Archive for August, 2020

Senseless

Hello hello! We made it to another weekend, which really does feel like a feat at this point. Luckily it’s also disgustingly hot and muggy outside and looks a little like the apocalypse because of fires elsewhere in the state. Yay! Safe to say this was no one’s 2020 vision.

Would a very random thought cheer you up? Oh good. Here’s my bold statement of the day that I will attempt to back up with logic: The word “necklace” is the worst possible name for that item. You might already be thinking, “But why? It’s kind of delicate like lace and goes around the neck – what’s wrong with that?” What’s wrong is that you’re ignoring the fact that it sounds exactly like “neckless” and we all just let that slide. Neckless, as in the worst possible demographic for a necklace. It’s so bad that when we talk about amazing salespeople, we should say that they “could sell a necklace to the neckless.” That’s how bad it is.

Please follow me on this journey. Imagine a boardroom at Tiffany or some other giant jeweler company back in the day.

CEO: Team, we've been riding on the success of our earrings and broaches for ages now, and it's time we shake things up.

HEAD OF SALES: Already?  We just got through explaining how they can still be called "earrings" even when they're not all rings.  Can't we have a little breather?

CEO: Stan, we've talked about this.  No one cares if the name doesn't match, so let's move on.

STAN: (under his breath) It's still confusing.

CEO: We own the market when it comes to earlobes.  We're at the top of the lapel game.  If a finger has something beautiful on it, odds are it came from us.  But what are we missing?

STAN: I imagine you're going to tell us.

CEO: Right you are, Stan.  And what I'm going to tell you will blow your fucking mind.  It's time we branched out to...the wrist!

STAN: Huh, ya know.  I can see that, boss.  Slightly loose-fitting, options for jewels or just metal, all different sorts of style.  This could be huge! I see why you make the big-

CEO: And we'll call it...the wristlace.

STAN: I'm sorry, what?  It sounded like you said "wristless."

CEO: Yeah, but it's spelled l-a-c-e.

STAN: But it sounds like "wristless."

CEO: But it's spelled l-a-c-e!  Look, Stan, let's not get into another one of these discussions.

STAN: Sir, I um, have some concerns.  Namely, if someone has no wrists, they would never buy one of these.  So maybe not calling it something that sounds like "wristless" would be better.  Maybe cufflet or brace-

CEO: Damn it, Stan!  We're going with wristlace and your team will have to figure out how to navigate around this huuuuuge problem you seem to have with the name.

STAN: So you think, sir, that because people will at some point see that it's spelled l-a-c-e, they'll never hear it as "wristless" in their heads and realize what a stupid fucking name it is?  You think people are that idiotic that they'll walk around referring to the thing around their wrists as an adjective meaning "without a wrist" and never bat an eye?  

CEO: I'd bet my life on it.  Now get selling!

With that in mind, are you coming around at all to my bold statement? It does sound pretty stupid now to call it a “neckless,” right? Well, it took me 40+ years to realize I was going along with that name without questioning it, and while I’m not going to propose a new word instead since it would be too uphill of a battle, at least I can try to make others hear it that way and possibly shake their heads. It might be because of the word or it might be remembering how strange I am, but I’ll take either.

That’s bullshit: Lunar edition

Good morning, everyone. Last time I wrote, I had two thoughts I didn’t get to, but they’re pretty brief (especially the first one), so I vow to get through both of them today.

First up, let’s talk about the moon. I like the moon, always have. Maybe it’s because my zodiac sign of Cancer makes me a “moonchild,” or maybe it’s because “Moonchild” is the name Bastian gives the princess in “The Neverending Story.” We may never know (but you can relive my history with that movie scene here if you’d like). Here’s my controversial take on the moon: the gibbous phases don’t get enough love. I’m going to hit enter to let that statement really sink in.

Think about it for a minute. When you picture the moon, you probably picture it full. If not, it’s a crescent. I’m including myself in this gross negligence; I’m sure if I looked back on any drawing or painting I’ve done with the moon featured, it’s in either of those two phases and not in the waxing nor waning gibbous. And frankly, that’s bullshit. No one intentionally includes a new moon (or absence of any visible moon), so that leaves us with a few options. First there’s the full-on full moon, which is beautiful and easy to add to things since it’s circle. Then we have waxing and waning crescents, which look like the moon and therefore make it an easy choice to toss in there. No one’s going to ask what that’s supposed to be (which is probably why it’s popular in logos), while they could in theory wonder if the full moon is supposed to be a planet or even the sun. Next you have the quarter moons, which are even less represented than the gibbous possibly, but they each only get about one day in the cycle, so that’s a little more understandable. But the gibbous, people, the gibbous. According to this site, we’re in one of the gibbous phases at least as long as we’re in the crescents, if not longer. And yet, it is incredibly underrepresented.

What gives? My completely unscientific theory is that the gibbous phases don’t resonate as much with us because they seem “unfinished.” The crescent is an iconic shape reserved for the moon, wrenches, and tasty, flaky rolls. The full moon is bright and spectacular. The gibbous is…a work in progress? A phase between the “sexier” phases? Maybe that makes us feel unsettled in a way. The closest thing that comes to mind to a gibbous moon represented in any kind of art is when the Death Star is still under construction and not yet a full sphere. Fuck that. I’m here for you, gibbous, and when you come back on the 28th of this month, I’m going to look up, nod, and ask, “Who’s a good moon phase? Who’s a good moon phase? That’s right, you are!” It needs all the love it can get.

Fuck, that was supposed to be like a two sentence thought and look what happened. I’m bad at this multi-thought post thing. Oh well, more for next time. Have a great weekend, everyone.

A story on storytelling

Good morning, homepeople. I hope you’re all doing just as well as before if not better. Can’t really ask for more than that, can I? Since we’re all grading on a curve here with how we’re doing, I think aiming for “not worse” is pretty a solid goal. Got a few random things to write about today, so let’s get right into them.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about writing and my own history of learning how to write like my old boss to reduce/eliminate the red-penned edits. I remembered another formative writing moment from my past and wanted to share. My senior year of high school, I dropped AP English Literature and added Play Production instead, which was a great call and didn’t stop me from still majoring in English in college. I still needed an English course though, so I took a non-honors one called Expository Composition with a teacher named Mr. Gilbert.

The class ended up being great because it was super laid back and it broke from the previous three years of drilling into us the need for a thesis, x number of support statements, etc. in a rigid format. I liked the looser writing style and found it pretty revolutionary that it was considered ok in some classes. I only remember a few things about Mr. Gilbert himself. First, he had a Native American friend who said, “Just call me ‘Indian’ man.” Second, he told us the when we were old enough to drink, we should check out sloe gin. I still haven’t, but I remember him saying it’s thicker and takes some getting used to. Strange thing to say to 17 year-olds, sure, but memorable. And the third thing I remember is about storytelling and an exercise we did in class.

Mr. Gilbert had us move the desks into two rows facing each other. The rows were long enough that they ended up forming a bit of a semicircle. Then he said to the students sitting in the inside row, “Tell the person across from you about the best meal you’ve ever had. You have 3 minutes. Go.” I was on the inside and had to think quickly, but something immediately came to mind. I told my partner about being on a long bus ride with fellow students and a group of French foreign exchange students as we took a trip to the Grand Canyon and a few other places. We’d gotten lost or something, and that particular leg of the trip took a couple of hours longer than it was supposed to and we were all starving. We finally got back to civilization and stopped at an In N Out, where I ordered two Double Doubles and absolutely devoured them. I talked about how amazing they tasted and how I could’ve eaten as many as had been put in front of me. (Just writing about it now made my stomach growl in fact.)

Time was up, and Mr. Gilbert said, “Outside row, everyone move over one seat to the right. Inside row, tell the same story to your new partner.” I told the story again. The outside row switched a third time, and I told the story once more to a new person. Mr. Gilbert called us to attention. “Inside row, how did your story change from the first telling to the third?” I thought about it, and though subtle, my story absolutely improved during the course of the exercise. I’d shortened the reason for the bus trip because I realized it wasn’t important to the story. If something got a laugh the first time, I hit it a little harder in the retellings. I added more details about biting into the burger and the emotions around it, but fewer details about the restaurant itself and its location. Looking back, my self-editing based on repetition and real-time feedback made my story significantly better.

Mr. Gilbert tied this to the importance of really working on one’s writing/storytelling and how repetition helps the process. It’s one of the most valuable lessons I took from four years of high school, and I’m reminded of it every time I retell a classic “look what an idiot I was” story from my past. The repetition and feedback from previous versions have transformed those stories from simply recounting something to more of a crafted monologue. It’s something I use in my work life too, practicing presentations as often as possible in front of people to see where the smiles or confused looks come in, and then making adjustments accordingly. That one exercise from one class 25 years ago had more of a lasting effect than anything I got from four years of history classes. I’m sure any stand-up comedian would read this and say, “Yeah, duh. We know this.”

Well look at the time. I had three things to talk about but one took over, so I’ll save the others for the next post. Take care, don’t be worse, and peace in the streets.