Posts Tagged ‘politeness’

I absolutely love the New Year; always have, always will.  If this didn’t happen, we’d be stuck in the same… (what?), forever.  Wouldn’t be a year, but the psychological ramifications of NOT measuring time on a cyclical basis would be uber-depressing.  Hey friends, happy new… nothing?  Day?  OK – I’ll take whatever I can get.  Happy Same Year, Happy Old Year, Happy Furthering of the Dredge and the Drudgery, with no good drunken blowouts to shake off the cobwebs and kick the minor negatives permanently into the past.  This is a powerful thing man, for me it is at least!

I always make resolutions, albeit lightheartedly.  I know this is not dead serious, and I enjoy thinking about a brand new slate.  But thankfully, we have no shortage of the cranky and cynical to keep us in line and remind us that “It’s just another day, sheeple – no different than yesterday or tomorrow”.  THANK YOU – because here was I, watching for unicorns and expecting the Rapture.  Sir Dickimus of Headicus, maybe you should go tell your 3-year-old now that Santa is bullshit and Grandma is “actually” decomposing in the mud!  Go have a beer and get o’er yersel, fer the sake of Auld Lang Syne.

2013 was momentous in many ways, and 2014 will be epic.  A Few Notables:

Both my beautiful and amazing kid sisters had babies.  The youngest sis has very severe diabetes, and was told by medics her whole life that this could never happen, her body couldn’t support a pregnancy.  Fuck you, doc – both are alive and well and as radiant as ever, and our clan is 2-stronger because of it.  Go Defiance!

554043_586423754736893_1503031208_n  Dylan Tigger

My Sis-in-Law DIDN’T get blown up in the Boston Marathon.  Then after she didn’t get blown up, she got married to a wonderful man and they built a gorgeous new house to start their life together.

My Uncle-in-Law (who ALSO didn’t get blown up) turned 70, and we partied like Hobbitses into the small hours of the summer.

We met a few new friends, musicians  & art afficionados, and bade adieu to a few more moving on to new adventures and pastures.  Those friends that moved on, we sent them off like Vikings, and feasted like Klingons in their honor.  Very memorable days.

I began working on the writing for a SICK jazz album, and have never been happier with the sounds coming out of my guitar. On top of my game indeed, and loving it up Big Willy Style.

Apologies to the notables I have missed – this bears no reflection on your noteworthiness.  Oh, and I didn’t die.

And for 2014?

Planning a trip to England to see the fam, and meet the clan members born since my departure.

I have 2 big anniversaries late in 2014:  10 years living in the USA, and 10 years married to the most amazing woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  AJ, I love you soooooooo much, you make me want to retire early, so I can just hang out with you all day every day.  Screw you, proponents of marital combat – try wedding your best friend in the world, and then you’ll see that men and women aren’t enemies.

Happy New Year!!!

Dylan and Dad

I’m a witty guy in conversation, pretty offbeat, who routinely cracks people up when shooting the shit. And I glow and glimmer and blush and giggle when this happens. I love being laughed at, it feels great. So it probably shouldn’t unnerve me when people try to Hi-Five me for saying something funny and clever, but it does. I should be flattered, but instead I feel like my shorts just got invaded, and suddenly that person creeps me out a little, even if prior to their celebration of my hilarity I liked them just fine. If they gave me the verbal equivalent of the Hi-Five, I would react completely differently; my ego would purr. But Hi-Fives make me want to go home and shower. I needed to analyze why.

If something is funny, you laugh. Blow snot-bubbles if appropriate, maybe keel over, nod appreciatively or remark on the funny. But the Hi-Five feels strategic. Hi-Fives were designed as a way to celebrate a joint success, a mutual victory for the team, some goal accomplished by synergy, very often recognized while wearing roller skates. You can’t Hi-Five yourself very successfully – it takes two people at least. So when someone Hi-Fives my funny, it feels like they’re taking shared credit for my input, or implying the kill was pre-organized by the both of us, and it played out perfectly. Jesus man, get the fuck off my joke!

The type of people flinging hands in the air like they just don’t care fits a pattern too – it is never, ever one of the cool kids. Usually slightly lacking, sometimes with a strange odor, gravy stains on their shirt and a twinkle in their eye like they’re your next stalker – people who Hi-Five jokes are scary. They fail as adults, they fail as humans, they fail as communicators and they definitely fail as social butterflies, and the likelihood of us becoming besties is thus reduced.

Groupies have been around as long as musicians, and music is like magic. It transforms thin air and acoustics into widespread viral emotion, and so musicians were treated like magicians, and got laid for sharing their divine elixir. In the aftermath of a successful joke, people are warmed up because you made them laugh and forget their day; you interjected some much-needed levity into the woe, and we all appreciate this. Nobody has ever punched me immediately after laughing at me, but several have thanked me, complimented me and remarked on how they needed a laugh. For a brief moment, we the funny become Adonis of the Wit. If I could choose my own philosopher god name to be etched into the pantheon wall, it would be Rhetoricles. If I never achieved a single other thing in this world, I would want to be remembered for lightening people’s loads, and taking the edge off shitty days everywhere I traveled. And the Hi-Fivers are trying to be my groupies.

The Hi-Five is also a warning to the onlookers, much in the way a tom cat might Hi-Five a tree with his urine. It’s an unspoken message to the rest that we have an inside joke going on, and although we all laughed together, they understood it a bit better, because they heard this one already when we came back from the gym and stopped off for a beer on the way home. Hi-Fiving jokes is like gatecrashing a party with a forged invitation, claiming more right than anyone else to be there because you have documentation to prove it. And in the moments following the Hi-Five there is an awkward silence, because some goofy nerd briefly acted like he was on spring break drunk wearing a speedo. Now they’re back in front of a room full of people, realizing the laughter died down quite some time ago.

Fun is to be shared; our sense of humor is the best attribute we have, which is why we encourage each other when silliness abounds. But physical contact has its place, and people who Hi-Five jokes are also the ones who touch pregnant women’s bellies without permission, or stroke your hand when giving you change at the store, or gently lick your T-shirt sleeve while you snooze obliviously on the porch in the late summer. And then herein, we get to the true root cause of my reaction, because do not shake my hand either, or grope my ass or ruffle my shoulder or punch my arm or gyrate against my neck – I don’t like spontaneous, unannounced physical contact. Whatever your gig, and however you feel, keep your filthy paws off my silky drawers.  And please do not spread rumors that we are BFFs.

Back in my reckless and feckless youth, (or “yoof”, if we’re being regionally appropriate), I was obsessed with learning how to consciously Astral Travel, and with learning how to invoke lucid dreams.  I learned a very cool trick from an interview with Chris Barnes – the vocalist from Cannibal Corpse, who was incidentally way into this stuff – in which you program your subconscious as you’re falling asleep, by implanting triggers in your mind which allow you to ‘wake up’ in the dream, and start making conscious decisions while you are fully asleep.  This is unbelievably effective.

What you do is this:  As you’re dozing off – preferably not whilst driving – think of a light switch on a wall, next to a door.  Make it as vivid as possible, and meditate on this until you are asleep.  For vividity’s sake, I saw a bright green light switch on a red wall.  Do this every night for a while; make that your falling-asleep mantra.  And then in your dreams, on any given night, keep an eye out for this light switch.  Once you see it, your mind will recognize it as a cue, and as soon as you see this cue in your dream, look at the palms of your hands (if you are lucky enough to have them).

What happens is this:  When you look at your hands, you will immediately teleport into another place in the dream – could be anywhere.  And because you a) saw your cue, and b) made the deliberate decision to look at your hands, you become fully cognizant of your dream surroundings, and can then walk round and go wherever you please.  (I highly recommend doing this after watching several episodes of the Magic Roundabout!) Not only will you then get to enjoy absolute freedom to go anywhere in the world, but you will also remember every detail of the dream / trip when you wake up; this in and of itself is priceless – especially if like me, you have a memory like a whatchamacallit.

So I used to always go looking for said power animal, but in the last ~ 20 years, never found it, and started to discount the power animal story as being hokum.  But recently I’ve begun doing this again, and something occurred to me:  The Power Animal can be whatever you want it to be, and if it doesn’t find you, fkit – go and find it.  Better still, program it in there.  After all, spirit guides aren’t ACTUALLY animals – obviously.  That would just be weird.  They’re ghosts / telepathic aliens made of light / inventions of our perspective / small gods / whatever.  So they’ll adapt to whatever form works for you.  Since I moved to the US, I’ve had a particular affinity for frogs.  This stems from a small metal statue we have on the coffee table of a frog sitting in a Buddha pose.  This little statue has made me feel so Zen over the years, I named him “Peace Frog”.  (Hmm – maybe my power animal is Jim Morrison – I could live with that too).  So the conclusion of this is actually quite boring – nothing has yet happened with my power frog, but I just decided that’s quite appropriate.  So I’m going to go to sleep tonight, astrally travel to someplace swampy and fetid – maybe a fetid swamp – and I am SO going to hang with my amphibious friend, to see what the hell is going on around these parts.  Because while I’m awake, I live in a state of perpetual confusion and bewilderment.  If anyone wants a souvenir, (like a bag of dead mosquitoes), let me know.  You have about 8 hours to get your requests in, and then I depart.

Peace Out!

CC

I’ve always been obsessed with time travel, and then something startling – you might even say ASTONISHING – occurred to me today: I am a frackin time traveler. In late March 1976 I decided, “this womb is getting stinky”, and so I decided to bail. And holy cow, was April Fool’s Day an apt day to escape, because this place has got NOTHING on the womb – joke was on me BIG TIME. I turned round to crawl back in, but my biological mother was already in the bar, on her third vodka.
When I realized I was born for good, I decided to time travel forward by a few years, and try school. So I boosted about 5 years, and then quickly decided that was an error. So I curled up in fetal position in bed that night, and elected to go back to my fourth Christmas.  But this time round, right before my brother bit that chunk out of my back, I planned to sidestep his sneaky chompers and watch him hit the deck in full lunge, maybe even land his face in a bowl of cereal. So I closed my eyes, set the dials and went back. Guess what? My plan worked exactly – there were cornflakes stuck to every wall in the house, by the time I was done with my deft ninjistics. He had no idea I knew he was coming, I almost felt bad for him it was so easy.  Next day I was done with being a baby, and decided I wanted to be thirty-seven, hilarious, good looking, popular, talented, sardonic, and develop a wit that wove in and out of sarcasm like a sine wave.  Or, a wit-weave-wave, if you are an appreciator of alliteration.  So here I am, happy at last! I love my life.

Place smells great right now – I’ve got a Shepherd’s Pie in the oven. I kept seeing all these vegan and vegetarian recipes everywhere, so decided to be radical and try the cannibal version. I found a sleeping shepherd – I’ll spare you the details – but you can substitute the human for either ground turkey if you are a carnivore, chick peas if you are a vegivore or both if you are an awesomnivore. I put extra chunky onions in there, an extra carrot, peas, sweetcorn and some Coleman’s sauce. I’m salivating like Pavlov’s Dog round about now, so I’m going to go sign off, savage my postal delivery person’s leg and then hi-five my late lunch.

Have a nice weekend, cats!

CC

I have two distinct opinions about Dan Brown’s work:

A)    I love it, because he writes about very important things.  (Such as, why women are ostracized, feared, despised and denied rights within the “holiest” institution in the world.)

B)     I hate it, because Dan Brown talks to me like I’m STUPID, and he writes like all his characters are stupid too.  Dan Brown makes a point, or a joke, or has an observation, but then beats you over the head with it for the next three pages, just in case you missed that really, really clever thing he said.  Via the platform of his writing, Dan Brown is a condescending, patronizing bastard.   This can only lead me to conclude that Dan Brown doesn’t have a very flattering opinion of other people’s intelligence.  He assumes people (other than himself) are stupid, and so he talks to us like this is a foregone conclusion.  I find this very ill-mannered, and it makes me want to abuse him.  He has never met me, and yet he is talking to me like I’m dumb.  He is explaining things to me like I am a child.  Why would he do such a thing?

For example, in The DaVinci Code, he spent four or five pages with Harvard’s top codebreaker Robert Langdon scratching his head, agonizing over what the Orb could be around Isaac Newton’s grave.  In Deception Point, he spent six pages with the world’s leading astrophysicist getting pissed off, because he couldn’t figure out why the world’s top oceanographer kept claiming we had our very own “low gravity environment RIGHT HERE ON EARTH.”  When Dan Superbrain Brown finally graced us with the revelation we predicted nine boring pages earlier, (ooh, the ocean is low-gravity, never saw THAT coming), he then spent another paragraph congratulating himself (via his characters shitty dialogue) on his own tricky brilliance.  “Woo, holy cow TOLLUND, you really fooled us there, if we were only one tenth as bright as you, our world would be a much better place.  Shit Rachel, could you imagine having a brain the size of his?”

In another DaVinci Code Freudian Slip, in order for Brown to explain his point to we the simpletons, (quote):  Most recently Langdon had shared the Mona Lisa’s secret with a rather unlikely group–a dozen inmates at the Essex County Penitentiary. Langdon’s jail seminar was part of a Harvard outreach program attempting to bring education into the prison system–Culture for Convicts, as Langdon’s colleagues liked to call it.

(To which I responded out loud, “Yeah – obviously, uneducated & uncultured folks were BORN in prison, and didn’t end up there because of their actions, you dumb fucking wannabe highbrow classist elitist asshole.”)

It is very unflattering when people assume you are unintelligent and/or uncultured, especially when you have never given them any reason to make that assumption.  And the consequences of this can be pretty sad at best.  When someone treats us like we are dumb, we often concede to this, & conduct ourselves in accordance with their sub-par expectations.  This is easier and more polite than to take umbrage and speak out; after all, their opinion of you doesn’t matter that much anyway, so why act like a dick and risk offending someone who just implicitly and accidentally offended you? It all seems pretty trivial and not worth it when you break it down to this level of detail.  So we let it go, and by proxy, accidentally confirm their idea that we are in fact as slack-jawed as they thought.  From that point forth, we dumb ourselves down, and our relationship & interactions with that person tend to be based on this incorrect assessment of our IQ.   Alternatively we refute the error, point out the flaw and get sucked into a fight which should be entirely beneath our dignity.

But if they had entered that conversation & relationship assuming you were highly intelligent, wouldn’t everything be better?  The conversations would be more meaningful, because they wouldn’t feel a need to explain what the big words meant.  The subject matter would be more involved, because we don’t tend to talk about engineering with 5-year-olds.  Two intelligent people bounce ideas back and forth, whereas in a conversation between a brainiac and a buffoon, the problem may not even be on the table – it is already assumed to exceed your level of cognition.  When Sergey Brin and Larry Page talk, Google happens.  But when Larry Page and his little daughter talk, Spaghetti-Os happen.

The moral of this story is:  Enter every conversation assuming the person to whom you are speaking is highly intelligent, enlightened & cultured. The worst thing that can happen is that they will prove you wrong.  But they will also appreciate that you didn’t talk down to them, and this may be the one deciding factor in whether they think you are either a decent person or a douchebag.   When unintelligent people believe you are a douche, they tend to share this analysis with others, and then it becomes an empirical fact, supported by anecdotal evidence, backed up by all those peons you talked down to over the last few years.

 

Assume the worst and you will get the worst.  Assume the best and you will get the best.

CC

There is nothing abnormal or heinous about forgetting names – I do it often.  But when you are in a situation where you do forget the name of the person to whom you are speaking, never, ever utter the phrase, “I’m sorry – I’m not good with names”.  This is a terrible thing to say.  Here’s why.

Nobody is perfect; we all understand and accept that. Nobody expects you to remember the name of everyone you encountered throughout your life – it is universally understood that this happens.  But this does not mean you don’t remember the person – you remember them probably quite well.  You recognize their face.  You remember when you last saw them; what you were doing when you bumped into them.  You probably even remember the topic of your conversation, and so the only “crime” going on here is that you forgot their label – big deal.  The person made an impression on you, you made an impression on them, and this is what truly matters.  This means something to both parties; you are secretly thrilled they remembered you, and the same is true in reverse.  Names are immaterial in this equation, when there is so much more going on.

But when you squint in discomfort, cringe, and then declare, “I’m sorry – I’m not very good with names”, you are giving off a very loud, clear and incorrect message that you don’t remember the person, and this is hurtful.  And even worse is when you try to wing it, and get it wrong.  I don’t care if you forget my name, but I care if you forget me.  I have a memorable face, and I say interesting things.  I am funny, and I made you laugh.  We talked about our cats, and I gave you a recipe for cat pie – how could you possibly not remember any of that? 

In addition, the declaration that “I’m not good with names” is purely an excuse, casting off personal responsibility for not making the effort to remember the name, and blaming it on some bullshit personal trait that has no basis in reality.  You’re fine at remembering names you need to remember, and have no problem with names of people you see frequently – remembering names takes practice, usage and requires you to commit them to memory.  We’re not good with anything until we choose to be, and so telling someone “I’m not good with names” is a subversive way of telling them that their name was not important enough for you to remember.  Holy insult, Batman!

Last month, I put this to the test.  I say hi all the time to the janitor at work; he’s a nice guy, and he knows my name, because it’s stuck on my cubicle wall.  I was once formally introduced to him ages ago, but for the life of me I could not recollect his name.  An awkward moment  presented itself where it became obvious I had forgotten his name, so I said:  “Ya know what?  I feel like an asshole right now, because we talk every day, but I cannot for the life of me remember your name.”

The guy laughed so hard he almost fell over, and then he told me his name was John.  He forgave me instantly, and even asked why I felt like I should have remembered his name, when there had never been a single occasion where I needed to know it.  I said I should know it because we speak almost daily, and I felt rude.  I sure as shit remembered his name after that, and the mutual enjoyment of each other’s company almost doubled in that moment.

So next time you forget a name, give it a shot – make absolutely sure that you communicate the message, “I may have forgotten your name, but this does not mean I forgot who you are.” 

This is a very important and powerful distinction.

One thing that really sets my teeth on edge is when individuals stick their chin in the air and declare that “people hate me, because I tell it like it is. They hate the truth and I speak the truth. They don’t wanna hear the truth, so because I speak it, they hate me.”

If you are someone in the habit of doing this, please put yourself on pause for a moment and listen.

Nobody hates you for “telling it like it is”. They hate you because you tell it like it is impolitely. You do it belligerently, aggressively, you do it without considering the feelings of the people to whom you are speaking, and you do it with the assumption that nobody but you cares how it is, whatever the “it” may be. Everyone is interested in clearing things up and getting to the bottom of problems, and so to proclaim that you are the only one with an interest in improvement is extremely offensive. Nobody hates the truth – they only hate rude assholes, who cannot communicate like civilized adults. They don’t hate the things you are saying, they hate the way you are saying these things, because the way you say these things lacks respect for the people with whom you are trying to communicate.

In all probability, you feel the need for this belligerent approach because you are accustomed to not being heard, especially when you have tried politeness several times, and this did not work. Nobody listened. This is frustrating, and stirs up anger. This frustration and anger causes you to drop the pleasantries, increase the volume and aggression in your inflection, and yell out at inappropriate times what you have been trying to say all along. Suddenly the room goes quiet, and mission accomplished – you have now been heard.

But the things you were saying were not actually heard at all. All that was heard was your bark, your implied threat, your aggression and your instability. People heard your volume; you made them jump. They heard your anger, which to them came out of nowhere; this makes you seem irrational and unpredictable in their eyes. They heard you throw a tantrum, and they suddenly feel less comfortable being around you, to the point where you stop getting invited to meetings because you tend to conduct yourself like an asshole.

Here is the point where you draw the conclusion that people hate you because you just speak the truth and tell it like it is. You are reaching the wrong conclusion, and in doing so, decreasing the likelihood that people will want to listen in the future.

There is a polite way to tell it like it is and be heard, which is delivered respectfully, in a non-threatening or aggressive manner, at appropriate times, when it is your turn to speak, and with relevant, logical background information to support the reasons they should pay attention.
Try this approach, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

CC