That Moment When You Feel Legit

Hey there, guys and dolls! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately, but I’m getting TWO — no, wait, THREE — book projects ready, so I haven’t had time to blog. I put a lot into writing these, OKAY?

Anyway:

  1. Cthulhu Attacks! Book 1: The Fear is coming along very nicely for Severed Press and should be ready to turn into them in the next few weeks.
  2. Zombie School Confidential, my nonfiction book on zombie lore and our cultural obsession with them, has a brilliant cover by Putnam Finch and brilliant editing by one Mrs. Ann Hoade. (Who is a professional editor, so 😛 on you.)
  3. My novel The Act needs only to be polished and this project, originally written 22 years ago, will be ready to go to press.

All of that is well and good, BUT what this blog entry is really about is this: I have gotten my own “Special Guest” graphic on the Salt Lake Comic Con website!

sean at slcc copy

What with my sponsorship from my wonderful Patreon supporters; running two writing workshops, which are going great; and my association with Matt Wiseman and Shoggoth.net, I’m feeling almost partially legit these days!

Still living hand-to-mouth, but legit!

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3 Ways NOT To Cure A Hangover

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Shutterstock

Following the “conventional wisdom” is a good idea sometimes. It means that most people think this is a good idea or a good plan to follow, but it’s not something they’ve rigorously tested. On a first date, conventional wisdom says that the gentleman should pay for the lady’s entertainment. And most people would agree with that.

But what if the woman thinks it’s terribly sexist? Or what if it’s a cougar-y kind of setup, with a mature wealthy woman and her much younger pool boy? These are cases in which conventional wisdom—while not invalid in general—just won’t fly.

So it is with hangovers. Drinking and feeling nice and relaxed during a date or New Year’s Eve bacchanal or other social event is great, but sometimes we overdo it with booze. So, rather being filled than fond memories from last night’s debauchery, your mind and broken body wake up with a headache, irritability, sensitivity to sound and light, nausea at the very idea of food, and so on. While most people who drink have at some time suffered these dreaded symptoms, it’s also true that almost every person you ask has a different explanation, or even better, a hangover cure that your friends swear by.

These well-meaning “hangover specialists” are all paying forward different versions of that same conventional wisdom: namely, that there is a single best cure for the post-drinking blues.

SPOILER ALERT: There isn’t. What there are, however, are five main “explanations” for what ails ya after downing more than your share of alcohol, their accompanying “cures,” and the main reason why that “cure” is pure baloney.

Cause 1: Dehydration

The theory: Alcohol, according to the conventional wisdom, is a diuretic. However, what it actually does is put the kibosh on what keeps you from feeling like you have to go all the time. So you pee a lot more. This further dehydrates you, and being dehydrated provokes massive headaches. Added as supporting evidence is that few drinkers are also downing water, soda, or tea, making the body even more prone to dehydration. Thus, dehydration = hangover.

The “cure”: Drink lots of non-caffeinated beverages, while you’re imbibing but definitely once you get home. (An under-drinking-age friend of mine in high school used to keep a pitcher of iced tea in her closet to drink when she got home from whatever Boone’s Farm wine or MD 20/20 debauch she had attended.) Drinking all this replacement fluid, the conventional wisdom says, will hydrate you and keep you from getting a hangover. (So it’s more prevention than cure, but that’s close enough for our purposes.)

The problem: Dehydration can cause headaches, general shakiness, and malaise—not to mention death—but doesn’t incite the other symptoms of hangovers. Scientists have found that hangover headaches are closer to migraines than to actual dehydration headaches. Not to mention that alcohol just makes a drinker feel like he has to pee more—it doesn’t actually make one produce more urine than normal, so has nothing to do with dehydration. Finally, if you drink a bunch of water when you wake up with a hangover, not only don’t you cure it with this hydration but you also will urinate a lot more … which can dehydrate you.

Cause 2: Alcohol withdrawal

The theory: Alcohol is addictive and causes chemical dependency, not just psychologically but also physically. When you hit the drink particularly hard and then stop suddenly (because you passed out or just fell asleep), your body goes into withdrawal and that creates the withdrawal-like symptoms of a hangover.

The “cure”: This one is popular because it involves more booze. If you’re going through cigarette or heroin withdrawal, then smoking a cigarette or shooting some Dr. Feelgood will immediately shut off the symptoms. It would make sense that another addictive substance, alcohol, also causes withdrawal when stopped cold (wild) turkey, right? It follows logically that more alcohol—that “hair of the dog that bit ya”—is how you stop the pain of withdrawal (aka your hangover).

The problem: In fact, it doesn’t follow. Even if a substance is considered physically addictive, as nicotine and opiates are, you don’t get “addicted” to it from one session of usage. If you were already addicted to smoking and quit suddenly but then started again, your withdrawal symptoms would cease, it’s true. But you would have had these symptoms continuously when you weren’t smoking, not just one night after too many cigarettes. If you’re such a lush that you shake uncontrollably and hallucinate when you aren’t drinking, you should stop reading this blog and head over to the rehab center immediately. But if, like most people, you simply have the cosmic blecch (aka hangover) after a night of intemperance, more booze will only postpone your hangover, not cure it.

Cause 3: Vitamin deficiency

The theory: Vitamin B12 helps with some ailments that have symptoms in common with hangover. As does Vitamin C. Sodium and potassium are lost when dehydration occurs. Milk thistle and ginseng aid in liver function so those toxins can be cleansed out. In other words, vitamins in general will cure a hangover. Since vitamins are good and hangovers are bad, one obviously counteracts the other.

The cure: Whatever vitamins you think are lost due to drinking alcohol, take them ASAP because hangovers are caused by these missing nutrients. Mix the yin of healthful supplementation with the yang of intoxication and hangover, and boom: No more hangover because your chi is balanced once again.

The problem: Hangovers are not caused by missing nutrients. Researchers have administered to hung-over subjects each purported vitamin cure in isolation from other vitamins to see if any was the particular missing nutrient causing the hangover. None of them did any more than any other, which was nothing anyway. Also, we’ve already seen that dehydration is not a cause of hangovers, so the alleged loss of sodium and potassium associated with dehydration doesn’t even happen.

The “cure” that works: Time

Yes, that’s right. You have to grin (or not) and bear it. Being hydrated will make one feel better, so if you think you might be dehydrated, drink some water or decaf tea (caffeine being an actual diuretic). If you think your vitamins are depleted, take some vitamins, since it can’t hurt. And if you think a hair of the dog is what you need, admit that you just want to be tipsy again and go for it.

None of these are going to get rid of your hangover in a physical sense, but there is much to be said for placebos. New Year’s Eve is a major drinking holiday, and the holidays are for believing in miracles, right? So consider each of the techniques debunked above to be extra-strength placebos that will bring about a miracle recovery. 

 

 

Why You’ll Never Be Successful (And Live A Mediocre Life)

by Yann Girard (author of Confessions of an Entrepreneur)

A few years ago when people were still writing down all sort of crap into their “about me” tab on Facebook there was this one thing where they asked you what your favorite quote was. Remember it?

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Favorite quote: “Please, God, let it end.”

That’s what I wrote down there:

“We’ve been all raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t and we’re slowly learning that fact. and we’re very very pissed off.”

Read the rest at LinkedIn.com!

Quiz: What kind of “holidate” are you?

Let’s celebrate the season with a cynical quiz!

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Hol•i•date /ˈhäləˌdāt/ n.
1. A romantic meetup that happens in the weeks
between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
2. An unprecedented opportunity for FAIL in front of family,
friends, and romantic partner.

It’s that December Twilight Zone time during which the men are separated from the boys (and women from girls) when it comes to holiday commitment. Do you wear ugly sweaters, whether ironically or not? Do you string colored lights in your cubicle? And, most importantly, do you bring a little Christmas—right this very minute—into your “holidates,” those meetups that happen in the month before New Year’s?

We here at WhatsYourPrice look to make your season bright with dating data. Use the handy quiz below to see where you fall on the holiday dating spectrum from “Fa La La” to “Bah! Humbug.”

1. You’re in the car driving to dinner with your date. “Carol of the Bells” [“Merrymerrymerry Christmas”] comes on the radio. Do you:

a. Hum along with it
b. Sing along with it
c. Surreptitiously check your date for “tells” and copy what s/he seems to be about to do
d. Chuck the radio out the window at a soot-covered orphan (if available)

Read the rest at WhatsYourPrice.com!

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be (Atari Flashback Edition)

I have a shameful admission: I was born in 1969.

I premiered in February of that year, which means I was born before man walked on the moon. Before Watergate, before the Dolphins’ perfect season, before gasoline had ever cost more than 35 cents per gallon. Ice trays were made out of metal and had to have dividers put in them to make cubes. Harry S Truman, Elvis, Bobby Darin, and both Moe and Larry from The Three Stooges were still alive.

When I was born in 1969, the only “video game” was some sort of Ur-Pong played by two PhD candidates at MIT when they finished organizing their punch cards. (Kids, follow that link. It’s important for you to know about history, even the vile and shocking parts.) There was also Spacewar!, which was pretty cool, but not exactly Grand Theft Auto.

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Spacewar! is featured in this deleted scene from Reservoir Dogs.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I was in that key “annoy the fuck out of your parents until they will either kill you or buy you what you demand” demographic of 10-13 during the reign of the Atari 2600 as the home game console. I think at first it was the only such console, and so that helped with sales, of course. In 1981, having an Atari 2600 was like having an unlimited arcade (as long as Mom would go the $35 a game) in your house. It hooked up to your TV. It was complete bliss, and this is important, as I remember. I recall that I regularly interrupted my furious masturbation schedule (only recently implemented one fateful afternoon alone in the house) to play Asteroids to 1,000,000 points. It took hours. And it was worth it. Again … as I remember.

Oh, the games! From Atari, Asteroids and Defender and, yes, Pong. Also there were the ActiVision games like Pitfall!, Laser Blast, and River Raid. Sure, the maximum 4K of memory (that’s K, my lads and lasses, as in one thousandth of a MB, one millionth of a GB) made for very primitive graphics and sound, but the variety of gameplay and ingenuity of the game designers created unforgettable, unique, and, um …

Oh, God, no.

Let me jump ahead 33 years or so, to today. Literally today, as in the day I’m writing this. After hiding out in our asbestos and razor-blade–lined anti-Black–Friday bunker, the Spousal Unit and I ventured out into the world Sunday to procure supplies and beat a tactical retreat home. We did this for the good of the many, since we would be forced to kill, skin, and display as a warning to others anyone who used the phrase “Cyber Monday” within our hearing. Wasn’t “Black Friday” bad enough?

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Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart.

But first, I saw IT. The Atari Flashback 5, a replica of the 2600 console that ate up so much of my formative years with 93 FRICKIN’ GAMES BUILT RIGHT THE FUCK IN. So I snapped up the $40 system, knowing that the S.U. and I could while away the hours listening to the screams of our neighbors as their backs broke under 75″ televisions and play the games that were so entertaining in my youth. (The S.U. is a bit younger—hell, who isn’t?—and her first video console was the Nintendo 64. So this would be a real “treat” for her!)

The use of irony quotes around the word “treat” above should key you in to the next part of the story. I plugged in the RCA connectors and got the batteries in the wireless (whoa) joysticks, and sat down for some awesome fun playing the 2600 … games … I, um …

HOLY SHIT, THE UNIVERSE JUST USED MY CHILDHOOD FOR TOILET PAPER.

And not for the first time, either.

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“Ho ho ho! I’m the jolly old elf who takes a shit in your stocking!”

Okay, wait, maybe that’s too subtle. Let me put it this way. Here’s a complete list of the “games” on the Atari Flashback 5 Joy-Murdering Machine:

01 3D Tic-Tac-Toe 02 Adventure 03 Adventure II 04 Air•Sea Battle
05 Aquaventure 06 Asteroids 07 Backgammon 08 Basketball
09 Black Jack 10 Bowling 11 Breakout 12 Canyon Bomber
13 Centipede 14 Championship Soccer 15 Circus Atari 16 Combat
17 Combat Two 18 Crystal Castles 19 Demons to Diamonds 20 Desert Falcon
21 Dodge ‘Em 22 Double Dunk 23 Fatal Run 24 Flag Capture
25 Football 26 Frog Pond 27 Front Line 28 Fun with Numbers
29 Golf 30 Gravitar 31 Hangman 32 Haunted House
33 Home Run 34 Human Cannonball 35 Jungle Hunt 36 Maze Craze
37 Miniature Golf 38 Missile Command 39 Millipede 40 Night Driver
41 Off-the-Wall 42 Outlaw 43 Polaris 44 Pong
45 Realsports Baseball 46 Realsports Basketball 47 Realsports Soccer 48 Realsports Volleyball
49 Return to Haunted House 50 Saboteur 51 Save Mary 52 Sky Diver
53 Slot Machine 54 Slot Racers 55 Space Invaders 56 Space War
57 Sprintmaster 58 Star Ship 59 Steeplechase 60 Stellar Track
61 Street Racer 62 Submarine Commander 63 Super Baseball 64 Super Breakout
65 Super Football 66 Surround 67 Swordquest: Earthworld 68 Swordquest: Fireworld
69 Tempest 70 Video Checkers 71 Video Chess 72 Video Pinball
73 Wizard 74 Warlords 75 Yars’ Revenge 76 Air Raiders
77 Armor Ambush 78 Astroblast 79 Dark Cavern 80 Int’l Soccer
81 Super Challenge Baseball 82 Super Challenge Football 83 Space Attack 84 Star Strike
85 Sea Battle 86 Frogs and Flies 87 Sword Fight 88 Chase It
90 Escape It 91 Miss It 92 Shield Shifter 93 Strip Off

Okay? And here’s a list of the games that are even remotely playable:

01 Space Invaders

Here in Las Vegas, we have the wonderful Pinball Hall of Fame. It has many, many classic video games, pinball games (duh), and historical-type coin-operated entertainments too cool to go into here.

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Jessica changed all her birthday money into pennies that year.

They have Space Invaders, and it costs exactly one quarter to play for 5, maybe 10 minutes. What I’m saying is that in order to make the Atari Flashback 5 pay for itself by playing the single game that doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a 1970s psychology experiment, you would have to play Space Invaders for more than 26 hours straight. When I was 12 and there was a kid who played the arcade Asteroids for like 56 hours, I was so jelly you could spread me on toast. However, when I was 12, I also thought that my faux suede jacket was the coolest thing since Garfield. We live and we learn is my point.

Also, my point is FUCK THE ATARI FLASHBACK 5. Since I do the heavy lifting on this blog, allow me to point out that in order to stuff this turkey with as many technically separate games as possible, the Flashback contains the following, all in incredible 8-bit graphics with 16 colors: Football, but also “Realsports” Football (whatever the hell that means, since it’s about as “real” as the stick-men flip cartoons kids do in the corner of boring paperbacks), and “Super” Football, with the same shtick for three kinds of baseball, three of soccer, and two of basketball. Mind you, all of these involve gameplay so non-intuitive that the sub–Lascaux Cave graphics hardly even bother you after a while.

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Elephantiasis Therapy Challenge ’79 is still considered a classic.

This may be a bit of piling on, Your Honor, but please allow me to mention that in these so-called 92–93 games (hell, they don’t even know how many are allegedly on there), there are these games:

  • Chase It, Escape It and Miss It
    as well as
  • Star Ship, Star Strike, Space War, and Space Attack

In addition to the breathtaking variety of “Verb It” and “Space/Star Something,” there are extremely unappealing-sounding games such as (no joke):

  • Fatal Run
  • Fun With Numbers
  • Shield Shifter

In order, these elicited from me the following interjections: “Ugh,” “Jeez,” and “Huh?”

Anyway, my point is, as Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” (Turns out Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe had just moved without telling Thomas. Awkward.) I thought it would be a hilarious, fun, “retro” experience and it was instead yet another bit of evidence that my memory palace is more of a rusty trailer full of feral cats. I am returning the console tomorrow. I am decaying right before my own very rapidly degenerating into tragically nearsighted eyes. I was born in the 1960s. I need to find a game called Shopping Cart or Nap Mania! or maybe Arugula Hunt.

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Desert Bus! Perfect! I hope I can play as a passenger.

From FancyLists: 10 Offensive Expressions From Different Countries

rock hornsWHOOOOOO! Relient K is the best! What’s wrong? Hey, ow!

I was working on a blog about inadvertently offensive gestures and sayings Americans might want to avoid overseas (which, goddamnit, has already been written). I found this awesome and hilarious information about completely intentional foreign expressions. Enjoy, ya tossers!

Every language is a beauty in its own right. It aids us in expressing our feelings to others through words. Learning different languages makes you a part of that community, being able to talk to them, to understand and interact with them. You will be like a line in their poems.

However, here are ten of the most offensive expressions from different languages in the world. You could choose to use them. Or not.

Read the rest at FancyLists.com!

Awkward? Perhaps irreverent/angering? Let’s do it: Hot dates for Veterans Day!

You might not think of Veterans Day as a romantic holiday, since it’s a day when we honor those who have sacrificed to protect—let’s be honest—the greatest country in the world. (Actually, since it was originally Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I, it also honors the British, French, and other nations involved in that conflict.) So it may not seem like a good theme for a date … but enjoy your hard-earned freedom by having a bit of fun with these suggestions for a great date during Veterans Day week …

Read the rest at WhatsYourPrice!

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Vegetarians, why do you hate America?

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