“I don’t even really work here!”
June 27, 2015

(a note in advance of more Seinfeld-isms to come, very soon…)Ritz Crackers box_stansberrymasonry dot com

Returning here after more than two years–after I went bye-bye in 2013, after saying Helloooo!–I was tempted toward a good George-ism to capture the moment. Maybe the simple, ebullient “I’m back, baby!”

Or the subversive, Eeyore-ish voicemail he once left Jerry, “Hey, it’s George… Pfft. I’ve got nothing to say.” (BEEP)

But even Costanza comes up short here. (Sorry, George. I’m really sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.) To capture such an unexpected turnabout…I turn to the one-and-only Kramer.

In one of Kramer’s bass-ackwards falls into a legit job (Brand/Leland was the poor, unsuspecting company’s name), his boss called him on the carpet about his output. “I’ve been reviewing your work,” Leland said. “Quite frankly it stinks.”

He went on to tell the Ritz-cracker-smacking Kosmo that he must move on. I don’t even really work here! was Kramer’s crack-me-up reply.

As to why exactly that cracked me up…consider my absence, yes (I don’t even really blog here!)…but do read on.

The What-Happened

My absence was not intentional. Not even in my mind was I gone (although there is that, sometimes.) I still love this blog. I still love this show–even though some of it is not as funny to me as I near 20 years of great marriage and my mid-40s, and seriously/sillily raise 52 children.

(Actually we only have 5 but jokingly refer to “our 52 children” because, despite the joy, the laughter, all that Schmoopie…sometimes the comments, the questions, all that snap, make it seem like we have way more children than we do.) 

Still, much of Seinfeld is as funny to me now as it was when I first discovered it. Some of it is even funnier. Which is why I never meant to, in early 2013, stop adding to this Seinfeld survival guide to Life.

Around that time, in an Seinfeldishly ironic twist, Life dispatched a plane across the landscape of the Bounds family, unfurling a banner that read “Survive this”–and started dropping circumstantial bombs. We wanted to yada yada yada over the whole thing…in the George-negative, not the Elaine-positive way.

Then came a Newman-ic depressive phase. You know, where you’re denouncing vegetables and calling for shots and doing other foolish things that have people wiser than you saying life-saving things to you like you better think again, mojumbo.

The dance of Life didn’t halt, per se, during that time. It just shifted into a full-body-dry-heave kind of dance. Arms flailing, legs akimbo. Feet moving the family halfway across the country…that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, in another ironic, Seinfeldian twist during that long hiatus…this blog’s readership took off across the two years I stopped writing. See for yourself:Seinfeld-ism stats on WordPress 2010-2015

I can hear George now: Your chances of success in this blog are only hurt by you continuing to write it.

Even with that attractive power of the Opposite apparently boosting my work, I still stayed away. Then, later, an idea: If I get back into it someday, I’ll do some new material then get out. Take a bow. Cue the curtain drop.

Then, much later–nearing the debut of the get-out plan–the plan got a good-surprise “Get out!” push.

The Times

Seinfeld cracking me up over Life itself–for me and for those around me–is what led me to launch this blog-ode to the series on July 5, 2010. Five years to the day, that is, coming up here soon. The final-bow plans came up about a year ago. I crafted a Seinfeld-ism “bucket list.”

While I dabbled with the plan–fast headed to the five-year anniversary–yet another Seinfeldian twist occurred: my blog got linked in the New York Times. This week. (Scroll down to the “George’s love of cheese” line.)

I can hear Jerry now: Costanza*…Benes**…Bounds***?!

*Recall George’s hand-clapping joy over a “NEW YORK YANKEES!” job.
**Recall Elaine’s hip-swinging joy over a “NEW YORKER!” gig.
***Pardon my laptop-tapping joy over a NEW YORK TIMES! nibble.

The New York Times exposure leaves me grinning a la Jerry’s “And you want to be my latex salesman” grin AND looking unfazed a la Newman’s “Hi-lar-ious” deadpan face. Not at the New York Times. At literary agents. Because back in 2010, when I started this blog, I had been trying to publish this material as a book.

The rejection-letter emails that followed (coming mostly from literary agents based in NEW YORK CITY) are best summarized by this one line from one such agent:

“I don’t think anyone outside of New York is really that interested still in Seinfeld.”

Cue the look on my face akin to Jerry’s when that Donna Chang gal he was dating used the word ridicurous.

The High Note

Scores of Seinfeld lines come to mind in witty retort to that agent’s comment. But I’ll just end where I began here and reach back into the Kramer-working-for-Brand/Leland episode. The morn of Kramer’s first day on the job, Jerry saw Kramer in a suit and tie and–dazed and Uncle-Leo-level-confused at his notoriously jobless friend now gloriously dressed for a job–Jerry said, “How long have I been asleep? What year is this?”

Have you been asleep? I wanted to say to that agent. Do you know what year it is?

Seinfeld has conquered the world!

That was 8 years ago.

Now look at Hulu.

“That people will only watch television like this in the future is so obvious,” Jerry himself cracked-wise at the April announcement to the world of the Seinfeld/Hulu duo.

Yes it is, Jerry. Yes it is.

So now I turn to George, to do as he once did and–as he learned from Jerry (“Showmanship, George!”)–get out on a high note.

Time to publish that book myself.

(Giddy-up!)

Stay tuned.

“I’m gonna read a book. From beginning to end. In that order.”
July 31, 2011

(another Seinfeld-in-culture note to readers before you read on to more Seinfeld-isms below)

It was one of George’s aims, the above comment, in the “summer of George.” We’re not exactly sure where George stood when it came to books. In one episode, he was collecting them like an avid reader. In another, he was foregoing a book to watch the flick based on it, like an avid moviegoer. If George was anything like his father–an avid TV Guide collector–he was an avid TV-watcher.

TV and books (and movies based on books) had to do with one more thing Entertainment Weekly had to say in July 2008 about Seinfeld’s place among the “new classics” of the past 25 years. (We recently touched on their ranking of the show and of the man himself.) That landmark 1,000th issue ended with another reader’s poll: favorite cultural moments of the last quarter of a century.

Seinfeld‘s finale episode in 1998 was the “moment” that landed the greatest sitcom ever in this poll–and it didn’t make it past the first cut in the NCAA tourney-like, single-elimination poll. The rival that won? The finale book of the Harry Potter series in 2007.

So Jerry lost to Harry. Whoop-dee-do, we say. This is, after all, a poll that ended up crowning as the #1 “moment” the release of the iPod. Techies versus “bookies” versus the TV savvy (and more)?

Hi-lar-ious, as Newman might have said, as polls go. But fun nonetheless.

“Hi-lar-ious.”
September 1, 2010

A smarmy comeback to use when certain people in your life crack a joke at your expense, and you can’t let them think it was funny–even if it was funny.

Newman entered archnemesis Jerry’s apartment with Kramer, who asked to borrow Jerry’s pliers. “What, did Newman get another Army man stuck in his ear?” Jerry remarked. Staring at Jerry, Newman didn’t flinch–except to say this…in a low, comically-menacing voice.

This isn’t a question of you being able to laugh at yourself; of course you’re humble enough to do that. You’re just too proud to do that in front of anyone–sworn enemy or serious friend; it doesn’t matter–who would take you laughing at you as an opportunity to look down on you. With such people, you can’t be perceived as weak; that might shift the balance in the epic battle that is your relationship.

Newman might have actually had an Army man stuck in his ear but he wasn’t about to concede to Jerry in laughing about it.

From “The Reverse Peephole”
Episode 12, Season 9
Seinfeld Volume 8, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 2:06

“They’re the worst.”
August 3, 2010

A curt observation for categorically dismissing all of humanity, not because you’re having a bad day or even a “moment”–you just felt like doing it. Because they deserved it.

Jerry was small-talking with Elaine about nitwits who get on a plane and start talking to you because they’ve got nothing else to do. Elaine understood: “I will never understand people,” she said, articulating the word never like hers was the last word on the subject–and it was a good one. Jerry one-upped her–and it was the stuff of a Dickens novel.

Humanity is inherently good, they say, but we know that’s up for debate. Look no further than Newman (“He’s pure evil,” Jerry once said) to see why. Yet we also know that Newmans are few and far between (“He’s a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie,” Jerry also said) so that thickens the debate.

What should settle the debate is what we know from our interactions with people, which tend to leave one of two general impressions: It was the best of this personIt was the worst of that person. And in this Tale of Two Personalities we see in every person we meet, the best may be yet to come. But until then…it’s the worst.

You go to a movie theater–they’re there, loud and obnoxious. You’re driving down the road, minding all traffic regulations–they’re there, and they’re not minding. Even when they’re not there, they’re the worst. You head to the checkout lane and discover new meaning to the word checkout: the register clerk apparently did just that when she saw the line forming. You dart into an open lane–the lane light is on–but no register clerk is home.

Who are these people? “What is with these people?” People! Why? These are some of life’s most (de)pressing questions.

And now you have an answer.

From “The Face Painter”
Episode 23, Season 6
Seinfeld Volume 5, Disc 4
Timecode for the scene: 3:00

“Vile weed!”
July 23, 2010

A theatrical observation for those times when you’re served a dish you despise, and you must sound a barbaric yawp about it over the tabletop of your world.

Kramer had to hide from Jerry his addiction to the delectable offerings of the nearby chicken roaster restaurant, so Kramer enlisted Newman to pick up food from the restaurant without Jerry knowing it. When Jerry happened to pass Newman with an armful of takeout, a container of broccoli–something Newman despised–caught Jerry’s eye. Jerry asked Newman to take a bite. Newman’s attempt to maintain the Newman/Kramer subterfuge led to this little ode to the sprout…as it ejected, half-masticated, from his mouth.

Unlike Newman himself, there’s more here than meets the eye–more to this observation than excoriating what sprouts out of the ground. With these two words, the sky is the limit: you can trash whole eateries (“Vile bistro!”), dump on culture (“Vile movie!”), and even categorically castigate people (“Vile celebrity!”). Brush off any accusation that you’re exaggerating to make a point; exaggeration is the point. Announcing your repulsion, at the moment you are repulsed, is to seize the day as Newman did. In carpe newman, subtlety is not a good quality.

From “The Chicken Roaster”
Episode 8, Season 8
Seinfeld Volume 7, Disc 2
Timecode for the scene: 17:09

“You better think again, mojumbo.”
July 22, 2010

A snappy comeback to use on those who come at you with good reason—You were wrong!—but you still don’t want to admit they are right.

Newman traded his motorcycle helmet to Kramer for his radar detector, which Kramer knew didn’t work (and he didn’t tell Newman). When Newman was later slapped with a speeding ticket…he detected a foul smell rising from this sweet little deal. Voice heaving with A pox on you! ire, Newman went toe-to-toe with Kramer, demanding both helmet and recompense for the speeding ticket. Kramer tap-danced around him with this comment.

Keep the tap dancing in mind here. Admitting that you are wrong is a country line dance: difficult to master but automatic once mastered. Admonishing someone to rethink their position about your wrongness takes fancier footwork, different with every dance. Try too hard—working the dance floor like a full-body dry heave—and you’ll make the person wince. Tippy-toe the whole number—a little too delightful—and you’ll make the person laugh.

Do the Kramer two-step—boldly inciting the person to a second thought while lithely calling him or her a name (preferably something mumbo-jumbo)—and you’ll make them think they are wrong.

From “The Pitch”
Episode 3, Season 4
Seinfeld Volume 3, Disc 1
Timecode for the scene: 9:55

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