Monday, June 22, 2009

The art of conversation

What I am about to say will probably sound cynical. So be it. I do offer the disclaimer that I am not stating this as absolute fact nor am I stating it as applicable to 100% of conversations, merely 98%. Give or take. You know these conversations--the ones you do to be polite. Ready? Here goes.

The art of conversation lies not in how much you can say but in what you do say. In fact, the less you speak, the better.

The art of conversation lies in turning all your conversation toward the other person. Few people really want to get bogged down in the banalities of what you've been up to or what you think on an issue, regardless of whether they ask for said information. Do not assume that "How are you?" is an inquiry of your general state of wellness; it is merely the set-up for "Fine. And how are you?" which is an infinitely more suitable conversation topic than your domestic stresses or flare-up of rheumatism.

Listen with rapt attention to how poor Fluffy had to be put down, how your acquaintance's boss is an ass, and how his or her classes are going. Ask about his or her fondest Fluffy memory, the details of said boss's ineptitude, and whether acquaintance's profs are difficult. Follow up with appropriate croons of sympathy, appropriate righteous indignation at the gall of some people, and appropriate reassurances that you're certain this will be the semester to regain that 3.5 (or 2.5 or 2.0) GPA.

Does the above sound taxing? No worries; you needn't respond with full questions to each and every question or piece of trivia. Nod, smile, or even make noncommittal responses that suggest rapt interest. As a rule of thumb, consider the 37-1 rule. For every 37 words your acquaintance utters, supply one of assent or encouragement. They needn't be spaced at exact intervals; use your discretion to determine when response is required, and if you're damn good, when such prompts assist in the dramatic arc of the unfolding life saga.

Use the above advice, and I guarantee that your social acquaintances will find you a wonderful conversationalist. Just be careful lest they seek you out. Greatness has a cost, and the cost of conversational greatness coupled with cautious politeness is the danger of many lost hours. People can talk for hours about themselves*.

Now playing: Thrice - The Lion and the Wolf
via FoxyTunes

* - Says the blogger. At least I admit to it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

From the "duh" files

I heard this story on the news the other night: The city of Brookville, FL has enacted a new dress code. City workers must meet these unreasonable criteria: wear deodorant, wear underwear, and make sure that when they wear underwear, it does not show.

And there went my relocation and new career goals.

Honestly, that is such an imposition. My armpits are my own business, and geez, but do they plan to do a monthly underwear inspection to follow up?

Righteous indignation aside (the mayor apparently feels the underwear rule "takes away freedom of choice"), my response is one of wry bemusement. The mayor has a point in that choice bit. However, it's clear that this would never have become an issue if it weren't for people abusing that choice. If you wanna go commando, by all means do. That doesn't mean you should go around flashing folks. As much as this pains me to admit, the apparent need for stating the obvious in dress standards fits with this generation's obliviousness to etiquette.

And as a college instructor who has seen her fair share of thongs and boxers*, I hereby suggest all college and university campuses endorse a similar rule.

Now playing: Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas - Hold My Bed
via FoxyTunes

* - I have seriously had to repress the urge to tell said fashionplates to resist the ultra-low-rise jeans and/or just hitch up their britches. In one case, my fingers were twitching to fix one young lady's shirt as she leaned over her (male) classmate's desk. I did not need to know just how color-coordinated her outfit was....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Multimedia Friday: Lacuna Coil

Previously, I've only flirted with Lacuna Coil*, a symphonic metal band. I liked what I heard, but never quite enough to pursue it any further. On a whim a few weeks ago, I was in a store in the mall where the goth and emo kids like to hang out. Lacuna Coil's latest album, Shallow Life was newly released and on sale. On a whim, I bought it, listened to it once or twice, then tucked it away in the armrest of my car.

Last week or so, nothing was on the radio, and I was bored with the CDs I previously had in my car. I rummaged around for something different, came up with Lacuna Coil's, and that's been that. It's been "stuck" in my car's CD player since. Any day now I should be getting bored with it, but the first track "I Survive" draws me in, the dual male-female vocals are used to great effect in "Not Enough," and by the time the last track, my tentative favorite, "Shallow Life" comes around, I'm hooked, a goner. The following video is the first single from the album, "Spellbound." Enjoy.

* - Incidentally, Lacuna Coil (along with Within Temptation, Evansecence, and the like) was great for midnight grading. In spite of that connotation, I still enjoy their music.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who cares?

My grandmother, this weekend, in what I think was a move to demonstrate her savviness with what the kids are up to these days, made a quip about Twitter.

"Twitter is a site for people who believe the world cares about their every move," I said crabbily. I still stand by that assessment.

I have no problem with social networking. I have a book for my face, a space to call mine, and a couple other sites I belong to. And yes, I blog, the ultimate narcissism--I actually believe I have something to say with an audience to pay attention to me. But I really don't believe you care what I had for lunch, who I hobnobbed with, what my kitty cat did just now, and who I'm giving shout-outs to. Seriously.

It's a bizarre mish-mash of the mundane and social posturing, from what I've observed on a few acquaintances' Twitter pages. The mundane is just, as my post title indicates, a matter of "Who cares?" The shouting out and such is akin to those folks who friend every person they ever met gazes with simply for the purpose of showing off how many "friends" they have. In the case of the former, a bit of nondisclosure can go a long way (you just had your first bowel movement in a week? That's, um, congratulations...?). And in the case of the latter, well, I just don't see the value of determining my worth by how many people I've rubbed elbows with. I'd like to think I have some innate value in my own individuality, not something accumulated by sheer chance and contingent upon how many people I've run into ("OMG i think i just drove by bill gates lol").

Now playing: The Bravery - Tragedy Bound
via FoxyTunes

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Road

Well, I've only been waiting for news about the movie rendition of Cormac McCarthy's The Road for months now. Recently, news: a trailer and a release date. I know one of the things I'll be doing come October.

A few thoughts: I am a bit apprehensive, as any person should be when a beloved book is turned into a movie. It seems to be putting a bit more emphasis on the "end of civilization" bit, but that may be for marketing purposes; the focus really is on the father and son in the book, and it looks like they're capturing the closeness. (You might not tell from the trailer, but the mother is barely there in the book....) Another nitpick: the father seems to be shooting quite a bit in that trailer; in the book, he has two bullets. Again, I hope they're just playing up what they think will get people into the theatre. Ah well. On a tangential note, I hope they maybe use a bit of voiceover or something to capture McCarthy's prose a bit. Like this:

He walked out into the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
That passage sends shivers down my spine Every. Single. Time.

That said, I can't wait for the movie. Guess I'll just have to re-read the book in anticipation until then ;).

Now playing: Todd Thibaud - Finding Out
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My latest creative venture

A friend recently asked me about making some crocheted things for her kids. For her daughter, she thought a purse would go over well. I asked for color or style preferences; good thing I did, because like most girls, her style had shifted from my last knowledge. Pink is out, and bright colors and bohemian flair are in. I took it from there.

Bohemian made me think hippie. What might be hippie-ish? Hmm, how about something green or eco friendly. A plarn purse might be good. I used the Recycled Mini Shoulder Bag pattern over at My Recycled Bags. But most plarn is dull, and these bags were a boring white. Still needed work for that "bright colors" bit, so I had a skein of rough, scratchy, irritating Red Heart acrylic yarn that I got for a steal at a garage sale. Bingo, and it used up some of my stash yarn when I worked it along with the plastic bag yarn. For the flap of the purse, I also used yarn that was already on hand, a bit of eyelash novelty yarn that I picked up for no better reason than that it was on clearance, and it was very shiny. It now had a project. The last touch, the button, was also from my existing stash.

Here's the finished product:
I hope she likes it; I had fun making it.

Now playing: Flyleaf - Sorrow
via FoxyTunes