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Killing You Softly

March 18, 2013 1 comment

As someone who has been in the customer service industry for about 15 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about conflict resolution. Mostly, as someone turns red-faced and spews white-hot acid onto your face and melts it into something akin to a hearty stew, you smile through the agitated spittle and say, “I understand where you’re coming from.” I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject, the same way that Dr. Phil considers himself an expert on hair regrowth. You thought I was going to take the easy way out and say “psychology”, didn’t you? Well, you were wrong. Terribly wrong. Unconscionably wrong. I’ve called the police. You won’t get away with this.

I’ve found that the best way to defuse a situation is to “kill the other person with kindness”. There are a few distinctions between this, and “killing someone with a knife”, “killing someone with murder”, or “killing someone with poison metered out into their food in such low doses that a standard toxicology screening can’t find it until the autopsy”.

When someone gets mad at you and starts yelling, the first response is the aforementioned “I understand where you’re coming from” or the lesser “I hear that you are upset”. Though you may feel the need to say either of these with a tone that says, “I hear that you are an idiot who likes to hear themselves talk”, please resist. That part comes later, and much more subtle.

I have found that a well-formed response comes in the form of an insult. Now, please don’t misunderestimate me. And while I’m making up words, don’t antiunderstandigate me, either. The cleverest of backhanded compliments comes in two varieties:

-Telling a person something that sounds nice, but is actually mean

If I said, as you were regurgitating your despicable vitriol on me, “I am sorry you feel that way”, I am, in actuality, saying, “I am sorry your feelings are misguided and invalid as it pertains to your complaint”. Likewise, “I see your point” translates flawlessly to “Your mother is probably ashamed for the way you have turned out”. This not only diffuses your rage, but also shows I am the better person for having sustained your ridiculous absurdity without kicking you in “the nether regions”. Honestly, the sheer cost of flying you to Holland just to kick you in the groin doesn’t pay for itself, in terms of five-year amortization (just another term I picked up in business school that I obviously don’t know how to use correctly).

-Telling a person something that sounds mean, but is really very nice

This way of insulting someone does require some forethought. I recommend noting these insults ahead of time and keeping them strapped to your forearm like an NFL quarterback keeps a list of plays. Unlike Tim Tebow, however, you may actually want to READ these once in a while. Otherwise, you may have a sweaty fat guy pounce on you 20 times every Sunday (like Tim Tebow).

For your convenience, I have pre-loaded a few insults that are actually quite complimentary. These one-liners catch your opponent off guard so much that he/she (or in the worst-case scenario, a he-she) will be prone to ask, “AND JUST WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?!” You may then disarm this mouth-breathing halfwit by telling him/her (or a him-her) by telling them just what the heck you mean by that.

“You, sir, are a Pennsylvania Dutchman!” = “You are hard-working and provide me with delicious handmade candy.”

“I can see clearly that you are consumed by despair and self-loathing.” = “You are a person who is filled with feeling and emotion.”

“You rabid wolverine crawling with maggots!” = “You are a respectable persistent mammal with a magnetism for others.”

“You are the Lindsay Lohan of rational human beings.” = “I loved the ‘Parent Trap’ remake.”

Now you, too, can go out and serve the public with kindness and respect! These tactics are foolproof! Just to be safe, I carry a can of pepper spray.

Pay Leo If You Want To Live

March 10, 2013 1 comment

In an effort get healthier and possibly lose some unwanted pounds, I have been trying to eat “Paleo”. This term is derived from the expression “Paleolithic Era”, which scientists detail as “the time when man had unibrows and pooped in the woods”. I have been slowly working Paleo meals into my diet. One meal a day, wedged between McGriddles and Taco Bell. Slow and steady wins the race. Unless you want to win, in which case – fast wins the race.

When I mention Paleo, people ask me, “What is Paleo?”, and “Why did you force the topic of Paleo into a discussion about the ever-dwindling Amazon rainforest?” Mostly the latter. In layman’s terms, Paleo is described as “what you can pick or hunt”. I try to incorporate those into as many meals as possible.

Corn and other grains are mostly out because they are not simply gathered – they must be cultivated. So, I stick with what can be picked. For lunch, I had an apple, my nose, friends, and a rental car (but I had to pay extra for insurance). Things that are not Paleo are just as simple to surmise: things which you cannot simply pick. For example: legumes, family, and your seat on a Priceline flight (darn you, William Shatner).

Lunchmeat and other processed meats are off-limits because they cannot be hunted. Well, that’s not entirely true, but the kind man at the grocery store asked me to leave when I put a spear through the Oscar Meyer smoked turkey. So if you want to stick to what can be hunted for, I recommend a balanced dinner of organic chicken thighs, your car keys, and a good deal on laundry detergent.

Speaking of Paleo meats – most meat found at your local grocery store is not, in the sincerest sense of the word, Paleo. Most beef and other meat-producing animals (sheep, chickens, goats, humans, etc.) are force-fed a strict diet of corn, diet cola, and cheeseburgers. Experts (cavemen in lab coats who drag their women by the hair back to their caves) recommend eating only grass-fed feed beef.

I stray from the pack of experts, who are busy trying to overcome a wooly mammoth, by saying there is a better meat! I’m not often at the forefront of science, as I currently have 150 leeches draining the evil spirits from my body, but I believe there is a better form of beef. I figure: if eating grass-fed cows is very Paleo, then eating cows that only eat grass-fed beef is über Paleo!

Before you know it, I will be selling (for $1,000 a pound, mind you) beef from cows that eat only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only grass that somehow eats beef that eats grass. It sounds really time-consuming, hence the markup. If you want a side for your beef-fed-beef-fed-beef-fed-grass-fed beef, I will also offer beef-fed grass. But don’t worry: the grass is fed a strict diet of grass-fed beef. So it’s still Paleo.

I know this sounds very daunting, given how grocery stores carry mostly processed foods. I personally get to the Paleo items more quickly by walking up to every teen-aged employee and shouting, “EXCUSE ME. I AM ON A PALEO DIET. PLEASE POINT ME TO THE PALEO FOODS.” At this point, he or she will point in a direction best described as “away from me, you freak”. Nine times out of ten, they will point you to the exit, but that one time out of ten, they will accidentally point you to the nitrate-free bacon. Goldmine.

Some would argue that, if eating Paleo were best for you, then Paleolithic man would still be around today! To you nay-sayers, I say, “Paleolithic man is among us! Just look at your average Linkin Park fan. His knuckles drag the ground like the noble ape.”

I hope this crash course on Paleo helped you on your way to good health. If it did, I can only assume it was an act of God (which is NOT covered under your Homeowner’s Policy). If it did not help, we can probably credit that to the copious amount of misinformation I have dished out here.

In the immortal words of the poet Gerald Springer, “Be good to yourself . . . and each other.”

Just a Thought . . . Part 3

March 14, 2012 Leave a comment

As you know, I enjoy a clever one-liner. That is why I enjoy Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Winston Churchill, and Alf. In my enduring endeavor to emulate emu-related alliteration, Emilio Estevez espouses ornithology. Yes, I am fully aware that makes as much sense as comparing one idea to something that is perhaps more culturally relevant (Flying V). I could continue waste your precious time, but I am consoled by the fact that you are that much closer to death. (That may or may not be an symptom of severe psychosis.)

-A co-worker of mine was selling candy bars to raise money for juvenile diabetes. That’s like selling land mines to raise money for children in Cambodia.

-You could say the tendon behind my ankle is my metaphorical Achilles’ Heel.

-Probably one thing Twitter can do that most people can’t is put billions of statements on the Internet that I don’t care about.

-I am compiling a bucket list. Think of all the things I could do with a 5-gallon bucket!

-Listening to Indian music made me hungry for Indian food. Listening to white people music made me hungry for Hamburger Helper.

-Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. Every time a car honks, a buffalo farts.

-I wrote a song you can sing along to, even if you forget the words. It’s called “Something, Something, Something”.

-Forget about real estate; I’m getting into fake estate. How would you like to see a property on Mars? Quiet neighborhood, great schools.

-Heart attack symptoms are a lot like watching politicians debate: you may want to pay attention to it, but most of the time, it’s just gas.

-Two kinds of people can’t help but be exposed: liars and flashers.

-A baby is very similar to broccoli. No one really wants it, but if you don’t want your mom to be mad at you, you’ll act like you enjoy having it.

Celebrating Our Similarities!

February 27, 2012 1 comment

As a middle-class white male of average height and build aged 21 to 49, I spend a great deal of time appreciating diversity. While I may be a part of the main demographic that advertisers, business owners, car dealerships, WWE, talk radio, apothecaries, and Men’s Warehouse are vying for, I do respect the differences we all share.

For instance, you might be uglier than me, but I celebrate this fact! Or, you may be fatter then me… good for you! You might even have way more back hair than me; I’ll bet you brave the harsh Alaskan winter better than I do! I salute you, different person!

Today, however, I want to celebrate similarities. My wife and I were watching my nephew this evening, and I realized that babies are not so different from cats. In fact, they bear so many resemblances to one another that I dare suppose babies are nothing more than hairless cats who don’t know how to use a litter box (until you teach them)!

I would challenge any one of you to show me how babies are NOT like cats! Let the comparison begin!

WAYS CHILDREN ARE LIKE CATS, VOLUME I

1. Sleeps during waking hours, and bugs you to death while you’re trying to sleep
2. Will eat cat food
3. Instinctually does not like to wear a hat, socks, glasses, or a jockstrap
4. Convinced you are its personal attendant
5. Loves goldfish (a delicious pun!)
6. Climbs trees when chased by a dog
7. Will meow when you put it in a cage
8. Can be left at home alone up to 24 hours with a bowl of food and water
9. When cars drive by, will run into a storm drain
10. When left in a room with a box, will poop in it

I need to take a moment to assure my sister-in-law that I did not attempt all of these on her son. They came back at #7.

This Is What Happens When The Money Runs Out

December 15, 2009 1 comment

As we all know, Oprah’s talk show is coming to an end in the near future.  And by “near future”, I mean 2 years.  That gives us plenty of time to change the channel, and I’m pushing for sooner rather than later.  Since announcing her show will end in the year 2391, there have been a few interesting developments.  I’ve scoured the Internet for the Oprah news you won’t find anywhere else.

From an online article dated 11/30/09 – “. . . it appears that negotiations have broken down recently in Oprah’s attempt to buy, for $12.5 Billion, her soul back from the devil.”

From the Guinness Book of World Records comes this new record for Oprah – “Since launching her own magazine in April 2002, Oprah has now dethroned Mickey Mouse as ‘America’s Most Recognizable Religious Figure’.”

As reported by Court TV – “In a landmark ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Oprah Winfrey to repay each Oprah viewer fifteen years of wasted time.  This is expected to have far-reaching ramifications than many experts believe will set a historic precedent.  I’m thinking here specifically of those same viewers who watch Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and Grey’s Anatomy.”

The most important question of all remains unanswered, which is: What will stupid people watch now?

Do not fear; Oprah is in the beginning stages of starting the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN.  As in, “I own you now”.  The 24-hour network will feature lifestyle programs and human-interest pieces that will surely delight and slowly degrade your brain in a cool lump of porridge.

Who could possibly replace the Queen of Daytime Talk?  I submit that no one could possibly fill the meaningful void other than, perhaps, a German Shepherd on roller skates.

If the Oprah Winfrey Network happens to fail miserably, which I believe it will, what would happen to Oprah?  When Oprah is penniless and struggling to pay the mortgage on her mansion, to what lengths will she go to make a fast buck?  Would Stedman, God forbid, finally have to get a job?

Let’s take a look back at what other stars have done to keep their solid-gold bathtubs just one more month.

Most recently, Creed has come out of a much-deserved and way-too-short retirement.  Like any good movie monster that won’t stay dead no matter how much the vast majority of the population wants it to, Creed has released a nary-anticipated sequel of new music.  (I am using the word “music” very loosely here.)

The only difference, of course, is that Creed’s members are not trying to make the payment on their mansions for another month.  No, sir.  Mansions are classy.  It’s my guess that Creed’s individual members are actually trying to pay $40 in back rent so they don’t get kicked their parents’ trailers.  What happened when Creed’s money ran out?  THIS:

I doubt you were able to hold back the bile from backing up into your mouth.  If you made it a minute in (and if so, I applaud you), you would have heard the inherently deep and thought-provoking lyric, “I’m entitled to overcome”.  If it were just a bit more of a piece of utter tripe, it might one day be featured on OWN.

I Have the Worst Musical Taste Ever (And I Love It!)

October 11, 2009 1 comment

Throughout my day, I receive a lot of feedback from many people.  Most of it is positive, like “Your breath smells less bad today.  Congratulations,” or, “I can see you’ve washed your hair in the last month.  That’s quite the improvement.”  It really builds my self esteem.  Just when I get to this high point of “Your shoes match today.  Good job,” someone has to come along and mock me relentlessly for my taste in music.  Mostly, that someone is my wife, but that’s beside the point.  I do hear it from others as well.

I do not see any problem with my choice of music, but that is mainly because I am tone-deaf and have suspect oral hygiene.  (I’m not sure exactly what my rotting teeth and puffy gums have to do with poor musical taste, but I’ve never been shy about how I let my body fall into neglected, diseased pieces.)  I have complied a short list of bands I like.  You will probably tease me to no end also, but I risk being vulnerable because I love you, my readers, so gosh-darn much.  Here goes:

U2 (I am, apparently, 40 years old at heart)
-Live (and I appreciate men who sing way too high)
Linkin Park (I don’t know why, either)
Good Charlotte (because there’s a little teen angst in all of us)
Tokio Hotel (strange, because I haven’t worn black nail polish in years. I’m trying to jump on the bandwagon before they get talented)
-God help me, I still don’t mind listening to Creed (everyone needs a little convoluted, watered-down spirituality)

There is a whole host of other musicians I could put on this list, but I believe it’s diverse enough that I can poke fun at them (and myself) for a reasonable amount of time.  Plus, if you don’t understand my criticism of one band, you should be able to for another and be able to laugh along.  I’d like to tackle these bands one at a time, to help you (and me, actually) figure out why in the world I would listen to such drivel when other great bands exist and make relevant, competent music.

U2– Many people can’t figure out why I would listen to a band whose biggest album came out when I was 3, but I can’t help it.  In 2001, I got hooked on the classics U2 put out, and have learned to tolerate the passable garbage they have put out since. Bono, either go to every foreign dignitary in a vain attempt to save the world or sing.  And the world would prefer you do the latter.  Thank you.

Live– Again, this band’s heyday was well before I was of music-appreciating age.  A distinct blend of Eastern symbolism American spirituality (menthol, of course), Live embodied the confused youth of the early 90s (who, coincidentally, wore oversized plaid shirts with torn-up jeans).  Since then, they have put out a string of feel-good, “love everybody” tunes that have not done well anywhere in the world except Australia.  No one likes Australia.  Not even Australia.  They’re like the France of the Southern Hemisphere.

Linkin Park– No one has perfected the “sing quiet, then the other guy raps, then I scream like a pinched toddler” formula quite like LP.  Kudos to them for making so much money that they can take baths in gold doubloons.  You will never find a band that uses the words “pain” and “shut up” in such a formidable way.  Sure, we can mock them, but they laugh all the way to the bank to cash a solid gold check.

Good Charlotte– Yes, we understand, you were picked on in high school.  It’s time to move on and become a member of the tax-paying adult community.  You have a receding hairline and are still writing songs about not getting picked for the junior varsity baseball team, we get it.  That’s all I can say.  They’re really that one-dimensional.

Tokio Hotel– I realize they’re not any good.  Don’t even point that out.  My point is, they will be good. Five years from now, when you’re all wearing their t-shirts, let this serve as a reminder that I posted this on October 11th, 2009.  I just bought the new album, and it’s mostly bad.  Still, it’s ten times better than the previous offering that was vomited from the dregs of “Record Companyland”.  What can you expect?  They’re German.  (No offense to the Germans, though I don’t know why it wouldn’t be offensive.)

Creed– I could never figure out if Creed was singing about God or psychedelic mushrooms.  “Can you take me higher?”  It was always so shrouded in mystery that I had no clue.  I suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder, assuming the beholder is stupid and 14.  I heard they are putting out a new album.  I just (as I am writing this) watched a video of the new single, and I must admit I am ashamed to witness the shameless cashing-in of past glory.  Good for them, ha!

If you loved this, let me know.  If it made no sense and flew completely over your head, let me know in that case as well.  I WILL post something very soon in which I will be writing my own songs.  Plus, I will be needing your input.  Did somebody say “exciting“?  No?  Did anybody at least say, “marginally thought-producing“?  Not that either?  Forget it, then.