Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Question: Advice

Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comedians. In fact, it should be a federal law that he's everybody's favorite comedian. He recently gave the graduation speech at his old high school and it's a terrific read.

Here's a passage I've already seen heavily quoted:

"So now I’m going to try to give all of you some advice as if I contained fatherly wisdom, which I do not. I contain mostly caffeine, Cheet-o dust, fear and scotch."

"First off: Reputation, Posterity and Cool are traps. They’ll drain the life from your life. Reputation, Posterity and Cool = Fear.

Let me put that another way. Bob Hope once said, “When I was twenty, I worried what everything thought of me. When I turned forty, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. And then I made it to sixty, and I realized no one was ever thinking of me.” And then he pooed his pants, but that didn’t make what he said any less profound.

Secondly: The path is made by walking. And when you’re walking that path, you choose how things affect you. You always have that freedom, no matter how much your liberty it curtailed. You…get to choose…how things affect you.

And lastly, and I guarantee this. It’s the one thing I know ‘cause I’ve experienced it:

There Is No Them. "

I've given two graduation speeches in my life and for the life of me I can't remember what either of them were about. I bet they seemed trenchant to me at the time. But at the time I was 17-21 years old. And I really didn't know shit, quite frankly. I wonder what advice I would give now. I like to think it it would be simple. Information you can use. I think I would tell the graduates, "When you're flying on an airplane and they ask if you'd like anything to drink, tell them you'd like a can of Coca-Cola. If you just ask for a coke, they'll just give you a plastic cup of mostly ice and you won't be sated. Ask for the can and they'll give you the cup, the ice, AND the can. Then you're sitting pretty, my friend."

So what advice, practical or not, would you give graduates?

Also, for extra credit, Patton contains caffeine, Cheet-O dust, fear, and scotch. What do you contain?



alh said...

Do what YOU want not what you think others want for you and be true to yourself. That's all the really matters.

Glenn Fleishman said...

Unfortunately, your best advice is now rated "expired." Airlines won't give you the can any more. In fact, some won't give you water for free. In fact, some are requiring your help in holding the bag while they shake down other passengers with weapons. In fact, you have to build the plane and fly it and pay them for the privilege.

Kimm said...
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Kimm said...

My very favorite aspect of being on TV was getting invited to schools for career day. Doing what I did then gave me complete authority to say what I continue to believe is good advice...

Find something to do that you love. It is not possible to be paid enough to do something you hate.

As for what I'm full of...

Peanutbutter, cheese, and chocolate - usually not all at the same time and certainly not necessarily in that order. Whatever else I happen to be full of at the time, it very nearly always includes a large dose of optimism too.

KMASON said...

Own the word FEARLESS. No one can touch you if you say, "I am fearless" (try it).

I am full of Washington wine, dark chocolate and organic blueberries.

grammy said...


I currently contain water, granola and blueberries, Lil' Smokies, and coffee.

Scott Chicken said...

My advice would be "Don't let Glenn Fleishman harsh on your buzz. He just flies the wrong airlines." And then I'd say "with enough catsup you can stomach anything."

As for what I'm full of, today it's equal parts Raisin Bran Crunch, banans and yoghurt. I hope to add PBR and a cheeseburger to the mix shortly.

Glenn Fleishman said...

I'm onto you, Scott Chicken.

I'm onto you, poultry-themed bands.

I'm onto you, bands that perform in concert.

Oh, yes, I'm on to you K*I*S*S.

Scott, tell me the airlines that give you a full can of soda! With that knowledge, I could become filthy rich and rule the world!

Tina Rowley said...

Do the thing you would do if everyone you were hoping to impress were dead. Don't actually kill them, though. That would be a whole different sort of pressure.

Hang out with the people that you can tell your weirdest things to freely. Love those people and treat them right like your life depended on it.

I contain: multitudes, carrots, salsa and inertia.

Mr. Smith said...
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Mr. Smith said...

First off: Time only flows in one direction for us. Reputation and posterity are relevant and real ideas that inform our actions in the present. Cool is trickier. Go check in the mirror. If you are cool then you're set. If you're not, forget it.

Secondly: How you perceive the world is determined by social forces. Reality flows from society to you. You can pretend you're in charge of the path and how it affects you, just remember that you are pretending. Your impact on this world, this universe is infinitesimal. Relax.

Last: Individualism is a convenient sham. There is no you. Only Them.

I am full of Marxism (see above), Mangoes, Reggae Dancehall and crushing Midwestern humidity.

Oh, and contrarianism.

Scott Chicken said...

Glenn: I'm sorry, but the list of airlines that provide full cans is classified. Mainly by my lack of current flight experience. Which is another way of saying I'm full of poultry seasoning and gravy.

Glenn Fleishman said...

"Find something to do that you love. It is not possible to be paid enough to do something you hate."

This is what ultimately turned me off to the entertaining show Mythbusters. The two leads gave several interviews in which they were pretty upfront that they actively dislike each other, but, you know, you have to work with people all the time you don't like.

No--you don't! It ruined the show for me.

kbow said...

See the world and experience different cultures before forming your opinions of places and peoples. You have your whole life to do this.

Start when you're 18 or start when you're 80. Until you have seen it or lived it firsthand, keep an open mind.

If you can't travel, READ.