This is the archived text of a weblog I did to promote my book "Mr. Irresponsible's Bad Advice: How To Rip The Lid Off Your Id and Live Happily Ever After" (Volt Press: 2005). I had the idea that if I continued to essentially add to the book every day on the Web, and GIVE THAT WORK AWAY FOR FREE, people would be so charmed that they'd feel compelled to buy the original work.

Not so much, as it turns out. But I had fun anyway.


And Buenos Días, Jackass

It turns out that Texas governor Rick Perry, who has up to now shown little sign that he is anything other than a haircut in a suit, actually has a sense of humor. I'm not talking about that nutty prank he pulled when he signed anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage bills on the grounds of an evangelical school earlier this month. I'm talking about Tuesday, when Perry puckishly waved off one of those damn pesky TV reporters with the words "Adios, Mofo." Trouble was -- and seriously, this'll just kill you -- the cameras were still rolling and the fun-loving chief exec still had a microphone clipped to his lapel.

I'm not saying Perry's dumb. (I'll leave that to populist flamethrower Jim Hightower, who once memorably said of Perry that he "couldn't spell 'IQ' if you spotted him the 'I'.") Because, come on, a professional politician couldn't possibly be that dim in this day and age, right? No, the way I have it figured, Perry was looking for a way to spark a little cottage industry among quick-thinking Texans like Dallasite Travis Fussell, who within 48 hours had set up an online shop selling "Adios, Mofo" merchandise ranging from beer steins to baby bibs. By midday today the gag had spread to 16 stores and 473 products at Web retailer Cafepress.  I call that good old-fashioned bootstrap capitalism at work.

Mr. Irresponsible isn't one of those people who get the vapors when public officials use profanity or its linguistic offshoots. LBJ biographer Robert Caro has written about Johnson castigating his secretary in front of a roomful of political journalists, "using obscenities that shocked even these hard-bitten reporters," and man, don't think that isn't saying something. He also signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. On balance, the tradeoff seems worth it. Humans express themselves in a variety of ways, we have a long and colorful history of bending the language to our needs, and the attempt to pretend that they don't occasionally go snappish and bite off a quick obscenity or two is one of the ways people in the public eye become ridiculous.

So here's to Rick Perry, who's managed to turn a frat boy's peevish sense of entitlement into a pretty good political career, and given the good people of Texas a little to smile about along the way. Hey, wait a minute... this sounds familiar.


See Cruise

This weblog is barely 24 hours old, and I'll admit to some regrets about coming late to the game. There have been so many memes to mock over the last few years, and while I was out, oh, I don't know, earning a living or something, everybody else got to have all the fun. I've particularly been regretting the opportunity I missed to comment on Tom Cruise's creepy, hysterical, arm-pumping, sofa-leaping freak-out on the Oprah Winfrey show. A QuickTime video making the rounds today gives me a pretext to weigh in, however belatedly. And if the title -- "Tom Cruise Kills Oprah" -- is joke-killingly direct, the clip is still worth viewing for the rich, yeasty top note of wish fulfillment it delivers. Seriously, now: Who hasn't wanted to deliver an incapacitating jolt of electricity to Oprah, especially when she does that irritating carnival barker thing with her voice ("'s John Tra-VOLLL-taaa!")?

That said, Oprah isn't the center ring of the 10-in-1 show that is Cruise's extended publicity tour. It's Cruise himself who has that honor, accompanied only by the increasingly steely-looking Katie Holmes. (Holmes entered the maw of the publicity machine a dewy ingenue, and shows every sign of emerging at the other end as hard-eyed as Demi Moore. A girl does what a girl's gotta do, I guess.) Cruise's behavior has been so singularly bizarre that it's stunned his representatives at CAA, given aid and comfort to his ex-publicist, the terrifying Pat Kingsley, and put Kingsley's replacement, Cruise's sister Lee Anne DeVette, on the hot seat. (Memo to Tom: If you absolutely insist on working with family, try to make sure they don't use their porn star names while they're on the clock.)  How do I know all this? Not because I want to, believe me, but because all the media in the universe have giddily colluded in the manufacture of a publicity juggernaut that's jack-hammeringly unsubtle and seemingly endless, like an episode of "ER."

It's become too much, almost, and seemed at times to threaten a backlash. The thing about stars, though, is that they have a gut-puncher's instinct for survival. That's what Cruise has shown, by sheer good fortune, this week. Just as it began to seem possible that the world might actually be preparing to write the diminutive mega-star off as a soulless, hyper-controlling android with fewer human instincts than the average copying machine, he happened on the one personality type in the world that's more gratingly obnoxious than his own: A practical joker. "You're a jerk," Cruise sputtered at the Briton who squirted him with water while posing as a TV interviewer.  Oh, there he goes again, the world thought reflexively, that Cruise, I swear, and then it stopped. Oh. Wait. He's right.

This was, needless to say, a confusing moment. But it was also an illuminating one, because in it Cruise demonstrated an instinctive grasp of a survival technique I like to call “Fitting The Black Hat." Its basic outline is simple: When in trouble, look around for the person who is just slightly less sympathetic and appealing than you are, and make that person the bad guy. The trick is to avoid the people who are markedly less sympathetic than you are; this will create an imbalance of empathy, and send all good feelings rushing away from you. With that caveat, this is a technique that can be practiced anywhere, anytime, by anyone. In fact, its beauty is its broad scalability -- it works in settings as small as an informal dinner party, and as large as a paparazzi-clogged movie premiere.  By standing and confronting his dweeby tormentor, Cruise wrestled what might be called the momentum of sympathy back his way. And as a cheery little fillip, he had the guy and three of his co-conspirators arrested. This shows not only a gift for self-preservation but a dash of wit as well. A little more of this sort of thing and I might even go see "War of the Worlds." But I doubt it.


I'm Back

I'm no fan of this blogging thing, but when my assistant Debbie pointed out that I could use it to reach a vast audience of slackers, misfits and malcontents, I remember thinking: Baby, that's my people.  When she further pointed out that I could use it to cut my former newspaper syndicate and the courts clean out of the deal, I remember thinking: Clean out of the deal. Hmmm. Yes, it's true that the syndicate summarily terminated my long-running newspaper column, that we are currently engaged in a breathtaking array of interlocking lawsuits, and that the courts have forbidden me to work as a professional advice columnist until all actions are settled. But a close reading of their order reveals nothing prohibiting me from sharing the same Web-based freedom of expression granted to, say, "Tyler & Cassidy's Blog About Kitties." When I realized this, the abstract principle of disintermediation suddenly began to seem as real and delicious as the gleaming chocolate donut before me. (I was eating breakfast at the time.)  Right then and there I resolved to leap feet first into the blogosphere.

There will, however, be some ground rules, and chief among them is that no one in my immediate circle use the word "blogosphere," which is as trite and meaningless a lump of blathery new-speak as it's ever been my misfortune to hear. I was down with a sinus infection last week and forced to watch CNN for a good part of the day, and must have heard the word "blogosphere" a good six dozen times, especially from those two sparkly-eyed twinkies they have reading weblogs on the air. As part of their actual jobs. This was a concept so stunning to me that I forced Debbie to curtail her preparation of the lunchtime Croque Monsieurs which are the only reason I keep her around, and come in and watch with me. After just a moment or two I found myself scrabbling for the remote, asking incredulously "Hey, do you mind if I put the news on?" (Debbie, for her part, was crass enough to point out that I had lifted the line from Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News," which got her banished right back to the kitchenette.)

Beyond that linguistic proscription, however, anything goes. I'll be commenting here on the news of the day, with emphasis on manners and interpersonal relationships. And when Debbie pointed out that this was not only a fine way to spread my innovative gospel of “Creative Selfishness™” but also allowed me to peddle some books from the comfort of my lavish yet tasteful home, I remember thinking: Yes. This scam might just fly.

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