Category Archives: Sethiquette

Bus time can be peaceful, but not usually.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM III: Interview By Time-Traveller, Todd Van Allen

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN (you are here)


I’m honoured to honour me by reporting that my book How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism has now reached interprovincial fame as I have been interviewed on comedian Todd Van Allen’s Ottawa-based podcast, Comedy Above The Pub.

TVA’s CATP has a fascinating set up as the elite comedian and storyteller launches himself and his visitors into conversation as though they’re at a pub, without artificial barriers of required topics, but instead with anecdotes and deferential curiosities that he surreptitiously ties to his guests’ wares.

Most fascinating  to my philosophical eye, the podcaster dances with time as the interview ends with a mini-discussion of the conversation just past, which then becomes the introduction for the later-released episode. To my ear this post-convo pre-convo sets the listener up with a much more accurate and vibrant introduction than if the podcaster had begun with a pre-written description of what might be approaching.

For the full podcast, listen here.

Or, for the video version, watch the live initial broadcast below (although, since the live broadcast was live, it lacked the ability to anticipate its post-show introduction, so I recommend listening to the intro above before watching).


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN (you were just here)

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE STAR WARS

Disney and Lucasfilm recently announced that they would be producing a grand new collection of TV series and movies to expand the Star Wars universe beyond anything we fans could have possibly imagined. But Mark Hill, a satirical writer at The Beaverton, struck back at Disney’s “joyless” efforts, noting that:

“Media journalists predicted that most of the series would feature, holy crap can you believe it, lightsabers, incompetent Stormtroopers and, wait for it, spaceships. In response to this speculation, some dork on Reddit said ‘I hope we get to see some wurmpuses too,’ whatever in Christ’s name that means.”

Against my better biases, Hill’s profanity-led mocking of the expansion of our galaxy far, far away (as well as those of us cheering it on) got me chuckling like a Nien Nunb.

I even cheerfully paraphrased the article for my spouse on our nightly walk, and she laughed harder than I would have liked as Hill scoffed at us fans for buying:

“…clothes that say garbage like, ugh, ‘Reading my t-shirt, you are.’”

Cool! Where’s it selling?

I’m tempted to point out that Mr. Hill’s comedy, while amusing, calls upon a rather redundant set of jokes that we Star Wars fans have heard throughout our history. Yes, Mark, many of us are,

“…excited dweeb”s, who get worked up “to witness the adventures of Luke Skywalker’s distant cousin, one of the aliens who’s on-screen for two seconds in A New Hope…” (intrigue me!) “…and the Millennium Falcon’s sentient space coffee maker” (right on!),

along with any other scraps of detail George Lucas’s acolytes are willing to toss our way.

However, because I don’t want to seem as humourless as Hill’s familiar caricature of Star Wars’ fans implies, I’m going to instead take the path of the Jedi and support Mr. Hill’s cranky work by publishing here a complementary piece from the magazine, The Curmudgeon.

NO HOPE by Oscar T. Grouch

Curmudgeons everywhere have had enough. Disney and Lucasfilm are expanding their already oversized Star Wars universe with plans to make a pathetic collection of unnecessary new content. Grumps are not pleased.

“Why are these damn kids doing this to us?” one leading grumbler asked.

More Star Wars?” another said. “Great, now dweebs are going to be blathering on about it while I’m overpaying for my coffee.”

Desperate to stop the dorky domination, world-leading cranks have joined forces (pun neither intended nor acknowledged) with elite snobs to denounce Disney’s new Star Wars’ plans.

“We’re not happy about working with a bunch of hoity-toities,” one despondent crab explained, “but if you’re gonna take candy from a bunch of babies, you’re gonna need help distracting them first.”

“Exactly right,” a high-ranking member of the snob collective added, “this is not an ideal collaboration; but occasionally one must have an imperfect wine-pairing just to get through a meal.”

Leading this alliance of the snotty and the haughty is a rare dabbler in both groups, Mark Hill of The Beaverton.

With crotchety panache, Hill noted during the joint Snob & Crank depress conference that Disney is:

“…a joyless, all-devouring pop culture monolith that tells the same simple children’s story ad nauseam…”

“Precisely,” an elite-aesthete said. “You can’t give consumers what they want. That’s pure consumerism.”

“Bravo!” cheered another. “We mustn’t let this derivative and jejune nonsense persist!”

Then a dorky journalist—dolled up with dweeby glasses and a horrid holiday tie—humiliated herself by asking the leaders of the snob collective if there was a contradiction in their criticism of Disney for being “joyless” at the same time that the mouse-eared regime seemed to be bringing so much “joy” to their fans.

“That’s not the joy we’re looking for, my dear,” Beatrice von Snooterson explained.

“I don’t know about any of that,” one of the top grumps replied. “All I know is they’ve already made so much garbage, which I’m already not gonna watch—why do they think I’m gonna wanna see this new pile of junk?”

Hill brilliantly responded to the high-ranking grouch’s question by sardonically explaining that—contrary to all recognized guidelines of good taste—dorky Star Wars fans are obsessed with studying the detailed motivations and back stories of every galactic character as though they’re studying Shakespeare’s canon.

That provoked a crescendo of chuckles among the snobs.

“Ha, ha, they’re all dweebs!” one of the curmudgeons added.

“Hear, hear!” a snob called out with an elevated eyebrow. “Why do they insist upon exploring every particular of their make-believe world? Are they under the misapprehension that it’s real?”

“I must concur,” another snooty-voiced elite replied. “Moreover, if Disney absolutely must produce more Star Wars, surely they can provide something a little more grim and challenging to watch. Give us a movie about how Luke Skywalker had an eating disorder, and how he used his laser sword to fend off anyone who tried to help him.”

“Indubitably!” called out a nearby avant-garde filmmaker. “Now that’s the sort of bleakness for which I’m looking!”

Sadly, despite these crusty and erudite calls for Disney to stop imposing their vapid product on their vapid audience, neither the provider nor that consumer of Star Wars has agreed to discontinue their relationship. And it looks like there is little hope that they will any time soon.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM II: Interviews By Rival-Writer, Erik D’Souza

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA (you are here)
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN


Well! I’m pleased to report that my book How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism has now found a starring role in two interviews, featuring yours truly excited and Erik D’Souza, author and author-wrangler.

First I was a brief guest called in to discuss etiquette on Erik’s Canada Day broadcast. (Click this link for our mini-conversation about whether Canadians are as polite as Americans claim we are, or watch the video here.)


Second
, this past weekend I was the inaugural long-form guest on Erik’s Writers in Our Midst publication. (See the video at the bottom of this post to enjoy a cheerful, if meandering, discussion of self-absorption in modern society.)

Now you might think that the fact that Erik and I are friends implies that Erik may have invited me for nepotistic reasons, but you would be wrong—embarrassingly wrong! You see, Erik and I are both writers, which means we are rivals, and therefore Erik is best off not making me look as grand as I normally do.

In fact, in the long-form interview, Erik celebrated our rivalry with some tough questions, such as, asking me if I—of all wonderful people—was a narcissist.

You’ll have to tune in (here, or watch the video below) to find how I escaped that perilous query.


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA (you were just here)
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN

FIVE QUARAN-TIPS FOR NARCISSISTS

To my fellow narcissists: Five ways to keep your #narcissism at bay during these quarantimes (based on the recent real-life adventures of ME, Seth McDonough—soon-to-be famous author):

(5) SIDEWALK DOMINATION:

When you’re a group of two or more walking on the sidewalk and you see a stranger or two coming towards you, you might notice that they’ll usually veer tightly to one side of the sidewalk (or even off the sidewalk) in preparation for the upcoming crossing of your group. Strangely, that doesn’t mean they’re deferring to the grandeur of you and your party. Instead, it more likely suggests that they’re hoping you will simultaneously switch to single file on your side of the sidewalk, too, so that you’ll all have a friendly but non-cuddling interaction.

(4) SNEAK ATTACK SHOPPING:

When you go to the grocery store, and you see someone is considering their options for a can of soup, I suggest not sneaking yourself into the small space between them and the shelves to pick your favourite before they do. Patience, my friends!

(3) PARKS & CLUSTERING:

When you go to the local park that’s still open for you to get some socially distant exercise, and there’s a prime path that people are using for that purpose, maybe don’t congregate your friends and family in one of the bottlenecks of the trail to chat and/or play with your little ones.

HINT: That one’s good practice during non-quarantimes, too.

(2) JARGON CORRECTING:

When you’re in a video conference, and a co-worker attempts to make a case for something using language that does not match the pre-packaged buzz-wording that you would prefer, it’s okay to let them finish their thought without correction.*

* For similar instance, I submit that the following correction that I witnessed was unnecessary:

“Hold on, Betty, before we get into what we should do and who does what, I think we need to discuss the important distinction between ‘co-worker’ and ‘coworker’ at length.”

(1) CHEERS FOR ME:

During the new 7pm tradition of people cheering from their balconies for front-line workers, if you happen to be out on a walk at that time, I submit it would be best not to wave and take a bow under your assumption that the cheering is in honour of your recent book launch. (Okay, that one may have been just ME.)

Stay safe, my fellow narcissists!

(Simulcast on my Facebook Author Page.)

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM I: Quotes About Greatness, Compiled by SethBlogs

SethBlogs’ lead writer, Seth McDonough, wrote a book, and he can’t stop talking about it.

HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS (you are here)
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN


In honour of me, I’m delighted to announce that my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism, is now available at every worthy-of-me virtual location (and a few in-person shops). It’s ready for your delighted perusal in the following nearby and faraway places:

In additional honour of this announcement, I would like to celebrate five of my favourite ego-driven quotes from the cinema:

(5) “Unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong…”

—Prince Humperdinck, The Princess Bride (1987).

(4) “I’m pretty sure there’s more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”

—Derek Zoolander in Zoolander (2002), honoured above by Seth Zoolander.

(3) “As a specimen, yes, I’m intimidating! As you see I’ve got biceps to spare… I’m especially good at expectorating… I use antlers in all of my decorating!”

—(singing) Gaston in Beauty & The Beast (1991).

(2) “There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”

—Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride & Prejudice (1980).

(1) “Would someone get this big walking carpet out of my way.”

—Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars IV: A New Hope after that particular movable rug, the Wookiee, Chewbecca, helped rescue her from her cell in the Death Star (1977).

Congrats to ME!

(Simulcast on my Facebook author page)


HOW TO CELEBRATE MYSELF FOR NARCISSISM COLLECTION:

I: QUOTES ABOUT GREATNESS, COMPILED BY SETHBLOGS (you were just here)
II: INTERVIEWS BY RIVAL-WRITER, ERIK D’SOUZA
III: INTERVIEW BY TIME-TRAVELLER, TODD VAN ALLEN

YOUR SETHCRATIC GUIDE TO THE Q IN Q&As

In the interest of full disclosure—and Seth-promotion—the spirt of this rant, and other works of Sethiquette, is now available in my book, How to Cure Yourself of Narcissism.


Hello there. I understand you’d like to ask a question of our honoured speaker.

Ah, yeah—that’s why I’m in line.

Excellent, would it be possible to get a preview of what you have in mind?

A preview?

Yeah, just a quick sampler of your question.

Why?

Well, the moderator’s asked me to make sure everyone’s fairly brief so that there’s time for lots of questions.

Yeah, don’t worry: I’ll be quick.

I believe you, but the moderator really wanted me to double check.

Um, okay fine, I was going to say something like, Hi There. Dr. Hockey-Expert. Thank you for your presentation on the state of the National Hockey League. I agreed with a lot of what you had to say. Although, there were a few things I didn’t agree with—I don’t really see a problem with the offside challenge rule. I mean we want to get the call right, right? Like, if we don’t care about getting the calls right, what are we doing there? So, yeah, I enjoyed your presentation, but—

Okay, sorry, can I stop you there?

Um, okay, but I was just getting warmed up.

I see that, yes. But I’m just noticing that you’ve already put in 20 seconds of introduction, and we haven’t even gotten to the content of your question yet.

Right, so?

Well, it’s just that—as I mentioned—there are a lot of people in line to speak to the presenter, and at the rate you’re going, your question is going to take up half of the Q&A session. Ideally, according to Sethiquette guidelines, it’s best to keep your question to no more than thirty seconds.

Thirty seconds? How?

Well, maybe you could trim your general thoughts on Dr. Hockey-Expert’s presentation and cut straight to your question.

[Long sigh.] Fine, I was just being polite, but I’ll cut the intro.

Awesome, thanks. So do you mind trying again?

[Short sigh.] So, as I was saying, Thank you for taking my question, Dr. Hockey-Expert. I have three comments and a question for you—

Right, sorry to interrupt again, but—I don’t know if you heard—just a minute ago in her introduction to the Q&A, the moderator requested that everyone just ask questions and not provide sermons?

Yeah, I’m asking a question.

Yes, but you’re also prognosticating three comments. That sounds suspiciously like a serm—

What are you talking about? Three comments aren’t the same as a sermon.

Right, of course, but I think the moderator was being playful with the term “sermon,” and just meant to request that everyone try to hone their commentary down to a single interrogative statement.

But my comments are a vital set up for my question.

I’m sure they are. And, if this were any other sort of conversation, I wouldn’t pester you about it, but unfortunately there are a lot of people who want to ask a question, and even more who want to hear Dr. Hockey-Expert speak, so if you talk for a long time, we’ll have fewer questions, and less time for Dr. Hockey-Expert to reply.

Okay, fine, I’ll be quick. How’s this? So it seems to me that the NHL would benefit from more goal scoring. Like have you ever gone to a game and wished there were fewer goals? No! Goals are the name of the game. Actually, I was talking to my friend, Jane, about this yesterday. She had this funny idea that if the NHL allowed more goals—

Okay, can you hang on again?

What? What’s happening?

Ah, yes, just as I thought. I believe you were in a bit of trance there while you were asking your question.

How do you mean?

Well, you were just kind of following your words obediently wherever they went without really checking to see if they were helping you get to the heart of your question.

Yeah, I was really on a roll, wasn’t I? I felt like I was all by myself, just riffing, without anyone else around. It was pretty freeing, actually.

I can imagine. And, if this were a therapy session or a poetry slam, I’d be cheering you on. But, since we’re in this limited-time Q&A set up, I think it would be best if you tried to plan out your question to avoid unnecessary tangents.

Unnecessary tangents? I was telling a funny story.

Fair enough. If that story was vital to your introduction, please ignore my suggestion. But I suspect the story was more of a spontaneous aside than a planned expedition.

Yeah, it just popped into my brain in the moment. So what?

Well, it’s just that, if you indulge every passing sidetrack that pops into your brain while you’re at the microphone, it will be very difficult to find your way back to the point of your inquiry.

That reminds me of the time my sister got lost on her way to work because she decided to take a shortcut around some construction, and she got mixed up which way the water was.

Yeah, that’s funny. To avoid your sister’s fate, I suggest you create a quick verbal map for yourself of the key points you’ll need to establish your question.

I had that before! But you said I couldn’t make all three of my comments before my question!

Right, I see how that’s confusing. But I believe those three comments were going to be three distinct points. Whereas I’m looking for the key elements that will give your lone, specific question its best chance of being understood.

I’m pretty easy on the ears, Sethcrates. I think I’ll be fine.

I can’t argue with that. But you know how sometimes—when you ask a question at a Q&A—the expert misunderstands what you’re talking about, and so answers a different question.

Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing for them.

Possibly, but also I submit that—if you don’t have a clear structure that leads ever-so-definitively to your final query—it can be hard for someone who doesn’t know you to realize exactly what you’re getting at.

Fine, so what goes into this verbal map?

Well, that depends. Let me ask you this: which one of these would be the best supporting material for your question: a joke, an anecdote, or a quick paraphrase of information?

Yeah, all of those sounds good.

Right, but for the purpose of this exercise, please pick just one option.

Um, okay, well, I’m pretty funny, so I’ll go with a joke. There’s this one about an insomniac dog that I think’ll illustrate my question perfectly.

That’s great. But, before you unleash your humour, there are two things to remember about jokes during the Q&A. First, since we’re not at a dinner party, you again want to be as succinct as possible.

Check.

And also, be aware that after you finish the joke, Dr. Hockey Expert—who’s pretty funny, himself—might want to retort.

That’s fine.

Right, but I bring it up because if the speaker does attempt to joke back, you may be tempted to ignore their retaliatory humour because you weren’t anticipating it. And that can make you look like you were in possession of a good joke, but not a sense of humour.

I don’t like that. Hmm, okay, I’ll just outwit them right back.

Fair enough. If a brilliant retort to their retort lands beautifully in your mind, please share it with everyone in the room. However, if nothing delightful arrives in your moment of need, there’s no need to panic and try too hard to come up with a scintillating reply. In fact, you can actually build rapport with both the speaker and the speaker-aligned audience if you let the speaker win the funny.

But you said I wasn’t supposed to ignore their joke! Make up your mind, Sethcrates.

Again, I apologize for the confusion. But there’s actually a third option between ignoring and winning, and that’s to simply laugh at the speaker’s joke, perhaps adding in a “Yeah, exactly.” You can then smile and continue on with your question.

This is getting too complicated. Maybe I’ll do an anecdote instead.

Great, that can be nice groundwork for your question. But just remember: in order to be brief, you want to avoid chasing tangents during your story. Try to stick to the essential beats of—

I never chase tangents. Well, except maybe this one time when I was in a job interview, and the man interviewing me was so tall that he made me nervous. I don’t usually get nervous… well, except this other time when I was playing basketball, and I—

Yeah, that’s good to hear that you don’t usually chase tangents, but when you’re in front of an audience, it can be easy to lose track of what you’re saying, so again I suggest investing in some serious planning of precisely what story parts will make it into your final draft. That should help you to avoid Sudden Tangent Syndrome.

Yeesh. That sounds complicated, too. What was my other option?

Well, you could provide a quick backgrounder of where your curiosity lies, and then segue straight into your question.

Actually, that’s not bad, because I have a lot of expertise as well as some pretty heroic accomplishments in the area I want to ask about, so I’d be happy to provide a good chunk of my background.

Right, sorry, that’s not quite what I meant by backgrounder. Poor word choice on my part.

But I like the idea!

I understand. But the thing is: introducing yourself in such self-flattering detail can be risky. Unfortunately—unless those points of accomplishment or heroism are vital to establishing the legitimacy of the content of your question—they may sound suspiciously like resume and/or virtue signalling if they aren’t phrased just right.

Okay, so how do you want me to map the background of my question?

Well, let me ask you this: what provoked the question you want to ask?

Well, I was confused when Dr. Hockey-Expert said we’d never see another Wayne Gretzky ever again, and I wasn’t sure if he meant that was because we would never see someone as talented again, or that today’s game wouldn’t allow for Gretzky’s skills to flourish as much.

Fair enough—that’s a useful distinction. And, if you put a question mark on the end there, you’ve actually got a pretty clear and concise question all set to go already.

Really? Wow, I’m awesome. How did I do that?

Well, you first paraphrased the content that led to your curiosity, and then you segued quickly into your actual curiosity. Beautifully done.

Awesome, so I’m all set then?

Nearly. I just have one more concern. How are you going to close your question?

Um, I dunno—I’ll know when I get there, I guess.

Yeah, see, that’s an issue. A common problem amongst those suffering from MQS—

MQS?

Oh, yeah, sorry, Meandering Question Syndrome.

Okay, go on.

Well a common symptom is that—after all the work of getting into the line for the Q&A, and then listening to others pontificate—many MQSers will feel delighted to finally have their place at the microphone, and so won’t want to give it up. Consequently, even when the heart of their question has been clearly understood by everyone present, our noble MQSer will continue throwing words on a fire that is already blazing. They’ll just keep on meandering about the same point, and they won’t stop—

Aren’t you kinda doing that right now?

Oh, right you are. Thank you.

Yeah, you’re welcome, Captain Hypocrite. So how do I avoid that?

Well, the most effective system is to pay attention to your words as you’re saying them. When you hear yourself complete the goal of your question, get out of there. But, if you have trouble listening to yourself while you’re talking, watch the mouth of the person to whom you’re directing your query. If they stop their nodding and start taking a breath, that means they’re about ready to respond, which means they believe they understand the Q in your query, and it’s okay for you to STOP.

All right, thanks, I will. Okay, I’m up next to ask a question. See you.

Okay, good luck.

Won’t need it, thanks… Hello there, Dr. Hockey-Expert. I have three comments and a question for you…

THE MYSTERY OF THE ELEVATOR BLOCKERS

On a recent Friday afternoon, I was sent on a priority mission to the SFU Vancouver campus to deliver a forgotten item to my spouse. The campus is small, but for newcomers such as myself, its maze-like structure is confusing, so—after circling its premises a couple times, and realizing I needed a different floor—I was pleased to spot an alcove leading to an elevator.

As I entered the small hallway, I came upon two adult-looking characters who appeared to be having a serious discussion. The gentleman of the two eyed me for a tiny moment with what I was sure was a sigh of frustration that his private conversation was being invaded by a gangly elevator-seeker.

I was sheepish to be causing such distress, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that I only needed to go up one floor, and then—with my urgent errand still pressing on my shoulders—I would quickly depart and discontinue my disruption of my fellow hallway-dwellers’ lives.

But my hopes to save the two conversers from my intrusion was impeded as I realized that I did not know if the established elevator-waiters had called our conveyance to travel in the same direction as I needed; the answer, I realized, would be housed on the faces of the elevator buttons.

As I scanned our little area for the location of the vital technology, a terrible epiphany landed in my rushed contemplations. My two aggrieved colleagues, who were clustered close to the elevator doors, were blocking my sightline. My errand could not sustain the weight of an extra wait if my fellow elevated travelers were planning to go in the wrong direction, so very carefully, I peered around the two chatters, but their hand-gesturing bodies continued to block my view.

At that moment, I felt a wild hope that the two button-concealers might spot my interest in the secret information, and either move themselves out of the way, or let me know of the elevator’s current status.

My dream was not to be; the strange strangers continued their important chat with no further acknowledgement of my annoying presence. There was nothing more for me to do but stand and wait in hopes that the noble chiming of the elevator would soon end our impassioned impasse.

But as several more ticks of the clock sounded in my ears, it seemed to me that the elevator was taking an unnaturally long time to arrive for duty. My chances of completing my delivery in time were now small, but I still had to try, so I risked more awkwardness, and circled around the two elevator-blocking strangers. I hoped to get a better angle on the obstructed buttons so that I could confirm that my new associates’ body language was telling the truth and they had indeed called for our deliverer. It was a long trip around the humanoid barricade, but when I finally got to the other side of the whispering duo, I found a tiny gap between their presence and the wall. I looked through and discovered that the elevator button light was not on at all.

Could it really be? Had these two conversers really witnessed me peering past them without feeling any obligation to let me know that—despite their body language to the contrary—they were not there for the elevator, and that I should reach around them and hit the button, myself, if I wanted to take a ride?

No, surely the reason the elevator button was not shining a light on our situation was because its bulb had broken. In spite of this obvious solution to the mystery of the elevator blockers, the clock in my head continued to tick ever so loudly, and so, sheepishly once more, I reached my hand into the narrow space between the strangers and the elevator wall in pursuit of the unlit button. I felt rude as I went for it, as it seemed to me that—by redundantly pressing a button that obviously just had a broken light—I was accusing the irritated pair of lacking any common courtesy. But then my finger activated the curious elevator trigger, and it lit up.

I looked again at the pair who had done their best to keep me away from this revelation; maybe now they would realize their error in body language, but, no, they did not waver from their lack of concern about their effect on the hurried stranger in their private conversation chamber.

Seconds later, the elevator arrived, and as I boarded, the solution to this strange riddle of human behaviour blazed in my brain like the shining light from the elevator button. It was a wild speculation, but once I considered it, I realized that no other explanation could possibly account for the odd inability of these individuals to understand the most basic laws of human interaction. And so, as I arrived too late to my destination, I was not sad, for I had, on my journey, received the experience of a lifetime. I had met two strangers who were not humans at all: they must have been androids. I smiled as I lingered in this realization; for I knew I would never forget my meeting with these nearly human marvels of technology.

SELF-AGGRANDALISM VII: If You Can’t Bully ‘Em, Accuse ‘Em

In the face of difficult questions, the most talented egos use impeccable sleights of language to rebrand their behaviours to seem heroic. This series is dedicated to those rhetorician-magicians.

SELF-AGGRANDALISM SERIES:

I: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU CARE

II: IF YOUR CRITICS DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU, NO ONE WILL

III: WINNING MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

IV: POET KNOWS BEST

V: HUMILTY IS AS HUMILTY DOES

VI: HOW TO AVOID QUESTIONS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

VII: IF YOU CAN’T BULLY ‘EM, ACCUSE ‘EM (you are here)


Tennis mega star, Serena Williams, has titillated us with her temper on the tennis courts more than a few times in her long tenure. Nevertheless—after watching Ms. Williams reclaim her position at the top of tennis after taking a year’s sabbatical to have a baby—I considered temporarily waiving my personal embargo on the obnoxious athlete in favour of appreciating her superhuman accomplishment.

Then this past Saturday, Ms. Williams’ took her toddler’s disposition to work with her in the championship match of the US Open versus Naomi Osaka. When, that is, Williams was displeased with a legitimate pair of code violation penalties she received from the chair umpire of the match, she unleashed at him a series of tirades.

And yet, with magic rhetoric, Williams has subsequently convinced many that her childish behaviour was in fact the righteously passionate speech of an unjustly treated hero who is fighting for the rights of others.

The key to Williams’ magic here is to take the incident as far away from context as she can, and to reframe her aggressive actions with minimizing, faintly true descriptors while simultaneously reinventing the umpire’s punitive response with maximizing language. And, sadly, many in her audience, including reporters and pundits, are unable or unwilling to recognize Williams’ simple tricks of language.

So let me put the incident back into the context Serena Williams is hoping we’ll forget:

(1) The Coaching Controversy

Early on in the match, the American struggled with her Japanese counterpart, but Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had a strategic idea that might help, and so he made a fancy hand gesture towards the star.

In tennis, strangely, such expert in-game assistance from one’s team is against the rules, and so chair umpire Carlos Ramos charged Williams a code violation warning for her coach’s attempted influence. After the match, Mouratoglou admitted he was coaching, but he argued that such infractions occur frequently without penalty, “…so,” he said, “we have to stop this hypocrite thing.”

ESPN analyst, and tennis legend, Chrissie Evert concurred:

“Every coach does it, so you need to re-address that rule.”

I accept Evert’s expertise, but this wasn’t a subtle piece of coaching that an umpire could pretend not to notice; it was a blatant signaling from coach to player. So, if Ramos saw it as clearly as the ESPN cameras did, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to ignore it on the grounds that the opposing coach was probably also breaking the rules.

Williams, meanwhile, also couldn’t support the chair umpire’s decision, and she politely explained to Ramos that:

“[Mouratoglou and I] don’t have any code, and I know you don’t know that. And I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”

Ramos’s reply is not legible to me on the tape, but he seemed to acknowledge her concern, and she replied, “Okay, thank you, because I’m like, ‘I don’t cheat’… Yeah, so thank you so much.’”

So all seemed fine in love and tennis.

(2) The Racquet Demolition

A while later, Williams lost a point, which she would have preferred to have won, and so she released her irritation by smashing and destroying her racquet against the court. Once again, Umpire Ramos had his eyes open and spotted the unsporting gesture, and so—per tennis rules—he supplied Williams with her second code violation strike, which meant that she was to be automatically docked a point in the next game of the match.

This did not please our hero. Williams apparently had thought she’d clarified with Ramos that she did not deserve that first code violation, and so had continued in the match under the false apprehension that she still had a free code violation warning available to her for any desired racquet-smashing.

(3) The Tirades

Less politely this time, Ms. Williams returned to Mr. Ramos and explained:

“I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching. I don’t cheat. I didn’t get coaching. How can you say that?… You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology. [Now shouting.] I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter, and I stand for what’s right for her, and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.”

Now, I can understand Ms. Williams’ frustration that she would be punished for her coach’s behaviour (especially if she was being honest that she wasn’t aware of it). But, unfortunately for Serena, one’s coach is part of one’s team, and so—just as she gains from his expertise—she is also subject to his mistakes. (In fact, my ESPN pundits tell me that the “coaching” penalty is not a measure of whether the athlete received it, but whether the coach sent it.) Regardless of how offended Serena claimed to be, it is not reasonable to expect a referee to overrule what he witnessed just because an athlete insists that they wouldn’t be a party to it.

Nevertheless, given both the significance of the moment and Williams’ conceivably understandable frustration at being blamed for the actions of her coach, I could forgive her a brief rant towards the umpire. Instead, though, the superstar binged on her anger, and unleashed a series of hostile sermons against Ramos, while Ramos replied only with politeness and calm.

“For you to attack my character,” Williams continued, “is something that’s wrong. You’re attacking my character. Yes you are. You owe me an apology. You will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar.”

Now—whether or not Serena Williams actually has the influence to control umpiring assignments—from my umpire’s chair, her threat against the official’s livelihood ought to have earned her a code violation for abuse of official.

But Umpire Ramos—with the most patient of expressions—nodded and turned away from his accuser when she seemed done. But Ms. Williams still wasn’t satisfied and called his attention back for more:

“When are you going to give me my apology?… You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry. [Ramos declined the invitation.] Well, then, don’t talk to me.”

Ramos complied, and turned away once more, but Serena had a little left in the tantrum tank:

“You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.”

That was finally sufficient for Umpire Ramos, and he provided Williams the long-earned “Abuse of Official,” code violation, which—being the Williams’ team’s third code violation of the day—meant that she was now to automatically receive a one game penalty in the match.

(4) The Magic Rhetoric

Soon after, tournament referee Brian Earley arrived to try to calm the waters, but that is when the bully of our story turned into a magician and pulled a rabbit out of her tennis bag.

“I know the rules,” she explained to Earley, “but I said a simple thing like ‘thief,’ because he stole a point from me. [Now crying.] There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right. And you know it. And I know you can’t admit it, but I know you know it’s not right.”

I was baffled by the audacity of the trick. Did Williams really believe that after all the abuse she had launched at Ramos that anyone would see her as the heroic victim here? Apparently so. During her post-match press conference, Serena-dini tried the trick again.

“I’ve seen… men call other umpires several things, and I’m here fighting for women’s rights, and for women’s equality… and for me to say, ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never [taken] a game from a man, because they said ‘thief.’”

It was a beautiful rhetorical trick by Williams. Technically, yes, her accusation that Ramos was a “thief” was the final denunciation that had cost her a game, and out of context, that single word doesn’t seem so bad. But neither does “received coaching” sound so terrible without context, and yet Williams had used it as a catalyst for repeated demands for an apology. So let us play in context, shall we, Ms. Williams?

When we place the “thief” accusation back in the context of a prolonged collection of demands, accusations, and even a threat towards the umpire’s career, and remember that Ramos did not penalize Williams a game for the culminating insult, but instead simply charged her a third code violation—which in conjunction with the two others that she had already legitimately received—added up to the large penalty.

But the mesmerized reporters present weren’t going to interrupt their favourite magician in the middle of a trick, so Williams continued with exasperated confidence. “For me, it blows my mind, but I’m going to continue to fight for women… The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman, and they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”

At that point in the press conference, some of the reporters on duty were inspired to applaud the teary-eyed Serena and her heroic characterization of her behaviour.

The reporters’ apparent inability to spot Williams’ sleight of blame is baffling. They had watched a person unfairly berate another person, and somehow they had now decided to cheer on the aggressor because she was “expressing herself” as a “strong woman” as though all female exposition, no matter how hostile and unreasonable, is a virtue.

The reporters’ empathy gap was showing. If this controversy had been the result of the world’s greatest male tennis player telling a female umpire she would never work one of his matches again, and that she was a “liar” and a “thief,” and not to talk to him until she apologized, I doubt the journalists would have been so appreciative.

(5) The Alleged Double Standard

This argument that female assertion is dismissed—more often than men’s—as excess emotion is a common complaint (and not only from biased feminists), and it’s certainly possible that there is (or used to be) some truth to it in our general society. (Although, as ever, with every double standard against women there is usually a mirrored double standard against men; I suspect, for instance, that female tears call upon our society’s compassion more quickly than male tears.) But, if indeed there are double standards in our general society against female assertion, that differential is not necessarily applicable to all subcultures. Tennis is well-stocked with fiery female athletes, and so umpires with instinctual expectations to the contrary may well have updated their gender anticipations. In fact, I have witnessed many female tennis stars assertively argue their cases on court without retribution from the chair umpires.

Nevertheless, if there is evidence that female tennis players on average are sanctioned more harshly than their male colleagues for unsporting behaviour on the court, then that should certainly be corrected, and not just for the sake of fairness to the ladies, but also for the gentleman. (If it’s true that the unruliest tennis women get away with less aggression than the unruliest of tennis men, then simultaneously the most courteous male players are having to put up with more of the intimidating distraction than the most courteous female players.)

If indeed there is evidence of a double standard, my etiquette-cheering amendment would not be to allow the women’s side more abuse of officials, but to level the playing surface by reducing the amount of abuse tolerated on the men’s side. Ms. Williams, though, argues to rectify the alleged problem in the opposite manner, by increasing the abuse women are authorized to direct toward umpires.

Adding more baffling commentary to the flames, retired tennis great, Billie Jean King, argued on Twitter:

“When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical,’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same thing, he’s ‘outspoken’ & there are no repercussions. Thank you @SerenaWilliams for calling out this double standard.”

Again, if Ms. King has evidence of this double standard in tennis umpiring, I support her call for correction. However, this is not the case from which to launch the inquiry. The supposedly sexist crime that Chair Umpire Ramos committed here was to charge Williams with a single code violation for abuse of official, which would have amounted to simply a warning if she hadn’t already smashed her racquet, and her coach hadn’t already been caught breaking the rules.

Even if some male tennis players have sometimes been forgiven abuse of officials that most female tennis players wouldn’t have, we also know that some male tennis players have been sanctioned for less than Williams’ prolific offering here. According to Wikipedia, the now demonized-as-sexist Umpire Carlos Ramos has called several controversial code violations against superstar male players, including Andy Murray who was penalized after calling out Ramos for “stupid umpiring.” So, to accuse Ramos of sexism for drawing a line after several doses of hostility from Williams, is a hefty strain on credulity.

What we have here is a superstar bully, who has called upon “women’s rights” to magically justify her bad behaviours. She is self-aggrandizing a temper tantrum, and we should tell her, “No.”


SELF-AGGRANDALISM SERIES:

I: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU CARE

II: IF YOUR CRITICS DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU, NO ONE WILL

III: WINNING MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

IV: POET KNOWS BEST

V: HUMILTY IS AS HUMILTY DOES

VI: HOW TO AVOID QUESTIONS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE

VII: IF YOU CAN’T BULLY ‘EM, ACCUSE ‘EM (you were just here)

ROGUE WAY: A NON-SPOILER REVIEW STORY

As someone who has been resistant to the omni-tentacled powers of social media, I am pleased with myself for noticing something that social media does with more audience consideration than mainstream media.

As with all topics, this one can be best understood by travelling far, far away and backwards in time to the Star Wars galaxy. I recently watched a documentary, Rogue 1: A Star Wars Story, which examines the events just before the historical time period of Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope.

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Worry not, I am aware that these characters are living in a fictional galaxy, but I jest because I am obsessed. I adore my Star Wars, so when new episodes arrive to fill in gaps in my favourite patch of fictional history, I am as excited as a Sith lord finding a new apprentice.

But there is one tiny chink in my Darth Vader armour: the movie reviewers that I observe in mainstream media are often disrespectful of movies, such as these, that are meant to entertain.

(First) as I’ve discussed before, many reviewers are only capable of appreciating films that match their deep and dark genre sensibilities. If you’re not depressed or confused by the end of a screening, they’re not loving it. Consequently, they fail their movie reviewing duties because not all of us go to the cinema solely to cry and deconstruct opaque symbolism. There are other genres we like to imbibe, and many reviewers are unwilling to examine those movies’ abilities to live up to their genre requirements.

For instance, if I’m looking to see an action film, and my reviewer treats Die Hard (an obviously brilliant offering in its category) and The Matrix (not so much) as equally “brainless collections of violence, stunts, and special effects,” then they will not have aided me in selecting between the two.

(Second) and more importantly in this case (since I do not need a critic’s help to inspire me to see Star Wars), many of the mainstream reviewers, with whom I have a begrudging one-sided relationship, have an annoying a penchant for spoiling the movies they discuss by giving away too much plot in their critiques. As in my first criticism, I think the leading causes of this aggravating habit are that the reviewers are arrogant and inconsiderate. Notice that, as they babble freely about the plots they’re exposing, they enunciate their unwelcome delivery with a patronizing tone of voice that implies:

“Come on, in a movie like this, obviously that character was going to turn out to be that character’s dad. And, then obviously…”

This condescending inconsideration is amplified by the reviewers’ distance from their audience. When my Friday afternoon movie reviewer, Katherine Monk, gives away too much of a movie in her reviews on CBC Radio, she is not aware of me yanking my head phones out of my ears to protect myself.

In contrast, then, after a trilogy of viewings of Rogue 1—which is a fantastic companion to A New Hope, and a superior installment, in my opinion, to its most recent rival, the pleasing, but troubled Episode VII: The Force Awakens—I craved more contemplations than my own about the new addition to the family. And, while I no longer had to fear the spoiling tendencies of the mainstream media, I was also aware that they were not going to consider my hobby with the nuance I was seeking. Therefore, I cranked up my internet, and dove into the wild space of youtube, where I was greeted by individual and group conversations, featuring humour, intelligence, and appreciation for the subject.

These youtubers were reviewing this Rogue 1 movie because they loved the Star Wars franchise, and even if they didn’t positively perceive this Star Wars story and collection of characters as much as I did, they had gone into the film—quite in contrast with our mainstream movie rebukers—hoping to like it. As a result, where it failed to delight them, I was open to their critiques because they hadn’t treated the movie as intrinsically irredeemable before they’d starting watching it.

Now, I had visited in youtube before, so I should acknowledge that I reviewed these reviews anticipating this level of respect. However, what I wasn’t expecting was that every youtube reviewer that I surfed upon expressed concern about spoiling the movie for their audience, and so offered both a “non-spoiler” and a “spoiler” analysis of the film. In the latter service, every youtuber that I encountered reminded their audience at least twice that they were about to unleash vital plot details, so, if the viewer hadn’t yet seen the movie, they were invited to leave then or forever hold their complaints.

I assume that this sort of consideration was motivated initially by the democratic nature of youtube, wherein one starts with a tiny audience, which one can diminish or increase rapidly with every right or wrong turn of phrase. Regardless, the result is that such respect-for-audience has for now become a feature of youtube culture: even the large, popular youtube channels that I took in offer this same spoiler protection service.

While youtube has its vices (I advise you to never read the comments: the many anti-social creatures who ply their crassness there will leave your belief in humanity scarred), this fantastic, spoil-resistant result has me pleased with the you-niverse. They have achieved a compassion for their audience that many mainstream reviewers have not even sought. In short, they have gone Rogue, and I like it.

SELF-AGGRANDALISM VI: How To Avoid Questions And Influence People

In the face of difficult questions, the most talented egos use impeccable sleights of language to rebrand their behaviours to seem heroic. This series is dedicated to those rhetorician-magicians.

SELF-AGGRANDALISM SERIES:

I: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU CARE

II: IF YOUR CRITICS DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU, NO ONE WILL

III: WINNING MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

IV: POET KNOWS BEST

V: HUMILTY IS AS HUMILTY DOES

VI: HOW TO AVOID QUESTIONS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (you are here)

VII: IF YOU CAN’T BULLY ‘EM, ACCUSE ‘EM


Congratulations! I understand you’ve decided to go into politics. It can be a lot of fun for your pension, but tedious for your brain and ego. Whereas in the outside world, the truth allows for shades of grey and humility, when you are a politician, you must pretend—with every inflection of your tone—that your way is always 100% the right way, and that your opponents are not only wrong, but embarrassingly so.

To achieve such focussed confidence in a world of nuance, you must think of yourself as a politician-magician. When you see a question you don’t want to answer, your duty is to distract the audience with sleights of language, so that you can replace the question with one you do want to take on. This may sound daunting, but you will not be on stage alone: utilizing the following easy-to-learn techniques from many great prevaricators before you, you too can become your society’s Confuser in Chief.

1. ELOCUTION, ELOCUTION, ELOCUTION:

No matter what the question or quandary, never let them see you ponder. Instead, make your body language and tone tell your audience that you are self-assured and party-assured in every subject under your jurisdiction’s sun. Show us that there is no question too big for you by smiling and nodding thoughtfully during the interviewer’s question (use “Mmm-hmm”s if you’re on the radio) as though you think it’s a great question, even if (especially if) you’re about to sidestep it. Stay calm. No matter how wildly you avoid a query, if you sound relaxed as you’re doing it, the less likely it is that your audience will think you’re doing it on purpose. At worst, those nit-wits will just think you misunderstood the question.

2. NEVER ANSWER A QUESTION YOU DON’T LIKE:

Now that you’ve got your tone in place, you’re ready to start waffling. The first thing to keep in mind is that the questions your interviewer attacks you with don’t always comport with your campaign slogans. The interviewers are trying to trick you into going off your key messages. Don’t let them manipulate you! Think of their questions as first drafts: your job is to edit their queries into something you’d prefer. For instances:

A. THE TICKLE AND TANGENT:

Start by complimenting or humorously acknowledging the question, and then zipping into your talking point. Try this:

INTERVIEWER: What’s your position on Eco-1000-dusters? Are they doing more environmental harm than good?

YOU: That’s a great question; in fact, I think the level of dust in our air is a cruical question of our time—one which my opponent routinely ingores! For me the first order of business is making sure we support everyone in our community who’s ready to make a positive contribution to improve our air quality.

See how you’ve acknowledged the question by both complimenting it and showing how your opponent has no answer for it. That tickle was all you needed to prove that you could discuss the subject. Now you can freely segue away to empty phrases without any obligation to join those dusty depths, yourself!

B. THE FLIP AND QUIP:

When asked a direct question about your plan that would prove daunting for you to handle, remember these simple words, “I’ll tell you what we will do…” of better yet, “I’ll tell you what we’re not going to do.” The directness of your words hides the indirectness of your answer. Watch this:

INTERVIEWER: So does that mean you’ll be increasing the fine for tree-eating even though you once said that tree-eaters were getting a bad rap?

YOU: I tell you what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on police services trying to catch tree eaters. However, the (evil) purple party will.

Or:

YOU: I tell you what I am going to do. I’m going to plant 1000 more trees a year, especially in parks where children play.

C. THE HYPOTHETICAL-ANTITHETICAL:

Hypotheticals can be the best of questions, and they can be the worst of questions. But the neat thing is you only have to answer the ones you like because the “Hypothetical Convention of 1901” states that politicians can always have sanctuary from hypotheticals by simply pointing them out. So, when you hear an “If” or “Would you” contemplation that your party policy can easily handle, great! Answer away. However, if the hypothetical question isn’t so digestible, then simply say, “I/we don’t answer hypotheticals” or “I/we don’t deal in hypotheticals.” You see, because the hypothetical convention was signed by all political parties (and hockey coaches, for that matter), it is considered bad form for the interviewer to try to press you on it. On the rare occasion that they do, simply re-assert your right to plead the hypothetical convention, then apply the FLIP AND QUIP (see above).

D. THE POLITICALLY CORRECT MISDIRECT:

Regardless of what era in history you are reading this, there will always be particular groups that are seen as more in need of consideration than others, and so when you refer to them, you gain points for compassion. And the neat thing is it doesn’t matter whether what you’re doing for that group is actually helpful or ethical: once you have said something in celebration of that group, it’s hard for anyone to criticize you because you can immediately imply that they don’t care about said group if they do.

So, when questions get tough, point out that your concern for X group (if in doubt, go with children) won’t allow your conscience to consider such a course of action, “but…” and now get to your talking point, or better yet, tell a story about a child you met on the campaign trail who motivated you to do more on this particular issue. This is a segue that’s hard for an interviewer to crack, because—if they try to re-direct you when you’re emotionally describing your concern for children—they’ll likely be seen as callous.

HINT: To get extra credit for your anecdotal interaction with such a citizen-of-significance, include a location that will impress the voters, such as meeting the person on transit, at a firefighter-saving workshop, or a single mom convention.  For instance:

“I remember talking to Cindy Lou, a single grandmother of eight, while on the bus to her subsidized housing complex. She doesn’t like my opponent either. She, like me, was concerned about the state of children in our society.”

E. THE DISTRACTION-REACTION:

If there is an issue that has on its poles two politically unpalatable positions, try to let your opponents hash out the unwieldy terrain. Be patient. Let them get some good shots in. Then, once they’ve wounded each other with hard-hitting criticisms, refer to their fight as a distraction from a much more important (i.e. less politically contentious) topic. In fact, now would be a good time for a Politically Correct Misdirect (see above). Give it a try:

OPPONENT 1: We must invest in more arsenic-testing of our soft drinks to save lives.

OPPONENT 2: Arsenic-poisoning is so rare, but the expense of such testing will cost the economy billions of dollars.

OPPONENT 1: So you’re saying Let people die?

OPPONENT 2: No, I’m saying Don’t let the economy die.

YOU: All of this bluster is a distraction from the fact that neither of you has a policy that will keep strychnine away baby kangaroos. Today, I met Gilda, a single mother of a baby kangaroo, and she told me that her daughter…

F. THE COMPLEX AND FLEX:

Before your interview, review your thesaurus and any complicated statistics that you happen to like. When you’re backed into a corner, bring out the big words and numbers. Most people won’t look them up; and most interviewers won’t want to admit if they don’t understand them, so, if you can confuse them, they will move onto the next question to avoid looking like they can’t keep up with you.

HINT: If you’re worried the interviewer might be able to follow your train of distraction, combine several big words and numbers and roll them out as quickly as you can to keep even the fastest of minds from following you.

G. THE RE-DIRECT DEFLECT:

And, finally, sometimes you’ll be dealing with one of those mean interviewers who will point out that you haven’t answered their question. Do not panic; do not blink. Stay on your redirect message, and reassert your irrelevant answer. Most interviewers will move on after one re-try, but if not, then try saying, “I’ve already answered that,” (given that you’ve now been talking about the same question for a while now, most of your audience won’t remember whether you’ve answered it or not), and then help your interviewer escape the stumble in the conversation by segueing into a FLIP AND QUIP (see above).

If you can master these techniques, you will be a politician, my friend. Remember, politics is not about who has the best plan for your society: it is about who can sound like they do.


SELF-AGGRANDALISM SERIES:

I: NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU CARE

II: IF YOUR CRITICS DON’T BELIEVE IN YOU, NO ONE WILL

III: WINNING MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

IV: POET KNOWS BEST

V: HUMILTY IS AS HUMILTY DOES

VI: HOW TO AVOID QUESTIONS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (you were just here)

VII: IF YOU CAN’T BULLY ‘EM, ACCUSE ‘EM