columns contact links

The Best Of Shut Up And Listen Year Three 4--Columns 124 and 125

I love this column (the second is really just a supplementary piece). I love it to death. It was fun and it was innovative and dammit, it got people talking! Hell, I loved it so much that when some people over at Millarworld started an online zine, I pitched a column to them based on this concept called "That Time Of The Month". It was mostly an excuse to work with my friend Lauren, who is an editor there, but it was along the same lines of Robert Andrews, except this time, I was Niki McPherson and it would never be revealed that I was really writing the column. No one outside of me, Lauren and the two people running Mostly Wanted who HAD to know would know who was really behind the column. For various reasons, it never happened, but that's cool. Doing another column there with Richard Basey called "Chad & Richard's Column" and it's about a billion times better. But, because I like you guys, here is the first and only "That Time Of The Month" column ever written by Niki McPherson (the first part is the pitch for the column, which was going to run in the first column):

Okay, check it out, what it basically boils down to is that I'm 26-year old woman from Helena, Montana and I work at a Circuit City and this guy I work with got me interested in comics. Mostly just Marvel and DC stuff, but I don't want to write about comics, I'm just explaining how I came across your webzine thing. I sometimes check out comic sites and saw that interview at the Beat or the Pulse or whatever that site is. The green and black one. You probably know what it's called, so I'll just stop, shut up and move on. I saw your interview and I kind of always wanted to write for something like this. My friends are always telling me to shut up about my opinions on stuff and Cheryl, my best friend from high school, told me I should just put together a pitch and send it in. I don't know what you want to hear exactly in this. I came up with the title of my column "That Time Of The Month" and I think it's kind of funny.

I want to just write about the stuff going on in my life and maybe share my opinions on stuff going on the world or on music or movies or whatever. Just one of those quirky little columns about real life that people read because they're killing time at work and then they keep on reading because they feel really involved with that person's life for some reason. My first column, I think, would be mostly an introduction, obviously, but also maybe talk about some new CDs or DVDs that I've checked out at work. Maybe that could be a little regular feature at the end of the column. DVD or CD of the month or something. I'm pretty big into that kind of thing.

That's it. That's my pitch. Pretty sad and not very interesting. I'm pretty sure my columns would be more interesting. I'm just not very good at this sort of thing. I've never done it before. I'm actually a little nervous. What do you put in a pitch? Especially for something you write based on your life, which changes all the time. And I'm rambling again. Sorry. Just let me know then. Thanks.

Typical Holiday Season

This may surprise you, but I hate shopping for Christmas. I really do. Every year I just want to take the easy way out and just grab stuff from my work, but that tends to annoy my parents. They always_and when I say they, I mean my mom_say that searching for that one special thing for the person you love is a special part of the gift. But I'm not like my mom. I don't like the walking or the crowds or the waiting or the crowds or the parking or the crowds. And when I say crowds, I do the stupid people who have a habit of stopping right in the middle of the mall right when I'm behind them and I am then forced to stop suddenly for fear of running into them.

That is why I've begun my shopping early this year. I can handle normal mall traffic most of the time. If I hit the stores on Tuesday at around eleven in the morning, then they are pretty much dead. That's where I was last Tuesday: the mall, shopping for Christmas presents.

That was one problem solved. The next problem was what to get everyone. As I said before, I like to just pick up some DVDs or CDs for people from the Circuit City where I work (I love the employee discount!), which my friends love as most normal people do. My family_and when I say family, I mean my mom_has this opinion that gifts like DVDs and CDs aren't appropriate Christmas gifts. "Where's the heart?" she says. I think she says that mainly to make my life more difficult. It's a hobby of hers, I believe and because of it, I was stuck wondering through the mall, racking my brain as to what my family would like.

And then after around half an hour, I ended up just going to Circuit City and buying a stack of movies. I do that every year. I wander around the mall for hour an hour and then just buy the things that will make my family_and when I say family, I mean everyone except my mom_happy. Normally, I would have left the shopping until the week before Christmas, but at Thanksgiving, my mom kept dropping hints that I should be doing my shopping early. Every other sentence was "I can't believe how good I was this year! Got all my shopping done in October! October!" At least my brother has it easy now that his wife is the buffer between him and mom.

Despite my mom, I do like the holiday season. I really love seeing my niece and nephew and getting to be "Auntie Niki." Little Eddie is four and Charlotte is two and they're both the cutest kids you've ever seen. It was officially the best Thanksgiving ever when Eddie grabbed my dad's toupee and then spiked it like a football and danced over it like he saw on TV. I nearly killed myself when Charlotte saw it lying there and ran away because she thought it was a squirrel in the house. Yeah, she's scared of squirrels for some reason.

The most annoying part of the Thanksgiving was the husband speech where it's not just my mom, but the entire family ganging up to point out that not only do I not have a husband, but I also do not have a boyfriend currently. I do regret that, if only because it meant I had to spend the day with those people. I nearly smacked my brother, Ed because I get enough of that crap from mom, and I do not need him sticking his nose in my business like that. I'm twenty-six! It's not like I'm some old maid. Twenty-six!

That is my holiday season. Pity me. I hope you have better experiences. I'll see you next month.

Confessions Of A Professional Liar

Hi, you may know me as "Chad Nevett", a twenty-year old male from London, Ontario, Canada, but that's a lie. I've been lying through this site and this weekly column for over two years now. Almost everything I've said here has been a lie. As have the other columns. All of them are lies. None of it has been true. "Troy Doney", "Rick Carrion", "Karl Smith", "Andy Shaw" and even "Ian Cobb" are all made up people. None of them actually exist. They are all creations of my friends and I. My real name is Robert Andrews and you have all been had.

Over two years ago, I was talking with a co-worker about the internet and how she had been fooled online by someone claiming to be someone else in a chatroom. She had chatted with this man for several months and they had become very fond of one another and even dabbled in some sexually explicit chats. They decided to meet up at a restaurant, so that they could see if they had the same chemistry in person that they had online. Well, she showed up, but he never did. Near the end of the night, she was told there was a phone call for her and when she took it, she was told by what sounded like a teenage boy that she was a dirty whore and that he was her online Romeo. Needless to say, she was stunned, humiliated and deeply hurt.

I found this story funny though, and eagerly told my friends it later that evening. We all thought it was funny and brilliant, so I decided to do the same kind of thing. Except that I wouldn't just target one person, I would research and build a person that would become real to many people. It was then that "Chad Nevett" was created and I tried my little persona out online. I started writing little columns to help me get to know Chad. I think I wrote around eight before actually going online with him. I got inside him and learned who he was. Then I went online and started posting on message boards as him and soon he grew into a full-fledged person. He had friends and a distinct personality and a history and a life. And I found all of this extremely funny. People are so easily fooled.

Over that summer, as he grew and made friends, I decided to encourage the growth by expanding the site to include another columnist, a Karl Smith. I didn't bother establishing him as strongly, preferring to keep a lower profile with him. And as quickly as I introduced him, I made him disappear. He wrote three columns and then I got rid of him. I loved that.

After that, I also started to really get into the Chad persona, so I began interviewing comic professionals for the fun of it. Little did they know that they were just part of a big joke. And through them, I exposed hundreds of new people to my little private joke.

And if you've been paying attention for a while, I don't really need to detail every little step I took in my little fun. The creation of the other columnists, who came and went as I pleased. False conflicts, and false problems dictating their schedules. Different approaches to the site as far as designs went and content. Making up various stories and scripts and ideas. A lot of fun, really.

But I'm sick of it now. It's boring. I've been doing it for over two years and I'm just tired of doing it. Week after week after week. Keeping up a fake life is tiring, so I'm done. This is it. The end. Thanks for the ride, but Chad Nevett has left the building, folks.

Before I go, I just want to say that you are all a bunch of morons and suckers and I've laughed at you all many, many times. Don't believe everything you read online anymore, jackasses.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Andrews
Great Neck, Long Island
August 2, 2003

The Truth About Robert Andrews

If you didn't figure it out yourself, last week's column was a joke. Satire. Me playing around to make a point. Pretty funny, eh? Heh.

Most people got the joke and most people told me they thought it was funny. Some people got it was a joke, but just thought I was a weird freak. Some other people didn't quite know what to think. And maybe even a person or two believed it. But despite what group anyone fell into, the most consistent and constant question I was asked was "Why?" Why would I write that column? What possessed me to do something like that?

Um, I thought it was funny.

It started the previous night when I was talking to my friend Lauren on the phone. We were talking about the various things we talk about and we got around to talking about the online world. During this, we talked about people who lie online. I told her that while I'm almost always completely open and honest, I think I could probably pull off lying online with great ease because I'm pretty good at remembering all sorts of small details that are needed in any good lie. We debated this back and forth for a while and moved on, but the seeds were planted.

The next day, I went over to the library and I picked up two books on Andy Kaufman. When I came back home, I read the first half of one of them, Andy Kaufman Revealed! Best Friend Tells All by Bob Zmuda. Zmuda was Andy Kaufman's best friend, writer and partner-in-crime for most of the shit Kaufman did. I read all about the various things those two cooked up, like Tony Clifton, Zmuda heckling Kaufman on stage or at press conferences and other pranks that they thought were funny. So, to be honest, I felt a little wound up and inspired by this. Reading about Kaufman, coupled with the discussion I had had with Lauren pretty much got me in the mood to do something very weird and fucked up with my column: pretend that I was someone else who made me up.

Granted, to be 100% honest, that wasn't the only idea I had. I had others that included lying about having cancer or being gay or something like that. I discarded them pretty quickly because they would just be outright mean and cruel with no redeeming points.

And I do think that the column I ended up doing has a point. It wasn't my intention to make people start questioning if online friends are telling the truth, but merely to once again remind people it's a possibility. It's something that I'm very much aware of, but that doesn't stop me from going online and talking to people. But then again, I think a little paranoia is healthy.

Although, I would like to point out that if you believed it, honestly, you aren't that bright. I purposely made the column far more over-the-top than I needed to ust so it would obviously be recognised at the joke it is. Things like claiming to be not only myself, but Karl, Troy, Rick, Andy, and Ian as well was one such thing. Or really just considering the fact that I had written 123 columns previous, maintained a couple of blogs, and wrote a lot of comic-related things should have been another tip-off. Hell, the fact that I had established myself so thoroughly was part of the reason why the idea appealed to me. Someone without my past probably couldn't have gotten away with it so easily.

The best part of the column, honestly, was the aftermath. First there were e-mails from Troy and Rick essentially going "What the fuck?" Then over at a message board I post at, some people didn't react too favourably to it, saying it was "in bad taste." Of course, these reactions just made me laugh a lot.

I had fun doing that column. I wasn't planning on coming clean because I didn't think it would be necessary, actually. That, and since I'm in Chicago right now (well, actually, I'm writing this on Tuesday, so I'm still at home) I was almost going to just not update the site this week and let the ruse go an extra week and then return as if it didn't happen. But I decided against that. Maybe next time I do something like this.

Extra points go to anyone who can explain the false name and location.