Smile Politely

When getting on stage goes wrong…

Hey, here’s something that will make everyone feel better, fine, maybe not everyone, but some. Players begin arriving for Spring Training next week. Yep, we are getting pretty close to an actual baseball game. We even get the World Baseball Classic again this year, which is about as exciting to me as watching a film strip about space before landing on the moon, but whatever, it’s something.

I’m already making big plans for spring and summer. Plans like drinking outside at a table or drinking outside on a porch or maybe even drinking inside with the windows open. It’s really quite a wonderful path I’m ready to start down…or continue to head down. This is why I love getting through winter, because I can get all excited about spring. Either way, let’s get it on.


I was approached a few months ago and asked if I would like to do a PechaKucha. Initially, I assumed that someone wanted me to have intercourse with some sort of mixed breed dog I had never heard of. I said yes anyway, but when I was informed it would be in front of a large group of people, I decided I should probably ask a few more questions. It turns out it wasn’t what I thought at all. I was relieved and curious.

So, what the piss is a PechaKucha, besides hard to pronounce? Well, I should probably find out since I’m doing one this Friday. Come along, won’t you. The PechaKucha was started in Japan in 2003. Yeah, I know, it sounds like I’m going to do some Will Ferrell bit from Anchorman, but it’s really true. Each presentation consists of 20 slides that are shown for 20 seconds each, that’s 6 minutes and 40 seconds to you and me. There are usually about 8-14 presenters.

I figured I could be one of those presenters, but just in case I was on the fence, they also mentioned that there could be some drinking involved. It turns out that was all the incentive I needed to jump on board the train. This particular PechaKucha is Friday night, February 8 at Parkland College. If you’d like some more information, you can check out this page, 


These presentations are sponsored by the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization, or CUDO as you probably know them. This will be the 11th PechaChucha in our area, and probably the last one after everyone sees the lame assed shit I’m throwing up on the screen and talking about. Seriously though, for once, I really hope I don’t ruin it for everyone else.

I’ve been to a few of these things in the past and it’s pretty enjoyable. As I said, drinking is involved, but I would have had fun even without that…just not quite as much fun, probably. They’ve been hosted all over town with presenters talking about all sorts of things. For my part, I’m guessing it will be a whole lot more relaxing to watch one rather than participate in one.

I will admit that until I was asked to do it, it never really occurred to me that each slide was up for exactly 20 seconds. This is because I’m apparently a freaking moron. I think they gave the guidelines at the beginning of the show, but it just never quite soaked in. I mean, it’s the basis for the whole deal and I just never got it. It’s not surprising that I’m an idiot, but it is sort of disappointing, especially since I’m so judgy.

Either way, once I got started putting the thing together, I realized it’s more complicated and more fun than I had imagined.

I started out with a general topic, Ideas and Where They Come From, and sort of went from there. There were a few pictures that I had that I really liked, so I then began to write around those pictures. I had a rough draft done pretty quickly, but once I looked at it, it became clear that it might be nice if my little presentation had some sort of point, any sort of point, to it.

This actually worked to my benefit in a weird way because when I did it again, I became more familiar with the material. I rewrote it again and this time it had at least a little bit of a point. I also slowly became aware of what the pictures were and what order they came in. I’d really rather just talk and do it naturally rather than just nervously read off a card and hope for the best.

I used to do stand up every so often, so I shouldn’t necessarily be nervous about being in front of people. It’s just that back then, even though I had a general set list, I would often kind of veer off track. Veering off track is not really an option with the PechaCucha, since those goddamned slides will be behind me all the time. It’s good for me to force myself to focus though, since generally the only time I really focus is if I’m trying to get through an extra hard level on XBOX.

So, short story long, I decided to change my topic to Ideas and How to Stop Them. It should be quite an interesting presentation, especially since I keep changing the damned thing every five minutes. It will be fun though, even if I suck…and like I said, there’s drinking involved.


I just found this funny and oddly accurate. It’s sort of precious how our future was seen fifty or so years ago.

I’m not super clear why they thought we needed all those monitors, but otherwise, it’s not really all that far off. Still, I remember being promised jet packs and monorails when I was in second grade and that shit hasn’t happened.


  • I’m writing a self-help book about dying for your religious beliefs. It will have tips on how to take an ass beating with the least pain and how to make sure you’re remembered after you’re gone. Look for “The Smarter Martyr” on your local bookshelves before the end of next year.
  • We’re switching to DirectTV and while I’m fairly sure it won’t be all that much better, it will give me a certain amount of satisfaction to say, “screw you” to the local cable company. I hope this Internet thing turns out to be for real, because that might be a great new way to watch things on a screen.
  • I heard a person the other day say, “There’s nothing better than a good veggie burger.” I didn’t want to get into any sort of argument, but there really is something better than that. In fact, there are a whole bunch of things better than that. Just saying.

Buona sera, senorina, kiss me goodnight.

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