Seriously, What the Hell

Over on Facebook, friends of mine from high school are taking pictures of this bumper sticker, which they allege to be finding out there in the world. The quote comes from something I said on the Alien Encounters TV show, about how even if we find out that aliens exist, we’re sooner or later going to have to get back to our lives, up to and including taking out the trash. So far four or five of them have posted the bumper sticker.

I have to say I’m suspicious about this. The quote is kind of random, I’m not anywhere near famous enough to warrant a bumper sticker, and this is exactly the sort of brain-messery that friends of mine would engage in; specifically, this is the sort of thing my friend Norm Carnick would likely mastermind, because apparently he’s got a lot of free time. The telling detail for me is that as far as I can recall it’s only high school friends and acquaintances that have reported seeing the thing.

All of which is to say I AM ON TO YOU MY HIGH SCHOOL SO-CALLED FRIENDS AND I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE BWA HA HA HA HAH HA unless of course these bumper stickers really do exist non-affiliated to my high school chums, in which case, seriously, what the Hell. I’m definitely not getting a percentage of the profits. I find the picture amusing, however.

Edit, 7:32am: The plot thickens. On eBay!

59 Comments on “Seriously, What the Hell”

  1. coo1b1ue – Vermont – I'm a software engineer within the aerospace industry as well as a father of four (mostly) grown children, one of which served in Iraq (OIF2) as a combat medic.
    coo1b1ue

    These bumper stickers are on cars all over Vermont. Mostly Subarus?

  2. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    changterhune

    Heh heh heh.

  3. I’ve been seeing them all over since the beginning of the year. There’s a “Leaf” that has one that I usually see on the way to work.

  4. crotchetyoldfan – The Crotchety Old Fan is Steve Davidson, also know as Rimworlder on many SF forums. Steve maintains the Rim Worlds Concordance project which is devoted to the works of A. Bertram Chandler and his most enduring character - Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve. Grimes is science fiction’s original ‘Horatio Hornblower of Space’. More information about Chandler, Grimes and the Rim Worlds can be found at www.rimworlds.com. Steve also maintains a visual index of volume 1, number 1 pulp science fiction magazines on the same website and is a devoted collector of the same. ‘I’m an ‘old’ SF fan, which you can take whichever way you like, as I love the old masters (Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, E.F. Russell, Piper, Cordwainer Smith) and I’m well beyond the age you’re not supposed to trust anymore’. This blog is devoted to an investigation of the growing divide between ‘old’ - or ‘classic’ science fiction and the moderan literary genre that is currently sold under the same name. Steve has also begun writing reviews for www.SFReader.com, expects to be doing the same for www.SFSignal.com, and is contributing various non-fiction pieces to various other websites, all of them concerned with science fiction of one stripe or another. Early in 2008 he became completely disappointed with the SciFi Channel and created The Classic Science Fiction Channel website that gathers links to public domain radio, television, film and literary properties. Steve had a successful non-fiction writing career - writing articles and books dealing primarily with the paintball industry (Four books and several hundred articles including editorializing, product reviews, sports reporting, educational and more) - which he has since given up in favor of blogging and fiction. (Leaving the paintball industry after 25 years.) One final book on this subjected is scheduled to be released in early 2009 (A Parent's Guide To Paintball). Current work on fiction includes several completed novellettes/novellas curently in submission hell and various chapters of three novels. Freely distributed current work - including several chapters of a science fiction/paintball novel and a pulp/comic book/fairy tale mashup can be found on his website.
    crotchetyoldfan

    There’s a big clue in the photo you ran: see that hand print to the left? Someone just applied that bumper sticker and took a pic just to send to you.

    Which means to me that the bumper sticker DOES exist – probably in limited distribution amongst your HS friends who have AVERY bumper sticker sticker sheets for their laser printers.

    Tell your friends I want one – but they shouldn’t charge anything because I can make it up for free myself.

    John – you are a public figure, right? (LOL)

  5. So, you’re on TWO bumper stickers. I suspect that counts as genuine fame in our culture. I mean, you’re on *cars* dude. ;-)

  6. From the eBay page:

    Paul might be dead, but Scalzi’s quotes live forever

    Who is Paul? And does Scalzi have an alibi?

  7. pennlynn – I'm just me, and I'm also someone who has been cursed by being born with a facial difference and I struggle with this every day!! I'm hoping those who find this blog will be apart of my journey as I go though this life.
    pennlynn

    OMG too funny!!
    Haven’t seen any up here in Canada but I may purchase that to start the invasion!!

  8. I read this thread right after the previous one, so now I feel as if the actual, real-world Mallet of Loving Correction should be inscribed with the phrase, “…and I still need to take out the trash.”

  9. I agree that the quote is kind of random, but I think you underestimate your own fame. You’re plenty famous enough to warrant at least a bumper sticker, esp. given how cheap bumper stickers are to make these days (on the other hand, 7 bids and the current bid is only sixty-three cents? WTF!?). Of course, I don’t know your HS chums, so I can’t judge their brain-messery proclivities. ;-)

  10. Look, if this bumper sticker wasn’t all over a whole bunch of cars before, it will be now. You’ve created the problem you were trying to say doesn’t exist. I’m sure there’s some sort of meta sci-fi way to interpret that?

  11. I thought that looked like you. I didn’t get close enough to make out the words, but I saw one yesterday on I-35 here in Austin. Of course, this town is full of weirdos, so it’s probably a friend of one of your friends trying to mess with your head.

  12. The e-bay bid is now up to $1.25.

    The unaddressed question , though, is: is there a better John Scalzi quotation to put on a bumper sticker?

  13. crotchetyoldfan, you beat me to it. That is a very very clean bumper sticker on a not very clean car, so whatever (heh) its provenance, the bumper sticker was spanky new when the photo was taken.

    Do all your high school friends and acquaintances live in New York, John? Or are they claiming to see this BS (bumper sticker) in other states on other cars? Even that would be easy enough to do, as crotchetyoldfan suggested, so further photo proof wouldn’t necessarily help. And now that you’ve revealed it to the world, anyone who reads the blog could gin one up, slap it on a car, and post evidence that they saw it in Dubuque or Miami or wherever.

    Given the data so far, I’m leaning toward prank as the genesis.

  14. Cat Rambo – World Fantasy and Nebula-nominated speculative fiction writer/editor. Current President of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Founder of the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. I read and write a lot.
    Cat Rambo

    I’ve got one on my fridge now! *cackle*

  15. @nobodobodon: I also live in Austin and haven’t seen one yet, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout. (And I have a space where such a bumper sticker could go — conveniently, on my bumper — should anyone care to point me to a vendor of same.)

  16. James – I’d vote for “Your hate may will be deleted” although “I AM ON TO YOU MY HIGH SCHOOL SO-CALLED FRIENDS” warms my coal black heart

  17. Nicholas Condon: YES! Hmm … John’s coming to Cambridge as part of the Redshirts book tour.

    John, I’m asking this for no particular reason :) … do you own an actual, physical Mallet of Loving Correction?

  18. Rachel Creager Ireland – The Flint Hills, Kansas – Author, Flight of Unknown Birds: Poems about the Wildness and the Weirdness Within, and Post Rock Limestone Caryatids; mom, wife, massage therapist, human. In perpetual state of decluttering.
    Rachel Creager Ireland

    Which of your friends would overlook the detail that there should be an ellipse between the quote marks and the word “and?” Other than that, a fine bumper sticker I’d love to have, and I haven’t even read any of your books. (Yet.)

  19. Then as you get your revenge, as you haul them out of the room to whatever fate awaits them, you can yell “Time to take out the trash!”

  20. pennlynn – I'm just me, and I'm also someone who has been cursed by being born with a facial difference and I struggle with this every day!! I'm hoping those who find this blog will be apart of my journey as I go though this life.
    pennlynn

    OMG it’s up to $26!! somone is going to be rich… hehehehe

  21. Just saw one (on a Nissan, not a Subaru) in Headingley, Yorkshire – how the hell did it get over here?

  22. Yes, why wasn’t the picture of JS accompanied by a simulated strip of bacon with “BACON CAR” printed upon it? Or perhaps “No, you idiots, I said I would tape bacon on the CAT!”

  23. I was all set to bid on the eBay auction and then show up Saturday at the Nebula event and embarrass you with it by showing it to Connie Willis, Haldeman, et. al. ask you to sign it, but the seller cannot ensure delivery by then. Shucks. I was prepared to drop an egregious amount of money on that auction.

  24. Yes, I know the bacon cat thing is old and tired and not the thing John would like to be (or should be) remembered for best, but it is a meme for the ages, forever in his name.

    I frankly prefer the Scalzi who writes such thoughtful pieces as the SWM one of yesterday–and then follows it up with the deletions post today. Luckily, I don’t have to choose among the facets of Scalzi. I can get them all right here.

  25. $31 as of this morning & my grad students are circulating your post on white male privilege as a teaching tool. Do these phenomena indicate that you’re at a tipping point?

  26. I hear they’re doing a brisk trade with the image in tattoo parlors in West Palm Beach. But nobody has seen them displayed in public. Go figure…

  27. @Lint, Good one. I like “Your Hate Mail Will be Deleted” even better.

    Hmm, Your Hate Mail Will be Graded is a great pithy statement, but I’m not sure what it means to put it on a car. I don’t really get hate mail.

    Perhaps “Your road rage will be judged for style & originality” might make a good sticker, but it wouldn’t be a Scalzi quote anymore.

  28. I hate to tell you this, John, but I saw one in Tacoma. Parked in front of a medical marijuana dispensary. Do you have any HS buddies in the Pacific Northwest with glacoma?

  29. Well, you hit Memeorandum today, which is how I got here. Provacative posts will do that! Congrats.

    I just stopped by becuase I am “Whatever Works” so feel compelled to congratulate on your blog name.

  30. Which is why I quit facebook some odd 5 years ago. I don’t have anything in common with the folks I hanged out with then….and I really don’t want to reconnect. I mean I did like them, probably would still some of them, but that was then and this is now.

    But then again, I’m not famousish, either ;), so now they can’t track me down no how.

  31. Now THAT’S what I call White Male Privilege. I wonder which is worse, taking it out on a nightly basis or taking it to the curb on a weekly. Which I got to do this morning ……

  32. President John Scalzi will be a contestant next season on ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ I read it somewhere, though there may have been some confusion with a Spider Robinson book.

  33. Haha this is rather humorous! Came across your site via a link to the “straight white male” post, on which I will hold my (constructive) opinion since you closed comments on that thread! Funny stuff, particularly in the comments section.

    I think it’s referring to Paul McCartney (whose status as living or dead is still debated by some strange folks out there).

  34. “OMG it’s up to $26!! somone is going to be rich… hehehehe”

    The question we must ask ourselves is: “Does Scalzi have an eBay account and has he been bidding up the price?”

  35. Up to $40 now,and the ‘questions for the seller’ are starting to look like a ‘Whatever’ comment string…

  36. For the benefit of friends of Scalzi (as well as his loyal fans…who probably like John more than his friends do) here is a summary of the bumper sticker (and why I hope you don’t bid on it on eBay):

    I’ve known John a long time (1984?). Honestly think he is one of the few people I know who always brings joy to any gathering and feel lucky to know him.

    The bumper sticker idea came out of watching a show on the Science Channel (http://science.discovery.com/tv/are-we-alone/alien-encounters.html). I was expecting to see John. Waited 20 minutes through it (not that the show was bad…so I shouldn’t complain) for John to show up. Then finally my buddy is on TV with a quote that went something like “The Universe has fundamentally changed, and I still need to take out the trash.” Then John disappears. He shows up later in part 1 and does a great job. Really, I think his personality (I know, I sound like the Japanese actress on the original Iron Chef) comes through. If you don’t know him, he defines amiable and has an energy that likely will demand he gets stuck doing more of these things. In any event, picture me giggling at home in front of a TV thinking “Did John just suck me into watching this show when he is only on for one quote?” Sure I assumed we would see more of him but in the next few minutes of the show I kept thinking “what if that’s it?”

    I decided to turn it into a bumper magnet and pretend it was going viral. I wanted to get this done before April Fools Day (or at least before John’s Birthday) but the magnets took longer than hoped to get done. John’s friends were extremely helpful. For example, this launched with Cat Rambo (someone I’ve never met) and she was delightful to work with.

    The first 3 who helped got magnets. My final magnet I kept to take more photos and post on eBay (through another friend). (btw…that is not my handprint on the car…but I did have to remove my reflection from from the shot…still, good guess above on it being a magnet, really existing, and being moved from car to car).

    I’m truly happy John didn’t sue anyone over this (yet).

    With respect to the eBay listing…wtf? The intention was to post it, have friends ask the seller (again, not me) weird questions. In the end I would buy it off of the seller for far more than it was worth (decided $15 was my cap) and we could point John to eBay as a source of the stickers. However, John figured out it I was behind this before the listing ended. I called him up and ratted myself out via his voicemail. We chatted latter and I thought that was the end of this thing. Nope. The listing is now over $60 with 3+ hours left. I’m honestly not happy with this as I think people are paying too much for this. However, I’ll do what I can to document for the winner that this is one of 4 stickers made, what they were made for, and how this one was likely the one used for most of the photos. If that means something for a fan, great. For others though…this is just a really cheap bumper magnet…don’t bid on it. Again, I’ll do all I can to document it well and ship it to you immediately but this is a remarkably bad purchase as I see it.

    If curious, I make nothing off of the sale of this magnet. To get my friend to list it I promised I would ship it immediately, pay for the shipping, and he could keep the eBay sales for helping me out. I’m not positive what John Scalzi thinks of the practical joke (hopefully he found it benign and moderately funny) but my friend from our fantasy football league is loving this.

    btw…facebook ipo joke above is funny.

  37. Also, I do want to be 100% clear…John Scalzi had nothing to do with the joke. Not that any had claimed this (other than me in bs facebook responses) but the magnet is not some form of marketing for Scalzi, any new books, or his new fragrance (“bacon et chat” designed by the great and remarkably stunning Yosh Han – http://www.eaudeyosh.com/).

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