Some Things That Bother Me

Follows is a brief overview of some of the things that are bothering me this week.

Scrabble Whiners

I seldom play Scrabble anymore and it's all the fault of Scrabble Whiners. Anyone might be a Scrabble Whiner. There's no reliable way to know in advance. I have ceased to be surprised when people I considered honourable, stalwart and true sit down in front of a Scrabble board and start whining like hungry sea-lions.

What do they whine about? Here's the top three:
#1. "My letters are terrible."

#2. "I know it's a stupid word but I have no choice."

#3. "I'm sorry I'm taking so long to make my turn."
And here are the corresponding awful truths these players are trying not to face:
#1. "Your letters are fine, stupid. Think harder!"

#2. "It is a stupid word. You probably should've spent more time on your turn."

#3. "You're making us all wait because you're stupid."
The rub, of course, is that these awful truths are voiced not by the other players but by the whiner themselves, a running interior monologue of intellectual shame whose bleating tends to surface in inverse proportion to score.

The whiner labours under the false impression that speaking some of their excuses aloud will absolve them from judgement in the event that other players make the cardinal mistake of evaluating another human being's cerebral worth and linguistic acumen on the basis of their Scrabble placings. This is a surprisingly common phobia.

I just want the whiners of the world to understand that they've ruined the game of Scrabble for me. I have no interest in sitting down at a table to hear people complain about their letter lot, bemoan the lack of opportunities on the board, lament their own cursed brains which only appear clever when nobody else is looking. I get tired of saying, "It's okay -- don't worry about it. Let's just play the game."

A piece of advice for nervous players? Just shut up. Nobody cares how low your self-esteem is.

The Olympics

I don't understand the small-talk obsession with the Olympics. Suddenly the weather isn't interesting enough for you? Jesus Murphy Brown!

Sometimes I run into people and they ask, "Are you following the Olympics?" and when I say, "No," they start to tell me all about the games, apparently labouring under the misapprehension that I am somehow not following the Olympics involuntarily and that I am therefore positively thirsty for whatever details I can get. Maybe they think my television is on the fritz (along with my borked radio, my misdelivered newspaper subscription and the fact that every computer I touch displays characters only in Sanskrit, leaving me piteously deprived of sporting news of any kind).

Newsflash: the Olympics are everywhere. If somebody tells you they're not following the games, it's on purpose.

Some Einsteins like to respond to this by asking why. They want to know whether it's the performance-enhancing drugs or the judging scandals or the endless commercialism or the devastating effect the games can have on certain sectors of the host country's economy that's turned me off.

My answer: "You misunderstand me. I said I don't care."

If I did care I'd have an opinion about those things, but since I don't care...well, I don't care. I'm not interested. My apathy is ripe and fulsome. It isn't feigned as a cover for my disgust with some element of the event -- it's a genuine lack of fascination on every level. As far as the Olympics are concerned I cannot fathom the strength to give even a single flying fuck.

My wife: "You do care, because when I put the Olympics on television you ask me to change the channel."

Me: "I would also ask you to change the channel if you tuned into static."

Old Oak: "Vhat did you think of the Svedish hockey last night, ja?"

Me: "I hear the price of tea in China is up a third of a cent."

Old Oak: "Really? Did Slozos write to you about that, ja?"

Me: "No."

Birth Inquiries

We should've lied about Baby Two's due date. The telephone rings forty times a day as people who we swore we would contact when labour began in earnest call to ask whether or not labour has begun in earnest. Those with particularly low self-esteem often supply us with their own excuses about why we might not have bothered to call them the way we'd promised, for such-and-such fanciful or unlikely or just plain retarded reason.

"No baby yet," I report.

"How are you guys doing?"


"Yeah, but how are you doing?"

"We're okay."

"How's Littlestar?"

"She's very pregnant and she wants the baby to come out."

"But how's she feeling?"


"But how is she really feeling?"

"Like she's very pregnant and she wants the baby to come out."



"That worked for us."

"I'm glad."

"You should try it."

"Thank you."

"I'm sure the baby will come any day now."

"Me too."

"You'll call me when anything happens, right?"


"Even if it's in the middle of the night, okay?"


"Are you guys doing okay?"

"We're super."

"Try not to worry too much."


"Maybe the baby will come tomorrow."

"Yeah, maybe. Well, it's been nice chatting..."

"I should probably talk to Littlestar personally. Can you put her on? Is she well enough to come to the phone? How's she doing?"

Between the two of us Littlestar and I have spent a ridiculous amount of hours over the last week having that exact conversation or variations thereon dozens of times a day, often within minutes of each other. And that's not even counting the e-mails and instant messages.

If we express irritation we're told it's "only because people care" which, I submit, is a stupid thing to say since we seldom accuse our friends of expressing interest in our well-being out of a sense of spite. We're not confused about their motivations.

For the record we're at Due Date +4. That means we've still got 10 days left before the midwives will considering induction. There's no reason to panic. Littlestar's cervix is thinning and dilating slowly but surely -- the kid'll pop any day now.

We'll call you.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

So a fan writes to me a few weeks ago with a lot of enthusiastic things to say about something or other I'd typed. His missive was punctuated by statements about how he expected no response from me since it was likely that I am constantly deluged by similar letters. No less than three times he explained his anterior sense of understanding at the fact that I will not write back to him.

Now, the truth is that there have been occasions when I've had too much mail to deal with (notably during the height of The Darth Side's popularity and the concluding weeks of Simon of Space), but most of the time I do respond to the trickle of fan-mail that accumulates in my in-box. But this particular fellow chose to write to me when I was very, very busy with work and so I decided to follow his multiply-reinforced suggestion and not take the time to respond.

Today he writes back to tell me I'm a jackass. He didn't actually say "jackass" -- he said I was "inconsiderate" of the time and effort he had put into his letter. He said that when people put that kind of devotion into a message it's only appropriate to reply, even if it's only a few lines of acknowledgement.

Maybe he's right. Maybe the writer of these letters is owed something from me beyond the hundreds of thousands of words of stories he's already consumed for free.

...But, personally, I don't think so.

I think he's just a fuck head. He lacks even the modicum of class demonstrated by the insane neo-Christian missionary who contacted me in order to ask that I help him craft sermons that tied together George Lucas' "Force" with Yahweh's "Christ", who thanked me for my time even after I didn't write back. He wrote, "Working road-crew on the path of other people's salvation is not for everybody."

Too true.

Thus, here is my belated acknowledgement for Mark from Iowa, who took the time to write two long and heartfelt letters to me, one lavishing me with praise and the other lavishing me with vitriol: Up yours, buddy!

Lesson to the wise: if you want somebody to respond to your message don't belabour the point of how you know and understand that they won't. It has the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Internet Explorer

What is wrong with the people who make Microsoft Internet Explorer? Do they suffer from some terrible neuronal wasting disease which causes them to fail to grasp the idea of standards compliance?

I've been tweaking my new XHTML pages for better display under various Windows operating systems and the process is frustrating in the extreme. (Like Rodney King asked, "Why can't we all just be more like Firefox?") If I had a million dollars I would pay to have all of the developers on the Explorer team flown to a big conference where somebody would explain the Web to them. We'd serve cookies.


It's been explained to me that all Muslim people are "idiots." The upshot of this pronouncement is that it really makes complex socio-geopolitical issues much easier to boil down to something comprehensively binary.

Thank goodness we keep old people in the cellar to share these insights with us.

I was lost in shades of grey but now I know what's what. I have been a fool to ignore the American religion. I have been needlessly over-complicating what is really a straight-forward situation: all Muslims are idiots. That's why they behave so badly. It's so obvious now!

The best part of this theory is how it can be effortless substantiated by making allusions to the inherently different ways of thinking that people brought up under tyranny have, and how this irretrievably dwarfs their ability to hold correct opinions or feel civilized emotions. Now, you might figure you're a crafty one -- you might say, "Yes, but what about all the Muslims living in Canada -- scholars, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists?"

Simple answer: They're not real Muslims. They've taken on our culture, and thereby spared themselves from congenital idiocy.


I keep meaning to ask what the fuck is the problem with black people. I mean, if nationally-sponsored terrorism, theocracy and covert nuclear weapons programmes can all be explained as simple idiocy, there must be a sweet and comprehensible reason why black people persist in being poor and shooting one another or chopping each other up with machetes even when they're not Muslims. Maybe it's a diet thing.

I have so much yet to learn.


Kelly said...

Do you think that Scrabble meta-whining is in some way superior to the whining you deplore? The manly way to handle this problem is, when they start whining, to crush them beneath your superior anagrammic skills.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Kelly,

Do I think that Scrabble meta-whining is "superior" to the whining I deplore?

Well, of course, silly!

#1. We're discussing things that bother *me.* Like most people, I am bothered less by my own whining than by the whining of others. So, by the criteria established by the post I declare my whining to indeed be "superior" in that it irritates me less.

#2. I'm not meta-whining about Scrabble, I'm meta-whining about whining (which, predictably, brings out the meta-meta-whiners (I'm looking at you)). It's just that Scrabble brings out the whining in a lot of people. Myself, I've always thought it as a game of patience. I don't mind waiting for long turns. It has all the fun of being quiet, paying attention, thinking about letters. It's just the complaining I abhor.

#3. The "manly" solution to a problem is rarely the correct one, except when it comes to peeing standing up, not letting people dis yo shortie, calling a spade a spade, and trying not to cry during business meetings.


Kelly said...


Cheeseburger Brown said...


Don't mind me. I'm in a mood.


Sith Snoopy said...

After your description of Scrabble whiners, I also don't want anything to do with them! :)

I had today off. [We have a couple of presidents who were born around this time.] I turned on the tv for the 1pm showing of Days of Our Lives. [A soap opera.] Sigh. Olympics. Ghhrrrrrr.

I am also totally out of touch right now on it. Although the fact that we have a game called "Curling", and it's made it into the Olympics, has me and my husband laughing hysterically every time it's mentioned! :)

Heh-heh: very slow hockey with brooms. :P

When the baby is here, and you have time, I'd love to see a post appear, with pictures. But you absolutely *don't* have to call me. :) I just want to know, after the fact, if you, Littlestar, and the baby are ok. :)

Will be putting in prayers and good thoughts. :)

Internet Explorer just sucks. Period.

Being Muslim does not make you stupid. Being raised to hate people can make it hard to grow up w/o hating people, w/o thinking for yourself.

We've lived through centuries where many Christians were taught to hate others, and did so. We're living in a time when many Muslims are being taught to hate others, and are doing so.

But not all Christians who are taught to hate end up hating, and not all Muslims who are taught to hate end up hating. It's just harder to learn to be peaceful when you are raised to hate, and it's also harder to follow the peaceful tenets of your religion when you aren't actually provided with your religion's literature (Koran or Bible), but are only taught hate by your religious and political leaders.

Oops, now I'm on my soapbox too!

And yes, I know a lovely Muslim family... they are close enough to me and my husband that we consider them FAMILY.

Finally, am sending you some virtual chocolate. I advise you to eat alot of it. And to change your outgoing voice mail message to "the baby isn't here yet, we'll call you when it's born, please give us some peace", and then quit answering your telephone until after the baby is born, and you feel up to it!

Hang in there. :)

Deej said...

Well, this is the first time you've ever heard from me, though I've read nearly everything you've posted the past couple of years.

Just had to chime in to this post, regarding the insane neo-Christian; people who try to associate the Force with anything in the Bible irritate me as much as Scrabble whiners irritate you.

I love the style. Good luck with Sebastian, and I hope things go as well this time 'round as they did with Popsicle.

Have a good'un.

Simon said...

We're at Due Date -12, so you shoulda taken me up on my bet for bragging rights. With my wife banking on being at least a week early, and LittleStar 10 days away from induction, this could be a tight race!

(Serving cookies at an IE conference made me laugh.)

Barriss Offee said...

I agreed with almost everything you had to say but I don't play Scrabble!

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Sith Snoopy: thanks for the virtual choc, etc. Maybe I will change the voicemail message. No calls YET this morning.

Deej: thanks for troubling to write. I am leery of any spiritual movement that too closely resembles the Force, including one I just discovered yesterday:



Anonymous said...

I am checking everyday to see whether Littlestar has had your second child, there are probably people all over the world waiting...

A trick for business meetings, that I have found useful, is to look cross whilst daydreaming (about robots or other). This gives the impression that you are thinking hard about business matters.

Anastasia said...

Ahhh the Olympics...
'Don't you have Fox?'
'Don't you read the paper?'
'Didn't you see it on the news?'

So many questions that filter through and yeah I get the frustration.

During the Opening Ceremony of Athens 2004 I thought I'd have a Fatwah issued out on my head for being peeved off about the Opening Ceremony and the fact that for some unknown reason the Athens Olympic Organisers decided to choose Bjork!

How on Earth a nation puts in a singer (if she can be called that, personally I think Johnny Rotten sounds better and is more comprehensible) from Iceland is beyond me, and I'm Greek and that was my problem in a nutshell.

I had to like the Opening Ceremony because I was Greek

Even though the Bjork experience, and her dress, completely ruined the moment (for me). As for the lyrics of her song? I won't even go there but I remember copping dirty stares from people, them thinking, 'what blasphemy! what dishonour to our culture!'

'Um, hello! Bjork is from Iceland, morons!'

Not only that she punched out a journalist for welcoming her into her country.

In a way I'm glad I live in a country that isn't really a 'winter' nation, in terms of snow and ice. The Winter Olympics aren't that much of a huge deal downunder, they are broadcast, but there's no hoopla (thank God!).

On the Muslim issue, I think politicians need to have 'quiet time'. Our federal treasurer here opened his trap to the media and stated (making a generalisation on all Muslims within Australia) that if they didn't 'like it' they could effectively go and live in Islamic nations that feature Shariah Law.

Politicians can be beyond stupid sometimes.

Jimmy said...

The Olympics are an obeese waste of money. AIDS research, helping the poor and peace keeping are much more important.

The Olympics do little to help the enviroment as well. When will we have our first "green" Olympics? My prediction, NEVER.