Top Ten Unpublished Articles of 2011

By Tao Lin

Here are ten articles I worked on in 2011 that are in various stages of completion and currently unpublished. I’ve ordered them, to some degree, by my current level of interest (least to most). Below the excerpts (from what I have) of each, I’ve included brief commentary: “estimated percent complete,” “chance of publication in 2012.” These were mostly worked on with intention to publish at Thought Catalog.


10. HOW TO BE AN 80-SOMETHING

Be perpetually "musty." Your acne is gone, your face has wrinkled and changed colors, your body is something that remains always unseen. Ingest omega-3 vitamins three times a day with mineral water and do a "safe" version of Pilates almost every day; you'll still be 82 or 86 and think of yourself as "morbidly elderly." When you finally attempt "real" Pilates one afternoon under the supervision of a twenty-something hired off Craigslist you´ll actually break both your legs and fracture your skull. Enjoy your OxyCodone prescription with a recklessness you never fully adopted as a twenty-something, believing then that you wanted to improve, physically and mentally, into your 30s and 40s and 50s, which you did (you actually really did).

COMMENTARY: Line-by-line rewrite of “How to be a 20-Something”
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 35%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 3%


9. TOP 10 PEOPLE WHO SHOULD UNSUCCESSFULLY ATTEMPT TO CANCEL THEIR BOINGO ACCOUNTS FOR MORE THAN 4 HOURS ONE AFTERNOON

Boingo is a $9.95/month subscription service for wireless internet in airports and other places. The first Google result for “how to cancel boingo” is an article titled "Plan on Spending Hours to Cancel Your Boingo Account.”

COMMENTARY: Felt less interest after I was able to cancel my Boingo account in ~10 minutes
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 2%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 2%

 

8. HOW TO STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR LIFE

Do not think in terms of "have to" or "need to." You literally do not "have to" go to work, respond to someone's email, or clean the bathtub. View what you are about to do as what you "want to" do. If you are unable to view something you are about to do as what you "want to" do, then don't do it. Why would you have dinner with your co-worker if you don't want to? If your answer is "because my co-workers will think I'm weird if I don't" then you "want to" have dinner with your co-worker because you want your co-workers to think you're normal. It isn't required that your co-workers not think you're weird. If you fall off a building you "have to" move in a downward manner, due to gravity, that can be calculated in an equation. The other physical laws of the universe are also required. Nothing else is required.

COMMENTARY: Feel like this could get “mad hits” but I don’t like its tone
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 40%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 2%

 

7. TOP 5 FISH JESSE EISENBERG SHOULD HAVE UNEXPECTEDLY CAUGHT AS AN 8-YEAR-OLD WHILE FISHING WITH HIS DAD OFF A PIER AT COCOA BEACH

WHALE SHARK

Jesse Eisenberg should be standing in place with a bored expression, thinking vaguely about gummi bears, when his fishing rod "flies" into the ocean. He should walk to his dad, about 30 feet away, and say he "accidentally dropped" his fishing rod into the ocean, feeling that because his dad earlier dropped his ice cream cone and didn't buy another, but actually scraped off the area with sand on it (they were on the beach) this wouldn't anger his dad and also would be satisfying in some complex manner. His dad should weakly question him, saying things like "were you holding it beyond the rail?" and "did you..." and feel confused but allow himself to forget the confusion, already beginning to practice what to say to his wife when he and Jesse get home: "Someone stepped on Jesse's rod and it broke in half, so we threw it away. Disposed of it. The reel was rusty, I noticed, which can be dangerous, so we just threw that away also." He should realize that Jesse might have a conflicting story and, feeling unable to discern a solution, allow himself to "luxuriate" in weakly debating if he and Jesse should stop at Arby's, Wendy's, or Burger King on the way home.

COMMENTARY: Have felt small urges to write an entire novel about Jesse Eisenberg in this style/tone
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 30%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 6%

 

6. HOW TO NOT COMPLETE AN ARTICLE

At some point in the next hour, while looking so far back in the archives of io9 that you're reading about movies whose sequels are available on DVD, realize you're not at all doing what you would want yourself to be doing if you were controlling yourself from a future perspective. Allow this realization, and its resulting sensation—a low-level, continuous sensation (of what could be conventionally described as "regret") that seems to have no effect on you—to somehow exist in you as a calming presence as you click Twitter things in an 80% arbitrary manner for an unknown amount of time until you realize you're staring at "answer emails" on your Gmail "tasks" list, honestly unsure if you should delete it, aware you answered at least one email earlier. Suddenly realize you somehow haven't looked at Facebook since returning to your room. Look at Facebook ~35 minutes, Twitter ~5 minutes, Tumblr ~15 minutes.

COMMENTARY: Spans 11:45 AM to past midnight
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 85%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 35%

 

5. HOW TO IMPROVISE A META-READING

Read the first sentence without thinking anything except maybe that you're currently reading the first sentence of "How To Improvise A Meta-Reading" to an audience that is probably confused and now also self-conscious. When you begin reading the second sentence feel a mild fear that you won't know what to say for the later parts of the second sentence because you haven't been thinking about what to say, only what you're currently saying, and still haven't begun to think about what you're going to say, though at this point you feel certain something will be said even if you don't think about what to say since you can say anything and the audience will feel like you've successfully fulfilled the expectations created by the title of this piece.

COMMENTARY: Typed first draft on a MacBook in the passenger seat of a moving car
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 75%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 25%

 

4. TOP 10 BLEAKEST ANIMALS

EARTHWORM

COMMENTARY: Only have “EARTHWORM” currently, feel high levels of interest in there being a completed version of this but have felt hindered from working on it because what to include seems strongly dependant on my mood and in certain moods I feel like any animal could/should be included
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: .1%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 10%

 

3. TOP 10 ARTICLES TO GENERATE “MAD HITS” FOR YOUR ONLINE MAGAZINE

"Top 10 Sexiest, Hard-Drug-Using Prostitutes Under 20 and Homeless With Rich Parents That Are Actively Searching For Them"

Article would be presented on ten pages of increasing sexiness. Each page would feature a single photograph of the selected prostitute, an "information box" containing Suicide Girls-esque statistics about the prostitute (height, weight, favorite movies/music/drugs, etc.), a Paper magazine-esque "beautiful people" profile of the prostitute, and—below all this—the same setup and information, with decreasing comprehensiveness, for the prostitute's mother, father, siblings.

COMMENTARY: Other articles include "American Apparel Paid Me $40,000 to Abort Dov Charney’s Triplets," "My 16-Month-Old Daughter Needs Botox and Adderall,” “Confirmed Penis-Lengths (Erect) of 194 A-List Celebrities,” “200,000,000 Photographs of ‘Shit-Faced’ Celebrities”
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 85%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 30%

 

2. SPECIFIC EFFECTS OF PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS

The Onion becomes “utterly unfunny” and actually almost "grim." One feels distrustful of its articles, turning the pages slowly, with a sensation of "wariness." When one sees an advertisement one feels comforted and focuses attention there, discerning it as a kind of "safe zone." 

Village Voice seems reliably "hilarious," no matter what area of what page one is looking at. Advertisement for a Don Delillo reading seems like an intense, "hilarious," unbelievably powerful non sequitur.

COMMENTARY: Slso have drafts of “Specific Effects of LSD” and “Specific Effects of MDMA”
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 20%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 20%

 

1. TOP 10 MOST TWEE ANIMALS

OCEAN SUNFISH

Often overlooked as a twee animal due to its rarity and initial unseemliness, the Ocean Sunfish has experienced a resurgence in recent years as higher quality photographs of it have surfaced on the internet. Today it's viewed, by most people, as "bluntly twee." 

COMMENTARY: In the style/tone of “Top 10 Worst Fruits To Get Blowjobs From”
ESTIMATED PERCENT COMPLETE: 5%
CHANCE OF PUBLICATION IN 2012: 35%

@tao_lin

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