Wednesday, December 9, 2009

About Knucklehead, Because You Were Mildly Curious

I'm going to change things up a little bit today.  Instead of the usual semi-humorous story or twisted observation, I'm going to take a few minutes to help you get to know me a bit better.

Lucky you.

I've received several questions from readers, and I'll get to those in a minute.  But first, here's a little bit about me.

I was born in 1965, so for you non-math majors out there, that makes me 44.  Some days I feel younger than that, other days I feel much, MUCH older.  I live in Southern California but I grew up in New Jersey so I'll always consider myself an east coast guy.  I'm reasonably happy with my job, although there's the usual amount of crap that we all have to deal with.  But on a day-to-day basis, it's a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.  Why am I not going into specifics?  Keep reading.

Knucklehead is actually my second blog.  The first one was created in November of 2008, and was not a whole lot different than this.  In fact, when I changed over to this one in September 2009, I brought a lot of my old material with me.  Those of you that have been along for the entire ride know why I made the change, so I won't rehash that whole debacle here.  The end result is a virtually identical blog that allows me to keep my anonymity, which why you won't find my real name or occupation listed on the site.  This also, unfortunately, eliminates a bulk of material for me because my workplace is full of absolutely riotous nonsense.  It's a drag, but I find ways to dress up those stories to make the source less obvious. I apologize for the "distance" that the anonymity might create, but it's a necessary evil.  Thanks for understanding.  I'm always happy to communicate with readers via email, where I can be a bit more candid.

On to your questions.  Some of these are pretty friggin' bizarre, which you'd kind of expect from the reader pool that exists over here.  But I'll give it my best shot.  Enjoy!

Q: What major malfunction in your personality, psyche, upbringing or education made you decide to become a writer?

First of all, I'm not really comfortable calling myself a "writer."  I'm more of a guy who happens to write things down and hope that people are interested in reading them.  I enjoy the process of writing, editing, and revising and I do take it seriously, but being called a writer is unduly complimentary.  That being said, as far back as I can remember, there was a lot of laughter in my family.  My dad and brothers are hilarious, so dinner time always provided us with a forum for sharing our funny stories.  My mom's sense of humor is more subtle, but she picks her spots very well.  I was also very lucky early on in that most of my teachers tolerated my wise-cracks and bantering back and forth with them.  As a result, I got to be the class clown a lot.  Over the years, that's evolved (or devolved, perhaps) into the written format.

Q: Okay, since you don't consider yourself a writer, who ARE some of your favorite writers?

There are probably hundreds, so I'll just pick a few in each genre.  In the humor realm, I'm partial to Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, and Chris Moore.  I enjoy the cop/legal thrillers of Michael Connelly, John Lescroart, John Grisham and James Patterson.  Greg Iles and Dean Koontz are difficult to pigeon-hole as far as genre, but they're both fantastic.  For narrative style, Stephen King and Stuart Woods are top-shelf.  And I love the sportswriting of columnist Rick Reilly.

Q: What popular entertainers, other than writers, have influenced your writing style?

It's always hard to talk about one's influences without giving the impression that you're comparing yourself to these people, so I'll start with that disclaimer: I'm in no way comparing myself to the talented individuals I'm about to discuss.  That would be absurd.

Since the question says I can't use writers, that leaves me pretty much with standup comics.

I started listening to my friend Matt's Bill Cosby albums when I was in high school.  I was taken in by how Cosby simply tells his stories in a hilarious fashion.  Even his "contrived" material, like the classic "NOAH!  I WANT YOU TO BUILD AN ARK!" bit is told in a narrative style.  More currently, comics like Ron White and Mike Birbiglia use this technique with great results.  Find Birbiglia's story about his worst show ever, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

For observational humor, Brian Regan is my absolute favorite.  "There's actually a list of instructions on a box of Pop Tarts.  What, people can't figure out how to partake of a Pop Tart?"  Regan takes simple, everyday things and looks at them in a completely different way, and he's a riot.  "The guy who invented the 'blank inside' greeting cards must wake up laughing.  It's a picture of a tree, with nothing inside.  You're buying a CREASE." 

Finally, for a completely absurd look at life, I love Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg.  My favorite Hedberg line is, "I like escalators, they can never break.  They can only become stairs.  You'll never see an ESCALATOR OUT OF ORDER sign.  Only, ESCALATOR IS TEMPORARILY STAIRS.  SORRY FOR THE CONVENIENCE."

Aside from comics, the only other possible influences are my favorite sitcoms.  Currently I'm stuck on The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, but in my opinion, Taxi is the greatest television show ever.  Jim Ignatowski and Louie Depalma are the funniest characters ever created.

Q. Who's number one in your spank bank?

I'm not even sure what that means, but for the sake of argument we'll go with Sandra Bullock.

Q. If there's one thing you hate more than anything else and would move Heaven and Earth to never have to deal with again, what would it be?

There's so much to choose from here.  My first instinct is to say Will Ferrell movies, but they're easy enough to avoid while still leaving Heaven and Earth in their proper places.  I could also do without freeway traffic.  But if I can pick just one, I guess I'd have to go with pathological complainers.  You know, those douchebags who never have anything positive to say, aren't willing to help solve problems, and just want to bitch and whine about everything. They're just a gigantic pain in the ass, and should be forced to spend eternity sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic watching Will Ferrell movies.

Q: How the heck did you end up on the inferior coast, and would you move back east if you had the chance?

When I was in high school, my dad's employers transferred him from their offices in New Jersey out to Fountain Valley, California.  I'd just finished my sophomore year of high school, not the best time to be uprooted, but I got over it after, oh, a couple years.  I still consider New Jersey "home", and I'll always be an east coaster at heart.  Go Yankees!  To be completely honest, Southern California is overrated (except for the weather), and has no culture of its own to speak of.  And you can't find a good pizza or hoagie anywhere.  Regarding the second part of the question, I would absolutely love to move back when I retire.  I'm thinking Connecticut or North Jersey.

Q. What do you miss the most about the New York/New Jersey area?

There are a lot of things.  I miss Mike's Sub Shop in Dunellen, Mr. Assante's Pizza on Route 22, Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick.  I miss being able to go to Yankee Stadium regularly.  But if I had to pick one thing, I think it would be the overall "attitude" of the culture back east.  New Jersey gets a bad rap from people that have never lived there, but what is seen as snarky and rude by outsiders is just the way Jersey folks banter back and forth.  The way they connect with each other is funny and friendly, and gives the east coast its character.  

Damn, now I want a sub sandwich.  I wonder if Mike's delivers to the west coast.

Q: Do you have any ambition to become a paid writer?

I AM a paid writer.  According to Google AdSense, I made seven cents last month.  Seriously, though, while I have the desire to make writing a full-time gig, I don't currently have the time to focus entirely on that.  I'm still enjoying my "real" job too much.  Maybe after I retire.

Q: What was your purpose for starting a blog?

Oh good, back to a simple question. I would eventually like to write novels, so I thought that blogging would be good "practice", and at the same time provide me with feedback from actual readers.  It's worked out pretty well so far, I think.  When I first started blogging, I had no idea that such a wonderful community of writers and assorted whackos (I'm looking at YOU, Suldog) existed, and these connections have been as much fun for me as the actual writing.  So thanks, all of you!

Q: Why does the sun set in the west?

Because it prefers spending the morning on the east coast, munching on bagels and lox at Katz's Deli.  

Q: Where did Knucklehead come from?

Knucklehead the person (me) came from New Jersey.  Knucklehead the blog comes from the dark corners of what passes for my mind.  Generally speaking, this blog can be broken down into three types of writing: "based on a true story" anecdotes (all my childhood stuff, for example), satire (What Ever Happened To . . . ), or observational humor.

Regarding the true stories, I will admit to a certain degree of artistic license.  All of these tales are based on actual events, but some are more "true" than others.  For instance, and I hope I'm not bursting any bubbles here, the post entitled "The Parker School Merry-Go-Boom" is about 60%  factual while "Helga and Me" is practically verbatim.  A lot of it depends on how well I remember the actual event.  The merry-go-round thing happened when I was in third grade and involved a head injury, so my memory of specific details is probably a bit hazy.

Well, that was fun.  Thanks for your questions!  Keep them coming, the weirder the better, and maybe this can become a semi-regular feature.

Until next time . . .


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nonamedufus said...

Thanks for the glimpse. Interesting. I couldn't agree more with your sit-com choices. I find the writing behind those shows to be extraordinary.

Gaston Studio said...

We have fav writers in Connelly, Lescroat, Iles, Grisham, etc. Very interesting Knucklehead, keep 'em coming.

M.J. said...

Sandra Bullock is my've seen Mrs. Congeniality, right?

Moooooog35 said...

Great info.

Although you failed to mention me as one of your influences, have Sandra Bullock as the number one chick you'd masturbate to (REALLY?!) and OMG OMG "Elf" is one of the funniest movies EVER.

I say you redo these.

Thanks in advance.

Michelle H. said...

Nice answers. It does make me see you are a normal person and not just one Fruit Loop shy of a balanced breakfast - like other bloggers I won't name.

Mr. Condescending said...

I was twelve years old when I first laid eyes on sandra bullock in "speed." Rawr.

Everything I see with SoCal on TV looks empty, lacking any kind of character. Even when I see gang neighborhoods on TV, c'mon it's full of stucco houses and palm trees.

Then again, you didn't just have to pay some guy $1500 to plow your drive way for the next months.

What exactly does the pizza there taste like anyways?

Jeff said...

I thought this was you!

I was following you on your other blog and then "poof!" Gone. Then a few weeks ago I put out a call to my friends to leave 3 names of bloggers they thought I'd enjoy, and Knucklehead was suggested as a must read. I'm glad you're still writing... and that I found you again!

Suldog said...

Are you still looking at me? Stop it! I get paranoid very easily.

Glad you were able to sift a couple of questions out of the pile of verbose rubble I sent you. When you see my blog today, you'll find that I recycled a couple of the complete versions. I mention that here so that your readers who also read me won't think that I'm ripping you off when, in fact, I'm ripping myself off. Ouch.

Quirkyloon said...

I still feel like you're an enigma. And I'm sorry that The Office is not one of your tv sit com fave choices.

I think I can overlook that. I think.

Eva Gallant said...

Ah, we are somewhat kimdred spirits. I also like Grisham, Koontz, and Stephen King; The Big Bang Theory and Two and A Half Men are among my favorite tv shows; and the only time I found Will Ferrell tolerable was the Wedding Crashers--and that's because he had only a small role.

Peter Varvel said...

If you could be any kind of animal, what would your super power be?

ReformingGeek said...

I think it's OK to call yourself a writer.

I loved the Q&A today.

I think I'll stay in the middle of the country and just visit all of the coasts!

Noelle said...

i've heard that one of the main hard-wired differences between males and females is that females need to know the WHY behind something and males just don't care. so...maybe it's because i'm female or maybe it's because i'm nosey, but i'm wondering what happened in the past to your old blog...were there death threats or something scary like that? or did your boss find out you were talking smack about him?

TheWordWire said...

I hope you're able to retire soon so we can hear more veiled fiction from your workplace. I'm quite sure it's an endless source of story inspiration, and through your eyes, funny as hell.

I haven't been reading long, but I enjoy all your posts. Thanks for sharing.

otin said...

White castle, route 9 on the way home from Great Adventure at midnight on a Sunday night, still an hour from home and with school on Monday!!! Bohemian Rhapsody cranking and dripping ketchup on me as I eat and drive! lol

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

"Being called a writer is unduly complimentary."

Really? Where do you live again? Because I am a paid, professional writer and where I'm from, that's one step below "politician" and "used-car salesman" on the list of honored professions. And just one or two steps up from "drunkard" and "pedophile."

But, whether or not you like to admit it, Knucklehead, a writer you are. And a damned fine one, too.

Thanks for giving us a laugh, and for giving us a glimpse into the private life of a blogger.

Phillipia said...

Good to know you Knucklehead.

We share some of the same favorite authors...

Nos sure if the Chris Moore you mention is the same guy who is my new found favorite author, but I am currently reading "Lamb" and recommending it to any who interrupts my reading. I need to get back to it now...

Candice said...

7 cents in adsense? Holy crap I've been missing out!!

It's good getting to know you better.

Nomad said...

you have received an award on my blog. sorry for the convenience.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Once you roll East Coast, you can never go back.

This coming from a "Masshole" :)

Jenn said...

As an east coaster I know just what you mean. In fact if I was talking to you face to face right now I'd probably have ended that first sentence by saluting you as either Guy or Kid. Townies also don't exist out there and I would miss that to some degree but the chance at 60 degrees year round really pulls my interest more than a tattooed guy wearing a gold chain and talking with a heavy accent. I'll just buy Matt a Scali cap & call it a day. haha.

thinkinfyou said...

After reading that, I can't help but to feel like I know you just a little bit better. Although, I was a little upset not to find "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" as one of your favorite TV shows. You've gotta watch that show!

Pearl said...

What?! No Dave Barry?!



Nomad said...

wow... ya im an idiot... you were one of the first blogs i opened and linked, and then somehow i left you off the thing at the end... (although i think i may have linked someone elses to yours to begin with...) anyways, i fixed it. I'll make it up to you in todays post as well...

Beth said...

So, this Ad Sense gig is beginning to work out, eh?

Becky (aka Ms Batman) said...

I just want to say that You stole my Question/Answer graphic that I was going to use, but now I can't use because then people will think I stole it so I could be cool like you, when we both know that I'm not only the coolest, but the better looking of the two of us. So, now I'm going to have to spend hours, goofing off at work, I mean, scouring the web to find an even better, cooler awesomer Q & A graphic so that mine is cooler than yours and people think you stole my idea.

Now I'm going to go back up and actually read your post.

KaLynn said...

OH MY GOSH!! You have me laughin so hard the dogs are lookin at me in a tilted way! With strange looks on their faces!! You absolutely kill me! Thankd for the kackle today!!

Fragrant Liar said...

Alright, what wiseacre threw in the question about the spank bank? That's just wrong.

Chrissy said...

I would spank Sandra Bullock, too. But not when she's a blonde.

Chrissy said...

I would spank Sandra Bullock, too. But not when she's a blonde.

Jules said...

Do you live anywhere near Palm Springs, and will you be around over New Year's?? There may be some fans from George Brett land coming that way around that time!

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