Comical Musings


Shenanigan: On Call

by on Feb.05, 2011, under Shenanigan

On Call
If you cut off the word before it’s complete, it’s not really dirty.

So I work closing shift at a call center. It’s a highly challenging job, and I still haven’t learned how to make myself properly stop caring*. And then there’s the difficulty that comes with mandatory overtime being added to people’s shifts whenever the call volume is overwhelming and staffing isn’t enough to keep up with it.

I’m just lucky my wake-up alarm is on my cell phone, or I would have missed the message entirely and gotten late-points added to my attendance record.

* The difficulty of working customer service is that you have to care for the customer without caring so much about them that every call makes you want to cry. And when your power to resolve things is mostly limited to telling other people what happened, it gets … painful.

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Shenanigan: Pleasantly Snow

by on Dec.07, 2010, under Shenanigan

It is Pleasantly Snow.

A quick little treat for those of you still reading, based on a reading blooper at work. I commented in team chat that it was pleasantly slow, seeing as it was two and three minutes between calls for once, and one of my co-workers thought I’d said it was “pleasantly snow” instead. This had to be drawn.

Here’s wishing all of you a pleasant holiday season.

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Shenanigan: The English Language

by on Oct.20, 2010, under Shenanigan

So a friend of mine (one who also majored in English in college) was recently bemoaning the sorry state of our language. “Why on Earth,” she asked, “do vowels sound different in different words? How is it that e, i, and y can all make the same sound? Why can’t our vowels just make sense, like in Japanese, Spanish, or German? Even umlauts make sense, after a while. One letter should equal one sound. Period.” After a moment’s thought, she added, “And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the letter C. It’s redundant.”

Those of you who remember back when I was churning out reviews once a week will recall that spelling is something dear to my heart; it’s one of the things that I will invariably pick on in a comic. Frankly, I’m a bit of a snob about it, since I was one of those insufferable spelling-bee champions back in junior high school. So I might as well make my social loss your gain, right?

While I can’t personally offer any suggestions for how to fix English’s predicament, I can at least offer perspective on how it got there. My college studies included a few overviews of the history of English, and . . . to make a long story short, English is not a purebred language. It was born when Old Germanic and Latin had a one-century stand on some backwater island north of France. Their illegitimate child was a mutt to the core, displaying spelling and grammar traits of both languages. The parent cultures couldn’t stand the look of the child, so they left it to die, alone, on the island.

Then French took a shine to the poor young thing when William the Conqueror arrived. It was a sad and horrifying tryst, considering the relative ages of the language, and English would never fully rid itself of the taint from that relationship. A certain je ne sais quoi remains to this day.

Perhaps as a result of this abuse so early in its life, English has displayed a voracious appetite for conjugal relations with other languages. Every time the English language encounters a new culture, it takes that language for all it’s worth. The pederast French, on the other hand, pooh-poohed the entire affair and set up a sanctimonious Academy in order to deny the effects of any further dalliances.

In short, English is so messed-up because it is a dissolute whore. But don’t lay the blame at its feet—the poor language is a victim of circumstance.

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Shenanigan: Razor Wit

by on Jul.26, 2010, under Shenanigan

Note: While I usually veer away from crass humor and references to uncouth thoughts, sometimes an article like this happens. I hope you’ll forgive me, or at least skip reading this entry if you’re feeling especially puritanical.

It’s difficult to think of the last time I genuinely enjoyed a commercial on TV or the radio.* I’ve sat through plenty of commercials that bothered me for one reason or another, especially if they follow the “stupid man can’t do housework/balance the checkbook/do simple home repair/find his backside with both hands, but his clever wife knows to use our product” model of advertisement. In fact, any commercial that paints the average user as a grade-A submoron who doesn’t know how to interpret simple instructions will fail to appeal to me at all.

And then there are the feminine hygiene products. They’re already fighting a losing battle for my attention, considering my genetic condition,** so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when they talk about wings, sensitive areas, “freshness”, or their holding capacity for any unnatural blue fluids that may gush out at inopportune moments.***

So when Schick put out a commercial for a lady razor-bikini trimmer combo, featuring swimsuit models walking past various shrubbery which then trimmed itself into well-kept shapes, I wasn’t sure whether to be put off or merely flabbergasted by the visual pun.**** Personally, I wouldn’t be all that drawn to a product that promised to treat my lower regions with all the delicate care of a hedge trimmer, but perhaps that’s just my inferior genetics getting in the way again. For all I know, spontaneous topiary may be the big in-thing among the ladies right now.

But the whole stack of potted plants still doesn’t compare in awkwardness to the birth control commercial I saw about six years ago, featuring some lithe young redhead dancing about gleefully in front of a green and white background to the suddenly hilarious strains of “There She Goes Again.” Right before my eyes and within my ears, this playful little song was thrust into a horrifying new context. But then, as my father deadpanned, at least it wasn’t “Oops! I Did It Again.”

One of these days I suppose advertisers will scrape past the current bottom of the barrel and find themselves sharing an uncomfortable silence in the mud with Enzyte Bob. For the time being, however, I have a sudden urge to go do some gardening work. But I think I’ll avoid the bushes, just in case.

* “But the point of commercials is to sell things,” you say, “not to be enjoyable.” To which I reply, “If I hate the commercial, I will go out of my way not to buy the product.” If I’m feeling particularly snotty, I might even add, “Q.E.D.”
** That is to say, I’m a guy. The Y chromosome doesn’t lend itself well to appreciating tampons, periodic cramping, or incessant yeast infections.
*** Always useful for when women need to change out their windshield wiper fluid.
**** I’ll explain it when you’re older.

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Shenanigan: Interpreting King James

by on Jul.12, 2010, under Shenanigan

Cleveland is, at this point, used to being abused. When you’re mostly known for a humiliating fire, there’s not much you can do for PR.* Even The Drew Carey Show and Hot in Cleveland mostly capitalize on the stereotype of Clevelanders as a bunch of long-suffering rubes with the collective sex appeal and cultural erudition of Joey Trebbiani from Friends.

I’m sure most people in the city would rather be known for, say, the Cleveland Institute of Art, symphonies at Severance Hall, or Playhouse Square, but instead we wind up featured in works like Major League, a movie about a sports team owner who tries to shuffle the team away to a city with a better climate. To add insult to injury, it was less than a decade later that Art Modell said, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” and moved the Browns to Baltimore, renaming them the Ravens.

So really, the fact that LeBron James just played the city like the ugly girl at the end of the bar is nothing more than the slapdash icing on a burnt and bitter cake. And in some ways, I’m glad to see him go. Cleveland and the local media have been playing the Helena to James’s Demetrius for seven years now, fawning over his basketball skills, throwing anxious fits about whether he’d play for his hometown or “betray” us for a bigger city, duly nosing about when his mother bought him (gasp!) a Hummer. The city went so far in recent years as to drape a massive scroll of his likeness over the side of one of the taller buildings in town, captioned “We are all witnesses” in a bizarre aping of both Messianic culture and Chairman Mao.

But the thing about attention and adulation is that jaw-dropping excess is still never enough.** And when a city has already done everything but elect you their god-king, what can you do to get even more attention? Why, let your eye wander, of course. And with the end of his contract with the Cavaliers approaching, James milked the media for all they were worth. And at the end of it all was an hour-long ESPN sideshow, culminating in a very public break-up. There was some money donated to the local Boys and Girls Club, however, which I’m told makes it all okay.

For a brief moment in the city of Cleveland, LeBron James became more reviled than Goldman Sachs, BP, Miley Cyrus, the United States Congress, and Chad the Alltel guy combined. People burned his jerseys in the street, threw rocks at his enormous likeness, and generally bemoaned the fact that Cleveland’s economy no longer has a leg to stand on. The Cavs’ general manager sent out an angry little press release (in Comic Sans, no less), declaring that James was “taking the curse” with him and that the Cavs will win a championship before James can.

Personally, I’m less of a believer in storybook endings, no matter how tempting the fantasy. Most likely, Cleveland will continue to be the butt of the joke, the ugly girl at the end of the bar. And James, barring a change of heart or career-ending injury***, will probably go on winning games and making his new hometown proud.

Oh, well. At least we still have the Rock Hall.

* Chicago got loads of sympathy for their fire . . . but that was the 1870s rather than the 1970s. Not to mention that Chicago burned down the city instead of the river, but I digress.
** As an experienced fisher for compliments, I should know.
*** I’m not wishing such on him, but goodness gracious would it ever be poetic.

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