MaxBarry.com
writes just like he looks

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Wed 16
Feb
2005

Retrospective #4: Comments, e-mails, Ellis, and Arjun

Max This is the bit when I look back at—ah, forget it, I can’t hand-hold you new people forever.

No sooner had I posted the blog about getting the Syrup screenwriting gig when I received an e-mail back. “Ah!” I thought. “Already the congratulations are rolling in!” This is what it said:

you only write about your scripts, and that too few and far between. youre ignoring your loyal website readers such as me. you stopped writing funny stuff long ago. im upset. :(

you need to get back to the old days when you wrote a post every other day, and incredibly funny ones too.

regards
arjun

This evoked several competing thoughts. First was, “Kiss my butt, Arjun!” Second was, “Maybe he’s got a point. I haven’t done so many comedy blogs lately. And he is quite flattering about my older stuff.” The third was, “Kiss my butt, Arjun! What do you want, a refund?”

I know artists have to put up with people saying, “I like your old albums/books/films better than your new ones,” but geez, I didn’t think I’d get that about my web site. I searched through my e-mail and discovered that Arjun had written to me a couple of times before. If I were petty enough, I might observe that his earlier e-mails were much more entertaining than this one. And I am, so I have.

I finally changed my e-mail page to announce that I can no longer reply to all letters. I cringed as I did it, because I knew some people would take this as proof that I am an out-of-touch egomaniac with no time for his fans, and I’d prefer to keep that a secret. I also worried I would get fewer e-mails, since people might not bother writing if there wasn’t much chance of a reply. Instead, my e-mail inflow practically doubled. It’s like everyone was looking at that pathetic line, “I will try to reply in 19 weeks,” and thought, “Poor bastard, I’ll leave him be.”

Or maybe it was because of my interview with Ellis. This blog clearly encouraged a lot of people to e-mail me crazy comments in the hope that I would interview them for the site, too. Either that or a lot of genuinely crazy people suddenly all wrote to me at once. Hmm. That’s a more disturbing idea. But anyway, Ellis has his own web site now, which promises to reveal more of the enigma wrapped inside a riddle that is Ellis. Compulsory reading.

In December I added the ability for site members to post comments in response to my blogs, which, to my surprise, turned out great. If I post a funny blog, people post a bunch of funny follow-ups; if I post a serious blog, people post lots of thought-provoking comments. I have to admit, the reason it took me so long to add this was because I was sure it would get spammed into the ground by idiots. And I guess this will happen sooner or later, since this is the internet. But so far, so good!

I received many long, thoughtful e-mails in reply to my “On Capitalism and Corporatism” blog. I took the time to read them and mull them over and think how lucky it was I didn’t have to write equally thoughtful replies. Amongst them was a one-sentence letter that, possibly inadvertently, made the most persuasive argument for the ascendancy of capitalism of all. After digesting my opinions on political economics, globalization, and corporatism, Joseph had this to say:

you play world of warcraft? Cool lets play sometime

Comments

This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 5390 days ago

and you forgot to mention to losers who "finish in their pants" when they realize they are quite possibly the first person to comment on a post
*GJAHHHHHH* brb gotta change my bottoms :)

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 5390 days ago

Personally, although the funny anecdotes are nice to read, and always make me spit my Coke across my keyboard, I like hearing about the entire evolution of Syrup, or Jennifer Government, or Company from something that we've all talked about to something that we can all see.

A lot of the time all we see is the end result of something. For those of us who want to get into the business of writing, or screenplays, or movies, something like you've been doing with the Syrup screenplay is nice. There isn't much of that out there, at least I haven't seen it.

And nowadays, anyone can be funny--some more than others, of course--but not everyone can tell you a first hand account of what it's like watching a book your poured a chunk of yourself into possibly become a screenplay that you're going to do the same, and if all goes well, the movie.

But that's my two cents...

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 5390 days ago

to=the*

Adam A. (#256)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Quote: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -George Carlin"
Posted: 5390 days ago

Frankly Max, I don't know how you have the time to post the things you do, what with Company and the Syrup screenplay. I think it's great you still leave messages every week or so, be them funny or not. I'm sure the new book and script will be hilarious, and I'd rather have you focus all your humor into those. But the blogs end up funny anyway, you're just a funny guy. (Funny how? Like a clown? I'm here to amuse you?) Yup. Thanks.
BTW, I also like the info into the writing process.

Nate (#1064)

Location: Bowling Green, KY
Quote: "Once more into the breach, dear friends...."
Posted: 5390 days ago

Don't worry about stagnation, Max. If anything, irate comments from silly readers will give you plenty more inspiration. Or at least you can laugh at us at the end of the day; pointing and laughing at the monitor isn't quite as fun as face-to-face, but you'll still get the same satisfaction. Rock it.

James (#1022)

Location: England - or similar
Posted: 5390 days ago

i though arjun's earlier emails were better

Seppuku (Dont call me Chris) (#1056)

Location: Maryland
Quote: "I may have failed you as your hero, but I will triumph as your conquerer."
Posted: 5389 days ago

Hehe.

Now all he's got to worry about it people taking advantage of comments.

But, overall good post, really showed them who's boss, etc.

What I'm really interested in is current events, not so much how arjun is bothering Max.

Scott (#354)

Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Quote: "Max Barry tastes like awesome"
Posted: 5389 days ago

I think your blogging six months from now is way better than your current blogging is. You need to get back to your roots and write more like future Max. :(

I wish I had taken the time to comment "On Capitalism and Corporatism," but I figured it covered pretty much anything I could say. Regardless, ignore the idiots, myself included. I know I sent you one crappy e-mail... :-P

And to the people (cough cough, Arjun) that complain... you should realize that there are very few authors (actually published ones) that are as accessible as Max has made himself to be. Kudos to you for that Max. As they say, beggers can't be choosers, and all that cal.

Tim (#930)

Location: Benalla, Australia
Quote: "I LIKE SQUID!!!"
Posted: 5389 days ago

Truth be told I don't get what's so good about 'Ellis'...Anyone care to enlighten me?

Cantrall (#26)

Location: New Orleans
Quote: "Anagrams with my name: Chancellor thirst rap, Anarchist perch troll, Ranch pro at hillcrest, Ill rorschach pattern, Cornstarch hitler pal"
Posted: 5389 days ago

Whatever posts you give, whenever you give them, I always find them fully entertaining and well worth it...sure, we all want more, but who wouldn't? Way I figure it, writing a book and a screenplay is more important, but heck, even if you're watching so horrible TV show, it's better, since it's obviously what you want to be doing at that time. You don't want to post twice a day on here, then please don't. Gotta keep your integrity. :)

Dan (#579)

Location: Shanghai, China
Quote: ""Scio me nihil scire.""
Posted: 5389 days ago

hahaha, idiots who spam the site to the ground, yeah that starts happening once your site goes mass media and tons of 12 year old preteens start spamming the site. But come on man, the only way that were to happen is if you wrote a story regarding
-Underwear
-Wizards
-Sex
-Skimpy "horror" stories
-Childhood memoirs
-Etc
that suddenly turn into big time bestsellers. Yeah. Anyways, have a good'un buddy

Dan (#579)

Location: Shanghai, China
Quote: ""Scio me nihil scire.""
Posted: 5389 days ago

Seriously though, play warcraft with me?

Dinko Hristov (#1065)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: """No one is fool enough to choose War over Peace. In Peace sons bury fathers, but in War fathers bury sons."- Herodotus"
Posted: 5389 days ago

Max!

I used to play NS about 6 months ago, and whenever i had the opportunity, i would read your informative, funny as posts. I'm back to playing NS and visiting your site...the posts are still informative and humourous. I don't care if you now update your blogs once a week. I still look forward to reading your next post, but I can wait. I realize that you've got a book to finish and screen plays to play around with. You do that. And when the next update comes around, I will know that I will still enjoy reading it. Your priorities are the book and the screen plays. Kepp on writing, Max, and keep on providing us with laughs through your website for as long as YOU enjoy doing that.

Best regards,

Dinko Hristov
Darwin

Pete Clamiston Nessi (#927)

Location: Chicago
Quote: "04dana14na"
Posted: 5389 days ago

"yeah that starts happening once your site goes mass media and tons of 12 year old preteens start spamming the site."

Hmm. Reminds me of a certain.. "Cult."

*cough* Palahniuk *cough*

Dinko Hristov (#1065)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: """No one is fool enough to choose War over Peace. In Peace sons bury fathers, but in War fathers bury sons."- Herodotus"
Posted: 5388 days ago

Jay!

Please don't mention the 12 year old preteens. I've seen what a typical preteen conversation...or, rather "conversation", on MSN looks like: "you suck"..."no, you suck", "abuse", etc. It will be a sad day the day I start seeing such stuff on this wonderful site.

Regards

Dinko Hristov
Darwin

Qaaolchoura (#226)

Location: Korea
Quote: "Treason never prospers, and what is the reason? If it does prosper then none dare to call it 'treason'"
Posted: 5388 days ago

Max, don't worry about being funny, this post is hilarious.

Part of it is certainly humor of recognition. The past two times that he's done something he regretted later, I predicted it, the last time predicting random emails through a somewhat-random email.

In fact, I've written Max several semi-random emails over the years because as one British comedian observed, we Americans like emailing complete stangers. (By the way, I don't have any desire to be interviewed, at least not by a humorist. I'm in journalism class, so I now know better than to let <i>anybody</i> interview me if I can help it).

<blockquote>
Subject: I bet you get a lot of random emails now.

Max, haven't you learned form past experience not to give people ideas for how to notice you?

You are, as you mentioned that Fast Company called you a cult figure. Verbiose prose and high praise for somebody who writes you random emails is sure to getcha about the same result as when you threatened to name a bad charecter over anybody who starts an email with Umm. . .

I'm now waiting for the entry on the completely random emails that you get as a result of the Ellis article.

Still pretty amusing article, It's the sort of thing that I used to do in middle school, albeit as comments, not so much emails.

And I wonder, ironically, whether this in itself counts as a random email. I'm not quite sure.

Peace, Truth, Liberty, and Justice,
Luke
</blockquote>

And on that subject. . .

Peace, Truth, Liberty, and Justice,
Luke

Cogitation (#836)

Location: New York City
Quote: "Think about it for a moment."
Posted: 5386 days ago

"I have to admit, the reason it took me so long to add this was because I was sure it would get spammed into the ground by idiots. And I guess this will happen sooner or later, since this is the internet. But so far, so good!" --Max Barry

Maybe you could just start a topic for each blog entry on a forum where there are Moderators who can deal with the spam and link to the topic from your blog entry on Maxbarry.com.

http://forums.jolt.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=1226 <-- Here would be a good place for such topics. You've got the infrastructure, you've got the staff.... I could lay holy righteous smackdowns on anyone who spams your blog topic. :D

Seppuku (Dont call me Chris) (#1056)

Location: Maryland
Quote: "I may have failed you as your hero, but I will triumph as your conquerer."
Posted: 5386 days ago

^Just 'cause your a mod doesn't mean you have power here, which is kind of nice in a way that we get our retribution by ACTUALLY getting to say what we want to say. And not getting shown up by logic, either.

Damned logic...

Cogitation (#836)

Location: New York City
Quote: "Think about it for a moment."
Posted: 5386 days ago

"Just 'cause your a mod doesn't mean you have power here..." --Seppuku

I jest, of course. I know I have no power, here.

"Damned logic..." --Seppuku

*snicker*

smush (#1079)

Location: MEL-bn, uh-STRAYL-yuh
Quote: "quotes are for people who don't have original poignant thoughts."
Posted: 5384 days ago

I like that Nicholas Johnson had to specify that the 12 year olds are pre-teens. So not the middle-aged 12 year olds, then? Cos I get the two different types confused.
;)

I just came on over from Nation States, so I have no real clue as to who Max Barry is. I was trying to find the first chapter of Jennifer Government, and then I got roped in by the audience participation. That always happens to me. Last time I ended up 'disappeared' by a magician.

Tip: the chute goes into another dimension. It's full of moths. Big ones. And seaweed.

Kitta (#716)

Location: Perth, Western Australia
Quote: "Don't feed or spank the monkey"
Posted: 5383 days ago

I get email like that from time to time. People forget that you can't be funny 24/7, unless you're on some sort of mind altering drug.

Boryana (#1656)

Location: France
Posted: 5127 days ago

Hello,
actually i just wanted to find someone i knew in high school: Dinko Hristov. So Dinko if you are bulgarian, coming from Sofia, please let me know I'm Boryana (BooBoo), from Bulgarian Scouts, if you remeber me.
So wait to hear from you soon.
Boryana

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