Sunday, April 14, 2013

Good News, Most Viewed and Selling Out

Good news! So yesterday my latest Cracked article came out called 5 Ways Video Games Are Saving Mankind. I have tons of unused entries to post, mostly because my pitch was merged with someone else's since they covered the same topic.

Other news is my Literary Classics article was on Cracked's Most Viewed Articles list for the month of March. This is the 2nd time I've made the list, though I might do it again with my Fan Theory one. What does that mean for me? Mostly nothing. I get a sweet bonus and some bragging rights in my own head, but it's still cool to think I wrote something for a major website that was one of their biggest hits for a month.

Some folk may have noticed the presence of ads on my blog now. Yes, it's true, I sold out; i.e. I'm trying to find more ways of making a living off of writing. To put it into perspective, I think I've made one cent thus far off of views.

I'm living the dream.

I guess it's less "selling out" and more "I really want to find a way to be a full-time writer and if I can do something that will add even a few bucks to my revenue stream I will." I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to talk about the individual ads or whatever (the freaking TOS reads like the rules of Fight Club). But I'll try to find ones that are fairly relevant to the content I post and not utterly dumb.

Anyways, hope you're all having a great weekend!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Recipe for Comedy is Serial Killers?

Usually I work from home; I'll sit outside with a cup of coffee and headphones planted in my ears, spending 3-4 hours doing whatever needs to be done. But sometimes I run off somewhere else if my house is proving too distracting (i.e. Mass Effect 3 is begging me to finish it).

Other times I run off to a Starbucks or where ever, find a corner to sit in and try not too distracted by the hundreds of messages I get an hour from my massive pool of fans.

Pictured: My fans.

Right now I have one more Cracked article queued up to come out, but then the next closest thing is some stuff I'm working on that's only half done. Really this is my own fault; from the first Cracked piece getting accepted to now I've been really good about working hard to make sure I always had 2-3 scheduled to be published, but I've been lax for a while now. 

So I'm working on a few things, but the research is taking forever. I'd love to do another criminal escapes article but the views on the last one weren't very high, despite lots of positive comments. Perhaps I'll do something about the worst serial killers nobody has ever heard of. That's the recipe for comedy, right?

On second thought, I'd better order another americano and hit the drawing board again. Hope everyone had a good weekend!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Cracked Article: 5 Fan Theories That Make Classic Movies Even Better

I'm running late to work (again), but I'll get a post and rejected entries up tonight! Read the article here.


Hey-oh, thanks for being patient. So this article was rare in that I only had one rejected entry that I contributed. Originally I pitched two: one about Pulp Fiction (the briefcase containd Marsellus Wallace's soul) and the Inception theory, but the first was rejected because it was mentioned in a line of another Cracked article.

After that I pitched two more, the Kill Bill one (I swear I wasn't determined to include Tarantino, it just happened) and the Willy Wonka theory.

This article was tons of fun to research. Normally it takes weeks and sometimes months to push a pitch through and get it accepted, but this one was the quickest Yes I've ever had. Granted I didn't come up with the premise, I just hopped on. But reading different fan theories was interesting and it never got frustrating, and I had a few "Oh damn" moments about different films.

In all, I wrote the Kill Bill, Willy Wonka and Inception entries. Hope you all enjoyed the article, here's my one rejected entry:

Pulp Fiction
The Theory:
The briefcase contains Marsellus Wallace's soul

Why It's Plausible
Wallace is seen with a band-aid on his neck, and according to the Bible that's where the devil extracts a person's soul (and we all know about the overt Bible references prevalent in Pulp Fiction). Then there's the fact that the suitcase's code is 666 and whatever was inside glowed and seemed to awe those looking it.

The theory goes on to say that Wallace sold his soul and was attempting to buy it back. Those three kids Jules and Vincent killed were actually the devil's helpers; remember when the fourth kid came out of the bathroom and every shot missed? Jules said it was God stopping the bullets, and it was, because they were saving a soul and nothing else is as important as a human soul.

And doesn't Wallace seem exactly like the top of guy who would sell his soul and then send his two best hitmen to get it back?

Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm a Baby About Being Sick

I've been really sick the last few days, doing nothing but sleeping and drinking water. I've always sort of thought that guys are really stubborn about pain, to the point that we're kind of just dumb about it. "Yeah, there's a nail through my finger. No, I don't need a bandaid, it'll be fine."

Now fixing nails through fingers.

But. BUT. When it comes to being sick, we're the biggest freaking babies on the planet. And no one is guiltier of this than me. The moment I get a cold I'm acting like I'm on my deathbed. I've actually texted friends things like, "I won't make it to morning" (flu) or "If I don't make it, tell my grandma I love her" (allergies). Pain, I can handle, but being sick? Not a chance.

And nothing is bigger proof of this than the other day. I've been fighting a pretty severe stomach flu, but at first I had no idea what it was. Being a massive baby, I automatically assumed the worst. WebMD assured me it was not spontaneous combustion, which was good, but said it was probably appendicitis. These were my first thoughts: "I'm going to die."

The end of me.

Unfortunately it's like that every time I get sick. I get really dramatic and whiny, and usually someone will offer to come over with soup or medicine. Then I get embarrassed for being dramatic and whiny, say it's okay, wait a day and then if I'm not better I continue the histrionics.

I hope all the female viewers are thinking, "Damn, this guy is a catch." Sup, ladies.

In any case, I've barely done that this time around. I mean, I did it a little. To one person. But other than that, I've been good about not exaggerating how close to death's door I am.

Now I must go take anywhere between 10-15 more ibuprofen and pass out. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cracked Article: 5 Real Prison Escapes That Shouldn't Have Been Possible

It's up here! I'mmmmm running late to work but when I get home tonight I'll have a post up with the rejected entries and two fully written ones that weren't in the final version of the article (including one that I was convinced would be the #1 spot). So check back later!

EDIT: As promised, a fully written entry and some rejected ideas. Before I get going though, I wanted to briefly mention that this article is a semi-sequel to my first Cracked article, which seems pretty cool to me. In any case, here we go!

1.     Andre Devigny Is The Most Badass Man Ever
Devigny was your average French schoolteacher in the 1930s. In 1939 he enlisted into the French Army right before World War II began. When France was occupied by Germany he joined the resistance and smuggled information to the British under the codename "Valentin."
So far we have a Frenchman operating under the title “Valentin” and fighting Nazis. That should be the synopsis of a movie.

We hope Mila Kunis finds a way to be in it.

In 1942 Devigny became one of the three commanders of the Gilbert Network, a resistance group dedicated to helping refugees escape France, sending information to the British and sabotaging any German equipment they could set their sights on.

A SS informant eventually infiltrated the Gilbert Network and Devigny was captured. Sent to Fort Montluc, a Gestapo prison considered escape-proof, he spent four months under the caring hand of the Nazi secret police, meaning they tortured the fuck out of him for information.
Devigny wouldn’t give up anything though, and he repeatedly tried to escape. His attempts weren’t successful, but they were so frequent that the guards began chaining him to the walls of his cell.
Irked by Devigny’s disinterest in their torture tactics, they called in the best torturer they had:
SS Captain and Gestapo member Klaus Barbie. 
This douche.

If Klaus Barbie doesn’t sound familiar, he should; he was so depraved and violent he was known as the Butcher of Lyon. Scholars estimate that Barbie was responsible for over 14,000 deaths, and personally responsible for torturing and abusing countless men, women and children. His war crimes were so heinous his trial was filmed, something the French court hardly ever did. Described as a monster, he would cuddle with cats while breaking prisoner’s vertebrae. His victims described him as sadistic and deranged. 
This guy tortured Devigny for two weeks. And Devigny gave him nothing. Barbie, furious, told Devigny he was going to be executed.
He was jealous of Devigny’s moustache. That and his steel balls.
Torture is one thing, but Devigny wasn’t having any of that execution shit. Remember how he was chained to his cell walls? He used a safety pin to unlock them and then pried open the slats beneath his cell with a ground down spoon. Armed with only a rope made from his blanket and mattress cover and a grappling hook made from an old lantern, he squeezed under his cell door and made one last escape attempt.
And right in the prison’s courtyard he ran into a German sentry.

Devigny had to think fast. The guard had a gun and even if the shot missed the sound would still alert everyone to the escape. So he gave up and went back to his cell. Hah, just kidding. He actually tackled the shit out of that soldier.

Both men went to the ground and Devigny wrestled the gun out of the sentry’s hands. You know, the malnourished, starved prisoner who’d been tortured for months overpowered a guard. Happens all the time. 
But he still couldn’t shoot the gun without drawing attention, so he stabbed the guard with the man’s own bayonet. Then Devigny threw the rope and grappling hook over the prison wall and escaped. It was the only breakout Fort Montluc ever had. The only way his escape could have been sweeter was if he’d run into Klaus Barbie instead of a random redshirt. 
What was the first thing he did when he got back to France? If you guessed “bathed in pussy” you may be right, but history tells us that he actually rejoined the war efforts immediately. Because fuck Nazis.

Annnnnnd some rejected entries are coming up. Originally the premise was "Insane Prison Escapes Straight Out of the Comics." I'd hoped to find a co-writer who would scan panels from comic books with corresponding escapes, i.e. one where a prison transport van is ambushed so Lex Luthor could be freed or something, then show the real life counterpart. But I scrapped the idea and went with just "ridiculously badass escapes" instead. So here is a mix of rejected ideas from both premises:

Julien Chautard
Chautard got away from his guards and hid under the prison van that had brought him to court. He clung to the underside of the van and let it drive off, carrying him to freedom.

Clifford Hobbs and Noel Cunningham have their men ambush a prison transport van 
Hobbs and Cunningham were being transported to court in June of 2003. When the van got there the driver stepped out to request access to get in. As he opened the door a man dressed as a postman attacked him; a second man held him at gunpoint. The driver was shot in the knee and the escort-guard was pistol-whipped after he opened the doors. Hobbs and Cunningham fled.

Sean Bourke Frees George Blake
Blake and Bourke met in prison, and Bourke really took a liking to Blake. When Bourke was released he engineered a breakout for Blake; Blake broke his cell window, slid down a porch and made it to the perimeter wall, where Bourke tossed him a rope ladder made of knitting needles.

Tim Jenkin
In 1979 Jenkin escaped from Pretoria Central Prison with two other inmates. They were imprisoned as political prisoners for fighting apartheid, but didn’t take their imprisonment lightly. They spent 18 months patiently plotting a detailed escape that involved breaking through 14 locked doors and walking out the front gates. The men had to learn how to pick locks and falsifying keys.

Libby Tunnel Escape
In 1864 more than 100 Union soldiers broke out of Libby Prison, a POW camp in Richmond, Virginia. But the Union officers weren’t having any of this “be in jail” shit and plotted a breakout. They organized three relief teams of diggers with five members each to dig a tunnel out of the camp. It took less than three weeks and the men escaped only to find themselves walking the streets of Richmond.
They might have been fucked but the Confederate guards thought Libby was inescapable and ignored anyone outside the prison walls. Because of the work of 15 officers 109 men were able to get away, though only 59 succeeded in getting back to Union lines.

Douglas Alward
Alward has escaped from prison seven times, with the seventh making him the only Colorado prisoner to ever escape past a lethal electric fence. He spent two years planning, using his job as an inmate maintenance worker to remove copper piping from ventilation systems to build a ladder which he hid in the wall behind his toilet along with shipping boxes and unused shower curtains he found.

For the actual escape he went right through his own window; the previous year he’d been asked to secure all the windows (including his own) on the east side of the prison. Alward used altered rivets on his window so it would appear secure but could still open. Despite his ladder breaking while he was still on the razor-wire fence, he surmounted it and made it to the next fence, which was electric. He wasn’t daunted though, as he later told a news station, “The only thing keeping potential escapees inside the fence is ignorant fear of electricity." He built an insulator out of the shower curtains and cardboard boxes, got over the fence, scaled the third fence (barbed wire) and peaced out.

Previous escapes: using the hospital bed he was chained to to snap his shackles in half, ramming open prison gates with a school bus he shouldn’t have had access to, hiding in the walls of a prison for two days until the search was called off and then running away and overpowering a guard escorting him to review legal materials during a hearing.

The famous magician got early fame for slipping out of handcuffs, visiting towns and even countries and escaping from their jails, and busting out of any prison cell, even when he was stripped naked and searched before going in.
Once, a Chief Constable surprised him by requesting an early display of Houdini’s skills. Houdini was stripped, searched and put in a cell that was also searched and then triple locked. His clothes were in an adjoining cell that was also triple locked, and the iron gate to outside was secured with a seven-lever lock. Houdini emerged after roughly five minutes, during which he’d dressed, unlocked every single cell on the block and unlocked the iron gate.

Henri Charrière   
All of this is according to his memoirs:

Charrière was a small-time thief and petty criminal in France. In 1931 Charrière was convicted of murdering a pimp; despite denying the charges he was sentenced to life in prison in a penal settlement on French Guiana. He escaped after three years by claiming to be ill, then with two other inmates they offered a guy sex, clubbed him over the head and ran away in a boat. They traveled 1,800 miles in a boat; he and several other escaped prisoners were caught off of the Columbian coast and were captured and imprisoned again. Once again, Charrière escaped with another friend. He joined a Native American coastal village and married two teenage sisters, getting both pregnant. He left the village, was caught again and imprisoned again, this time in Santa Marta. Despite numerous attempts he couldn’t escape, then he was transferred back to French Guiana. Over several years he made many attempts, all of which failed.

He made one last attempt from an inescapable penal colony on Devil’s Island. He and a pirate floated on sacks full of coconuts and let the current take them to the mainland. The pirate died in quicksand, Charrière was captured a while later and then eventually officially released.

When accused of mixing up details, falsifying events, stealing stories from other inmates and getting many dates wrong, Charrière responded: “I didn’t have a typewriter with me.”

Wayne Carlson
Carlson has escaped a staggering 13 times in all. Escapes include: slipping out of a window, sawing through bars and then making rope sheets to get to the prison yard after which he scaled the wall, running away while on parole, taking seven sheriffs hostage with a revolver and locking them up and then leaving, using a wooden gun to overpower a deputy in a court bathroom then stealing the officer’s gun and commandeering the jail’s prisoner transport van, sawing through bars again and tying up guards, making a key to open the doors of a prison, leaving a dummy in his bed and hiding in a pile of dirt and then cutting through a prison fence, and twice more violating parole.

He was called a “professional jailbreaker” by the police.

The Fenians and Fremantle Prison
The Australian Fremantle Prison has been home to some pretty hardcore guys through the years. Among these were members of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish republican political group/secret society that worked to undermine the British rule of Ireland. Some Fenians were eventually pardoned. Six, however, were not.

The Fenians decided that was horseshit and thought a rescue was in order. Two Fenians were sent to the prison undercover while a whaling ship was purchased. Most of the 22-man crew believed they were going from Massachusetts to Australia to, you know, hunt whales. And the eleven month journey certainly helped keep that charade alive. But in reality, they were meandering toward the prison to free the remaining six men. The ship got the Fenians aboard but was intercepted by an Australian steamship, The Georgette. The captain raised the American flag and told the Australians that if they attacked they’d be declaring war on America. The Georgette’s captain feared an international incident and agreed to fuck off, and the Fenians sailed back to America.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sugar Daddy Swag

So I'm having the same problem I had last time: I keep expecting every morning to see a new article up, and I'm putting off posting until it happens. But I really should just start updating more often regardless of having something new published, because for whatever reason people are actually consistently visiting my blog every day! I italicized all of that because it's exciting and cool to me.

So I'll make an effort to be less MIA in the future. For now, here's a picture of a shirt one of my students wore today:

He's eleven.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My First Hate Mail!

I got my first ever hate mail- It's over my article that ran the other day on 5 Literary Classics That Put X-Rated Movies to Shame.

MrZ here would have some valid points. Would have. But he's wrong, so he doesn't. Let's go over his qualms.

1) I don't say the words "Middle East" anywhere in the entry. That would be fair if I mentioned the country of origin in each of the other entries, but I don't. In fact, the only entry where it says where the book was written was #2 for The Diary of a Young Girl, when I said it was about Anne Frank hiding from the Nazi occupation in an office building in the Netherlands. Seriously, the countries the books were written in aren't what make them classics, it's the works themselves.

2) I called the book One Thousand and One Nights instead of Arabian Nights. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:  

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلةKitāb alf laylah wa-laylah) is a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.

So me calling it One Thousand and One Nights is actually being more faithful to the original title rather than the redubbed title given to the American version.

3) Writers don't choose the final pictures that go into the article. But there are 3 pictures in that entry: one of the actor Sinbad (who gets made fun of), one that's photoshopped and one taken right from the Nights' Wikipedia page. This one, actually:

He even wrote in a comment that we had pictures of white, blonde people. The hell?

So I messaged him back and was actually pretty polite about the whole thing.

I continued on for a while, being polite and explaining away his concerns. This is what I got in return:

Wait, so me using the book's correct title rather than the Western one was a subtle attempt to hide the book's origin. I see.

Actually, I don't. I'm all for wanting to see your demographic represented correctly, but it wasn't the demographic that was being discussed, it was a book. I don't know if MrZ is from the Middle East or if he's feeling self-righteous on the behalf of someone who is. If the former then he should research the topics he's getting upset about. I can honestly say I didn't use the book's correct title because I wanted to hide that it was from the Middle East. I did it because I love literature and I wanted to stay faithful to the original versions. Even Where's Waldo? got mentioned as being called Where's Wally?.

But my favorite has to be the "No one calls Gulliver's Travels Gulliver's English travels."

You're right, MrZ, no one calls it that because that isn't the book's real title. Just like I won't call Nights by the Western title, Arabian Nights, because that wasn't the book's first title.

I always hoped my first message over an article would be from a supermodel. She'd say, "I've been waiting my entire life for a man who's read those exact 5 books and now I've found you. Unfortunately because my job pays so well I only need to work one day a week, so I spend most days at not working. Would you be okay with spending every day with me while I support us financially? You could have an office where you write dick jokes whenever we aren't sleeping together."

So close to that happening. Instead I got MrZ. Life isn't fair.

On that note, have a good weekend everyone!