Category Archives: Humor

21 Ways to Make the Average Human Fall in Love with You

Translated from Vonnadorian by Matt Haig, Author of The Humans


If you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself on the mediocre planet known to its inhabitants as Earth, then I recommend that you fall in love. Love is just about the only thing that makes life on Earth bearable for more than, say, fifteen minutes.

Here are some ways to make a human fall in love with you.

  1. Be incredibly good looking. Humans are quite superficial, so being very physically attractive (by human standards) is a major asset.
  2. Be incredibly rich. See point 1.
  3. Be incredibly famous. See points 1 and 2.
  4. Sing songs in the key of G. This seems to work.
  5. Take a human to a restaurant, and buy them food, and listen to them talk about themselves for at least three hours.
  6. Act like you care.
  7. Don’t yodel. Yodeling generally doesn’t help.
  8. Generally, on Earth, quadratic equations and vertex configuration does not have the same erotic effect as it does on Vonnadoria.
  9. Alcohol seems to help, though.
  10. Try and hide the fact that your body has functions for as long as possible.
  11. Do not touch your own, or anyone else’s sexual organs too early. This can have disastrous consequences.
  12. Do not correct their grammar.
  13. Conceal your scent, and your body, and most of your intentions.
  14. If someone has accidentally fallen from a high place, catch them and save their life.
  15. Show them a sunset. Or the ocean. Or a clear night sky. The universe is always your greatest seduction aid.
  16. Don’t turn into your natural state. If a human ever sees your natural state they will probably cry, and vomit, and then go insane.
  17. Lie. At all times lie.
  18. Take them to the Hotel de Russie in Rome. (Trust me, it works).
  19. Make them laugh. Though on Earth, humor is very different. For instance, few people laugh at unusual polygons.
  20. Give them flowers. Flowers are reproductive organs. However, giving other types of reproductive organs-such as the testicles of a grizzly bear-does not have the same effect.
  21. Be a mirror. Metaphorically. Reflect the self they want to see. And then they will want to stand in front of you forever.


The first time my daughter told me she hated me, I bought her a cake

Going to bed that night, I decided I wanted to make certain that my daughter knew that no matter what happened between us — no matter what she said — that our relationship could not be so easily shattered.

By Sarah Eyre

 The best cake I’ve ever purchased, hands down.

Two summers ago, my daughter crossed a milestone: She told me she hated me for the first time.

She was 15 years old — nearly 16 — and we were arguing about her boyfriend at the time. He’s still a minor, so I’m not going to use his real name. I asked Kiddo for a substitute, but all her suggestions were unfit for print. I’m going to call him “Dick”, because it’s a name, and it’s the closest to the names that Kiddo chose for him. It’s all about compromise, right?

So we were arguing about Dick, who really was a dick, although my daughter didn’t know it at the time, and the argument wasn’t going well.

We aren’t a shouting-match sort of family, but things got out of hand and culminated with my daughter storming out the door, shouting, “You’re a fucking bitch, I hate you!” She ran up the street to her best friend’s house, leaving the gate and my jaw hanging in her wake.

It’s one of those major leaps, like cutting teeth or taking your first steps: Her Very First “I Hate You.” At 15, we were probably overdue, but she’d never said those words to either of us before.

My husband and I stood in the kitchen and tried to decide what to do next. He advised we let her calm down at her friend’s house for a while; I worried that my angry, crying teenager would be imposing on someone else’s hospitality. A few hours later, he went and retrieved her, and she spent the rest of the evening hiding in her room.

The big question that my husband Sam and I kept pushing back and forth was, “What comes next?” What do you do after your kid tells you they hate you? We wound up feeling that it was more of an assertion of independence than something that warranted discipline, but that doesn’t mean that we knew what the next step should be.

Growing up, I always felt that my relationship with my mother could be shattered at any moment. I walked on eggshells for most of my childhood, and eventually I tried outright rebellion in the hopes of just getting it over with, because eggshells are so, so exhausting.

Eventually, I went back to eggshells for a while — for as long as I could stand it — until I stopped speaking to her in my mid-teens. It turned out that unless I stayed within my mother’s very carefully drawn parameters, our relationship really was easily broken.

I have modeled many pieces of my parenting style on not becoming my mother. It isn’t ideal, I know, but it seems to have worked for us. The evening after my daughter told me she hated me, I decided to regard this first as a milestone, and not to accord it overmuch negative importance. It happens.

Going to bed that night, I decided I wanted to make certain that my daughter knew that no matter what happened between us — no matter what she said — that our relationship could not be so easily shattered. I wanted it clearly stated that nothing as small as an argument and some heated words — even angry words like, “I hate you” — could damage us.

I woke up the next morning and called SugarBakers, the fancy wedding cake place nearby. If you’re going to celebrate, you might as well go big, right?

“I need to buy a cake today,” I said. “and I’d like it to read, ‘You’re a fucking bitch, and I hate you,’ please.”

There was silence on the other end.

“Hello?” I asked.

“You’re serious?” they asked.

“Yes. Would you need a deposit? I’d need it for this afternoon.”

There was a pause. “The cakes we have ready in the case aren’t big enough for that.”

“Oh. OK. I guess just, ‘I hate you!’ would be good enough.”

When I went to pick up the cake, most of the staff came out to see if it was a prank. I laughed, explained nothing, paid and left.

Behold, the magic powers of the Hatecake!

Handing the cake to Kiddo after lunch that afternoon was incredibly healing; it dispelled the last remaining bits of uneasiness from the day before and instantly set the two of us back on our old footing. We laughed, took pictures, and ate: it was as though nothing had ever happened, because really, while it was a milestone, by the age of 15 it was just one of so many others.

We joke about it today: I call it my Bitch Mitzvah, and my phone reminds me of Hatecake Day every year. She has yet to tell me she hates me since, but if she did, it would be okay. She wouldn’t get another cake — we explained that, as well as my reasoning for getting the cake in the first place very clearly at the time — but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

That’s what being her mother is about: There isn’t an end to this thing.


A hymn to the organist

By Ysenda Maxtone Graham

Ten reasons why I love them

Some people swoon over film stars. I swoon over organists. Good organists, that is, not bad organists. Bad organists I refer to as ‘dominant males’, because the only two chords they play are the tonic and the dominant. Good organists are upholders of some of the highest musical expertise in the land. When you hear the stops being pulled out for the voluntary on Easter Sunday (will it be Bach? Will it be Widor?), spot the organist, and see if you experience a frisson. Here are ten reasons for my partiality.

The muscle at the far edge of the palm of each hand. (The one giving strength to the little finger.) It’s amazingly strong. I’m much more interested in this muscle in a man than in his abdominals or, worse still, his biceps. This palm-muscle is a sign of decades of chord-playing. Not just semi-breves, but breves, and not just triads but massive multi-noted chords with double-sharps in them, dreamed up by some composer in a church in Paris in 1922, who was improvising at the time and possibly blind.

The letters after his name. (Or her name. I admit that my swoons tend to be brought on by the males of the breed, but female organists are just as swoon-worthy if you happen to be that way inclined. There are fewer females than males because the organ attracts obsessive, train-spotting, Munro-climbing types.) ARCO (Associate of the Royal College of Organists; half a swoon). FRCO (Fellow; total swoon). To be an FRCO you need to be an unbelievably good musician. You can be given any piece to play and transpose the whole thing up or down a semitone. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BWV 532 is your best friend; you can play Frank Martin’s Passacaille in D Sharp Minor before breakfast with your eyes closed. You can sight-read absolutely anything. You can improvise for ten minutes on the theme from Z Cars, making it sound like a Victorian funeral march one minute and a Renaissance roundelay the next.

The incredible feat of playing with two hands and two feet at the same time. The fugue’s theme starts in the right hand. Five flats. That’s hard enough. Then it starts in the left hand. Getting complicated. Then, of all things, it starts on the pedals. Then it develops. Then you have to do a decrescendo with the swell pedal. The organist’s brain has to compartmentalise each limb.

The slight social unease. Though the instrument they play is deafeningly loud, organists tend to be quiet people, not at their best at parties. Many wear glasses, seeing no reason to bother with contact lenses. They tend to be pale and to burn easily in the sun. They have spent thousands of hours — decades, in fact, from the age of 11 onwards — shut away, mastering pedal parts, and they emerge blinking into the daylight, hair unwashed, flummoxed by small talk. But when they do talk, they’re worth listening to.

The organ shoes. Some people think these look fey, but I love them. They have quite high heels, black felt on the soles, and elegant tapered toes. If an organist has his own organ loft, the shoes live up there, waiting to be put on. The young, loftless student carries his shoes around with him.

The loft. An organist’s loft is his castle. You’ll find his stubby pencil, his old college scarf, a postcard he’s been sent depicting the organ of St Bavo’s Grote Kerk in Haarlem, a small mascot (perhaps a bear), his beloved old copy of Bach’s Orgelbüchlein which he was given for his 13th birthday, the notebook in which he scribbles down the stops which need looking at next time the tuner comes, the strict instructions for visiting organists: ‘Please leave the swell box OPEN.’

Their modesty. ‘Ours is a hidden life,’ a nun once said to me; and an organist might say the same. How different from the virtuoso pianist, who plays the third encore after a standing ovation in the Festival Hall and drinks in the adulation. The organist is destined to be heard but not seen, like a Radio 3 presenter. Sometimes he’s not even heard. Before weddings, he plays sublime music for half an hour, to which no one listens because they’re all chatting in the pews. He doesn’t mind. He gives the occasional recital, but it’s at lunchtime, free of charge, sparsely attended, and encore-less.

The fact that they have to conduct choirs. This duty comes as a shock to the student organist who has never told anyone to do anything in his life, and dislikes crowds. If he wins an organ scholarship to an Oxbridge college, or becomes an assistant organist at a cathedral, he’ll be expected to tell 20 flirtatious choral scholars or 20 giggling choristers to pipe down and not make that same mistake again on page 3 of Howells’s ‘Like as the Hart’. Some prove rather good at this; some never master the art.

The way they all know each other. If you mention a good organist to any other good organist, he or she has always heard of him or her. ‘Oh, yes, I knew him when he was at Southwell, and then he was at Westminster Abbey for a while.’ ‘Yes, he’s a good friend, actually. We first knew each other at Truro.’ ‘Oh, yes, I knew her when she was the organ scholar at Peterborough.’ It’s a fascinatingly small world. I don’t think pianists all know each other like this. French horn players do, perhaps.

The way they bring on their young. As the mother of a budding organist, I’m enchanted by the kindness and encouragement. There’s a summer school called Oundle for Organists, directed by Robert Quinney (Westminster Abbey; has just recorded Bach’s Trio Sonatas; swoon), and there, when you deposit your son or daughter for a week in July, you come across a collective noun of young organists who will relish every moment of the week’s tuition with the course’s tutors. At the end of the week, many students will be awarded their own recitals: the best abstract going-home present ever, bringing on hundreds more hours in the organ loft over the coming months. And so the great organ-playing tradition goes on, carried down to the next generation.