Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Things That Annoy Me #3: Topic Derailers

Surely you've experienced this: You're discussing something of importance to you and someone in the group, at the table, whatever, jumps in with a stream-of-consciousness contribution designed to derail and redirect the conversation. Example:

Me: It's time for liberals and conservatives to get back to a spiritual understanding of the First Amendment.

Jaggoff: You know what I'd like a spiritual understanding of? Beer. It's time we got back to a spiritual understanding of beer!

Conversation suddenly becomes about beer...

Okay, so maybe my example exposes my bias against booze. Hopefully, you get the point, regardless. It is NOT cool to change the subject of a conversation before the conversation has properly played itself out (I believe George Costanza had a similar complaint on Seinfeld; and if you haven't figured out George Costanza is ALL of our "ids" properly expressed, you haven't been paying attention). But why do people derail the conversation in the first place? I have a few theories:

1. They're dumb. Dumb people cannot stand a conversation that wades into water higher than an inch. The moment they sense a conversation is going somewhere they can't handle, they derail it. Observe, if you will, a dolt like Jimmy Kimmel the moment someone brings up something as challenging as, say, reading. He'll make a joke about his own illiteracy and change the topic. He's not the first TV moron to do that. Jay Leno, who's actually an intelligent person when he's not in front of a camera, used to do the same thing. Notice, if you will, how few authors actually appear on Kimmel's show (compared to, say, David Letterman, who had both a Hoosier intellect and sense of humor and therefore was not threatened by the likes of Hunter Thompson or even Stephen King).

2. They disagree with what's being said and, rather than argue the point from their perspectives, find it's safer to simply change the subject. These people are fucking cowards and should have been drown at birth. There's nothing wrong with disagreement. Disagreement should be talked out. Even the goofy dumbasses who still spew murderous Marxist Theory agree there should be thesis and antithesis in any dialogue.

3. They disagree with the topic and they're too dumb to explain why. This, of course, combines the first two topic derailers and, in actuality, probably explains ninety percent of the topic derailment that occurs in conversation.

We need to get back to conversations that have a purpose. Constantly changing the subject when the subject is an uncomfortable one will leave us in an intellectual tar pit and, like the dinosaurs, we will eventually die out because of it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Things That Annoy Me #2: Sentence Finishers

Oh my brothers and sisters, they're everywhere: People who think it's okay to finish your sentence for you.

Where the fuck did this come from?

When I speak, I take my time. I make sure the words I choose will do the best possible job of articulating what it is I'm trying to communicate. That means there are, occasionally, pauses. These pauses are not an invitation for someone else to jump in and interrupt. I am not playing Mad-Lib (or whatever the hell that game is called). I am taking my time to make sure I say exactly what I mean to say.

And it is, of course, during those pauses that the dreaded sentence finishers of the world leap in and attempt to complete others thoughts for them.

The audacity!

And here's the rub:

Sentence finishers, in my experience, NEVER complete my sentences correctly. In fact, they are often spectacularly off target. Perhaps this is what makes the sentence finishers I've encountered especially annoying. Here's an example:

Me: I was thinking about...

SF: Buying new tires for your car?

Me: ...looking for a translating job in Botswana.

SF: Oh.

That's the most common thing you'll hear a sentence finisher say--"Oh." And you'd think the sentence finisher might learn the first or second time he or she has to say "Oh" and feel foolish for posing as a mindreader (and for anyone who says, Well, sometimes you can predict what someone's going to say, realize this: Anyone who is that predictable isn't worth talking to).

The most notorious sentence finisher in my life is a woman I've known since we were both small children. I'll refer to her only as KJ in order to avoid any possible lawsuits. When we were kids, KJ referred to me as her "little brother." She had no siblings of her own and I was the oldest sibling in my own house (and, at the time, had no sisters), so I went along with it. This allowed me to have one safe, platonic relationship with a female and I attempted to use this relationship to glean information about women in general. But KJ, I learned over time, was not an ordinary female. The advice she gave me with respect to women was awful and cost me more than a few dates and relationships with women I really liked. KJ never moved out of her mother's house and she is now a middle-aged spinster whose impressions of the world are manufactured entirely by the garbage she sees on television. She has also, for reasons I couldn't begin to comprehend, blossomed into a hardcore sentence finisher. Most people in my family will no longer hang out with her for a number of reasons. One of the main ones, I suspect, is that KJ has NEVER, NOT ONCE IN HER LIFE, correctly finished anyone else's sentence.

There, I had to get that off my chest. Don't try to finish my fucking sentences. Be patient and wait for me to finish my thoughts on my own. You'll be rewarded, I promise, with something much more interesting than you could possibly predict in a split second.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

NAPTOWN NOIR

So I am going to edit a charity anthology of short stories called NAPTOWN NOIR. The stories will take place in my hometown, Indianapolis, Indiana. Anything dark. No detectives or mystery-solving stuff. The profits will go to the Indiana Literacy Association. The anthology will be released through Down & Out Books. That's all the info I have at the moment. If you have a story that takes place in Indianapolis that you think would be appropriate, let me know and we'll discuss it.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Things That Annoy Me #1: Public Restroom Etiquette

In attempts to make this blog just slightly interesting, I shall begin a new series on Things That Annoy Me. I'd like to start with a discussion of public restrooms. In particular, the behavior of my fellow brothers in the human race.

I write in the library and work at the radio station at the University of Montana. Across the hall from the radio station is a coed bathroom. A real coed bathroom, meaning, men and women use it at the same time. Initially, I didn't think much of it. The first couple of times I used a toilet in it, no one else was present, so the ramifications of men and women sharing a public restroom didn't make themselves clear.

The third time I used the coed restroom, however, I noticed someone was in another stall. I began to wonder--if it's a woman, will she mind hearing the sounds I make when I use the restroom? It was also at that point I noticed the remnants of piss around the toilet, a sure sign that men had used it and, as is often the case, had betrayed their supposed superior visual-spatial intelligence by failing to hit the bowl (calm down, potheads!). I took care of my business, making sure I didn't add to the moat developing around the outside of the toilet, and went to wash my hands.

The occupant of the other stall, indeed, turned out to be a young woman. We didn't make eye contact as we washed our hands. I thought, at that moment, that maybe coed bathrooms, as much as the campus idiots may think them "progressive," are not such a good idea. On my next trip, I encountered another young woman who seemed to have a better sense of humor about it. She managed to grin as she passed me at the sinks to wash her hands. But in both instances, I couldn't help but wonder, Do women really want to spend time positioning their feet on the toilet so they don't step in the puddles left by men who cannot do something so simple as aim for the interior of the bowl?

Here's another thing I've seen way too many times recently--Men using the bathroom and not washing their hands afterward. This is disgusting and, ultimately, dangerous. Who the fuck raised these barbarians? Oh my brothers, you must do better in the public sphere. Hit the fucking toilet dead on and wash your goddamn hands when you finish!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Contest and a Plea!

So I must make this request once again -- as many who read this blog know, a book does much better on Amazon once it has 25 reviews. If you haven't already done so, please buy, read, and review Down on the Street, my latest novella. Even if you absolutely hated the book, leave a review letting people know why you didn't like it. You won't hurt my feelings. In attempts to convince folks this is worth their time and money, I am having a contest. Once the book has 25 reviews, I will take the names of all 25 people who were kind enough to help me out, drop them in a hat, and randomly choose three to receive copies of the follow up to Down on the Street when it is (hopefully) published next year.