Category Archives: i guess this is advice

Piano Man

Almie Rose

Billy Joel drawing by me. Incredible, isn’t it?

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” has reached now legendary status, but it wasn’t always that way. My cousin and his fiancé told me a story about Billy Joel that I hope is true, because if it isn’t, it really ruins everything I’m about to write.

They said that Billy Joel was struggling with his record label. He hadn’t delivered what they wanted and they were ready to drop him. They gave him one last chance. “Come in tomorrow,” I imagine they said, “And play us whatever you got left.” That night, a young Mr. William Joel trudged home to Long Island, or wherever the hell he was living, and said to himself, “Billy? It’s time to shine.”

I imagine he sat down at his piano and thought very hard. “It’s time,” he said quietly. “It’s time I give them ‘The Piano Guy.'” (I like to imagine at that point, he hadn’t come up with the now title “Piano Man” but that he was working instead on “The Piano Guy”.)

The song is full of characters who are in dead-end job living sad lives. There’s Paul, a real estate novelist, who never had time for a wife. And he’s talking to Davy, who’s still in the navy, and probably will be for life. That’s heavy stuff for a pop song, Doc. I bet Joel had a talk with a bartender who told him, word-for-word, “Bill, I believe this is killing me. Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star if I could get out of this place.” And then the smile ran away from his face and won a MEDAL for its speed.

Anyway, Joel hammered out this song in one night. He had the bare bones, but it was time for the meat. They wanted a burger, he was going to give them a burger. The next morning he strolled in, with “The Piano Guy” in his head. No sheet music, no nothing — it was all in Casa de Joel en la Cabeza. “William,” I imagine his stuffy manager said. “We’re all in the mood for a melody. And you got us feeling alright.”

“Shit, that’s good,” Joel thought, as he mentally scribbled those lyrics in. “Much better than, ‘we’d like to hear a big fat song and you’ve got us feeling not wrong.'” He sat down at the piano, about to play.

“Uh…William?” his manager interrupted. “Billy, sir.” “Yes, Billy. Are you going to…show us, anything son? Sheet music? Lyrics? Can you tell us anything? How long this is?” “No,” Mr. Billy said, taking a drag of a cigarette that materialized out of nowhere. “I got this.”

And he puts on his sunglasses and starts to play. And keep in mind, it’s just him and some executives in a room. (This part is apparently true.) It’s just him, singing and playing for his life, with “Piano Man.” He’s fighting for his career with this one song. And it’s the song that becomes one of the most legendary songs of his career and of singer/songwriter history. “Piano Man” is actually one of my least favorite Joel songs; it’s so long and involved, it feels like I’m listening to a book on tape. But you can’t deny the power and endurability of “Piano Man.”

They couldn’t either. After Joel finished playing, the room was silent. Was this a good thing? He wasn’t sure. He takes off his sunglasses. “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”

And their kids did love it. “Piano Man” was Billy Joel’s biggest hit ever and even inspired Bill Clinton to run for President of the United States of America (note: this is probably not true at all as I just made it up, but who knows?)

The point to ALL OF THIS is, Joel was on his last chance and he cranked out his biggest song. What if he gave up? And what if YOU gave up? What if you’re giving up your own “Piano Man”? Get my point here? We can’t give up, because we could be giving up our biggest success without even realizing it. That’s why we have to keep trying, we have to keep going, even when all we want to do is just crash our cars into trees in the Hamptons. We have to keep moving. We have to keep singing our song. We don’t stop until we have our “Piano Man” and then we just keep on flying. Please follow my advice to get to your own “River Of Dreams” and I know you may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, and “You May Be Right” but do it anyway as a “A Matter of Trust” and take my advice even though I’m just “The Stranger” with a weird blog.


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10 Little Things We Can Do To Make Life Easier For Each Other

Loomis Dean

Louis C.K. has a bit he does where he says, “People don’t want to back off from their favorite thing. They won’t even do their second favorite thing.”

He describes someone screwing over entire lanes of traffic because the driver forgot to get in the left lane, so they cut over several lanes to make their turn before the light changes. “He just shoves his car through everybody’s life,” Louis snaps.

We have to stop doing things like this to each other. We’re all just going the best we can in life, and our best would be ten times more awesome if we tried to make the lives of people around us better, because as a result, our lives will be better. If everyone wants everyone else to be okay, then won’t we all be okay?

Here are 10 things we can do to make life easier for each other.

10. Have more patience while waiting in lines.
My local Vons supermarket is one of the worst places in the entire world. But I have to go there because I have to eat, and it’s close. Trader Joe’s is even more horrifying. So I go to Vons and I’m happy that I can afford food. Waiting in the lines at Vons is easily the worst part about the entire experience. There are never enough cash registers open. Sometimes the cashiers move at the speed of a kindergartener learning to tie their shoes. Sometimes the person in front of you has an avalanche of groceries and wants to pay in pennies. Whatever. That’s just life. Me sighing in annoyance isn’t going to make things go faster. I try not to do that because I hate when people do that to me. Like, oh, I’m so sorry I have to eat. Please forgive me for buying groceries at the grocery store. I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking.

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Do NOT Use This Pick Up Artist Technique

teenagers carnaby street 1960's london

Note: this is a bad technique if this is how you’re trying to meet a girl. Obviously if you’ve already been on one (or more) great dates and you think she’d dig this, then do it. This is being reviewed as a tip for how to meet a woman/get to know a woman you just met at a bar/public place. Do NOT use this pick up artist technique.

A new PUA (“pick-up artist”) technique for hitting on women suggests that you “accidentally” but on purpose graze a girl’s boob. Found on the polarizing “seduction” section of Reddit, one user posted this tip as “gold.” It’s actually an old tip, but it’s new to me. Here’s the plan, transcribed and edited for length:

This is a very important method of kino [to touched or be touched] that has never been mentioned…it’s “the boob touch.”

You need to be holding a drink in order for this to work. When you’re talking to a girl and standing close to her, you lean in and talk into her ear, while your hand that’s holding the drink makes contact with her boob. Leave it there; you’ll be surprised by how many girls let you keep it there and they may actually push up against it. Remember, this is the back of your hand touching her, so it seems totally unintentional. If she backs away, you can immediately realize that she’s gonna take some effort, so if you want you can “Next” her without suffering any humiliation whatsoever.

… Add this little “magic trick” to your arsenal, DJs, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Apparently “this little magic trick” upset a few people, the few who pointed out that it was creepy were accused of, “white knighting more than usual.” Really sad that by saying, “hey, it’s gross to touch a woman’s boobs without asking” one gets insulted.

There are so many things problematic with this “method” without even reading the comments that support it, like “this is a surprisingly effective move” and “Fuck the negative comments…This type of kino isn’t bad especially when girls on the dance floor are grinding the shit out of your junk with their ass” I’ll just list them.

1. It suggests that women have boobs solely for guys to touch. That because we have them, and we’re in public, they’re yours for “accidental” touching.

2. What if women “accidentally” grazed a guy’s dong? (Yes, I say dong.) Go ahead dudes, joke that you’d love it, but I don’t think you would. I think you’d feel embarrassed. Which brings me to #3.

3. “You’ll be surprised by how many girls let you keep  it [your hand] there [on her boobs].” Wanna know why she’s “letting” you “keep it there”? She’s embarrassed. She’s embarrassed for you, and she’s embarrassed for herself. She wants to believe that it was an accident, because everyone wants to believe that no one is purposefully creepy and weird, and she feels embarrassed that you did that and she’s actually trying to save you humiliation. Then, when you’re not moving it, she’s wondering, “Okay, wait, is this on purpose? Oh God, what do I do?” Because, you see, as much as women would like to rightly tell you off, a lot of women are still too scared to do so, because we’re ingrained to be polite, and also, we’re afraid you’re going to flip out and hurt us. (“We” is shorthand. Not every woman has these fears, the same as not every man believes this is an effective way to hit on women.) Guys, you may not understand this. You may say, “Bullshit, if you don’t like it, just say so.” It’s not always that easy. If you’re a woman, it is very likely that at some point in your life, you’ve been catcalled/harassed on the street or had some guy get in your face and call you a bitch (or worse) for not wanting to give him your phone number. And sometimes, we just get so tired. We’re so tired of having to deal with this shit. It’s 2013.

4. This tip further suggests that if we do not fancy your public groping, it’s because we’re high maintenance and not worthy of your attention. It’s almost as though we shouldn’t be offended when you touch us. That maybe we should even offer a friendly boob grab upon meeting.

5. And finally, the last terrible thing about this advice is that it gives you permission not only to do this but to not be embarrassed when a woman calls you out for putting your hand on her breast, in public, without asking. Yeah, whoops, our bad. Sorry, guys!

To any men who read this “kino” technique and think it’s good: it isn’t. Is that to say that some woman out there wouldn’t love this? No. Is she a bad woman for liking this? No. I am saying that the majority of women would not appreciate this, at all, and it’s not worth being branded a creep in trying to find out. Because you will be. You will be known as “that creep who touched my boob at the bar” by the woman you touched, and all the friends she told. And believe me, she will tell her friends.

If you want some non-creepy pick up ideas, I got some for ya right here.

Reposted from The Gaggle. Written by me. Photo credit: “Teenagers in London’s Carnaby Street” from The National Archives UK via Flickr Commons


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Flaking out on plans.

paul newman

We’ve all done it. We’ve all flaked out on someone. And we have our reasons, and some of them are good, and some of them are fake because we don’t actually want to say, “I have diabolical diarrhea.” But at a certain point, we all hit our limits. We say, “I get it, I’m never inviting you to anything again.” So how do we determine when that limit is?

I have some ideas:

1. They cancel, but with plenty of notice, and they have a good reason: they’re sick, or have a family thing. No problem.

2. They cancel, last minute, but it’s because they got into some sort of urgent situation or emergency. No problem.

3. They cancel, because they forgot they had other plans. Uh, okay.

4. They cancel in the sense that they don’t even really let you know until and hour or less before, or they don’t respond until you text something like, “Hey, are you coming?” Dude, not cool.

5. They do all of the above repeatedly. Oh come on, seriously?

6. They say yes to all invitations, sometimes add something like, “I’m so excited!” or “I wouldn’t miss this” but then and do the above repeatedly. STOP SAYING YES TO THINGS, YOU SODDING JERK.

Even more annoying is when they never tell you if they’re coming or not. It’s totally easy, here are your options: yes or no. If you say maybe, I don’t really know what to do with that, unless you explain something like, I have something before and I don’t know when it will be over. It’s not that I’m trying to dictate your plans or be an asshole about the whole thing, I just want to know how much food or drink I should provide or when I should get ready, or if I need to put in a plus one.

You all know who you are. And I know some of you think I’m a flake. But please know that if I don’t go to something, it’s because I am genuinely not feeling well, because I am sick all the time, like a small child in a Dickens novel, or I really do have plans.

Here’s an exception: if that person let’s you know well in advance that they can’t come and is sincerely sorry and is totally honest about their reasons, I wouldn’t give up on them. Who knows the kind of guff they’re dealing with or going through? I once didn’t go to a party because my dress didn’t fit. And neither did the 5 other ones I tried on. True story. Rather than say something like, “Cough cough, I’m sick” I told the truth, as stupid as that truth was, because that’s what you do for your friends.

What do you think?


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Stop being oblivious.

almie rose blondes make better t-shirts

Awesome tee courtesy of Blondes Make Better T-Shirts. I’m so happy they gave this to me, because I saw it and thought, “NEED.” It’s basically just a big comfy shirt that says “M. M — MEDIUM” on it and then beneath that is a description of what the M doesn’t stand for, like “monkey.” And they’re a green company! And they have hilarious instructional labels sewn in them. And they’re made out of that material that makes tees fell all vintagey and soft. AND they’re offering a SPECIAL DISCOUNT to Apocalypstick readers: 20% for the entire month of Novemeber! (enter apocalypstick at checkout). Yay!

One of the questions I’m asked all the time, aside from, “Are you drunk?” is, “How do I tell if someone likes me? Like, likes me?”

My answer to this is, “If you have to ask, they don’t like like you.” That’s number one. I know this may hurt, but if someone really liked you, you would know. And if a month passed by and they didn’t make a move, it’s not going to happen.

But some people are diabolically shy, and make this a little harder to figure out. And on the other side are the people who are diabolically clueless who don’t realize if someone is blatantly hitting on you.

Here are some hints if someone is into you (or not):

— They go out of their way to make you happy. This could mean hanging out with you, helping you out with something, whatever. Going out of their way means maybe they have to drive a long distance or change up their plans, but they do it because they like you, and want to see you.

— They don’t call you repeatedly after 2 AM and ask you to come over. All this means is that they like having sex with you. They don’t like you. They don’t hate you, they just don’t want to take it beyond sex.

— You can be a total bitch to them (either on purpose or because of a rough day, hopefully it’s not on purpose) and they forgive you. Not only do they forgive you but they continue to hang out with you.

— They actually listen when you talk to them. You can tell that they were listening because later, even weeks after your conversation, they’ll reference something you spoke about, like, “Hey how is your grandma by the way?” or, “I saw this thing that you just have to see, it reminded me of you.” This usually segues into the private joke stage.

— They flirt with you. I mean really, that’s the most obvious clue. The above signs are some ways people flirt. Another way they flirt is to laugh at your inane jokes. Try telling a joke or a story and see who is actually looking at you the most. Who is really listening. If it’s them, that’s a good sign. (Remember “you’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you”?)

— They make a move. This is the bottom line. If this doesn’t happen it means you’re good friends, or they’re too fucked up to handle anything beyond friendship. It doesn’t mean they don’t like like you, but if nothing’s happened by now, nothing will for a long time, if ever.

These are the signs. Stop being oblivious and pay attention. If you are the recipient of these signs, wise up.

What do you think? What did I leave out?


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Do or do not. There is no try.

join our cult

I am back from my unexpected hiatus. Some crazy things have been going on in my life. I don’t want to talk about them now. But I’m okay.

There is so much that I want to do. And I will do all of them. I live my life by a “Star Wars” quote which both surprises and alarms me: “Do or do not. There is no try.” (Yoda). That’s how you live the life what you want and that’s how you get what you want. You don’t try. You just do. If you have a passion for something, then you don’t try to do it, you just do it with everything you have, as often as you can, and to the best of your ability. That’s what I’m realizing. You want the secret to success? That’s it. Spoiler alert.

Do you think life is unfair and that you’re not getting what you deserve? It isn’t life. It’s you. Change your outlook and change your habits, and your life will change. Stop fucking it all up by making excuses and blaming other people. Write down the obstacles that are keeping you from doing what you want and then eliminate them. If you want something badly enough, you’ll figure it out.

Do not stop.

What quote do you live your life by?


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Never complain, never explain.

 black cat

 This quote “never complain never explain” was attributed to Katherine Hepburn. I don’t know if she actually said it because I wasn’t there. I was super, super not there. But I am trying to make this my new motto. Not complaining is, for me, harder than not explaining. As women I think we feel the need to apologize for ourselves, which I’ve written about here. We also feel the need to explain ourselves a lot, which men typically don’t do. But I’m working on it. I want all of us — man, woman, E.T. — to work on this.

Example: you’re sick and cannot come into work.


“I’m so sorry but I have the flu and it’s giving me mad diarrhea and I can’t stop vomiting and I just can’t come in today, I am so so so sorry, please understand, I can’t move, I’m really sorry I hope you guys are okay!”


“I’m not coming in today, deal with it, bros.”


“Hi. I’m ill today with the flu and will not be coming in. Let me know if you’d like a doctor’s note. Thanks.”


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