Wednesday, February 23, 2005

3 Simple Steps to Sounding Smarter

I've been thinking about this for awhile, how could a perfectly average person sound like an incredibly intelligent person with as little effort as possible? Although I am not an incredibly intelligent person myself, I have dabbled in those circles and I feel I've been able to narrow down the qualities that make people seem smart, even if they aren't actually.

Now, there is no doubt the easiest way to sound smart in a conversation is to say nothing at all. Oh, that was a good laugh. No, really, the easiest way to sound smart (before getting to the official list) is one of two things. Either

a) be one of the aforementioned incredibly intelligent people, or,
b) shut your trap and simply be a listener.

Seriously, if you keep in complete silence while taking in every word a person is saying, they'll think you're quite an intelligent and contemplative fellow (or lass). But to be perfectly honest, if you can actively listen to what people are saying and not zone out, then, chances are, you actually are a contemplative person of more than adequate intelligence. But this is all off-topic. Let's to the list!

1. Know how to pluralize words.

I'm starting with the hardest one first. This is also, from what I've noticed, a major problem that people get stuck on. Especially in a college setting, or a place where a lot of college-type people are going to be around, this is a quality that will really make you shine.

Take words that are simple to start yourself off: goose, mouse (this is a tricky one, because there is a difference in pluralization between the animal and the computer accessory), portfolio, and quality to name a few. Then get down the trick words: deer, moose, or foreign words like ninja or samurai (you never know when you'll be in a room with Asian History majors). There aren't that many, and you'll know them when you find them. But tricky words, like syllabus, octopus, appendix, or cherub are words that are constantly pluralized incorrectly. There's also a lot of words that we don't commonly use the singular forms of, such as criteria, data, dice, or phenomenon. This is the section that will be most difficult to remember, but easiest to remedy if you have any questions about them because you can always just open up a dictionary and find out.

2. Drop your safety words.

For those Californians reading, you should know what I'm talking about. Take the next week or two and try to focus on how many times you say "like," "um," or "you know," and you'll see what I'm saying. If you're actually stuck in the middle of a thought just drop in a brief pause, a space for you to gather your thoughts, and start when you know what you are trying to say. East coast citizens have a similar problem with the word "wicked." These words are used as vocal replacements of commas, parentheses, and quotation marks. English speakers have never needed to include those aspects of grammar into speech before, why are we doing it now? Like, knock it off!

3. Be familiar with history and classic literature.

This does not mean that you need to go out and read The Odyssey, Pride & Prejudice, and Dr. Zhivago, or spend years reading thick history books. Why do that when you've got perfectly good movies to watch! Hell, history has even got its own channel! Movies based on classic lit. are great because, if they're good, they'll have all the major characters and plot points of the novels, plus they're made under the auspice of entertainment. These things were filmed with the idea that audiences were supposed to enjoy them, not simply being an artist's pure expression of their tulmutuous inner self. Historical films have the same thing going for them, although I would rather recommend the History Channel instead of the movies because the time limits of cinematic epics tend to strip away even the most blatant of historical accuracies.

There are some further qualities that are up for grabs when it comes to high intelligence demeanors. The decision to be either humble or arrogrant definitely depends on your own personality, and how far you are willing to take the disguise. Fashion and appearance I leave totally to the individual. I am neither fashionable nor attractive, so I cannot vouch for those qualities.

If there are anymore elements that could be added to this list I will definitely consider them. Remember, this is not a list on how to become smart, but just how to sound smart, and it needs to be kept as simple, and do-able, as possible.

Let me know if this process works for any of you.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Let's Dust This Off

I spent the better part of my day cleaning "my room." By "my room" I mean the place where I do stuff, not where I sleep. Most would call it an office, but I feel none of the work I do in there is serious enough to warrant the office moniker. Like I said it's just a place where I do stuff, being the introvert that I am.

Anyway, as I cleaned and vacuumed with my ever-so-powerful Dyson "powered by the wind-god, Aiolos" behemoth vacuum cleaner, I realized that every single flat space was covered in a layer of dust. What the heck is going on in the precious environs where I do my precious stuff? Is there a constant rain of dead skin and dirt that I'm just oblivious to? Am I just oblivious to a swirling blizzard around me?

It makes me upset, is all. How this dust apparates out of nowhere and there seems to be nothing I can do about...well, besides, that is, from cleaning everything again. But to be cleaning everything every day would take away from the precious time where I do my important stuff.

Fine. Maybe I'm just lazy, but how dust gets everywhere is still annoying.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Principle of Division

"I never let my schooling interfere with my education."
-Mark Twain
I eagerly look forward to the rest of my life, because as it stands now, I really have no idea where this society will go. Call me a cynic, but I am more than a little upset at the current state of education. This is bad, considering I'm in the process of becoming a teacher.

Maybe it's because I'm old...er, but I honestly think the purpose for higher education has been replaced by finger counting, anxiety-ridden, paranoids. No, I don't think it's because of my age that I'm nearly disgusted with the whole ordeal, it was because of these problems that I left in the first place. But that's a private story. Let me just show you the facts and let you decide whether things are out of hand.

In my eighth grade year (to the best of my recollection at least) my parents and myself were asked to participate in some sort of High School prepatory meeting. In this meeting, my parents and I huddled over a series of grids, and there I mapped out the next four years of my academic life. Year by year (4 years), semester by semester (so...8 of those). These decisions were supposed to make it easier for you to hone your future endeavors, and make it an easy step from your last day in High School to your first day at college. To me this doesn't make much sense. In the eighth grade, the only things I knew about myself was that the X-Men comic was spiraling downhill after Jim Lee left, and that masturbation was incredibly awesome.

I was 13 in the eighth grade. If the world were some scary Brave New World/The Giver-type deal, and my stupid-ass decisions as a youngster determined the outcome of my life, then I would probably be a ronin, a.k.a. master-less samurai right about now. Either that or I'd be Wolverine. Both are cool, that's a given, but absolutely useless in today's job market (unfortunately).

Does anybody stick to these plans? Are there people who know what they want to do and where they want to go by age 13 (Mr. Guess excepted)? There probably aren't many. But we yearn for this pre-planned piousness, just rubbing those standards and goals into our fresh, wounded youthfulness. So, I guess I'm saying that was bothering me even before I got old...er.

I saw this freakish anal-retentiveness in High School, but it's even more prevalent in college. Kids with their TI-Infinities and calculating every grade, and checking their sum against the possible points available to the class. Dammit! I've got a crappy 81.368262518 percent! My Dad's going to kill me! I tried doing this once, to actually be worried about it, but I got bored quickly and went back to drawing on my notes (bad grades quickly ensued). I think my determination against this type of attentiveness extends to my attitude about keeping my checkbook balanced, which now really just acts as a yearbook for all the bills I've paid.

How can such dependence upon long division be the point of modern higher learning? What happened to the improvement of the mind? When did the joy of Homer's epics become replaced by utter dependence upon Cliffs Notes? Students groan at the thought of literature, art, and history. Modern students have devised complicated ways to avoid reading, or do as little of it as possible. All modern students want is an A, not knowledge, not betterment.

Because of this, I believe every college, despite its reputation, has been whittled down to being no more than vocational schools. But it's not the fault of the students. Students have adapted to the changing demands of school administrators, and their occupational desires and goals. What those may be, I leave up to the reader.

I get fed up easily when it comes to going to school, a process I seem to be invariably stuck in until the day I die...or graduate (we're taking bets on which comes first). I may be burned out (again) or simply a dude with some perspective. I don't know. I know I just get really discouraged when the students around me don't give a flip about the material I'm getting jazzed about. Would I be getting more out of it if I just stayed in the comfort of my home and read these wonderful books on my days off from work instead of spending over a grand a quarter (another issue I've got problems with) just to be squeezed through a play-dough spaghetti maker.

I've got to stop ranting now, or I'll never get the rest of my homework done. Divide that sum and smoke it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cock-A-Doodle Fool

Let me just start off here by telling everybody who reads this that this little blog is my new internet soapbox. Normally, this place will be pretty mellow, comprising mostly of movie, music, and book reviews. But sometimes, like this entry that will officially kick off this new blog, I shall be ranting. So, welcome! And also welcome to the new year of the rooster.

As a guitar player, I tend to be a biased shopper, musically speaking. I bought my first guitar, a $200 Epiphone acoustic, at a gigantic odeum called Guitar Center. Those unfamiliar with this company should know that Guitar Center is a chain that originated out of Hollywood (I think), that sells not only guitars, but drums, keyboards, accessories of all kinds, books, etc. It's the go to place for the modern musician. The specific store I made my life changing purchase at is located in West Covina, California. And at that moment, it became a special place for me.

I bought my first electric guitar there, as well as my amplifier. It was like the Cheers bar to me, every time I went in the same wonderful people asked me how my guitars were doing, and so on. I even dragged friends down to the store to have them make their purchases there, too. I wanted to share the magic of the place.

Then this happened. Guitar Center is sponsoring a contest for all its customers to win a trip to see and meet the venerable hip-hop star, Nas. Let me just say that one more time--Guitar Center is sponsoring a contest where the winner shall see and meet the venerable hip-hop star (or is he rap? I still need to define the difference) Nas.

Nothing against Nas, nothing at all. But color me confused if a place called Guitar Center, a title which brings to mind a certain instrument and genres in which it is used, hooks up with a hip-hop star, a term which conjures its own imagery. Now if it were a hip-hop artist that really used a band, you know...with guitars, then I would completely understand. But this is Nas, a hip-hop artist that Eminem based his early style off of. Slick beats and synthesized orchestral arrangements beneath nearly stream-of-social-conscious speed speak.

I'll end this now before I get any more heated.

Keep a good thought,

-DCVB
www.spirorocks.com