Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Half Empty: More Fun with Passive-Aggressive Behavior

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.

By Rick Kaempfer and Dave Stern

A few weeks ago we gave you some tips for how to annoy your boss by using passive aggressive behavior. That inspired the following e-mail...
Dear Rick and Dave,

I really enjoyed your column about aggravating your boss. The problem is, I’m only at work 40 – 50 hours a week, how can I needle other people in my down time? –B

We’re glad you asked, B. Since neither of us work in a traditional office setting anymore, we have been forced to hone our passive-aggressive skills elsewhere. Here are a few:

-The cashier
When paying, give them odd amounts of currency. For example, if the bill comes to $7.89 give them $13.62. It’s great fun watching their brows furrow as they punch the figure into the cash register. Then be very deliberate and slow counting your change. Not only will you aggravate them, but the people behind you too, it’s win-win.

-Secondary users of your vehicle
If you’re married, chances are that from time to time you will share vehicles. Wives, if you know that your husband will drive your car next, move the seat as close to the dashboard as possible. Also, move all the mirrors in bizarre and ridiculous positions. Take it from us, we absolutely LOVE spending ten minutes adjusting everything. Also, leave zero gas in the car, that’s a real nice touch. And last but not least, find the classic rock station and turn the radio up as far as it can go.

-Blockbuster Clerks
They are trained to say hello to every single person that walks through the door in the most annoyingly cheerful way possible. The next time they do, stop to say hello and have a fifteen minute conversation with them about the most trivial topic you can imagine. For instance...

Them: Hi, welcome to Blockbuster.

You: Hey how ya doing? Is that a new vest you guys are wearing? What’s it made of? Polyester? You know polyester is Synthetic resin formed by the condensation of polyhydric alcohols (alcohols containing more than one hydroxyl group) with dibasic acids (acids containing two replaceable hydrogen atoms). Polyesters are thermosetting plastics, used for constructional plastics and, with glass fibre added as reinforcement, they are used in car bodies and boat hulls. Polyester is also a major synthetic fibre used for knitting or weaving fabrics which are strong but lightweight, and resist creasing but can be heat-set into pleats. Polyester is often mixed with other fibres and can be found in a wide range of different textiles.

-Cab Drivers
When stopped behind a cabbie at a stop light, get ready to honk your horn the nano-second the light turns green. When in front of a cabbie, stop your vehicle and check your oil in front of them.

-People that stay in the hotel room after you
Set all the alarm clocks to 4:30 AM. Hide the remote. Make all the pictures in the room a little crooked. Above all, don’t stay in the same hotels we do.

-Moms at the carnival
Go to one of those rickety carnivals in a strip-mall parking lot. Find a mom who is watching her child on one of the scariest rides. Without her seeing, put a couple of big gears and screws on the ground in front of the ride. Finally, innocuously point them out to her. The fun won’t stop as she screams in horror and pleads with the toothless carny worker to stop the ride.

Finally, write a blog entry with absolutely no social or intellectual value and watch hundreds of people waste their time reading it.

Mean, yes. But oh so fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Suburban Man: The Interactive Billboard

By Rick Kaempfer

I will be sending the following e-mail to some people in my e-mail address book this week. I thought you might appreciate the way my children are rallying to their dad's side to help sell my book "$everance."

I've probably already told you about my satirical novel (“$everance”) that explains who and what really runs the media, but you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get the word out in the media about a book that exposes the truth about the media…

Some authors faced with such a seemingly insurmountable dilemma and an advertising budget of zero, might be deterred or overwhelmed. Not me.

I’ve created the world’s first truly interactive billboard.

I know this looks like a very fancy billboard, but it’s really just my three sons facing a blank wall, waiting for someone to walk by and look at it. When someone does, this amazing billboard “comes to life.”

The first boy turns around and says: “Severance is available at

The second boy turns around and says: “It’s only $16 if you order right now.”

And the third boy is supposed to turn around and say, "That's a heck of a deal for a "hysterical critique of corporate morality" that is "told with the keen insight of an industry insider", and is, take your pick: "laugh out loud funny", "yeah, that funny", "brilliant satire", "great, funny, sarcastic, and thought-provoking" or "whiplash-fast choke-on-your-coffee funny"."

(All actual quotes from actual reviews. See them all here: Praise for $everance)

Unfortunately, he's only 4, and he usually says "Dad, this is stupid."

I suppose I could try another way. I could ask people to help spread the word by forwarding this e-mail to people who may enjoy the book. Or I could ask people to suggest "$everance" for their book clubs. Or I could just ask people to help rescue these children from the humiliating experience by spending a measly $16 right now by clicking here (

Or.... the boy could learn his lines and deliver them with feeling. What are they teaching these kids in pre-school these days?

Maybe we'll see you this summer. The boys and I will be traveling around the country looking for blank walls that are just screaming for an interactive billboard. With any luck, I'll sell enough books to allow them to go back to school in the fall.

If not, acquiring the salesmanship skills and street smarts this project will teach them will more than make up for what they miss in 6th grade, 4th grade, and pre-Kindergarten, respectively. Don't you think?