Arrogance at its Finest
All Hail The Know-It-Alls
He is known only as…Know-It-All. Dressed in yellow pajamas, with short-cropped hair and bullet-proof glasses that magnify his nearly-crossed eyeballs into the size of small moons, Eddie Deezen’s character in The Polar Express is simultaneously obnoxious, cute and annoying.
Obnoxious: because he knows everything and insists on talking through a shrill, nasally, clarinety tone that just makes you want to squeeze things until they ooze.
Cute: because he is a kid and is therefore worthy of looking at and saying “Awww.”
Annoying: because he is a know-it-all who blabs on and on about the most finite details of everything, and is therefore worthy of you saying “Awww. I would like to squeeze you until you ooze.”
Cinema and society are replete with characters like this:
- Peter Griffin of Family Guy
- Autor from Princess Tutu
- Jack Chick
- Scuttle from The Little Mermaid
- Cliff Clavin of Cheers
- Timon in The Lion King
- Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory
- Starscream from Transformers
- President Stable Genius
- My Mom
- Your Mom
- Every Mom
And one of my personal favorites: Otto, the bombastic Nietzsche-loving hitman in A Fish Called Wanda. To quote Otto, “Apes don’t read philosophy.” And Wanda’s response: “Yes they do, Otto…they just don’t understand it.” NSFW due to profanity:
Individuals that think they know it all and that are apparently beyond education, or think they have amassed all the answers already, are almost universally reviled…they are characters that are lacking character. Like those who think they can beat the system by dressing up as grannies so they can get the coronavirus vaccine early. Side note: It bothers me that I did not come up with this idea first. I would make a wonderful Granny.
In voiceovers, it is the brazen effrontery posed by newcomers who have been in voiceovers for less than a year - and are convinced that they already have all the answers. This same effrontery is readily apparent in those who insist that Michael Bolton falls under the "good music" column, which it does not. It falls under the "I will kill you with a hammer if you play Michael Bolton" column.
This same effrontery starts with those who are told “Hey, you’ve got a great voice; you should do voiceovers!” So they run and do voiceovers, because “how hard can it be?” They skip coaching, and buy their $39.99 Zingyou microphone bundle and Tonka headphones on Amazon. They slap up a few foam squares. They go hog-wild on promoting their Voices.com page. Or they heavily endorse Fiverr, and are entirely unreceptive to correction by those who have gone before. And then, they do the unthinkable…they start coaching. Again, because, “how hard can it be? I already know everything.” In my best David Attenborough voice: Ahh, the revolting hubris of the spring chicken. They are the serial purveyors of misinformation, and should be killed with a hammer.
Such people…need teachability. Such people…need to recognize that they have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Such people…are dangerous.
A Happy Meal of a Message on Learning
It is a big yellow sign. There are two arches. It represents food all over the world. And the food is not the greatest, although my sons primarily want the toy anyway, not the food. Also they can lick up all the ketchup from the container before they even touch the French fries. Do not ask me why they do this; I do not know.
McDonald’s. It is Americana…and it can be found all over the world. Ray Kroc’s restaurant chain roots go back to 1955. By 1958, McDonald’s had sold its 100 millionth hamburger.
I am not overly fond of McDonald’s food. If you have read my previous blogs – go on, I will wait...
...you will note that I am fond of promoting my affinity for Taco Bell and that succulent grade-Q meat and “authentic” Mexican food. I remember when I was 23. It was a very long time ago; I think it was the same year that fire was invented. I suggested to my Mexican Gramma that we go out to Taco Bell: a place she had never visited since she stopped driving her car in 1735. We ordered our food, sat down, she opened her soft taco, and said, “Joshua, this is not Mexican food.”
Quite right, Gramma. It is not genuine. Neither is McDonald’s, really.
But one genuine thing Ray Kroc said remains as food for the wise. It is an axiom that is timelessly exemplary in its analogy of a growing, living organism. He said, “When you’re green, you’re growing; when you’re ripe, you rot.”
So I ask you now, in the name of all that is sacred, are you green? Am I?
Teachability is Everything
I strive to practice teachability. Even so, I do have a few Y-chromosomes floating around somewhere in me, and therefore have a great propensity for my pride to get in the way. This is why I am currently stranded in Tristan da Cunha because I do not ask for directions. If someone could please send a chopper I would appreciate it.
I spent a long time on the sidelines of voiceovers before taking the plunge. Watching. Studying. Waiting. I have learned from the best. Scott Burns. J Michael Collins. Pat Fraley. Tracy Lindley. Paul Strikwerda. Marc Cashman. Bill DeWees. Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt. I have really striven to ingest, study, and better myself. That involves really holding myself up to the light so that I can see any impurities floating around in there. I am not talking about my Y-chromosomes or chicken bits.
Let me tell you a story.
It was going to be easy. There were instructions. It surely would not take that long. It would be a challenge, sure, but I enjoy challenges.
I had this big gazebo to put together over our hot tub. I pulled all the parts out and laid them meticulously across my workbench in the garage. All of the parts had their own spaces to reside until I called for them. The first thing I needed to do was to assemble the roof. I needed to attach the center hub to eight long spines that branch out from the center and attach to the supporting rails and the four corner pillars that held everything up.
Roof = done!
Now it was time to connect the four corner pillars to it. I had assembled one of these before, so, even though the instruction manual was back in the garage, and I was out in the yard in the rain, I figured I knew what to do next in order to finish it.
I was having a bit of a struggle connecting the four pillars to the longest spines stemming out from the roof structure. There was some bowing, and the roof pinnacle had sunken below the pillars I had managed to erect thus far. They were splayed out in odd directions across the grass, reminiscent of what happens when one is launched from a cannon into a wall of granite. “Oh, well…” I thought. I was getting it connected as fast as I could so as to minimize the bowing as soon as possible. When the pillars were up, and all four roof supports were connected, something did not look quite right. Nonetheless I figured it just needed some straightening.
That is when I noticed the roof hub. All of the spines were extended outward from it, sure, but they were now – all of them – twisted to the right. The hub itself had rotated, but the legs had not. Now, they were all out of their grooves. Please note that this is not actually how you are supposed to assemble gazebos, so please do not take this blog as proper instruction for assembling gazebos.
Yes, they still formed a spider branching out from the hub, but since the center hub itself was rotated, the tension wouldn’t be there at the end of the legs to make sure the roof did not come off and flap in the wind, eventually landing somewhere in Brazil. Also the top mini-canopy would not have enough tension to deflect the rain. It lay there, draped limply across the top as if to say "Joshua...why?"
When I realized my error – and what it would take to correct it – I slumped down onto the stepladder underneath the pinnacle and just gave a thousand yard stare off into the pasture, my hands in my pockets to deflect the cold. It was raining, and there was still snow outside, a bit slushy, but still there. Not ideal conditions. My jacket was a bit waterlogged and my hair rain-soaked.
I had been here before. I often think I am more able than I am when it comes to housework, yard work, work with tools, or anything more complicated than making toast. (Please do not chime in here. I know you butter it first.) In the end, I get frustrated and berate myself with the dependable, time-honored phrase:
“You can’t do anything right.” I do not know where that came from because neither my mom nor dad, nor any of my teachers had ever said that to me. But somewhere it took root.
Had I assembled the pillars with their supporting rails first, and had a complete bottom structure to simply lift the completed roof onto, I wouldn’t have bowing…or twisting…or tension loss...or have to pee so badly since, because I had been sitting out there depressed for so long, single-celled paramecium had now evolved into fully-grown humans.
Shoulda looked at the freaking manual.
Was I going to give up? No. I eventually sighed, grabbed my hammer and pliers and started over on the roof. And I finished it. Is it perfect? Almost. Does it work now? Almost. Is the mutilated and jerry-rigged form factor a constant reminder that I should have done one thing? Entirely. What was the one thing?
Indeed, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration, double effort and cold toes, had I simply gone back into the garage and referenced the instruction manual.
Lesson? I still don’t know everything. And I’m ok with that. Except that Taco Bell IS genuine Mexican food, and you cannot tell me otherwise.
So...are you green?
NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational / entertainment purposes. I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.
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