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Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 (2008)

by John Scalzi

Series: Whatever Collections (1998-2008)

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A compilation of some of the writings from the author's popular blog, Whatever, from 1998 to 2008.



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John Scalzi began a "web journal" or what we would today call a blog, back in 1998 that he named Whatever. This book is a collection of those blogs from a ten year period, 1998-2008, that also serves sometimes as a snapshot of a date in time that at first may seem so long ago or different, but in reality is not. He is a science fiction writer as well as a free-lance writer of various things, as well as a husband and the father of a daughter. His blogs cover just about everything under the sun: religion, politics, television, science, homosexuality, grief, breastfeeding, parenthood, philosophy (he occasionally gets to pull his major out and use it), and life in general. He is funny, thought-provoking, poignant, and might make you angry. He is everything a writer should be.

On his blog titled Levitcans, which is a term he made up for those "Christians" who spend way too much time obsessing over the book of Leviticus and ignoring the New Testament, he slams them for not following the actual teachings of Christ. "Rules are far easier to follow than Christ' actual path..." A good example of a Levitican? Fred Phelps and his group who picket funerals with signs, John Ashcroft, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell (the last two who suggested that the terrorist attacks happened because we were tolerant of pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, and, lesbians). Not every Christian or even fundamentalist is considered a Levitican in his book. That takes someone who will "transmute one's belief's into hate and intolerance, to deprive others of rights they ought to enjoy." Interestingly, he says though Leviticus is part of the Torah, there do not seem to be too many Jews that fall into this category, for whatever reason.

His blog on the Scooby gang is so spot-on and something that has never occurred to me, but explains everything: Fred is a cult leader. As a group of teenagers, these people would never hang around together. Fred and Daphne make sense in the way quarterback and cheerleader do. Daphne and Velma even make sense if you accept that Velma has an "unrequited crush" on her and follows her around everywhere. Shaggy and Scooby, "a stoner loner and his talking, possibly hallucinated dog. A perfect match." But all of them together? No way. Why do you think Fred always insists Daphene goes with him? He doesn't want Velma anywhere near her because she would be secretly putting him down. A group of teens riding around in a van that keeps stumbling upon mysteries that are all the same? Why aren't they in school? Why don't they ever change clothes, why are they always traveling, and where are the parents? It has to be a cult, with Fred as the authority figure who separates them from the rest of the world. They travel, not to solve crimes, but to stay ahead of the deprogrammers. In a weird way, it explains the whole show.

In his blog titled "Best Vision of Hell of the Millennium", he talks about Hieronymus Bosch, a Dutch painter who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. His painting of Hell is a rather vivid and insightful look at what Hell could be. His work would influence two great schools of art: Surrealism and Heavy Metal. The Surrealist liked his use of color and his ability to "combine the mundane and the fantastical to make bitter and intelligent social commentary." Heavy Metal artists like him because he drew really cool demons. Without Bosch, there'd be no Vallejo airbrushings or Dio album covers. The church tells us that Hell is not exactly a location but an eternal absence of God's grace. So one could say that Bosch's painting is just a mythical picture. Scalzi opines that the real question is not whether where Hell is or isn't, but if we could see our souls in a mirror, would they look like what Bosch envisioned? That would be Hell enough.

In his blog on vegetarianism, he says that he could never be one. He makes a good point that everything we eat was once a living thing and that it's a shame that animals cannot shed a steak or a fully cured ham like plants do. He does draw the line at veal, but really with a calf, it's almost a silly line to draw since it's always going to be "sooner or later". He does love to pick on vegetarians by reminding them that Hitler was one and that he also thought up the Volkswagon. Why no one every retorts back with Stalin, who was a big meat eater, is a wonder.

Scalzi has ticked off a lot of people over the years with this particular blog on"The Lie of Star Wars as Entertainment". Lucas is not an "entertainer" because an entertainer reaches out to his audience and wants them to join him. Lucas could care less. He is more interested in creating his universe. If you are there, fine. The trilogy is a mix of "30s adventure serials, 40s war films, 50s Kurosawa films and 60s Eastern mysticism, all jammed into the cinematic crock-pot and simmered in a watery broth made from the marrow of [Joseph] Campbell's thousand-headed hero." Lucas was very much interested in mythology and building one, which is "necrophilic storytelling; one that implicitly kills off an entire culture and plays with its corpse...It's better than being God, really. Gods have to deal with the universes they create; mythmakers merely have to say what happened." Anything entertaining about the series is purely incidental (his sources were entertaining after all, and the writers he hired were good, and the sheer novelty went a long way). Scalzi offers a test. Go and find the 1980 B-movie Battle Beyond the Stars, which was produced by Roger Corman, with a screenplay written by John Sayles, and starring Richard Thomas. It was made for $2 million and is funny and smart and actually entertaining because Corman and Sayles want to entertain you. Lucas could care less if he does. Watch it and see if its better than I, II, III, and VI. They use the same sources that Lucas used. I am a huge Star Wars fan and even I have to concede that he has a point. I am also looking for Beyond the Stars now because I am terribly curious. For those that are curious as to what he has to say about The Force Awakens, here is a link to his site: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/12/18/ (there are no spoilers).

I have to say I love his blog on going to the Creation Museum, which is, sadly, located in my home state of Kentucky. He tells you flat out he thinks creationism is bunk. He went there out of curiosity. A lot of money was put into this museum (you can tell). He had to wait for about an hour and a half due to a jam in the middle where there is a short movie. When you walk in you see a display of two paleontologists unearthing raptor bones. One of them says they are both the same, only he starts from the Bible and the other guy (who doesn't speak) starts from "man's reason". Right off you have to scream b.s. It tries to put them both on equal footing, but they are not. "creationism isn't a theory, it's an assertion, to wit: The entire universe was created in six days, the days are 24-hour days, the layout for the creation and for the early history of the planet and humanity is in the first chapter of Genesis and it is exactly right." Everything in the museum is either caused by or a consequence of The six-day creation, Adam eating from the tree of life, and Noah's flood. I'm rather glad that Eve, for once escapes blame for the whole fall of the human race, but poor Adam. He gets blamed for the creation of venom, carnivorous animals, and even entropy (the inevitable heat death of the earth). Then there are the dinosaurs running around Eden and being put on Noah's ark. It's so over the top it's more of an amusement park than anything else. For those who truly believe, it will be a comfort, for the rest, it will be just a day of fun. And in the end, this is a good thing. Creationism is not going away anytime soon, so we should be glad that it is totally ridiculous and boxed up and put away somewhere.

Scalzi kind of goes off on a rant that even his wife thinks might be a bit much, when he sees the ads for the channel WE, when it was starting up. They show a montage of female celebrities: Victoria Williams, Cindy Crawford, and Faye Dunaway. Each is listing their achievements. "I'm an actress. I'm an athlete. I'm a friend." His point is that "women should [not] feel compelled to qualify their successes through the prism of their gender. Anytime you have to qualify your success, you implicitly diminish it." It also bothers him that all the women are attractive. Faye Dunaway was chosen as a "director" but has only directed one movie, which was for WE. They could have picked Penny Marshall, Betty Thomas, or Mimi Leder, all very successful directors. In the end, he concludes, the ad is pandering to women, not inspiring them and if this is a network for women what does that say about how they think of you.

At the heart of it, PETA is not a really bad organization. I mean it stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The problem lies in the fact that they are more often interested in ticking people off than anything else. At one time they were going to promote breastfeeding in Mississippi by putting up a billboard of Baby Jesus suckling the Virgin Mary's nipples. Pregnant women already know that breastfeeding is better for their baby. If they haven't already heard if from a doctor/nurse/midwife, then the "La Leche League mafia" would have told them. They were really just after making the religious conservatives angry. Of course, this brings up the question of why is this so offensive? It's what happened. Could it be that Christians don't like to dwell on the humanity of both Christ and Mary? "Jesus' suffering was rooted in his divinity--he was called on to redeem the sins of the world--but the actual suffering part was predicated upon his human nature. Being nailed to the cross to die doesn't work if He Who is Nailed doesn't have the humanity required to suffer." Their dual nature of being both divine and human makes them special and the fact that Mary breastfed Jesus is a part of that.

Being poor is: knowing exactly how much everything costs; having to keep buying $800 cars because that's what you can afford, but then they break down on you because a car for that much money isn't worth anything; hoping a toothache goes away; a heater in only one room of the house; hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt; finding the letter your mom wrote your dad, begging him for the child support; a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet; needing that 35-cent raise; crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor; knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere; never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first; picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar; deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter; a lumpy futon bed; people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so; seeing how few options you have; running in place; people wondering why you didn't leave.

There are so many more I want to write about, like the blog about I Hate Your Politics, Bad Chocolate, Adorable Little Punks, Christopher Robin is Out There in the Woods, Best Gay Guy of the Millennium (Richard the Lionhearted), The Problem With Parents, Ayn Rand, Mom!, The Speckless Sky (written the day after 9/11), Football With Jesus, The New Sesame Street Characters Suck, and the Best Personal Hygiene Product of the Millennium. This is such a joy to read, the only drawback some might find is that he chose to not correct any spelling or grammar errors he made on his blog. After a while, though, when you get to reading, your mind just reads what it knows is supposed to be there naturally and you stop noticing them. Trust me, this is something that annoys me to bits and I found this to be true. My brain just auto-corrected subconsciously. Here is the address for the blog Whatever: http://whatever.scalzi.com/. It's funny. At the beginning of his book when he is describing blogs he talks about how people assume that blogs are written by angsty teens and cat lovers who put up lots of pictures, he doesn't really mention to what extent he falls in the latter category. I went to his website and he puts up lots of pictures of his cats. He's still writing science fiction books and blogging about everything under the sun as well, but, wow, all those cats!

The second thing calendars do is notify us of the cyclical nature of our planet. Thanks to a more or less tilt of the earth’s axis and a regular period of revolution around our sun, our world gets hot and cold on a predictable schedule, and the patterns of life take note. Flowers bloom in the spring. Animals hibernate in the winter. Leaves fall in autumn. We get re-runs in the summer. It’s the cycle of life.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p 71)

Put these five in a room, and you don’t have the Scooby Gang, you have the Breakfast Club, minus the happy ending where they all sign a joint declaration to the music of Simple Minds. So the idea of this group being a naturally occurring grouping of teenagers is out, way out—and enforced contact would result in somebody being bitten, not necessarily by Scooby. Fortunately, there’s a much more rational explanation for this odd little grouping, led by Fred. It is: Fred is not the leader of a gang of friends, he’s the leader of a cult.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p84)

Occasionally I am asked if I believe in Jesus. My standard answer to this is “as much as I believe in evolution,” which serves the dual purpose of both answering in the affirmative and usually annoying the person who asks the question.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p85)

We’re all a country song waiting to happen.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p109-10)

I could never be a vegetarian. First of all, my heart just wouldn’t be in it. I’m okay with the fact that what I’m cramming into my mouth was once a living thing, because with the exception of chewing gum (which is some sort of plastic, untouched by nature), everything you eat was once living. It’s the way the whole digestive thing is set up. You can’t live on chewing gum and multivitamins. I tried it my senior year of college, when I [sic] running low on rent money. It just doesn’t work.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p 115)

The only other meat product in the fridge was a package of turkey ham that had been sitting in the meat bin for longer than I could remember. Which of course is a very bad sign. It was lying in wait to ambush me. It was the turkey’s revenge—first it was killed, and then it was make to perform a carnivorous transvestite act, masquerading as the meat of a pig. Its only method of revenge was to lie in the meat bin past its due date and trick me into eating it then. Well, not this time, Tom. I passed it up (but I didn’t remove it from the fridge and throw it in the trash, its threat then forever neutralized. No, I don’t know why not. I suspect the decision will come back to haunt me.)

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p116)

Star Wars is not entertainment. Star Wars is George Lucas masturbating to a picture of Joseph Campbell and conning billions of people into watching the money shot. There is nothing in the least bit “popular” about the Star Wars films. This is true of all of them, but especially of Episodes I, II, and III. They are the selfish, ungenerous, onanistic output of a man who has no desire to include others in the internal grammar of his fictional world. They are the ultimate in auteur theory, but this creator has contempt for the people who view his work—or if not contempt, at the very least a near-autistic lack of concern as to whether anyone else “gets” his vision. The word “entertainer” has an assumption that the creator/actor is reaching out to his [sic] or audience to engage them. George Lucas doesn’t bother with this. He won’t keep you out of his universe; he just doesn’t care that you’re in it. To call the Star Wars films “entertainment” is to fundamentally misapprehend the meaning of the word.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p120)

Thousands of years from now, after the inevitable apocalypse of some sort wipes out our civilization, future archaeologists will scour the land to make some sense of our times, and I think the process will go something like this.

Archeologist1: Look, it’s another temple of the ancestors’ dominant faith. Note the golden arches.

Archeologist2: And look what I’ve found in the storage crypt! (pulls out a box of cheese slices)

Archeologist1: Ah, the communion squares. For their ritual obescience to Ro-Nald, the demon destroyer of worlds. You can see his terrible visage bedecking the illuminated windows from behind the tithing altar.

Archeologist2: (sniffing the cheese) These smell terrible. It must have been some sort of penance to injest these.

Archeologist1: (glancing over) You know, those samples have maintained their unholy orange taint. They may still be potent.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p134)

But seriously, the ability to just come out and put on a placard that the Jurassic era is temporarily contiguous with the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt—well, there’s a word for that, and that word is chutzpah. Because, look, that’s something you really have to sell if you want anyone to buy it. It’s one thing to say to people that God directly created the dinosaurs and that they lived in the Garden of Eden. It’s another thing to suggest they lived long enough to harass the Minoans, and do it all with a straight face.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p139)

If we can’t tell the gays from the straights, then the bisexuals are really up the creek, aren’t they? Simultaneously, wearing a too-tight ribbed tank top and relaxed fit Wranglers won’t mean anything anymore. These sort of articles make me want to smack the [New York] Times upside the head and yell at it to try its hand at actual news again, you know, for a refreshing change. I hear there’s a war on. Secondly: This is a bad thing? We live in an era in which an active quorum of religious bigots would quarantine gays into concentration camps if they could (“It’s just like Guantanamo-only fabulous!”), and the Times is snarkily concerned that we can’t simply visually identify the gay guys anymore? Hell. I’ll happily wear a leather armband if it’ll flummox a hateful Bible-wielder. And I’ll let a gay man borrow my Wal-Mart purchased t-shirt, just to really throw them off. He can’t be gay---that shirt is 40% polyester! Yes, the gay can blend. Just like polycotton.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p143)

Professing to have a long-standing crush on an unapproachable girl, is, of course very teen gay. So is being verbally clever, slight of build, an active participant in singing and theater groups and enjoying Depeche Mode on a regular basis. And I took dance. Modern and Jazz. Oh, yeah. Add it all up and I was queer to the friggin’ core. The only thing that really pegged me as possibly being in the heterosexual camp was that I was a freakin’ slob and that in addition to enjoying Depeche Mode I was also a big fan of Journey. But as anyone can tell you, gay teens compensate for their queerness by doing things like, you know, picking a random corporate rock band to obsess over, hopefully one with a moderately cute lead singer. In my era it would be Journey. 10 years later: Creed (Today: Well, hell. All those new rock bands seem pretty sexually all over the map, don’t they? Have you got a gander at, say, Franz Ferdinand?).

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p144)

Here in the US, gay is the new British, which is to say that if people think you’re gay, they also think you are smarter, wittier, and more fun to be around than the average guy. Sure, you sodomize other men on occasion, but that’s your business, and we Americans always suspected British men had sodomy as a required subject at Eton.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p145)

Jesus was divine, but also human. He was a baby, he had to eat. Mary was the Mother of God but also a mother; she gave birth, her body pumped out milk so she could feed her baby. Mary suckled Baby Jesus. Deal with it. The response. We know she did it, we just don’t want to see it or think about it. And or course, the answer here is: Why on Earth not? Well, for one thing, it’s a breast—and we all know that looking at boobs arouses thoughts of sex. Sex leads to sin, sin leads to fear, fear leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. So we just can’t have the Virgin Mary going topless. The kids will riot. As you can imagine, this line of reasoning makes me giggle. For one thing, there’s undoubtedly a special seating area in Hell for people who have lustful thoughts about the Virgin Mary (excluding Joseph.)…For another thing, breasts being used for breastfeeding are unsexy in almost exactly the same way a vagina being used for birth is unsexy—indeed, it’s a vivid reminder that God, in His wisdom, evolved dual uses for just about every fun-providing part of the human anatomy, and that second use is definitely not about having a good time.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p166-7)

One of the things that really chaps my ass about the people who oppose gay marriage is that so many of them seem to believe that allowing guys to marry guys or gals to marry gals will tumble the entire nation into a festering cesspool of carnal inequity, in which everyone suddenly turns into lustful raveners who engage in group marriages with dogs and close relatives, like recursively genetic unfortunates or characters from a late-era Robert Heinlein novel.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p169)

I would suspect that on a day-to-day basis and in his personal encounters the man is normal enough, which makes him, like most people, a generally nice person to be around. I’m also sure that, like most people, he has his moments of irritability, neuroses, and supreme dickheadedness, which unfortunately for him are played out on the world stage and make for good news, while the rest of us get to have our moments of incivil stupidly in relative obscurity. One correspondent, in listing Dubya’s not-nice crimes against humanity, noted to me that the man is reportedly given to irrational bouts of rage. Well, maybe he is. On the other hand, yesterday I beat a malfunctioning phone to death with a hammer. So maybe I’m not the best person to judge someone for their irrational bouts of rage. And anyway, hammering my phone to death does not make me any less nice. Yes, yes, where I hammer a phone in a fit of pique, Dubya’s can bomb a country. But I’m reasonably sure they’d bring in Colin Powell to hose him down first…Dubya-haters want him to be evil because they perceive his policies to be evil…The problem with that formulation is that it’s totally wrong; nice people do these sorts of things all the time.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, 173-4)

You have to be a really interesting sort of ignorant not to know that the Marines kill people from time to time. Your first hint: The big rifle so many of those Marines carry around. Your second hint: All those movies, books and television shows, widely available to the general public, in which Marines are shown, you know, killing people. Your third hint: The fact that the Marines are widely acknowledged to be a branch of the military of the United States, and militaries are likewise widely known, by most people who are smart enough to stand upright, on two legs, to kill other people on occasion (typically members of other nations’ militaries, though sometimes they’re not so picky, depending on country and context).

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, p177)

Democrats: The attention span of poultry; easily distracted from large, useful goals by pointless minutiae. Not only can’t see the forest for the trees, can’t see the trees for the pine needles. Deserve every bad thing that happens to them because they just can’t get their act together.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p182)

Conservatives: Less interested in explaining their point of view than nuking you and everything you stand for into blackened cinders before your evil world-view catches on like a virus. Conservatives have no volume control on hate and yet were shocked as Hell when Rush Limbaugh went deaf.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p182-3)

Libertarians: Never got over the fact they weren’t the illegitimate children of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand; currently punishing the rest of us for it. Unusually smug for a political philosophy that’s never gotten anyone elected for anything above the local water board.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p183)

When you’re a student, grad student or associate professor, you vent in your blog; when you get tenure, you get to vent in a book.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p225)

If fear is hard working and has a goal, angst is like fear’s directionless cousin, the one that has a trust fund and no freakin’ clue what he wants to do. Angst by definition has no definite object; it is formless and ubiquitous, and it just sits on your head and freaks you out.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p231)

Heidegger’s writings are so famously impenetrable they could be used by SWAT teams in place of Kevlar; to the uninitiated, he sounds a little like the self-help counselor from the third circle of Hell (“Love your Dread! Embrace the Nothingness!”). Left unsaid is what happens after one has if fact embraced the nothingness; one has the unsettling feeling that it’s difficult to get cable TV. Also, there’s the question of what happens when on has reached a state of authentic being, only to discover one is authentically an ass.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p232)

Munch knew all about dread; first off, he was Norwegian. Second, he was a sickly boy whose family had an unfortunate tendency of dying on him: His mother when he was five, his sister when he was 14, then his father and brother while he was still young. His other sister? Mentally ill. Munch would write, quite accurately, “Illness, insanity and death were the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life.”

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p232)

“The Scream” is just one element in Munch’s epic “Frieze of Life”, a collection of 20-odd canvases jam-packed with angst: One of the four major themes of the work, in fact, is “Anxiety”. But even the more supposedly cheerful theme of “Love”, features paintings swaddled in depression and dread: check out “Ashes” or “Separation”, and angst leaps up and hits you like a jagged rock Don’t even view the “Death” pictures if you’ve skipped your Xanax for the day.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p233)

Given the choice between Heinlein and Rand, which would I want as a parent? Let’s posit that one couldn’t have both—beyond such a union causing the cracking of at least four of the seven seals, there’s a pretty good chance that after about 15 minutes in each other’s presence, either or both of them would have been thumbing their holsters. There can only be one Alpha Male in the room. In a shootout, incidentally, it’d be even money: Heinlein would probably be faster off the draw, but Rand would probably need a stake through the heart to go down. (Before you start: I know about Rand and her thoughts on force. But let’s just see her try to reason with Angry Bob.)

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p247)

When it comes to elections, you don’t let the GOP get close. Letting them get close just means you can’t see where they’re planning to jam in the knife.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p278)

I’m going to talk as a man here for a minute, pleading to any woman out there who might possibly be considering expending a brain cell or two on this whole “Rules” of “Surrendered Wife” angle of things. I will begin by saying that I can’t possibly imagine what the Hell is wrong with you that you’d ever possibly be considering something like this seriously anyway…Whatever the reason, stop. Just stop. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in a position where a man has total control over you. Why? Well, beyond the fact that it’s an irredeemably stupid thing to let anybody have total control of your life besides you, there’s the more particular matter of the fact that men, invariably, are dumb-asses. Big fat stinky dumb asses, with dumb ass ideas about every dumb ass thing. Why we’re allowed out of the house without leashes is beyond me.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p 322)

The Lord is my receiver; I shall not fumble. He maketh me perform the handoff, and occasionally leadeth me to the Hail Mary pass. He restoreth the point spread; He leadeth me down the field toward victory in His name. Yea, though I thread through the Valley of the Blitzing 35-Pound Defensive Line, I will fear no sacking; for Thou art with me; Thy offensive line of burly disciples they comfort me.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p339)

Think about the classic Sesame Street Muppets and you’ll know what I mean. Each of them had his or her own endearingly neurotic quirk. Cookie Monster: Addictive personality and moderate mental retardation. Big Bird: Esteem issues. Bert and Ernie: Co-dependence. Oscar the Grouch: Misanthropy. The Count: Deviant lifestyle. Snuffaluphaus: Hell, he didn’t actually exist. Kermit, well, Kermit was the worst, with his veneer of calm control occasionally exploding into random fits of amphibian rage (now you know why it’s not easy being green). And as for Grover: Good lord. He’s a psychiatrist’s yacht all on his own. Elmo doesn’t have any of this. He’s merely obnoxious and red and has ping-pong eyes. But get this: He’s the most appealing of the new Muppets. The Zoe Muppet, for example, has a personality of the sort that makes you wish that she were real, so you could stuff her in a sack and drown her in a river and be done with her….The first set of Muppets were created in the late 60s, when being freakish and weird held a romantic sort of charm, and there was the idea that maybe we should accept people eve with vaguely neurotic quirks. Today, of course, children’s quirks are merely something to be medicated out of them…The new Muppets don’t have quirks, and without the quirks, they simply grate. This is bad news for our kids, since Muppets more or less reflect their target audience. The solution is clear: Write to the Children’s Television Workshop and demand they make their Muppets more freakish. Do it for the kids. They deserve neurotic Muppets! Years from now, they’ll thank you for it.

--John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p348)

Some people believe bad chocolate is like bad sex: Even when it’s bad, it’s still good. This formulation is nonsense at its root. Bad sex is definitely not still good. It’s actually tremendously depressing, sort of like getting all worked up [sic] go to Disneyland just to find that the only ride open in the whole park is the monorail to and from the parking lot—and that the monorail seats small kind of funky. Secondly, bad chocolate is worse than bad sex. We accept that sex may occasionally be bad…but chocolate is supposed to be above that. Chocolate is supposed to be an absolute good. Occasional bad sex is regrettable, but bad chocolate is a betrayal.

-John Scalzi (Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 p63) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Oct 9, 2017 |
A great compilation of Scalzi's blog posts, many of which are still well worth a reread even for regular visitors to his site. I enjoyed the scatter-shot organization and mental massage of jumping from topic to topic and not in chronological order; at first, I wanted topics lumped together so as to follow threads of discussion and argument. The book works much better as is, almost like a cocktail party discussion that flows from one topic to the next and back again.

Whether your a writer, a reader, a politics junkie, or just someone who appreciates a well-done essay (short or long), this book should definitely be on your to-read pile. ( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
Probably already fading a bit in terms of topicality, particularly since the blogging phenomena is a bit past its sell-by date, what you do have here is a great big slab of the wit, wisdom and venom of the estimable Mr. Scalzi; this includes the near-canonical essay "Being Poor." Sadly, no cats with bacon taped to them though. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 29, 2016 |
It should be required reading for all people.
Each article just keeps getting better and better.
I never want the book to end! ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 4, 2015 |
It should be required reading for all people.
Each article just keeps getting better and better.
I never want the book to end! ( )
  ThothJ | Dec 3, 2015 |
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Holden Caulfield turned 50 this last week, and if the imaginary, fictional world in which he lives has any parallel with ours, right about now, he's got a kid who is now the age Holden was in The Catcher in the Rye, and that kid is just driving him nuts.
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