How to Purchase a Flashlight

I worked at the Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World, which was a surprisingly flashlight-intensive job. We were supplied flashlights, but many of us bought our own because the communal flashlights got broken or stolen often. It struck me funny that I’d drive to work in the blinding Florida sun, walk from the parking lot through a spotlessly clean, sun-drenched theme park, then spend eight hours in a simulation of a dark, dilapidated hotel on a rainy evening.

Still, it’s better than working at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the ride next door, which is a simulation of a parking garage and the alley behind said parking garage.

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How to Discuss a Television Show with Someone Who Hasn't Seen It Recently

I LOVED Lost. I saw the pilot and immediately wanted answers to the questions it brought up. As I say in this comic, for every question the show answered it brought up at least two more, and the mysteries and solutions grew stranger and stranger over time until you had people coming back from the dead and big wooden wheels that, when turned, made the whole island teleport. Eventually I was watching to get the answer to the essential meta-mystery of the show, “How will they explain all of this?”

Spoiler alert, the answer was, “Unsatisfyingly.”

Note from Missy: That first panel about Voyager just made me LOL. So lame, so true.

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How to Complain About Work

I once had a friend declare, loudly, “What do I want with dignity! What good does dignity do me? Dignity doesn’t pay my rent.” I wasn’t sure at the time whether he was trying to convince me that dignity wasn’t worth the effort to maintain, or himself.

Later I decided that it was a bad thing either way.

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How to Say "No" When Asked for an Unreasonable Favor

I’d much rather stay in a hotel than sleep on someone’s spare couch or floor. Maybe I’m weird.

Actually, maybe I kinda suspect that I am weird, and that’s why I prefer the anonymity of a hotel over staying with people I know. One doesn’t like to discover, as a full grown adult, that their bathroom etiquette is not up to scratch.

Really, it’s mostly that I don’t like to impose on people, and if I do impose, I like the idea that I’ll live it down and put it behind me the instant I check out, as opposed to having a friend or relative bring it up at some random point in the future.

Note from Missy: If it’s weird, then call me a weirdo. I’ve stayed in people’s houses only a couple of times in my adult life, and it’s so anxiety-producing. That feeling that you need to be doing something or entertaining each other 24/7. I’d rather have a hotel room where I can just go and be away from people. (Though Scott would be there, but when you’ve been married for 20 years, you kind of don’t count as “people” anymore to each other, if you know what I mean.) I probably also feel like a weirdo on this point because we watch a lot of House Hunters, where everyone wants a spare room for out-of-town guests.

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How to Introduce People

Rick, the real person on whom the character is based, has only ever had two complaints about the comic. One is that he doesn’t like it when the character Rick wins, like he does here. He feels that it is not in keeping with the totally fictional character I created (by pretty much watching him live his life and taking notes).

His other complaint was when I once referred to him as having a defeatist attitude. He called me, more than a little irritated, and said, “I’m not a defeatist. I’m just profoundly negative.”

 

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How to Be Eccentric

I’ve made my position on milk abundantly clear, so I will not go into it again.

For many years, my go-to snack was dry breakfast cereal eaten out of a glass, as if it were a beverage. I still don’t see why anyone finds that odd. Cereal is meant to be eaten. A cup is just a bowl you can hold in one hand, and this way I don’t needlessly dirty a spoon!

One lesson I’ve learned in life is that when someone thinks that something you’re doing is crazy, having a logical, multi-point defense of said action will not make you look less crazy to them.

 

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How to Make Someone Grateful for the Sci-fi Movies Hollywood Is Making Today

For those who haven’t seen Soylent Green, (SPOILER ALERT) it’s a mystery story that takes place in a distant future where overcrowding and environmental problems have led to people mainly subsisting on a green protein cracker called Soylent Green. In the end, the hero discovers that the crackers are made out of people. It’s about as cheery and uplifting as most early-seventies science fiction got. There’s a reason Steven Spielberg and George Lucas took the world by storm.

I’m kinda surprised nobody has remade Soylent Green. I could see it a s a Bruce Willis vehicle. They’d probably give it a happy ending, with Bruce eating a cracker made out of the bad guy.

 

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How to Accept Help That Isn't Actually Helpful

We’ve all worked with that person who presents everything you do as a mistake and everything they do as a tremendous success. I’ve found that over time the rest of the staff tends to avoid that person, a fact the person usually considers to be a mistake on everyone else’s part, or an unfortunate side-effect of their tremendous success.

Note from Missy: This comic fills me with rage, because I’ve worked with that person in many a job. Side note: I feel like if this strip had been written a couple of years later, it’d definitely be Jenkins being the total work jerk, instead of Earth Mother here. I don’t think he’d fully grown into his true Jenkinsness at this point.

 

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How to Insult Someone Without Offending Them

The phrase “with all due respect” has always cracked me up. We use it to soften the blow when we’re about to criticize someone, but when you really think about it, it makes an insult that much more cutting. You’re basically prefacing your insult with “You’re not going to like what I’m going to say, but please understand, you totally deserve it.”

 

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How to Talk Behind Someone's Back

Once, a long, long time ago, I got into a fight with one of my older brother’s friends. I won’t get into the reasons. I was 14, he was 17, none of us handled the situation particularly well. My brother ended up taking his friend’s side and there was quite a bit of yelling.

Later that evening, when things had cooled down a bit, my brother (who I remind you, was 17 at the time, an age at which most of us say a lot of stupid things) told me, “I don’t like your friends either, but at least I have the guts to insult them when they’re not around.”

The guy I’d been arguing with and I looked at each other, then started laughing so hard that any ill will left from our argument completely dissipated.

 

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How to Mind Your Manners

I’ve always found the idea of denouncing Yale graduates as uncouth barbarians to be hilarious. It’s probably a side-effect of the fact that the first sitcom I remember enjoying as a child was Gilligan’s Island. That also explains my love of sword canes. Obviously, Thurston Howell III was my favorite character, which only made it more hurtful when my father bought me a white bucket hat and started calling me Gilligan.

Note from Missy: I’m one of those wrong-hand food-cutters. I’ve never understood the whole deal with switching your knife to your fork hand to cut, then switching back to eat. So I roll with fork in the right hand, knife in the left, and anyone who has a problem with it can go suck an egg.

 

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How to Maintain a Healthy Diet

Sun Chips were a triumph of marketing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they taste good, and I’ve eaten my share of them, but at the end of the day they’re just empty carbs covered with salt, just like almost everything else on the chips aisle.

I don’t blame them for trying to position Sun Chips as a healthier alternative. You have to differentiate your product some way, and the ways in which Sun Chips differ from potato and tortilla chips don’t make for great ad copy.

“It’s the snack made from compressed wheat fragments that would otherwise go to waste!”

“It’s the perfect snack for the early ’90s! It’s half cracker, half chip! It’s a Crip!”

“The snack that’s corrugated, for increased longitudinal stiffness!”

 

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How to React to Good News That is Actually Bad News

I don’t discuss anybody’s pregnancy unless they bring it up. In my experience, expectant parents either can’t wait to talk about the pregnancy, or don’t want to talk about it at all.

Nobody is ever perfectly happy to discuss their pregnancy but not in a hurry to bring it up. If they don’t bring it up, it’s because they don’t want to talk about it, period. Oh, they’ll tell you they’re happy to discuss it, but in a flat tone of voice, while looking at you through narrowed eyes.

The worst-case scenario is bringing up someone’s pregnancy and finding out that they aren’t pregnant. The only way to get out of that faux-pas with honor involves cyanide pills.

 

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How to Apply for a Promotion

I once had a friend who was dissatisfied with their job, and when they finally arranged a promotion my friend pulled strings to get me the job they wanted out of.

I was desperate enough for a job at that point that I took their cast-off job happily.

Later, when I left that job, instead of replacing me with a new hire, they divvied all of my tasks up amongst my former co-workers, all of whom found it terribly demeaning, which did not do anything to make me feel bad about leaving.

 

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How to Be Diplomatic

In my experience, the person who controls the availability and the quality of the coffee supply in an office wields great power. Maybe the fact that the office I worked in was in Seattle in the early 2000s had something to do with that, but what can I say? My experiences are what they are.

Of course, messing with the coffee supply was a dicey proposition, because lack of caffeine in the morning makes coffee addicts irritable, and causing that irritability by failing to supply the coffee in the first place gives them all an obvious target upon which to focus their irritability.

I think that’s why the British Navy used to placate the sailors with rum. Deny someone their rum and they get more rational, not less. 

 

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How to Assert Your Individuality

Really, (and I may have done a comic about this, it’s all a bit of a blur,) these sorts of cultural affiliations are sort of like the adult male equivalent of Garanimals.

Garanimals are (That’s right, not was, ARE! They still have a website and still sell kids clothes, mostly at Walmart, it seems.) a children’s clothing brand where all of the garments have a tag with a picture of an animal on them. If you pick a shirt and pants that have the same animal on the label you will know they go together. Wearing a lion shirt with lion pants is fine, but wearing a lion shirt with giraffe pants means that you had no fashion sense, which we all know is a terrible burden for a nine-year-old.

What I’m saying is that for an adult man, wearing a Seahawks shirt and a Seahawks hat is fine, or a Seahawks shirt and a Mariners jacket, if he wants to push it, but he knows that he can’t wear a Seahawks shirt and a Raiders jacket, because he’ll look ridiculous. The same goes for wearing a Harley jacket over a Honda shirt, or wearing anything with a Ferrari logo while driving any other car. Sadly, 99% of all Ferrari merchandise is worn in this manner. 

 

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How to Encourage a Friend Who's Doing Something You Don't Like

I dunno. I just don’t get poetry. That’s probably a terrible thing for a writer to admit. I think I gave up on poetry when my teacher spent hours droning on about about rhyme scheme and meter, then told us that a poet didn’t really have to adhere to any of it if they didn’t want to. I remember thinking, “Well then what’s the point of any of this?”

It’d be like learning the rules of a game and then being told that you can break them if the fans and the referee like you enough.

That might be why I don’t like sports that much either. 

 

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How to Tell Someone How You Are "Doing"

The idea of the bowel cannon is one that predates the comic. It started out as a piece of stand-up material I could never get to work.

It’s amazing how many of my memories of my stand-up career start with the phrase “There was this bit I could never get to work ...”

The original idea was that a typical meal at a steakhouse—a bunch of bread followed by a big piece of meat followed by a cup of coffee—was analogous to the wadding, cannonball and explosive charge they used in breach loading cannons.

Back then I described the results in greater, or at least more graphic detail. The bit did not contain the word “analogous.” Drunk comedy club patrons in smaller towns do not take kindly to words like “analogous.”


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How to Lose with Dignity

My brothers and I had a Nintendo. Later on I had access to my younger brother’s super Nintendo and his N64. Missy’s family had an Intellivision, then jumped to computers and never looked back.

Later, after Missy and I got married, I bought a GameCube and go a copy of Mario Kart: Double Dash. Missy watched me play it for a day or so, then picked it up one afternoon while I was doing other things. We started racing each other. Naturally, I figured that superior experience playing videogames would give me a natural advantage. By the end of the day she was consistently beating me.

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when Kylo Ren reached out for Luke’s lightsaber and it flew past him into Rey’s hand, I knew how he felt.

 

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