A CRASS PIECE OF SELF-PROMOTION II

Moses Rowed the Boat Ashore

The A Crass Piece of Self-Promotion list is the top twenty-seven posts that I have created. This list, the Moses Rowed the Boat Ashore list is the next set of twenty-four posts, the compendium piece for you Rilaly purists to argue over for the next century. 

These lists do not contain The Weird and the Strange character pieces that are available elsewhere on this website. They do not contain the various lists that I have written including Rilalities and the How to Succeed in Writing pieces. There are also no political pieces in this list. Some pieces (about three) do venture into a political arena, but their primary focus remains trained on the human condition, and interpersonal politics (as opposed to state, local, and national politics) can difficult to avoid when writing such pieces. 

Nestled within the stories we encounter, and our responses to them, are the never-ending questions that we should ask ourselves, until we realize that our story should not be based on seeking answers but better questions. That said, although the pieces deal with philosophy and psychology, in some ways, the answers provided in these stories should not be confused with professional answers. The individuals that are discussed in these pieces have answers to everything that plagues man, but they are as intelligent, philosophical, and dumb as I am. If a reader lands on this blog with a dire need to solve that which plagues them, they would be far better served by other, more informed, and more clinical websites. Those answers are not my answers. My answers are what arrived in the midst of curious mind asking other people questions. The answers are a result of the author being a sponge, as opposed to a fountain of ideas. The answers are a result of my perception of a truth, as opposed to the truth. The truth can be found, but it is as difficult to find in these pieces as it is in life, but there is an unvarnished, undistorted truth that the characters believed they found.

28) The Future of Sci-Fi Tropes and Dystopic Hopes This piece occurred as a result of the fatigue I have regarding the typical Sci-fi movie, and all of the tropes and clichés they employ in their stories. There is some politics in this piece. I would call it politics-lite, but the politics-lite is only used in this piece to counter the politics-lite of the typical sci-fi movie.

29) I’m a little bit polka, and a little bit rock and roll I had a conversation with a young adult, half my age, that suggested that I had regressed (or progressed, depending on your point-of-view) from a rock and roll rebel to an old fogy that ascribed to the more traditional lines of thought. I knew the progression had occurred, but I was a little surprised at how stark it had become, from the young ‘un’s point of view. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t care near as much as I thought I would, and I’ve always known how to enter into the “in-crowd” but I never wanted to prostitute my beliefs enough to make that grand entrance.

30) James Joyce: Incomparable or Incomprehensible? In my obsession with author James Joyce, I wanted to read, at least, Ulysses, if not Finnegans Wake. I found the attempt to do so exhausting, and I attempted to learn why by researching the claim that he was declared the greatest writer, and Ulysses his best work. 

James Joyce is widely regarded as one of the literary community’s greatest artist, but how did he achieve that vaunted place? Did he already achieve a literary masterpiece with the short story collection The Dubliners and/or the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man? Some would say he had, and that the works that followed were further explorations of the novel as an art form. Others would say that A Portrait was marginal, and Ulysses and Finnegans Wake were purposefully, and progressively confusing. The naysayers would say that Joyce didn’t have the talent of a Hemingway, or a Fitzgerald, so he decided to go outside the parameters of the traditional novel format to achieve something different. There’s nothing wrong with that, this reader replies to that specific argument, but when said author goes so far outside the parameters that no one knows what they’re talking about, a debate of historic proportions is created that leads this writer to question the motives of the author.

31) My Obsession with the Music From The Elder I wrote this piece with a mind towards describing my youth, our youth, and the youth of the future, as it pertains to music. A person could order obscure music, even in my day, but that person had to be prepared to pay a lot for that product’s scarcity, and the shipping and handling costs. I didn’t have that kind of money. I had to wait for my record store to order it. In the ensuing weeks, I developed a love affair with the possibility of the music on that cassette tape. One of the points of this piece is that music will never again enjoy the precious commodity of scarcity that music enjoyed in my youth. By the time I became obsessed with the music on the Kiss album Music from the Elder, it had already been panned, in all corners, as a failed experiment. As a result, the record company no longer provided fresh supplies of the album. Did this result in a greater number of sales for the album, no. Did this result in a cult following, yes, but that took decades. The only result from this was that it ascribed magical qualities to an album for one Midwestern boy that pined over it. I’m not sure if that does anything for anyone in the corporate chains of the music industry, but it did lead one boy to love music before he developed this obsession. This lack of scarcity, thanks to MP3s, and the act of file sharing, may be one primary component to the death of the music industry.

32) How the Excessively Gorgeous Gloria Steinem advanced the liberal, feminist agenda There is, of course, politics in this piece, and I normally wouldn’t consider such a piece for this list, but rereading this piece has informed me that it may be the exception to my self-imposed “no politics” rule when it comes to compiling lists of great posts.

This post starts in the wake of a friend of mine stating that he could no longer watch his favorite show King of Queens. “Because Carrie (female actor Leah Remini) has put on weight.” My friend was not alone. The seasons in which Remini appeared overweight (because she was pregnant!) on the show  were the seasons when the show experienced a major dip in ratings. This led me to wonder if the media figure Gloria Steinem had put on weight, would that generation’s incarnation of feminism have had any clout? It also led me to wonder if the format of the situation comedy Friends would’ve had a male audience, if the female stars on that show had put on forty to fifty pounds.

I do make it very clear in this piece that most women would have succeeded regardless the political climate of the nation, for all of the reasons laid out in the piece. I also add that there is a huge difference between classical feminism, as it pertains to individualism, and the nasty, bitter movement Steinem and her ilk wrought. The classical, individualist strain of the feminist movement was/is a beautiful thing, as it detailed the plight of an individual, that happens to be a woman, fighting against the patriarchal forces that be, but the nasty, bitter element that Steinem, and her ilk, may not have succeeded if their leader Ms. Gloria Steinem had put on weight.

33) The Music That Chuck Klosterman Kind of, Sort of, Used to Dislike I enjoy the musings of author Chuck Klosterman, but I’ve found that he now attempts to tightrope between writing risqué music critiques, and not saying anything that an artist could perceive to be insulting. As a rock journalist, interviews with rock stars are Klosterman’s bread and butter. Klosterman is knives out on some B level stars, like Mike Patton, but for Springsteen, or the Eagles, he dulls his spear a little. As I write in the article, Klosterman may never have been as piercing as I once thought, but he has so many lilting opinions on major stars, and his political opinions are so “correct” and unchallenging to the status quo that I robotically read his last book.

34) Oh! Our Electromagnetic Minds This non-fiction piece was derived from the research I conducted while trying to write a sci-fi novel. I tried, with everything in my might to create a narrative around the findings of the good Doctor Persinger. I couldn’t, but I think I developed one hell of a unique blog from it. Lesson learned: Just because a wealth of material doesn’t produce the product an author thinks it should, there is no reason to pitch that material in the dustbin of life. Or, it takes a lot of dung to fertilize a flower.

This is a piece that I hold as a testimony to the range I’ve displayed on this site. Is it the best piece I’ve written? If it were, I would’ve listed it higher, but this is one of the first pieces I wrote for this site that I considered unusual.   

35) To B or not to B How can philosophy help one through life? Those of us that have read some of the great philosophers have experienced some enlightenment, and some frustration as a result. The frustration is born from the fact that the broad tenets of philosophy can lead a reader to believe that the philosopher is speaking to the reader, but they have no specific resolution. The beauty of philosophy is that while it may not apply to immediate concerns, it provides nuggets of information that stick with a person, until the philosophy student begins to apply them. The primary contention in this piece is that we all need a plan B in life to be. 

36) Conquering Fear: A Few Tips from Psychopaths An interesting magazine article prompted me to consider the true nature of fear from those that don’t. How many of us don’t act, as a result of fears great and small?

An example was brought forth by the writer. He said that a friend of his was a land owner, and he couldn’t get rid of a tenant that wouldn’t pay his rent.

“How about you send someone pretending to be from the council to the house? How about you say that the councilman is looking for the landlord to inform him that they have conducted a reading of that house? How about that councilman asks the uninvited guest to deliver a message to the landlord that his house is just infested with asbestos? Before you can say ‘slow, tortuous death from lung cancer,’ the wanker will be straight out the door.

“You guys get all tied up trying to ‘do the right thing’,” Jamie continued after being informed that his resolution was less than elegant. “But what’s worse, from a moral perspective? Beating someone up who deserves it? Or beating yourself up who doesn’t?  If you’re a boxer, you do everything in your power to put the other guy away as soon as possible, right? So why are people prepared to tolerate ruthlessness in sport but not in everyday life?  What’s the difference?”

37) Social Psychological Operations I read an article on the psychological operations, or PSYCH OPS, that are used in the military. I used that article as a premise for the PSYCH OPS we use in our day-to-day interactions.

38) Chances Are You’re a Lot Like Me: My Life with Alcohol As the child of an alcoholic, some psychologists would suggest that I was predestined to have problems with alcohol. Some suggest that something in the genetic code may predestine one to have such problems, this article suggests that even if that’s true, one overriding factor, in determining whether or not one may have such problems, exists in the culture in which one was raised. Every adult I knew, as a kid, tied a few on. Not only was there nothing wrong with getting blasted, it was the preferred method of dousing the fires in one’s brain to drown out the awful life we’re all forced to endure. I survived this mindset long enough to see the holes in it.

39) Would You Eat Someone Somebody Cared About? This is another one of the articles on this list that employ what I would call politics-lite. Those that may describe this as heavy handed politics, haven’t read my heavy handed political pieces. This piece is based on an episode of Tru TV’s Impractical Jokers show called Who Arted? In this episode, Sal spoke to a piece of pastry, and the customer wouldn’t eat it, because of that.  I didn’t understand that, and I attempted to determine her thought process.

40) Eat your meat! How can you show appreciation for life, if you won’t eat your meat?

My dad attempted to get his two sons to eat as if our lives depended on it. Life does depend on eating, of course, but my dad took the premise of this idea to another level. My dad loathed finicky people. He stated that finicky people do not appreciate the idea that they have been given choices. He also took the age-old idea that we should appreciate the idea that we are not forced to live in a world of the scarcity that third world countries experience to another level.  

It drove this man insane that his two sons would take food for granted, by his definition, to the point that we had preferences. This led my dad to believe that he had failed us. My dad believed that a man gained valor eating things that he didn’t enjoy, and he spent a great deal of time informing us that we were spoiled young men when we wouldn’t.

41) I’m disgusting, he’s disgusting, she’s disgusting, wouldn’t you like to be disgusting too? When two grown men form a friendship, it should not be questioned. It should be celebrated. How many grown men have formed friendships over sports, an appreciation of alcohol, or women? Who cares why people become friends, in other words, it is a lot better than all the enemies we make on a day to day basis. When your favorite, humble correspondent saw two men form a work-related friendship based on their shared hygienic superiority, I thought some unusual tipping point had been reached. I thought that this whole industry of hygiene obsessives had to, at the very least be analyzed.

Although I call the writers of Seinfeld out for, if not creating this obsession with hygiene, then propagating it, I believe that a segment of the population was already susceptible to the message.

The point of this piece is not whether or not we need better hygienic practices, or if we have become overly obsessed with it, though I do lean towards the latter. The purpose is to discuss this element of superiority, versus inferiority, that some of our greater hygienic practices profess when they claim that they will no longer open a door without a paper towel.

“Oh I know it,” said one man to another, as they both smoked cigarettes. “That door handle is gross. One guy (they mentioned his name) does not wash his hands.” This mutual respect they shared for one another’s unapologetic allegiance to a superior hygienic standard formed a bond that was impenetrable.  

42) The ‘You Don’t Have a Shot in Hell’ Ray This story is based on a true story that happened to me eons ago. I was upset that a good friend of mine, a blonde bombshell, decided to barely acknowledge my existence at a local gym one day.

42B) Katie Newberry II: “We’ll Call Her Katie” Women are the more compassionate, empathetic, and conscientious gender. When they step to the other side of this prism it is, to my mind, noteworthy. Had a fella written an anti-love, “stay out of my life, you loser,” and “I hope you die” note most people would condemn this fella for having no heart. When a woman does it, it’s shocking. When a woman lays a man out, in the manner my good friend did, it’s such an aberration that the observers are left with their mouths hanging open. “She said what again?” we ask. Imagine what the recipient of such a letter might be going through. I did, and We’ll Call Her Katie is the product of that imagining.

43) Esoteric Man More often than not, we believe that it is the quiet people that have something to hide. This piece suggests that talkative people may employ less obvious tactics to conceal their true nature.

The boss has an open door policy. What manager informs their employees that their door is closed? “Listen,” this fictional manager says. “I don’t want to hear your whiny complaints about how we’re running things here. Keep your gawdamned comments to yourself. Consider this door closed, unless you’re having a heart attack, or you’re on fire, or something.” This Esoteric Boss is not that boss. He is every cliched boss one can imagine in today’s hyper-vigilant HR office space. He has a nickname for you. He loves his peeps. He is a hip dude that keeps it real, and he knows how to talk your language. This particular Esoteric Man was a salesman that insulted soft targets: men. When he discovered that I didn’t react accordingly, he switched tactics, and employed an “Aren’t we all kind of stupid though?” tactic. He was a fast-talking, punctuation-less speaker that doesn’t really care what we have to say.

44) The Mythology of You There is a real you in there, but you are so boring when compared to the creative illusions and delusions you dream up about yourself. The fundamental question this piece asks is do we believe those fibs we tell? Why, yes we do. We develop a mythology about ourselves that, over time, assists us in our attempts to cope with the idea that others are achieving far more than we are. This mythology also gives us greater mental health and a better self-esteem. It becomes so ingrained, over time, that there are times when we accidentally adjust our characteristics to live up to the lies we tell about ourselves. This is our mythology.

I break down the truths and illusions and delusions by using the visual display of the atom. At the inner core of the atom, we have the neutrons and the electrons. These are the stories of what actually happened to us, what shaped who we are, and our moral code. These moments, however, do not define the person that we would like to be as well as we think they should. We develop myths about who we are. We get creative with actual incidents, and we fabricate whole incidents to tell our friends and family. The important note here is that we believe them. So, they cannot be called out and out lies. Can they?

45) The Weird and the Strange This is both a qualifier for what we do at Rilaly.com, and a description of the methodology we employ.

46) The Real Back Pain Solution I awoke one day to discover that I had been granted debilitating lower back pain. I was a baby about it, aren’t we all? I began thinking about back pain in general, and the various complaints and remedies we’ve all heard over the years. I realized that it was not as bad as being mauled by a bear, and I found a quote from Louis C.K.’s show Louie to prove that. 

47) Octopus Nuggets This mysterious cephalopod has always piqued my interest. Having a child renewed this interest. I watched every documentary, and I scoured the internet for the interesting nuggets that could be found there. I presented such information to my child, and he didn’t care. Yet, I had just compiled a list of these nuggets that I felt should have a home somewhere. I thus compiled this list for a whole bunch of people that probably don’t care. It just doesn’t hurt as much when they say it.  

48) Wearing a Mask the Face Grows into There’s nothing I enjoy more than reading a story, or a philosophical point, that retroactively helps explain a noun (person, place, or thing) from my past. Author George Orwell’s Shooting the Elephant helped me, in a roundabout way, understand a hard-bottomed boss I had that wanted to cultivate a better relationship with his team members. After witnessing this newfound temperament firsthand, I thought it better that that boss maintain the leadership mystique he had maintained throughout our relationship with him. After reading this story, I had a greater hold on this idea. 

49) Brutal Honesty in the Age of Being Real Most of us do not deal with insults well. Some have tried to convince themselves that when another doesn’t know us, they don’t know enough to know what they’re saying. This has helped us in some cases, but in others we wonder what the person leveling the insult was hoping to accomplish with their barbs. While insults might be tough to deal with, the excuses one offers another for the insult might be even tougher to grasp. “Quit being so sensitive” is a line that those of us that feel insulted by an insult often receive. Whether or not the assessment is correct, such a line offers the individual insulting their own person license to continue mocking and ridiculing. Those of us that have received the “I’m just being real with you”, in the age of being real, learned that that line was an excellent method to assuage the guilt they might otherwise have associated when insulting another person. When some of us learned that 

50) The Paris Syndrome This is a story, stolen from the premise of another, that details the idea of the expectation of the tourist as it pertains to self-worth. If the reader has ever planned, and dreamed about, a trip to an expensive, exotic locale, they know that the citizens of that locale, and the service industry employees working in those locales, can demolish those expectations quickly. 

51) The Freedom of the Self-Checkout Aisle The advent of the self-checkout aisle, as it pertains to social Darwinism.

52) The Psychology of the Super Sports Fan This is a story that details how much I hate being a sports fan. If I could whisper a secret to a younger me, I think it would have something to do with trying to avoid investing so much of my self-worth into that which I cannot control (i.e. sports). Though I suppose that the angst I devoted to the failings of people I’d never meet, permitted an outlet for the angst I may have directed at myself.

53) Indigo Children: The Next Step in Human Evolution There is an unusual attribution that some adults attribute to their otherwise not gifted children, it is a spiritual, impossible to prove one way or another, assessment that some parents make about their children, their sister-in-law, and their children. I learned about this firsthand, when another individual informed me that they were a better indigo than a third party we both knew. I considered this one of the top five most hilarious things I had heard that year, until I looked at that other individual to see that they were serious. As is often the case with personal experiences, this one had to sit in the browner for a couple of years to divest it of all comedy, and result in one of the most comedic, unfunny pieces I have ever written. 

54) Kinesthetic Learning in Sports What’s the difference between top shelf athletes and the elite athlete that rarely fails to execute in crunch time. When the ball is in the air, there are some top shelf athletes that manage to do things we mortals can’t comprehend, there are others, an elite few that those that execute so often, and on such an unimaginable level that top shelf athletes can’t comprehend it. What’s the difference? Practice. A hand, eye, arm, and mind-numbing amount of hours of practice that that elite individual has spent perfecting their craft to the point that they can return a 140mph serve, in tennis of course, to a very specific spot on their opponent’s court. 

This piece resulted from a David Foster Wallace musing. It details how detailed sports have become.  

55) Let your Freak Flag Fly This essay only makes it on this list based on the idea that it has achieved so many hits. I think this speaks to the power of a good title on SEOs, because this is not a high quality essay. I know it’s in my power to fix it, but at this date I do not know how.