My, how time flies.  It occurred to me this afternoon that I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I must have a blog anniversary coming up.  So I went into the WordPress control panel to check.  As it turns out, the anniversary of my first blog post is …

Five days ago.  I forgot my own anniversary.  I’m very upset with myself for not caring enough about my anniversary to write it down or put in my Outlook calendar, so I’m ordering myself to sleep on the TV-room sofa tonight.  (My tenth wedding anniversary is coming up this summer … I’d really better not forget that one.)

So here I am, scrambling around looking for a suitable anniversary present, kind of like the guy who rushes into 7-11, praying they sell roses and some nice chocolates.  If I’d been thinking ahead of time, I would’ve asked someone like Jimmy Moore to conduct an anniversary interview.  It’s a bit late for that, so I’m going with the 7-11 present:  I’m going to interview myself.  Here goes:

There are approximately a trillion blogs on the internet now, with another two trillion expected to come online in the next 10 years –  although the Congressional Budget Office insists on estimating the figure at 984 billion.  Why, for Pete’s sake, did you think the world needed one more blog?

It was my wife’s idea.

Uh-huh.  Could you maybe expand on that a bit?

Sure.  We had a FatHead-Movie.com site set up a little while before the film was released, but it was static … pretty much just a brochure of sorts for the film.  I was completely burnt out after producing the film and didn’t want to look at anything having to do with health or nutrition for awhile.  Then I made the mistake of reading some health articles online and started getting angry all over again at how much bad information is out there. 

I’d read about some awful study and yell, “Honey, look at what a load of nonsense this is!” and then explain the nonsense in great detail.  She’d say, “That’s very interesting.  Maybe you should write some of this down.”  Later I’d read about a city passing a law requiring calorie counts on fast-food menus and explain to her, in great detail, why those laws are stupid and don’t work anyway.  She’d say, “Good points.  Maybe you should write them down.”  Then I’d see Meme Roth interviewed on TV and explain to my wife, in great detail, why Meme Roth has no idea what she’s talking about, and my wife would say, “I’m trying to sleep!  Go downstairs and start a blog already!”  So I did.

Sounds like a terrific lady.

She is.  Very supportive.

So you started the Fat Head blog.  Did you have any specific plans for it, any particular point of view?

The film was a mix of factual information and humor, so I decided I should try to recreate that on the blog, make it my niche.  Jimmy Moore already does the regular-guy thing very well, along with the podcasts and YouTube bits.  I’m not afraid to do research or pick apart a study, but I’m not in the same league with Dr. Mike Eades or Stephen Guyenet or Peter at Hyperlipid when it comes to evaluating the science.  So with my background as a comedian and humor writer, I thought the wise-guy approach would work well for me.

Did you have any fears about starting a blog?

Yup.  I was afraid by the third or fourth month, I’d have to put up a post that said:  I’ve officially run out of things to say.  Thanks for reading.  Goodbye.

But that hasn’t happened.

No, it’s been the opposite.  My favorite topics are bad science, bad reporting, and stupid regulations, and the people in charge keep supplying me with material.  Readers send me links all the time too.

Your normal schedule is to post on Mondays and Thursdays.  How did you settle on that schedule?

I think originally it had something to do with which nights the good TV shows were on, but I don’t remember exactly.  I chose twice per week because I’m still a software programmer and I don’t have time to write every day, but I wanted to commit to a schedule that would put some pressure on me.  Plus, I figured if I just pop off once in a blue moon, when the mood strikes me, people won’t be coming around very often.

So, how’s that pressure working?

It works, and I’m glad I’m writing for print again.  I did some freelancing in my 20s, sold some humor bits to Newsweek, OMNI, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times.  Then I got into standup in my 30s, moved to Hollywood when I was almost 40, got married, had kids, did some plays, did some sketch shows, performed on cruise ships, then finally made Fat Head.  When I started this blog, I realized I hadn’t written anything for print in almost 20 years.

This isn’t print.

No, but people are reading the words instead of listening to me talking.  What’s funny in print and what’s funny to hear spoken aloud aren’t the same thing.  They’re two different styles.  I found that out the hard way when I first started trying standup comedy.

Speaking of styles, you seem to use a lot of these in your posts:  …

Ellipses?

Yes.  Sorry, I didn’t know the word.

Well, yes, I use those.  That’s sort of a timing thing.  It’s a bit like a pregnant pause when you’re speaking.  Sometimes it’s for comedic effect, as in:  Take my wife … please.  If you just write:  Take my wife, please  … well, that’s not funny.

How long does it take you to put together a typical post?

It varies wildly.  I’ve always been a fast writer, so that helps.  I was the guy who could bang out a paper in a day in college.  But sometimes I spend hours looking up information online, trying to cross-reference articles or find some particular piece of data.  If I know my topic and I’ve got the information handy, I’d say it’s 2-3 hours to write a post.

When do you feel really good about a post?  What makes you sit back and say, I like this one?

I’m happy when I can take an ordinary topic and make it amusing, or take a complicated topic and explain it simply so people get it.  My college physics professor could’ve explained physics to a six-year-old, I swear.  I always admired that about him. 

Do have any particular favorites among your posts?

Hmmm … the one on pouring saturated fat down the drain was fun.  Jane Brody’s adventure trying to lower her cholesterol was fun.  Becoming French to avoid heart disease was fun.  Going after Meme Roth is always fun because she’s so stupendously annoying.

If you could meet Meme Roth, what you say to her?

I’d try to explain the concepts of energy balance and homeostasis, which she obviously doesn’t understand.  Then I’d look for some physical trait I could zero in on and criticize to make her feel insecure and unacceptable.  Fair is fair.

What’s been the best thing about blogging?

Probably feeling a sense of community, even though I’m doing this from a desk in my home office.  I don’t even have co-workers, except for when my wife does graphics and web stuff for me.  But by the time I go to bed at night, I’d swear I’ve spent part of the day talking to people.

And these conversations with imaginary friends don’t concern your wife?

No.  Plus I’ve made real friends.  By the time I actually met people like Jimmy Moore and Amy Dungan and Fred Hahn in person, I felt as if I already knew them.  Which, in a sense, I did.

What’s the worst part of blogging?

Dealing with WordPress.  It’s an okay blogging environment, but putting up graphics and links and editing and formatting text in a little window can get tedious.

I’ve noticed you get some totally inappropriate Google ads showing up now and then.  Ads for cholesterol-lowering diets, Dr. Oz’s programs, lap-band surgery — people and products you criticize.

Yeah, but that’s all Google’s software placing the ads.  I don’t pick ‘em.

How’s Google working out financially?

I don’t want to talk about it.

Then why did I even ask me the question?

I don’t know.   Maybe you secretly wish you were on 60 Minutes.

So what are your future plans?  Anything besides blogging?  Another film?

I won’t do another film unless someone else bankrolls it, but I’m putting together some lectures.  I don’t do much standup anymore, but if I can take what I’ve learned about health and nutrition and mix it up with some humor, I think that will be just as much fun.

Thank you for sitting down with me for this interview.

My pleasure.  Now get out of my chair.

Thanks to all of you who supported the film and read this blog.  Happy blogiversary.

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39 Responses to “Blogiversary”
  1. Mary says:

    You crack me up.

    The heath stuff is fun too.

    :-P

    And laughing makes us healthy, so it’s a double dose.

  2. epistemocrat says:

    Happy Blogiversary, Tom!

    To many more …

    Cheers,

    Brent

    Thanks, Brent.

  3. shutchings says:

    I really did lol. :) Thank you.

    Thank you, too.

  4. Carl @ HCW says:

    Don’t you think calling your wife “honey” is a bit slanderous, knowing the evils of sugar? Maybe it would be more appropriate to call her Mayonnaise, or Lard. ;)

    I’ll see how she feels about being called Lard.

  5. Carl @ HCW says:

    By the way, you are using a REALLY old version of WordPress, and it should be upgraded ASAP. Not only did they significantly improve the interface (making it much easier to use, and more robust) some major security flaws were fixed as well.

    I’ll look into it. My fear is that I’ll upgrade and everything will go POOF!

  6. Carl @ HCW says:

    Yup just make sure to backup your database and files first. WordPress has been very good about not breaking after upgrading for me, and I’ve been using it on various sites for a very long time. Also look into an automatic backup plugin, I like this one:

    http://www.wordpressbackup.org/

    It will automatically upload all your data and files to Amazon S3, where it will cost only pennies to store pretty much forever.

    For a blog as important as this, I think it would be prudent to do this. Since you’re a smart guy I’m sure it will be easy to do all this :)

    For a few bucks, I’ll absolutely back it up. I’ll give this a shot after I catch up on some othe projects.

  7. Kate says:

    Nice post. Happy blogiversary.
    Instead of ‘Lard’ try ‘Splenda’. No that’s artificial, but definitely not Lard or you won’t be having a 10th.

    I often refer to her as “Ducky,” which is both sugar-free and a primal food. (Insert joke here …)

  8. Debbie says:

    Happy Anniversary Tom! I love your blog. A good dose of humor always brightens up the day, and when it’s humor mixed with great information it’s a win-win.

    Thanks, Debbie.

  9. Bruce says:

    I look forward to your columns. Yes, I’m old enough to still refer to them that way. I remember when a Sunday Chicago Trib required a lifting belt to get it into the house. Blog sounds like something you would do after a looooong Saturday night.

    Keep up the GREAT work

    I think I did blog after a few nights in Wrigleyville. If you remember those old Tribs, you remember when Mike Royko banged out five columns per week … how’s that for an amazing writer?

  10. Jimmy Moore says:

    Doin’ it bloggie-styled, Tom! YOU GO BOY! I’m so proud of your progress as a blogger and I’m honored to call you friend. Here’s to MANY MORE blogiversaries. :D

    Thanks, Jimmy, and thanks for encouraging me to go for it when I asked you about it more than a year ago.

  11. Amy Dungan says:

    Great interview Tom! You really dug in there and asked the hard hitting questions… and you didn’t make yourself cry. I’m impressed!

    Thanks for all you do Tom! I’ve enjoyed your blog immensely.

    I did make myself cry, but I edited out that part.

  12. Awww! Happy Blogiversary!

    I’m so glad that you’re here doing it and that I found you! <3

  13. PS: you could call your wife Butter and pronounce it like Mike Myers doing Linda Richman on Coffee Talk: “buttah”.

    That would open soooo many doors for humour around the house …

    ;)

    Butter sounds more like a pet name than Lard.

  14. Ray Sawhill says:

    Great stuff, and congrats on the anniversary.

    BTW, if you’re ever considering changing website/blogging platforms, think about Squarespace.com. I use it, and find it 1) easier, 2) and much more versatile than WordPress. Plus Squarespace hosts the site, and their service is tremendous. I have no idea why Squarespace isn’t far better known than it is.

    Thanks, Ray. I may look into another platform later, but for now I suppose I should at least upgrade WordPress.

  15. Dave B. says:

    Been a reader since it started, and it’s one of my favorites. Loved the movie too.

    “Later I’d read about a city passing a law requiring calorie counts on fast-food menus and explain to her, in great detail, why those laws are stupid and don’t work anyway”

    I believe calorie counts on menus (and even vending machines) is part the newly passed “healthcare” bill.

    http://www.justnews.com/health/22928352/detail.html

    That figures.

  16. Tina says:

    Just wanted to chime in with another Happy Blogiversary Tom!

    Thanks, Tina.

  17. Phyllis Mueller says:

    Happy blogiversary, Tom! And many more. I always look forward to reading your posts.

    Does anyone know why the link to Dr. A’s blog (Comfort Eater’s Diet) no longer works?

    I’m not sure. If it doesn’t come back, guess I’ll get rid of the link.

  18. April says:

    Congrats, Tom! This is one of my top 3 favorite blogs to read!

    I also like to use ellipses as well. I can’t really pinpoint why…

    I think I picked it up from my standup days. Pausing is very important in comedy.

  19. Here’s a potential “next project” for you, Tom.

    Someone needs to write a funny book about the whole weight-loss industry/endeavor. People take is so seriously. Put yourself in Stephen Colbert’s shoes, and start writing.

    [I know he has a whole team of comics writing for him.]

    Or P.J. O’Rourke’s style.

    It’s just a matter of time before someone does it. Why not you?

    -Steve

    Gary Taubes suggested exactly that idea to a book editor. He figured my sense of humor would attract the larger audience. Nothing so far, but who knows?

  20. Happy Blogiversary, Tom!!
    I always look forward to your next post! That’s the secret to your success with elipses… always keeps us wanting more!

    Well … can’t argue with that.

  21. Sue says:

    Happy Blogiversary Tom! I so appreciate your blog! Your blog site and Jimmy’s, I think, are the ones I first bookmarked. I had just learned how to bookmark at that time. Your blog is a pure pleasure to read. I most enjoy the fact that I can usually understand what you are talking about and I really enjoy the style that you write with.

    Thank you Tom, and please keep posting. :>)

    Thanks, Sue. I’m not quitting anytime soon.

  22. Matt Stone says:

    You’ll make another movie if someone else bankrolls it? Sweet! I’ve got a jar with $126 in it. When it gets big enough, I’ll let you know.

    We start production in 2065, maybe?

  23. Melissa says:

    Happy Blogiversary!
    Here’s to many more blog entries (particularly like the ones on MeMe Roth!)

    I like those too. I like writing when I’m peeved; gets the juices flowing.

  24. Sudda Sudda says:

    HERZLICHEN GLÜCKWUNSCH ZUM BLOG-GEBURTSTAG AUS DEUTSCHLAND!

    Sudda

    Danke.

  25. Elenor says:

    Happy Blogiversary, Tom! My present to you is to let you know that your two blogs, Dr Mike Eades’ two blogs, and Jimmie Moore’s (one) blog are the only ones in my RSS reader (except for my own web client’s site). I start every morning looking for you — even before I check my own email. You’re one of my very few heros!

    That’s a nice gift, Elenor. Thanks.

  26. Katie says:

    Happy Blogiversary!

    Today is the deadline for submitting public comments for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Taskforce on Childhood Obesity. I would encourage anyone who understands how misguided the food pyramid is to submit comments. I know the chances of our view succeeding now may not be that great, but at least we can get our viewpoint in the public record!! You can do so by going to regulations dot gov, and the first news item in the upper left has a link that will take you to where you can comment on the issue.

    Be nice if we could get through to her, but since the health care bill includes requirements for calorie counts on menus, I’d say they’re still stuck on stupid.

  27. Auntie M says:

    Happy Blogiversary! In honor of your special day, I just ordered two more copies of Fat Head, since I lent mine out and haven’t gotten it back. I’ll lend one to my mother, and I hope she and my dad will watch it and learn something.

    I post links to your blogs on my Facebook page fairly often, and I’ve gotten a few friends to read your stuff, though I don’t know whether some of them appreciate your functioning brain. I just love how you can take a complicated topic and iron it out so I can stop arguing with someone, and just send them to your clean, simple, and logical explanation. You’ve helped me bring a little light into a dim brain more than once. Thanks for that.

    I love ellipses, too…..
    It’s not a forbidden love…..right?

    It’s the love that dare not speak its name. Ordering more copies of the film is a perfect gift. Thanks.

  28. Thom Brogan says:

    Happy Bloggiversary, Tom!

    I’d have a margarita in your honor, but since that’d involve sugar, it’ll be shots of Cuervo in your honor. Don’t worry, I’ll move up to Padron or Souza when the funds allow…

    Andrew from CarbSmart made us some sugar-free margaritas on the cruise. Good stuff. But a shot will do for now.

  29. Kim Eidson says:

    Tom, it just goes to show that behind every successful man is…

    a fabulous woman telling him “Go start a blog already!”.

    Your blogiversary coincidentally coincides with my first blog post. Wooo HOOOO!

    Then I’ll tip a drink in your direction.

  30. Ailu says:

    Congrats Tom! You are in my top 5 blogs that I access every day. Funny, I never noticed you had a schedule for posting. But I did kinda notice whenever I started feeling withdrawal symptoms, by golly, you’d post just in time. Seems I’ve replaced my refined carb addiction with something much more entertaining. ;-)

    I mostly stick to the schedule; had to skip a few.

  31. Anne says:

    Loved your movie and always look forward to your posts. Happy anniversary!

    Thanks, Anne.

  32. Shelley says:

    Happy 1st blog birthday! This is the only blog I regularly read and I love it. My favourite blog entry is “What if Mechanics and Nutritionists Switched Jobs”. It’s a brilliant analogy and cracks me up every time I read it. How fun it would be to get Meme Roth’s ‘informed’ comment on that one!

    Anyway, congrats, and here’s to another fine year (-:

    That one got tweeted a gazillion times, so I guess it was a crowd favorite. Thanks.

  33. Kate says:

    Woo hoo! Thanks for starting your blogs. Enjoy!

    Thanks, Kate.

  34. Gita says:

    I read your blog weekly and LOVE it! It is informative and humorous…what more could one ask for? Keep up the good work and congrats on your one year anniversary.

    Thank you.

  35. Lazar says:

    Thanks for this great, informative, witty blog !

    Thanks for reading.

  36. Big Jay says:

    I would love to see you write about this one.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/28/fatty.foods.brain/index.html?hpt=C1

    That one does pique my curiosity. I’ll look into it. I’m struck immediately by cheesecake and frosting being labeled as high-fat foods. Usually just a wee bit of sugar in those as well.

  37. Felix says:

    Congratulations!

  38. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, Tom, and I thank you very much for this gift! Happy Blogiversary to you.

    :)

    Thank you and welcome aboard.

  39. Wanda says:

    Happy blogiversary! I had actually never read a blog before yours came online… I actually was counting the days until Fat Head released on DVD. So I guess you really are No.1!
    Cheers!

    Flattered to know I was your first. Cheers to you.

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