One man's attempt at literacy

Category Archives: Helpful

Recently, I’ve been volunteering at a weekend writing workshop for kids. At one of these classes we had to create a how-to guide on a topic of our choosing — and by “we” I mean the children, and I, being the Repository of Infinite Knowledge I am, decided to also write something. After pondering all the possible subjects I could explain (how to act like a muppet, how to get over 10 Twitter followers total, etc.), I ended up making a comprehensive guide on How to Always Be Right.

See, if there is one lovely quality about me, it is that I know a multitude of useless facts, and pretend to know about even more about things I have little- to no inkling of. I have learned after years of tireless information giving that being an expert at fake-information-giving while retaining my pride requires the ability to frame everything in such a way that, more than being proven correct, I can never be proven incorrect. It’s like how Congress doesn’t do anything so they can never be blamed for doing something wrong.

If you’re an aspiring know-it-all, I now present my guide on How to Always Be Right, which will surely aid you in having people roll their eyes at your constantly impressing your friends. This will be written in the same format as the sheet the kids and I were given.

Captain Know-it-All

How to Always Be Right

Topic: Extreme knowledge imitation.

Audience: People who hate admitting defeat/ignorance.

Purpose: Never be wrong. Ever.

  1.  Begin by making a reasonable claim, like, “I hear birds grow their feathers between 6 and 8 weeks old.” Provide unconfirmable support, e.g. “I heard this on NPR or in the Audubon Magazine sometime in the late 20th Century.”
  2. If someone challenges your claim, push back by pointing out the subjectivity of life and that the definition of “right” and “wrong” is transmutable, so you’re definitely right in some form or context, even if it isn’t apparent to the majority of society.
  3. If the person continues to feebly deny your rightness, disarm them by acknowledging they have valid points, though they are clearly less valid than your own. Pat them on the back for having a fraction of your knowledge.
  4. Finally, state, “Well, I guess we’ll never be sure about the true answer, so I’m probably, most assuredly right.” Then nod at them in humble victory and change the subject to ice cream before they can speak further falsehoods.

Supporting quotation: “Greg, you are so right, I am/we are sorry for ever doubting your unparalleled brainpower.”


A few years ago, when I was in high school, I’d take many, many dumb online quizzes. There were few things to do online that could so thoroughly engross me as, “Which TV Show Sidekick Are You?” or “Which Power Ranger Should You Marry?” Eventually, I grew bored of these because I realized that whether I’m more like Liz Lemon or Jack Donaghy doesn’t actually make my life less boring. It seemed like most people felt the same way as I did, because these internet quizzes petered out around the same time I became disillusioned with them.

Then BuzzFeed happened.

Your inner potato is sad, because you were sad enough to take the Inner Potato quiz.

BuzzFeed, the internet purveyor of all things not really important to your life, recently began doing their own online quizzes in this same vein, including ones as asinine as, “What Is Your Inner Potato?” (The link is to prove I didn’t just come up with a terrible idea; someone else did.)  If the internet quiz hype continues at the astounding rate that BuzzFeed puts these quizzes out — I’m pretty sure they’re all done by a room of malnourished interns who are told they’ll only get food if they make a quiz every half hour — they’ll just get more and more moronic. In a perfect cycle of meta stupidity, BuzzFeed will probably make a “57 Worst BuzzFeed Personality Quizzes” later this year.

Despite my distaste for these quizzes, I also love to jump on the bandwagon and leech onto anything vaguely popular for all it’s worth, which is why I now present to you my own online quiz inspired by the mavin of terrible, lazy, and unnecessary food creations: Sandra Lee (post about her forthcoming).

Copyright Food Network and stuff.

Are you this monstrosity? Take the quiz to find out!

What Sandra Lee Cake Are You?

Be sure to share your results!


As a gay dude in a committed relationship, I often take for granted the plight of all the single ladies out there, in search of a good man to settle down with/settle for. But I feel it is my duty as a non-stereotypical gay best friend to look out for my lady friends’ interests and give them hope that they, too, will be able to have a stable, loving, and committed relationship with a guy, even if he is a blatant homosexual. I say this because, according to a recent ranking of the “50 Best Cities to be Single In,” based on a Facebook survey, ladies in my current city of New York are totally screwed.

Ladies, remember that knowledge of graphs is almost as sexy as desperation.

Being a Political Science expert, I’ll help break down this very accurate and not-dumb survey, and what it means for all of you single ladies concerning your abysmal chances to procreate:

  • If you’re in the Midwest, good news! Your chances of finding a man to settle down with in the middle of nowhere are great! And by great I mean there are only three women looking for a relationship to every man if you live in Fort Worth, Texas, which is much less depressing (but still depressing) than the 45:1 in New York City.
  • In Colorado Springs there are a lot of single people and a lot of people who are constantly getting into relationships. This is both good in that it means that you’re very likely to find a significant other in Colorado Springs, and very likely to change your mind eight minutes later. Note: Facebook statistical analysis did not account for 10 year old girls who change their Facebook relationship status after holding hands on the bus ride home and then again when they realize boys are gross.
  • Unfortunately, there are 48 single women for every single man in San Francisco, and 80% of those are super gay (and 10% are just regular gay). This means the chance that a woman who is currently single in San Francisco will find the right man is smaller than finding a golden ticket in a candy bar and becoming the heir to a chocolate wonderland (though, arguably, not as cool.)

    homoehealth.org is a thing?

    Pretty much.

  • Speaking of California, there are four Californian cities on this list and the highest rated one, Sacramento, is still 28 of 48 on the list. This basically means if you’re looking to get companionship in Cali, ladies, you might as well just buy eight cats now.
  • It’s also important to note that this “50 best” list only has 48 cities. It’s clear this could only have occurred because there were two other cities even lower on the list than San Francisco, as dubious as that sounds, and the desperate, single women there decided to take action and blow their towns up.
  • Despondent Settling Lesbians will become more prevalent after seeing these results. Now, I know as well as anyone that whether or not you want to be with a man or a woman isn’t really a choice, but most people would rather not be in an unhappy marriage than a happy one and yet they choose companionship. I mean, if it came down to being alone forever or being with Ellen Degeneres despite her strange anatomy, wouldn’t you choose the latter?

    Loneliness realistic valentines

    This quote works for both the top and bottom point! Magical!!!!

  • In Detroit only 1% of people are single. This is because of the buddy system that developed in Detroit to avoid all the muggings, which has led to many fun bonding situations. After all, who would you rather marry than the person who is willing to stand by your side as you travel down the most notoriously dangerous streets in America? It’s like the beginnings of a dark romcom directed by Nora Ephron and Quentin Tarantino.
  • Finally, we have New York, near the bottom of the list, but still more hopeful than the gay paradise of San Fran on the opposite coast. New York is the setting of Sex and the City, a show that makes it seem as though there are so many men wandering around that you can simply find boyfriends by bumping into them on the sidewalk or taking an exceptionally long elevator ride. As realistic as a show about a woman who can afford an East Village apartment, a closet full of Manolo Blahniks, and cosmos on the regular with the salary of a weekly magazine columnist is, New York simply isn’t the place to find the love of your life. Unless the love of your life is a pair of stilettos, in which case, you go, grrrrl (I say that the sassy gay way to distract you from any rising hopelessness at hearing these facts).

If there is one thing I know, it’s that getting a job is hard. Not only do you have to show them in a brief cover letter and resume that you’d be a good fit for the job, but even if you get the interview you have to be both more professional, personable, sociable, and huggable than all the other candidates. One wrong move, whether it be wearing assless chaps, pulling out and eating a burrito during your interview, or asking to compare the color of each others mucus, could immediately end your prospective career at Blinds to Go.

As someone with too much experience interviewing and making common mistakes like saying my potential boss sounds terrible to work for, I am using all my excessively wonderful knowledge of the interview process to create the most comprehensive and wonderful guide that was made by someone who is terrible at interviewing and proud of it. Following all of my steps will ensure interview success and the beginning of the career of your dreams, regardless of how lame your dreams are!*

Please accept my humble brain juices.

Greg’s Ultimate Interview Prep Guide:

Identify whether the company likes Obama or thinks Obama is a Kenyan: No matter how much people say they want to avoid politics, everyone has a strong feeling on the topic of Obama, and identifying a company or interviewer’s opinion of our current president will be incredibly helpful in not only identifying a great topic to converse about (“Oh man, that Obama! What an upstanding dude!” or “Oh man, that Obama! I can’t believe he and his shadow czars fool everyone!”); it’ll also create the basis for much of your interview prep.

Get to know your interviewer: Your interviewer will be looking at your resume, your cover letter, and — potentially — your social media accounts and what comes up when they google you. The thought of them knowing so much about you, like that time you tried to smuggle a panda from China, might get you a bit nervous, which is the biggest interview faux-pas, no-no, and don’t-do-that-Jack. As such, you need to even the playing field. Start by looking at them on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but remember that that’s just going to give you a basic idea of who they are — and that’s assuming you can find info on them! In order to make sure you are thoroughly educated about the person you will interview with you should hire a private detective to follow them and root around in their past. If you discover something like their secret family or IBS that’s also a perfect topic to casually bring up during your conversation and bond over.

Photo Property of The Magazine

The best part is you can bring cookies into the interview and offer them and one of your sleeves to a would-be employer.

Wear only hemp/milk-based or wool clothing: This part is open-ended, based on the answer to the previous question. If you’re going to work for a progressive company, it’s important to show your love of the environment by only wearing hemp or, if it won’t offend their senses, trendier milk-based clothing. Meanwhile, if they fall into the more conservative bracket, you should be sure to wear traditional clothing like wool, and never mix fabric types lest you be labeled a sinner. Your dedication to their values in either instance will show that you truly know and care about the company’s goals, even if you truly don’t.

Practice the interview as much as you can: As good teachers say, “Practice, practice, practice, nyah!” The best way to ensure you’ll do well is to practice until when someone asks you how you’re doing you respond by quickly reciting your professional history. In this vein, practice until the last possible moment before the interview: that is, when you’re waiting in the company’s lobby. Don’t be worried if anyone sees you talking to yourself or gesturing emphatically, as this will only show your dedication to concisely convey your love and dedication to not being unemployed and poor. Some people also warn against sounding mechanical, but really, doesn’t every company want to hire more robots?

Look exceptionally involved: Once you start the conversation, you need to always stay focused on the interviewer. Being disinterested is the kiss of death for a job seeking stallion such as yourself, and the easiest way to look involved is to never look away. Ever. As such, consider this quite possibly the most important rule: you must never break eye contact with your interviewer. To do so is to show weakness, and you might as well just yawn or scratch your armpit in caveman-like ignorance. Even letting your eyelids flutter half-closed for a mere moment would convey a lack of enthusiasm for your future cash dispensing overlord. Blinking = dying. Literally.

“Where he sees himself in five years is unsatisfactory! Finish him!!!”

Prepare answers for standard questions: The most basic, predictable, and blasé part of the interview process is actually being interviewed. It is during this intellectual gladiatorial bout that you will practically-but-not-quite compete to the death with other people you’ve never even met for the chance to be the next Uniqlo Second Floor Greeter (yes, that’s a thing). It’s always good to have a number of stock stories ready for the day of reckoning, like that time you guided baby ducks across the street or when you successfully got to 99 points in Boppit. Preparing specific answers for specific questions is also a good idea, for instance: when I’m asked about my greatest strength I say, “Powerful thighs that allow me to stand for long periods of time and kick down doors,” and when I’m asked about my greatness weakness I quickly answer, “I do so much work that my coworkers don’t have anything to do and give me too much affection.”

And there you go! Using Greg’s Ultimate Interview Prep Guide™** you’re guaranteed to make a lasting impression.

*Note: Greg does not claim any liability for restraining orders or sexual harassment claims filed against less successful interviewees.

**Note: We guarantee nothing.


People who have read my blog for awhile know that I love bad TV. Love it. To the extent that when I see a bad show on Netflix or Hulu, I will call people up or post on their Facebook saying “WE MUST WATCH THIS!” And then look even more awkward than normal.

It really is as good-bad as they say!!!

But the secret I don’t talk about that often, except with the people I watch bad TV with, is that there’s an art to making bad TV good. For instance, in Christmas I started at least twelve terrible Christmas/holiday movies, and only completed three of them. The other ones just weren’t badly good enough to be enjoyable. It turns out there is quite the science to making something that is as amazingly terrible as, say, Sharknado.

In this vein, I want to share my newest obsession: Breaking Amish. Breaking Amish is a TLC show — the same network that brought you My Big, Fat Gypsy Wedding, so you know it must be quality entertainment — about five young Amish adults (technically, four Amish and a Mennonite, which is slightly more progressive) who decide they want to experience the real world by moving to New York for various reasons.

At this point when I was explaining the show to my boyfriend, he said, “so it’s about their Rumspringa?” And I say, “What’s that?” He responded, “Well, the Amish are often encouraged to go experience American culture in their teenage years.” I looked at him blankly.

No, it’s not about their Rumspringa, Joseph! That’s not dramatic enough! It’s just them being rebellious and angsty because — well, just because! Anyways, it’s not about their Rumspringa. End of story! They’re just… They just decide to all go to New York at the same time! When there happen to be a film crew there! Duh. Stop being silly!

The first episode of Breaking Amish explores the five characters and why they decide to leave their community. I didn’t actually see the first episode, but you really don’t need to because most of these people will explain their motivations over, and over, and over every episode. The characters are as follows:

Rebecca: Rebecca is a young, insecure girl who hates pretty much everyone and wanted to see New York because her father was English (what they call non-Amish people). Or her mom was. I don’t know. She’s pretty boring, but she makes up for any hobbies or interesting quirks by being extremely judgemental and easily offended. Also, she has dentures.

Kate: Kate is a very pretty girl who seems sort of fun and completely insane. She likes to drink a lot and also likes to break into tears. She especially loves to do both of these things simultaneously. Her goal for leaving is to be a model, even though she seems to despise English people — though she had to leave the Amish community because they think that trying to be beautiful is bad and prideful, to the extent they have super creepy faceless dolls.

Not creepy AT ALL.

Abe: Abe is boring. I don’t know why he left the Amish community, but I’m assuming it was to stalk Rebecca, because, despite being awkward and quiet, he is also kind of a pervert. We’re talking if he lived in Japan he’d be buying panties out of a vending machine.

Sabrina: Sabrina is Puerto Rican. She left to find out more of her culture, which she does by working at a restaurant in Astoria, an area in Queens mostly known for having a lot of Greek people, so that makes sense. She is the Mennonite, so the journey is a little less daunting to her. Does she have a personality? Well, she’s funnier and kinder than the rest — which is not saying much. I suppose the best way to describe her is she is the most human of all of them.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah is the other male, and he is also a pervert. He likes boobs, and I’m sure he’d like monster trucks.

They all have plot arcs that develop throughout the season, too. Sabrina hires a PI to track her parents, which is full of lots of juicy tidbits that conveniently pop up every week or two; luckily, she only has drama at her job when she doesn’t have drama concerning her parents. Rebecca and Abe start dating each other; they are perfect for each other because their most defining characteristic is their mutual contempt for everyone besides themselves. Jeremiah quickly turns into The Situation from Jersey Shore. Kate does something with modeling, but mostly she cries a lot because she needs mood stabilizers.

As you can probably guess, this is all terribly, terribly convenient. Too convenient. So convenient that if it wasn’t scripted I’d say God has a plan, and his plan is to make people’s lives into hilariously bad television shows. But with so many reality shows being overtly scripted — I had a friend who knew someone on the Real Housewives of Some Place who said they made them redo scenes liking flipping over a table — the fact that Breaking Amish can embrace the fact it’s all being thought up by someone being paid in spare change and Oreos at the TLC headquarters actually makes it better than all the terrible scripted “reality” shows that have come before it. When Abe’s mom comes in the second episode to ask him back, we don’t roll our eyes; we cheer, because that same plot very well could’ve happened in last week’s Grey’s Anatomy.

As it stands, Breaking Amish has perfected the scripted-reality show formula because it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. There are no boring plots that demonstrate these are real humans because — admit it — at the time of this filming they are not; they are Amish dolls (with faces, thankfully) who are being paraded around for our entertainment. As long as we remember that, I am all too happy to eat a gallon spoonful of ice cream in front of the boob tube.


Awhile ago, I wrote about Snapchat. In my view, Snapchat is the worst app ever; I mean, it’s just like texting only worse in pretty much every way.

And yet, it’s massively popular. While it doesn’t necessarily make much money, it could be bought, like Instagram was, to a bigger social media company for seven or eight figures.

What happened with Snapchat wasn’t too unique; in fact, a good case of something else like this is a little game some of you may know called “Farmville.” Farmville was a Facebook based app that allowed you to pretend to farm things to your little heart’s content, without the burden of actually interacting with nature. Thousands upon thousands of people made in-app purchases, because who needs to use money to buy real food when you can use it to buy virtual food, right? With the success of this app, Zynga took off, gobbling up other games and milking them for all they’re worth, like Farmville Hungry Hungry Hippos (which, by the by, makes no sense), and the Words With Friends board game (which is basically like Scrabble only less fun, more expensive, and BLUE!).

All was going well in the land of Zynga until a few weeks ago, when the company announced something: they were doing really poorly. The company’s attempt to ultra-monetize existing brands like Words With Friends in counter-intuitive ways (“Let’s make our cheaper app rip-off of Scrabble into a more expensive board game rip-off of Scrabble!”) just turned out to be ultra-stupid. But that’s what happens when something is successful; we try to use it, and make it more successful, without acknowledging that there is a point where growth is bad.

Photo property of Dabe Allen.

(As a little note, the best example of this is not an app at all, but Starbucks, which used to be much bigger until people realized they don’t need mediocre coffee on every street corner in New York and Seattle)

In the time of Myspace, Facebook, Snapchat and Zynga, one successful app is enough to set you up for the rest of your life, and propel you forward more than any other single product in the history of the world. Zynga and Facebook — they’re investing all this time and money, making halfhearted apps and inheriting successful or semi-successful apps and websites because we live in an age where to strike it big, while infrequent and unpredictable, can cover the cost of hundreds of other failures.

What will be the next Snapchat? I don’t know. All I know is I never suspected that, given the absolutely moronic premise, I’d need to use the phrase “the next Snapchat” to begin with. Time will only tell how many media moguls will spring up and throw dumb ideas at us in the hopes that it’ll catch on despite its stupidity.


New York is known for a few things: wonderful and innovative food; the world’s best art and fashion; and terribly, horribly rude people who are always in a hurry. Coming from Montana the mere mention of New York will set Ma or Pa off on a tirade about how “them people dun’ know how ta just settle down an’ be nice for one gosh durn minit!”  Even people who have never been in New York nor really interacted with a New Yorker will discuss at length with you the problems of those awful East Coasters and their refusal to act with a modicum of politeness.

And to an extent, they’re right.

Property of the Village Voice The thing is, if you move to New York you are often in a rush, and you do get a bit ruder. You have to. But it’s not because you get sucked into some sort of respect-stealing black hole, or because the city is located on top of a portal to Hell, a la Buffy; the problem is that so much of being in New York is about waiting.

Let me explain: when I lived in Montana I lived seven miles out of town. This means that to drive to me (and pretty much everyone I know had a car or had access to a car) took roughly 15 minutes — maybe 30 minutes if they lived on the opposite side of town and it was snowing and there was traffic AND they happened to stop and watch a group of deer grazing on the way. Living where I did, I often had friends tell me they didn’t want to come over to my house because it “took so long to get there.”

Fast forward a mere month to New York, where I discovered that the first apartment I moved into was a mere 15 minutes away from the first friends I made in the city and we all did a little dance, because, suddenly, being 15 minutes away was amazingly close.

So, you see, New Yorkers don’t rush because they are self important; they rush because they waste so much time not moving at all. Meeting a friend for a quick cup of coffee doesn’t really happen in New York because getting to that coffee shop often takes twice as long as the meeting itself, and who wants to do that?

When we discuss why New Yorkers rush, we must discuss the rudeness — ah yes, the signature trademark New Yorker attitude. The rudeness is born not of spite but of futility. If you have never lived in New York or an equally bustling metropolis you will never understand the fury that overcomes you when two people with suitcases decide to waddle down the sidewalk, side-by-side, at the speed of molasses on a Canadian winter day. Sometimes walking through the streets of New York make me feel like I’m in the labyrinth and have to get past the minotaur, only there isn’t a single minotaur; there are seven million immensely slow hulking creatures blocking my path and ensuring my loss of sanity.

Property of Unspoken Cinema (?)

This is what the population of New York looks like to me now.

It’s like Chinese water torture: one slow person, ten slow people, you can deal with, you move past them without a second thought. But at some point, maybe around 6,723 humans that seem intent on being nothing more than fleshy roadblocks, someone moving slower than my grandma does in her walker is liable to make the bile rise up your throat and into your eyeballs.

And what about stopping in the street to check your directions? If you need to find out where to go, I don’t begrudge you for pulling out your map or smartphone to check your location — I once got lost for two hours shortly after moving because I thought I was going south when I was going east — but if you’re going to do that, do it while leaning against a wall, not at the top of the bloody stairs!

Every New Yorker tries to exert some sort of force over their own transit-fate because, ultimately, they are powerless. Finding the worst place to stand in the entire department store and slowing everyone down isn’t done out of ignorance; it’s raising your fist at the heavens and shouting, “You see? I can do that too!” And then desperately sobbing.

Property of ModDBWhile we’re on this subject, let’s talk about honking, a side effect of the fact that sometimes automobiles seem to lurch slower than a senior pushing a shopping cart down the sidewalk. Only, when talking about honks we must talk like Yoda. “Honks lead to anger; anger leads to fear; fear leads to the Darkside. Born of the Darkside, honks are, and lead to the Darkside, they do. Only causing more honks, honking does.”

The truth is New Yorkers are ruder sometimes, yes. We can’t deny it. This is not because of some miasma of anger lurking in the streets; it’s just because getting around this city is such a pain in the butt.

Property of Howard University Library.

“A New Yorker doesn’t rush because it has a destination, it rushes because the lady in front of it has just gotta move.”

I know why the New Yorker Rushes

And gripes and sneers at windows,

Empty Starbucks in his hand.

No taxi in sight again and

The Q train has not arrived in so long.

She wishes for freedom

A way to escape these endless avenues.

Perhaps a turquoise Vespa,

or even a lawnmower.