Words Of Wisdom

by Bruce Campbell, Mike Nelson, Laura Miller, Kevin Murphy, Will Leitch, Michael J. Rosen, James Norton, Marty Beckerman, Claire Zulkey, Matt Hinrichs, Mark Parisi, Joe Lavin, and Bob Sassone give advice, words of wisdom, and rules to live by.


James Norton

1. Don’t star in a pornographic movie in order to please your parents. No matter how liberal they may seem, they will be inevitably disappointed by the final product.
2. Do not keep sushi overnight in the refrigerator of a college newspaper.
3. Don’t laugh publicly at the mistakes of others unless – having fully accounted for the powers of a wrathful and humorous God – you’re 100 percent sure you won’t repeat them.
4. Dreams destroy as often as they inspire, but good blueberry pie can do no wrong.
5. Quit often, and quit early. Only suckers stick around for 3/4ths of a game they’ve been losing since the start.
6. Don’t say anything when sober that would disgust you while drunk.
7. There are two types of people in the world: Idealists and pragmatists. Fear them both.
8. “Smooth jazz” is a legitimate genre of music in the same way that “skin disease” is a good way to prepare for a night on the town.
9. The cheaper the gin, the more you pay for it.
10. Don’t believe anything you read on the Web. If it’s not printed on dead trees, it wasn’t worth writing in the first place.

James Norton is the editor of Flak.


Mark Parisi

Cartooning is like grocery bagging. The light stuff is on the top, but it has to be supported by a solid base. And it’s a good idea not to bruise anyone’s bananas.

Mark Parisi is the creator of the comic strip Off The Mark.


Mike Nelson

1. One evening, after high school wrestling practice, I ran at top speed through the pitch-dark hallways of my school. I didn’t get very far before I crashed headlong into a door that had just been installed that day! My glasses busted in half and made the decision not to fly harmlessly apart, which would have been the decent thing to do, but rather to dig their jagged broken edges cruelly into the flesh of my nose. I carry the scar to this day, and I’m pretty sure it’s that injury which has kept me out of the space program.

The lesson is clear: don’t join high school wrestling teams. Or if you do, be aware of all door installation schedules before dashing willy-nilly through darkened hallways.

2. On another occasion, several months after my horrible dashing-through-the-hall incident, my father informed me that I had left the lawnmower out and it looked like rain. I was already in bed at that point, so I dashed out into the starless night, dark as the inside of a deacon’s hat, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. This would turn out to be a mistake. In fact, wearing anything short of steel-toed boots, a crash helmet and full motorcycle leathers would have been a mistake, for my brother had been working on his car that day, and left an errant cinder block out in the driveway. My left foot met it halfway through a particularly vigorous stride. My toe pretty much disintegrated and has never been the same since, which may or may not be a bad thing, some say it wasn’t much of a toe to begin with. Regardless, at the time, I didn’t have the luxury to reflect on the state of my toe, because I was sailing through the air and needed to concentrate on my landing. Even given the short time I had to work it through in my mind, it turned out to be a pretty poor landing. I connected with my face and shoulder, and then as I tumbled, with the entire rest of my body! Bits of gravel were ground into nearly every inch of me, and I believe I gained at least ten pounds in accumulated sand and pebbles.

The lesson is clear: don’t have fathers, brothers, lawnmowers, toes or skin. They will only hurt you in the end.

3. On yet another occasion, a late evening several years ago, I was adjusting the release tension on a new pair of clipless pedals I had just purchased for my bike. I gave it a little test ride, and as I came to a stop, I found I could not get my left foot out of the pedal so I pulled as hard as I could. It released with great force and my leg flew out and became speared on a fender support. As stupid and horrible as it sounds, it’s true! The little plastic safety cap had fallen off the end of this thin, razor sharp shank of metal, and I took advantage of its absence by fully spearing my foot on the metal underneath. Because my right foot was locked into the other pedal and my left foot was locked onto that little sharpened spear, I was in all ways helpless. The bike fell over and all that was left for me to do was to cry out weakly into the night. I was found a short time later by my wife who was understandably curious as to why I was lying under my bike mewling softly. After I explained, she helped me pluck my leg off and did me another good turn by not laughing at me.

The lesson is clear: don‚t ever own anything except a large blanket of cotton batting. Roll yourself inside of it and never come out.

Mike Nelson is the former host and head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He is the author of Mike Nelson’s Movie Megacheese, Mind Over Matters, and a novel, Death Rat, which will be released in April. He is also a columnist for TV Guide and host of a weekly show on KCTE AM in Kansas City.


Laura Miller

1. Good boundaries make good friends and relatives. Police yours diligently.
2. Money is essentially about math, not love, approval, nurturance, etc. It’ll do a lot more for you if you don’t expect it to satisfy needs it can’t.
3. Religion is no longer the opiate of the masses; romantic love is.
4. Regular exercise is a wonder drug.
5. Avoiding being bored is largely a matter of not being boring.

Laura Miller is the New York Editorial Director of Salon.


Matt Hinrichs


1. Membership card from local science museum, expired 10-31-2002: Good intentions don’t count for much in the end.
2. Receipt from Teriyaki Temple, $4.98: Always thrifty, always wise.
3. Receipt from Chris Town Deli, $8.86: It’s wonderful to indulge yourself once in a while.
4. Ticket stub from a 1989 R.E.M. concert: Memories are worth every brain cell you can spare.
5. Reminder for a January 28, 2003 dentist appointment: Pink is not a good color for medical reminder cards.
6. Three ragged-edged voter identification cards, dates unknown: Carry as much evidence of your citizenry as you can.
7. Buy 5, get 1 free card from local used CD store: Find pleasure in the small things.
8. Visa card, never used but has a nice desert scene on it. Aesthetics are important, but not the be all and end all of everything.
9. Drivers license, expires 10/08/2028: Death and unflattering drivers license photos are an inevitability.
10. Receipt from Waldenbooks, dated 10-05-1995, ex-lover’s pager number pencilled on back: Surprises lurk in the corners.

Matt Hinrichs is a designer and writer who maintains the weblog Scrubbles in sunny Phoenix.


Will Leitch

If you have the opportunity, do not set yourself on fire while listening to Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” This is an excellent way to die.

Will Leitch writes the weekly “Life As A Loser” column at The Simon and The Black Table.


Kevin Murphy

Once a year, take a month-long mass-media fast. No TV, movies, videos, radio, magazines, no bestselling books, no cell phone, no internet. It’s a high colonic for the mind.

Kevin Murphy was Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and is author of A Year At The Movies. His writing has appeared on National Public Radio and in Total Movie magazine. He lives and works in Minnesota.


Joe Lavin
(compiled from Memoirs, by David Rockefeller)

Duty is liberating. It forces you to transcend your own limitations and makes you do things that may not come naturally but must be done because they are right. — p. 186.
Banking [can] be a truly creative enterprise. — p. 133.
Sentiment should never be the basis for a business decision involving many thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars. — p. 161.
Sailors know that it takes time before you can bring a ship onto a new course; the larger the ship, the longer it takes. — p. 376.
In the twenty-first century there can be no place for isolationists; we must all be internationalists. — p. 406.
Good writing — writing that conveys ideas lucidly and elegantly — is the result of a combination of factors that may begin with inspiration but also includes personal experience, formal learning,
exhaustive research, and a great deal of hard work. — p. 69.
No one should feel guilty about making money. — p. 489.

Joe Lavin runs


Michael J. Rosen

1. You get nowhere being mean to folks who have the jobs you’d never want. You often get nowhere being nice to them as well, but that’s not their fault either.
2. More.
3. Less.
4. Relish contradiction. Rilke talked about living with the questions, abiding the conflict of both yes and no. Relish questions. (And, meanwhile, don’t bemoan the fact that his poetry is lost in translation. Everything is. what I’m thinking to say and what the words record, what you’re reading and what you wish to hear.) That’s relish, not garnish.
5. One of the great rabbis wrote that when you finally arrive at heaven’s gates, you’ll be asked but one question: “Did you live with hope?” Live with hope.
6. Unless you’re a rabbinic scholar, it’s okay if you can’t remember which great rabbi (or which great philosopher, which great writer, etc.). Ideas not ideologues, inspire. I’ve also heard that a great memory can also be an inspiration.
7. Inspiration’s overrated. Strike until the iron is hot. (A lesson learned from the poet Richard Howard.) This concept applies broadly.
8. Remember that it takes no longer for a large batch to disappear than it does a small batch. A tray
of brownies, homemade candy, you name it. This also applies broadly.
9. Live a life where handwriting counts. Thank you notes, thinking of you notes, bread and butter notes. Rather than badmouth overnight delivery, instant messaging, faster and faster printing and output speeds, it’s good to remember that instant gratification is more often an addiction than a pleasure.
10. Smug shouldn’t be construed as intelligence, nor criticism pursued as entertainment.
11. Remember Robert Frost’s dictum: grievance is politics, grief is poetry.
12. Philanthropy is the setting in which riches are best shown off.
13. If you did not need it before you saw it, you still do not need it. Even if the item is on sale, you still do not need it.
14. However, anything that is marked half-off clearance you do need, even if you did not realize this beforehand.
15. Be true to verbs. They have a hard time getting work
these days with all the unskilled nouns vying for their positions.
16. Live with animals. They make you human, which is to say, an animal.

Michael J. Rosen is the author or editor of some forty books, including the biennial humor anthology, Mirth of a Nation, a cookbook, Midnight Snacks: 150 Easy and Enticing Alternatives to Standing by the Freezer Eating Ice Cream from the Carton, three volumes of poetry, and a range of books for kids.


Claire Zulkey

1. Don’t start a sentence with “No offense, but…” unless you’re ready to be loathed.
2. Why use Sweet n’ Low when there’s Equal available?
3. Life would be a lot more entertaining if people faked their own deaths more often.
4. If you consider high school or college to be the best years of your life, then it’s best only to socialize with your own kind.
5. I don’t know about your parents, but mine prefer to be called “Mr. and Mrs. Zulkey.”
6. Stories about your own screwups are always funnier when you tell them yourself.
7. If you buy a cd only knowing one song by that group, that will be the only song you like on the album.
8. If you’re a guy, and you go to art galleries to pick up girls, they can see right through you.
9. Likewise, if you‚re a guy, and you’re at a bar and advise a girl to “Smile!”, she will want to punch you in the face.
10. “Why don’t you love me?!” is a good response to any inconvenience or slight, just because it’s fun to scream.
11. People don’t think it’s very funny when you take pictures of them sleeping.
12. Converse All-Stars are never a bad choice.
13. Burberry plaid is actually kind of ugly.
14. If you just applied extra-sticky lip gloss and spent 45
minutes doing your hair, you know it will be windy outside.
15. That cat is going to bite you.

Claire Zulkey maintains the web site


Marty Beckerman

Everyone says it tastes like tuna fish. If you ask me, it tastes a little more like crotch.

Marty Beckerman is the author of Death To All Cheerleaders and the upcoming Generation: SLUT, from MTV/Pocket Books.


Bob Sassone

1. You do not need to play video games on your cell phone. Ever
2. If you’re over 30, “but I was drunk” is not an excuse.
3. Actually, “but I was drunk” is never an excuse.
4. A home without a television is a very weird thing.
5. Don’t ever insult or get into a fight with anyone who serves you food or drink. Trust me on this.
6. Aquaman is a pretty lame superhero.
7. If you don’t say “please” and “thank you,” you’re an asshole.
8. Always put magazines, books, and grocery items back on the shelf where you found them, in the right place (if you don’t, see #7).
9. Pizza has an amazing power to cure all that ails you, spirtually, physically, and financially.
10. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Just have something else that gives you a life.
11. Moore was by far the worst Bond, no matter what people say about Dalton and Lazenby.
12. Robin Williams has not been funny since 1987.
13. As you get older, insurance, kids, and regular health exams, all those things you didn’t care about in your teens and 20s, suddenly become really important.
14. If you’re a contestant on The Price Is Right, please don’t jump up and down until after you actually win the car.
15. Dr. Phil is evil.

Bob Sassone played Tootie on The Facts Of Life.


Bruce Campbell

The most important thing to remember is: the next time you pass by – please do!

Bruce Campbell has appeared in several movies, including the Evil Dead trilogy, The Hudsucker Proxy, Congo, Bubba Ho-Tep, and played the wrestling announcer who gave Peter Parker his alter-ego name in the hit movie Spiderman. He starred in the TV series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Ellen, and also appeared in Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, and The X-Files. He is the author of the bestseller If Chins Could Kill: Confessions Of A “B” Movie Actor, and is currently working on a new book.


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