Saturday, January 1, 2011

Were You Sure To Forget Your Acquaintances?

And never bring them to mind? Or something like that.

No one actually knows the words to that song. Or why the hell we feel compelled to sing it at New Years. Much less the title of that song. It's Auld A Laud Syng, or something. I don't speak Gaelic. Why is it that no one knows this? Because no one cares. Sure, I could spend five minutes on Wikipedia and learn whatever bull crap significance that song has. But I refuse to. I like not caring about that song. It's the perfect little ditty for crowds of drunk people to stumble through. When large numbers of inebriated people sing any song, it ends up sounding like they don't know the lyrics. So it makes sense we commit to a song that no one on Earth knows the words to. It could be Row Row Row Your Boat and a chorus of folks drunk off their asses would still just loudly throw a bunch of nonsensical noises together to something that resembles a melody and then triumphantly declare the last line.

"Row row row ya boe! Genly dow a steeee! Merriee meh meh. LIFE IS BUT A DREAM!"

I say it's a fine tradition. So we should all go out of our way to not to know the lyrics, much less the title to the New Year Song.

So it's it January 1st. A day to declare that we will diagnose aspects of our lifestyle and personality that needs improvement and make the appropriate changes. Join that gym! Don't swear so much! Balance that check book! Stop smelling strangers' hair on the bus! Hey, I'll give that last one up when I'm good and ready. Baby steps.

Though I am a cynical dick, I actually do feel a sense of momentum to improve myself this time of year. And even though that momentum comes from something as arbitrary as your car odometer passing a hundred thousand miles, I'll take any momentum I can get. However, a lifetime of unfulfilled good intentions has also beat into me a justified skepticism when it comes to the process of getting my shit together. Honestly, even the phrase "goal setting" kind of irritates me. Because more often than not, I know I'm just forecasting my own failure.

Here's a piece of advice. Never write down your goals. Ever. Yeah, Tony Robbins will tell you otherwise but he's just a giant toothed, douchey con man. Look, I realize that by documenting your aspirations it gives that objective some weight. So let it be written, so let it be done. (To be clear, I' quoting Metallica. Not Yul Brynner.) But we've all had that moment in early April when you decide to clean up the cluttered trash on your desktop and you find a three and half month old piece of notebook paper with a list of goals. You briefly read down them and chuckle inside knowing that by Martin Luther King day every one of those good intentions went right out the window. And even though it's kind of funny, the reason it's funny is because you knew full well when you made that list that this moment was going to happen. You have become your own punchline. So save yourself the aggravation and just keep your ambitions in the unspecific, ever fluctuating cloud that is your mind where they can be amended and or forgotten as any results of your progress dictate.

Denial. It's the secret to happiness.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make public New Years Resolutions. We should just make ones that are totally trivial. That way, any failure is guilt free. And so in that spirit, I now present:

Brian's List of Trivial and Guilt Free New Year's Resolutions That I Will Probably Forget All About In a Week But It Was a Stupid Goal To Begin With, So Who Really Gives Two Craps?

Trivial and Guilt Free Resolution #1: Drink More Ginger Ale.

I love Ginger Ale. It may be the most refreshing soda out there. Just sweet enough to please the pallet but dry enough to refresh. And yet I never buy it. Ever. Whether it's a twelve pack at the grocery store, a 44 at the gas station or a single can from a vending machine, I never spend money on this treat. Although, I almost always drink it when I'm on an airplane. I'm not sure why. But twenty minutes into any flight I'm on, when the flight attendant chirps out, "Cocktail? Soda?" I almost always order myself a Ginger. And I enjoy the hell out of it. So I here by declare that I will remedy this shortcoming. No long will Ginger Ale be consumed exclusively poured over that round ice machine ice in a short, wide mouthed plastic cup sitting on my pull-down tray on the aisle seat. Nope. Ginger Ale is now at the top of my beverage rotation.

Trivial and Guilt Free Resolution #2: Stop Saying "Bro". In All Of Its Variations.

This one is about five years overdue. To be clear, I don't think I say this very much. But making this a public goal of mine is my passive aggressive way of telling everyone else to knock it the hell off.

By "all of its variations" I include any hackneyed phrase that includes the word "man" as well. That list includes but is not limited to the following; Bro, Bra, Broham, Broseph, Bromance, Bromantic Comedy, Man Crush, Man Purse, Man Boobs, Man Whore, Man Date and while we're at it, let's throw in Booyah. (If this resolution gains the kind of momentum that I'm hoping for, it will effectively end the broadcasting career of Stuart Scott. I am fine with that.)

See, the problem with all of these phrases isn't simply that they are all an extension of the worn out comedic stylings of Tim Allen circa 1992. They are. And that is definitely a problem. But the real issue I have is that they are never said without tinge of irony. "Broseph is clearly a stupid thing to call someone, but I'm saying it with a self congratulatory wink, so it doesn't really count. By saying it, I'm really making fun of the people who say it. But we all know I'm not one of those people. Even though I just said it."

Look, I'm sarcastic to the bone. The whole premise of this stupid post is based on sarcasm. So I can't decide in my second sarcastic entry on my sarcastic list to decry sarcasm. I'm just in favor of slightly more original sarcasm. This has been thoroughly played out. It's time for us all to just walk away from it. Can we agree to that? Great. Let's move on.

Trivial and Guilt Free Resolution #3: Stop Using Facebook Updates To Cram My Political Point Of View Up The Ass Of Every Casual Acquaintance Who Accepted My Friend Request.

Again, I don't think I do this very often. But I hope my public declaration catches on. It's not that I don't enjoy a good political discussion. I love having my own beliefs challenged by honest debate. It usually strengthens my beliefs but I am certainly open to being convinced by a thoughtful counterpoint. But either way it's a constructive experience. However, Facebook is not the forum for this. Not because it's rude or polarizing. If anything, I think we withhold our opinions too much. But gay marriage, health care reform, abortion, global warming and the existence of God are issues that deserve a real conversation. And you just can't do that with a two sentence long bumper sticker that the Facebook status is limited to. You might get seven like minded people to "like" your status. But odds are good you annoyed the hell out of fifty other people. I'm not saying you shouldn't be vocal in your convictions but how many of your 420 friends did you persuade to your point of view? The answer is zero. I promise you. That's not because your beliefs aren't valid or sincere. It's because "Obama is an idiot." is not a thought provoking starting point for a reasonable discussion.

So use Facebook for what's it's good for. And that is an online equivalent of a conversation you have with someone in an elevator. When you step into an elevator and see a coworker that you are friendly with, you acknowledge them with a brief conversation. It may be small talk about the weather, or mild complaining about your day. But either way, it must be concise and trivial enough to be concluded within about thirty seconds. So keep it the status updates interesting and opinionated, but make it something that can be resolved in a couple of two sentence comments. We'll all be better for it.

Trivial and Guilt Free Resolution #4: Change the Channel Every Time the Stupid Capital One Commercial With the Vikings Comes On.

This commercial. It's the way the main viking guy says "Venture Card" in a false baritone. Like chewing on aluminum foil. This resolution will take some commitment today, since Capital One is the primary sponsor to every College Football Bowl Game. Which means these things are on incessantly. But it must be done.

Look, there's just no damn reason on earth that a Viking would have an English accent. None. If anything they should sound like the Swedish Chef. It would be funnier and at least slightly accurate. And it's not that I care about fact checking a stupid commercial. But why English? They might as well have Mexican accents. Or Italian. I guess English accents somehow just sound historic to Americans. Like how everyone in Gladiator had English accents. It sounds Shakespearian. Proper.

However, I can't complain about a commercial being annoying, without being annoying myself. So I choose passive resistance. Instead of grousing about these stupid things, I will simply change the channel when they come on. I think Gandhi would be proud.

Trivial and Guilt Free Resolution #5: Stop Using Every Other Sentence I Say In A Daily Conversation By Quoting Some Movie Or TV Show.

Sadly, this is in no way meant for other people. I am the sole subject of this resolution and anyone who knows me marginally well will happily agree that this needs to happen. I am an unapologetic product of pop culture. That's not such a bad thing. You are too. But an unfortunate side effect of this condition is that I express my alleged individuality by repeating clever lines from Arrested Development, The Simpsons and The Big Lebowski*. And I do it constantly. I can't even control it anymore. It's like I'm a TV/Movie playlist set on shuffle.

There are two primary reasons why this needs to end. First, I am destroying that which I love. I'm taking something that was once brilliant and making it irritating.

The second reason is that by overusing a particular conversational tactic, I am eliminating its effectiveness. It's like the F word. I'm not going to tell you to never say it. Because sometimes there just isn't any other word that will do. But when you drop it into every sentence fifteen times, not only do you become a vulgar dirt ball, you forfeit any impact that the word could have possessed. And so when the time is right to express extreme anger, or whatever, you have defused the most powerful word at your disposal.

A perfectly placed movie reference dropped at a party is a beautiful thing. It's a secret code that instantly filters out the unsophisticated and endears you to those that have the ears to hear. But it is a technique that must be used sparingly. Lest you kill it through overuse.

Years ago in College there was a particular girl that sat in front of me in class who had a good combination of cute and cool. She caught my eye. And if I weren't a pussy, I would have approached her in some charming, debonair manner. But it has been well documented throughout this blog that I am indeed a huge pussy. So the direct and assertive approach was not an option. Through a variety reconnaissance techniques (I stealthily listened to her conversations with her friend sitting next to her in class. Brilliant. I know.) I learned that she was a fan of the movie Waiting For Guffman. I learned this because she once said "It's been a crappy day. I'm just going to go home and bite my pillow." Taking this intel, I devised a strategy for attack. I waited a few days to respond with my own Guffman line. But it had to appear organic and independent of her Guffman line so as to avoid seeming obvious and needy. Also I didn't want to reveal myself as an eavesdropping creep. So the next week, I raised my hand to comment about the reading. It was an English class, so pretty much all comments were some variety of fluffy bull crap. I made a brief point and then seemed to trail off. " ahh . . . you know. . . It's a Zen thing. Like how many babies fit in the tire. You know. That old joke." (Couldn't find a clip.) The Professor did his best to respect my nonsense and then changed the subject. But she immediately turned around, flipping her hair into her face and excitedly whispered, "I LOVE that movie!". That night we made out like bipolar jack rabbits the way that only horny, celibate Mormons can. And I owe that hook up entirely to Corky St Claire and a well placed movie reference.

So it's time to recapture that magic by exercising some much needed restraint. I'm dialing back the volume of quotes. Seriously. I am.

*And Spinal Tap and Raising Arizona and Seinfeld and Flight of the Conchords and Extras and Pulp Fiction and Best In Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock and O Brother and Sunny and Aziz Ansari's stand up. Note how The Cleveland Show is not on that list.


Tyler said...

I'm not really sure what you do these days, so maybe I'm acting like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know... but if it does not involve writing you're missing your calling.

Gregg said...

Resolution #6, stop making up stories about making out with girls via Guffman quotes, nobody's buying it.
But thanks extra for the facebook politics one. I tried typing something like that on my facebook page, but nobody seemed to respond or care... kind of like a political facebook post.

BusterBluth52 said...

Tyler, thanks Broseph.

Gregg, I will not have my integrity impugned by the fake guitarist from Spiritualized. I kid, buddy. To be entirely honest, we didn't hook up for another few days but the Guffman quote was still directly responsible. It just sounded more interesting to cut directly to that. Like in a movie where the guy says something revealing/charming during a date and the woman gives a come-hither look with a single raised eyebrow and the scene cuts to his apartment while they frantically get it on. A hundred things happened between those two moments, but who gives a crap?

Gregg said...

Actually, in my mind, that cut from eyebrow raise to frantic sexual escapades is what I figured happened. And fake guitarist? Ouch!

BusterBluth52 said...

Yeah. That was a little harsh.