Blog Archives

Dear Aravan: Your Questions, Answered

One of the best parts about having a blog is getting to see how people end up there. On a daily basis, I know how many people reached here by clicking a link on Facebook or Twitter or a different website, but the absolute best section is the Search Terms section. This tells you the weird and wonderful things people have typed into Google and somehow ended up on your site. Some things, like “bob harper” searches, are a natural fit with the blog and so it’s no surprise to get 400 or more varieties of searches in that vein in a 3 month period. Those things are fit perfectly.

It’s the other stuff that I love, though. The things that just don’t seem to be a natural fit whatsoever. They are the absolute best.

So I got an idea: why not take these bizarre and incongruous searches and turn them into a Question and Answer format, along with my most frequent searches? And when I say I “got” the idea, I mean I stole it, completely and unabashedly, from the awesome Candice Bundy. If you like dry humor with a twisting edge (and if you don’t, then what the fuck are you reading this for, anyway?), then you need to read her stuff. She’s even cool in person! (We’ve met, you see. We discussed writing in a bon vivant manner with our devil-may-care attitudes and poignant bon mots and bonded over a rational fear of scuba diving. Also, I was very drunk and may have just been shouting quotes from Revenge of the Nerds all night while she patiently put up with me.) So, here are the questions that you, the world, have asked me, and I will answer them as best I can.

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By Popular Demand: The Aravan Guide to Parenting

God I fucking hate kids.

A few weeks back, I provided some really awful parenting advice as part of my series about weight loss (sample: “Show your kids the back of your hand”). I included the caveat that no one should listen to any of my advice about anything ever, but then a weird thing happened. People, people with children, people with actual living human beings under their care and guidance, thought that I should write the parenting guide I’d jokingly referred to.

Well, OK. Let’s do this thing.

Because why the hell not? I’m a parenting expert, because I don’t have any squealing little brats that I constantly coddle and gloss over the sociopathic and demented shit they do. I mean, I was a kid once, I HAD parents, so I’m as much an expert as the next guy. I can see the forest for the trees and all that shit. Actually, I’m probably more qualified to be an expert in bee-eating than parenting, but whatever. As long as you don’t actually listen to a single thing I say ever, you’ll do fine.

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My Advice About Losing Weight: Fourthly, Your Brain

It’s all in your mind.

This is a series of posts about losing weight. I broke them up so that I don’t produce an 8,000 word post you won’t read. Instead, it’ll be four or so posts that you most likely won’t read. I’m OK with that.

The first one had the intro and dealt with the basics. Read it first for a better feel for the context. The second one was about Calories Eaten. The third one was about exercise, burning calories, and yoga pants.

OK. We’ve talked about the basic premise – burning more calories than you eat – along with calories and exercise. Now, it’s time to get to the important part.

But but but diet and exercise ARE the important part! They’re the ONLY part!

Yeah, no. Not at all. All that stuff is great, and can be vital to the process of getting fit and healthy and all that. But more important than the physical aspects of weight loss is the mental aspect. See, if your mind isn’t behind what you’re doing, forget it. It’s over. That’s why I don’t buy any of those “tips” that talk about “fooling your body into thinking you’re full”. Eating crunchy bread (/wanking motion), chewing your food extra slowly (/roll eyes, wanking motion), drinking 87 glasses of water during dinner (/wanking motion into Spider-Man gesture) – all of those things designed to “fool your body” aren’t going to work, because your brain knows the trick. The reason why we eat too much and don’t exercise enough isn’t because of body signals. It’s our brain saying “I can totally eat this large pizza. I want to eat this large pizza. I will eat this large pizza.” Most of us don’t even know what real, actual hunger feels like. But our brains sure as shit know that when we’re bored, an ice cream sandwich is a great answer. Our brains make us fat.

It’s a pretty powerful little bastard.

But that power can be harnessed for good. In fact, it MUST be harnessed for good, or you won’t succeed. This post is all about the Mental aspect of fitness.

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My Advice About Losing Weight: Thirdly, Exercise

I hate treadmills so much. Maybe you don’t.

This is a series of posts about losing weight. I broke them up so that I don’t produce an 8,000 word post you won’t read. Instead, it’ll be four or so posts that you most likely won’t read. I’m OK with that.

The first one had the intro and dealt with the basics. Read it first for a better feel for the context. The second one was about Calories Eaten. It also has invaluable parenting advice that is best ignored, like the rest of my advice.

A quick word about advice before I move on. All advice is pretty much worthless when taken in whole. My advice about taking advice is this: take what you like, chuck the rest. Chances are very good that you can take the exact opposite path of my advice here and lose weight, because the only truly useful advice I have is to Do What is Right For You. The rest of it is mostly stuff that worked for me and might be of use to you. Also, quit wasting money on diet books. Use that to buy a food scale.

Moving on.

Calories Burned

Ahhh, exercise. The bane of many a weight-loss plan. Some people LOVE exercise. Most people dread it and hate it. Why is that? I think it’s because the people who love working out are – wait for it – doing something they honestly enjoy. And that in a nutshell is my advice about exercise. Find something you like to do that involves moving your ass, and you too will love to exercise. If you hate running, don’t run. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you should run because running is the best exercise ever. They say that because they like to run. If you hate to run, then doing Couch to 5k is a bad idea. You will hate it, resent it, and stop doing it.

That’s the big fat secret to exercise. Find something you like. Do that thing.

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My Advice About Losing Weight: Secondly, Calories

Eat salads if you like them. I don’t. So I don’t eat them.

This is a series of posts about losing weight. I broke them up so that I don’t produce an 8,000 word post you won’t read. Instead, it’ll be three or so posts that you most likely won’t read. I’m OK with that.

The first one had the intro and dealt with the basics. Read it first for a better feel for the context.

Calories Eaten

I was going to label this section “Diet”, as in the overall picture of the food we eat, but that word is banned. See, the key to long-term weight loss isn’t a diet. It’s not about detoxing or juicing or eating a grapefruit for breakfast every day (ahh, the 1980’s) or some “paleo” bullshit or low-carb or Nutrisystem or meal plans or any of that utter bullshit.

But they work!

OK, sure. Short-term, a diet works just fine. I know. I used to jump on the Atkins diet and lose 20 pounds in a month or two. I loved that diet. I ate that way for over a year at one point. So look at me, contradicting myself! OK, not really. The reason why diets and meal plans and all that shit don’t work is because they don’t simulate real life. Sure, you can starve yourself on the Water and Salt Tablet Diet to lose 15 pounds for your wedding, but I guarantee that during your honeymoon you’ll gain it all right back, plus 5 pounds more. Then you’ll look back at your wedding pictures and see yourself 20 pounds lighter, feel fat, and eat a quart of ice cream. Unless you plan to change your life after you finish the diet, you will gain the weight back. It’s what happens. Plus your significant other will get to makes cracks about how much weight you gained after the wedding and make you want to shiv them. You might want to avoid life in prison.

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My Advice About Losing Weight: First, The Basics

I hate scales too. More about them later.

This is a series of posts about losing weight. I broke them up so that I don’t produce an 8,000 word post you won’t read. Instead, it’ll be three or so posts that you most likely won’t read. I’m OK with that.

All day every day, we see images and commercials and blog posts and signs and a million other things about losing weight and feeling good and getting TOTALLY RIPPED BRAH. We overhear coworkers, friends, family, hobos, whatever, all talking about how they are going to lose some weight or drop some pounds or something. I won’t bother quoting the statistics of “Americans spend eleventy-gatrillion dollars every second on diet and exercise products” or obesity rates or any of that stuff, because a) who cares, and b) no, really, who cares? Statistics are for chumps and journalists. Says the accountant.

So today I decided to dispense my shittiest of shitty advice to anyone who cares to read it. It’s about losing weight. What makes me an expert? Well, I AM a clinically-recognized expert in the field of Absolutely Nothing Whatsoever, and I have been recognized by the American Medical Association as one of the Six Billion People Worldwide the AMA Does Not Recognize One Bit. So why do I feel the need to unload my carefully-hoarded lore upon you? I’ll tell you why.

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Welcome to the Blog Home of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author

Welcome to my blog. What you see is what you get.

Anybody that reads my blog with any frequency knows what an eclectic mess of random subjects and styles and curse words it is. Everything is just strewn around everywhere, making my blog a hoarder’s living room. Exercise reviews lay piled up on NFL season discussions, writing “advice” tossed all over a collection of Walking Dead reviews so filled with vitriol that a puddle of green ooze is slowly spreading from them, all with an occasional sprinkling of excerpts from my work like rat droppings behind the cardboard boxes of everything else. It’s a mess. And like any committed hoarder, I refuse to clean it up. I don’t care how many experts tell me I should. I am going to remain here, squatting in the fetid morass of my own filth. Well, filthy collection of random thoughts, rants, reviews, and bouts of whining.

Oh, and it’s all my opinion, just like this piece here. It might be wrong, but it’s wrong with a string of eff-words splattered all over it.

Of course, this means I’m Doing It Wrong.

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Write What You Feel

(Disclaimer: like all my blog posts, this was written off the top of my head. I have no idea if it makes sense. In all actuality, I should put this disclaimer before everything I write.)

One of the first pieces of advice every aspiring writer gets, shortly after the obligatory “Show, don’t tell”, is this: “Write What You Know”. It’s good advice, in a way. Writing what you know allows you to bring depth and experience to a subject and makes your words ring true to a reader’s ear. If you’re a lawyer, chances are you can make courtroom drama and backstage legal wranglings seem like a peek into a world few get an accurate glimpse into. This can help make your story a lot more gripping and interesting. It also leads to some really shallow stories.

Take John Grisham. I’ve read his stuff before, back in the day when I was in high school. The whole lawyerly angle was cool and neat and nifty, especially since I was fifteen. As the years went by, though, I became acutely aware that, while the legal angles seemed perfectly plausible, the characters didn’t. Everyone looked and acted like cardboard cutouts or archetypical stock characters from every cop show since Dragnet. Identifying with characters is a huge part of investing in a story, and it’s not easy to feel empathy for a mannequin. A lot of authors follow this same path. The ex-cop with the crime stories. The doctor with the medical dramas. Most of these have all the heart and soul of a Wal-Mart holiday display.

But the best ones, the ones that resonate, aren’t just about what the author knows. They are about what the author feels.

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Why Look! I Got Interviewed Again!

Steven Montano, the talented writer, accountant, and Haberdasher to the Stars, interviewed me for his site, I urge you to go check it out and learn fascinating things about me, get shitty advice, and read something that contains absolutely no profanity of any kind, even the mild stuff. After that, I urge you to check out Steven’s novels, Blood Skies and the recently-released sequel, Black Scars. Links for all of the different electronic and non-electronic (they call them “books” – quaint how they just drop the “e” and make a new word out of it) are at his site. Good quality entertainment at a cheap price – what more can you ask for?

Seriously, buy his books. You’ll like them. And he gets them out more often than I do, so you won’t get Jordaned, I promise.

We Can Only Tell the Stories We Know

A lot of people loved the first Matrix movie. I did as well. Unlike me, an awful lot of people who watched the next two movies didn’t like them at all. The story didn’t seem to go the way they wanted, or seemed pointless, or didn’t have enough of what made the first movie great. It’s understandable, in a way. The first movie was the traditional Coming of Age story people know and love: the Hero learns of his destiny, gradually accumulates understanding of his power and role, and ends the movie committed to his cause and in the fullness of his power. Yay! It’s very traditional, the ending is happy and all go-get-’em-feel-good-pow that audiences love. It’s a character arc that can do nothing but rise.

So when the Wachowski brothers continued the story, with the understandable desire to finish the saga of Neo and the Matrix and all that stuff, it wasn’t received as well. The character arc dipped and meandered, things happened that people didn’t expect or particularly care for, and vilification ensued. It wasn’t what the audience wanted.

Well, you know what, audience? Tough titty.

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