No Fate But What We Make

by Frost on September 4, 2012

I was eleven  years old.  I had just moved across town and into a new school district.

I was the new kid, the poor kid, and, since my parents were in the middle of an extremely messy divorce, a pretty quiet and weird kid as well. I was a friendless outcast. Either you’ve had the experience of being ‘that kid’ at some point in your life and you understand what that’s like, or you haven’t, and you never will.

After a few months of solitude, I managed to ingratiate myself into a small group of awkward, video-game obsessed dorks. I was still at the bottom of of even their totem pole. I was the one whose presence they tolerated, the butt of jokes, the loser among the group of losers. But it was infinitely better than being alone. I had friends to eat with. I had somewhere to go after school. I had plans on the weekend. Who cares if those plans rarely amounted to anything but eating candy and playing Super Nintendo with a bunch of losers who didn’t even like me? It was something.

After a year of junk food and video games, I became the fat kid. Or at least, the pudgy kid. I got new pants. I dropped down to a less competitive hockey league. But I was comfortable. Life was free of pain, and would remain so as long as I kept my head down, accepted my status as the soft, awkward, disrespected dork among dorks. I kept spending my free time in nightly candy and video game festivals.

*

I don’t remember exactly what made me see the path that I was on. Maybe it was a side profile in a full length mirror. Maybe it was the realization that all the cool kids were getting girlfriends, and I wasn’t.

I had a moment of clarity. I realized that I didn’t like who I had become. I didn’t like being fat. I didn’t like being the kid everyone picked on. I didn’t want my high school experience to be defined by whether I bought a Playstation or a Sega Dreamcast. I saw the path that I was on, and I got depressed.

Then I made the most important realization of my life.

It was April, and I was about to finish the seventh grade. I was laying in bed, early in the evening, contemplating how much my life sucked. I thought about how bored I was, hanging out with the same annoying assholes every weekend. I thought about how much I dreaded taking my shirt off in gym class. I thought about how great it would be to switch lives with one of the cool kids.

And then a new idea punched me in the face. I can still call up the clarity, the joy, the sense of purpose that I instantly felt in the moment I finally understood:

“I can control this.”

I can control how I look. I can control how people treat me. I can control who I am.

Some of you think this is obvious to everyone. But it wasn’t, not to me at that time. And by the looks the young men of my generation, it’s not obvious to most of them either.

Suddenly, everything looked different. I started seeing the aspects of my life which I despised as the direct result of the daily choices that I made. This was not a pleasant experience. It was painful and humbling. Acknowledging the leading roll we play in our personal failures always is. But it was a necessary pain, and a wise investment in future happiness.

I did something for the first time that night, that I have done hundreds of times since: I wrote a letter to myself. In it, I described the situation I was in. Then I described the situation I wanted to be in. Finally, I made a list of the new habits and actions that would get me from A to B.

I didn’t like being fat. So, I fired up America Online and started an AltaVista search for information on diet and exercise. I built a simple workout program for myself:  One hundred each of push-ups, sit-ups, back extensions, squats, chair dips, and a five minute wall-sit every night. I was twelve.

The rule was, I had to get through every one of the exercises, in as many sets as it took. I had to get through the complete workout six times per week, no matter what else was going on in my life. I used a ruler to trace out a grid on a sheet of blank paper, committed the simple program to it, and tacked it to my wall.

From then on, I spent an hour every night working out, alone in my room. I told no one.

Every Sunday night, for the next seven months, I looked back on a week of successful workouts. Every Sunday night, after finishing my last set, I wrote out the chart for the next week. Six exercises down, six days across. Every Sunday night, the vanquished chart joined its fallen brothers in a desk drawer.

I watched all week as an army of checkmarks marched across the page. I worshiped those checkmarks. I would have cut off my own hand rather than tick one off before it was earned. Outside of that bedroom, I remained a loser. The rest of my life did not stop being painful and humiliating. The outside world continued to see me as a loser. But I started caring less, because I knew they were wrong. They only saw the old me. They didn’t know about the marching checkmarks and the growing stack of complete weeks in my desk drawer. They didn’t know about the man I was becoming.

A year’s worth of chocolate bars, coke, nachos and Street Fighter Alpha tournaments started to melt pounds off my midsection. Puberty and a growth spurt finished off what was left.

*

Meanwhile, I started cutting off my old friends. They were not adding to my life. They had always been obstacles, and now I saw them as such. They did not respect me. They saw me as what I had always been to them, as how I had always obligingly seen myself – the dork of the dorks. I had no use for their reinforcement of that self-image.

I replaced them with two kids who had just moved into the city. New and unknown, and unknowing of my old self. One day, I invited them to play road hockey with me. Soon, I started inviting other kids from school and from my hockey team. They were used to Elihu the dork, Elihu the non-entity. But here was another valuable lesson: People see you as you see yourself, and they treat you as you expect to be treated. Road hockey on Elihu’s street was the place to be for the summer between grade seven and eight.

It was also the summer that I rediscovered joy.

I rediscovered what it was like to have true friends, not just people who tolerated your presence. I rediscovered the excitement of running around a suburban neighbourhood causing trouble, instead of playing video games. I kissed a girl for the first time. I touched a boob. And all the while, my sense of discipline and agency increased as I grinded through my workouts, alone in my room at the end of every day. Life was better than I had ever imagined was possible.

When I started the eighth grade, I hit the ground running. After a summer of puberty, healthy eating, workouts, and days spent playing street hockey and playing outside, I was a fit, confident and handsome lad. Because I’d built my social circle from scratch over the summer, I had close friends from every group and became the social linchpin of my grade. I had become the master of my world.

*

I learned the most important lessons of my life in that summer, and they have been with me ever since:

I am in control.

I own my life.

I have free will.

Nothing is predetermined.

All of my successes, all of my failures, all of my strength, all of my weakness, belong solely to me.

I still have one of my first workout charts, carefully folded in an envelope in my desk at my father’s house. I think about it often, when I’m tempted to take it easy on myself. When I feel weakness in my heart, I use that piece of paper to remind me of what’s possible in life. I use it to remind myself of who I am, and the strength that I have. It is my amulet.

Fifteen years have passed since I wrote that letter, and grunted through my first lonely set of solitary push-ups.

Over the years, I have gone through proud eras of intense focus, boldness, and courage. I have also fallen into laziness, complacency and failure. But whenever I find myself slipping, I think back to that letter I wrote to myself, when I first realized that this is my life, and I am free to choose what sort of man to become.

This blog is the continuation of that letter that I started writing to myself, all those years ago. I write to remind myself, and anyone else who cares to listen, of the one truth from which everything else flows:

We are masters of our fate

If I choose to rebel against cowardice, spiritual decay, physical deterioration, intellectual laziness, and all the other evils plaguing my generation, sucking young men down into dark pits of mediocrity, then I am free to do so. As are you.

Now let’s start kicking some ass.

{ 21 comments }

Every long-term traveler that I’ve ever met is toying with the idea of writing a book with all their ‘crazy stories’ once they get home.

Their assumption is that since their trips were fun to experience, they must be fun for other people to read about. But they forget one thing – everyone who goes on a cool trip, comes back with some cool stories. And no matter how cool those stories were to live and experience, sitting down and putting pen to paper in a way that captures someone’s interest is more difficult than it sounds. The problem is: No matter how crazy you are,  there’s always someone a little bit crazier.

Unless your name is Mark Zolo, aka The Naughty Nomad.

I have been reading The Naughty Nomad’s blog for many moons, and I’ve always considered the author to be a legit and crazy motherfucker. But while reading a review copy of Naughty Nomad: Not Your Typical Backpacking Story, I realized that I had no idea the true depth of his globe-trotting, wench-seducing, danger-embracing insanity.

I still don’t know what was my favourite story. Maybe it was skipping the hospital and almost bleeding out from a motorcycle accident, so he could bang a small-town Thai girl. Maybe it was almost marrying a Cambodian teenager. Maybe it was the chapter on the Philippines that made me shed tears for not having made it there.

Actually, scratch all that. The Cairo to Cape Town section blows all the others out of the water (and that’s saying something) in sheer ridiculousness. While reading it, I felt like nobody had ever properly explained to NN that he is a mortal human being capable of death, and DRC rebels with AK-47s are not to be trifled with. Fortunately for your reading pleasure, he lived to tell the tale.

I highly recommend this book. It will make you laugh your ass off, and it will inspire you to go out and do something crazy.

Buy it here, and do it now because the book is launch price is fifty percent off the regular (Five bucks instead of ten).

{ 3 comments }

Hiatus

by Frost on July 12, 2012

Late summer in Europe is not a good time to be writing blog posts. Late summer anywhere isn’t a good time to be reading them.

I’m flying out of London to Barcelona tomorrow, than heading to San Sebastien, and possibly Bilbao and Santander for two weeks of surf and party. Then I’m off for an 800 kilometre hike across Northern Spain, and a flight back home. My ability and desire to write blog posts will be limited.

If you’re new to the blog, read my two books: The Freedom Twenty-Five Lifestyle Guide, a comprehensive guide to optimizing your health, finances, sex life and focus, and The 2012 End Of The World Tour, an account of my first three months of living and traveling in Southeast Asia. You can also check out the Hall Of Fame Posts. The blogroll to your left is chock-full of Red Pill goodness to get you through to the fall.

To briefly answer the number one question I get from reader email: Yes, if you can relate to my life as I described it here a year or two ago, you absolutely should quit your job and travel. A lengthier answer will come in time, but for now, I’m off to the beach…

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Review Of Models, By Mark Manson

by Frost on July 3, 2012

Have you got problems with women? Well fear not! I’ve got the solution. Put down those routines! Throw away those openers! I’ve got your magic formula. I want you to relax and… wait for it:

Just Be Yourself.

Truly, no seduction trope is as unhelpful and ubiquitous as Just Be Yourself. We may even need an acronym for it. “Dude, I asked my grandma for advice on how I can find a nice girl. I got JBY’ed. Right in the face.”

I recently got a chance to read Mark Manson’s Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. Mark’s core premise is: Just Be Yourself.

But you know what? It’s an incredible book. I highly recommend it. It is much, much deeper than the facile JBY one gets from the clueless, and it’s the best piece I’ve read on having healthy relationships (“And you’re an expert on this HOW?” I hear any woman I’ve dated for more than a month asking. But never mind that…) with women, as well as with friends and family.

Mark’s core message is that you should (mostly) forget about lines and routines, embrace who you are, and radiate that You-ness openly and honestly with the women you meet. Here are two quotes that capture the essence of the book’s message:

“Our primary strategy with women is polarization. The basic idea is that

the more forthright you are about who you are, how you feel, and what

you think, the more this is going to weed out Unreceptive Women from

the Receptive women, as well as push Neutral women to get off the

fence and decide how they feel about you.”

” …a man who becomes comfortable with his vulnerability

becomes the opposite of needy. If neediness is prioritizing others’

perceptions about you over your own, then vulnerability is the exact

opposite. Being vulnerable forces you to accept and prioritize your own

perception of yourself over those of others.

 

Why? Because you have no choice. As you make yourself vulnerable,

you will experience both success and rejection. And as you experience

success or rejection, you will be forced to upgrade your own sense of

self worth. There’s no other option. Slowly, but surely you’ll chisel a

“Don’t Give a Fuck” attitude out of yourself that is genuine yet giving

at the same time. A benevolent selfishness.

 

But this can only be done by consistently exposing yourself and

opening up your emotions and true thoughts first to yourself and then to

those around you.”

A Caveat: Just Be Yourself Game may not be helpful to someone who is currently a complete mess. It’s hard to JBY a 4-set of HB8.7s if “Yourself” is a socially anxious loser with three years of cumulative World of Warcraft game time. Being Yourself requires Yourself being worth being. (There’s a sentence for ya!) Mark, to his credit, acknowledges this. Still, the two demographics I think stand to benefit the most from Models are:

1) Successful PUA-types who’ve developed Social Robot Syndrome, and want to progress to a more genuine, natural feel to their interactions with women.

2) Guys who do well with women, but have fucked up relationships because they’re dishonest with women (and themselves) about who they are and what they want.

But I recommend it to neckbeards as well. Read it, and understand that Models is a window to what you should be shooting for as the end goal: Genuine, honest relationships. Self-awareness. Happiness.

So that’s Models by Mark Manson. Kid-tested. Mom approved. Freedom Twenty-Five recommended.

Buy it here

{ 11 comments }

Fallen Alphas

by Frost on June 18, 2012

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—” – Jude, 1:6

Fuck yeah I’m reading the Bible, bitches. But today’s post is not about Fallen Angels. It’s about Fallen Alphas, and we’re going to start with a quote straight from the Book Of Frost:

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the pussy of life, which Game has promised to those who learn it.

Pain sucks. Frustration sucks. Failure sucks. But it is through pain, frustration and failure that we improve ourselves. Behind every champion lie thousands of invisible hours of hurt and sacrifice, whether in the gym, on the field, in the library, or in the nightclub.

You know why Roosh‘s books are the first seduction resource I point my readers towards? Because the man has suffered. Because Roosh started from nothing, and he figured out how to meet and seduce women from scratch. Bang is not the story of how the captain of the football team tinkered with his approaches. It’s the memoir of a man who overcame two decades of social programming through sheer force of will. Gmac has a similar background. (read From Playing Video Games To Playing Women: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). These guys are riding high now, but they clawed and scraped to get there.

They’re better men for it. They learned to value the abundance they have. They learned to value the work they did to get there. In a way, I envy them their trials. If you’re not getting laid, consider that silver lining: If you have the courage to conquer your demons and build yourself into the man you want to be, you’ll gain a lot more on your journey than just the ability to bang girls.

Contrast that with the Natural. He has nowhere to go but down. The High-School Alpha, the University Alpha, even the Yuppie Alpha – they’re all liable to become Fallen Alphas if they get lazy.

Captain of the high school football team yesterday, watches 30 hours of sports on his big-screen every week, gained 50lbs and mops a floor for a living today? Fallen Alpha.

Frat president and party animal yesterday, accountant with a frumpy wife today? Fallen Alpha.

Hotshot lawyer with a BMW and a closet full of $2,000 suits yesterday, unemployed and afraid to approach in jeans and a t-shirt today? Fallen Alpha.

Want to hear about my game-winning touchdown in the junior year championship game against White Oaks High? Again?

In the cut-throat world of 21st-century dating, you’re either innovating or decaying. (As a man. As a woman, you’re just decaying.) Getting easy lays because of your looks, external status, or money is great, but it can make a man too comfortable. It can make him stagnate.

I got my first taste of life as a Fallen Alpha in grad school. Moving to a city with zero social circle, zero cash, zero status as a varsity athlete/thrower of awesome parties/general notorious man about town, and only slightly more than zero free nights to go out. Reality smacked me in the face, hard. I had to accept that my game was a lot weaker than I thought. It sucked.

But it was also forced me to become a better man. Before that year, I had never consciously tweaked and tested my approaches. I had never kept a journal. I had never truly become comfortable with rejection, to the point that I could consistently cold approach while alone. But over that year, I did all of those things, and more.

*

Not getting laid sucks, but at least it presents you with a clear path to follow: Work on the things you suck at, until you stop sucking. But let’s say you’re doing all right for yourself. You’ve got some hot girls on the go! You pulled three new notches last month! Two and a half were hot! What should you do?

The typical man’s answer will be to accept your success, call it luck, and enjoy it while it lasts – i.e., to follow The Way Of The Fallen Alpha.

The atypical man, i.e. myself and you, dear reader, cannot do this. We cannot let ourselves get complacent. We will not let ourselves get complacent. As “alpha” as we are, or as we perceive ourselves to be, we must never lose sight of the next level. We must always be asking, what can we do that will allow our future selves to look back on our present selves with empathetic, paternalistic, condescending pity?

Once Roosh figured out how to bang DC chicks, he set off for a long and painful mission to conquer South America’s Women

Naughty Nomad (and others) collects flags for the sport of it

Fly Fresh and Young has declared The Hit It And Quit It Summer Of 2012

And now, I am declaring two rules for next month and a half in France:

1) No backpacker lays. Local girls only.

2) No English.

Many good things will come out of these two rules.

– My French will go from decent to absolutely fluent. I can get by in French right now, but I am just much, much less clever in any language but English. Since wordplay is a core part of my game, I have to get better at French, and in particular casual, informal French, or I go hungry.

– I will learn much more about French people and culture.

– I will get back out into the RAW world of challenge and struggle, victory and defeat, instead of just playing the same game with the same people in the same hostels, with nothing but the scenery changing.

*

Dear readers, care to set yourselves some challenges? Let us know in the comments.

{ 34 comments }

Help A Brother Out

by Frost on June 13, 2012

You all know Matt Forney by now, the hottest new taste sensation sweeping the blogosphere. As you may have heard, he’s walking from Syracuse to Portland.

Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.

Obviously, it’s a pretty stupid plan. Matt, what do you hope to accomplish by walking to Portland? Will the magic of putting one foot in front of the other, thousands upon thousands of times actually accomplish anything? Will it make you a better man? Is there any logical reason why this is anything but a terrible idea? What exactly can you do do in Portland, that you can’t do in Syracuse? These are not just my questions, Matt. You’ve heard them all before as you lay awake in bed at night…

But the only reason I know this is because I’ve heard them too. Maybe the stupid plans are the only ones we have left.

Our generation has been spared any sort of hardship, any sort of risk to our bodies and our self-esteem, for our entire lives. Pain, suffering, adversity, victory and defeat – these are the things that make a Man. If our society is too sick and decrepit to assign us labours as a rite of passage, than it’s on us to go forth and seek those labours out. So let me be the first to say a hearty Fuck Yeah to Matt and his big, stupid, awesome mission.

But let’s not stop there…

Matt is accepting tips. Twenty bucks Matt, in your pocket. Bam. Just happened.

Freedom Twenty-Five readers, do you actually care about the shit I write about? Do you care about Feminism steamrolling masculine identity and culture? If not, what the fuck are you doing here? If so, here’s your chance to lay a brick in the counterculture we’re building. $20 is the official Freedom Twenty-Five recommended donation. Donate now.

I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think Matt has rooms at the Four Seasons booked for every stop along the way.

How fucking cool would it be if we came together and saw to it that the trail from Syracuse to Portland was full of couches, beers, hot meals, and hot girls?

How cool would it be if Matt Forney, Esq, was able to end his trip by writing a kick-ass motherfucking book about how the previously-unknown online community of Masculine Revivalists came together to help a complete stranger out? Any of my readers who live somewhere along Matt’s Oregon Trail (heh), get in touch with the man and buy him a beer.

But for those of you who don’t live in bumfuck flyover nowhere: Any of my readers who donate $20 or more to Matt in the next week, will receive free copies of both The Freedom Twenty-Five Lifestyle Guide and The 2012 End Of The World Tour. Just mention in your paypal message what a daring cunt he is, and that you’d like to be hooked up with some Freedom Twenty-Five swag. He can forward your email to me, and I’ll send you a coupon code.

So, go donate now, and bookmark that blog.

{ 11 comments }

Meditation And Focus

by Frost on April 27, 2012

Have you ever tried to meditate? It’s difficult. If you’re at all like me, you won’t last ten seconds before your mind starts to wander, you feel the urge to start writing down the brilliant ideas and mental reminders floating in and out of your consciousness, and you get antsy thinking about the things you could be doing instead of sitting on a friggin pillow with your eyes closed like some god-damn hippie…

Anyways. That was the old me. Now I’m, uh, slightly better at controlling my mischievous monkey-mind. Sometimes. Serenity Now! And it’s improved my life quite a bit.

For example, I can read again. I never actually lost the ability to comprehend words and sentences and paragraphs. But for a while, I was simply unable to sit down with a book and read it. All but the best of books would immediately send my mind wandering to whichever corners of my psyche it felt like visiting.

I can also wait in lines, wait for trains, and wait for friends to show up for lunch without getting flustered. Why am I standing here LIKE A CHUMP, my brain used to demand, when we could be out DOING STUFF! ARGHHH! Since I’ve started meditating regularly, I’ve become much better at accepting that which I cannot change, and being content (grateful, even) with the quiet, undisturbed moments of ‘waiting’ that used to infuriate my old type-A insistence on doing, going, building, creating or destroying, 110% of the time.

I’m also more in tune with my own emotional states, and by extension the emotional states of others. One of my ex-girlfriends used to carry snacks in her purse because she recognized the link between my blood-sugar levels (this was before I started adhering to the Scientific Paleo Fuck You Diet) and my mental state. Whenever she noticed my mood deteriorating, she would offer me a granola bar without explanation.

(Come to think of it, she may have accidentally conditioned me, Pavlov-style, to snap at her more often. Hmm.)

Anyways. The point is that hunger affected my behaviour, without my conscious knowledge of the link. Meditation taught me that angry, happy, sad, and other emotional states, are the same as hungry. They can affect your thoughts and behaviour without your knowledge. I’m sure you already knew this, and I thought I did too. But after a few weeks of regular meditation, I became much better at identifying and recognizing my emotional states on the fly.

The most interesting change that I noticed though was the disconnect that developed between my brain, and me. Most people live with a two-factor model of what they’re constituted of: There’s the brain/mind/soul, i.e. the part that’s really you, and there’s the body, which is a tool that you use to navigate the world and manipulate it to your liking. Sort of like this:

Prolonged meditation gives me a greater sense of a third factor in that model. A higher awareness, a self that exists outside the mind, a – dare I say it – soul.

I won’t speculate on the nature of the soul. Maybe it’s the little piece of God that lives in each of us, that I can connect with it if I dedicate my life to seeking it out through meditation and other purifying rituals. Maybe it’s the good Baby Jesus shining his inner light into me. Maybe it’s a purely neuro-chemical illusion brought on by the recent evolution of our cerebral frontal cortex and its topographic isolation from the rest of the brain.

(Interesting aside: Close your eyes. Sit still. Where are you? Obviously, your body is in a chair, on the subway, or wherever. But where in your body does your consciousness reside? Where is the ghost in the machine? Almost everyone says, right behind their eyes, more or less the exact location of the frontal cortex.)

The ability to view your mind as a tool is immensely useful for improving your self-discipline. It will also cut you off from the bullshit rationalizations of refusing to make positive life changes because “it’s not you.” For example, say you never approach girls because it’s not who you are. Your soul, whatever it is, will laugh at this. Not approaching girls is just a habit your feeble mortal mind has developed. It is a choice. Your soul knows better.

So now you’re sold on meditation, yeah? All you need is a how-to manual.

Libraries have been written on the subject, and there are many schools of thought which purport to reveal the right way to meditate. But, I have never felt an obligation to accept the teachings of yogis at face value. Like any vast system of ancient beliefs, Yoga is some combination of useful wisdom and comical superstitions. Take that which is useful, and make it your own.

Here’s the meditation practice I follow every morning:

2-5 minutes of unstructured thought, focusing on calm and positive thoughts, visualizing what I’m going to do in the day, feeling gratitude.

Three Om chants. Focus on full inhalation and exhalation.

20 minutes spent slowly counting backwards from one hundred, silently repeating my mantra after each one. (My mantra is Serenity Now. Seriously.)

10-30 minutes of clearing my mind, letting thoughts float in to the periphery of my focus and gently nudging them out, staying focused on nothingness. Usually enter a mildly euphoric state, a feeling of being touched by Universal Love and belongingness. In other words, some real hippie shit.

Hardcore meditation addicts believe that the euphoria (which can get a lot more intense than what I’ve experienced) is really the experience of communion with God, the tapping into the all-encompassing network of love and peace that binds all living things, The Force, Cerebro, whatever you want to call it.

I have a different opinion. But I’ll save that for another day.

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Cold In The Desert

by Frost on April 7, 2012

Somehow, I’ve caught a cold. Not an easy task in the 40-degree heat of the Rajastan desert.

Fortunately I’m in Udaipur, which is a nice little town to kick back in a cafe with a book and let snotty tissues accumulate around me.

This morning, I read Steve-Os autobiography and I highly recommend it. His absurd and single-minded commitment to a career as a… well, whatever the hell Steve-O was... is inspiring and hilarious.

I’ve been in India for almost a month now, and my impressions of the country have been all over the place. I won’t say any more than that until I’ve got an exit stamp in my passport, and I still have a week in Bombay before I fly into Rome on the 14th.

Consulting my bank account and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, not only am I going to be one broke motherfucker by the end of the summer, I’ll only make it that far if I travel through Europe for the next four months on a ridiculously tight budget. This felt unpleasant at first, but then I thought: What would I have done with that money anyways? What needs of mine will go unfulfilled as a result of not having it?

I actually kind of  like the idea of being broke, in a nothing-to-lose, Henry-Miller-esque, make-it-or-die-tryin’ kind of way.

(Then again, I don’t like the idea enough to get rid of the chunk of my savings I’ve put in illiquid, long-term investments. I just like the idea of feeling broker.)

Six months ago, I would have expected to be a moderately famous author by now. My first book has certainly done OK, for a self-published book by an incredibly obscure first-time author. But I expected break-out success. I expected interviews, exploding traffic, name recognition, strippers in cages. So far none of the above have materialized.

I’m not bothered by this though. I’ve received a ton of positive feedback on the book, both in reviews from other bloggers and emails from readers. I’ve sold enough copies for this blog to be a legitimate, though modest, stream of secondary income. I’ve learned enough about the creative and publishing process that writing and marketing books is no longer some big scary thing to me – it’s a part of my reality.

I haven’t received any feedback yet on the draft edition of my second book, an account of my adventures in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, but I think it’s great. I think it’s hilarious, thoughtful, occasionally deep, and always entertaining. I think it’s going to blow up. But, as we’ve seen, my track record at predicting my own success has been… mixed.

But again, I don’t think I’d be that bothered if the next book flops. I’ve found my path. I’m going to write. Hopefully, I’ll figure out a way to get paid for my writing, but if not, that’s fine too. Maybe the reality of the publishing industry in the 21st century and beyond is that writing for money just isn’t feasible. Or, maybe it is possible to earn a living as a writer, and I’m just not one of the few who are smart, interesting and creative enough to do it.

I don’t believe either of these for a second, but if I’m wrong – that’s OK by me. I’ll still have a blog, and there are other ways to make a living.

Anyways, there’s my soul-dump for the day. Clearly I’ve been posting a lot less lately, partially due to the time and technical constraints of backpacking through India, and partially because I’ve been devoting my time to experiences, books and meditation. I’ll likely continue with sporadic updates until the June 1st launch of the new book.

Taker easy, as we say where I’m from, and if she’s easy taker twice.

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“The point is, we’re going to show you a dance!”

Although that’s not the moment I’m talking about. You’ll know it when you see it.

Interesting backstory behind the actors/writers/producers of the show as well. Wikipedia.

{ 14 comments }

Review of Hilarity Ensues, By Tucker Max

by Frost on February 20, 2012

Hilarity Ensues is far and away the worst installment in the Tucker Max canon. It is the Phantom Menace of Fratire.

This is a difficult review for me to write. I’ve been following Max and his work for almost a decade now. I really wanted to like his latest. Tucker Max’s earlier books (I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell and Assholes Finish First) were both excellent, and I’ve been following his career since he was nothing more than a guy with a few stories on his website. I might not have even started writing if it weren’t for Max’s influence on my teen-age self (readers can decide for themselves is this is a good or a bad thing).

So I was really hoping to be impressed with Hilarity Ensues. Instead, reading it was like the first Christmas you realized Mom and Dad used the same wrapping paper as Santa Claus: Disillusioning, and disappointing.

The first section in Hilarity Ensues is a collection of stories from a month Max spent in Cancun during law school. Most of them are pretty funny, and would have held their own next to the material in his earlier works. Hilarity Ensues also contains a re-telling of IHTSBIH’s Miss Vermont story, with details that he previously had to omit for legal reasons. Parts of the revised story are absolutely beyond the pale of believability – until you see the pictures. This book had me laughing out loud in a few places, which is more than can be said for most attempts at literary humour.

Beyond that though, the book drags:

– Tucker goes to the bachelor parties and weddings of his friends, most of which are completely pedestrian

– Tucker’s friend ‘Hate’ gets disproportionately angry because Jimmy John’s put mayo on his sandwih

– Tucker goes out with the cast of Deadliest Catch and has a good time, despite getting seasick

Most painful of all, about a tenth of the book consists of text message exchanges between Tucker and random girls. Perhaps there were some gems later on in these sections, but I didn’t make it far before I started mashing my next-page button like it owed me money.

The downfall of Hilarity Ensues is not just the quality of the stories, though. Some of Tucker Max’s best work in earlier books recounts nights and events that really aren’t all that crazy. The infamous Sushi Pants Story, for example, can be fairly summarized as: Tucker buys a breathalyser, gets really drunk, eats sushi, and throws up in a bush. Eminently believable? Yes. but good luck reading it in public without making a scene.

Years ago, someone told me that the most important characteristic of good writing is honesty. An author must do his best to portray himself, his characters, and the world as he sees it, as authentically as possible. Readers may not agree, or even relate – but they will empathize. And that’s what makes for good storytelling.

Hilarity Ensues fails because it’s a dishonest book.

I don’t mean that the stories themselves are fake. Rather, the perspective from which Max writes about them is contrived. He has forced himself to write Hilarity Ensues with enthusiasm that he just doesn’t feel anymore. As he makes clear in this interview with Forbes, Tucker Max is living a very different life than he was a decade ago. More importantly, he sees his early debaucherous escapades in a different light:

“I know some of the stuff I did is, um, beyond the pale or f***-up sometimes, or mean to other people or destructive to myself. But I still did it anyway.”

“I understood intellectually in my twenties that this had something to do with unresolved parental, emotional issues. But I didn’t process it. I could look at other people and see these kinds of issues playing out in them, but I didn’t apply it to myself, because that’s the hardest thing to do for anybody. I couldn’t do that then.”

“I was a ridiculous narcissist in my twenties. It’s not even that I didn’t care about other people. It’s way beyond that. I just didn’t even understand that other people even existed or mattered. I do not believe I was a true NPD [narcissistic personality disorder] in the clinical sense. But, dude, I was close.”

“I ended up hurting a lot of people and not even realizing it. Because of that narcissism, I didn’t connect well to other people. I used a lot of people a lot of times, in ways I didn’t understand.”

“Listen I’m 35 now, I can look back on my writing and I can say this. This is something I’ve never really said before in public or admitted on the record, and I’ll admit it now: I didn’t realize this when I was writing it, but I think if you read between the lines a little bit, in between all the bravado, you can see a lot of self-loathing.

“I knew it was inevitable that I would have to look into this stuff eventually. In some vague sense, I understood the whole time that a lot of my extreme acting out came from unresolved emotional issues. And I knew deep down at some point I was going to have to face them.

“So many people describe my book as just pure id. What I’m trying to do now is to connect my ego and my superego to my id. I’m trying to understand, why was I doing all this stuff? Why was I acting this way? Through understanding all of that, you start to resolve the underlying problems that you’re acting out, in a healthier, more productive way.

“And I’ve found that, what I now want the most in a woman is—I want a partner. I want someone who is my partner in life. Who supports me, and I support her. I can share all my experiences in life with her, and she can share hers back with me. Not only do we love each other, but we accept, embrace, nurture, and care for each other.”

So Tucker Max has come to realize that his old lifestyle wasn’t quite as awesome as he thought it was while he was living it.

Which is fine. We all grow, adapt, and change throughout life. Hell, I’m only twenty-six and I’m already passing on some big nights out so I can wake up at 06:30, throw a wheatgrass shot in with my protein shake, and hit the pads for an hour before work. Good on Tucker, for making changes to his lifestyle that he felt were necessary.

But in terms of how these changes affected the quality of his writing:

Grown-up Tucker Max can no longer write the character he created based on himself, because he no longer understands him. 

The end product is the inauthentic and uninteresting Hilarity Ensues. Buy it if (like me) you’ve been following Max’s work long enough that you have to. Otherwise, just pick up new copies of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and Assholes Finish First, and pretend the series ended there.  

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If you haven’t already, check out the rest of the series:

The Rise And Fall Of Tucker Max: Part 1

The Rise And Fall Of Tucker Max: Part 2

The Rise And Fall Of Tucker Max: Part 3:

And who knows? There may be a part 4 and 5 somewhere down the line as well. Tucker Max’s Blog has just launched, with this as its mission statement:

“From here, this blog will go onto other issues and I will write about a ton of other things, but I’m going to keep coming back to this again and again:

How does someone who has a little bit of talent and a lot of motivation succeed in life?

It’s the question I faced and answered in my life, I think it’s the question that a lot of other people want answered, and I have some perspective on that issue that can help other people.”

Which sounds interesting as fuck to me.

So the unfortunate Hilarity Ensues is headed straight to page 20 of my Kindle library, and there it will linger. IHTSBIH and AFF will retain their status as classics. As for the future – Tucker Max will determine the direction his career takes from here.

I’m hoping for the best.

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