Up against the wall! You’re suspected of being one of the few people who cares about what’s going on on this site!
Actually, that’s not what I meant by “Freeze!” The freeze I’m talking about is the brief intentional hiatus I’m taking from posting. (As opposed to almost all the other, less on-purpose, hiati.) Which strictly speaking isn’t really a hiatus, because I’ll be posting behind the scenes over at Lance Magazine, the intensely narcissistic project I mentioned a few posts ago. I’m really pressing to wrap that up for launch, and posting over here is counter-productive to that process, logistics-wise. This is the old way, and as the elders foretold, we must eventually leave behind the old ways. Screw you, old ways! (No offense.)
Lance Magazine is going to be, as the slogan says, “So much Lance you’ll puke with joy.” A multimedia dazzle-scape of cornucopious proliferation of spectacularity and resounding communicational explorosions that will insenserate you to magnificent occasional chuckles and mild amusement and there will be photos and for some reason my old poems and some other shit.
Note: In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t understand either why the elders would have foretold such a thing. It totally goes against their own interests, don’t you think? But now that I’m examining the logic, the fact that they would be so self-destructive as to foretell the leaving behind of their very own ways–pretty much setting in motion a classic self-fulfilling prophecy–then their ways are probably best left behind. But wait–doesn’t that make them immensely wise? In which case, we wouldn’t want to lose their ways. And then there’s the teenage rebellion factor–ohhh, yeah! The elders are playing the old reverse psychology game! They foretell the leaving behind, and the youth are like, “Screw you, we’re not gonna leave the old ways behind! Or take out the garbage! Go suck a lemon, Pops!”
A brilliant ploy, elders! And a nice try. But you’ve got to get up pret-ty early in the morning to get one past ol’ Lance With Ants In His Pants.
Because I never sleep. And I have hidden cameras surveilling your every move. A silent majority of your social circle is on my payroll as paid informants. So if you make one wrong move…if you so much as look at me the wrong way…
Man, that got dark, eh? Don’t worry, elders. We’re totally cool. We’ll do some old ways, some new ways…it’s all good.
I have been posting here less than I’d like to be, and there are a number of reasons why. Some (most?) involve personal turmoil, family crises, and other time-and-attention-demanding stuff. (Much of which will probably come to light via future episodes of my podcast Estranged.)
But there’s also a practical reason why I haven’t been posting here much, and that is because I’m working on replacing this site entirely–with two other sites.
This blog/site has always been muddled, “brand”-wise. Never quite a professional site focused on website stuff and social media and the rest of the things I do for money, and pretty half-assed as a personal site where I share pics and videos and stories and projects and other tidbits that make up my life, and that make me me. I’ve taken stabs at trying to make it more of both of those things, but ultimately, this has just been a place where I post stuff sometimes.
For someone who preaches to my clients (and anyone else who will listen) about the power of the “social web”, and the need for anyone with a web presence to proactively engage in the global conversation about whatever it is they care about and know about, the casual (a.k.a. half-ass) approach I’ve taken here, in a word, sucks. This isn’t a great place to go for wisdom about maximizing your impact on the social web–even though I’ve got bucketloads of wisdom to share–and it’s not a particularly great resource to just learn about (and fall deeply in stranger-love with) the beautiful mystery that is Lance Marshall Brown, man of renown. (Or, if you prefer, Lance Who has Ants in his Pants.)
The solution? As my mom said to me for many years before pretty much giving up: “Focus.” And what better way to focus than to create two sites to work on instead of one? Hmm…that doesn’t sound like it adds up, but it does, I swear.
Focus: on Freelance Lance, WordPress Wizard and Internet Sherpa. Fountain of wisdom on many things Internet, social web evangelist, marketing quasi-savant, semi-professional editor…you get the idea. Dude who has lots of thoughts about web stuff. The future home of that focus is InternetSherpa.com, which you can’t see because I have a big curtain up over it until it’s ready.
Focus: on Lance Brown, man about town. Lance who dances in France with ants in his pants (if you ask my grade-and-middle school classmates). “Prance” (if you ask my old friend Greg Sears, before I made him call me “Ed” instead). “Crash” (if you ask my mom’s old co-workers, back when I was rocking 1-2 car crashes a year). Guy with hundreds of nature and animal pictures and videos. Dude with more past jobs and future projects than phalanges and teeth combined. Humble egotist. Brilliant idiot. And, most relevantly, next-level narcissist. The future home of that focus? Lance Magazine. (At LanceBrown.me, of course.) Tagline: “So much Lance, you’ll puke with joy.” ‘Nuff said? I should hope so. I’m starting to puke a little myself, right now.
That one’s also behind a curtain, but it wants out pretty bad. Like 7-year-old me, it wants to get naked and climb out on the roof of the front porch for all to see. But, more like 40-year-old me, it has no plans to go back inside when a passing driver finally decides to pull over and knock on the door to tell my mom I’m out there. “You don’t own me, random passing driver! Don’t look if you don’t like what you see!” (That’s 40-year-old me speaking.)
Still with me? Out on the roof of the front porch with me, naked? (Let’s face it, it’s a little awkward if you’re not naked too.)
Good. Together we’ll conquer the wild world of the social web, unpack the wisdom garnered from 15+ years of daily web work, plumb the deepest depths of my comically-tarnished soul, and traverse the farthest ranges of my oddball life. Plus, there will be peacock photos!
…I took the SATs for the first time. Why was I taking the SATs in grade 7, you ask? There’s a program called CTY (Center for Talented Youth), run by Johns Hopkins University. It’s what would these days be called “nerd camp”. To qualify for CTY, students of certain ages could take the SATs, and if they got a high enough score, they’d get to take CTY’s college-level courses, on a college campus. Pretty badass as far as nerd camping goes. I didn’t go this year, because while my Math SAT score was high enough to qualify for the math and science courses, I had no interest in those, and my Verbal score wasn’t high enough to qualify me for the writing courses I wanted to take. (I believe I got a 510 Math, 420 Verbal.) I got introduced to CTY via my school’s “ET” (Exceptionally Talented) program, which was just about the only truly intellectually-compelling part of my entire K-12 experience. Certainly the only one in K-8 that I can recall. (Thank you, Mrs. Graham.)
…I had a bunch of girlfriends–but only one that really mattered. My first real girlfriend, Heather Moon. We went out for two and a half months, and it was a pretty classic innocent young love situation. Long talks on the phone, lots of public hand-holding, writing her name all over my notebooks…the whole routine. I can still picture the first time I went to hold her hand. I believe it was during an in-class movie or slideshow. I took probably 15 minutes slowly inching my hand across my desk and over to hers. Our first (and only?) kiss was just as innocent and ridiculous; I can picture that too. We were outside at recess, and I don’t remember why, but there was like public buildup to the fact that we were going to kiss. So there was a crowd of kids all gathered around watching when I finally kissed Heather. It was weird, but also pretty sweet in that innocent-young-love type of way. I think we broke up pretty soon after that. ;-) It wasn’t my call, and I was pretty crushed. Another classic young love cliche–my first broken heart. And probably the first time I punched a wall due to relationship heartache. It would not be the last.
…The rest of my girlfriends that year came in a mad rush, on the rebound from being dumped by Heather. I didn’t mean to diminish their importance above, but as I recall, I “went out with” like 4 girls in the few weeks after our breakup, and most of those so-called relationships barely lasted long enough for a couple of evening phone calls and some hanging out in the hallway between classes. One was like a day, another a couple of days…like that. I counted them at the time because they were official by middle school standards–both parties had agreed to be “going out”–but they were otherwise insubstantial. (No reflection on the girls involved, who are all lovely women now–and were lovely young women then.) And I probably still count them now because that little stretch in 7th grade was the most active stretch I would have in my K-12 years. And also probably because they really were an extension of that first big relationship with Heather. My heart had been opened, and my “love light” turned on. The rebounds afterward were just attempts to keep that light going. And for the girls involved, I think there was probably just some “buzz” around me because I was such a public boyfriend with Heather. How public? She got me–and I wore–a shirt that said “Loverboy” on it. (Loverboy was a band from back then, but in this case the shirt was meant as a label for me…even though, as mentioned, we were actually pretty chaste.) Then when the girls wised up to the fact that they had gotten tricked into going out with basically a nerd, they moved on.
…It may be that I was still 12 when my next huge crush began, on Sherry Green. But I think of that as mostly an 8th grade thing. (In fact, that’s basically what I think of when I think of 8th grade.) But now as I think it through, it probably did start at the tail end of 7th grade and into that summer.
…I think 7th grade was when I fought with Mike Stowers and got suspended from school for the first time. Though “fought with” might be a stretch. He tripped me in class as I was walking past his desk, and I responded by turning around and attacking him. It’s funnier than it sounds, in part because Mike was the tallest kid in our class, I was just about the shortest. The “fight” didn’t last long, and we were both sent to the (vice? I think) principal’s office, and suspended for I want to say 5 days. In a tradition that would be repeated later when I fought with Doug Boyle, Mike and I became friends as a result of the whole experience. Good times.
…If we’re keeping track, I’m nearly certain that I did win the sales contest for my class this year, and I actually feel like this was probably the year I won the boombox. (Not the year earlier as I claimed in “age 11”.)
…Musically, I was a full-on superfan of anything on the radio. I would tape Casey Kasem’s weekly top 40 program–and the year-end top 100 program–and I was beginning to copy any album I could get my hands on to cassette tape (you know, for my new boombox). Most of those were from my sisters’ collection at the time–Billy Squier, Bob Seger, John Cougar, maybe Stevie Nicks, Led Zeppelin IV, Journey, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, etc. Though there was also Jack Wagner’s “All I Need”, which became a major anthem for me, and began a pretty robust Jack Wagner fanship that lasted a few years. His was in many ways the first “real” concert I went to. (Prior to that I had seen Beatlemania and, when I was much younger, Shaun Cassidy.) That was probably early 1985, based on when “All I Need” was charting.
…I started writing poetry, of a sort, in 7th grade. In homeroom every morning, I would write a limerick in one of those little CVS pocket notebooks. I found some of them a couple years ago. They were terrible. But I was writing.
…In middle school, I came in second place in our school’s spelling bee, I believe it was 3 years on a row. Thus, I missed qualifying to compete in the county spelling bee (and possibly work my way up to state and nationals) by one place (one word actually), three times. This year would have been the second of those three, if memory serves me right. I found this pretty frustrating back then, especially as I felt at the time that there was injustice involved in a couple of those sessions. And I still think of it that way, honestly, even though I only vaguely remember what one of the “injustices” was about. (Damn you, Mr. Sturtevant!! ;-)) But looking back on it, it’s definitely just as well that I didn’t advance to more competitive levels of the spelling bee. I wouldn’t have gained anything, except for a lot of pressure.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve scanned in some pics from my yearbook, but they may have to wait until morning. Meanwhile, I’ve got to get this posted, so I can get to age 13, and 14–I’m getting behind!
Perhaps you remember something I did at age 12 that didn’t make the list…feel free to fill in the blanks by posting a comment. :-)
…Oh! I think it was 7th grade that me and a friend accidentally burned down Musante’s field*. That’s kind of a big one to miss. I don’t know for sure when that was, but I do remember my 5th grade teacher Mr. Demick confronted me in the hall a few days after the fire. We hadn’t gotten caught, but I guess somehow the word had leaked to Mr. Demick. He handed me a newspaper article about a fire–a different one–where (I think) multiple firefighters had been injured or killed. I don’t think he said much; the point he was trying to make was clear. Mr. Demick was a good guy. The fire was a mistake (we had been playing around just burning little grass tufts at the edge of the park, and the wind took over and it got out of control, and we took off in a panic), but his sober warning definitely had an impact on me, in terms of being thoughtful about the consequences of one’s actions.
*Musante’s field was a big empty property that filled the center of a huge block of residential properties. Dozens of houses, including ours (and the one where my sister now lives) surrounded that field.
I’ve been doing a series of tweets for the past couple days, counting down (or up, technically) to my 40th birthday on August 20th. I’ve been using the hashtag #Countdownto40 and posting some tidbits about my life in the years leading up to now. I started with age 9 a couple days ago, and then 10 yesterday, and today is time for the age 11 tweets. (I’ve timed it so that I will reach age 40 when I reach age 40…get it?) You can read my tweets about ages 9 and 10 here via a Twitter search for #Countdownto40.
But as I “get older”, there are more things to mention, and I was already starting to blow up people’s timelines with my age 9 and 10 tweets. So I think I will be doing most of my spilling in blog posts from here on out. So here goes:
When I was 11…
…My neighbor and supposed friend Ralph Deane beat me up in my driveway while we waited for the bus one morning. (My driveway was the bus stop.) The previous day or so, I had called his sister Tammy a bitch, when she kicked at my bike as I was riding past her on the road. Ralph decided he had to defend her honor, and demanded that I apologize/take it back. I replied that she had in fact been a bitch via her action, and I stood by my words. So he punched the crap out of me in the face and stomach. (I feebly swung my arms a couple times, but Ralph was a man-child, and I was a tiny little dude. It was very much no contest.) As the bus pulled up, Ralph and Tammy got on, and I bleedingly limped my way back into the house, skipping school for the day. When I reported Ralph to my homeroom teacher Mr. Walsh the next day, Mr. Walsh just laughed. I think he was happy that I finally got some pushback for my “wise” mouth. I kind of despised him after that. And I definitely never forgave Ralph. He tried to friend me on Facebook a year or so ago. No thanks, Ralph. P.S. – Your sister was being a bitch.
…I think it was 6th grade (with my birthday being in late August, age 11 is basically synonymous with 6th grade, age 12 with 7th, and so on) that had my “one sleeve up, one sleeve down” phase. I regularly wore long-sleeve dress shirts to school, and for a period of time in 6th grade, I decided to start wearing one sleeve rolled up, while leaving the other down. Why? When I was asked that by my classmates (and I was, a lot), my answer was “Why do you have both sleeves down [or up, depending on the case]?” In other words, I did it just to challenge pre-disposed notions of how things should be.* So people would have to think “Huh?” when they saw me walk by. I did that sort of thing quite a bit throughout my school years, but the one-sleeve-rolled-up thing may have been the most overt and ridiculous of all of them.
…My musical tastes finally diverged from my Mom’s and my sisters’, via a cassette of the Beatles 20 Greatest Hits album. Me and my usually-best-friend Eric Day listened to that album a bunch, and I listened to it a whole lot more on my own. I would soon start venturing into other Beatles albums, buying the LPs of Sgt. Pepper and the White Album, and getting taped copies of almost every other album they had. They became my first favorite band (and remained so until Pink Floyd displaced them a few years later).
…I’m pretty sure I won the top sales slot for my grade in the school sale, which I think was for wrapping paper that year. I won the top slot or near it 3 years running I think, and 6th grade may have been when I won a boombox as a prize for my efforts.
…I think year 11 was also when my love affair with Coca-Cola began. My mom’s boyfriend Bruce was an avid Coke drinker, and when he became a regular feature at our house, Coke became a regular feature in our refrigerator, and soon thereafter became a regular feature in my diet. It wasn’t long before I had an unhealthy addiction to/love for the beverage, which sadly continues to this day. (Though probably not for much longer.)
Other interesting things must have happened that year, but those are the highlights that come to mind. If you remember anything noteworthy that I missed, please post it in the comments. (That’s mostly for the 70+ former schoolmates on Facebook who I’ll be sharing this post with. And my mom, who subscribes to my blog. :-))
*Long before then, in first grade as I recall it, I had come to a definite conclusion about the evils of school society/peer pressure, and had decided to stand against the inherent pressure to conform, on behalf of all those who were too cowed to do so themselves. This took a lot of different forms over the years…including the uneven sleeve experiment.
Lots of fun stuff coming up tomorrow in the age 12/7th grade edition of #Countdownto40. See you then!
(I’ll probably edit this post to add a photo from back then when I get up in the morning.)
Update: You can call off the hunt for a home for Natty, as he has found a great permanent home–mine. :-) I gradually dropped my reservations to keeping him as it became clear how hard it was going to be to find him a home with as much stability and attention/love as he already had with me and Cali and Mojo and Leo.
Thursday morning around 6:30, as I was walking my dogs, someone pulled to a stop on the road bordering my neighborhood, set this dog down on the road near the back of his truck, and then jumped in and sped off.
The poor guy’s hair was all matted and dirty, he smelled bad and was shivering. He growled nervously at my dogs when they approached him.
Since we showed up so quickly after he got dumped, I’m not sure he knew exactly what happened. He’s been amazingly good-spirited after that first few minutes. Here’s a video I took as he went on our morning walk with us, just a few minutes after being dumped:
Ready to adopt him yet? Are you in L.A. or the Antelope Valley? Are you willing to give him the time and attention he needs?
Because he needs–and deserves–an exceptionally dedicated and loving home.
Even as adorable as he was after his bath, something still needed to be done about that hair. It was matted into dreadlocks from head to foot (thus his temporary name: Natty, taken from the Bob Marley song “Natty Dread“). All his dreadlocks were still dirty too, and as I would find out soon, harboring fleas.
He’s since had a LOT of hair trimming, and another bath (with an emphasis on flea-killing)…and while he still needs a little more cleaning up, he’s looking much better now:
Anyway, long story short(-ish), Natty is all cleaned up and ready for a great home. As much as I’ve grown to love him in the past few days, I can’t keep him*, and I’d like to find him a great home ASAP before he gets too attached to life here.
(*I already have three pets, all “rescues”, who take up all the time and attention and money I have to give right now.)
My definition of “a great home” for Natty is one where:
–He will get lots of attention, preferably not just after work hours
–He will get walked every day
–He won’t be ditched if/when you move, or because you get a boyfriend/girlfriend who is allergic, or for any other reason, ever
–The owner is sure they can make a lifetime (i.e. 10-15 year) commitment
–He will be treated as a full family member, not just an accessory/annoyance/toy/burden/beast
Natty is a great dog who got a raw deal, and who deserves the best. I’m sure a lot of people would be glad to have him around for their own pleasure–and he will provide that, in spades–but you need to also be committed to his pleasure. For the rest of his life.
If these guidelines sound too strict to you, then you’re probably not the kind of pet owner I’m looking for. No worries—maybe you know someone who is? (You know the type I mean.) I just want to make sure Natty’s life only gets better from here on out, and that his new home is so great that he doesn’t feel too sad about leaving this one (which is a pretty great home for a dog).
Natty going to sleep last night
I don’t know much about him due to the circumstances, but here’s some of what I know:
–He’s male, and not neutered
–I don’t know his age, but he seems young–maybe just a year or two, or a few years old
–He’s 100% friendly and 99% well-behaved (he’s a little grabby/beggy when it comes to food, but very trainable)
–He’s good with cats
–I don’t know his name; he hasn’t responded to anything specific (i.e., you don’t need to stick with “Natty”)
–I don’t know about his health, but he seems healthy; he eats eagerly, poops clean, and just seems generally fine
–He is very open and loving and adorably hops up on his hind legs and dances around occasionally
If you or someone you know well can provide a great permanent home for Natty, please get in touch with me ASAP. I’m just over an hour northeast of L.A. (in Lake Los Angeles.) You can call my home phone (661-264-9224) or cell (661-674-7953)–you’ll likely get the machine in either case; leave a message if so–or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (My name is Lance.)
Thanks for your help in finding “Natty” a great new forever home!
My oldest dog Cali has been grappling with balance issues/vertigo, and can’t really go inside as a result. So he spends the whole night out in the yard–which he doesn’t really mind, since he prefers the outside anyway. He misses my company though, and vice versa. But I work every night, usually right until I go to bed. So last night I worked out a compromise solution:
I crashed out on the office couch a couple hours later. Since the “patio office” was still in place when I woke up, I decided to just plunk down there for my morning work session:
Lance Brown is a freelancer who specializes in WordPress web site development. He writes a bi-weekly column called The Not-So-Simple Life, and occasionally emits new editions of his web comic strip The Little Things. In his private life, Lance specializes in building mountains of expectations for himself, and waking up each day in a frustrated-but-enthusiastic attempt to get more done than 50 people could accomplish. Lance used to have a giant ego, and still has a rather large one, but he has also met with great enhumblement. He lives with two dogs and one cat. An aspiring comedian and wanna-be screenwriter–or vice versa–Lance enjoys walking, World and U.S. maps, and Arrested Development. He raises his right eyebrow pretty well, but has a tough time with the left.
I’m currently working hard at my re-emergence into the world in many ways. I’ve had a very shaken year so far, but things are finally settling down, and now that I’m in the greater LA area, I’m just about ready to start busting out with a major new phase of my public life. Stand-up comedy will be involved, as well as podcasting, and my long-awaited (by me) entry into the collaborative world of filmmaking. (There will also be lots and lots of writing, but that’s not the most public of activities.)
It was in the spirit of re-emergence that I accepted a generous invitation by a new Twitter friend of mine, @Crobama, to be a guest on his Dylan Brody’s Neighbor’s Couch podcast. I think he may have thought I was someone. Which at one point I kind of was, at least by some measures. Nowadays I’m not totally sure who I am, especially in terms of presenting myself to the public. Just check out my About page–it’s OK, but it’s not very succinct, to say the least. And there’s no indication of where you should focus when trying to figure out who I am. (Which is probably a reflection of my inner state; we’ll get to that soon enough.)
To get to the point, Darren (@Crobama) asked me for a short bio to use for my appearance on his show. (It will be in late September by the way. On or after the 23rd.) I don’t know what I’ll end up deciding to use, but I thought it would be a fun exercise to work up some bio draft attempts. Maybe I’ll use them for something someday, or maybe these posts will be the end game for them. We’ll have to wait and see.
Either way, with no further ado, here’s my first run at defining myself at this point in my life. It’s not very serious, but it is all true.
Lance Brown has taken on the FBI and the Project for the New American Century. He’s done local grassroots activism, and he has campaigned for president. He has herded peacocks, and walked over 15,000 miles with his dog. He was once suspended from school for reciting a poem about his math teacher. He saves insects from drowning with the delicate use of pushpins. He writes a bi-weekly column about seeking simplicity, has a comic strip with characters that have no faces, and saves all of his ideas on a digital voice recorder—amassing almost 9,000 audio files, with which he has done very little. He has brown hair, wears glasses, and puts his pets before anything else.
I’ll post more bio-experimentation soon. Let me know what you think of this one!
It’s been slow going getting set up at my new place. One side effect of that is that I still don’t have a real refrigerator. Thus it has been tough to keep up with my burgeoning giant salad addiction. I took a pass at making a salad a while back, but due to limited supplies it was not nearly eye-popping enough for my standards. Today I righted that wrong.
It’s hard to tell from that perspective, but those sunflower seeds are riding at about 10 inches above the counter. This is no side salad.
Here’s the first single portion from that mega-salad:
That plateful basically leveled the big bowl off. There are at least 4 more of those left to go.
Mmmm…salad. It even smells good, with the sunflower seeds in the mix.
Earlier today, in an instant messenger conversation, a woman I had just met at a dating site asked me: “What’s your story?”
I thought about it for a minute and replied:
“Boy meets world. Boy fights world. Man loves world. Man changes world.”
I loved it as soon as I wrote it. But, ever the editor, I soon concluded it was missing a bridge…here’s my minor rewrite:
Boy meets world. Boy fights world. Boy becomes man. Man loves world. Man changes world.
I haven’t decided which I prefer for sure, but one or the other is probably the top nominee for what I’d like to see on my gravestone. (Since it will be the future, I’m assuming grave-o-vision will have been invented by then, to make such a thing possible.)