Alex Mathews

Alex Mathews – writer, bared naked dude blah blah blah

10 Last Laughs: Weird Wills and Strange Legacies

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For some reason, the other night I was thinking about death. Of course I always do that. Sometimes it’s just because I’m afraid of dying, sometimes it’s because I’m fantasizing about someone close to me dying. I think maybe this time it’s because my Rich Uncle keeps reminding me that I will need to care for his cats in the event of his demise. And also, the internet likes lists, and I am always looking for ideas that can be synthesized into a handy list. I don’t have much regard for lists in this particular iteration, and I really hate being a slave to the mechanisms of SEO, but I have to improve my rankings for the whole making money, platform-building thing.

“Stop being so self-conscious about the modality and write about your subject matter. Get to the point. The internet people can’t parse all those trains of thought.”

“Yes, you are right, but that hurts my feelings.”

“Your sensitivity is what attracts readers to you.”

“Fuck you.”

Death is always looming. When people die, especially when they have a lot of shit to give away, they can call from the grave to their loved ones because they know their loved ones want their stuff. Almost like they still have a hand in the world of the living. I will certainly want to control these people after I go, so I totally get why writing a will is critical. I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the weird and funny things people have done from the grave. Unfortunately, the title of this post has to have the appeal for the internet people, so all the good titles can’t really be used. Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. I have great admiration for people who have a great sense of humor, but when you’re breathing and getting boozed up it’s fairly easy to do. When you’re dead it’s much more admirable. Charles Vance Millar, a wealthy Canadian lawyer, gave a Jamaican vacation home to three people he knew hated each other. He was better known for offering half a million dollars to the woman who could birth the most children. The frenzy to breed for money was known as the “Great Stork Derby,” and four women split the money, each with nine children to feed.

  2. Dead people are not immune from being sad and pathetic, either. A woman named Audrey Knauer left her $300,000 estate to actor Charles Bronson, leaving her family nothing. Perhaps even more astounding is the fact that Bronson accepted half of the bequest despite the stipulation in her will that what he did not take would go to charity. He must have felt like it was his due, because of all that testosterone and celebrity and whatnot.

  3. Death can also offer an opportunity to stand for principles you hold dear, even if they are morally unconscionable. T.M. Zink left his daughter the sum of $5, zero to his wife, and established a trust to build The Womanless Library, where no books by women could be shelved, no references to women were permitted, and no artwork or furniture designed by women could reside. Clearly he had a bad time of things with the ladies in his life.

  4. Solomon Sandborn demanded that the skin from his body be stripped from his corpse to fashion two drums, and these were to be given to his friend Warren Simpson, who would somehow play “Yankee Doodle” on his flesh drums at Bunker Hill every 17th of June to commemorate the Revolutionary war battle fought there. I can only imagine the sort of friendship these two guys had.

  5. Samuel Bratt left this world with a grievance with his wife, who clearly nagged him about his smoking, for he left her £333,000 under the condition that she smoked five cigars a day. I hope he got his point across.

  6. Jeremy Bentham left his entire estate to the London Hospital under the condition that his corpse be preserved and allowed to attend the hospital’s board meetings. His body sits in a glass-enclosed cabinet in the Committee Room, where the minutes always reflect that he is ‘present but not voting.’

  7. Most people are aware of the estate valued at 139 million Deutschmarks that Countess Karlotta Liebenstein left to her German Shepherds, who would enjoy a higher standard of living than basically anyone in East Germany. There are many well known wills and testaments that leave assets to animals, which leads me to believe the deceased in these cases had very little grasp on life while they were here.

  8. Leona Helmsley seemed to recover from her failed fortune and imprisonment for tax evasion, because she was able to leave $12 million dollars to her Maltese. Incidentally, she left nothing to two of her grandchildren, and two others were given a few million dollars only if they visited their father’s grave once a year. This opens up the idea of morbid reflection in so many ways. Her estate was valued in the billions of dollars, and after the dog and grandchildren were taken care of, the rest was to go to the cause of canine welfare. I would like to know why, after that infusion of cash, there are any dogs on the entire planet who suffer at all. I am fairly confident that problem should be taken care of by now.

  9. German poet Heinrich Heine left his estate to his wife, but the condition was that she remarry to ensure that “there would be at least one man to regret my death.”

  10. An Irishman, in his will, stated “To my wife, I leave her lover, and the knowledge that I was not the fool she thought me; to my son I leave the pleasure of earning a living. For 20 years he thought the pleasure was mine; he was mistaken.”

It may be true you can’t take it with you, but you can certainly try to screw with people when you go. If I were practicing family law, my call to action would be right here.

 

Tucker Max School Of Entrepreneurism

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I discovered Tucker Max a few years ago when I read I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Later I found it had been made into a movie, which didn’t make any sense to me because it wasn’t exactly a plotted sort of novel. Most of the time when I watch a movie I basically get pissed off that such drivel comes to the screen and it makes me feel the agitation that whatever I am working on is not going to hit the screen or the bookstores, while this mindless, uneducated trash is going to hit the NYT bestseller list and then get made into a movie. That is like my dream. I can come up with mindless, uneducated trash. No problem. Aim high, Nana always said. In fact, my internal dialog is mainly just a pitch meeting. Always. Ok, so a virgin guy with awkward social skills visits his aunt in Des Moines, where her car wash is under threat of foreclosure, and these horrible developers want the land, and these smokin’ hot neighbor chicks volunteer to help raise the money to save the car wash by getting really soapy and wet. And the nerdy guy gets laid. I must confess that this is usually the extent of my ability to conceive of a plot. If I haven’t seen it in a B-movie already, it’s likely I can’t conceive of anything original. But you know, human drama is always the same story told over and over. Sometimes you cook meth to reclaim your life, and sometimes you hold a bikini car wash. Sometimes you need to dispose of a body.

I won’t say Tucker Max is uneducated or necessarily mindless, because he is intelligent and hilarious. And his writing is comfortable. He is a misogynist with a heart of gold, and who doesn’t love that? I personally like midget sex, and Tucker is unashamed about it. I was nearly moved to tears to see the photo of him holding the hand of the midget he bedded in his second book, Assholes Finish First. So cute. But perhaps you aren’t turned on by a guy who gets drunk and uses poor young girls to feed what you might call his low sense of self-esteem masquerading as sexual prowess. That’s ok, because this guy is also a case study in success, and perhaps in the relative merits of being brutally honest and unashamed. He was turned down by every major publisher he queried. Not 499 out of 500, but like 1,000 out of 1,000. So he did what any self-respecting failure does. He took matters into his own hands. He started a blog back when it was still a novel idea—and not every mommy and internet marketer had taken to the web like cockroaches to pour out their impoverished souls—and he built a following by giving away his work for free, and then the publishers came knocking. Sure, it’s not Walter White kind of empowerment, but it’s something. And of course, that is why all these words here on my blog are totally free.

Which brings me to today’s idea (borrowed from Seth Grodin), which is that if you don’t start, you can’t fail. If you don’t actually rent the Winnebago and buy all the precursor, there will be no blue meth. I am mostly doing this to remind myself of this fact, and that failure isn’t as bad as never trying in the first place. Carpe Diem. I personally have the photos of the midget to prove it.

 

Wisdom From Cookies – 10 Things To Save Your Life

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So much talk about doing. The internet is chock full of people offering advice in lovely step-by-step formats. Apparently, the internet loves lists. 10 ways to fuck better. 10 things to do to improve your abs/sex life/bank account/marriage/divorce. 10 sites to bookmark. 10 stocks to buy/sell this year. 10 careers you never thought of. Of course, I use the internet to find out how other people do things. I especially use it to find out how people do things I don’t know how to do. Change a screen door. Make $100,000 in six months. Find a book agent. Write a query letter. Apparently, the 10 ways to fill in the blank is the best format to gain clicks and impart wisdom. I read recently in some post about the 10 ways to build a platform (the social cred kind, not one made of wood) that if you tell people shit you read on a fortune cookie, they will repeat it as though it was a quote from the Dalai Lama. Instant social marketing. Awesome.

So, in an effort to basically whore myself in an experiment (after all, if I’m only experimenting at being a whore it’s not like really being one, right?), I am going to offer the finest wisdom that can be printed on the two-inch strip of paper stuffed into a folded piece of tough dough that makes your mouth dry and mealy. You have to eat the cookie or the lottery numbers won’t hit. You did know that, right? So, here you go. Soak this shit in. Then retweet for your own social clout on the Twitter. And follow me, too. I am @alexsmathews. I tried a naked photo of myself to see if that would garner followers, but it didn’t work. I think it might be because I have no abs. Note-to-self: must read ’10 ways to beef up that six-pack.’

Ok, ready?

  1. Conquer your fears or they will conquer you.
  2. Your true love will show himself under the moonlight (In my case, I really hope that isn’t going to happen, homophobe that I am).
  3. Do not be covered in sadness or be fooled by happiness. They must both exist.
  4. There are no limitations to the human mind except those you acknowledge.
  5. You have an unusual equipment for success, use it properly (consider a photo with this one).
  6. If you never give up on love, it will never give up on you.
  7. It is never too late, just as it is never too early.
  8. Stop thinking about the road not taken and pave over the one you did.
  9. If you speak honestly, everyone will listen.
  10. Generosity will repay itself sooner than you imagine.

Ok, now go viral.

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