Blogger Interview: Bryan Allain

January 15, 2010

Hey everyone! Time for another interview with a great blogger. Today, I’m talking to Bryan Allain, who I met last fall at Catalyst. It was pretty magical. We were both at the Bloggers Meetup, and wouldn’t you know it, we both forgot out SWAG bags. So we both had something to talk about right there, and he turned out to be a really cool guy. I’m feeling pretty inspired to write a romantic comedy about the whole thing.

Anyway, Bryan’s got a ton of stuff to talk about on his blog. He loves Jack Bauer, has a passion for hating cliche’ phrases, and lives among Amish people. So I’m really happy to talk to this guy.
First off, tell us about yourself. Who is Bryan Allain?
I was born and raised in New England, but I’ve been living among the Amish in Lancaster County, PA with my wife Erica for over ten years now. We’ve got two kids Kylie (8) and Parker (7). I’ve got a degree in Chemical Engineering and work in the Pharmaceutical Industry, but my passion is communicating through writing and speaking. I’m 33 years old, a huge sports fan, a big nerd, and someone who desperately wants you to think I’m smart and funny.

I think the words “Chemical Engineer” convinced me you must be smart…or funny. I’m not sure which.

You’ve been blogging for quite a long time. What got you started?
I started blogging back in 2001 before I had ever heard the term ‘blog’ when I ran a website for my favorite band, Caedmon’s Call. My personal blog has been around since 2002, though I didn’t always update it as frequently as I do now. I started blogging for the same reason most people do: I felt like I had a unique take on life and I wanted a place to share it.

I started blogging, because I saw a bunch of angsty teenagers on Xanga talking about their dramatic breakups, and it inspired me…to do the exact opposite.
As for a favorite blog post, I’d probably say my Best of the Ramblings, since it incorporates a few of the funnier things I’ve written over the last eight years.

Is Bryan Allain a stage name you thought up for your blog? It has a nice ring to it.
No, it’s definitely not a stage name. If it was it would be the worst stage name ever. For starters, people are always spelling my first name with an ‘i’, which has bothered me since I got my first trophy in 4th grade (for playing trumpet).

Never got the trumpet trophy, but I have plenty of “participation” ribbons to my name.
And for some reason people have a hard time pronouncing my last name. I get “allen”, “eelaine”, and even “alien”. For the record, it’s pronounced ‘uh-lane’, as in “I drove down a lane”.

If I ever do decide to go with a stage name, I’ll probably use Writer McGee.

“Uh-Lane?” I’m not seeing it. Are you sure it’s not supposed to be “Olla-in?” If I came up with a stage name, I’d probably go with “Max Power.”

Who do you find to be the funniest people, or the best kind of humor?
I think the funniest things, and the funniest people, in life are always full of truth. If someone is manufacturing situations or circumstances to try and make a joke, it’s usually not going to make me laugh. We love Seinfeld episodes because these are real reactions to situations. I also like Jim Gaffigan, Simon Rich, Jon Acuff, Tyler Stanton, and Susan Isaacs for the same reason. I’m never thinking to myself “is this real?” or “why does this feel like a stretch?” Their stuff is believable and ridiculous at the same time.

You’re also in the process of attempting to get a book published. Is trying to write and publish a book as fun as everyone says it is?
The book is a memoir that covers my life from 4th grade through college. The working title right now is The Mercy Rules: Finding Faith, Hope, and Love in the Strikeouts of a Little League Life and features every embarrassing story from my youth that I could think of and a few of the lessons I learned along the way.

That’s a pretty amazing title. Maybe I can help you come up with an even longer title, and you could just continue it on the inside flap…
Writing a book is hard, and I’m only halfway there. You have to go in realizing that there’s no guarantee what you’re creating is going to be any good. You just have to trust that there’s a reason you feel compelled to do this and that everyone who has told you they enjoy your writing wasn’t being paid off by your mom.

I don’t think I would call it “fun” but I can tell you that the mornings when I know I’m going to write are the morning I have no problem getting out of bed. There’s a satisfaction I find in it that is deeper and more rewarding than plain old “fun.”

With two of your favorite posts being about Jack Bauer, it seems you’re a fan of the show, and have impeccible taste. Of all the seasons, which character were you most relieved to see get the axe? Which character death saddened you the most?
I don’t believe anyone has ever died on 24. Even if their body was cut up into pieces, run through a meat grinder, and dumped at sea, there’s still a chance they can resurface next season. That being said, I was very sad when Edgar died. Unlike most people on that show, he seemed worthy of living a long, terrorist-free life.

He did die right? Or was he the one who ran off with Jack’s daughter and got caught in a radioactive cougar trap that was on a minefield in a mexican prison?

Poor pudgy lispy Edgar’s death was the worst day of my life. I was looking forward to “Rudy” getting axed, but then he died a hero (a real, non-tiny-football-player hero) and made me respect him…a little.

Are you friends with any other bloggers we might know?
I love how I didn’t even have to try and sneak my namedropping into this interview, you just asked me for it. Derek Webb and Cliff Young are friends who don’t blog, but I love name dropping them. Matthew Paul Turner and I once spoke for 7 uninterrupted minutes at a blogger meet-up. Jason Boyett and I have never met, but he’s on my Christmas Card list. Donald Miller is a friend of mine who blogs, as is Susan Isaacs. Jon Acuff and I had a great time hanging out together for 2 days at Catalyst. And I’ve stayed at Tyler Stanton’s house, so we’re basically almost best friends.

Your namedropping skillz are impressive. I have literally met five bloggers in person, including you, and I don’t feel worthy to send anyone Christmas cards. Missouri isn’t exactly People-You-Want-To-Namedrop-Central. Maybe if I hosted a giant blogger slumber party at my house…
Do all these connections make me as cool as these people? I wish. Go read their blogs and get to know them. I’m lucky to call them friends.

Your business card points out that you only tan your arms. While most of us can’t really pull off the “farmer tan,” how do you achieve such desirable results?
Oh believe me, I try to avoid it. My friend Katy took pictures of me for some cards I had created, and I couldn’t get over how dark my arms looked compared to my neck in the one photo. Instead of trying to hide it, I decided to make fun of myself…

Avoid? Make fun? No, you’re arms are impressive and manly!
Speaking of impressive arms, what preacher would you most like to arm wrestle?
Arm wrestling is terrible for your joints. That’s what I always tell people who want to arm wrestle me. And let’s face it, there’s nothing fun about arm wrestling. It’s a miserable game.

If you want to arm wrestle me, clearly all you want to know is “Am I stronger than Bryan?” Well how about I save us both the stress fracture and we just say that you are? Would that make you feel better? Yeah, I thought so.

All that being said, I know I would totally get owned by Joyce Meyer.

For more from the well-tanned, but puny weak-jointed arms of Bryan Alien, go to his blog Bryan Allain.