My Typewriters; No Touchy!

Just read this interesting blog entry from Mark Adams of Type-Writer.org.  He describes an internal memo that was circulated within the fledgling Apple offices.  In it, it was suggested that all typewriters within the offices be eliminated, replaced by the more efficient word processor machines and software that the company was producing.

Being enamored as I am with these glorious manual type machines, I can only paraphrase Chuck Heston and say “…From my cold, dead hands…”  —  HEY!  Keep yer mitts off my QWERTY’s!

 

Relearning To Read

You know those “What teacher most influenced your career?” type questions?  I hate those questions because frankly, I can’t think of a single teacher that sparked me.  At least, not a teacher from the public school system.  That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything, I just can’t say with confident hindsight that any one person inspired me at school.  How sad.  BUT – at least I can claim to be a card-carrying victim of 20th century schooling; so I can always snuggle up to that comfy thought each night.

I don’t blame the school system outright.  As is our (human) nature, we all got caught up in the old “Ooh, if THIS is good, more of THAT will be even better!” mentality.  Even worse, we let economics dictate the course we take, centering our sites on the median aggregate.  On paper it always seems prudent, but it rarely is in real life.  Community life continues to disappear along with over-the-fence discourse.  No one seems to know how to make a point anymore, much less an argument.  So here I sit, wishing I could read.

Actually I do know how to read, but reading media “tweets” and reading novels are two different skills.  And what ever happened to skimming?  Wow, that’s a skill I really have to relearn.  What a time saver!  I wish my high school teachers would have turned me onto that discipline when they assigned me Hemmingway.

I stopped reading after college.  Cold.  Dead stop.  What a travesty.  It’s a horse I’m finally willing to get up on and try again.  Giddy-yup.  ~TH~

 

Nope, Not Homeless… But Thanks For Playing!

Let me get something straight right now – I’m not homeless.  I’ve never been homeless; unless you count my first semester in a West Virginia dorm, where I shared a room with a guy who’s foot odor could force a taliban soldier to renounce his ethos.  Nope, I’m just one of those unfortunate guys who looks homeless.  One day unshaved is one day too many.

I’ve never had much going for me in the looks department,  and I’ve never been particularly vain.  Was the absence of vanity because I was one rank above Quasimodo, or did I neglect my average appearance due to my lack of vanity?  I’m almost sure my being empirically lazy has something to do with it.  What’s the point?  How can I possibly compete with a Ralph Lauren model?  I mean, we’re not even the same species!  As Bugs Bunny (the great philosopher) once said, “Only a fool would go after the Singing Sword!”.

My wife does her best with what she has to work with.  Once a month she pays our teenage son to hold me down so she can shave my face.  She provides me with clean clothes to choose from.  I know she does, because I glance at them every morning while I put on the T-shirt and shorts I’ve been wearing for four days straight.

I once had a flowing mane of average colored hair.  I grew it long as a teenager to piss my father off (it worked).  Looking back now I can see that it didn’t make me handsome, it made me appear foolish.  Good thing too, it gave everybody ahead of me the heads up that a foolish person was approaching.  Then my hair began to recede; and by recede, I mean retreat like an army of cowards.  I hung on to a pony tail for way too long, way WAY too long.  I’m amazed my wife put up with that phase, but looking back I can see that for her, it was just the beginning of a long string of silent resignations to come.

I guess I’m average looking.  At least, no one ever skittered from my presence, eyes averted downward – so I assume I’m not grotesque.  And I sure never understood the appeal of having cosmetic surgery to make people think that I really am a beautiful person.  Nope, I’m the annoying guy that holds the door open for you so that you’re forced to say something polite- and you better say it too, or I’m gonna carry that chip for an hour.

The truth is, I love being average.  I never had any sense of shame or remorse about it.  I recall getting C’s on my report cards- that was considered ‘average’ (do kids even get grades anymore?).  My parents would give me the patented “We’re so disappointed” look.  Why be above average I wondered?  I never noticed that above-average people were any happier.  In fact, most of them seemed more miserable; and they were working on something all the time!  No thanks, I’ll be sitting on the bumper of my car, under-age drinking with my average buddies at the park, thank you very much.

I didn’t have to be teased about being special on either side of the judgement spectrum because, well, I wasn’t.  I discovered that the middle ground can be a delightful place to be.  Besides, I invariably cut myself shaving, every time.  Don’t bother looking for me.  I’m invisible, and apt to remain so.  ~TH~

 

Laughing All The Way

I always thought my friends were funny- me too!  Well, here’s a bit of a book I’m working on.  If you don’t like it, well, fuck you, it’s free.

I Don’t Get It

When it comes right down to it, nobody makes people laugh. When you laugh properly it’s an involuntary reaction. That’s what makes forced laughter so awful, even worse than silence. It says to the jokester “Gosh, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, so I’ll laugh awkwardly instead.” We’ve all been in that tricky situation where something is said, then everybody laughs except us- because we don’t get it. I’m guessing that most of us in that situation will muster a fake laugh, all the while feeling like an impostor, waiting for the moment to pass.
For folks like myself, who garner all approval and judge their own self-worth by how many laughs they get per day (L.P.D.), it’s not surprising to discover that when we study the body’s Humor Distribution System (H.D.S.) scientifically, our eyes and ears are attached to our brains. [tom hitt, 12/13/13 8:06 AM – run-on sentence – clean this up.] If I make a remark that’s funny and you don’t laugh, there are only two reasonable assumptions I can make; either you don’t get it, or your ability to process humor is impaired in some way. If it’s a disease, you can count on me to help fund the search for a cure. I suppose a third option is that you’re ignoring me, but that seems unlikely, I’m so engaging! The final (and least likely) explanation might be that what I said just wasn’t funny; and that’s just not funny.

Among some desperate non-funny people, a haughty, exclusionary attitude is misconstrued as humor, which is a cold and unreasonable way to get laughs in my book. It’s tantamount to bullying. Making people say or do something just to make them look foolish isn’t funny; never was, never will be. I was the object of such a ruse at a gig a few years back. I was playing music at a wedding rehearsal dinner. It was an outdoor affair, very swanky, chock full of pretentious snobs. Someone asked me to announce that one of the cars in the parking lot had it’s lights on. Then some “helpful” guest asked that I also announce that the car was running. The car was a Prius. What the hell did I know, I didn’t own a Prius, never even drove one. For those of you who still don’t ‘get it’— a Prius couldn’t have been running in the parking lot, the engine only runs when it’s traveling above 5 miles per hour. Assholes.

Obscure, outdated or confusing references can be the death of a schtick. A prankster, as with a neo-vegan organic environmentalist, must think globally and perform locally. Avoid jokes about vegetables though, they just aren’t funny. Stick to fruits, they have a lot more laughs to offer. For example, what’s not funny about a banana?

On occasion the joke isn’t actually the real joke at all. This is the best place to observe people who ‘don’t get it’ because they wind up hanging themselves for our pleasure. Against all odds they forge ahead, bound and determined to be voted ‘dumb-ass of the evening’.
Some time ago a good friend of mine related a family dinner scenario in which his brother-in-law was about to repeat a joke that he didn’t understand. For some reason the brother-in-law thought that this would be the perfect time to bounce it off of other folks, to see if they would get it. Please take my advice, never tell a joke that you don’t get, especially when seated at a formally set dinner table, surrounded by your very large, very christian right wing family. Yes, it’s that bad. For those of you with delicate sensibilities, this is your last chance to stop reading. No? OK, I warned you.
My friend is seated directly across from this impending disaster. His brother-in-law begins: “What do you call a mexican woman with no legs?” At this point my friend attempts a silent admonishment, glaring at his soon-to-be ex-relation, eyes wide with panic, subtly shaking his head no (NO!!) to this fool.
Apparently being subtle would not work, so my friend regroups his thoughts. He now mentally prepares himself for triage, preparing to pick up the pieces after all hell breaks loose, which it certainly will. “Consuelo” comes the punchline. My friend’s eyes reflexively close. It is guaranteed that at the very least his father-in-law will throw down his napkin in disgust as his mother-in-law falls to the floor in a dead faint. — — Nope. Silence. No one else gets it either. Oy Vey…

Years ago I attended a very nice brunch thrown for the choir members of our former church (that’s another book). I’m the tenor in this scene. I’m chatting about the most recent doings of Warren Buffett with a bass singer, also a member in the choir. Warren Buffett (if you don’t know) is a highly intelligent, insanely wealthy philanthropist. During this period he was in the news all the time. As we were chatting, a soprano sat down and joined us, mid conversation. Now I’m not casting stones here, or typecasting anyone – but when she heard my companion utter the name Warren Buffett again, she excitedly exclaimed, “Oh! I love his music!”. Yep, kinda awkward… but hey! I did enjoy the brief glimpse in my mind’s eye of Warren Buffett on a sunny beach stage, singing ‘Margaritaville’ to a bunch of drunken college coeds.

The bottom line is this: if you really want to be funny, know your audience – and remember, sometimes it’s ok to just shut up and listen.