Too darn clever for my own good

One of my favorite techniques when I’m writing is what I call the “head-fake.” It’s where I write several lines or paragraphs all going in one direction and at the conclusion, veer suddenly into a completely different direction. It’s a good style for me, comes easily and usually works.

But a couple times recently I’ve faked a bit too far, and committed a foul — the specific offense being not veering quite enough to make my point.

The first time was in when I recounted a little work anecdote. I hit a young colleague with the classic “Play it, Sam” quote from Casablanca, and challenged him to cite the source. He quickly replied “Quantum Leap?” A lot of readers piled derision on my friend, and that really wasn’t fair. When he guessed that, I groaned because while I never was much of a Quantum Leap fan, I did watch it enough to realize that there was a very good chance they had used that very line during the run of the show, and his answer was quite possibly a valid one. After all, I didn’t specify where it was from ORIGINALLY. He did recognize it, of course, but was just yanking my chain — a very ill-advised move on someone of my age and state of decrepitude.

And yesterday, I discussed the anti-Semitic cartoon contest being held by a bunch of Jews in response to Iran’s announcement of a similar contest. Iran, as a way of fighting back against the Mohammed cartoons, announced it was holding a “funniest Holocaust” cartoon contest. I thought that was a tad stupid, as I didn’t quite see the connection between a Danish newspaper and the Holocaust, but I thought it was a better response than killing, burning, and other forms of Muslim Mayhem (patent pending) we’re seeing around the world. And I thought the Jewish response — “anything you can do, we can do better!” — was brilliant, and entirely in character. I was delighted to link to those entries, but should have made it clearer I was NOT confusing the Iranian misguided attempt with the Jewish rebuttal.

I’m going to continue using the “head-fake” technique, but with a bit more caution. These two incidents have reminded me just what a tightrope it is to walk.

The Simpsons v. 1st Amendment
A little TV trivia

6 Comments

  1. Josh Cohen March 1, 2006
  2. Jill Henry March 1, 2006
  3. JohnAnnArbor March 1, 2006
  4. JohnAnnArbor March 1, 2006
  5. JohnAnnArbor March 1, 2006
  6. Jill Henry March 4, 2006