The Social Animal


So yesterday we had over a plumber who was so charming and personable and easy to chat with it’s almost a shame we didn’t have a more complicated leak from the bathtub fixtures. And then in the evening there were an estimated 21,642 new people at our pinball league whom I did my best to smile to and help get to understand that they’re welcome and valued and we’re glad to have them try out the place. That all went well, and 142,000 of them said they were definitely coming back next league meeting. But after that many hours being outgoing and social and attentive to so many people I need to spend the next, like, week with the lights off and shades drawn, hiding underneath the bed and swatting at imaginary visitors so please pardon me, won’t you? Thank you.

I’m so lucky they were able to deliver one of those overcast, foggy days where you can’t see to the far end of the street of necessarily the house on short notice like this.

Thanking You For Listening


As a white guy who’s liked Popeye’s Fried Chicken I’m often asked why I don’t host a pop-culture hangout podcast. “Hey, you!” people will gather around my house to cry out. “There’s stuff you watch and read and listen to that you think is bad! Why aren’t you snorting into a microphone about that with some of your friends?” It’s becoming a nuisance. “I’m just putting these old fenceposts out for someone on Freecycle who says they’re going to pick it up tomorrow but is lying,” I answer. “I don’t have time to podcast!” They’re unmoved. But I have reasons.

First is that I have this problem with my voice. I mean, I have one that I use almost every day. But I’m hard to understand. I’ve avoided having my New Jersey accent be incomprehensible by not saying much of anything out loud. I’m not trying to hide my voice. I just don’t know how to talk loud enough to be heard over other people, or ambient music, or background noise like our pet rabbit breathing. Or my own breathing. When I say something the words come out of my mouth, then plummet, bouncing off my feet and rolling underneath the bookshelf, there to be harvested by mice.

Also I have to cough, a little but insistently, every 26 seconds. I’ve had this condition since like 1997. I’ve tried to ask my doctor about this, but she can’t hear me. We could edit around that, but editing seems like a lot of work for a pop-culture hangout podcast.

I could set the microphone on my feet so when words tumble onto them some get caught. But then there’s my sentence problem. At some point I figure I’ve said as much of any sentence as could benefit anyone to hear, and then I stop. I trust people to work out the rest. For example, suppose my love wants to know what that racket out back was. I might say, “I knocked over two of the empty flowerpots, but they didn’t break.” But that takes more words to say than interest in the subject warrants. I’m sorry to spend so much time on it now. So I would answer, “I knocked over two”, and figure that’s as much of that as anybody could stand. Oh, I’ll drift off, letting my voice get somehow even softer. My love can probably work out the rest of the sentence from context anyway. That and the flowerpots. But I know that’s not good asynchronous radio.

Plus there’s getting together with friends to record something. I’ve got friends, people I know well enough to help them move furniture. But most of them are online. We could only record a podcast by organizing whatever the Internet equivalent of a conference call is. I hear there are people who can do this. But I also hear there are people who can climb Mount Everest in their shorts or who can magic Magic-Eye Puzzles work. I’ll never manage the trick. People I know in real life — people near enough that I could lick their bodies — are mostly folks I see at pinball events. They’re fun to hang out with, but who could record over all that pinball and bar noise? I don’t know how pinball podcasts do it. I imagine a lot of shouting.

Oh gads and then there’s voices. I’d probably have to do some characters by way of funny voices. I can’t. I haven’t got any way of making my voice do anything on purpose. I could do a character that’s “me, only talking a little faster”. Or I can do “me, only talking a little slower”. But could I do, like, Columbo? Popeye? Any of the supporting cast of The Simpsons? Not even remotely. I’d have to call in experts to support me. That runs into money and social obligations.

Plus there’s having feelings about stuff. You can do a pop-culture hangout podcast about stuff you like, or about stuff you hate. But that means you have to like or hate stuff. I don’t trust strong feelings about stuff, even if they’re my own. It’s asking a lot out of me to have them, never mind to keep them viable for, what, a half-hour of recording before I can get to letters from listeners?

So that’s why, despite my record of being a guy who sometimes likes dumb stuff, I don’t figure on starting a podcast anytime soon. Thanks for listening, and remember, Patreon subscribers at the $5 or above level get my monthly special episode about which Funky Winkerbean comics most make you want to slug the guy who writes Funky Winkerbean. Next episode’s dropping Sunday. See you then. If you need some fenceposts, please, come take them now. They’re just taking up space.

Statistics March: In Which I Just Have February All Over Again


Well, that’s novel. For March, I had 1,107 page views. This is just what I had for February. I guess at least the decline in readership since the end of Apartment 3-G has stopped. The visitor count crept up, in the most strict of technical senses, from 629 in February to 632 in March. (There were 1,211 page views in January, from 645 visitors.)

Clearly I need to find some hook that’s as good as reporting that Apartment 3-G doesn’t make any sense, but who’s got time for that?

Anyway, the reader-engagement measures are ambiguous as ever. March got me 201 “likes”. That’s up from February’s 178, but down from January’s 272. There were only 36 comments, though, down from February’s 52 and January’s 66. I need to do more stuff that gets people to write back, but I admit I don’t know what that might be.

I can’t fault people for not writing, though. I rarely know what to write when I read and really like someone else’s humor writing either. “That’s great!” feels shallow somehow. Trying to follow up on the original writer’s joke makes me worry I’ll sound amateurish. Worse, I might make a joke the original writer had considered and rejected not funny enough, and then I’d ruin my image in front of everyone forever and have to hide under the bed and set my socks on fire. I understand if other people get seized with the same fear writing to me, although it seems bizarre. It takes at least four lousy jokes before I think ill of a person.

So what’s been popular here? The most popular stuff for March began, of course, with Apartment 3-G and then got into stuff that wasn’t the long-form pieces I try to post on Fridays:

The United States gave me the most page viewers in March: 769 of them. The Canada gave me the next-most page viewers, 65. The Germany came in next at 43, and then the United Kingdom at 28 and the Brazil with 25, which surprised me. India sent me 15. Singapore didn’t send me any, which, aw. What’s wrong, guys?

Countries sending me only one reader were: Bulgaria, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Israel, Macedonia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. El Salvador, Israel, Portugal, Qatar, and Vietnam are on two-month streaks like this.

The month starts with me having 33,648 page views, from 17,291 separate viewers. I’m surprised that it hasn’t overtaken my mathematics blog in page views (it’s got about a thousand more), although the humor blog is about four thousand ahead in visitor count.

WordPress claims I have 647 followers on it, which is up from 639 at the start of March. This might not sound like much, but I made the “Follow Me On WordPress” button a lot more prominent. It should be at the upper left corner of the page, at least as long as I stick to the current theme. I forget what it’s called. I’m also on Twitter, as @Nebusj, because I got assigned that screen name by my grad school when I entered it so many years ago and I’ve stuck with it because what would I do that’s any better? Jnebus? No, that wouldn’t work at all.