What is SLASH and why is it ruining this blog?

May 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

If you’ve lately noticed a drop in the quantity (hopefully not the quality) of output at The Oldest Jokes in the World, I’m sorry to say you’re not imagining things. There’s plenty I want to write about—I’ve been brainstorming for a series of posts about anachronistic funnies drawing on the work of John Gardner, Jonathan Lethem, and Brian K. Vaughn, among others, as well as an academic exploration of the “Deez Nuts” joke—but all I’ve managed in the past month is a jokealong and couple of posts apologizing for how little output I’ve managed. I can blame part of the drop off on moving and planning for a wedding, but in all honestly, I’ve still found plenty of time for writing; I’ve just spent all that time working on Slash.

Slash is a novel I’m going to self-publish serially, and I’ve been feverishly trying to set up www.slashserial.com and a fb page so that I’ll be ready to promote in advance of its September release. If you’re wondering what Slash the novel is all about, I recently put up a synopsis detailing our hero Alexis Bledsoe’s troubled relationship with slash fiction; and if you’re wondering what slash fiction is, I also added a page defining and outlining this oft-misunderstood literary genre.

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In the novel, I’m trying to give a fair and searching exploration of both the positive and negative aspects of slash fiction (and the act of reading fiction in general, I think). On the website, however, I’m going to focus on only the best slash fiction and fan fiction has to offer, so as to better build community and discussion.

As a result, I only think it fair that I offer up the worst slash fiction has to offer on this blog: My Immortal will introduce you to everything that is wrong with slash fiction including awful grammar, sloppy spelling, absurd plot twist, gross sounding Harry Potter fantasies that are supposed to be sexy, and so much more!

As such, it will hopefully keep you laughing while I take a break from The Oldest Jokes in the World. I won’t say we’re going on hiatus because I hope to at least get the two series of posts I was discussing above out by the end of summer, but I just don’t think it is fair of me to promise weekly posts anymore. I’m going to aim optimistically for twice monthly, so check back in a bit for a thoughtful laugh… either at what I’ve written by then or my hubris.

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Jokealong: ICE BREAKERS

May 17, 2013 § 2 Comments

Since people are continually stumbling onto The Oldest Jokes in the World in search of actual jokes, not just abstract theories about them, every other week we have a joke-along post. I’ll search through the site’s stats for a specific joke people have been searching for, comb the internet for the best existing examples, and try come up with one of my own. And then you all can add your own in the comments, so the next time someone comes searching, they won’t leave disappointed.

Busy with other projects (gentle reminder: like the fb page and follow the website for my forthcoming novel, Slash), it has been over a month since our last jokealong, so I had a little difficulty warming up to even start this one. What better topic to pick then, I thought, than ice breakers?

Really any topic, I discovered, once I started.

People are, apparently, desperate for ice-breakers. In my series on the divide between wit and written jokes, I mentioned, briefly, that written jokes are great for breaking the ice in unfamiliar social situations, and in the months since, searches for “ice breaker jokes” have become the number one term leading people to the site. As an awkward guy myself, I sympathize with this search for an easy-to-memorize sentence that will make you look smooth in any social situation, no matter how sweaty and uncomfortable you are.

But my own personal search for a good ice-breaker has made me realize it is a quixotic (and greedy) quest. When you think about it, what phrase could appeal to all audiences everywhere? And if such a golden incantation did exist, who would be responsible enough to know such a spell without using it for evil?

As a result of their ultimate impossibility, many ice-breakers are just lame jokes. Anything that might appeal to everyone is going to be necessarily broad and soft to the point of near meaninglessness.

In the opposite direction, there are those who just assume that their own personal points of view are the only ones worth having and that anyone who is offended by them aren’t worth knowing. One example I came across are Redditers who claim that cheap cheap-hand-job jokes are their go-to ice-breakers. The goal here isn’t making a connection with a new person, but testing to see if your audience is exactly as crass as you.

(Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a well crafted hand-job joke, just that I know I need to earn the right and familiarity to tell one to you.)

The worst examples—and, sadly, the most desperate searchers of good examples—come from dating websites. On this dating site message board thread for ice-breaking tips, several men suggest lesbian jokes as ice-breakers. Again, the goal doesn’t seem to be to make a connection, but to test if your date is the sort of feminist killjoy who hates lesbian jokes—and is probably a secret lesbian anyways, the spiraling logic goes. I’ve got to assume these guys are so obsessed with lesbians because they think every girl they’ve ever dated is a lesbian: I mean, who else wouldn’t be attracted to such a handsome guy with such a wealth of homophobic humor, right? These aren’t the sort of ice-breakers that open the room to warmth, but that send the teller further and further down a lonely, one-way path.

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That said, there are some decent ones out there, as anyone who listens to the Dinner Party Download on MPR knows. I think the key is knowing a few and gauging the situation for one that fits. As a result, I’m submitting this year’s compilation podcast from that show as our winner. If the people you find yourself with are worth conversing with at all, there’d ought to be something here that will get them to like you.

As for my contribution:

Q: Why did the lonely hipster put ornate studs in his tires before going to the winter pub crawl?

A: They make a great ice-braker.

Ice-breakers are mostly about putting yourself out there to be vulnerable, getting the dialogue going, so I hope that lame attempt will open the floodgates to all of your awesome ice-breakers out there.

The King of Empty Promises

May 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

So… this is the third week in a row that I’m going to promise a new jokealong next week. I’m starting to feel a bit like the King of Empty Promises from The Kids in the Hall.

Which isn’t to say that joking around slipped my mind. I thought about joking around often, but it was usually longingly, while occupied by a more serious task. I’ve been busy laying the groundwork for Slash‘s release this autumn by setting up a facebook page and familiarizing myself with ebook formatting for Smashwords.

I’ve become somewhat confident on Smashwords by converting three of our most recent Red Bird chapbooks. Shaun Rouser‘s Family Affair, with its three patiently intelligent long-form stories was probably the easiest to format; Matthew Burnside‘s Escapologies was a little harder, as it contains a dozen distinctly beautiful prose poems; but Laura Bogart‘s collection of compelling short stories was the hardest, as it also contains several of her lovely illustrations.

hurricane cover webcopyHonestly, I feel awful about the whole thing. I tell you what I’ll do… I’ll have an extra special jokealong for you next week. Promise.

Introducing SLASH

May 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m sorry to say we’ll have to go another week without a jokealong because I’ve got even more exciting news to share. I’ve been hinting on the blog for a while now about the novel I’ve been working on and, after several years of private work, I’m finally ready to start taking steps towards bringing it into the world.

Slash is a metafictional-erotic-thriller/comedic-murder-mystery/romantic-slasher. Half literary experiment, half titillating pulp, I’ll be self-publishing it in seven cliffhanger-heavy episodes—with both a cheap, easy ebook versions, as well as handsome hand-made volumes for the serious collector. The first episode will be out in September, but to drum up advance interest, I’m launching the website today.

As the project progresses, slashserial.com will feature contests for fan fiction and fan art as well as news about the series, but for now, the main attraction is the first chapter, posted as a free preview. Please check it out and follow for future updates, if you’re so inclined.

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(I’ll warn that it’s a little racier than what I normally post on the blog, so it might not be for everyone. In fact, while writing it, I thought it was so dirty I was contemplating a pen name. But then when I gave it to my writing friends for comments, most of them told me I back off too much and that I should make it dirtier. Who knows what counts as lewd these day? (All I know is that warning people that something is raunchy will entice them to read.))

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