Monday, October 26, 2009

The Yellow Brick

Years ago somebody told me The Yellow Brick Joke ("...and the yellow brick sailed off into the sky...and simply vanished"); it's a joke within a joke within a group dare, for those of you who are unfamiliar. The purpose is to tell the first joke, which is deliberately not at all funny, anticlimactic, and perhaps even a little baffling, to some unsuspecting mark - preferably in the company of several people who themselves once fell for it. You end with this non-punchline and everyone laughs like it's the funniest fucking thing ever...except the one person who isn't in on it. If that guy does laugh, he's a douchebag who laughs even when something isn't funny and you should avoid him.

You wait a pre-determined amount of time until everyone is gathered again (a few days at least), and you explain that you feel awful about the last joke you told him. You tell him it isn't him, it was kind of an inside thing with everyone else and you hadn't even thought about how weird it must have sounded. So to make it up to him, you tell him another joke that has an obvious, almost juvenile punchline that you telegraph the whole time. If the guy calls you on the fact that punchline is obvious or acts like an asshole, he's a douchebag who doesn't give people the benefit of the doubt and you should stop hanging out with him.

If you get to finish the joke you'll basically ask him for the punchline ("...and guess what the parrot had in his mouth?"), and he'll probably respond with the obvious answer you handed him ("the fat man's cigar?").

And then you hit him with it: "No, the yellow brick."

If he doesn't laugh, he's a douchebag who...ah, fuck it. It isn't really so much a joke as it is a douchebag test, but the point is that timing is everything.

Like today, for instance. My landlord told me I could keep the new dog we rescued from the streets a week ago. Fifteen minutes later, I told my wife the good news, and that I would cough the extra money for the permit, shots, new kennel, and other bullshit since we'd given it a week and he was doing well with the other dogs, and since nobody had posted any signs looking for him or answered our own inquiries. Fifteen minutes later, she took him for a walk and stopped to get a coffee.

And at the coffee shop his owner came running up, and fifteen minutes later we were returning our new dog to his previous owner. We did the right thing; I know that, and she knows that. We took care of the dog when he needed it, we did our due dilligence looking for his owner, and just when we'd accepted that this was meant to be it suddenly, very obviously, wasn't going to be. He knew his name when the woman called it, she described the collar he'd had on when we found him, and he was very obviously excited to see her kids, who having accidentally left a gate open one night, were heartbroken that the dog had ran away on their watch. We didn't accept anything in return, and we tried not to get weepy in their living room as we said our goodbyes. None of this, of course, makes it easy to lose the dog right after we decided to keep him, LOL, but it certainly isn't "wrong" for him to return home; the timing just sucks.

So my wife is equal parts inconsolable and pissed, and I keep waiting for the brick to show back up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The autumn wind blows;
I breathe in and I breathe out.
I prefer neither.
Rote becomes a ritual
when a sigh becomes a song.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Working Definitions Revisited

Pragmatism is the noble ability to look at a moral dilemma and see a logistics problem; it allows strong people to make difficult choices and weak people to capitulate without taking responsibility. Characterized by a propensity to willingly accept the hatred of those less capable.

As contrasted with Opportunism, which is the preferred term for the same quality when it is displayed by some other mercenary bastard.