Oh, The Indignity…

I have been undignified all my life. In some instances it was just small and hardly noticeable – in others massive and memorable. It was a method of living – if anything about life can be methodical – that served me well. Because it let the pressure out of the vessel before it burst.

There were a lot of times when that was the difference between continuing to be a real social being and retreating into depression and fear. I never went into those regions because I aways blew up the verbal paper bag and popped it to let off the tension.

Being foolish is undignified. So is being crass, gauche, pitiful, or needy. No successful comedian was ever dignified – that was the job of the straight man. But in the end the straight man was always the second banana in the act. You know the names Abbot and Costello but it’s Lou you remember with affection.

The class clown is frequently the class dolt – the person who finds that they cannot learn or think and quickly runs for the simple reward of attention. Even if they have to purchase it at the expense of harsh discipline they will act up and get the laugh. If there is a class brain, they observe this behaviour and see if it can be adapted to their needs; frequently this is the case. The dolt never knows that they have been a useful example.

This was the case for me in grade school. Hauled, as was my norm, out of one school between years to another far way ( heavy construction company work ) I had the wearisome task of new-kid fights and pecking order with the start of the eighth grade. The class clown was a dolt from the local area who did his share of picking on me  between getting into other trouble. And it was watching his treatment at the hands of authority that taught me what to do.

a. Do not play up in class. Let the teacher get on with the business of teaching. If you can sit learning, do so. If all you can do is sit, take that route. But sit quietly.

b. Do not play dumb. Never do badly academically just to please the mob. Pass the tests as best you can and let others fail at their own pace.

c. Make a fool of yourself for the amusement of the mob in some show that doesn’t cost anything. That relieves the jealous tension and lets them out of having to react to anything you do.

d. Then occasionally sock it to them. Make fools of them.

 

 

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Sobering Up and Behaving Properly

I seem to be in the sights of a number of organisations that wish me to obey them. Not just the police and taxation office – now it is the nutritionists, dietitians, and moral reformers. They have selected my home as their target for tonight and I can hear the rumble of bomber engines every time I turn on the internet.

To be fair, I invite this attack myself by clicking on Facebook. It is the equivalent of turning on all the house lights and throwing back the curtains on a moonless night.

I was told to give up alcohol for January – with the promise that it would make my life better. There was a clear inference that if I continued abstinence through the following eleven months I should become a healthy and sane individual. They did not feature a picture of Carrie Nation and her hatchet  on the internet, but I’ll bet they were tempted.

I am also to abstain from all meat, milk, eggs, and other non-vegan foods. This is not being sold to me for my health, but on moral grounds. The pictures used to scold me away from meat are actually worse than those of Carrie in her bonnet.

Occasionally I am warned away from fluoride in my drinking water, soft drinks, natural gas, vaccines, Chinese people, and anything else of which an internet poster does not approve.

Of course, I am always forbidden to approve of the American president, local politicians, Australia Day, horse races, and many more hitherto innocuous subjects. This list grows yearly and is the subject of some cynical betting as to what will be next. Note: 50 years ago I was scolded for using an aluminium cooking pot, which was pretty bizarre at the time…I had no idea the internet would bring so many more sins to light.

I do not resent the posts – they are evidence that people think of my welfare and want the best for me. Of course, this benevolence is not a one-way street. They do expect something in return. If it is not donation of money, it is assistance in promoting Their Glorious Cause. I’m only sorry that heretofore I have not done so…but I fully intend to go to their next torchlight rally at the sports stadium. I like the searchlights and the marching bands…

The Whippersnapper

I use this in my title to alert a reader of this column to the fact that I read his column as well. He’s recently mentioned the word and lamented that it is not used any more. I have been thinking about that and agree with him. But there’s nothing to stop us – he and I – from inventing new phrases that can be just as effective.

Do we wish to suggest that someone is shallow, annoying, and attention-seeking? Would we like to include overtones of callow and valueless behaviour? Would we like to call someone a whippersnapper?

Well, we’ll try one of these:

a. ” A Beardless Youth “. Sounds classical and classy. Particularly effective if the target person happens to be female.

b. ” An Ungracious Lout “. If we, in our turn, look like unmade beds, it gives added piquancy to this.

c. ” An Exquisite “. No-one really knows what this means but it sounds brittle and slimy  at the same time – a considerable feat.

d. ” A Social Climber “. This suggests that the person is a snob but that is only one of the options. People can climb down as well as up…

e. ” A Brazen Vessel “. A bit more biblical, but still suggesting more valueless noise and shallow capacity.

The good thing about using these phrases is that while they are not obscene, they are memorable. We must use them sparingly, and pronounce them in a slow, clear manner. They will stick better than wax* to a blanket.

*  Wax is not the word I wanted to use but this is a family column.

 

 

What Font Are You?

I have a peculiar habit to confess. I go to book stores and look at things in the Graphic Designer section. Yet, I am not a graphic designer. Those of you who look at the heading images of this and other columns I write have discovered this a long time ago. I can cut and paste and assemble a billboard, but my taste in colours and letters is woeful.

Yet, there are people in the world who can do this design thing well. Their pages are a pleasure to look at – if sometimes a little painful to read – and they can make a living doing this for clients as well as themselves. Hats off to them.

But back to the fonts. You’ll have some in your computer or tablet – particularly if you’ve got a writing app or a photo-editing one. There is a standard Adobe and Apple font book with dozens of variations on the Roman letters and Arabic numbers that are our standard English symbols. You can buy the use of extra fonts and sometimes get them as downloads from directories. I’ve got Retro Font and  Script Font books that allow me dozens more choices. Sometimes the computer doesn’t like them and refuses to use them, but mostly it is clear sailing.

Does a favourite font tell us something about you? Can it tell you something you had not acknowledged? Deep psychological questions, indeed. You’ll have to dredge your own mental pond – I’ll show you my favourites:

You can make your judgements accordingly. I do use whatever the books or computer font store might suggest for specialized signs. There are enough variants that you can letter out decals for model airplanes in period style and make lots of faux-historical images.

” You Wait Till I Get You Home “

We can all remember that one, can’t we? Either we said it or heard it.

It was a tense little sentence.

At the time I never realised what fun it could have turned into. All one would have needed was for the child to say:

” Are you going to take your belt off and beat me with it again? ” in the presence of strangers. And then cringe away.

I daresay there would have been consequences, but a new wariness on the part of the parent over the business of psychological terror out in public.

What Do You Do After You Lift The Flat Rock?

Or in this case, what do you do after someone makes a particularly inappropriate political posting on a social media site?

Conventional manners suggest that you just ignore it. Sex, politics, and religion being the topics that are socially awkward at parties, they are avoided by the polite. But social media is sometimes occupied by the less-than-polite. The horrifying thing is when you discover that someone you  invited as a Facebook friend was willing to bring crass propaganda posts in and plaster them up. it’s like seeing fascist or communist banners unfurled at a cocktail party.

I may have done the wrong thing in the heat of the moment by responding with a comment that jeered at the propaganda. This might result in the original poster taking umbrage and cutting the connection. Awkward – it is a person I will see in the future at social events. I predict chilly atmospheres a’coming.

Well, so be it. I need no preaching or teaching from the marxists or the fascists. I can lead my own social revolution with the BGA. We do not march in the streets but we do lurk on street corners and spit into the gutter.

Ve Germans Haff A Sense Of Humour

As you will haff noticed, my name iss a Teutonic one. It iss from the Tyrol where my Grossvater has come. He wass in Amerika from many years and I am here in Australia until now.  So I haff a connection to the Old Country…in fact to several old countries.

I wish to address the libel that iss promoted that Germans haff no sense of humour. This has been the standard of jokes throughout the Western world since 1914. The Eastern world iss too serious for this sort of thing – they regard the German nations as carousels of comedy.

The libel iss false! Ve haff as strong a sense of humour as anyone. The fact that we do not haff a native Mr. Bean does not bar us from appreciating him, though ve would not vish that he was a German or Austrian citizen. After Brexit this will be less of a danger.

Ve haff many jokes – you must look up back copies of ” Simplicimus ” to see this and there are amusing cartoons of the German Imperial general staff there as well. Wise people do not laugh at them in public, however.

Vee also participate in ze jokes that ask how many people are required to screw in light bulbs. But we know the secret that they are not screw-based bulbs. They are bayonet -based bulbs, and if zere iss one thing that a German iss good vith it iss a bayonet. Zat iss why ve only need one person.

And ve are as ready as anyone to laugh at ze Amerikan President. It iss fashionable and makes us look better by comparison. Ze fact that we were not fast enough to erect a border wall around Deutschland in the last couple of years to prevent the sort of thing that he complains of iss neither here not there – but ve are not laughing quite so hard about zis.

If you vant people who haff no sense of humour, try the Swedes.