Banterist

Migration to Medium

Medium is all the rage these days. I was introduced to it not very long ago, and it’s grown on me. So, I decided to migrate the most popular posts from Banterist over to a new publication on Medium – which I’ve cleverly also called Banterist.

There you can find Banterist posts dating as far back as 2003. And new ones, because I’m write-y lately.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Head on over and follow Banterist on Medium.

And follow me on Twitter if you like.

Welcome to My Terribly Neglected Blog

HUMBUG! I have not updated this sucker since August 2011 when my second book came out. Even before that it had been quite some time since I noticed it. Like a spouse of 50 years, I assume.

This blog was very good to me. I started it several years ago when time was not such a precious commodity. I’ve since made a baby, written a book, made another baby, written another book, and taken on the task of hosting a weekly TV show. These are all terribly time-consuming things if you want to do them right – and I’m afraid as a result this blog has fallen by the wayside.

A shame really, because there’s plenty of treasure to be found around here. I put my heart into this thing in the day and enjoyed it immensely.

Sadly the most popular entry is my dispatch about a Chinese squat toilet. I’m not big on poo humor, but this particular poo humor apparently hit a nerve. So, kazillions of views – and this before Facebook made it easy to share stuff.

Your New Monkey was read by Penn Gillette of Penn & Teller fame on his radio show. That was a nice surprise. I met Penn in October 2012 during a taping of Celebrity Apprentice I was involved in and got to thank him and give him a check for $10,000 for art it took him six seconds to make.
How Past Girlfriends Could Have Changed History was a piece I did for McSweeney’s way back. I stopped writing things for McSweeney’s after learning that they used my piece Possible Closing Lines for a Defendant Who Has Chosen to Represent Himself in a book. They never told me or let me write my bio line in the book. Or sent me a copy, for that matter. Uncool.

To the Person Who Found My Camera explains why my lost camera had numerous photos of a cat’s ass.

Then there’s this: DKNY Men’s Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own. It was an eBay ad I’d put up that wound up getting millions of views. I found myself being interviewed by TV and radio folks all over the planet. It did amazing things, like hook me up with producers and TV people and helped me get an agent who sold my first book to HarperCollins.

So, please enjoy my terribly neglected blog. There’s some good stuff in here. When I do get the time/hankering to write something silly I usually do it in my Yelp reviews.
In the meantime, I need to focus on my TV show. Go ahead and subscribe to the show’s YouTube Channel if you’re up for it.

It’s Denise and I Am In Dougie

I pay the PhoneTag company $10 a month for their service which transcribes voicemail messages and emails them to me. This comes in really handy as I can look up messages for reference, keep a record of when calls came in and store unnecessary MP3 audio copies of messages which I can drag out at a later date “On August 22nd, 2009 you said you loved me. Here’s audio proof!”
PhoneTag uses both humans and computers for the sake of accuracy, and according to a recent study it’s accurate about 86% of the time. The other 14% of the time it leaves me wondering what country the transcriber lives in, and what the hell the caller actually meant:

  • It’s Will calling from Abraham regarding dairy clean for tomorrow, they need more of your time to two ten so afternoon two ten and lets not leave the office for dairy clean.
  • Hey, Brian. My name is Sarah. I work for the Shield Skin City. You had met one of my partners over, Joe over in the park.
  • After much consideration and hearing about all New York city public schools will be closed we have decided to close disney for tomorrow due to the storm.
  • I just want to know how Rob hard wipe your ass. Yeah, Grog will be there, probably Berlin and it might be in 3rd place of course I know.
  • It’s just about that idea, we’re not gonna go to the park. I thought it was, no the park the sales. I’m up there with Weng but we’re just gonna go to a plan thing but not the thing that you’re at but then, ’cause I realize I’m not as supposed that I thought calendar.
  • It’s Denise and I am in Dougie.
  • This is Cristy Yales at Ranch Canada on me. It’s gonna be 5 contract solo paying in FoxGal. A complex eyelet erect to have dysfunction medication, ships December 9th to the 12th in Miami.
  • She had may had swelled your coat that was stuff in that corner when she had her accident. But she’s worried about that.
  • It’s Jamie. 9:30, Saturday morning. I’m gonna be down in gent collecting small pot bills.
  • I wanna talk to you about the bomb monopoly.

Again With the Overzealous Comment Filter

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So, an email came in last night from Angie who suggested that Banterist.com comments may not be working correctly because she’d commented recently and it didn’t appear. And, she points out, no one else has commented. Since June. And she mentioned a previous incident on this same website where comments failed to appear.
Now, you’d think I might have noticed a dearth of commenting, but I didn’t. Even when a friend pointed out the same thing a few weeks ago I shrugged it off because I figured people don’t always comment on blogs anyway. Maybe they were busy Twittering or Napstering or whatever.
Angie’s email prompted me to take a peek into the weblog’s digital underbelly, and sure enough people have been commenting since June. Unfortunately all the comments were lumped in with comments from Russian pornographers, link spammers, counterfeit watch retailers, and herbal viagra peddlers. And they were being deleted every 14 days because of the absolutely staggering amount of comment spam this site gets. So all comments since June are gone, except for a few I was able to come across that were waiting to be deleted. Sifting through the junked comments is a laborious pain in the bum with this blog software, so I no doubt missed several.
So apologies. The settings have been tweaked in the hopes that comments can appear on the site, and not wind up on digital death row.
And I hope comment spammers get horrible cankers on their tongues and fingers.

Friends with Books

The following is a list of friends and acquaintances with books out recently. If you’re looking for something to read, there’s bound to be something here for you – assuming you’ve already read my book. If you haven’t read my book, I’ll weep in your Fritos.

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Taxi Confidential: Life, Death and 3 a.m. Revelations in New York City Cabs by Amy Braunschweiger. Amy is a very nice girl and I see her a lot. She sits in the café part of the writing space and I can always count on chatting with her and telling her about myself and what I’ve done lately. For this book, Amy talked to cab drivers, which most of us try to avoid doing. As you’d imagine, they’ve pretty much seen the whole spectrum of humanity from Mel Brooks to murder so they have some freakish stories to share.

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Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America by Rich Benjamin. I see Rich a lot too. He’s always cheerful and really spends a lot of time and effort putting together his lunch. If writing doesn’t work out, he should go into catering. Rich is black and had the clever idea to go around the really white parts of the country and talk to folks. I knew NPR would eat this up, and they totally did. I’m not sure why the subtitle says the journey is “improbable” because if a black guy can be president, I’m pretty sure they’re allowed to tour Idaho as well.

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Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By by Jeff Wilser. I like Jeff. He told a good story about writing an article about prostitutes once. This is the perfect book for folks who don’t read. It’s short and simple and you can leave it on the toilet and people can grab little macho gems here and there to enrich their lives. If you take the book seriously, like one Amazon reviewer, you’re probably mentally ill. It’s tongue in cheek. It’s not meant to be the gospel for dudes.

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Arguing With Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government by Glenn Beck. I worked a bunch on this book and I’m pretty confident I added lots of comedy goodness. Not that it really matters. People who love Glenn are going to give it 5 stars whether or not they read it and people who hate Glenn are going to give it one star, definitely without reading it. Just look at the reviews on Amazon and you’ll see how amazingly polarizing he is.

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Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten by Ritch Duncan and Bob Powers. Ritch just had a baby, so he’s going to need some royalty money. He runs comedy shows that I keep saying I’ll go to, and I would, but I’m usually out of town on weekends. Plus, they’re often in Brooklyn. If you live in Manhattan going to Brooklyn feels like going to Tulsa. It’s all psychological, because Brooklyn is just across the East river and easy to get to by train but no one I know wants to go there if they live in Manhattan. It’s a sad truth about Brooklyn, as anyone who’s thrown a party there knows.

Did You Hear About The Guy Who Took On The Nigerian?

Longtime reader Mick sent me this Vanity Fair piece by Ted Travelstead wherein he takes on a Nigerian email scammer. Mick was reminded of something done here six years ago, and then again, and again, and again and again, and again, and again.
Thanks for remembering, Mick. I may be years ahead of Ted in this case, but he’s smarter as he managed to actually get paid for it.

Banterist Gets A Mashable Shout Out, Which I Am Told Is Good

An old Banterist post, Facebook in the Fuhrerbunker, made Mashable’s Top 5 Funniest Fake Facebook Pages list. This was the first I’d heard of Mashable – though that means absolutely nothing because I didn’t know who Jon and Kate were until last week when someone made a point to tell me.
Now I see that Mashable has over 1.1 million followers, which makes my Twitter page feel sad and worthless.

Yelp: Tout Va Bien

I’m a big fan of the review website Yelp.com. I’ve used it countless times to pick, or not pick, a place for dinner. I don’t review every place I eat at but when I do – it’s usually because it was extraordinarily good, or ungood.
In this particular instance, all not so bien at Tout Va Bien.

And now, Twitter

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Have you heard? Twitter is all the rage! There’s not a moment that goes by that shouldn’t be shared with friends and strangers alike.
Admittedly, I’m not much of a Twitter update follower person because there are only so many “Getting a cup of coffee” and “traffic sucks!” notifications that I can stomach. In fact some people Twitter so much I would fire them if I was their boss. I would call them in the office, hand them a pink slip, wish them luck and then wait for the “OMG just got fired! :-(” update which would undoubtedly come seconds later. Then I could follow their job hunt in real-time “Big interview today! Wish me luck!” and the ironic “No tweets today – my iPhone was repossessed b/c I’m broke and unemployed.”
Regardless, it is a great way to let people know what you’re up to. Especially if you have a book release, or a film screening, or you’re going to do shtick on a TV show, or you want everyone to come meet you in a pub.
So I have a Twitter page.

Apologies for the overzealous comment filter

A little configuration error on my part resulted in numerous (actually, all) new comments for the last seven weeks being declared as spam and treated accordingly. Anything more than 14 days old is, like Bob Hope, gone forever.
After the problem was brought to my attention I sifted through the 1,884 comments that were pending deletion and discovered numerous legitimate ones which I restored to their dignified, non-spam, status. The remaining 1,855 of them were junk like “Nice site! Viagra” and “Hello there teen sex group melon berry asian hentai ballet hot love vendetta.” They remain in the spam cupboard.
Apologies to anyone whose comment didn’t survive. The configuration has been fixed and comments should appear automatically, unless they’re about replica watches, online pharmacies or having sex with farm animals.

Welcome, First-Timers.

In anticipation of increased traffic from the book jacket’s mention of Banterist as well as the link from the book’s official website, I thought it’d be smart to re-introduce this place.
What is this place?
Banterist is a weblog of original humor founded in Fall 2003 on a whim. The goal of the site was to create an outlet for original humor that aimed to be of a higher caliber than the farts n’ pee stuff that dominates the internet and, sadly, everything.
In general the site was designed to not appeal to anyone who watches Two and a Half Men religiously.
During a chat in 2004 with Gawker Media president Nick Denton I asked him why he didn’t have any humor blogs in his empire. He said there was no money in it. He was right. It’s much more a labor of love, limited by time constraints and my tremendously awful graphical abilities.
How do I acquaint myself with this site?
You can always try the Greatest Hits category, which contains the most-linked-to entries on the site. These are the posts that have been the most popular in the site’s history. Sadly, despite my efforts to be high-brow, two of them are literally toilet humor: the German Poo-Shelf Toilet story and the incredibly popular Chinese Squat Toilet story.
Notable Posts
My eBay auction for unwanted leather pants had remarkable career ramifications.
This summary of a trip to Vilnius, Lithuania was translated out of context into Lithuanian and posted on a popular site there – resulting in a huge backlash by angry Lithuanians who thought I was making fun of them.
The Grammar Cop archives are very popular and document our descent into apostrophic anarchy.
If you want to feel intellectually superior to a large number of people, read A Public Message From Sean P. Diddy Combs then peruse the comments and see how many people lack fundamental reading comprehension skills.
Unclaimed Finances of the Rich & Famous garnered a NY Post Page Six mention and even better, an email from actress Martha Plimpton who I had a crush on for most of my adolescence.
Magician Penn Jillete liked Your New Monkey.
Author Neil Gaiman liked Saddam’s Interrogation Logs.
And Tom Cruise for the Xbox seems prescient in retrospect.
Nazis!
Facebook in the Fuhrerbunker.

US Weekly Visits the Fuhrerbunker
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Tag Index
The tag index lets you browse the site for posts based on tags. This can help you locate posts on topics you might be interested in, like the Crappiest Airport in the World or Horrendous Cat-Face Lady.
Enjoy the site.

Book Report: Facebook Page

iteomud_100_shadow.jpg In the Event of My Untimely Demise has its very own Facebook Page. Now you can sign up and see what other people who have signed up for the My Untimely Demise Facebook Page look like. Why would you do that? Because that’s the era we live in.

Can’t Say I Never Ca(Red)

Reducing my carbon footprint by switching from my traditional carbon shoes to Uggs, which are made from natural materials – namely several sheep and a cow.
While writing I will only drink organic coffee grown by native farmers who ethically harvest the beans for a living wage, eat only raw vegetables and poop on their fields in the shade.
I will stop releasing plastic bags into the environment “that they may enjoy freedom.”
My writing space will be heated solely by my scorching-hot Apple laptop.
Soy-based fonts.
I will make the six-minute walk to the office on foot and save the coal-powered Radio Flyer for longer trips.
When greeting people I will simply say “Hello” or “How are you?” instead of releasing a steady stream of chlorofluorocarbons.
The environmental cost of all posts will be offset by the planting of a virtual tree.
If someone says they want to be cremated I will ask them to consider being composted.
Blog advertisements from whalers and people who make furniture from PVC pipes will be subject to approval by my Council of the Willing, which is like the Coalition of the Willing, but no Humvees or Bulgarians.
All future content will contain 75% recycled humor.

Book Report: As You Wish List

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A few days ago I received an email from someone who wanted me to know that In The Event Of My Untimely Demise was #51 on Amazon’s “Most Wished For” list, Parenting Humor category. Neither my publisher nor I had any idea that such a list actually existed but it was welcome news, especially since the book hasn’t even been released yet.
Though I’d like to believe this was due to the massive reach of Banterist, I have to assume the December NPR mention was actually what prompted folks to wish-list it. Bless Linda Wertheimer for helping me get closer to my goal of buying a castle with a moat.
Meanwhile, some nice endorsements are coming in:
“Unlike his ‘Public Viewer’ appearances on my television show, Brian Sack’s new book is heartwarming, sincere and exceptionally funny.”
Glenn Beck, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Inconvenient Book
“Brian Sack’s In The Event of my Untimely Demise is a very funny book–let’s keep him alive so that he may write some more!”
Chris Regan, Emmy Award Winning Writer, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
“A strange and hilarious compendium of parenting wisdom for an age when no one knows anything.”
Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad
“I like my life wisdom sardonic, salty and refreshingly dry, just the way Brian Sack serves it in his charming and insightful collection of essays.”
Alisa Kwitney, author of The Dominant Blonde and Flirting in Cars
“Brian Sack has written the sort of personal-wisdom manifesto that every parent would love to write, but few ever do, and that every child would love to have, but few ever receive. Part witty memoir, part common-sense guide and part social commentary, In the Event of My Untimely Demise is, more than anything else, an owner’s manual for the late-model human heart.”
David Giffels, author of All the Way Home
I have come to love every endorsement in its own special way.
If you haven’t signed up for the mailing list, please do so I don’t cry. I don’t think anything’s actually gone out yet on it but you don’t want to miss whatever eventually will go out on it, especially if it’s life-changing or informative.
In The Event Of My Untimely Demise can be wish-listed, obviously, but it can also be pre-ordered. One of the things I learned from the HarperCollins marketing department was that the online book retailers get kind of annoyed if the only retailer you mention is Amazon. Apparently “Amazon” is the default setting for many authors, prompting the folks at places like Books-A-Million and Powell’s to stand nearby and audibly cough until they get your attention. With that in mind, here are some retailers you can pre-order from (in alphabetical order):
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Borders
Powell’s

Banterist Nips/Tucks

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Banterist underwent some quiet outpatient procedures yesterday, courtesy Dr. Everitz. Nothing major, just some behind-the-scenes adjustments and a few things you may notice:
First off, a shout out to the middle column which now displays the last seven comments posted. Now every time some genius posts a comment because they think I’m Diddy, you’ll know to go check it out and laugh (or cry) at the state of reading comprehension in the US and UK.
We now employ the services of addthis.com for “Social Bookmarking” which makes it easier than ever to add a particular post to Facebook, MySpace, Digg or whatever else people use when they’re “at work.” You just click on the “Share” button at the bottom of the post and you’re on your way. Emailing entries has been streamlined as well.
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The website for my book, In The Event Of My Untimely Demise, has an email list. Signing up will make you privy to wee bits of news on the book – like what New York Times bestselling author Glenn Beck just said about it. I pledge to make sure the emails are infrequent and meaningful.

Friday 30 November Reading at KGB Bar

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If you live in New York City and you are looking for something to do this Friday, and if you like books, and if you like watching people who write books reading from those books, then this is just the post for you:
I’ll be joining author Grant Stoddard at KGB in the scenic Lower East Side to read from our work. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming book In The Event Of My Untimely Demise. Last time I read the chapter about travel being important because it lets you complain about other cultures more effectively. This time I’m thinking about reading the chapter about respecting your elders, but only the smart ones.
Grant? Not sure. I think it’s a new book he’s working on. Something about taking advantage of press junkets.
Grant’s last book was Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert. I felt obligated to buy and read the book because I see Grant on a regular basis. Fortunately the book was an enjoyable read, detailing his going from a misfit English virgin to a career as sex columnist for Nerve.com. Basically it’s a titillating book of seedy stories about a thin guy with a charming Essex accent dragging his pee-pee around Manhattan with not a modicum of shame.
KGB is located in the Lower East Side
85 East 4th Street
7:00pm – Free and open to the public
They have booze.

Imminent Domain

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The book has a website now, which should really help confuse folks even more because if I’m not dragging them here or to briansack.com, they can now be pointed towards myuntimelydemise.com. There’s also an email list there so you’ll always be at peak awareness when it comes to book-related things, if you’re so inclined.
What would be really smart would be one all-encompassing website. Maybe instead of Banterist I should have just named the site after myself, like Andrew Sullivan. But I didn’t. I felt Banterist, as a written humor site, should be separate from briansack.com which was originally meant for casting directors. Rather than casting directors it seems to be a valuable resource for people asking me to forward songs to John Mayer, or how to get into acting. The answers being no and don’t, respectively.
Speaking of acting: Last week I played a doctor for the pee-pee drug Flomax. Then I was a voice in an awesome video game that a thick non-disclosure agreement prevents me from elaborating on. And then I wrote an article and proofread the book for the ten-thousandth time. Focusing on one career would be great. Then I’d only need one URL.
Kudos to my sparring partner on his $50 million dollar contract. Mother of god.
I guess I have a topic for next week’s Public Viewer.