Ambitious in an Indolent sort of Way

March 6th, 2008

Because he was a lawyer, Walter knew you didn't expect to know why most things happened. You made the reasons up.

Richard Ford

PERSIFLAGE is updated on Thursdays.


For sale: tee shirts with pictures of dress shirts on them. Part of an ill thought out campaign to encourage better dressing. $4 ea. Box 209.
Depressed by the length of winter? Why not sleep the rest of winter away? Frank Holberger will be leading workshops in torpor and hibernation at the University of Winnipeg this weekend. He'll be the guy dozing on the couches up by the library. Just give him a shove and he'll wake right up and explain how it's done. Miss out on the rest of the cold this year. Hey, it works for bears doesn't it?
Think nobody likes you? Want to know for sure? With Helpful Industries' new SuperParanoid glasses you can tell immediately if people are laughing at you behind your back. Equipped with special little mirrors and a really tiny micro-processor that analyzes subtle changes in expression and looks for signs of mockery or contempt. Stop wondering and get a pair today! Box 14.
Why bother cooking or preparing meals when you can get my perfectly good leftovers sent to you in the mail? Dave's Still Edible Express solves your dinner problems. Currently available: 2/3 of a chicken salad sandwich that smells a bit funny; some croutons that I just didn't feel like eating even though the salad (a caesar) was delicious; something brown and a bit stiff that may be the last sliver of a pot roast or one of my old orthotics. Other fabulous bits and pieces arise from time to time. Send for a list.
Dr. Ole Johnson is putting out a call for models to model (surprisingly enough) pantsuits constructed entirely out of jaycloths in order to prove his theory about spills in the office.



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The Debilitating Illnesses of Winter

not good

As I sit here examining the part of my lung that I just coughed up into the basin I've been keeping beside my bed for that purpose, I am struck by the fact that it is mostly in the winter months that people in this part of the world retreat to within the confines of their abode in order to tend to the variant afflictions of the respiratory and gastro-intestinal tracts that come to visit their particular charms on our persons with increasing frequency then. In other words, people get sick in the winter more.

Of course, there is little that one can do about this in some regards. Unless you are able to get away from the cold for a significant portion of these months you are probably going to come in contact with either the cold or flu. (This winter I had planned to take a sojourn to Mexico with a friend of mine but had we succeeded I suspect we would have only exchanged an expulsion of our bodily toxins from one orifice for another perhaps even less pleasant discharge from another.)

One can increase one's intake of Vitamin C either in chewable or swallowable pill form or within a variety of fruits and fruit juices, bundle up when out of doors, wash one's hands frequently, stay away from children, avoid the sick and infirm, go to bed early, refrain from intimate contact with the unclean or untidy, eat well-portioned sensible meals, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, not go outside with wet hair and stop touching public surfaces but let's face it, that isn't going to happen.

Life is, amongst other things, a series of compromises. You may wish to behave sensibly and prudently in order to avoid disease but you may also wish to get drunk and laid and eat a lot of crap. That places you securely in the midst of your fellows. Hardly anyone behaves sensibly all of the time and those people are no fun to be around (although it is fun to cough on them).

You must attempt to strike a balance between the two extremes sensible behaviour and fun. I recommend behaving stupidly and imprudently until you are quite ill and then panicking and, in a fervent and heated over-reaction, taking massive doses of vitamins, complusively wash your hands and go to bed at 7:30 pm. Once you begin to recover you can go back to heavy drinking and snacking and the indiscriminate licking of handrails and small children with runny noses. Then you will have the best of both worlds.

Hugh Briss

The Baby

Once upon a time there was a baby who rode the bus. Not alone obviously, but with her mother. The baby's favorite thing to do was to stare at the other passengers.

The baby would cry until her mother took her out of her massive four-wheeled hard plastic stroller and held her against her chest. Then she would look over her mother's shoulder and stare at the other passengers with impunity.

I mean who would say "Hey lady, your baby is staring at me!" No one, that's who.

Some people would look at the baby and smile or make faces in a vain attempt to make her laugh or even react. But it was no good. The baby would just stare blankly at them until they became uncomfortable and looked away. This is what the baby liked best.

That was a pretty creepy baby when you think about it.


The Armchair Grammarian

"Should" is a Guilt-producing Word

Anyone having a nodding familiarity with the world of affirmations and self-esteem knows that "should" is a guilt-producing word and best avoided but few know what goes in its place.

"If one shouldn't say should what should one say?" is how this question is often (badly) phrased. The answer to this is relatively simple but needs some explanation.

The word "should" is what is known as a functional auxiliary or "nudge" word. That is, it is a word meant to elicit the action of the following verb or to "nudge" the verb into doing something to the noun acting as an object. Clear? Let's look at an example:

"You should call your friend, Maurice, to congratulate him on his recent investiture as the Archbishop of Kent". There are two things wrong with this sentence:

1) It is unclear if the brand new Archbishop's name is Maurice or if it is your name. But since you probably know your own name it is best to consider the second problem.

2) The word "should" is making a judgement on you and your failure to call Maurice (I'm assuming that's your friend). Wouldn't it be much better to say:

"Your friend Maurice was recently made Archbishop of Kent and yet you have not called him. What the hell is wrong with you, you self-centered git?"

It's just that easy!

Leonard Derwerthy