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Assemble a Looney Bin
by Phil Truman
Something that goes hand-in-hand with consuming
humor with regularity is building a humor file. And the good news is, you dont
need to have a piano bench to do it.
I have in the closet of my office at home an 18"
X 18" x 18" cardboard storage box which my wife bought about fifteen years ago
and covered with green paisley shelf paper. She originally got it to stick bank
statements in, but I took it over as my looney bin. Since then, about fifteen
years now, Ive been cutting out newspaper columns, cartoons, magazine articles,
whatever I find that strikes me funny or has the potential to have something
funny written about it. I dont plagiarize other peoples work, you understand,
but I may take something and work it from another angle, inject my own writing
style and brand of humor.
My bin also serves as a good brain laxative when
I get the so-called writers block. Many times, after staring stupidly at the
computer screen for hours trying to come up with, if not something
semi-intelligent and interesting, at least something funny to write, I go to my
little green paisley looney bin. Nothing like a stack of Dave Barrys,
Dilberts, or Far Sides to get the old funny bone rattling
again. There is a downside to this though. Sometimes their humor is so brilliant
I get almost paralyzed with intimidation. I overcome this by picturing the
author as William Shatner in his underwear. Thats usually a sure cure, however,
it can cause minor side effects, most commonly headache and nausea.
But heres another thought about being
intimidated by the masters. Ill relate it in the form of an
Back in my high school football playing days
here in Oklahoma there was a team in our conference which was the perennial
bully. Although to us they looked like Visigoths, they were called the Trojans.
Yes, they were named after a condom. Year after year the Trojans were big and
mean and tough and hairy and ugly and scary; and they usually won the conference
championship. But conference champs or not, the Trojans beat us 56 to nothing
every year. To say we were intimidated by them would be like saying Frenchmen
dont often bathe. It would be grossly understated. We were so intimidated by
them the very mention of their name caused us to whimper in our beds, much like
a certain ex-president would at the thought of his senatorial wife catching him
in an act of amorous dalliance.
In my sophomore year the superintendent of
schools (it was a small town) came into our dressing room before the game with
the Trojans and gave us a little speech. He was a fiery, bandy little guy who,
it just so happened, had once been a Trojan. "Boys," he said. "You dont have
anything to fear but fear itself. These guys arent any different than you. They
put their pants on one leg at a time. Theres nothing they can do that you cant
do just as well. If you let them intimidate you, the games already lost. Its
all up to you. Now what are we gonna do!" With that we went roaring out of the
dressing room and onto the field eager to take on the Trojans.
That night they beat us 56 to nothing. But that
speech by the superintendent stuck with me. When my senior year rolled around
the Trojans only beat us 22-6.
My point is this: there will always be someone,
or perhaps tens of someones, more talented, better connected, more socially
adept, more politically adroit, luckier, richer, prettier, skinnier, taller than
you. But the thing is you cant worry about them. Thats an absolute waste of
time and energy. What YOUve got to worry about are your own talents, and how
you work to develop your skills, and raise the level of discipline in your work
efforts, and enlarge your territory. You dont have to join the Army to be the
best you can be. And nobody can bring you to your best except old number
NOW LETS GET OUT THERE AND TAKE ON THE TROJANS
OF THE WORLD, AND TRY TO KEEP THE SCORE CLOSE!!!
© Copyright 2004, Phil Truman
Phil Truman's website is philtrumanink.com.
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