I just got a box of our new book, Brainwashing for Beginners, and I only have one thing to say about it: poor, poor Brainwashing. It never stood a chance. It's the Jan Brady to The Misanthrope's Guide to Life's Marsha. Which isn't to say it's bad. It's actually really, really funny. I know this because I just read it for the first time. I don't know why, but I was completely prepared to crack it open and be like, "Oh God, this is B-level material...This is so embarrassing." But it's not at all. I might even like it better than Misanthrope's. YEAH, I SAID IT. And I'm 98% sure I meant it. I think I expected it to suck because the actual process of writing it sucked. When I think back to writing it, all I can think of is computers breaking and strep throat and needing extensions on deadlines and feeling like failures for needing said extensions and that sty I randomly developed halfway through the project (?) and the earthquake in Japan I'm sure our writing somehow caused and the 5,500 words it ended up being over and bleh, whereas writing Misanthrope's was like a great big pizza party. If I could summarize writing each book in a single youtube clip, they would be the following:
Writing Misanthrope's Guide to Life:
Writing Brainwashing for Beginners:
But now that we're five months removed from the entire situation, I feel like I can finally appreciate the finished product. And I do. And I feel badly that I didn't before. And I want to take its little hand in mine and tell it, "I'm sorry I didn't say 'I love you' enough when you were growing up. Because I did. I was just too busy fighting my own demons to tell you and it was my fault. MY FAULT. So please accept this gift Mr. VanVonderen is offering you today because there's a room here full of people who love you like crazy, but we feel like we're losin' ya here and I just want my little girl back." I don't know. I've been watching a fair amount of Intervention on Netflix recently and I'm not offering any apologies for it. When Candy Finnigan cries......weoifjwf. I have no words. It hits me in the gut. Knocks the wind right out of me. And she always does! Especially when children are involved because you know she was adopted and probably relates to their feeling of abandonment. How did we get here? What was I talking about? RIGHT, the book is actually good and you should buy it.
Truth be told, I feel really uncomfortable trying to sell this book to you because we're still so blatantly trying to sell the first, but at the same time, I do think it's a worthy purchase. Like our first book, it's an excellent bathroom read. I got an email from a reader the other day saying just that and hoping it didn't offend me, and honestly? I 100% get it and I'm right there with you. Although I kind of feel like an asshole keeping a copy of my own book in my bathroom because I'm worried people will interpret it as me being all, "What? OH, THAT? Mmmmyes, I wrote a book. Two in fact! Well actually three, but who's counting? Bwahaha. Mmmmyes. Tea?" (I don't know why I'm trying to serve people tea in the bathroom...) But it's not the case. Both books are just really easy to jump into and no matter where you land, you're guaranteed a laugh. I keep finding myself in the bathroom flipping through Misanthrope's to pass the time and like, 25 minutes later I'll still be sitting on the John reading it. Which is absurd because a.) I co-wrote it, so I've obviously read it before, b.) that's a genuinely long time to be in the bathroom, and c.) there's just something so shameful about laughing at your own material with your pants down around your ankles. You just feel so exposed.
To give you a little more information on the book, Brainwashing is essentially our guide to manipulating people into doing what you want in everyday situations. It's the next level in Meg and Chris' School of Sociopathy and Witchcraft. Minus the Witchcraft. The book is comprised of 101 objectives (ranging from Get Upgraded to First Class to Convince Your New Husband You're a Virgin), which are broken down into ten chapters: Making Work Work For You (Manipulation Around the Office); Be The Mary, Not the Rhoda (Toward More Obedient Friends); Pavlov's Girlfriend (Sex and Relationships in a Brave New World); How to Get a 4.0 at Symbionese State University (Mind Control at School); George Orwell, Obstetrician (Making a Mark on Your Child's Tabula Rasa); Free Drumsticks and Cheap Gas (Everyday Hypnosis); 72 Virgins, 99 Luftballoons, and Access to the Buffet (Brainwashing During Wartime); I'm Not Not God (Cults for Dummies); Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another? (Stockholm Syndrome and You); and 10.) Bluejeans and Coca-Cola (Deprogramming). Each objective then has 2-3 brainwashing techniques for how to accomplish it.
Like I said, I was all nervous when I started to read it, but then I saw that we refer to Nick Nolte as "Father Time's readheaded stepchild" within the first three sentences of the book and immediately felt better. I also forgot how incredibly Garry Shandling heavy it is and I am not mad about it. Not only is he the object of our dedication, we also have an entire objective based on the idea of trying to get the fictional murder-mystery series The Garry Shandling Mysteries back on the air. (Jeremy Piven is obviously his Watson-like sidekick.) I remember when we got the first round of edits back on the manuscript, there were two notes next to this objective. The first was from the copy editor saying, "I checked—this is not a real show," and the second was our editor's response: "Not yet." Matthew Glazer. You get us. You get us so well and I love you for it.
I'm also still shocked that they let us keep objective #23 in: Get Your Friend to Experiment with You Sexually. I wrote this, without exaggeration, an hour before our second extension was up, and I did it as like a, "Well, they're obviously going to make us take this out, but fuck it—it's something", and I can't tell you how much I respect Adams Media for letting it stay in. Especially since the third brainwashing technique is to "Tape Scissors All Over Your Walls and Hope She Gets the Hint". I mean...to you, sir. To Adams Media. I feel like the book actually benefits from the fact that we wrote the majority of it in an incredibly cracked-out, Hail Mary, what the fuck are we doing? state of mind. It gets weird. It feels like us.
So, if you have the money, I suggest you buy Brainwashing for Beginners. And if you already did, I hope you enjoy it. And if you're Garry Shandling, I hope you really, really enjoy it. And if you're Jeremy Piven, I hope you know how much I really, really, really enjoy you. Every night. To this picture:
And sometimes, when I want to feel like we're actively conversing, to this picture:
But mostly, when I want to laugh and imagine what it's like having you on top of me in sweatpants and a backwards cap, to this clip:
...This entire blog post has been a fucking disaster and I don't know how to end it in a way that isn't "Welp! I'm gonna go masturbate to Jeremy Piven now!", so I say we just embrace it. One more for the road: