When Fake is Real: How I Became More Smarter

We were watching Saturday Night Live the other day, and they were doing a sketch on Nelson Mandela’s funeral with a sign language interpreter who was using fake sign language. Pretty humorous, I thought, but what did it have to do with anything real?

“Umm,” Tara said. “You know, the sign language interpreter who used fake sign language at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.”

Fake Obama + fake fake sign language interpreter = real event.
Fake Obama + fake fake sign language interpreter = real event.

But I didn’t know. When it comes to current events, I am woefully out of the loop. Once upon a time I had a daily newspaper delivered and was fairly knowledgeable when it came to what was going on in the world, but I cancelled that years ago, and am not the type of person to ever turn on the TV and watch the news. Unless snow is in the forecast, of course. Plus I rarely go on Twitter, and don’t have Yahoo as my home page. Ergo, I am privy to basically no information, unless it happens to come across Facebook. I did know that Paul Walker died. I had no idea who Paul Walker was, but that’s because when it comes to driving, I tend to be slow and patient rather than fast and furious.

As the episode went on, it was clear they were mocking many other current events, none of which I knew a damn thing about. I decided that was both embarrassing and sad, and needed correcting immediately. I asked Tara where she got her daily news from, and she said NPR, so I made it a point to listen to NPR every time I was in the car this week. Driving to work, going to lunch, taking a trip to the mall, coming home. It was all NPR, all the time. And I have to admit, after just a few days of this, I’m feeling more smarter. To wit, I have learned the following:

  • There was a near miss between a U.S. battleship and a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea earlier in the month.
  • Syrian air raids killed 28 children over the weekend.
  • Auto industry sales are up 50% since 2009.
  • Oregon is taking steps toward liquor privatization.
  • A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed 6 U.S. soldiers, the deadliest incident in months.
  • The Department of Agriculture is considering a new inspection program on imported catfish from Vietnam.
  • Elf is becoming this generation’s A Christmas Story in terms of popular holiday movies.
  • The Senate passed a compromised version of a Federal budget package that Obama might sign as soon as today.

All this, in 48 hours! It’s a wealth of information that I’d have otherwise been clueless about. This weekend, when SNL host Justin Timberlake  does a skit about a man on a battleship who almost crashes into a Chinese warship because he’s too distracted  watching Elf, I will be laughing my ass off louder than anybody. Because I’ll GET it!

NPR. It's got music, too!
NPR. It’s got music, too!

I’m going to continue listening to NPR, too – even beyond this week. I find myself enjoying many of their “human interest” stories every bit as much as the hard news stuff. Plus, they play some pretty cool music. Years ago, they spotlighted a Pacific Northwest band called The Lonely Forest, and I became a huge fan.

Cat’s Out of the Bag Now. Meow! 

This morning, I “outed” myself at work. Needless to say, my coworkers were surprised to learn this closely-guarded secret.

“I had no idea you’re an author!” Steve said. “That’s so cool!”

It all came about because I was responding to a companywide email and finished with:

BTW, if any of you are looking for a last minute gift idea, go here and buy this: http://www.amazon.com/No-Time-Kings-Mark-Petruska/dp/1614344604. OK, no more shameless plugs. Carry on!

For some reason, I’ve been more reserved with my personal life at this job than others in the past. I’m not really sure why. A psychiatrist might say after being laid off twice in eight years I’m shy about forging friendships and opening up with people who will inevitably disappear from my life again, and there may be some truth in that. I don’t know. But I’ve begun to change, and it all started with Instagram. I friended a bunch of coworkers there. And then, when the sky didn’t fall, I decided to friend some more on Facebook. And now I’ve let them in on the fact that I wrote a book. 5 minutes after sending the email I already had a sale, too. Which makes me wonder: why’d I wait so long?

Today is the last day of work for the week. And actually, I only have to work 3 days out of the next 18. Woohoo! Gotta love the holidays. Our office is closed tomorrow, but we’re all getting together to build bikes for needy kids at a local fire station in the morning, then going bowling in the afternoon, followed by the company Christmas party at McMenamin’s Edgefield in the evening. Like last year, the company is springing for rooms for employees and their spouses. Friday, we’re closed. Next week, we have to work Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Then I’m on vacation.

I love this time of year!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

13 thoughts on “When Fake is Real: How I Became More Smarter

  1. NPR.org is my homepage. If not for that and my fave blogs, I’d know nothing about what is going on in the world at large. Happy holidays, Mr. Petruska. I’m going to purchase “No Time For Kings” to add to my holiday reading.


  2. I’ve not been all that forthcoming when it comes to my published works either, Mark. The only reason so many people at work know about it is because my boss blabbed. I got interviewed, there was a nifty little story posted in the library newsletter and many people shortly after asked me about it. Unfortunately, with all their kinds words, judging by the sales, very few were willing to lay the money down and actually help me towards fortune and fame by buying. Not much a self-promotor because I’m not really a people-person to begin with. Ah, well.

    And why the HELL are we importing catfish from Vietnam? Don’t we have plenty o’ catfish noodlers here in the States?


    1. I know what you mean…I find it tough to market myself, too. I tend to become overly humble. Which explains why 90% of my coworkers had no idea I’d written a book!

      As for the catfish, that’s a good question. I thought there were more than enough coming out of the deep South!


  3. I avoid news on the TV as well because it drives me nuts! I catch my news on FB or on my default page (The Loop). This is enough for me. Kelvin is much more interested in the news, so he’ll fill me in if I need to know. This is as much as I can take for someone with panic & anxiety disorder.


  4. I love NPR. Just had to share that.

    More importantly, awesome that you’re putting your book out there more and it resulted in sales! Well deserved, Mark! I’ve been horrible about my TBR pile challenge this year. I seriously need to read your book in 2014. I think I only read 2 books on my list. Instead I did all my research on humor books for my writing. At least I was productive. That counts, right?


  5. Not much of a listener to NPR but I do catch the news once-in-a-while. MSN is my homepage so I get the news from there. I may or may not read the article but at least I have a jest as to what is happening.


    1. I think that’s the secret. Set a home page to a reliable news source, and you’re set every time you log on. You probably know more about what’s going on than I do these days!


  6. “I had no idea you’re an author!” Steve said. “That’s so cool!”

    Oh, I get this for sure. Only 2 personal friends visit my blog. Everyone else I have met on the blogosphere.


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