Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Does it sometimes seem like this column is created by merely absentmindedly scribbling whatever crap comes to mind just moments before deadline time? I certainly hope so.
Because you see, at the start of each decade I sit down and make a detailed blueprint of the next 10 years of “Irrelativity.” And item number 1 on my “Blueprint – 2000-2009” file reads, “Make sure that, no matter how much time, effort and focus has gone into each column, the finished product reads like it’s been absentmindedly scribbled just moments before deadline.”
Nothing is by accident here, folks.
This blueprint is for my own reference – basically a combination road map, manifesto and jumbo note-to-self. I like to think of it as a rudder that keeps me anchored. I know, I know – rudders and anchors do two different things. But I enjoy the sensation of being in control even though I’m not going anywhere. Creates a certain tension. Feel it? Yeah you do.
Even though it’s not meant for publication, I thought that maybe this decade I’d share this blueprint with you. Sort of a peek behind the creative curtain. Not that there’s much of a curtain. It’s really more of an old, slightly stained bed sheet held up by pushpins. Still, it’s totally peek-behind-able.
IRRELATIVITY BLUEPRINT – 2010-2019
• Make sure that, no matter how much time, effort and focus has gone into each column, the finished product reads like it’s been absentmindedly scribbled just moments before deadline. Why tamper with success?
• Learning a new word each decade is a great way to build an impressive vocabulary. The word for this decade is “admixture.” Use it whenever possible, even incorrectly, so you’ll have the hang of it by 2019.
• New Regular Features:
– “Irrelativity Cooks!” Recipe swap, current diet/nutritional fads, ways to stretch your food budget and, though these are not usually found in food writing – poopie jokes.
– “Irrelativity Cleans!” Mostly about grout. Grout is a funny word.
– “Irrelativity Operates!” The cash-hungry medical establishment doesn’t want you to know this, but many of the routine surgical procedures – appendectomy, tonsillectomy, vasectomy … pretty much all of the “-ectomies,” – can be done at home with tools you probably already have. I’m not afraid to pass on the wisdom. And the poopie jokes.
• Funny astrology column! Everybody loves a funny astrology column! Make sure to change some of the signs so that they’re “funny,” like “Spazzatarius” or “Crapricorn.” Ha!
• When you can’t think of an original or entertaining column idea, write about not being able to think of an original or entertaining column idea. Or about all the columns you were gonna write, but now aren’t. Or write about the process of writing. Or – oh, this is good – maybe do one of those “blueprint for upcoming columns” column.
• Copy and paste “funny” things from the Internet at least once a month and devote an entire column to commenting on it. You can probably copy and paste most of the comments, too.
• Should an entire decade go by and you find that you haven’t visited anyplace new and exotic, no problem, just re-run all the columns you wrote about being in Canada. A simple Canada/Turkmenistan “search and replace” and boom, 15 seconds, brand-new column.
• Expand the scope of the column. Explore new themes – socio-political movements, the environment, finance, fashion, science, or even an admixture of all of those.
• “Repetition = Comedy.” Print this out and tape it above the desk, right next to where you’ve written “Poopie.”
• Make sure you go through and remove all the digressive, insecurity-laden, self-loathing asides from each column before sending it in to the editor. Unless they’re “funny.” Which they aren’t. They never are. They’re just sad. Loser.
• Remember to end each column with a “teaser” for an upcoming column that doesn’t actually exist.
• People seem to love the “Bad Guru” columns, so why not milk it? Why not do advice columns from the Bad Banker, or the Bad Waiter, or the Bad Seismologist? Oh my God – can you imagine the rich, untapped vein of humor to be found in seismology references? These will practically write themselves.
(Next time: A column that doesn’t actually exist!)
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