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It’s one of those things that happens on The Daily Show.  A perfectly normal roasting of a “Good Morning America” segment on Michael Jackson hysteria was being pulled off by … well, by merely playing the self-parodying thing.  Just when it didn’t seem like it could get any stranger, a man was introduced as a “Celebrity Gravesite Expert”.

Why would someone get such a handle?  I’m guessing it’s for the business cards, certainly a lot of fun at parties, interviews, and (ideally) celebrity funerals.  While I’ve gone on and on about the role of specialization in a developed society, I have to confess one thing never really occurred to me until just now:

This could be a great source of comedy.

Personally, I know I’m a bit boring when it comes to titles.  I’ve always thought that “Senator” was the best thing to stuff next to your name, but that’s partly because it’s about the wackiest thing I can think of.  This means I’m either no fun or, based on what I know about Senators, a lot more fun than you might think.

Watching a show about the creation of Spongebob featured a lot of information from Jerry Beck, introduced to us as an “Animation Historian”.  That sounds like a real enough title, but in the end isn’t he just a guy who know a lot about cartoons?  Maybe I’m being unnecessarily glib here, but I spent a lot of time wat… er, studying these in my youth, and I know upon whom the anvil falls, if you get my drift.  I think this title is one that I’d really like to have if for no other reason than it gives me a great excuse to do the voices.

My daughter tells me that an aquarium had a problem with one of their feature fish, who was born with a deformed mouth.  You and I know that one solution to this is called “lemon juice marinade”, but being an aquarium they decided instead to call in a “Fish Dentist”.  Yes, they exist.  I don’t know if the fish wound up with braces and all the other fish at school (haha!) made fun of him or not.

It’s not just the titles sometimes that are fun – it’s the gig.

If I were to specialize like this, I think that ultimately one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen was Shelby Foote’s role as the standard Civil War Historian.  He had the facial hair, which was always very authentic, but the relaxed way of telling a joke that almost starts a campfire in your mind that really sold it.  He’s been dead for a while now, so perhaps I should have studied more about the Civil War when I was young.  But there was this potential to star in Animation History that was calling me at the time, and … sigh.

I’m sure are a lot of other jobs and titles that I haven’t thought of yet, things that are so silly that they really jump out at you as the most ridiculous gig you ever heard.  Like “Secretary of the Treasury,” for example.  But what’s the wackiest gig or handle you’ve ever heard of?  Let us all know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Handles

  1. I was told I was getting a new title and I was sure it was inplace of a raise. I should have asked for something fun like ‘cat wrangler’ because it’s what I do.

  2. Well they always like to install the title sales in one’s role even if what one does is 99% operations. I think they do that so they can pay a lower hourly rate and you always feel under the gun whether “your” sales are up 4% or worse yet flat. I think this speacialist role is really quite something and a part of the large urban economy. My wife applied for a job at her work as volunteer coordinator but did not have any direct prior paid experience. But she had coached youth soccer for 12 years and that involves recruitement of drivers, first aiders, drinks helping assistants. Or at church on the education board sunday school teachers, seasonal fests/holiday workers. By the way I did run up against a goofy title a couple of days ago but for the life of me I can’t remember what it is.

  3. Seriously though one reason why some workplaces have all these sutitles is that management wants to exert greater control. This subdividing was a hallmark of our recently passed economies of large scale. At my heavily unionized newspaper worplace of 25 years our unit tried feebly to organize a couple of times as essentially our pay was 20% less than comparble positions in the company. When you net with the union organizer head he would caution/warn you of what lay ahead. The intimidation, the contesting of how large the voting bloc/unit would be, the contesting of the results, and the possible refusal to negotiate in good faith. You know where we 7 workers, 14, 21 or even part of 100 or even 500?

  4. OK I’ll come up with another idea for you. Has a middle landscape ever existed? What I mean by that has there ever been a balance between man and nature? Has there ever been a balance in nature itself? I think the answer to the second question is no but it depends on how you look at it over time.
    One of the premier aspects of today’s socity is this incredible acceleration of communication. Via cell phones, texting, e mail, facebook etc. etc. Personally I only use landline phone, face to face, very limited e mail and minnpost/erik hare. Even that increases my stress level a bit. Case in point last night I got together with a couple of high school friends and their wives. My wife had to work late so was late on arriving at the cafe. It was getting time to order of the menu and somebody asked if I knew my wife’s cell phone number I admitted I did not but that if I were home I could look it up. Well anyways I ordered for her got ribs and shrimp and I would let her choose which one she wanted or I would bring back leftovers.
    A middle landscape in farming was called composit farming. It was above subsistence level and you had a cash crop or a specialty. You also left a part of the land untilled and a part annually unplanted to recharge. Due to technology that no longer exists unless you consider a few marijuana growers who have cattle and /or row crops.

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