My Awesomeness Revealed

When used as intended, Facebook is not unlike a globe-spanning Freshman rush party.

As I remember them, barely, rush parties were noisy and chaotic affairs marked by skunky beer, sticky furniture, boorish guys, even more boorish chicks, shameless posing and transparently bogus biographical embroidery.

That’s Facebook.

In the second instance, of course, the skunky beer comes in a 12-ounce aluminum can instead of a 7-ounce plastic cup, the furniture is sticky because the garden hose isn’t long enough to reach your desk, and you can massage your curricula vitae as vigorously as you like because there’s exactly no chance your boorish online associates will catch you in an apron and hairnet serving steamed peas and carrots in the dorm cafeteria and deduce you’re not really on a full-ride lacrosse scholarship. Then again, fiction is generally more interesting than truth, and if everyone knew you actually drive an ’87 Plymouth Reliant and how you really spent last New Year’s Eve you’d have no friends at all. What makes Facebook work is that everybody’s so busy pretending to be that fascinating white-bearded rogue in the Dos Equis commercials they don’t have time to notice that everybody else is, too.

In a bold spirit of glasnost, let me take this opportunity to state, here and now, for the record and for all time, that I am not “the most interesting man in the world”, although I’d like to think that if I ever find myself in a Bangkok casino I could bench press two native beauties if I felt like it. But if I’m not James Bond, James Dean, James Joyce, Jesse James and Susan St. James all rolled into one irresistible package, it’s because I don’t have to be.

I’ve got people for that.

A few months ago I got a friend-request from Steve Knapp. I assumed, as would anyone who can still remember the Blue Screen of Death, that it was a mistake; a little glitch in the system; the World Wide Web having one at my expense. I would have ignored it all together except the idea of friending myself momentarily tickled my funny bone. Sure, I thought, I’ll play along. I extended the cold hand of online friendship to myself, and quickly found out that I wasn’t me. I was Steve Knapp of Manchester, England, England, across the Atlantic Sea.

Steve Knapp

Turns out the estimable Mr. Knapp (since we’re like brothers, I call him Steve, or Steve-O, or Dr. S, and sometimes K-Dog) has been on a mission to friend everybody in the world who shares our proud and mellifluous moniker. He’s run onto 62 of us so far, every one a titan among men, and each equipped to supply one or another of my few and minor deficiencies.



Case in point:

I don’t know anything about cars, up to and including how to safely operate one. Steve Knapp, 23, works at Shuls Express Lube and Tire in the town of Olean, NY, where he spends 40 hours a week expressively lubricating and tiring automobiles. So if Steve Knapp couldn’t grease his car with a lard cannon at 10 paces, Steve Knapp could do it in 30 minutes or your next service is free.


See where I’m going with this?

Steve Knapp

If I’ve got two bucks in my pocket, it just means that some online novelty gimcrack purveyor is about to make two bucks. After graduating from Whitefriars College in 1971, Steve Knapp has risen to become executive director of the Mawson Group, a financial services powerhouse in Melbourne, Australia. Thus, if Steve Knapp can’t handle his money, Steve Knapp can.

It’s Nature’s symmetry, I tell you.

Steve Knapp

There’s a Steve Knapp in Mannheim, Germany. Herr Knapp, 32, graduated from Geschwister-Scholl-Schule Hauptschule mit Werkrealschule Vogelstang. His favorite quotation is “das kurzeste zwischen zwei menshen is ein lacheln.” In Manchester, that means “the shortest distance between two people is a smile.” Now, Steve Knapp would never utter such a syrupy saccharine sentiment, and will now try mightily to forget he ever heard it. But Steve Knapp isn’t afraid to let his love light shine.

A warm people, are the Germans.

On a related note, Stephen Knapp, a student at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., plays on the JV baseball team, says “i no a place were the grass is greener oho”, and claims fluency in English, French, German and Portuguese. Where Stephen Knapp has grown too cynical and indifferent to bother lying about his attainments, Stephen Knapp is willing to make the most transparently outrageous claims without apparent shame.

Steve Knapp

Here’s one for the books – Stephen Knapp of Detroit bills himself as an “Author of Books.” He’s authored 22 books at last count, all of them long-haired explorations of Hindu spiritualism, Vedic traditions, and how to achieve enlightenment in just 22 books. I consider myself more of a Reader of Books, provided the books are really movies and they don’t have any tedious subtitles, distracting dialogue, or confusing plots. What Stephen Knapp’s personal philosophy lacks in depth, insight and illumination, Stephen Knapp’s amply supplies by sheer volume.

Make that volumes.

It’s true. Steve Knapp isn’t a professor of astronomy in New Hampshire. He doesn’t spend weekends flat-boating on Lake Ponchartrain. He doesn’t run his own electronics company, or go to Romania twice a year, or guide raft trips out of Talkeetna, AK, or paint imaginative (and oddly masculine) female watercolor portraits.

Maybe Steve Knapp isn’t the most interesting man in the world.

But Steve Knapp is.

Stale New Year’s Thoughts

Fact is, I’m not much for New Year’s anymore.

I don’t go out, I don’t stay up, and I don’t pay a lot of attention to those tedious “year in review” features that seem to be the principle media fare during Christmas Week. I may be slipping, but I haven’t slipped so far that I can’t remember paying $3.35 for gas without prompting, and being reminded about “Gangnam Style” is no way to kick off a new calendar in any case. But that isn’t to say I don’t practice certain beloved rites of the season. One of my favorites is not making any New Year’s resolutions.

Sure, I used to indulge in that sort of sketchy enterprise, but it wasn’t for me. For one thing, I typically set my bar so low I could never be completely sure whether I was staying the course or not. When your resolution is to “not put things off as much,” any chance act of celerity looks like success, never mind that 6-inch pile of unanswered correspondence. For another, vowing to buy a new laptop in the coming 12 months isn’t exactly a bid for self-improvement, especially when you’ve been pricing them online since October. These days I just don’t have the energy for the charade.

But that’s me.

Beth Foster, on the other hand, has pledged a healthier and more active 2013. “I re-upped my membership at 24-Hour Fitness and plan to stop in for a swim a few times each week after rehearsals and shows.”

Seems to me like a better resolution would have been to cut down on all those rehearsals and shows, but then I’m not a founding member of the small-but-feisty “One Night Stand Productions” theater company, and the only thing I hate worse than doing something once is doing it again. Still, swimming is purportedly aerobic, and since Beth tends towards cleanliness and a couple of laps count as a bath, she might actually realize a net time savings.

I deem Beth’s resolution worthy of support, if not emulation.

Mary Ann Tate forwarded an inspirational post suggesting a way her Facebook friends can spend 2013 creating a personal “Year in Review” featuring more “What I Did Last Summer” and less Taylor Swift. “This January,” urges the post’s author, “why not start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen? Then, on New Year’s Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.” Mary Ann thinks that’s a great idea.

“What a great idea!!!”, she commented.

Assuming I could find a jar around here that isn’t already full of rubber bands, loose hardware, expired Arby’s coupons, bone-dry pens, or something that may be leftover gravy, I consider this resolution dangerously vague. If my new brake shoes fail catastrophically and the new ones come in under $300, is that a “good thing”? How about when I match three on Lotto? Do I need to write a note if I leave a half-cup of coffee in the pot and somebody else has to brew the next one? Or if a friend catches cold and I don’t get it from them?  No, the remembrance jar is nice in principle, but carries a pronounced risk of over-commemoration.

I would urge caution.

“My new year’s resolution is to not let my daughter on my Facebook, and to find a proper journal for her..:P,” declared Peter Allen.

Notice that Peter’s sensible plan is safely personal. Though I still maintain that too many well-meaning resolutions – “be nicer to people” for example, or “give more to charity” – arrogantly force unconsulted others to be party to one’s private self-improvement scheme, Peter has cleverly charted a course of rehabilitation that reserves credit and distinction to himself while ensuring that any potential sacrifice or inconvenience will be suffered by somebody who lacks effective legal recourse. Perhaps most ingenious, by cleverly adding a playful emoticon at the end of his resolution, Peter can plausibly dismiss it as a harmless jest when grandma gets involved and the whole thing goes south on him.

It’s a thinking man’s resolution.

Happy New Year, Peter’s daughter.

Getting Real

who_are_you_album_coverjpgFacebook can present a somewhat one-dimensional picture of its habitues.







Take me, for example. Anyone who knows me three-dimensionally will tell you I’m kind, sweet, trusty, diligent, generous, capable, discerning, vivacious, saintly and modest. Sadly, folks who know me only through my occasional Facebook contributions might do me the unwitting injustice of believing me merely heroic. The fact that I don’t take it personally attests to another of my rare qualities, that of clemency.

Did I not mention I’m clement?

Oh, I’m totally clement.

I’m clement because I discern that the reason such a criminally narrow portrait of all that is I could emerge in the first place lies in Human Nature.  I have observed that, over time, most regular posters tend to slide into comfortable themes. Because I have lots of pictures of myself behaving heroically, that’s what I post. Because my frequent acts of saintliness don’t really photograph well, that aspect of my character tends to go unremarked. It’s the same with my Facebook friends.

Often it’s simply an interest – more than one person on my roll appears to spend the bulk of their time online sending me links to bands I’ve never heard of singing songs I don’t like in videos that give me a nervous bowel. Sometimes it’s a hobby, such as Astrology, by which art one regular friend recently divined that I can expect news, that topaz will help me control my lust, and that I should try to be more open to copper.


Yes, the metal.



Then there are those unimaginative sorts whose principle Facebook involvement is robotically passing along every witty remark, lurid brief, colorful picture and inspirational platitude that pops up on their wall. Not that I’m complaining, necessarily. Sometimes those trite posts really are funny, or fascinating, or pretty, or even encouraging. But distributing somebody else’s day-old tapioca is hardly revealing of oneself, and knowing that a person enjoys cartoons of animals doing people-things tells me nothing about their willingness to float me a Grover Cleveland on a handshake.


If the term “friend” was to have any meaning at all, I knew I must tear down the wall and meet the people behind the pap. I accomplished this easily (see “capable” above) by visiting the personal pages of those whose posts I admire – a privilege routinely granted between Facebook friends – and snooping around until my curiosity was satisfied.

In the name of research.

Linda Kirkpatrick publishes the online Evergreen news organ “Just Around Here”, and has been known to post links, tips and tidbits of interest or utility to the scribbling classes. One less diligent than myself might interpret Linda’s fixation on the written word as symptomatic of a bookish and retiring disposition. I am happy to report that such is not the case. There, on her home page, is the glowing blue assurance that she earned her sheepskin at Katharine Gibbs College in Boston, Mass. Now, I don’t know Katharine Gibbs from Andy Gibb, but I do know that Beantown is lousy with persons of Irish extraction, and the wise will appreciate that four years in that peaty melting pot must necessarily have rendered Kirkpatrick drunken, maudlin, truculent, bone-idle, sporatically violent, and prone to spontaneous jigging whenever the English pound dips against the “nicker.”



See? She’s more fun already.



Joe Watt doesn’t post often, but when he does it’s usually a picture of Joe Watt. The uncritical friend might suspect that Joe Watt is either building a modeling portfolio or simply entertains a healthy regard for Joe Watt. Both may be true, but that’s only part of the picture. Truth is, Joe Watt’s page is full of things Joe Watt likes that aren’t Joe Watt. He likes the Beatles, whose music is pleasing to Joe Watt. He likes Yarn West, a business owned by Joe Watt’s wife, Laura, and producing monies that can be spent on Joe Watt. And Joe Watt likes the Alliance for Kids, possibly because the Alliance Against Kids registration line kept Joe Watt on hold for nearly a minute, and Joe Watt doesn’t stand in line for anybody.




Even Joe Watt.





Thus we see that drawing conclusions based solely on the content of a person’s Facebook posts does a disservice to both poster and postee. The lazy surfer might dismiss Kirkpatrick as a bespectacled tome-totaler, but that would be to ignore her dangerous Gaelic idiosyncrasies. And only the indifferent friend would peg Joe Watt as nothing more than a shameless camera hound without taking a moment to explore his many outside (if tangentially related) interests.

So take a moment. Dig a little deeper. You may find that the person you’ve written off as a shallow Johnny One-Note is really a rich symphony of layers, textures and disturbing eccentricities. And the heroic cyber-chum you’ve been marveling over these many months may embody sublime virtues not evident at in their posts.

Modesty prevents me.


My Quality Revealed



Yours truly.

No, seriously.

And I don’t mean royalty like that Johnny-come-lately Windsor crew. I’m talking about a divine right stretching back to the dim and darkly days when the dapper Duke of Cambridge’s clan wore mostly dirt and ate boiled peat for breakfast, lunch and tiffin. But hey, I’m not here to run down my noble cousins.

That would be common.

I’m here to talk about the social media’s awesome ability to socially elevate. Sure, I’m an extreme case, but several other examples pompously strode across my Facebook wall this month, each instructive of how reg’lar folk can exploit the reality-altering power of the Internet to raise themselves above the common swamp and achieve a mossy perch of marginal respectability.

Case in point:

asparagus-finger-sandwiches-R081990-ssA few weeks ago, Linda Morris posted a photograph of, and link to, a fancy-pants “tea sandwich” recipe. They’re dainty little morsels, full of hifalutin ingredients like Persian cucumbers, chopped scallions, and a cheese that has, if I understand correctly, been “creamed” in some way. Thing is, I’ve learned through semi-reliable channels that Linda subsists almost exclusively on a diet of Slim Jims, Pringles and Mountain Dew. And yet, in a stroke, she’s now perceived in more credulous circles as a woman of taste and refinement. I downloaded the recipe because it looks like the sort of thing that hereditary kings probably eat a lot of.

Without the crusts.



Tom Carby raised his public stock by sweatier means, posting this self-congratulatory notice on Apr. 10: “This is the 100th day of 2012. I completed my 10,000th pushup today. 100 pushups a day for 100 days. What’s next?”

Surgery would be my guess, but you can see how Tom, who once refused to get up off his La-Z-Boy and open the door for the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol because “I just got comfortable”, has, with a few keystrokes, turned a dreary exercise regimen into a solid cyber-reputation for physical prowess. Of course, once I assume my rightful place atop society’s Olympus, I’ll doubtless have people to do my pushups for me.

You know – little people.

On the other hand, while a fitness cred might evoke a certain grudging deference from Buchanan’s stationary-bike crowd, it won’t cut much ice with the pomegranite-martini-and-brie-brouchee brigade down Gotham-way. That’s probably why John Steinle shunned gym shorts in favor of a smart blue double-breasted with gold piping and two shiny rows of brass. No, he didn’t dress up as Cap’n Crunch, but that was a good guess. He was impersonating Capt. Edward Smith, by which artifice he secured a berth at the Molly Brown House Titanic Dinner and Gala at the Oxford Hotel.

10418597-captain-edward-smithImplausible? Not at all. Consider – Capt. Smith had a beard and mustache; John has a beard and mustache. Smith was born in on Jan. 27, 1850, in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, England; John was also born. Capt. Smith’s last words are purportly “Be British”; The last words John said to me were “be quiet.” A masterful illusion, and by posting a photograph of himself in the guise of the unfortunate ship’s unfortunate skipper, John has achieved a new and superior social status by virtue of contrived association. Good show! But you may be wondering what all that has to do with my own claim to majesty.

Not as much as you’d think.

Late last month, Kayte Christopher-Walker posted a simple diagram professing to describe the three most common types of human toe arrangement – Greek, Roman and Egyptian. It came as quite a revelation, as I had not previously imagined that somebody might take the time and effort to codify such information.

“Did I really just pull my sock off to find out which way my toes are aligned?” Kayte wrote. Of course she did, and I did too. When Socrates said “know thyself,” he appended no exemption of the pedal extremities. Meticulous examination reveal my toes to be an artistic blending of the blunt Roman and tapering Egyptian styles. The conclusion is as obvious as it is inescapable – I am directly descended from a heretofore unidentified love-child of well-heeled Roman general Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII Philopater, the last of Egypt’s cash-flush Ptolemy line. I’ve checked my findings twice, on both feet, and there can be no mistake.




It’s science.



The way I’ve got it figured, I’m entitled to either a triumphal arch on the Piazza del Popolo and my own province (Calabria or better), or else clear title to Alexandria. Either way, as soon as I submit my evidence to the proper agencies, I don’t expect you’ll be detecting my haunting fragrance behind you at the supermarket checkout anymore because I’ll be reclining on a silk divan in my Mamluk palace nibbling crust-less tea sandwiches and seeing to it that my valet de chambre does at least 100 power-crunches a day.

For my fitness cred.


Facebook Update



Favored with a vast store of infallible opinions and skin of purest alabaster, I don’t get out of the hermitage that often.  But if my prudent seclusion helps ensure a creamier complexion and more temperate foothills social climate, it tends to leave me in the dark about many of my neighbors’ diverse and interesting activities.

Facebook helps.

the-three-stooges-three-stooges-29303345-451-600I count Mountain Area Land Trust among my bosom e-friends and look forward to reading the occasional notice of its latest timbered triumph. Mount Evans Home Health and Hospice sends me a heads-up whenever it’s about to do something fun, and I am flattered to believe myself among the first informed of Jefferson County Historical Society plans to screen The Three Stooges al fresco in Heritage Grove.

Nyuk, and so forth.

I’m cyber-tight with Evergreen’s business community, too. Shadow Mountain Gallery likes to give me sneak-peeks at impending sublimities, and I can always rely on Tequila’s to keep me apprised of all Cuervo-related developments.  Receiving up-to-the-minute reports from Hearthfire Books on the progress of its madcap “Where’s Waldo?” promotion, I was tempted to start seeking the skulking sprout myself, then remembered that Waldo has made a career out of being diffident and unapproachable, and figured that finding him would only subject us both to pained small-talk and awkward silences. wheres-waldo-missing-posterAnd what if he really doesn’t want to be found?

Makes you think.

The Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce was kind enough to post a selection of ribbon-cutting photographs on my “news feed”. (Few items posted on my “news feed” correctly qualify as “news”, but as there is no fee associated with the service it would be petty to quibble over labels). They included that picture taken to formally welcome Suzie’s Café into Evergreen’s commercial fold, which was of particular interest to me because I take great pleasure in having a sandwich there.

But perhaps you misunderstand.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoy most everything on Suzie’s menu, but I actually have a sandwich there. It’s called “Steve’s Special”, and it features prodigious portions of two kinds of meat and cheese piled high on a two-fisted roll and topped with thick slices of PADAGWOODS24 AJ 8bacon. Okay, that’s technically three kinds of meat, but I’ve always considered bacon a food apart, like ambrosia, or Space Food Sticks. Funny thing is, I didn’t know Suzie from Guy Savoy when she dreamed up that heavenly hoagie, but there can be no mistake – it’s all me.

Do I have a point?

More like a tenuous connection followed by a questionable conclusion. Looking at Suzie’s ribbon-cutting photo caused me to slip into a drooling stupor of sweet reverie, and the first thing I saw when I came to was Lisa Delia’s “food diary” post. Most folks hereabouts know Lisa as a top-flight personal trainer and a singer/songwriter of lustrous food-journal-diaryrepute, whereas I, who perceive the world only as flickering images on the wall of my cave, know her principally as that gal who keeps track of everything she eats. Here, I believed, was a kindred soul who treasures a fulsome carte du jour as much as I. Was our shared passion be writ large upon the pages of her diary? Yes and no.

Mostly no.

BacchusJainLike me, Lisa clearly applies great thought and energy to the perfection of her personal menu. Our culinary paths diverge, however, at a philosophical fork. Where I worship at the self-indulgent temple of Bacchus, she seems more in tune with a relatively austere Jainist liturgy. Flipping through her dietary directory, we see that on July 1of this year Lisa breakfasted on a three-egg spinach-and-feta omelet, 14 Rainier cherries and one slice of pineapple – 309 total calories. For lunch, two tablespoons of almond butter, a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder, one tablespoon of raw coconut nectar, and 14 more cherries – 321 total calories. And dinner? A single 210-calorie slice of homemade veggie lasagna. From these figures we learn that in an rainiercherriesentire day Lisa consumes approximately the same freight of calories as contained in my typical salad-course, my typical salad-course being a steaming mound of sliced mushrooms fried in an equal volume of fresh, creamery butter and garnished with bacon. It’s a hearty starter that leaves plenty of room for a 14-ounce butter-fried pork chop.

It’s what’s for dinner.

But I’m no food fascist, and if I prefer a more robust alternative to Lisa’s impoverished table, and worry that she’s not getting the essential fats and cholesterols that are the foundations of a satisfying diet, I know that I must persuade not by censure, but by good example.

And butter’s good for the complexion.