…or, Everybody Loves Me Baby, What’s The Matter With You?
Lately Stonekettle Station has enjoyed dramatically increased popularity.
At first I thought it was because I’ve been taking those man-enhancement pills that I buy from an Internet pharmacy in Sierra Leone (made from genuine endangered species and reclaimed Soviet Era vitamin supplements, so you know they’re good), but apparently it’s because of the pithy writing.
Millions of folks drop by this site every day – give or take a couple of million.
People from all over the world and all walks of life have become avid readers, doctors, lawyers, astronauts, scientists, teachers, politicians, adventurers, actors, singers … and even some people with real jobs. I’m especially popular in Nigerian Internet Cafes and Tulsa, Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain – and apparently blows away anybody not weighted down by a beer belly and the King James Director’s Cut Extended Edition Bible (now with even more Righteousness!).
I would be lying if I said this didn’t make me giddy like a schoolgirl – if giddy meant “tempted to drink heavily and take a high-powered air rifle, a bag of frozen paintballs, and a copy of Catcher in the Rye up onto the roof.”
But hey, that’s sort of the point of writing in the first place. There’s a certain degree of satisfaction when people are actually interested in reading your stuff, and then moved, sickened, or outraged enough to make the effort to forward your thoughtful meanderings to others. It’s nice to see new
minions for my plan of world domination readers, especially ones willing to send me naked pictures of themselves who are interesting and intelligent.
The hob-knobbing with world leaders, the scantily-clad silicon-enhanced groupies, and dump-truck loads of money are pretty good too.
However, there is a dark side to the fame and glory.
I know, I know, but it isn’t all naked Twister and wild jungle monkey sex (well, OK, it is, but this being a family blog and all, just go with me here).
So, there’s a down side.
For example, Conan O’Brien isn’t as tall in person as you’d think, plus up close he sort of resembles a Pez dispenser.
What? You missed Stonekettle Station’s appearance on Conan? It was like his biggest show ever. People Magazine said I looked like a more rugged and manly version of Tom Selleck. Of course, Snooki totally ruined it by hitting on me for the whole hour. Hey, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. That must have been the night you fell asleep on the couch. Remember? You woke up the next morning, sticky and alone, surrounded by empty cans of mandarin orange slices, a crick in your neck, with a Pop Tart and Frito hangover (Seriously, dude, the blackouts are a problem, get help before you kill somebody).
Then there’s the enormous responsibility.
Stonekettle Station went viral and democracy broke out in the Middle East. Coincidence? Oooh Kay, that’s not how quantum thermodynamic linked causality works, right. Next you’re going to tell me professional wrestling and intelligent design are just make believe. Whatever lets you sleep at night, but remember: the Stonekettle goes in, the Stonekettle goes out, in and out, in and out, and like the scratch marks on your back you can’t explain that (not if you want to stay married anyway). Fortunately I’ve sworn a blood oath to only use my newly manifest powers for good – and by “good” I mean “what’s good for me.” But hey, you know how humble I am, modest and unassuming even, I’d never abuse my power. It’s not like I’m going to wish you into the cornfield or anything. Probably. If you send me cookies – and by cookies I mean walnut and chocolate chip.
Before I was famous the hate mail was of a higher caliber.
I miss that.
See, as you reach a wider audience you get a lot more mail, huge giant sacks of it (seriously, you wonder why the price of stamps just went up again? The USPS had to hire like about a thousand more people and buy two new airplanes for all the email. It’s true) but inevitably the quality of the death threats declines dramatically. It’s a quantity over quality issue. Once you become famous, the death threats become a volume business. In the heady early days of blogging when I lived on nothing but stale government-cheese sandwiches and strong whiskey, I’d get long, carefully crafted screeds involving dark promises of creative torture, years of litigation by demonic legions of the writer’s personal law firm, space alien robots powered by the limitless zero-point energy of the quantum foam, condemnation of my immortal soul to eternal torment, and haunting by Dick Cheney’s black clockwork heart. Those letters dripped a poisonous venom brewed from the tears of defrocked priests and the blood serum of renegade militiamen, and they were penned beneath the fiery blue-white light of righteous indignation in the damp basement bunkers of the last true Americans. The writers applied themselves with a ferocious will, making extensive use of the mighty ellipsis, the holy exclamation point, and the brain-liquefying power of Zombie Michael Jackson. My God, do you have any idea how much Jack Daniels it takes to spell each word in a non-standard and unique way? And to say nothing of the creativity involved in random capitalization? Sadly, like the rest of American industry, the death threat business has been outsourced overseas and I’m left with only a pale and Indian accented anemic shadow of the great hate mail I once knew.
The hate mail used to kept me warm at night, now all I have is the cold loneness of fame and adulation. And naked Twister. Sigh.
And finally, there are the Trolls.
On-line writers always have to deal with trolls.
Those stunted malignant warty-skinned creatures who Gollum-like haunt the dank and fetid underbelly of the Internet, leaving putrid trails of bitter foamy slime behind them wherever they tread. Unlike the trolls of myth, these creatures – fueled by the long festering resentment of high school rejection (resulting from an early manifestation of male pattern baldness) – can’t be turned to stone by the sunlight of reason. If you shine a light on them, they crouch back in their lair like a trapdoor spider, ready to spring forth in a flurry of hairy legs and gnashing mandibles. Typically, I delete trollish comments without fanfare, but I do occasionally leave those that prove whatever point I’m trying to make in a blog post – or if, say, I intend to make fun of them later.
Now while each troll is unique in his own special way, they all exhibit certain similar traits – sort of like diarrhea, it doesn’t matter the cause or the particulars, in the end and the fullness of time the watery brown effluvium all comes out the same.
As such I have formulated Stonekettle’s Law of Trolls:
As, in the mind of a troll, there are only two choices, one of which will destroy America; as such, if the Troll makes three or more comments, the probability that you will be called a traitor to freedom is 100%.
You cannot reason with a troll, for trolls are not reasonable people.
Now, you have to wonder about these folks, these trolls.
Are they like this in real life?
Seriously, imagine it.
Imagine if you had a troll in your carpool, for example.
Driver: Say folks, I was thinking maybe we’d stop for coffee this morning!
Shotgun: I love me some coffee. Wonderful delicious coffee. Mmmmmm.
Backseat Passenger Side: Woot! Starbucks, Dudes!
Backseat Driver Side: How about Seattle’s Best?
Driver: I’m good either way, though I prefer that little drive up-place with the bikini chick. You know, the one with the grande lattes?
Shotgun: Bikini! Bikini!
Backseat Right: I could go for a couple of big lattes.
Backseat Left: Hey, maybe we could…
Troll, in the middle, on the hump: WTF?! Are you people stupid?! Why don’t we just give America to the terrorists?
Shotgun: Whoa, dude, did you just shit yourself?
Backseat Right: Yeah, man, sounds like somebody needs a muffin with their coffee. Wonderful delicious coffee.
Troll: God, you people are so ignorant! Coffee leads to socialism, everybody knows that. Coffee comes from South America, duh, Marxism. What do you put in Coffee? Sugar. Sugar comes from Cuba. What else do you put in coffee? Milk, from cows. Cows travel in herds. Herds! That’s Communism, Asswipes. Wake up!
Driver: Why don’t I drop you off first, and the four of us will go get coffee without you?
Troll: Fuck you, Benedict Hussein Arnold!
Come to think of it, maybe trolls do exist in the real world.
See the things I put up with for my art?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go open a can of Mandarin oranges and watch me some Conan.