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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

One thing I know for sure: Timing is everything

By Greg Boyles

December 3, 2008 | In the 21 years I've been kicking it here on Earth I've learned two things. The first is that people rarely care what your opinion is but will listen anyway, just to see if you'll say something funny or stupid. This makes a columnist's job somewhat anticlimactic because in my mind I'm changing thoughts and tugging at heart strings, when in reality my column is probably lining the bottom of someone's rabbit cage.

The second and most important thing I've learned is that timing is everything. It is my belief that we have very little control over our destinies; however, if you wish to have a little more say in the overall "plan," try to get down the timing.

Many people - and I'm going to go out on a limb and say most of these people have a Y chromosome - fail miserably at timing. I know my fiancée would agree because she's had to deal with my utter lack of common sense for a good while.

I'm that guy who decides five minutes before going out that he needs to take a shower, and the same guy who likes to re-enact Dave Chappell skits while enjoying a pleasant evening at Hamilton's. However, as I've gotten older - and with the direction of my patient and obviously crazy significant other - I've picked up a few pointers on timing, some of which I'd like to share with you. I've learned that there are some instances where stripping can be appropriate, like at a bar on your 21st birthday or in your bedroom, but stripping should always be avoided on your mother-in-law's 45th birthday. I've also come to the conclusion that the night before your wedding is not the opportune moment to point out that your honey bun has a zit forming on her nose.

On a scholastic level, the night before a test may not be the best time to begin reading the chapter. In relation, the night before a test is in no way the best time to visit the bar and get plastered ­ really, I tried to take a final exam with the hangover from Hell and passed only because I'd spent all semester flirting with the professor.

I would also advise that certain conversations wait until after a class. For instance, breaking up with your girlfriend should be avoided at all costs when you are in the middle of an economics lecture. The middle of a lecture is also a horrible time to discuss sports, friends, family, what you're doing this weekend and so on. Really, it's annoying.

Work is another place timing is important to consider. A staff meeting is never a good time to take a nap, no matter how boring the material is. Your place of work may also seem the most convenient time to imitate your boss amidst a throng of coworkers, unless, of course, your boss is standing in the open door behind you, watching your display. At this point, it will be beneficial to have a sense of humor because your boss may do an imitation of you being fired.

Jokes also require impeccable timing, and I don't just mean in the delivery. I've learned through trial and error that rarely are jokes involving swearing, sex, violence, animal brothels, race, religion, a queen and her horse fetish and toiletries ever funny at church. These jokes are especially inappropriate when you are in a meeting with your religious leader - they don't care what happens when you have a priest, a rabbi and a bishop in an airplane.

But sometimes timing isn't what's important so much as the need to keep quiet entirely.

For instance, you should never bring up the negative aspects ­ especially physical ones ­ about your significant other. It doesn't matter if they are in the same room or you are on a vacant beach thousands of miles away, this is something that should stay tucked away in the dark, lonely areas of your brain. There is also never a good time to reveal to a group of people that you are part chipmunk. Rarely will that news be well received.

So the moral of the story is to pay attention to where you are, who you're around and what exactly you're saying. Timing is everything.


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