Sunday, December 15, 2013

10 Christmas Movies

Last blog was about the programs.  The TV specials that I remember as a kid.  This one is about Christmas Movies.  Now I realize that the things I mentioned before were likely movies before they became Christmas program specials.  But I don't remember them that way.  For me, they were always on TV.  NOW I am going to look at the things that I remember in both distant and recent past that add to my holiday spirit.   Before I digress, and in no particular order, lets get our sled in gear.

10.  Home Alone - The story of a kid left behind for the holidays while his ridiculously rich parents forget him just a moment too late.  The Scrooge in this show was the Ungrateful brother's family that appears to be freeloading off to Paris.  Cheap people always make for a good bad character in the movies.  We recognize them right off and we enjoy seeing them made fun of.  Still while this movie is mostly about madcap fun at bumbling thieves expense.  Message: The importance of family even when they appear to be a little too close.

9.  Elf - Fun fun Show with Will Farrel as Buddy the misplaced elf looking for his dad.  Also a jumping off point for Zoey Deschanel who has a lovely singing voice.  The Scrooge here is Buddy's Dad that doesn't have time for all of this holiday nonsense.  Of course it might be the children's book writing guru little person with a bad temper.  Nah, it's the Dad.  Christmas message: Once again, the importance of family even if they are long lost or only temporarily lost.

8.  It's a wonderful life - A Christmas classic among classics.  It's a wonderful life chronicles one mans trip through a life without his existence after feeling like his friends and family would be better off without him.  The Scrooge in this show is the banker (who else?).  The message is that everyone has an effect on everyone else's life in ways you might not expect.  Black and white with hot chocolate is the best way to watch this one.

7.  The Snowman - A personal favorite.  No dialog, all visual/musical.  This is not frosty the sell out.  This is a captivating story of a young boy and his snow friend.  There isn't any mention of magic or anything else in this movie.  It's just assumed that things like this happened.  The Scrooge here is heat.  It just keeps melting that nice snow man!  Message: is that you can make friends everywhere and the best ones don't care where you are from particularly the ones in your own head.  Never lose yourself as your best friend.

6.  Polar Express - A magical train that takes select kids to the North Pole.  These kids come from different places but they are all bound by their common association (and doubts) to Santa Claus.  The Scrooge in this movie is that Mandark kid (If you haven't seen Dexters Laboratory, you should).  The Message is, it's important to continue to believe in things.

5.  A Christmas Story - One of my personal favorites, this might be the best portrayal of Christmas through a child's eyes.  Not kids the way we'd like to imagine they are, but a lot closer to the way kids really are.  Often as disappointed as they are hopeful and they see things closer to the way they are.  The Scrooge here is more vague:  Everyone that is embarrassed about their past and how goofy or geeky or wonderful their mother thought they were.  That or it's all of those gun hating liberals, I'm not sure.  Message:  The memories of your past, no matter how much you'd like to avoid them, are unmistakable bits of who you are now so embrace them.

4.  White Christmas - Another classic of classics.  Maybe not as much because of the story, but because of the songs for it.  A terrific series of songs.  A so so story.  Performers get together and end up helping a friend that has sunk all of his savings into a Vermont lodge.  But there is no snow! The holiday tunes go on and on here.  White Christmas, Let it snow, I'll be home for Christmas.  Scrooge?  Weather.  Message:  When you have friends, what else do you need?  Don't answer that, it's rhetorical.

3.  Christmas Vacation - Chevy Chase heads this movie about most of the funny bits of Christmas with family.  The Holiday season and all of its angst and celebrations.  The more family, the more you need a vacation from Christmas by the end of it.  In the movie, business regains it's heart and thinks better of it's employees, but only after some real prodding.  It's not that way in real life.  It's just business.  Any heart is purely coincidental and will probably be cut with the next board meeting. Scrooge?  Business that doesn't think about it's employees much (Jelly of the month club indeed).  Message:  You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family, and Merry Christmas.

2.  Muppet Christmas Carol - A personal favorite again that I alluded to in my prior Christmas post.  It hits 95% of the notes of Dickens' famous story and keeps things going nicely all with that muppet holiday spice.  The Scrooge in this show is the drawn out regretted love scenes.  And Mr. Scrooge of course.  The Message is the same one that the Christmas Carol always brings with it.  Take care of your fellow man.

1.  Nightmare Before Christmas - Wait, this is a Halloween show right?  Or.  But. It's all halloweeny so it's got to be a Halloween show.  Well if Jack Skellington is driving a sleigh with 8 bony reindeer, I don't know how much more Christmasy it needs to be.  The Scrooge here is probably Jack himself, although I think Mr. Oogey Boogey is the more likely candidate. At least Jacks heart is in the right place, its his execution that's lacking.  Message:  It's ok to be who you are and there is nothing wrong with not being good at everything.

Yes there are many others, but the truth is, I either do not remember them, or did not see them or they didn't make this list because there are only 10 slots.  Next stop New Years!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Christmas Holiday Programs

It's that holiday season again.  It comes once a year, but it almost seems like it never really ends.  Maybe some time in mid July, but for the most part, you are either preparing for, or recovering from, the Holidays.  Of course if you are a child, then the Holidays only mean that you are about to partake of one of the 4 paydays afforded you as a child. 1. Christmas, 2. Easter (candy only), 3. Halloween (candy only) 4. Birthday.  The great part about being a kid is that these things just happen to you.  And it seems that everything around you changes to accommodate the holiday you don't understand why, but it's pure magic. When I was a boy during Christmas, a big part of the magic was the TV programming.  There was no on demand, there was only TV Guide.  If you missed it, you were a year away from the next broadcast.  In no particular order.

10 - Frosty the Snowman - The non-secular show. By non-secular I mean that it had no specific affiliation to Christmas whatsoever.  A story about a dumb snowman and his magic hat.  It always seemed to air at Christmas time, even though it might have been better suited around February when there are no holidays of note and just winter.  It seems that it had a sprig of holly around the title, I guess that was enough to tie it into Christmas.  More than it has in the song certainly.  Yet that song would also make it's way into the grade school program.  Still I would watch it and any other special show that came up and it occupies my memories with the sounds of Happy Birthday!

9 - Rudolph - One of the greats.  Rudolph has always been around and it took me quite a while to realize that Rudolph was not one of the initial reindeer.  The outsider, the underdog, the hometown boy makes good.  The ultimate story of triumph over adversity.  That's what this story wanted to be and to a great part was.  Misfit toys, Dental Elves.  This show had it all.  This was the first show that I remember seeing in stop motion.  It had such a weird look to it, I loved it.

8 - Santa Claus is coming to town - Another stop motion great, the story of Santa Claus.  It featured a red haired guy named Kris Kringle that looked quite a bit like Glenn Campbel.  He had to figure out a way to get toys into kids away from the watchful eye of the dreaded burger meister meister burger.  Well you know the story, because you've seen it as much as I did. More fun stop motion. In fact, after this show, any other show that used similar stop motion techniques would immediately bring Christmas to mind. Defrocked winter wizards were the most compelling part of this show for me.  It taught me that once you no longer have evil in your heart, you have no power for your magic.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad lesson, they didn't really elaborate.  It also contained a great song that was non-Christmas.  Put one foot in front of the other.  yay!

7 - Year without a Santa Claus - This had less to do with Santa and more to do with two warring factions of the weather world Heat miser and Cold miser.  They had the same song but switched the lyrics to suit their specific climate.  'They call me heat miser...whatever I touch...melts in my clutch...I'm too much'  Loved that song.  Apparently they called a truce long enough to allow snow in southtown U.S.A.  I think it's somewhere in Alabama. It's been remade a few times (the song) so I think more than just me liked it. Had they remade the show for current times.  I think they would be called the climate change brothers. Stop motion again, but worth watching every year.

6 - The Grinch who stole Christmas - The great Boris Karlof narrated this show about whos in whoville.  These are the same whos that Horton had heard.  Boris also voiced the menacing Grinch.  Classic show animated by Chuck Jones of Looney tunes fame.  This show was just about the spirit of sharing and community.  Not heavy handed, just fun.  I loved the dog.  The who carol made up in who language was also nice. Little Cindy Lou who.  The cutest little slug you ever saw!

5 - A Cricket in Times Square / Very merry Cricket - This one didn't show up as often but I saw it enough times and had memories attached to it, that it made sense for me to add it since this is my blog.  I was supposed to be doing forgotten homework when this show came on (also animated by Chuck Jones).  Rather than do that I sneaked to the edge of the door frame to watch the show.  Followed by a zip back to my desk to pay small attention to the assignments that I still don't remember.  Well my dad caught me and closed the door.  I received a well deserved scolding.  For that reason I still remember this show.  Otherwise, I'm not sure it comes on that much anymore.

4 - Star Wars Christmas Special - Speaking of never comes on.  This show was a bomb from the get go.  I remember seeing it when it aired and MAN was it a stinker.  Just horrible.  You can find it online for viewing if you have a strong enough constitution.  This must have been a part of a contract or something because nobody looks too happy to be in it.  Give the Wookies their due.  Apparently they had Wookee Christmas.

3 - The Little Drummer Boy - This is really the only story that speaks directly to the story of Christmas by inserting the drummer boy heard in fictitious song into the Nativity.  Another stop motion animation in the same style as Rudolph and Santa.  This song made famous by the Von Trapp Singers.  Yes, THOSE Von Trapps.  Had quite a bit of play in the 50's.  The show itself kind of creeped me out for reasons unknown.  I think it was because they painted a smile on the kid and made him drum.  That painted smile reminded me too much of clowns.  I think it's safe to say that everyone hates clowns.

2 - A Christmas Carol (1971) - Charles Dickens wrote the definitive story about Christmas spirit in the Christmas Carol.  It has been made many times.  The only reason I choose this model over the myriad others is because it was perfect in my memory.  The Muppet Christmas Carol holds a very close second and still a dear place in my heart.  Were it not for that strange love song and reprisal in the middle of it, it might have gained first.  The animation from 1971 was something I stumbled upon and didn't see it in the standard weekend nightly holiday schedule.  It would come mid day on a Saturday but I still remember the feeling of it.  Even when it was happy, it couldn't quite get away from the Dickensian England that engulfed it.  It had all of the elements of the story that you needed in a format digestible by a kid.

1 - Charlie Brown Christmas - Charles Shultz didn't even like this show!  He thought it was really poorly animated.  Yes, it probably was.  The cartooning itself wasn't what I would call polished.  My kids to this day will take all of the flaws in the cartooning of all of the Peanuts specials and make fun of them.  But the voice acting by those kids and the music by Vince Guraldi propel this into my favorite Christmas program bar none.  The story itself seems so somber.  It's as much a story about fearing that you will outgrow Christmas as it is a celebration of the Holiday.  I love it as much as an adult as I loved it as a kid.

In 15 days I'll stumble across the deadline with another list of 10 things.  You'll probably be too busy to read them, but stop by for a cup of hot chocolate!  Holidaze are upon us.  Don't allow the trappings that surround the season become more burdensome than the Holiday warrants.  Often it's more than enough to just be together for the holidays.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

10 Hells

Hell.  H-E double hockey sticks.  The OTHER place.  You know, the place you don't expect to go yourself but you know a LOT of other people that are going to go there.  But really where is hell?  is it DOWN?  Is it really hot?  Or is it just somewhere you don't wanna be.  Well here are 10 places you don't want to be.

10.  In that bad dream - Sure it's temporary, but when you wake up for the REALLY bad dream.  You really feel horrible and then suddenly, you feel great because you aren't there anymore!  At least there is some feeling of relief.  That school dream where you realize that you have several classes that you are supposed to be attending and you vaguely remember attending maybe the first day but somehow you've skipped the rest and it's time to take the final.  Yep, Hell.

9.  Foreign Church - When you are a kid, Church is just one of the places you go (assuming you did).  You get to know your church and who is there.  You sit with other kids, but there isn't much playing.  You don't like it much, but you go.  When you go on vacation, you kind of figure that there might be a vacation from church as well.  After all, it's not YOUR church and you're far away.  Well, depending on your parents, that could be wrong.  This is one of the many childhood hells.  You don't know anyone there, you have no real connection, you are only there counting the minutes, maybe seconds.  You know it's bad because of how good you feel when you get out.  Sweet sweet freedom.

8.  The shot line - This is a horrible place to be as a kid.  When I was a wee lad of tender years there were a couple of occasions when we would have to go stand in a long line and get some kind of inoculation at school.  Sure you got to miss school, but you had to get a shot!  This was bad on so many levels.  First you have to get a shot.  B.  You have to keep your composure because you should not be seen crying.  Furthermore, you are told that you might feel a bit feverish but it's ok, it's nothing to worry about.  This is a no win situation.  Hell indeed!

7.  Unprepared - School is often compared to a job.  But really it's more like a job in a socialist country.  You are required to do tasks that may or may not matter and you have deadlines that are more or less made up.  Work on the other hand will have a mix of deadlines because 'if we don't have a deadline we will never get it done' and real deadlines set by customers or Government penalties.  No matter what its source, if you are on the bad end of the deadline, you've got to produce.  If you don't have whatever it is ready, ugh, there are few things worse in school or work than having a deadline that you just can't meet.

6. The Boss's office - If you are sitting in the bosses office, it's very likely that you are either going to get hired, in which case the office isn't bad and you have time to notice the little tchochkies the boss keeps on their desk or, if you already have the job, odds are you won't soon.  The hell is walking into the bosses office without a reason.  You are afraid of what it could be, and it doesn't have to be right too many times to reinforce that fear.  This has a pretty good analog to the principals office, except you usually know why you are going there, you just don't know what the outcome will be.

5.  Caught telling tales out of school - So you're dishing dirt on a fellow employee, or someone at school/church.  It's not a nice thing to do, but it's pretty human.  In mid tale, you see that person out of the corner of your eye.  You now have to either turn this story around which is as hard as turning a semi-truck around on a 2 lane road.  Or you have to quickly shift the subject, but you know the damage is done.  Every time you see that person, until you try to mend those fences, will be a little trip to hell.  The fence mending won't be that fun either.

4.  Waiting for medicine - You've gone to the doctor and he has suspicions.  He won't tell you exactly what, or how bad it is until some tests are run.  Waiting for the results and the subsequent diagnosis is often worse than the disease itself.  You feel the most helpless and you know the best possible news is 'you are ok, please pay at the window'.  Which means you go home healthy.  All of the other alternatives include some kind of treatment.  Mostly, none of those things are as bad as the wait for the news.  In this entry also falls the Dentists chair, except they are working on you while you wait.  There isn't much to be done except to anticipate possible pain and make mumbled conversation with your dentist.

3.  The magnanimous speech - Someone has given you a boon.  Usually it's someone in authority but not necessarily.  In the time honored tradition of you can't get something for nothing, you are unable to get that gift/day off/award without a drawn out speech or speeches.  Sometimes you yourself are asked to continue blowing hard as well.  The acceptance speech.  You can't cut it short because you'll seem ungrateful.  But if you go too long people will just remember you as one of several boring people.  Here is a hint:  If you mention up front that you will only take X minutes and stay on that schedule no matter what.  You come out a winner.  Go over, and you're the goat.  No matter what.

2.  Heart Burn - I use this because it's something I've experienced myself.  It doesn't have to be that though it can be any chronic pain that you have no treatment for.  In my own case, it was a throbbing pain in my chest that felt like someone was slowly trying to spread my ribs apart.  It didn't burn, but it did hurt.  It didn't stop.  Finally I went to the E/R because I thought it might be something serious.  It wasn't.  But when they gave me their super duty antacid, all my troubles melted away.

1.  Can't/Must Sleep - You've got a big day tomorrow.  Whatever the reason.  You get to bed and bang.  you can't sleep.  Nothing.  You don't want to take a drug because you don't want to go in to your important thing all groggy.  But you can't.  It's at this point that your brain becomes the frienemy that you know that it is.  It will keep you up just long enough that tomorrow you will be beat.  It's all that time that you are sitting their wondering what you should do.  Should you get up?  You're awake anyway.  Should you just count sheep or tell yourself a story?  Should you take that sleepy pill or that Nyquil?  Is that admitting defeat?  What ever it is you are doing, it's not sleeping and it's not helping.  Ugh!

Well looks like I've pried yet another subject that has 10 entries from my addled brain.  Come back in 15 or so and we'll see what other cobwebs I can disturb.

Friday, November 1, 2013

10 Worthless Phrases

The human animal is given to lots of activities through the benefit of our rather large brain.  We worry.  We pretend. We speak.  In speaking we often will say things that seem to convey interest or concern, but which are actually worthless.  Most of these are expressions, but that's ok, they really don't do much but exercise your vocal cords.

10.  Be careful! - Perhaps one of the most overused and unimportant phrases we have come up with as a race.  Often told by irresponsible parents when they give a 3 year old the jug of milk to pour into a glass.  What's the result?  A perfectly poured glass of milk?

9.  Remember to ______ - This little reminder is like a hex.   It's only useful at the moment that you need to remember something.  Before you need to remember it?  Worthless.  Example: Mom: Remember to bring home your jacket today.  You:  Ok.  What happens? When it's time to come home, you forget.  A better answer?  Stick a post it note on the book of the last class of the day, or that time honored tradition of tying a string around your finger.

8. I told you so - I should say this isn't a worthless phrase it serves to show it's user as a bit petty depending on the i told you so in question.  We've all been guilty of using this self appreciating technique.  We should all stop it.  This phrase can sometimes be said without actually verbalizing anything.  Just an 'I told you so' look will give this worthless phrase undue purchase.

7. How do you feel right now? - This phrase has a lot of value when a doctor is saying it to you after a car accident.  The very same phrase has little to no meaning at all when a sports reporter asks a victorious or defeated sports team member after 'The Big Game'.  Ugh, do they actually pay these people?

6.  Did you find everything ok? - This is the phrase you hear at the end of a shopping trip.  You have a full cart with all the necessities and a lot of the non necessities, and you are asked this question.  I have taken the opportunity to mention that I was unable to find the pineapple pop-tarts or maybe the peach root beer.  Then they tell me I should talk to the customer service desk.  Maybe they should put a sign on the customer service desk that says 'Couldn't find it ok?  Come talk to us'  That would save precious breath on the part of the checkout personnel.

5.  Are you kidding me?  -  Kidding.  There is no sincerity in the are you kidding me statement because it usually follows a statement that can not possibly be true but you believe probably must be.  When the balloon festooned van pulls up and a guy with a microphone and a camera crew tells you 'You've just won the Plumbers Flushinghouse Sweepstakes!'  You say 'You're kidding!'  Obviously they aren't and you just won a lifetime supply of plumbing fixtures.

4.  Have you seen? - MOST of the time this question just doesn't have any value because right after it's asked the inquisitor will then proceed to tell you about what you just said you haven't seen.  Or they will say 'yeah, that was good'  if you're lucky.  If you're not lucky, they will reiterate the story that you both know.  This question does have some value in the right situation though.  If you are looking for something, you have a 1% chance of this phrase jogging someones memory.   If someone is on a talk show, it's a good segue into the prepared subject of the guest.  Yes, it's prepared.

3.  You're lucky - Telling someone they are lucky has no value because if they don't know it, they don't appreciate it.  It's not lucky to them, it's average.  The other thing is, usually you are told you're lucky in an ironic fashion.  You just got hit by a stray baseball in the back of the head and someone will tell you you are lucky that it wasn't a lawn dart.  Great.  Don't bother.  If that's the kind of luck I've got, I'd rather not know.

2.  Any name joke - Ugh.  Lets say that your last name is VanPelt.  That seems to be a somewhat rare name that might not have any jokes surrounding it.  It does.  Anyone that has that name can enumerate every joke they have ever heard about it.  The obvious one would involve Peanuts' Linus and Lucy.  But there are several others that might be dumber.  If you are the owner of that last name.  You've heard them all and you've been forced to bear them all.  Name jokes are NEVER useful.  If you feel like telling them.  Don't.

1.  Have a nice day - Said by people that don't really care that much if you have a nice day at all or not.  The time this phrase is at it's most worthless is when it is the closing statement of law enforcement after they have pulled you over for speeding.  At the end of one traffic stop a police officer said 'Have a better day'  I appreciated that.

There it is.  10 items by 15 days.  Come by in another 15, I might have another 10.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 ways you can 'fake it'

Faking it.  You know.  Trying to seem in the know when you really aren't.  Sometimes it happens when you are at work, sometimes at home.  Most of the time, it's not bad, it's just you trying to keep your little mental boat afloat when it seems to have been caught in an eddy.  Some people are SO good at this, they achieve middle management, where they are either forced to get IN the know, or move themselves from job to job every time they are found out by someone with more authority than they have.  Here is your guide for faking it in all kinds of situations.

10.  Half hearted laugh - the half laugh is not really a laugh at all in the humorous sense.  It's either an indicator of association so as to say 'yeah, I've been there' or it is a sign of derision to say 'I know exactly what you are talking about, that sucks'.  You use it when you come into the middle of a conversation that people think you are somehow included.  Rather than uncomfortably leaving, you snort your acceptance and listen on hoping to get some inkling of what is going on.

9.  Bold Bluster - Risky.  VERY Risky.  When you see your authority being questioned and you aren't sure how to save face, you bloviate about how there is no organization from within the ranks you command.  More organization!  That's what we need!  Better signals people!  Where is our follow through!  More of these semi-sport related management phrases that seem to apply to the situation.  What's the real problem?  Who cares.  If you say one of those three things and look carefully at who nods (a junior faker).  You'll be able to find who you need in meetings to continue to support your fraud.  WARNING.  If you pull this in a situation that calls for none of those things say for example a blatant sexual harassment suit that is looming, you will find yourself encouraged to find new venues for middle management.

8.  Uh huh - vague acceptance.  Best on the phone for conversations that you really haven't heard or don't care about.  the Uh huh is the sprinkling of water on the dying plant of your conversation that will keep it alive just long enough to keep you out of trouble.  Warning.  Uh huh does NOT work when you are suddenly asked a question like 'So what did he say to you when I left?' after the story I told that took the last 20 minutes?.  Unless, of course,  you are really looking to shorten the conversation.

7.  Ask and Answer - Sure you can't use it in a court of law, but in the court of faking it, ask and answer has a lot of value.  You ask yourself a vague question and then answer it.  It is best used in the course feigning  trying to understand a subject so that your counterpart will either catch you up because you 'misunderstood' or will agree with you affirming that you are in the know.  Example:  'So you're saying he completely decided to cut you out of that loop? or...' , 'No, what I'm saying is that he lied about the whole thing'  'OH!, I see now, yes'

6.  The catch up - Thanks to the cell phone we have an instant excuse to turn a minor faux pas into a major faking it win.  If you've been dozing off in the meeting but you need to know what's up, you pretend that your phone has been silently ringing and announce to everyone that you have to get this.  You then come back and inform the meeting that you apologize and please get you up to speed.  This is a double bonus because you look REALLY busy AND you just get the high points of the meeting.

5.  Wolf amongst sheep - So you are at a party with some friends and you quickly realize that you are the only conservative amongst liberals, or the only DC comics fan amongst Marvel fans.  This is about not completely alienating friends until they see you as a friend with a different opinion instead of one of 'them'.  The key here is common ground and distraction.  We'll use the Conservative amongst Liberals example. Them: 'So I really think Obamacare will fix what's wrong with this country, I can't believe those republican's can't see that'.  You:  'Yeah, it's pretty amazing that most of it was taken from Utah and Massachusets...pretty wierd'  as you turn to the chip table and grab a generous handful of chips and dip and keep your mouth full of corn instead of words.  Bottom line, find your common ground and give nothing more.

4.  Sport guy - According to beer commercials and the Internet, all men should inherently know about manly sports.  Inside this means intimate knowledge of Football/Basketball and sometimes baseball.  Outside of the US it means knowing about Soccer and Cricket.  The key here is knowing some of the buzz words and a little bit of derision in your voice.  Let's make football our example.  They guys are talking about 'the game' complaining about the play.  You listen for a blank spot and then you say '[Team A] really needs to be more organized in the Secondary, they just let too much get away'  Much like 9 the bold bluster, you are now using business terms to augment your appearance in football knowledge.  90% of the time any team will need the same kinds of things that business needs.  This is really going to be the same for any of the other sports, you just need some very spotty knowledge of the sport and apply a business metaphor to it.  Bang!  you're in like flyn.

3.  Getting Clarification - You're in the company, but you really don't know how to do what you've been hired for.  In fact you know it will take you so long to get up to speed, you need a real boost but you can't ask anyone there because it got out that you are actually getting paid for this job and you aren't an intern.  You casually go to the person that you estimate has the most knowledge about the thing you need to do and casually ask 'So on this project, what's the standard operating procedure?  How do we do it here?'  Nobody could possibly be expected to know what happens in a specific situation.  You get an example of what needs to happen and boom, you get a road map for what you should be doing.  The danger here is going to the well too many times.  You really can't play this card too many times before you are found to be a fraud, so make it good.

2.  The OTHER family wingman - You are at the other family reunion.  You've been a few times, but honestly you still really aren't sure who is who.  They know you and they have you at a disadvantage.  Some are gracious and continue to introduce themselves, others just talk to you like you should completely know who they are.  At this point your best bet is to not let your better half out of your sight, they are now your wingman.  That way they can make the absolute naming reference to each of the relatives while you quietly re-assert the association, and all you have to do now is take the association to indicate that you are aware of them and care.  Example.  Wingman 'Oh Uncle Frank and Aunt Gladys, it's so great to see you this year!' YOU: 'Great to see you Frank, how is ice road trucking treating you?'

1. TV Talk - Often at the office the TV shows of the prior night will make or break your banter relationship.  Early on there was literally no way to include yourself into the story arc because the only way you could gain entry was to borrow videos from that one guy that video taped everything.  Yeah how's that guy feeling now?  Kinda dumb because you can watch just about everything now just by having the internet.  So once you realize the you've missed the boat you just pull up the old episodes on the internet and catch up so that by next week you're wondering what the writers were thinking like you've been there since the pilot.  Technically you aren't faking it here, you are just catching up but close enough.

What, you think I missed something obvious? Ok, I'll admit, this whole blog is probably faking it.  But the day has not yet expired and I made my self imposed deadline.  Give me 15 days give or take, and I'll give you 10 things.