Russian Roulette: An Introduction

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Brain Box is Empty

I have engaged in many conversations about the nuances, implications, responsibilities, entertainment, novelty, marketability and work of blogging. There are some days you just have to ask the person attempting to engage you in a battle of wits: What keeps your skull from caving in?

Start Here

Begin at the beginning.

You have all heard the tribulations of my inbox, but I have not often exposed you to the people I encounter IRL (in real life). Some of this is because where I live is truly four miles past the point where all hope is lost. Some of it is because I have days when I wonder if there is intelligent life left on this planet.

The following is the latter. In a social setting (which did not involve a laptop or my BlackBerry…hey, no snickering back there), someone asked me what I do. I despise this question on principle, as it assigns worth to people based on their capacity to earn money. I answered, “I am a writer.”

In response, I knew I was in trouble, the throwback answer came: What paper do you write for?

Stop the Presses!

When you are certain you have gone too far, go 4 more miles.

When you are certain you have gone too far, go 4 more miles.

Welcome to South Carolina. The papers are printed once to three times per week in my area. One of them is a blog in newsprint. (The editor’s everyday shenanigans rate two columns.) Many of the rags accept anything mailed to them. (Some do not have websites.) Copy Editor is not a full time position.

Welcome to the 21st century. I very gently answered, “I mainly blog in between writing articles for the internet and books.” I then began scoping the room for exits. Just when I spotted one which would not require me hurdling a table or small children, someone else joined the conversation.

Cue Conan

No, not the wormy guy from late night. The barbarian. It seems brains and brawn are mutually exclusive. To look at this particular specimen, one may well ask where the muscles are. Chances are good I mean the ones which direct feces from his rectum to his mouth. (The spam bots are going to have a field day with that sentence.)

There is nothing entertaining about a blog.

1

Mr. Does-Not-Read-Much has never made the rounds, at least not to any of the blogs I haunt. He would say such brilliant things about how boring blogs are as:

  • Funny people write in Hollywood, not on the internet.
  • Comedians write all their own jokes, otherwise why would they be comedians?
  • Blogs are about changing diapers and techie stuff.

I resisted the urge to point out his cell was about eight years out of date and he may well learn something from a tech blog. Or even Consumer Reports. Wanna lay odds he still owns a functioning Commodore 64?

Train Wreck

I admit it. This was a genuine opportunity to observe (You may later question the use of this next word.) humanity, which is one of my obsessions. The residents of the table nearby tuned into the budding conversation, which should have been cause for alarm. Alas, I was already transfixed and making mental (You will not question that last word choice.) notes.

Who wants to hear about that?

2

Ms. Misogynist started bashing mommy blogs. To her mind (and undoubtedly vast experience), all mommy blogs were written to keep SAHM from going more bonkers than they were deciding to stay home with mewling brats. Her dynamic contributions to the conversation included:

  • Who gives a fat rat’s ass about diaper rash cures and how to get Junior to sleep all night?
  • The older ones are so sad. They just wish they still had little ones.
  • Moms with something to say go to PTA meetings and Mommy’s Day Out.

Was it wrong of me to ask her if she had discovered a way to get her 34-year-old out of her attic? Need I mention he moved up there when he was 16 in protest to curfews and parental interference in such personal topics as bathing and occasional beer drinking? Perhaps, diaper cream could have cured his unsightly rash.

This, too, shall pass.

3

Another brilliant man chimed into this conversation. In his estimation, blogging is a fad. Mr. Farts-Dust would regale us with other popular trends which he was certain would pass in his lifetime:

  • Social media MMP games
  • Texting
  • GPS

I thought it was pretty astounding he thought no one should care where they are on the planet or where anything else is for that matter. (Knows his picture is beside “Don’t ever stop for directions.”) Not to be age discriminant, but at a shade over 70, the chances of these things going the way of the Edsel (like the one parked in his backyard since 1962 when it broke down) are a mite slim.

Just another telemarketer.

4

In what had to be the jaw dropper, another woman in the conversation likened blogging to those cold calls you get during dinner to sell you carpet cleaning. Mrs. I-Cannot-Be-Bothered admitted she had read some blogs. (Don’t celebrate yet.) They are delivered each Thursday to her inbox. (Hello? Can you say subscription?)

I have yet to understand why they keep trying to sell me bathroom fixtures every week.”

Turn on the light.

5

Fortunately, before my brain completely turned to mush, Mr. I-Cannot-Be-Bothered rescued me by gently explaining to his wife that was not a blog, but a newsletter, from the contractor who ripped out their (vintage 1964) guest bath in their home last year. If only he had stopped there…

Blogs are those places where people tell all their secrets on the internet, like who they slept with last summer.”

Five Bullets Please

Now, if these five people are anything like five random people you can find at any other dinner party, I may as well toss the laptop out the window, subscribe to a stick whittling magazine, roll up in a Snuggie and drool. I was seriously afraid of engaging a sixth person who would have meant all rounds chambered in this twisted game of mental Russian Roulette.

And for the record, I did a poll. The question: What keeps your skull from caving in?

Do you know anyone with an internet handicap? Where are the research funds and support groups for those living in an era without computers, technology and smart phones? Do I need to invent a(nother) 12-step program?



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47 Comments

  1. I have a step-father who used to screw up, then expect me to fix it without telling me what he’d ACTUALLY done (Surfing Porn) and eventually I had to redirect him to a neighbour who was an actual computer whizz (retired) who could fix his problems without any difficulty and didn’t require me to buy and install security software for him because he didn’t know how and complained when I improved his security settings on Firefox because it blocked him from the very sites he’d picked up his malware plague from…

    Me?

    I used to be a programmer, but I know less about computers today than I did when I used to build them from salvaged parts.

    Then there’s Pat and Neil, old friends who betrayed me for money and now look after me, who think that their iPad and iPhones mean that they’ll never need a proper PC ever again…

    Needless to say I can’t email them because they don’t know how to remove me from their junk folder list…

    Love and hugs!

    Prenin.

    Reply
    • Oh, I think we may need to beginning classifying the different breeds of the internet challenged!! That is priceless, Pren!
      {HUGZ} Red.

      Reply
  2. Why do you engage the witless in battles?

    Oh, never mind I know. It is to provide fodder, give yourself something to laugh at, help you to sleep at night.

    All of the above?

    Reply
    • Do you forget, sister dear, I live in an entertainment vacuum? Yes. I do so love a train wreck.

      Reply
  3. It is best never to argue with an idiot. What they do is manage to drag you down to their level of idiocy, and it’s there, at that lowest level that they can overwhelm (or is it underwhelm) you with their vast experience. I’ve learned to smile, nod, and to find the exit quickly.

    It seems as though the smartest of people are the ones that are always asking questions in an attempt to understand, and the least intelligent are the ones so cocksure in knowing all there is to know about others and what they do. Still, it makes for interesting conversation and good fodder for writing. I mean, it does keep your blog amusing and funny at times – so thank goodness for those kinds of people, even if you have to force yourself not to stab your eyes out for a few hours.

    Hang in there Red. 🙂

    Reply
    • The whole eye-stabbing thing…as I was writing this I was certainly suffering a PTSD moment, as the anger and frustration (and insistent face-palm) were foremost in my mind. In the morning, pressed light, I have to admit, it is all so very amusing.

      I live by “I do not accept ‘I don’t know’ as an answer.” For that, I will forever be doomed to analyse the train wreck in its minutia. Fortunately, the compulsion to then write about it is cathartic 😉 OCD has it value.
      Red.

      Reply
  4. Red, to maintain the skull in it’s normal condition of brilliance and splendor, just toss out the trash, get a bigger strainer on the inbox….and learn to IGNORE unrequited types that don’t approve of your rather sexy blogging shoes. “:))

    Reply
  5. What about the people who think they are speaking brilliantly say, “Computers? Oh, I’ve no use for them. Wouldn’t have one in my house!”

    Reply
    • Yes, I often find those are the ones who wonder when their engine block freezes up after a DIY oil change what could possibly have gone wrong. When you (and you have to) ask them if they replaced the filter properly, they say, “What filter?” Gad.

      Yet, they have 24/7/365 satellite…television and radio! Died in the wool certain computers have not thing one to do with it.

      Reply
  6. So, Red is the proverbial fly on the wall? No side-conversations, hoping to reach their ears, about making your first million dollars blogging? That would have turned their heads!

    Reply
    • Now, you know me well enough I could not be completely silent. I did ask a few key questions…besides the poll, of course 😉

      Reply
  7. Don’t get me started. When I say I am a writer, it will go two ways.

    Scenario A:
    “Oh, like Stephen King? ”
    “No, that does not really pay well on a monthly basis”
    “Well, look at Stephen King.”

    Scenario B:
    “Oh, what kind of stuff?”
    “Everything. I am a copy writer.”
    “Wow, that must pay well, considering you have to do a lot of research and no one can write about everything.”

    Reply
    • Yes, I have had both those conversations. I think they publish the script to everyone who is not or has never been nor had the literary skills necessary to be a writer. 😉 Our secret!

      Reply
  8. Oh Red, this is so SPOT ON! I always have to answer the stupidest questions about writing that it makes me scratch my head. I have been asked “why do people pay you to write and not write themselves”. I also lived in SC for several years – you have my sympathy 😉

    Reply
    • Oh, did your brain finally stop bleeding? I am hoping to stem the hemorrhage soon. The anemia is so hard to cope with on a continual basis 😉

      Reply
  9. Sounds like a riveting evening. Isn’t it funny how the people who have all the opinions about, well everything I guess, don’t have any experience with them? Take blogs– sure there are annoying bloggers, but no one is making you go and read their blog. That subscription thing just kills me. Why do you think they are sending you an e-mail?

    By the way, my wife stays home with our 4 kids and she is not crazy. Some of those mom blogs she reads and enjoys because maybe someone can he helpful with some kid raising nuance.

    I have not been to South Carolina, but it sounds like fun.

    Reply
    • In that watching a virus under a microscope kind of way! I know (and read) tons of mommy blogs. There is a lot to be shared, even if all you discover is you are not the only one going through XXX. I doubt seriously your wife needs her mind examined. Again, remember this came from a woman with her thirty-something living upstairs.

      You know, Derek, there are so few people who understand blogging until it is hard to get a valid opinion in a group of 100 people, much less in smaller affairs like the one I endured. More recently, I have run into quite a few bloggers who wonder why they blog.

      Do not mistake that for me making excuses, as I find venturing an opinion when you have zero information as reckless and puerile. If you ever come to SC, I know quite a few tour guides who can help! Red.

      Reply
  10. … now I am also remembering a conversation with an ex-coworker. He is over 70, so when he asked me the other day what I write I gave the standard answer. Since we have been friends for a few years, I also said that I have blogs, a tidbit reserved only for friends, I may add. Still, remembering other conversations and our work history, I then felt compelled to add: “if you know what that is.”

    He turned to me, smiled, and said:
    “I may be old, but remember, you taught me all that stuff when we were working together.”

    Bless his heart.

    Reply
    • See, now that is so sweet! But then again, he did not crawl into a rocker and cease learning when he retired. On the other hand, this group was not retired. Imbalanced? Probably. Retired, no. That is why I needed the caveat I was not being age discriminant. I have readers who are over 70, who enjoy my blathering on about this or that and sometimes even the other.

      Reply

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