So I sort of have this assignment. In it I’m supposed to write (or, as I prefer to interpret it, think about writing) fifteen hundred words of instruction on a topic of my choice; I’m supposed to share my ‘expertise’ and practice writing at the same time. I immediately thought back to the ease with which Uncle Duke wrote fifteen thousand words on snorkeling:
Uncle Duke: “Well, I got good and wired last night and the words just poured out.”
Yawn (reading): “Glipper. Pptple pi zip. Xxplt copa lipzz.”
Uncle Duke: “What?! Let me see that!”
Yawn (still reading): “Pxxt? Noob. Phlap-slabble. Kppt salmokk! Lippy. Gorpler.”
— ‘Doonesbury’s Greatest Hits‘, G.B. Trudeau, 1978
Now, it’s not entirely on topic (at least, not that I can tell) but he did write fifteen thousand words with obvious ease and successfully predicted an annoying but widespread cultural phenomenon at the same time. I’m intimidated by his uberness.
But I was talking about expertise. Sort of.
While I don’t have a whole lot of ‘expertise’ just lying around, I do know a few things. I’m nothing like an expert (I don’t even own the T-shirt) but I could talk about configuring sendmail. After all, there are few things as satisfying as booting up your first mail server. Unfortunately, though, that’s a little dull (but just a little) so maybe I shouldn’t bother.
drone on write about how one does did Hamidon raids but that’s already been done and besides, Hamidon has been dead and buried (well, not really ‘buried’, but definitely dead) for over two years. Scratch that one too.
Picking a topic is harder than I thought.
I know — I could cheat and copy something from my thesis. Werdpress (deliberately misspelled so don’t bother correcting me) would even render it correctly. (Well, some of it.) And the subtleties of the de Sitter metric are nothing if not sublime. And with one equation being worth a thousand words (or so they say) my fifteen hundred words would be done before you can say ‘line element.’ (Heck, using that formula, Chapter Two is slightly longer than A la recherche du temps perdu, but without the fairy cake or underlying narrative.)
I thought about that and even looked for it but it’s on a CD somewhere and I can’t find it right now. (A pity — it’s gripping. Would I lie to you?)
I was still without a topic, unless ‘How to find a missing CD’ counts as a topic. Even I don’t think it does.
So I mentally wrote off this assignment until a couple of days later when I was talking to a young lady named after a pseudocarp (she’s mentioned briefly here). We talked about this and that and, it being December in Canada and all, the subject of snow came up. And so did the subject of writing your name in it.
Now that’s a topic. It’s seasonal, there’s a musical score and heck, it’s in keeping with some of the existing themes for this blog. I was sold.
Except. Except it’s been done — there’s a pile of unnecessarily graphic videos on youtube, there are instructional web pages all over the place and Ms. F’s friend, well, I was intimidated by her uberness too.
So it was back to the drawing board — or at least back to the text file where I scribble ideas for stories that I might someday write. And there was this one… H’m. It might count as instructional. Of course, you’d have to interpret ‘How to cast aspersions without trash talking’ as ‘instructional’…
It’s a subject that’s interesting to me (well, a little) because, while I absolutely hate trash talk, there are situations that call for mild, thoughtful (dare I say witty) invective. Something a little more Juvenalian than Horatian.
It happened at the curling club.
We’re currently approaching the halfway mark of the curling season. One of my teams is slowly (very slowly) climbing out of the basement; the other is heading for it at high speed. Not that long ago, though, it was a new season — a blank sheet of ice full of promise.
Now, the first game of the season in any sport can be a little tricky. In hockey, there’s always the worry that you might have forgotten to put all your equipment back in your bag when you emptied it to wash things over the summer. (You did wash everything, didn’t you?) Plus there’s the ever-present risk of a coronary.
In curling, it’s a little different. Before a game, each player has a little ritual. It usually includes some amount of stretching and ends with a practice slide. Before the first game of the season it’s the same, only more so; stepping onto a sheet of ice for the first time risks both injury and comedy. The first slide of the season can be… entertaining. Usually for the wrong reasons.
I had thought ahead a little and had come out the previous week to take ‘the first slide’ with no audience; no one else had, so the other seven guys were all a little… tentative. On ‘our’ team (I was just a spare), the second took his practice slide (he was fine) then positioned himself to critique everyone that followed.
A brief aside: this game was in the ‘old guys’ league so everyone on both teams was on the high side of fifty. In particular, our second
was is eighty-seven. This is actually relevant because…
The other skip — at least twenty years younger than our second — took his practice slide. He was a little wobbly but otherwise fine so our second said loudly
“Not bad for an old man.”
His (the opposing skip) reaction was entertaining. He had successfully made ‘the first slide’ and had been praised by his opposition. Or had he? Had he just been complimented or had he just been insulted? He couldn’t tell and I could see that not knowing bugged him.
Now that’s the right way to trash talk someone. (The people I play video games with could learn a thing or two.) I acknowledged his (our second) uberosity but was not, for a change, intimidated by it.
And we won the game.