Bill Clinton, Fleetwood Mac and My Pathetic Life

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For the past few years, my number one go-to story has been about the time I met Bill Clinton. I’ve told it over and over, usually whenever I meet someone new, because it has a genuinely surprising and adorable twist and it consistently gets a good response. As a guy who struggles through most social interactions, it serves as a nice little conversational life preserver when I’m stranded amongst casual acquaintances at a party. 

By now this story well rehearsed and it’s got a nice little arc. It’s also probably embellished to the point that it doesn’t even vaguely resemble the actual event, which I honestly can’t even remember that well anymore. All of my close friends are probably sick of hearing it from across the room, and have no doubt taken notice of its evolution, secretly mocking me for each egregious exaggeration.

Anyway, the story boils down to this: I unexpectedly found myself one-on-one with Bill Clinton (post-presidency) for a couple minutes and insulted him by talking about how I hated Fleetwood Mac. He suggested that I hadn’t been listening to the ideal Fleetwood Mac album (Tusk) and that if I listened to a specific song (“The Ledge”), he was confident I’d become a fan. Depending on the specific audience I’ll throw in a lewd joke at the right moment. The rehearsed version of this story usually takes about 15-20 minutes to tell.

I guess this story is a proven Small Talk Gem™ because it involves a person with whom literally everyone I talk to is familiar (except for babies, who are terrible at parties for this reason), and it begs a lot of fun follow-up questions. But it’s also pathetic and I’m not going to tell it anymore.

Look, it’s cool and unusual that the former Commander-In-Chief gave me a rock and roll record recommendation, but if any other dude told me I just didn’t “get” Fleetwood Mac (or any other Boomer nonsense) unless I listened to the right album, I’d roll my eyes and wait for the right moment to try and push him down the stairs in such a way that it could plausibly look like an accident. I certainly wouldn’t go bragging to strangers about it for the next seven years.

Have you ever gone to a stand-up comedy show and seen those audience members who don’t seem to realize that the comedians are doing a well-rehearsed routine? They don’t understand that that “shocking” “tossed-off” comment has been road-tested hundreds of times. For some reason this aggravates me to no end, even though these people make up probably 90% of comedy audiences and are essential to the whole endeavor. Comedians don’t hate them; they’re buying tickets and laughing uproariously. They certainly don’t mind; they’re having an entertaining night out.

I can’t exactly figure out why this makes me so upset, but they just seem like hopeless rubes who don’t understand that there is a big invisible game being played around them. There’s nothing special or unique about the experience. While it’s out of the ordinary and exciting for them, it’s the same old run-of-the-mill grind for everyone else. Maybe I have some kind of outsider complex, but it seems to me like they’re being manipulated and just find something pathetic about being a simple howdedodat.

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Only recently did I realize that by clinging to this Bill Clinton story, I am just as clueless as these people. Bill Clinton doesn’t remember talking to me that day any more than Louis CK remembers his 2007 show at Zippy’s in Columbus, Ohio. He was just doing what he always does: being charming to strangers. There are many thousands of others with their own Bill Clinton stories, probably almost identical to mine. He’s probably recommended that album to every 20-something he talks to whenever the subject of music comes up. Telling my story to strangers is like a guy telling a blind date about how he heard Bill Cosby tell a story about going to the dentist, or some idiot bragging for years about how when he was in Paris he was lucky enough to visit the Eiffel Tower. No shit, guys. This stuff happens to everyone.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the point of all of this is. I’m fairly certain there are no stories that are completely unique. Maybe it’s the fact that I, like most people, like to think I’m above being manipulated by politicians, and that their pandering is always obvious and demeaning to those being spoken down to. And telling this story 700 times proves that I’m not as smart as I thought I was. This story I have used to define myself to new people is just a thing that happens to people literally all the time, and that’s just sad. Even sadder is the fact that I don’t have any better stories. Maybe I’ll just stop going to parties.

Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, President Clinton was totally right about “The Ledge.”

A brief note to the fine people of Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester and London

This is a post about feelings and things of that nature, but also about the upcoming TCGTE tour. If you don’t want to hear about feelings, you can just go read about the tour.

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In about three weeks, I will enter a cramped metal tube, shimmy my way down a narrow aisle filled with jerks elbowing each other in the face to secure a little bit of room for their belongings to an absurdly-expensive-yet-extremely-uncomfortable chair, sit down, drink as much whiskey as the people in charge will let me drink and hopefully not freak out for the next 6 or 7 hours. 

I really hate flying in airplanes. I’m what you’d call a “bad flyer.” I know you’re way more likely to die in a car or on a train or taking a shower or playing a game of lawn darts than flying in an airplane, but while I can process this intellectually, it doesn’t stop my idiot lizard brain from convincing me that I’m having a heart attack 40,000 feet above an ocean and nobody is on board that can help me and that the economics of air travel are such that the airline would probably decide to let one bearded doofus die instead of rerouting the plane to get him proper medical attention and then dealing with the logistics and costs of getting the other 200 passengers onto another flight to their original destination.

Or worse, what if a horse somehow boarded the plane? I don’t know how a horse’s inner ear works, but of it’s anything like a human’s ear and the pressure change in the cabin would make its ears pop, oh boy look out! That horse is going to be confused, and when a horse is confused it doesn’t just look around quizzically, trying to assess the situation and decide on the best course of action. It goes nuts. Hooves would be flying every which way. Believe me, you could try to calm it down by explaining exactly why it’s happening rationally in a soothing, comforting voice, but that horse is not going to give you the time of day. Look, I wish it were possible to explain things like this to a horse, I really do. But it’s just not. This is just the reality of the situation here.

Anyway, I rarely go on planes for these reasons. But starting four years ago, I started willingly subjecting myself to these horrors on an annual basis so that I could do something that’s pretty ridiculous. Since 2011, Tom and I have been lucky enough to do a live version of our podcast, The Complete Guide to Everything, in front of actual people who live 3,000 miles away. It’s actually pretty surreal that we are able to do this, and actually expand our tour every year. So, thank you to all of you that have come out to our shows in the past. You have no idea how amazing it us to both of us that you care enough to spend a night or two listening to us talk about silly stuff in what you probably think are completely dumb-sounding American accents. (Oh god… you guys are just making fun of us, aren’t you? That’s why you’re coming out to these shows, isn’t it? To have a good laugh at the foolish yankees?)

When we booked our first show in London in 2011, I was 28 years old and I didn’t have a passport. I had never been outside of the United States (other than Canada, but like the Canadian motto says: “Canada Doesn’t Count”), I had never done a live comedy show in front of an audience and I had never met anyone who spoke in a real British accent (aside from the many butlers in my family’s employ when I was growing up). 

Basically, doing these shows have quite literally changed my life. I’ve gotten to travel to amazing new places, meet hundreds of interesting, friendly people and experience so many awesome things I never would have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. Of course, one of these experiences included having all my belongings stolen from me after the first show I ever did in London (true story), but even that taught me a valuable life lesson: don’t ever trust anybody in London for any reason as they are all thieving scoundrels.

So anyway, once again, I owe all of you who have come to any of the shows over the last four years or who have simply supported the podcast a hefty THANK YOU. You have made it possible for us to have these strange, wonderful, surreal experiences that most of our friends back home do not believe actually happen. I hope you enjoy the shows at least a fraction as much as I do. 

We come back every year primarily for the experience, as the logistics make it hard for us to make a meaningful profit. Covering airfare, travel between cities and hotel rooms that aren’t infested with rats (or if they are, they’re at least singing and dancing rats with a vast knowledge of vaudeville comedy routines, a la the rats from the muppets) adds up. It really isn’t about the money though. So thank you for making these tours special enough that I don’t even care that I’m still not a millionaire. And thanks for spending your hard-earned money on coming to the shows. I know there’s a lot of stuff you can spend your money on over there (is that Queen: We Will Rock You musical still running?), so thanks for giving it to a couple of foreigners. I wish we could make the shows free, but we can’t. Stupid capitalism, right folks??

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THIS YEAR’S TOUR
Oh, right. As I mentioned earlier, we’re coming back this year and that’s why I’m excited! Every year we try to make the new shows better than the previous year’s shows, and this time we’re working really hard to make these, like, even way better. In case you haven’t heard, we’re unofficially calling this year’s tour “The Teens & Alcohol Tour” because we’ve chosen two of our favorite topics as show themes. 

NOTE TO AUTHORITIES: We will not be providing alcohol to teens on the “Teens & Alcohol Tour.” These are merely two separate topics that we will be making humorous observations about on stage. Please let us enter and exit your country freely.

NOTE TO TEENS: Although the name of the tour sounds vaguely like the title of a school assembly at which you would be subjected to lectures about the dangers of teenage drinking, keep in mind that we are “cool dudes” who are not here to tell you how to live your lives.

So, this is how the scheduling is going to work: In Dublin & Edinburgh we will be doing one hybrid show with both topics in each city. In Manchester and London, we will be doing one show about Teenagers and one show about Alcohol in each city. See below for specific dates.

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OH YEAH, I ALMOST FORGOT!
The thing I am probably most excited for is taking place Thursday, June 5th in London when we will be doing a special show about MICHAEL JACKSON. We are both huge Michael Jackson fans, so it’s not going to be a whole show of us making fun of him, but boy oh boy, there is a ton of weird stuff to talk about. I promise that this show will be bonkers. There is almost too much stuff to cram into this show. It’s going to be part celebration of his music and life, part in-depth look at some lesser-known crazy stories, part breakdown of his video work and some other stuff. I cannot wait for all the shows we’re doing on this tour, but I especially cannot wait for this show.

——

Whoa. I just realized that this is really long. Sorry about that. Am I going to have to do one of those tl;dr summary things? That seems dumb. I hate those. Eh, whatever.

TL;DR - I don’t like flying on airplanes, but I am going to fly on airplanes because I love doing shows in Ireland and the UK. We’re coming back this year in a few weeks. And THANK YOU for anyone who has ever come to a show because you rule. And Michael Jackson is great.

Wow, even that tl;dr was kinda too long, huh? Sorry. Anyway, here are the dates with the show topics:

May 31  •  ALCOHOL & TEENAGERS
Dublin, Ireland  •  Powerscourt Theatre
 (TICKETS)

June 2  •  ALCOHOL & TEENAGERS
Edinburgh, Scotland  •  Scottish Storytelling Centre  
(TICKETS)

June 3  •  ALCOHOL
Manchester, England  •  Engine House  
(TICKETS)

June 4  •  TEENAGERS
Manchester, England  •  Engine House  
(TICKETS)

June 5  •  MICHAEL JACKSON
London, England  •  Kings Place
 *(TICKETS)

June 6  •  ALCOHOL
London, England  •  Kings Place   (TICKETS)

June 7  •  TEENAGERS
London, England  •  Kings Place   
(TICKETS)

tomreynolds:

A lot of people have been asking me how and why I decided to write a novel. There are two reasons. The first, and most important is that it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I remember going to the library and trying to research how to get published when I was 12. Needless to…

Congrats Tom! I had no idea about any of that stuff that happened to you!

tomreynolds:

So, I wrote a novel…

It’s called “Meta” and it’s taken me about a year to do so, with the bulk of the work coming in the last 6 months, but it’s here. A real, actual physical object that I can hold in my hands. It’s maybe the project I’ve worked hardest on in my life thus far and the one that I’ve told the fewest people about. Even my family and close friends didn’t know what exactly I was working on until I’d had my 3rd draft or so done and sent it off to the editor.

I think it’s because I’ve always viewed the idea of “writing a book” as one of the most unsurmountable tasks a human being can undertake. There were certainly late nights where it felt like that was the case. But it’s done, I’m impatient and I hate sitting on things. I also hate “hyping” things, especially when they’re something I’ve never done before, so I’m putting it out pretty quickly: next Friday, November 1st.

Writing this novel has been by far one of the most satisfying accomplishments in my life. It took a lot to sit down and finally hammer out ideas for worlds and characters I’d had in my head for so long, and even longer to edit them, but actually seeing them there on the page just feels amazing. I tried to write a book that teenage me would have loved reading, but that “adult” me would love just as much. Some people might thing it stinks, but I know that I at least accomplished those two goals and can put a line through “write a novel” on the ol’ bucket list.

Since I’m a new novelist and I don’t want anyone to understandably hesitate on dropping $20 on a book that might not be for them, I’m initially releasing the eBook version for $2.99/£1.99/€2.49. That way I hope you’ll take a chance on it, and if you like it leave a review or recommend it to a friend. I believe the print version is going to list for somewhere around $11.99/£7.49/€8.99. If you buy the print version through Amazon though you’ll get the Kindle version for free too. The eBook will be available for Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo. If you have a different eReader you should still be able to download from any of those sites and put it on your eReader since it will be DRM-free. A few weeks from now it should be available for ordering through local book stores as well.

So, yeah. Friday, November 1st. Take the day off from work. You can find out more, including boring details like “Hey, what’s your novel about?” over at Goodreads, where conveniently you can also add it to your To Read list and follow me.

Yo, I’ve read it and I can vouch for it. Go buy the goddamn book. It’s cheap!

garlock:

Dear Miley Cyrus,

This whole open letter to people thing seemed like a lot of fun so I figured “Hey why can’t Garlock get in on this”. Weirdos from the hardcore punk world used to write open letters to the scene all the time and I never really had a reason to. Maybe I’m just piggybacking on…