Humor from on High

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I Get Jokes

So, in a (rare) display of wisdom from on high, J-Dubs has invited me to, erm, contribute to this blog. So allow myself to introduce you to the first photos of the editorial staff here

I leave it for the reader to decide which one of us is really 6'2" and which is Short Round.

Editor's Note: Welcome aboard Pooh! I welcome this opportunity to make all the lawyer and igloo jokes I can come up with. "So a lawyer and Nanook of the North walk into a bar...."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Being Tall (or Proxy Posting)

Last year Paul Shirley of the Phoenix Suns was the 12th man (out of 12) on a very good basketball team, and documented a part of the season on his blog (links at the end) at nba.com. He also happens to be a member of my tall brethren, incredibly sarcastic, and brutally honest. I liked him immediately.

In fact, our lives as tall people seem to have been so similar (oh wait...except I never made six-figures on a 60-win NBA playoff team..but otherwise exactly the same), that I thought I would share a particularly good post from May of 2005 from Paul. It's about how people choose to interact with you when you're tall. I've wanted to say and do all these things, and to some extent, I have. But since he summarized it all so perfectly, I thought I'd let Paul do it himself.

As the immortal Trent Tucker once said, you have to give due where due is credit...

"Posted by Paul Shirley, May 7, 2005

Most of my colleagues are quite tall. I am no exception at 6'10". When in captivity, on the basketball court, I am able to easily forget the fact that my bones are stretched to an extraordinary length because I am surrounded by other members of the freak show. Not so when I am released into the wild. Then, I am forced to remember. by stupid people.

After one of a recent session of the basketball camp that serves as practice while we await an opponent for our next playoff series, I headed to my neighborhood Safeway. I picked up my staples (cereal and yogurt figuring prominently among my selections), and headed out the door. As I was leaving, a man searching for a nearby accountant's office accosted me when he observed my heightful frame and said, "Hey man, you should have played basketball. You're really tall."

What, basketball? You're kidding. Why didn't I think of this sooner? It's a good thing you came along, man.

He continued, "Just how tall are you?" I replied with my correct height, which was quite the Herculean effort, considering the retorts that occurred to me. Back to his original line of questioning, he asked, "So, did you ever play ball?" Now, he was obviously baiting me into giving something away. The smart thing to do was to keep walking and admit nothing. Instead, I said, "Actually, I play for the Suns." As soon as it came out of my mouth, I wished I had a DeLorean. Option 1: no conversation with strange, middle-aged man. Option 2: lengthy encounter with strange, middle-aged man. Option 1 was the logical choice; I must have sucked in too many air-conditioning fumes while inside the grocery store.

My newfound friend immediately interjected that he was a veteran of the Korean War; it was great that he told me since that was exactly the question I was going to ask. He then proceeded to tell me about his children, which again was fun because I had been wondering. He apologized for not being enough of a Suns fan to know who I was; I assured him that there were only about 200 people in Phoenix that did, so it was okay. Then, he helped load
my goods into the trunk of my car despite my protests to the contrary. (Aren't young people supposed to assist their elders, not the other way around?) Finally, I signed a piece of paper for his wife. (Harold, what the hell is this? I send you out to deliver some tax papers and you bring me some guy's autograph.) The whole encounter got me thinking about the problem that is the old height question.

First, let's start with the obvious. Telling me I am really tall is not a great conversation starter. It's like walking up to a well-endowed girl in a bar and telling her she has nice breasts - it's, A) creepy, and B) obvious. She's heard it before. It is not a new tactic and is not going to lead to a conversation that ends well. The same (sort of) is true for me. The only possible response available to me is, "And you're really smart." The encounter basically marks the asker as an idiot and me as a bastard.

Next comes the obligatory, "Hey, how tall are you?" Now, I have had some time to consider this question and have decided that it is only necessary in two situations. Either the inquisitor is in some way unable to judge the height of the subject (perhaps due to the fact the conversation is taking place via telephone or perhaps due to blindness) or the askee is sitting
down. Those are the only two possible scenarios for which it is a valid inquiry. It does not make any sense for someone to walk up to me on the street and ask me my height. He can see how tall I am. Feet and inches are merely arbitrary measurements set up by some English king-they are meaningless without some kind of standard. Basically, to judge a person's
height, one of two things is needed-a number value or a visual representation. Not both. Unless, of course, there is some sort of underground tall-person collecting going on. Maybe, much like bird-watching, finding someone of each available height is a goal people have.

I really enjoy when people say things like, "Did you know that you are really tall?" Holy [feces]! Are you serious? I'm tall! I can't believe it. This must have happened overnight. Thanks for pointing it out, though. Again, asking this question is not a way to convey intelligence. I don't think I have pulled them out yet, but someday soon, I will respond. with
questions regarding the physical appearance of my foil, choosing from "Did you know that you are morbidly obese?" and "Has anyone ever told you how unbelievably ugly you are?" It's going to happen. After all, much like height, they are only observations regarding a person's appearance.

One byproduct of the height conversation is often a comparison to someone the questioner knows and thinks is tall. "Six-ten, huh? Wow. My cousin is 6'2" and I thought he was tall." Invariably, the person to whom I am compared is not really tall at all and the conversation usually ends, unless I am about to be told how big his feet are and how tall the doctors think he will eventually be because, again, I apparently look like I need to know.

My all-time favorite encounter is the guessing game. In it, a person approaches and says, unprompted, "I'd say you are about X feet, Y inches." Even better is the guess without any preceding statement; the guesser just starts throwing out heights from a distance, apropos of nothing. The truly fun aspect of this little pastime is that the person is almost never close.
"You're about 6'2", right?" (I'm serious; it has been said multiple times. I think 6'1" is the record low.) No. Not even in the ballpark. And let me guess, the neighbor kid is really tall.

These are all more tolerable, though, than the nearly-out-of-earshot comment. Oftentimes, when I walk by, I will hear whispers: "Wow, look how tall he is," or "That guy is really tall." It's as if, by being tall, I was not blessed with fully functional ears. Were these people not taught how to use their inner monologues? Yes, I am quite tall, but I know that. Any
observation to that effect by others should be kept on the inside, unless the participants are willing to bear the consequences. I don't go around saying everything that is on my mind, but I could. If I did, the airways would be full of, "Well, now that guy is an example of why they made abortion legal," and, "Why, exactly, were those two people allowed to procreate?" I think we are all better off with my silence so, no more height questions. "

Now I should point out, in defense to myself, that my responses to these types of people (and they are EVERYWHERE) are generally not so harsh, compared to Paul, but to each his own. My approach is generally to diffuse the situation, and save us all the embarassment. Example:

"Hey, you're really tall!"
"Well thank you. You're quite...medium-sized, I would say. Extra-medium even."

But many of Paul's thoughts have definitely crossed my mind from time to time. And although I generally feel like peoples' responses are complimentary more than anything, when you take a step back from it, it is really strange that people bring it up. Would someone say, "Hey, you've got a third (choose from: nipple, leg, arm, eye)!" or "Hey, your ass is huge!" I seriously doubt it.

For more Paul Shirley...
Original "Road Ramblings Blog"
PlayOff Blog

Update: According to Pooh, Paul has a new blog too! Booyah!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My poor, poor, Vikings

It's tough being a Vikings fan. And Jay Leno (via ESPN.com) doesn't make it any better...

The Vikings are sooo bad -- how bad are they? Jay Leno of the Tonight Show skewered them in his nightly monologue last week.

"And the government today rounded up a group of sex peddlers and perverts in their war against indecency," Leno said, pausing with a smile, " … but enough about the Minnesota Vikings."

And then there was this:

"Did you hear about this story?" Leno asked his Burbank, Calif., audience. "Several Minnesota Vikings players are being investigated after a boat cruise on a lake turned into a wild sex party on this boat. … What are they, 1-3? One and three. That's the only offensive thing they've done all season, actually."


Birk, a cerebral Harvard man, observed, "We put the fun in dysfunctional, don't we?"

Heh heh heh...ouch.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tales From the Bus (cont.)

Today in the very front of the bus there were two older people, one male and one female, speaking animatedly in a foreign language that I'm 83.4% sure was Italian. My college friend Jordan has this theory that Italians are happy because they speak Italian. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe he thinks that Italian is a happy language because Italians speak it and they're obviously happy because they get to live in Italy where it's warm and sunny and everything has melted mozzeralla on it and you're always drunk on Barolo.

Now, I've often heard two real-life Italian people speaking to each other, and it always appears to be an animated or heated discussion. I would hate to be stuck in a room full of teenage Italian girls. A lot of it is just by nature of the inflection in the language, but maybe an excitable nature is just a part of the cultural heritage too, and the language just kind of absorbs it. Well, irregardless, these two people sat across from each other the whole ride. And they spoke without pause for the entire 40 minutes. And I sat there trying to figure out one thing; how well do these two people actually know each other? What's their story? Did they just meet? Are they old friends? Did they somehow instinctually know that the other was like-speaking when they sat down on the bus and just launched into conversation?

It eventually occurred to me that it isn't very often, at least for introspective type B's like myself, that you carry on a conversation with someone that extensive that you've known a long time. I mean, how many times do you do that with your spouse or sister, etc...? Unless you've been a captive in a red chinese prison for the last 20 years, and you're seeing each other for the first time, that is. But I didn't detect the odor of stale rice, decaying flesh, and communism (mmm, mmm, that's good communism) on these two, so I think we can rule that out. No, I think that they had just met. Or that they had met on the bus once or twice before, and they were just having a nice conversation, catching up on the homeland, or trading recipes. Or maybe:

(translated by me)
"What's your opinion of pine nuts?"
"Pine nuts?"
"Yeah, you know. Pine nuts."
"Oh, PINE nuts."
"That's what I said."
"I thought you said PIE nuts."
"That doesn't make any sense. Especially because we're speaking Italian and 'pie' and 'pine' don't sound alike at all."

Well, it was probably something like that anyway. My Italian is a little rusty...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tales From the Bus

I'm beginning to love riding the bus.

Formerly, public transportation was a wholly unknown quantity to me, but I have recently had to rely more on it than ever before. When I was in graduate school, I lived within walking distance of school/work, and I never had to drive or ride. I didn't put too many miles on my car in those days. And prior to that, I lived at my parents home (read: Boondocks, MN...or as my high school friends used to call it, Guam), where no bus route would dare to go. So there has never been a good reason, and to be quite frank, I was a little scared of the whole process in those days. It was a combination; the inherent baseline level of fear in doing anything new for the first time, plus when you're freakishly tall, you tend to attract the attention of basically everyone, but nut-jobs in particular...and there are a fair number of those on the buses. In fact, if The Office (a great show) doesn't do an episode about riding the bus to work sometime, I'm going to be upset. You could probably get a whole sitcom out of it, and the parade of hilarious Heller-like characters would write themselves.

Now, there are a number of maneuvers one can use to avoid nut-jobs on the bus. There are the tried and true methods; "reading a book", "listening to iPod", or "wearing sunglasses." Those are standard techniques that have stood the test of time. But sometimes they don't work. The typical nut-job is probably very familiar with all of these techniques, and has evolved clever ways to circumvent them such as; "constantly talking until someone pays attention to me", or "appearing to want to engage in a normal conversation before flipping the 'crazy switch.'" So, this forces you to come up with new and improved techniques. My personal new favorite, and it isn't going to work for everyone, is the "sorry, but I'm so tall that I don't quite fit in the seat, and especially with this large leather case I'm carrying, so there really isn't room for you" posture. I highly recommend it if you're 6'2" also. "Staring into the back of someone's head" is also very popular. And effective.

But not everyone on the bus is an out and out nut-job, per se. In fact, that specimen is actually pretty rare. Usually, there are just a lot of peculiar types on the bus, with their own special collection of quirks. And even some people who are probably very normal, but who you can't resist making up a wild story about in your head. Because, after all, bus rides tend to get long, and we need to entertain ourselves. And stories we make up about them are no doubt much more interesting than the actual story. But also, you might find yourself wondering, "Who in their right mind would wear a jacket like THAT?" Or, "Is that guy mumbling insane rhetoric to himself, or continually repeating instructions on how to make a bomb he just got and doesn't want to forget, or just some tune he heard on the radio on his way out?" Or, "If that girl wanted to make herself appear even sluttier, would it even be possible? What could she possibly change?" These are very important questions. And they require answers.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

College Football

You know your college football team of choice is getting annhilated when the play-by-play guy and the color guy are engaging in "witty banter" about upcoming episodes of Desperate Housewives and Invasion with more than eight minutes left in the game. Bob Griese, by the way, apparently is a little behind on his ABC brainwashing. He was a little slow on regurgitating the latest plot lines of the ABC Sunday night lineup. Maybe they forgot to turn the computer chip on. Or maybe my Gophers are just down by 135 points.