Posts Tagged: How To

How to Write

I teach a Popular Criticism class to MFA students. I don't actually have an MFA, but I am a professional, full-time writer who has been in this business for almost two decades, and I've written for a wide range of impressive print and online publications, the names of which you will hear and think, "Oh fuck, she's the real deal." Because I am the real deal. I tell my students that a lot, like when they interrupt me or roll their eyes at something I say because they're young and only listen when old hippies are digressing about Gilles Deleuze's notions of high capitalism's infantilizing commodifications or some such horse [...]


How to Deal with Enormous Dying Bugs in Your Apartment

In which we give advice to newcomers to New York City.

From time to time, you may see enormous critters of the roach-like variety, particularly on the floor, on their backs, with their legs in the air. (Bug porno!) If they're scuttling around or, worse, flying, just leave the apartment for a while. This on-their-back thing generally means that your building has had an exterminator visit and/or it's rained really hard! Your new bug friend is dying. :(

1. The discovery is the grossest part. You may be moved to panic! Don't. You can wait this out. One of two things will happen: it'll either die, or it'll crawl [...]


For Man's Benefit: A Woman Explains How to Throw a Dinner Party

The proliferation of celebrity chefs on TV has produced a general tizz around the idea of having people over to dinner, because the constant sight of all that fancy cooking is liable to induce feelings of inadequacy in nearly anyone. But consider that even when suave Euros like, say, Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver are trying to be all chummy and show you how easy everything is, that breezy insouciance is owing to the fact that none of them ever washes a dish, forgets where the grater is, or runs out of wineglasses and/or money. More to the point, if they accidentally incinerate something, they get to do [...]


Yeah, That Thing About How To Roll Up Your Pants?

"'As cropped pants have become such a style, this is an easy way to get around shortening your pants by three inches,' said Josh Peskowitz, the style editor of, who had rolled up his pants that very morning. 'It's noncommittal.'" -CAN'T EVEN DEAL.


Choose Your Own Adventure: The Blog Post

It's 4 p.m. on a long Monday. Of course you could get some work done, but your boss is elsewhere, you've got a headache from trying to cut back on caffeine, and it's drizzly outside. Plus they stole an hour of sleep from you over the weekend! Meaning: you'd rather just cruise the net, floating on a raft of hyperlinkage toward that horizon of informational numbness. But before you can say "choking on the pen cap you were absently chewing," a perfectly outrageous blog post title loads in your browser, begging for-or perhaps openly provoking-your attention.

Do you… ignore the inflammatory headline and continue surfing?

Or immediately register [...]


How to Cook a Latke

Here's how not to cook a latke: Buy them from Russ & Daughters where the "homemade potato latkes" are $2.99 each, or 10 for $25. TEN LATKES FOR $25? Are you high? Do you know what is in a latke? Also, a reheated latke is a bad latke. Fact! So here, have a seat-no, over there, by the menorah. Have a piece of gelt. Make yourself comfortable.


Fundamentalist Macaroni and Cheese

This is the recipe for macaroni and cheese. It is the only recipe there is for macaroni and cheese. Here is what goes into it:

1. macaroni

2. cheese.

It does also include butter and milk. Think of them as more cheese.


John McPhee: "Who Could Tell What Might Happen?"

Why write about anything? In the print edition of today's New Yorker, John McPhee discusses rambling and thrashing his way into profile-writing.


How to Fucking Vote

It's the first Tuesday in November, so you know what that means? That's right: it's time to fucking vote.

There will be no whining about not making any real difference, like that bullshit Freakonomics piece argued, or the weather, or the complete dearth of respectable candidates. This is your duty as an American. And being guilted into voting is what it means to be American. You do consider yourself an American, don't you?


How to Cook the Ideal Fourth Date Meal

The first thing that's going to strike her is the aroma. Your place will be filled with a deep, warm, earthy, intoxicating scent, and it will be so palpable that she'll want to hug it. This is where you'll want to interpose yourself, and a glass of Albariño.

This is how a fourth date should begin.

As the poet once said, "the way to make a friend into a lovah is to cook them up a dinner." And the time to make a friend into a lover is the fourth date.


A Handy Guide: Notes Toward A Genre Movement

I know you're bursting with assorted creative juices, but let's face it: your masterpiece is likely to end up on a garbage barge where not even famished seagulls will peck at its fearless yet wholly inedible vision of this world we call ‘real.' Why? Because you tried to go it alone! Nobody who tackled their craft with brains and passion and monastic discipline, aspiring to be the lone inventor of something splendidly next, ever got further than, like, the theory of relativity. So just stop thinking outside the box-that is no path to glory in the year 20now. Instead, think inside another box that hasn't been assembled yet.


Video as Publishing: This Is How We Do It

A fan of Old Jews Telling Jokes once sent us an email saying he loved the videos but he couldn't figure out how to print them out and needed our help. How adorably incorrect! Laughter, long sigh. But deep down, this fan's sentiment is not entirely ridiculous.* A lot of what we see on the Internet is digital publication; usually we can print it out. This notion underlies my grand unified theory of Internet video: treat it like publishing, not film or television, and this will become a viable industry.


A Call To Big Arms

A study entitled The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and its Environmental Impact found that we waste 1,400 calories per person per day which is enough food to sustain a very thin or small or old person or a regular biggish man-person if two people team up and waste food together. This is insane given the USDA's report that one-in-seven Americans did not have access to enough food last year. This sort of information, like the Times telling us that "many numbers of people use food stamps now: sadface," doesn't stay in my head because math is hard like reading books and shoplifting candy is [...]


Stop Being a Wuss: How To Make Pie Crusts the Easy Way

Today's Dining section brings a roundup of holiday dinner recipes for you wussbags who are too lazy or scared to make desserts with crusts. "Is it Thanksgiving if there is no traditional pie with a traditional filling and a crust that the cook obviously fussed and worried over?" asks Florence Fabrikant. The answer is obviously: NO, YOU HORRIBLE MONSTER, IT IS NOT. Are you one of those wimps who is afraid of a pie crust? Here, I will tell you everything you need to know right now, you whiny little girl. Yes, that is a picture of an apple pie that I whipped up the other week in about [...]


The Sneaky Way to Construct a Novel

All abrim with dewy naiveté, I started by setting up two bins. (Metaphorical bins. They were really Word documents.)

One bin had to do with mood. I threw into it everything that felt the way I wanted The Magician King to feel. It didn’t matter if it all fit together, I just threw it in. I’d connect the dots later. The second bin had to do with the book’s actual plot. There were certain sorts of things that I wanted to have happen in the new book, certain scenes I knew I wanted to write…. Once the bins were full, I had a pretty good idea of the [...]


Case Studies in Successful Self-Publishing: "To Slow Down the Time"

To Slow Down The Time is an illustrated collection of short stories, written by Matthew Allard. Each of the stories was inspired by an illustration by Ian Dingman, who works widely as a professional illustrator and as a fine artist. The book was produced in two editions. The first was a hand-bound limited edition of 100 books, priced at $35 each. That edition sold out in a week, and a paperback print-on-demand edition was created.


How I Fought Bedbugs And Won

It started with three little red dots, an Orion's belt on my arm. "Spider bites," I told myself. But out of curiosity, I asked my roommate whether she had any bites too.

"Oh yeah, a bunch, actually," she said, and proceeded to show me clusters of bites on her stomach, arms and legs.

"Why haven't you said anything until now?!" I asked.

"They don't itch, I didn't think they were anything to worry about," she said. If there's a hall of fame for famous last words, this probably deserves a spot on the wall. What ensued were weeks of largely sleepless nights punctuated by nightmares galore, and blood, [...]


Oh, You're Traveling To New Zealand To Apologize To A School Of Salmon? Perhaps I Could Be Of Some Assistance.

Did you read the article in the Times this weekend about the Winneman Wintu, the native American tribe from northern California who are traveling to New Zealand to apologize to salmon? If not, do. Here's this: "As the Winnemem see it, the tribe's troubles began in early 1940s, with the completion of the Shasta Dam, which blocked the Sacramento River and cut off the lower McCloud River, obstructing seasonal salmon runs, and according to the tribe, breaking a covenant with the fish.

'We're going to atone for allowing them to build that dam,' said Mark Franco, the tribe's headman. 'We should have fought harder.'"


How to Shovel Fucking Snow

There has been a lot of talk of snow on this blog of late. And while I know most New Yorkers don't shovel a flake of snow, many in D.C. and other locales own are underwater on condos, houses and town-homes. Also, maybe some newly underemployed i-banker is now the super of your building and needs to know how to shovel fucking snow. Anyway, knowing how to shovel snow is a useful skill. I have shoveled literal shit-tons of snow in my life so here's how.

First, chug a fucking glass of red wine.


Did You Already Mess Up Thanksgiving Week?

Doh, here's some good advice about how to deal with this week that we forgot to give you yesterday. Sorry! Hope you figured it out! "Tuesday Night: Have sex with your spouse. Your family is getting in on Wednesday night and nobody is getting laid with in-laws in the other room. Unless you miss the kind of quiet and terrified sex you used to not do very much of in high school, Wednesday night is a non-starter. Sitting on your couch Thursday night while a small petting zoo rests in your stomach doesn't make anybody feel sexy either. And it's not going to get better over the weekend."