but that is about it for me. I feel this is starting to stunt me as a person. Any advice on how to get around this?

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The feeling of disassociation with humanity can be common, and delving into misanthropy can be a dire path. One way to get past this is to think of making friends as a game. Pokémon, to be exact.

When you look at people as a set of stats and attributes, it becomes much easier to make sense of them. There are bunches of Pokémon, and as that game franchise has Pokémon types; there are many people who can often be linked with said types. There are the fiery hotheads, the calm water types, the hippy-like grass dudes, the flashily clothed, loud electric types, the often-stoned rock types, the nerdy psychic types and even the horridly bland normal types, just to name a few. Each Pokémon type has a personality, and your new goal in (social) life is to do just what you do in the games—collect them all. Now I’m not saying go up to these people, push another person at them, reverse your oddly nondescript baseball cap, and throw balls at them (although this may work on the freaky-ass bug type people; they are … odd), as that would just bewilder them beyond any point of following you into “battle” (social stuff, parties and whatnot).

So, once you classify these people, choose the types you personally find interesting and what types have an advantage with another type. A good example is the rock type’s ability to rope in grass types. Keep in mind that you don’t want to go with just one type—one always wants a balanced party so any challenge can be faced. After you establish an initial party, expand, and, just like in the game, attempt to grab them all up. Sure, you may be reducing human interaction to a strange, game-based break from reality, and you will ultimately be manipulating people to acquire the perfect group, but you are a people master now, and they are mere people to be kept in confined spaces and forced to interact for your pleasure.

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Question 4:

Recently, I was robbed for the first time. I feel really uneasy, and the police told me that because not too much was taken, the chances of finding the robber are pretty low. Is there anything I can do to make myself feel better about the situation?

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There is honestly only one thing you can do in a situation like this, and that’s vengeance! You have been wronged, sir or madam, and it’s time to turn the tables. Based on what was stolen, provided insurance was involved, you will receive a check for the value of what is missing. Now, most people replace their old stuff with this money, but not you. Vengeance has no business with making things as they were. No, you are going to spend most of this money on a few high-price investigation tools, such as a fingerprint set, magnifying glass and a Sherlock Holmes hat—stuff like that. Keep some of the money, as you may need to make some hires in the near future. Now start dusting for prints and looking for clues. This gives you an edge on the police, as they don’t look for prints in cases involving minor burglary.

Provided you find some prints, save them up and start getting in touch with the seedy underworld of your neighborhood. First, find a hacker who can get into the police database to find a match with the prints. Assuming something comes up (if not, roam the streets busting heads Casey Jones style and find you some answers as to who nabbed your box set of Firefly), you will then want to think about how you will confront the perp. There are a few ways you can go about this. Option one is to steal stuff from him, balancing the karma of the universe. Option two is to frame him for an even bigger crime, and lead the police right to him. Option three is good old-fashioned violence, which if chosen, you may want to hire some muscle. I wish you well on your hunt, oh vengeful one. May you not be arrested for what you must do. It’s a matter of honor.

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Question 5:

Recently, I have felt a little boring and that my day-to-day is pretty dull. I want to do something “bad” or unexpected to spice my life up, but I’m only in high school. Any suggestions of things I could possibly do?

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You sir, have come to the right place. There are plenty of shenanigans to be had in this crazy world, and lucky for you I happen to know quite a few quick fixes for a boring life. Here is a list of possible activities, some more hardcore/potentially impossible than others.

  • Start using fake names everywhere you go, with elaborate back-stories, different accents and different personalities. Start going to random new places, and try to meet as many people as you can. You may find that selling the lie is a whole lot of fun, like training to be a con man.
  • Pretend to be a pair of identical twins who both hate each other and can’t stand to be in the same room together. Make sure the brothers are polar opposites, so everyone is generally unsure what to say to you. With some simple Photoshop, you can whip up a few pictures that will shut up the naysayers.
  • Drop everything, find a flight to England, and spend the rest of your days attempting to find the fabled Excalibur. Sure, it may not actually exist, but if you find it you become the new king, which is British for lady city (or man city, whatever the sexual preference).
  • Start an elaborate underground go-kart ring with an “anything goes” type rule set. If you can get word around and it starts attracting some attention, start opening betting pools, as it can be quite profitable.
  • Play a variation of ding-dong ditch called ding-dong sass. It follows the same rules except when they open the door: you insult them as much as you can. Throw random snapping in to really sell it.
  • Throw a party with non-alcoholic kegs, but tell no one. After a while, when everyone thinks they are drunk, announce that there was no alcohol in the beer, and laugh at the shame brought upon them by their foolish acting.
  • Reenact and record an alternate universe of “Reading Rainbow,” with you in place of Levar Burton. Throw in sexually explicit puns and get in fights with all of your guests after tearing up their books, while constantly screaming, “Set that to warp, bitch!”
  • Skip school, and then walk into your principal’s office. Throw pounds (if not pounds, at least one pound) of fish at him. Tell him/her that it is a family tradition, and if he/she doesn’t buy it, ask him/her if they want the fish again. Then give them the fish again regardless of the answer received.
  • Spend your days studying biology, specifically gene splicing, and start to develop awesome animal crosses, like an alligator wolf or a cheetah shark. Assuming you genetically design them to be submissive to a master, you could choose to become a super villain, providing it strikes your fancy.

Those should hold you over for a bit. Good luck, future exciting dude.

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Well, I hope this has helped some people out there.

Have any issues or questions you need advice on? E-mail them to

CompletelySeriousWithSam@gmail.com

 This edition of Completely Serious Advice appeared in The Annual #3! Purchase your copy today!