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Advice Column July 29, 2003

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Apr 26, 2004

Advice Column for April 26, 2004

I’m back! I guess I didn’t feel like writing advice for a while (I was also traveling). Anyhow, here is a big fat beat-down for all you all “hep nerdz” to bury your honkers in. PS: No word from the consultants yet on when my Technology Corner is gonna run. I guess there were more problems with it than they originally thought.

Thanks chochachos,

Listen to the theme to Ray's Place, by Milwaukee Youth Children's Choir, aka MC Frontalot

Ray, I've been a smoker for about 3 years now, and I'm considering moving up to a classier brand. I've been loyal to the Camel Turkish Golds for a while now, but having tried the Izmir Stinger exotic blends, I realized that there are better things out there cigarette-wise. As it happens, there's a pipe shop in my town which I've entered from time to time, and most recently I noticed that they have Nat Shermans! I remember that you are a fan of this cigarette, and can [you] give any recommendations as to whether they're good, and what kind of Nats I should start off with.
Thanks much, Jon, Urbana, Illinois

Dear Jon,

Look, I’m a smoker. I’m not going to make a bunch of bones about that or act like I am some amazing guy who has amazing rights because he smokes a cigarette. But really, I feel bad about endorsing tobacco products to anyone. I like what I like, but I also casually disallow myself to realize the voluntary risk I’m taking when I light up, know what I’m saying? I won’t ask another person to indulge in this casual disallowance. That is meta-rude.

Where can I get a good bottle of sake here in the US? My local liquor store doesn't stock it. Do I need to find a Japanese supermarket or something?

Also, what's a good brand of sake and how much should I expect to pay? What about Tamanohikari--they have sake.com, but I don't see their name on anyone's "best of" lists.
John, Massachusetts

Hi John,

Yeah, I got to admit I ain’t too much of a Sake guy. Sure, I get either a warm or a cold Sake when I’m goin’ out to a real nice Sushi dinner (not just a regular Sushi dinner, in which case I always get a chilled-up Heineken), but usually the house Sake is fine enough for me. I forget whether warm or cold ones are supposed to be better. Anyhow, last night we actually went out for some Sushi and I got a pretty good Tempura dinner but it came with those crummy little beef ribs that Japanese people think are okay. Man, those ribs suck! Japanese people make crappy ribs. I’m sorry to be racist here, but damn, people! All crappy and chewy with a huge slice of bone? I’m not usually racist, but when it comes to Sushi ribs, I have got to draw the line. I am racist.

In response to a question in your recent column: A fellow named Marco who was living in Holland was confused as to why a lot of British people sign off Emails with "Cheers," he postulated that we are keeping beer next to our computers. While this is not entirely untrue, the fact is that in Britain we use "Cheers" in a variety of situations that have little or nothing to do with booze.

The most common usage is as a substitute for "Thanks," and is normally followed almost automatically by the word "Mate." It is common to say Cheers to the driver as you exit a bus, In Emails this is taken to mean "Thank you for listening to my ravings. I did not intend to upset or bore you."
Cheers - An Englishman.

Dear Englishman,

Ah, I see. “Cheers” is just kind of a general acknowledgement. Cool.

You know how in the grocery store these days they often times got a lotta those self-checkout stations, where you scan each item and bag it yourself? I think it would be cool if, in the future, each time you scanned an item the computer said “cheers!” in a happy British accent. You know, acknowledging that you scanned the item. Man, that would really cook my dog.

I was just reading your column, where you were talking to Marco about the new cool, how it's all about giving proper respect to people by ending your letters formally, with "Regards," or "Respectfully Yours," and I agree, you have put your finger on it. However, if you want to go all the way, how about ending the way old-timey letters did, by including the farewell message as part of a whole sentence. You will see what I am trying to describe once you get to the end of my message. It is proper, but is it so formal that it goes beyond the new cool, into the "new pretentious"? As you read this, I hope you will give honest consideration to,
Your loyal reader,
Adam from Seattle.

Dear Adam,

Damn. I rarely rediscover a piece of etiquette that is hugely poised to make a comeback, but this is definitely one of them. It is completely classy and deserves a lot of attention. My hat is off to you for this bit of classic style. I hope you will also consider, this list that I have made,


  • Handwriting, D’Nealian Method
  • Sun Perch, Angling For and Modest Preparation Of
  • "On The Invigouration of Exercice—A Primer on Morning Exercices of the Spyne and Many Bones" Hon. J.P. Skillings (1827)

—A Loyal Ray.

I was recently browsing through the Achewood t-shirts and all of a sudden realized how mercilessly hot that girl is who models the women's t-shirts. I'm assuming she's a friend of yours or Chris's, so I have to ask: Does everyone have good-looking female friends like that? Why are my friends not particularly attractive, and why?
Sincerely, S

Dear S.,

Those photographs are supplied by the company that makes the garment blanks that are used by the Achewood shop. Coincidentally, though, the women in the photos are some of Chris’s oldest, dearest friends. He was particularly surprised to discover this fact one day when alternately cropping the heads off of the photos and flipping through the pages of his high school yearbook. It warmed his heart and he later travelled to Los Angeles to be with the models and rekindle past friendships. These days he keeps in touch with them through e-mail, and on special occasions he videoconferences with them in a special room at Kinko’s.

It’s really kind of a nice story, one of the best ones of our time. Thanks for asking.

Ray, I was seeing a guy for 5+ years before it ended in a not-so-nice way. I've given myself a little time to recuperate since the breakup, and now I think I'm ready to jump back in the pool. Unfortunately, my playing skills are way rusty after such a long hiatus, and so far things are not going well. I go out to bars and coffeeshops to meet guys, and it never seems to work. Either I go up and try to start a conversation, which leads to my getting shot down or just making a friend for the evening, or I wait for them to come to me, which leads to absolutely nothing. I'm not hideous (though not a knockout either; on a scale of one to ten I'd put myself at an even 5), so I don't know what the problem is. While I'd appreciate any general advice you have on this subject, I do have a more specific question. You're the sort of cool cat I'd like to get to know better; when you go out on the make, what sorts of things does a lady do to get you to consider her?
Really Bad Flirt in New York

Dear Bad Flirt,


I am thinking of buying an inflatable sofa or a giant beanbag for my main TV-watching location (I cannot afford a proper sofa) - any advice on which to choose?
Cheers, Dave

Dude, I don’t have any advice on buying a damn sofa. Come on.

Why are women such lying cheating whores?

Dear Jaded,

Depends on the woman. Some women, such as my mom, are nothing like that. In fact, my mom is a pretty wonderful lady and she only has kindness in her heart.

Anyhow, I am interested in this word “whore.” It’s like, it can only be applied to a woman, but it describes behavior that is common to both sexes. If I had a little more free time I would devote it to a campaign promoting the calling of men Whores and Sluts, and women Assholes and Jerks! How come no one ever describes a woman as an “asshole”? It’s totally hilarious if you do! Try it, people. Share the language. Come on now. Share share.

I'm in the midst of reading a book by Mikhail Bulgakov called "The Master and Margarita." It's translated from Russian and was given to me by a Russian co-worker after I commented that I'd read a lot of Russian literature and no one ever takes a bath, showers, brushes their teeth, changes their clothes, etc. Apparently, someone bathes in the book, but with only 100 pages left, I still haven't come to that part yet.

[However], I was struck by this passage: "sprawled in a relaxed pose on the pouffe that had once belonged to the jeweller's wife was a third creature, namely, a black cat of horrific proportions with a glass of vodka in one paw and in the other a fork on which he had speared a pickled mushroom." It turns out that his name translates to Behemoth, that he can slice off a person's head and deftly reattach it, and he plays chess. He also hangs out with the devil, apparently, who does not seem to be such a bad guy after all.
Best Regards, Pete

Dear Pete,

Palagraszje Grnatchko, the cat you excerpt here, is a big figure in feline literature. He’s as well known as your Sherlock Holmes, but just wanders into and out of stories, usually holding a drink and some sort of vinegary, pickled garnish. Cat literature is a lot different from human literature in that the convention of a character who wanders leisurely between all books is universally shared by our authors. I'll try to recommend some titles for you to check out next week.

Hey Ray, since you seem to be the patron saint of college alcoholism, I was wondering if you'd enlighten me a bit. I recently splurged a bit and got myself some respectable booze for once. I went and got some Irish Cream (love the stuff), Kahlúa, Amaretto and Gin. I plan on getting some whiskey/bourbon, but haven't yet. Can you think of anything else I might wanna get that would go well or round out my selection a bit?

Also, if I'm disposing of a human body, do you think it would be better to like dissolve it in the tub with acid or something from chem lab, or chop it up tiny like and feed it to the pigs in the Ag department?
Thanks Ray, you're there for me, Mr. Fancy Pants, SLO

Dear SLO,

Why did you buy Irish Cream? That’s kind of weird. What do you even do with Irish Cream, anyway? I guess now you’re the advice columnist and I’m just some confused guy who needs information. What *is* Irish Cream, anyways? You’re setting up a pretty weird bar with all the sugary frou-frou drinks. Are you a murder…oh, I get it. You’re one of those weird dudes who has a little murder-bar, full of high-fructose liquors that mask all the strong drugs you spike the drinks with. Well, I for one am not going to help you fill out your murder-bar. Get lost, creep.

You really dropped the ball this time. First, Budweiser?!?! Have you lost the will to live? [Extra question marks omitted here]

Second, Park Slope Brooklyn. About as Italian as Santa Barbara, CA. Here's a few clues, son. Wiseguys in Brooklyn live in Bensonhurst and Sheepshead bay. They don't eat hot dogs, nor does anyone else in Brooklyn except russian mafia types down at Coney Island trying to live the American dream (You'll know them as bald sloped forehead types with black leather jackets, a few missing teeth, and girlfriends with pink go-go boots and a coin slot over their pussies). Here, we all eat pizza, which is called a "slice." Best in the western world. And perhaps more importantly, we say fuck. A lot. It's the universal modifier, ya fuckin' pin head. See how that works? Use it excessively or be confused for a tourist.

All that said, the drink idea sounds appropriate for the nabe's I mentioned. For Park Slope, think a shot of kahlúa in yer latte and you're closer to home...
Heterosexually yours, K.

Dear K.,

Man, I really feel like I got a blast of Atlantic spray with that one! I totally want to talk like you now, all with a big like Phillies or Lobstah’ Sox jersey on. Here, let me try it: “Hey, ya fuckin’ pin head! We ain’t got no team called Lobstah’ Sox, ya pin head! Lobstah’s a fuckin’ wicked dinna’!”

Man, that was fun! I love how you guys talk! Sometimes I wish I had an accent or anything characteristic about the way I speak, but here I am, boring old California Ray. Sometimes I think I’ll never really know what it’s like to have a strong cultural identity...ya fuckin’ pin head!

Ha ha! Haaaaaaaaaaaa [Ray is just smiling and spinning around in lazy circles on his chair now—Ed.]

I just had a hard breakup with the girl I was dating for four years. I have been feeling really low ever since, and I was wondering if you had any advice to help me get over it. Thank you.
Your pal, Shawn

Hey Shawn

Yes it can be very bad to break up with a girl who you were dating

I am sorry that this happened to you.

But you know champ any girl who turns you down is turning down a winning prize

Alright champ now I need you to get back to homeroom 186,

You guys are supposed to make pizzas today.

(it is important that while you read that, you pretend that you are in my office at school, and I have a big white football helmet on that says GUIDANCE COUNSELOR on the side)

* A Gentle Reminder (“Disclaimer”): This is advice from a cartoon cat, and should not be taken seriously. We are not responsible for anything you do based on what Ray says, or otherwise. Do not commit suicide or otherwise interrupt the lives of others. Continue on with your life as though you had never read this column. Erase your browser history. Not for readers under 18 years of age.