December 2009 Archives

Doodle of the Week

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I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say "No"

The other day I attended a class designed to expand my mind and make me a better businessman.  It was titled "How To Effectively Communicate The Fact That You Don't Know How to Communicate Effectively" or something like that.

While it was sort of New Age, touchy-feely, our instructor seemed like a nice enough lady.  For the first half hour, all she did was talk about how we do virtually none of our communicating via words, but rather almost all of what we tell others comes from our tone, facial expressions and body language.  At least, I think that's all she talked about for the first half hour, because once she told me that thing about words being unimportant, I stopped listening and instead played ninja vs. dinosaur with my pencils (the dinosaurs always win, by the way) and periodically looked up to see if her body language and facial expressions told me anything I didn't already know.

After the break, she proceeded to launch into a "The universe is already filled with too much negativity and you should not add to it.  Therefore, I want you to strike the word 'no' from your vocabulary.'"  Scenes from the movie "Yes Man" immediately sprang into my mind.  Since Jim Carey seemed to have a lot of fun in that movie (he even got to ride on a moped - how cool is that?!) I was all ears.  She gave us examples of how to say "no" but in a positive way. Since most of the people in the class worked in retail, all her examples dealt with sales interactions.  "If your customer asks for something that you don't have, redirect them to something that you do have.  Always offer them something that will help them out, even if it isn't what they came to you asking for.

When it came time to role play and practice this new skill, I came through like a champ.  The instructor came up to me during the exercise and we had the following interaction:

New Age Instructor: Hello.

Fat Kid: Hi. Welcome to K mart.  How may I help you?

NAI: I would like to know if you have this blouse in an XL?

Fat Kid: We have that blouse in a Large and 2XL (turns to class and gives them a thumbs up)

NAI: But I want to know if you have it in an XL

Fat Kid: We have this other blouse in an XL

NAI: But I want this one 

Fat Kid: Ummmm....

NAI (whispering to Fat Kid): Remember, use only positive words

Fat Kid: We have treadmills and stair climbers.  They are in aisle six, next to the diet pills (turns to class again and gives thumbs up)

For some reason, she sent me to my seat and ended the role playing exercise.  As I sat there, basking in my triumph of demonstrating my new skill for the whole class, I started to ponder.  Why is the word "no" so bad?  It is unambiguous (after all, "no means no!") and not hard to learn (What part of "no" do you not understand?).  In fact, it is so simple,clear, and universally-applicable that it is one of the very few words that kids younger than one year understand, respond to, and can communicate to you.


Awhile back I opined that the word "whatever" is the perfect word.  It still is.  But "no" must come in a close second.  It has a power that few other words have: it sets limits on other people.  Not just any limits, but your limits.  Telling people "yes" just lets them get away with whatever they want.  Telling them "no!" establishes a nice boundary beyond which they should not cross. People need to be told what they can't do.  They need to be told "no!" over and over and over again.  "Can I have the last cup cake?" NO!  "Can I borrow money from you?" NO!  "Will you take out the garbage?" NO!  "I think I am having a heart attack.  Will you take me to the hospital?" NO! 

"No" doesn't obligate you to anything - it frees you from having to do things for other people.  Saying it over and over makes people eventually stop asking you for stuff (your stuff) and forces them to ask some other person for their stuff.  And, if my instincts are correct, when people ask me to do something for them, I know just the New Age instructor that I can redirect people to...a girl who can't say "no"

Icenay Rytay, Ippyhay

Peter (aka "Hippy") is a fine American, I am sure.  He claims to admire American hegemony, while at the same time rejecting any notion of the need for our school children to learn a foreign language in school.  But his rebuttal essay to my argument reads like a Massachusetts liberal channeling what he would imagine the average red-blooded flag waver would say and not what he truly thinks what is best for this awesome country of ours.

Why do I think this?  Because if he really, truly wanted the USA to be #1 in all things, he would see that knowledge is power.  Possessing and projecting power is what America is and should be all about.  And what better knowledge to translate (no pun intended) that power than the knowledge of foreign languages?

If you take a look at how parsing of our own English words has shaped the way we look at things and, hence, the way we think and  the way we act, we have an effective model for influencing others.  Once we started referring to television weathermen as "meteorologists" we started to hold them in higher esteem and stopped noticing their ugly toupees and unfunny jokes.  When salesmen started to call themselves "partners" we stopped noticing them putting their hands into our pockets.  Imagine how much we could influence attitudes all around the world if we all knew another language and started to shape the way that others talked, and thus thought.  If enough Americans learned Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, etc. and started to replace the word "French" with "cheese eating surrender monkey" (or the foreign language equivalent ), French influence and importance would start to tank.  Conversely, if enough of us infiltrated the foreign language speaking people and used the moniker "the best country ever to grace this planet" when speaking of the United States, it would catch on and people would love us.  We could also use this tactic to undermine our critics.  We could always preface the word "hippies" with "dirty, smelly" and before you know it, they'd have all the street cred of Baghdad Bob.


Now, if you're like me (impatient) you might cry out "I don't want to have to wait for a whole generation to learn a new language and then the extra years it will take for them to change the language.  I want to spread my pro-American propaganda NOW!"  Well, there's another way we could affect world opinion via other people's languages.  Since the United Nations is based in this country, we could employ an army of patriotic, flag-waving translators who could affect the outcomes of UN votes.  For example, our delegate could propose a measure declaring the United States the best country ever.  Our German-speaking translator could tell the German delegate that the bill would give free wienerschnitzel to everyone, while the French could be told that it would make Jerry Lewis the President of the world, and Poland could be told it was a bill apologizing for all the Polish jokes told over the years.  Everybody would vote for it.  But only if we teach our kids to speak a second or third language.

But you may protest that the resolutions passed by the UN are meaningless.  True.  But delicate negotiations between rival nations take place at the UN headquarters.  Having our own translators in place could provide us with key geo-political advantages.  Let's say that North Elbonia and East Crapistan are at odds over who gets control over some potato mines. Obviously we want to control the world's potato supply and don't want any third world countries muscling their way into that market.  Who better to make sure these nations never reach an agreement than American translators.  The exchange might go like this:

North Elbonian negotiator: Tell my esteemed neighbor that I am willing to compromise to avoid any conflict.

American translator: He says that he thinks you're cute and wonders what you would look like  dressed in nothing but yak's fur.

East Crapistanian: That is an outrage!  Tell him that yaks are sacred in my country.

American translator: He said to tell you that he wants to see you crushed before him under the feet of a thousand marching elephants.  That, and he said to tell your mother that she left her purse at his house last night.

North Elbonian: So, it's to be war between us then?  So be it!

See how that works?  Knowledge, properly applied, is like a superpower.  We can be like superheroes, only we won't have to dress up in fruity tights and wear stupid masks.  That's what we Americans call a win-win.

Ex lingua stulta veniunt incommoda multa.

Here in the United States we have a saying. It's "USA #1."  It's a sensible saying, but I'd add a little phrase onto the end of it if I were asked, and that little phrase would be: "American language #1".

Oh sure, foreigners will accuse us of arrogance, and "intellectuals" will deride our self-confidence and justifiable pride as ignorance. But, anyone with a brain in their gourd can look around the USA and see that #1 is what we are, and that the American language is #1 also. 

Few people will deny that the USA is #1 at producing movies, for example.  All over the world people flock to their local movie theatres or movie rental places, to get a look at what kind of great stuff has been produced in American. Some countries will lamely dub the movies into whatever gibberish passes for their native language, but the smarter ones leave the movies in American, and just stick sub-titles on the screen. That way the viewer can get a feel of what's really happening.  Can you imagine Clint Eastwood saying "Go ahead, make my day" in swahili, and it still having the same impact?

We're also #1 at NASCAR racing, rodeo,airplane production, and glam-metal---no other country can say that...especially with an American accent. Our American thoughts, thought in American, translate into our American actions.  Our American actions define our place in world history.

Today's young Americans have a lot to learn.   They need to understand science and mathematics and computer stuff and business, well enough to not only succeed, but completely obliterate their competitors from foreign lands. Wasting their time by insisting they learn a language that isn't the dominant language in math, science and business, in order to "play nice" with people they are trying to beat, just doesn't make sense. Japanese business men spend thousands of Yen and hours trying to learn American.  It would be inefficient for us to be simultaneously trying to learn Japanese.

Karl Albrecht, although German, succinctly stated: "Change your language, and you change your thoughts." Do we Americans want to change our American thoughts into German thoughts?  Federico Fellini, a sort of stoner/ pornographer/ non-American, said  "a different language is a different vision of life."  Well, five minutes of  "Satyricon" is all most people need to know that whether it's  "Dirty Harry", or "Poison", or Dale Earnhardt, American language gives all the vision anyone needs, to succeed.



Se Preparan Para Ser Escolarizados

The other day I was driving along the freeway and saw a billboard for a local grocery store.  It was in Spanish, as we were driving through south Phoenix, and virtually every billboard in that neck of the woods is in a foreign tongue.  Having had two years of college level Spanish, I was able to decipher its meaning.  It told me to come in and save on rice.  Or cheese.  Or llamas.  I couldn't really tell.  It may not have even had told me to come in.  It may have even told me to stay home until I get a swine flu vaccination.  It was in Spanish, after all.  And I don't speak Spanish.

That got me to thinking.  "I wish I could speak and read a foreign language."  I did, like I previously stated, take two years of it in college, but that was more than 15 years ago, and if you've ever taken a college level foreign language class, you know that the emphasis is on analyzing structure and trying to confuse you and not on teaching you to speak a foreign language with other humans.  So, my level of fluency is thus: when I watch movies in Spanish or the telenovelas on Telemundo, I will be able to pick out bits and pieces.  "He said 'blah blah your sister blah blah hamburger and pants..or was it a circus clown?  And then blah blah something else and the color red.  Or was it blue?"

Being the good parent that I am, I vowed that no child of mine should ever question whether a billboard tells him to come to Food City and save on rice (or llamas) or to stay home and contract swine flu.  No sir.  My kids are going to learn a foreign language.  And, being the typical American parent, I vowed that someone else is going to have to do the dirty work.

Therefore, I propose that all children should have to learn another language while in school, starting in kindergarten and continuing all the way through high school.  There are several good reasons to impose this on our children, some even more compelling than my billboard example.

First, obviously, it will make our children more well-rounded and world-aware.  And having children who are knowledgeable about what the rest of the world is doing is important because...I forget the exact reason, but I am sure there's a good one.

Secondly (and more applicable to life here in the U.S. of A.) having a large pool of foreign words you can pull out and drop on people in casual conversation grants you a certain air of sophistication, arrogance, and pomposity that is out of the reach of most ordinary people.  Any redneck can say speak well enough to communicate, but sprinkling in a little French or Latin elevates the speaker while at the same time crushes the spirit of the listener.  Here is a good example: "I called up the junk yard and inquired vis a vis a new valve for the toilet.  The guy said that he didn't have one but could give me a substitute part.  I told him that putting in fake parts lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, and ruins my joie de vivre.  But he didn't have the part, so it's a fait accompli, and we'll just have to use the outhouse for awhile."  See?  if you didn't know any better, you'd swear the guy was a Kennedy!  But, he's just a redneck who can speak a little French.  He's like John F. Kerry and Sarah Palin's love child.

More good reasons to follow....

Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

Is there anything more boring than a chick flick?  And I don't mean romantic comedies because they have their single redeeming quality (comedy) right there in the description.  No, I mean pure, unadulterated estrogen films that don't even try to appeal to men in any way, shape, or form.  All the crying, all the swooning over unrequited love, all the girlish giggling, all the smooching, all the sappy happy endings.  Blech.


Sadly, there is something more dull even than chick flicks - chick flicks in book form.  I am not talking about Harlequin Romances such as "Fabio Does Dallas" or Jackie Collins type offerings. I mean real literature chick flicks in book form such as just about anything by Jane Austen.  Any guy reading this who protests "But I loved 'Sense and Sensibilities' should rent the Terminator series, then find a WWF marathon on Spike TV, stop showering for a few days, and only eat leftovers that he finds out on the counter in order to reset the Matrix and get his manhood back.

Now that I am no longer in school (where such things were required) you would never, ever catch me reading any such tome or watching a movie adaptation of such work.

Or will you?

It was recently announced that Natalie Portman will produce and star in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which is a sci-fi adaptation of Jane Austen's chick flick in book form.  Portman will play Elizabeth Bennett, a zombie hunter who takes time out of ridding the world of the undead long enough to find true love.  Now that sounds like my kind of movie!  There will be flesh-starved walking dead, lots of firearms (presumably), probably a nice heavy metal soundtrack, and just enough mushy love scenes to allow me to head to the snack bar and refill the popcorn bucket without missing anything important.

I am hoping that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that this will usher in a whole new age of boring books brought to life in zombie form.  I might find myself sitting through "The Joy Luck Club of Zombies," or "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Undead Sisterhood."  "Fried Green Zombies" and "Zombie Beaches" just might make it to my Netflix cue, as would "The Undead's Terms of Endearment" or "Ordinary Zombies."

The possibilities are endless.

And In This Corner...

I am introducing a new feature here.  My buddy (and noted thinker) Peter has been kind enough to offer his large brain and copious vocabulary to my humble blog.  We will be doing a point/counterpoint type thing, in which Pete will say something ridiculous and I will have to give him a verbal beat down.  And then he will try to return the favor.  Since Peter is a lot smarter than I am, he graciously agreed to handicap himself by being politically liberal.  We are finalizing the first topic right now and trying to decide who goes first (taking the pro-something position).

So, if in the next few days you happen to read some words on my blog that you have to look up in the dictionary, do not be alarmed.  It's just Peter trying to compensate for his handicap.
Tiger Woods is King of the World.

Any way you slice it, he has come, he has seen, and he has conquered.  First, it was the amateur golf world, then college, and finally the PGA.  He has more Majors wins than any other current golfer, was the youngest to win a Grand Slam, the youngest to notch his 50th tournament win, and has been named PGA Player of the Year a record ten times.  He's the only athlete ever to be named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated more than once, has held the number one spot in the PGA rankings for more weeks than any golfer in history, and has won the most prize money of any golfer on tour.  He has been credited with singlehandedly popularizing golf with a mass audience.  Even when he is not in the hunt for the win, the question of "Where is Tiger in the standings?" is always asked and answered, and he is always featured in television coverage, no matter how well he is playing on any particular day.


He was able to parlay his athletic success into a very lucrative endorsement career.  He has been called the Most Marketable Athlete in the World, snagging pitch deals with Nike, Gatorade, General Motors, American Express, General Mills, and Titleist.  He is the first professional athlete to earn a billion dollars in his career.  For every piece of golf apparel that Nike sells, Tiger gets a cut.

Not content to conquer the sports and financial world, Eldrick (as his parents named him) Woods set his sights on a new territory and has set all his efforts toward dominating it:

Reality television.

How else can you explain the whirlwind that Tiger has found himself in?  Any clown with a wandering eye can get photographed by paparazzi coming out of another woman's apartment at 3 AM (A-Rod and Jon Gosselin already have that angle covered) or be videotaped making out with a random drunk co-ed (Kevin Fedderline has that locked up) or have a mistress come forward and wrote a book, exposing the affair (Steve Garvey).  That territory has been covered so many times that nobody would even notice.

It's not enough to merely have the National Enquirer tattle on you (Jesse Jackson and John Edwards), a truly great marketer has to stand on the rooftop and shout out "Look at me!  I am a philanderer!"  And I can't think of a better way to shout than having your wife chase you out of the house, wielding a golf club, crashing your car, and then having her beat you unconscious while the neighbors watch.

Tiger has also brought some of that media-control savvy to the table by being incremental rather than revealing all his dirty laundry and moving on.  If all the Tiger news came out at once, we'd digest it, lose interest, and drop this for the next scandal of the week.  Where would that leave Tiger?  Right where he was before, which is not where he wants to be.  By having the news leak out slowly and escalating the scandal-worthiness of each tidbit, he is positioning himself as the King of Reality.  First, his mistress was a higher-class socialite, who is used to the celebrity lifestyle and rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.  Hardly accessible to the common man,


Then we learned about Jamiee, who is best known for her brief stint as neanderthal Shawn's girlfriend on the (what else?) reality show "Tool Academy."  He even (brilliantly) provided us with voice mails he left on her phone, instructing her to change her greeting message, lest his wife find out.  Your ordinary, run-of-the-mill nimrod adulterer would not have taken the time to make sure all the bases were covered.  You can imagine Tiger in his War Room, planning this. "String of mistresses lined up.  Check.  Big reveal.  Check.  Steadily lower class of tramps to be revealed.  Check.  Voice mail for lover to leak to TMZ.  Check."

Then, just when I thought Tiger had really outdone himself and his situation had reached maximum tawdriness, the piece de resistance is revealed.  Tiger's tenth-known fling was with a porn star.  I could not help but jump to my feet, clapping and shouting "Bravo, Tiger!  Bravo!" You are truly the King of Reality television.  The only way to make this situation any worse (better?) would be if one of the tramps Tiger was canoodling with has a sex tape of the two of them.  That would just send it over the edge and into the trailer park.

Now that Tiger is the King of Reality TV, the next steps are all academic and he can go on auto-pilot.  Press conference to admit the affairs, lay low for a few weeks, see sponsors drop you, lay low for a few more weeks, interview on 60 Minutes, then start the Mea Culpa Forgiveness/Redemption tour of television shows, culminating with appearing on Saturday Night Live and doing a skit that pokes fun at yourself.  By doing so he will avoid having to go the Vanilla Ice route and can skip past the usually-required appearing on The Surreal Life and getting a VH-1 Tiger of Love gig.

Your Are Getting Very Sleeeeeeeeepy...

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The other day I was lounging on the couch, flipping through the channels, waiting for my Pop Tarts to get done toasting,  I came across a comedian/hypnotist who was telling a bunch of full grown adults to walk around the stage and cluck like chickens.  And they were complying.  The spectacle of a gaggle of people in a zombie-like state (if chickens can be zombies) flapping their arms and crowing got me to thinking.  "How does one become a hypnotist?"  I have seen television ads for all sorts of schools, from vet tech to medical assisting and paralegal, to truck driving, culinary arts and security guard trade schools.  But nothing on becoming a professional mesmerizer.


If there are schools, what is the application process like?  I know that to become a music major, you have to audition (how much sense does that make?  HELLO!!!!  I already know how to play this instrument!  The whole purpose of college is to learn something new!  Duh).  Do you have to show that you can swing that pocket watch right and talk in a soft monotone before they let you in?  Are there pre-requisites?  Like Metaphysics 101?  I already took Physics 101, so does that count?  What about the lab?  Is it required?

And when you interview for the school, how do you know that they aren't going to just put you in a trance, instruct you to leave your wallet on the desk, go home, and when you wake up you'll feel like the interview went really, really well, but you're holding out hope that Mike's International Ice Cream Scooping School will put you on their waiting list before you decide what to do?

And that, in turn, raises other issues,  Like, is the hypnosis skill like The Force, with a Light Side and a Dark Side?  Because if it were, I know which side I would turn toward.  Think about it.  If you were some Sith hypnotist you could walk into any store grab a bunch of stuff, walk up to the counter, wave your hand and say "You are getting very sleepy.  Now, how about giving me an employee discount?"  Or you could tell your spouse "You are getting very, very full and do not want to have that last piece of chocolate cake.  You would like to give it to me.  With whipped cream, sprinkles and maybe a glass of milk."  And they would do it for you.  How cool would that be?!

Or, if you're single and you want that cute girl that you have the crush on to lower her standards a little and give you her number, you could mesmerize her thusly: "You suddenly feel that muscular, attractive men are yucky, and now feel compelled to date chunky, short men with receding hairlines.  Call me!"  When she does call you and you realize that she is not  the one for you, you could put the thought into her head that she should break up with you.  That way, she doesn't hate you for dumping her.  You could even plant a post-hypnotic suggestion that she feel guilt-ridden and have the uncontrollable urge to cry whenever "your song" come on the radio.  If you two don't have a song, you could just make one up.  Like, say, "Macho Man" by the Village People.  The great part about the Dark Side of anything is that it's pretty flexible and you can make stuff up as you go.  Not so if you choose to follow the Light Side.

But just like anything else cool, it could fall into the wrong hands and be abused.  Some unscrupulous politician with a soft, smooth way about him could just keep repeating hypnotic phrases like "Hope" and "Change" until a whole bunch of people voted for him.

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