Re: How To Take A Compliment: Let's Discuss

1

"Oh, this necklace? It's ok I suppose...."

Rude rude rude rude rude.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:00 AM
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I guess ogling is a compliment.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:00 AM
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Indeed. Whenever you are ogled, you should say thank you and ogle back.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:01 AM
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If you've just beaten someone in a competition and they say "You're really good," what do you say, "Thanks, you're not that bad"?

No, you say "thanks, good game." Hell, even fourteen year old online gaming twerps know that, even if they have to spell it "tx gg".


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:04 AM
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How is modesty insulting? Faux modesty ('oh, this old $4000 suit', 'oh, this old necklace') is, but that's not the same thing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:04 AM
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No, you say "thanks, good game."

Gee, so obvious, how could I have missed it? But when, for example, you're not racing, but merely swimming in the lane next to someone, and constantly lapping them, and they say, "Wow, you're fast," the response isn't as clear.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:07 AM
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Ogged, you can't return the compliment right away; it has to be deferred. Haven't you read Levi-Strauss on gifts?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:08 AM
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and they say, "Wow, you're fast," the response isn't as clear.

You say either "thanks" or "want my speed?" and then leer.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:08 AM
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I don't think returning the compliment is necessary very often. In addition to the awkwardness, if the return is obviously insincere it means that the person who sent out the initial compliment may now believe that you perceived his compliment as being insincere as well.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:08 AM
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How is modesty insulting?

"I like that necklace enough to mention it."
"You have shitty taste, philistine. But thanks."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:09 AM
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It has to be deferred and different in kind. You can't return a compliment on your clothes via a compliment on the other's clothes.

Tack-y.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:10 AM
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"Thanks." Smile.

I don't think there's a rule that you have to return a compliment with a compliment.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:10 AM
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When someone compliments you, take it as an entre to explain to them your burden of being so good-looking and so talented, day in and day out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:10 AM
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4: Hell, even fourteen year old online gaming twerps know that, even if they have to spell it "tx gg".

gg no re tx.

Hamilton is correct, but if your coach has you doing something new-ish that might be responsible for the victory, it's okay to mention that. Or it was back like a million years ago when I swam. Like, "I started doing [blah] and it's really helped my [particular-sub-aspect of endeavor]."

Because then it's shop talk, and shop talk is always the right thing to segue into.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:10 AM
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Oh, so you're not actually in a competition? In that case, you say "that's RIGHT! I'm faster than YOU, you Chuwero!!"


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:11 AM
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10: But that's not actually modesty. That's passively bragging.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:12 AM
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A simple "thanks" with no immediate return compliment. The immediate return implies economics, that the gift of the compliment might have been a gambit or proffer. The return should be made not as soon as possible, but when unexpected or apparently spontaneous.

If one, God forbid, is actually engaged or seeking conversation, the compliment can be accepted in such a way as to subtly flatter the complimenter's taste, and from there somehow directed to a return.

Ideally, compliments are always spontaneous and of course, unsolicited. The best compliments cannot be categorized as compliments, inducing obligation, but as simple selfish pleasures.

The burp. The orgasm. The well-considered comment.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:12 AM
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18

"My times have gotten a lot better since I started doing meth and taking lemon-juice-and-Tabasco enemas weekly."


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:13 AM
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16: Oh, right. You even addressed the necklace thing specifically. Sorry, reading too quickly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:13 AM
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"No, you're the skinniest girl in 10th grade."
"No, you are. All the boys like you best."
"With these thighs? You're like a size zero."
"Aw, you're so nice. You're like a size zero."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:13 AM
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21

Bob gets it right, astonishingly. Except for the last line.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:15 AM
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20: As out-of-place as I usually feel in my gender, I would have been an even worse girl. Good lord.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:16 AM
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I differentiate between compliments on skill and compliments on appearance/other non-volitional things. Compliments on eye color? A lighthearted thanks; then make a joke about the genetic lottery.

Compliments on clothing? Brief thanks and usually a deflection about where it came from/who gave it to me. Compliments on my skills? If I trust the compliment, a heartfelt thank you; if I don't, an offhand one. Either way, divert attention asap to a more neutral topic.

Of course you return compliments, but how immediately depends on the social rhythm, and that depends on how much rapport you already have and whether you need to build any. From somebody in an elevator you're never going to see again? A quick "I like your X too" or nothing. From a colleague? No rush; you'll have plenty of genuine opportunities to compliment their skills/handbag/whatever in the future.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:16 AM
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Bob's comment was presaged by my first in this thread.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:16 AM
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25

Whoa, Witt must get a lot of compliments.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:17 AM
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Ben, I had a dream last night that we were best friends and hung out, and cracked each other up all the time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:18 AM
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As out-of-place as I usually feel in my gender, I would have been an even worse girl. Good lord.

Hamilton, you wouldn't have been forced to be a lame girl. You could be a cool girl.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:20 AM
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Or Witt developed explicit rules in response to occasional agonizing experiences of "What on earth do I say?"


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:20 AM
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Perhaps this is horrible, but I usually find myself replying to complements on my clothes/shoes/bag with something along the lines of "Oh, thank you. I really like it/them too!"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:20 AM
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In my social and manipulative youth, I was famous for my "backhand" compliments.

In this situation, the swim competition, perhaps the response to "You're really good" is something like "Hardest I've worked in a month." not "You made me work really hard"

Mutual admiration is best shared thru a medium:a child, a fine wine, a movie, a song.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:21 AM
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31

"Oh, thank you. I really like it/them too!"

I totally do this.
"Nice X."
"I know! Isn't it the best?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:22 AM
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32

Perhaps this is horrible, but I usually find myself replying to complements on my clothes/shoes/bag with something along the lines of "Oh, thank you. I really like it/them too!"

Just shorten it to "No shit". And as for comments on your physical appearance, "Hell yeah".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:22 AM
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Ben, I had a dream last night that we were best friends and hung out, and cracked each other up all the time.

Thanks, heebie. By the way, you've got a nice ass.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:23 AM
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34

I had a dream last night that I was reading a really cool corpus of linguistic data pulled from Indian-English newsgroup postings conducted via sewing machine. Then the apocalypse came and we were all trying to figure out how to get online with sewing machines ourselves. In the snow.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:24 AM
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35

You could ask Larry Wall, author of trn. He probably knows.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:25 AM
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36

32: I do that with compliments about my kids -- someone says something nice, and I respond with "Aren't they wonderful"? I worry that I'm being obnoxious, but rarely in time to catch myself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:26 AM
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37

the rew nepublic?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:26 AM
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38

Compliments on eye color?

"Thanks, I got them from this sweet young kid in Indiana. Boy, did he struggle."


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:26 AM
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39

Now initially I was just going to say You could ask Larry Wall. He probably knows., without any mention of trn, but I thought that might be too obscure, so I decided to put the trn bit in—but, notice, I haven't mentioned what the letters stand for or anything like that. The trick with a joke like this, I find, is that it has to be obscure enough to be intriguing, but not too obscure to be off-putting or completely impenetrable. And plainly it can't be completely obvious, because we want the people who do get it without any effort to feel as if it's because of effort already expended in the past that they're able to understand it—they feel superior.

I think I've struck that delicate balance in comment 35, which really is a gem in all respects, and probably the perfect response to comment 34. You could teach a class on it. Boy, I'm one remarkable fella, eh wot?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:29 AM
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40

By the way, you've got a nice ass.

Thanks, you're not that bad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:29 AM
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41

BEN WOLFSON IS BANNED


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:29 AM
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42

This raises a different, Unfogged raison d'etre, ogged-bashing question: how few compliments must you have received to be in your thirties and still so unsure of how to respond to compliments? If no one has smacked you in the face or cut you out of his life after complimenting you, your responses are probably within the range of the appropriate.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:34 AM
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43

By the way, you've got a nice ass.

What, this old thing?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:34 AM
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44

Or perhaps 18 is the best response to ass compliments.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:37 AM
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45

42. In eighth grade, a girl I'd gone to school with since the first grade said something like "you're really smart", to which I replied "yeah, I know." She ripped me a new one and told me how to take a compliment modestly. It seemed like a lot of trouble, so I just haven't bothered doing anything worth complimenting since.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:38 AM
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46

...and that girl's name was Emily Yoffe. And now you know the rest of the story.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:50 AM
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47

And now you know the rest of the story.

I passionately hate Paul Harvey.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:52 AM
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48

Thanks, good game.


Posted by: Paul Harvey | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:54 AM
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49

32: I don't think it's obnoxious, because it's fun to be around someone who is happy that you noticed their cool new whatever.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:57 AM
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50

Nothing makes me more irate than when he reads these letters from some Grandma in SmallTown Heartland whose sole purpose for writing the letter was to extol how WalMart came to Podunkville and reinvigorated the economy and now she's a greeter, and they treat her so well, and her children have started visiting again, and the air smells like roses and the streets are paved with pansies, all because of Glorious WalMart.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:58 AM
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51

Why do you hate America, heebie?


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:00 PM
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52

Sorry. That would have been more appropriate in the Oddly, nobody shouted "Kobe!" thread.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:01 PM
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53

I tried to please America for years. I wore Trocadero and pegged my pants and triple-tailed my ponytail and feathered my bangs. And nothing was ever good enough for America. I'm still secretly hungry for America's affection but I channel it through a canal of bitterness and cynicism.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:04 PM
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54

Love Canal?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:06 PM
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55

I'm still secretly hungry for America's affection but I channel it through a canal of bitterness and cynicism.

When I think of what's become of your once-bright sugar walls, heebie, it's all I can do to keep from crying.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:08 PM
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56

The proper response to a compliment on one's love canal is...what?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:08 PM
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57

Tip the gondolier.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:09 PM
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58

Yes?


Posted by: Tip the Gondolier | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:10 PM
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59

Hey Tip,

My friend Ned up there's got a question I thought you might be able to answer. Thanks for coming by on such short notice.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:12 PM
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60

(incomprehensible Italian gibberish)


Posted by: Tip the Gondolier | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:14 PM
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61

Oh, fine.

*slips Tip 50 euros*


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:15 PM
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62

"grazie, avete un attrezzo impressionante di amore"


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:16 PM
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63

The worst thing is when you are competing against someone who is either a bad loser or a bad winner.

"That was good, you really kicked my ass"

"Yeah, I did, didn't I?"

"No, you prick, I was paying you a compliment and being a good loser. Never forget I could fucking own you, your borderline-Asperger's geek fuck"

[this may be in response to an actual recent event]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:32 PM
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64

Man, ttaM, it's really not nice calling someone a borderline-Asperger's geek fuck, even if they did just kick your ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:37 PM
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65

I have a friend with whom being as ungracious as possible is part of the competition, with the intent of getting the other guy to lose his cool. Most effective methods: for the loser to immediately accuse the winner of cheating, and for the winner to point and laugh mockingly. You only think you wouldn't be bothered.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:39 PM
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66

re: 64

Fuck 'em. Damned insensitive social-graceless arseholes...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:40 PM
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67

I feel I'm disasterously bad at taking compliments of all kinds. I even convey that online, I think.

50 is disturbingly close to my mother, without the letter-to-the-editor, social vision part. But she loved going to WalMart for the gracious social exchanges, when she lived in Wisconsin.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:50 PM
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68

65: Have you read the Stephen Potter books on Gamesmanship, One-upmanship, etc., Ogged?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:53 PM
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69

The Apostate has read them.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:55 PM
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68 - He was left cold by the endless depiction of gamesmanship at Quidditch matches, although the cutting remarks one could discretely imply about the nature of one's friends wands did make him laugh.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:55 PM
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Have you read

No, should I? (Or will you summarize them in fifteen words or fewer?)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:55 PM
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I'm disastrously bad at taking compliments related to intelligence. My first instinct is just to deny them, or leave.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:56 PM
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73

Attempting to change the subject by setting fire to the building you and your interlocutor are standing in is also effective.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:57 PM
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74

You should! They are humorous guides to The Art of Winning Without Actually Cheating.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:57 PM
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75

Here's an excerpt that Weiner once saw fit to link.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:57 PM
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76

Potter has a lot of fans with websites (unsurprisingly) who have posted excerpts, but I think they're best summarized by this snippet of interview transcript here:

Roy Plomley: (Being interviewed by Stephen Potter on the BBC). Mr. Potter, as I've known you for so many years, do you think that on this programme I might call you Stephen?
Potter: Well, why not--Plomley.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 12:59 PM
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77

I'm disastrously bad at taking compliments related to intelligence

w-lfs-n lies.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:00 PM
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78

As I have them within arm's reach, I will quote from the table of contents of the first one (Gamesmanship).

...
Chapter II The Pre-Game
How to Start: The Flurry -- Clothesmanship -- Counter-Gamesmanship

Chapter III The Game Itself
Some Basic Plays -- Sportsmanship Play -- Playing-for-Fun Play -- Nice Chapmanship -- Audience Play -- Ruggership and Ruggership Counter-play -- Counterpoint -- "My Tomorrow's Match" -- Game Leg -- Jack Rivers Opening

Chapter IV Winmanship
A Note on Concentration -- When to Give Advice -- When to be Lucky


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:01 PM
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79

77: I should amend; bad at taking compliments relating to intelligence from people I respect.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:03 PM
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80

The excerpt seems to depend on the underlying belief that beauty and plainness are fixed quantities, that can be evaluated independently.

Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink, everybody in this world knows what stunning and plain are, and we are all kidding if we pretend otherwise.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:05 PM
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81

65 see 15


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:06 PM
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re: 65

I hate gamesmanship.

If I competed in a sport where I was allowed to hurt people {and I do} that guy would find himself on the receiving end of a fair bit of pain.

The borderline Asperger's geek fuck mentioned above, I avoid fighting him as much as possible as he's such an ungracious bastard that I'm always tempted to hurt him. He's otherwise a nice guy -- just a poor competitor.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:08 PM
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83

Re: 80.

Maybe that's the joke; to slip into a world where they are.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:12 PM
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84

74 gets it right. The first three books are great, and surprisingly different from each other within the limited format that they share. (Gamesmanship, Lifemanship, and One-Upmanship). They're collected in one called "Three-Upmanship" which I own.

Supermanship was written about a decade later and is a response to the fame of the earlier books. I didn't like it.


Posted by: Cogg-Willoughby | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:13 PM
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85

I hate gamesmanship.

It's ok with friends, but for a lot of guys "talking trash" or gamesmanship is just an excuse for being an asshole.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:13 PM
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86

The excerpt seems to depend on the underlying belief that beauty and plainness are fixed quantities, that can be evaluated independently.

This comment seems to depend on taking quite a lot rather straight-facedly.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:23 PM
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I'm disastrously bad at taking compliments related to intelligence. My first instinct is just to deny them, or leave.

This bodes well, Ben, assuming it isn't false modesty. The smartest people I know recognize the limits of their intelligence far better than most everyone else.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:28 PM
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It's ok with friends, but for a lot of guys "talking trash" or gamesmanship is just an excuse for being an asshole.

I think you have to distinguish between the times when someone misreads the shared culture and when someone is intentionally acting like a jerk to demonstrate that he can.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:29 PM
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89

What, this old thing?

Excellent comment, Apo.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:31 PM
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90

89: I know! I liked it too!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:41 PM
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91

88: Which side of the line does taking steroids fall on?


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:45 PM
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91: Whence the em dash, HL? (This is a new, affectation, no?)


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:48 PM
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92: Yeah, it's new. Do you like it? I started with reconstructive hyphen surgery, but then B started talking about liking 'em a little bigger, IYKWIM, so I figured what the hell.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:50 PM
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94

Just imagine Bill Shatner doing Hamilton Lovecraft doing James Bond: "The name-- is-- Lovecraft. Hamilton-- Lovecraft."


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:51 PM
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95

WTF. Em dashes in comment bodies get turned into double hyphens? Test -- — — redact me at will redact redact


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:53 PM
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re: 85

Yeah, I have to admit, the whole 'it's not if you win or lose but how you play the game' cliché does resonate with me. I really don't mind losing as long as I've not totally embarrassed myself.

People who have the win-at-all-costs, even if it involves gamesmanship mentality, I find pretty alien.

A bit of mocking or humour is cool if you know the people involved and they are good friends (as you say), but otherwise, I'd rather not compete at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:54 PM
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Bizarre. ampersand mdash semicolon comes through correctly, as does ampersand pound 8212 semicolon, but the pasted-in symbol that shows up correctly in my posted-by line gets converted to -- in comment body.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:54 PM
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People who have the win-at-all-costs, even if it involves gamesmanship mentality, I find pretty alien.

That's why you're such a loser.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 1:55 PM
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99

"Faster than you" is only appropriate if you've been swimming in the full Travis Bickle setup, and can do the motion.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 2:19 PM
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100

I have the unfortunate habit of responding to a compliment on an article of clothing with "Thanks! I got it for like five bucks at a thrift store on X street! Great find, huh?" (or "It was a handmedown from a friend of mine! Awesome, huh?")

This is probably not a tactful way of responding to a compliment.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 2:48 PM
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101

Heh. You are my mother. Comments on her clothes are always received with a gleeful listing of the various yard sales she bought everything at, culminating in a total cost of everything she's wearing -- usually under ten bucks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 2:50 PM
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102

I should probably try to retain some mystique, eh?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 2:57 PM
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103

What is the correct response to "I thought, 'Dear Lord, please make this man be good looking,' " she said, laughing. "When I saw how nice looking he was, I just said, 'Thank you, Jesus.' "?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 2:58 PM
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104

My response to reading it was to weep shamelessly, I must confess.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:02 PM
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105

I hate to receive any compliments at all, but I like it when people just quietly accept that I'm wonderful. This isn't a very effective way of dealing with the world and some find it sort of annoying.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:05 PM
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106

Ditto 104.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:06 PM
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107

101 is exactly my mother too.

The link in 103 is remarkable. If you've never seen "The Corner", check it out sometime. It's the most brutally depressing piece of television I've ever seen. After seeing that, "The Wire" comes off as the fun, fun, happy, happy, fantasy version of inner city Baltimore.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:51 PM
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108

You are my mother. Comments on her clothes are always received with a gleeful listing of the various yard sales she bought everything at, culminating in a total cost of everything she's wearing -- usually under ten bucks.

Ha! Mine too. Gleeful is exactly the tone in which my mother will offer an exhaustive catalog of which item was purchased at which "factory outlet" on which cross-border shopping expedition. She seems to think she's putting one over on someone with these bargains. She gives a false total, though, because she doesn't count the gas or the exchange rate.

Bargain shopping is the only thing for which she will take credit, though. My parents have this thing where any compliment is to be met with self-disparagement and denial. This always extended to compliments about their children. The response to "Your daughter is [insert positive quality here]" would be something like, "Oh, I guess she'll do." False modesty? Perhaps. But I think it's more an almost superstitious dread of appearing to think too highly of oneself. Just who do you think you are?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:53 PM
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My parents have this thing where any compliment is to be met with self-disparagement and denial. This always extended to compliments about their children.

My parents do this too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 3:55 PM
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If you are going to be selfdeprecating, at least don't argue with the compliment. "oh thanks, i love this necklack too, if only my sister would let me keep it!" not "oh this thing? i worn it by accident and feel ugly now so how bout those cubs?"

returning compliments is always insincere and makes the person doing it look insecure and dishonest.

I htink the best hting is not frame it as a 'compliment' and just see it as osmething the other person is excited about. If you are wearing the damn necklace, say why you like it (but not why its objectily good or a 'better than average' necklace).


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:02 PM
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We've most of us inherited this from our parents to some extent, apparently. What a different social world in just a generation or two, for better or worse.

I was interested in IA's account, because I have a hunch this kind of self-deprecation is even more intense in Canada.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:02 PM
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Scandinavians too.

World's going to the dogs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:04 PM
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what i'm saying 110 is be honest about your emotions about the quality/item/event, but don't make it something tied to yourself that increases your status. The proper posture is the complimentee and complimenter standing together, both being excited about 3rd party entity (necklace, whatever). Not the complimenter and complimentee on opposite sides of a see-saw trying to one up or prevent one ups so as to be balanced.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:05 PM
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When someone compliments something of yours, you must give it to them. When someone compliments your intelligence, it is proper to reply "It is too kind of you to overlook my unforgiveable stupidity". When someone compliments your looks, you should look around vaguely and say, "Where? Where?"

We hate compliments.


Posted by: some other cultures | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:07 PM
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Nali, nali!

In that culture I am told that if you say "Your wife is very attractive" it's interpreted to mean "I'd like to fuck your wife".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:10 PM
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I do wonder about the bragadocio, the relentless self-esteem of Americans, individually and collectively. It's part of the alienness the rest of the world feels and is repelled by.

And as present company illustrate, it's not everybody here: those of us lacking American levels of this self-esteem feel handicapped, even as we often dislike this quality, because it seems to work for success.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:14 PM
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108, 109, 112: Baltics, too. I think it's a generic Northern European thing.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:18 PM
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I think that if some mothers had better children they'd be more willing to accept compliments about them. Just sayin'.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:22 PM
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I got "Nice tits" at 2am in an empty subway station Friday night. I could only think to reply "Fuck you." Guess I need to go to compliment-taking school.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:53 PM
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"And I got them for free!"


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 4:59 PM
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I never knew what to do when people would compliment my dog. I mean, she was a really beautiful creature, and well-behaved, so they were merited, but all I deserved credit for was some training. So "Thank you" seemed weird, and gushing back seemed over the top. And if the complimenter had a dog, odds were decent that I wasn't much impressed by hers - "That's quite a streamer of drool Fido's developed!"

Oh, and I think Emily Post herself would commend AWB for 119.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:02 PM
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121: My dad is very vain about his dog, and has a right to be. The dog is a large mutt, the kind of mix that makes him look potentially goofy, but slightly scary, and occasionally terribly handsome. He's very expressive and responsive to human emotion. When people compliment my dad's dog, my dad gets very excited about it. "Not everyone sees. You do, and you're right. He is a beautiful dog. A wonderful, amazing dog. Thank you for noticing." I think they leave the interaction thinking my dad is psychotic.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:10 PM
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Compliments shouldn't creep people out.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:14 PM
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115: What does it mean in that culture when you say "I'd like to fuck your wife?"


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:25 PM
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"Let's rumble to the death."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:26 PM
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121: Say "You should see her in the pit."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:32 PM
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I never knew what to do when people would compliment my dog.

"Thank you. It's very difficult to train a hyena to behave this well."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:34 PM
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"My dog wishes she could return your sentiments, but she's a bitch."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:36 PM
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It's very difficult to train a hyena to behave this well.

Once a bike messenger came in, was petting her, and then looked up and asked, sincerely, "Is this a fox?"

Not, actually, that foxy looking.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:41 PM
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Oh, she was indeed beautiful. Dogs with great faces like that are rare.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 5:42 PM
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Can I register myself as anti-em dash? It looks lovely on the website but gets garbled in the RSS.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 6:49 PM
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Beautiful dog, with a great name.

As with I Don't Pay and I.A., my Canadian parents trained me to come up with something funny and deprecating to say about anything complimented. Now I have a baby I have to mentally wire my jaw shut to avoid reflexively running him down in public. I'm horrified at myself. I like that LB agrees her kids are wonderful.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 7:39 PM
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131 Aww, really? Okay. Hyphen it is. Not like it was getting me anywhere with B anyway.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 8:27 PM
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133: Partly b/c I was hanging out with my boyfriend all day, and partly because I'm now on a shitty airport internet access station that displays em dashes as a pile of crap and has the worst keyboard, like, ever.

Also I am really awful about taking compliments, perhaps especially about PK. Teacher: "I really enjoy your son, he's so smart!" Me: "Well, I'm glad he knows how to behave at school, anyway."

I know, I know. I suck.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 8:59 PM
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134: But mostly because you're a tease just not that easy.


Posted by: Hamilton—Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 9:13 PM
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Ben, I had a dream last night that we were best friends and hung out, and cracked each other up all the time.

Strangely, McManus was in a dream I had last night. Now I have no idea what Bob looks like, but in the dream he looked and sounded a lot like Townes Van Zandt. I don't remember what we were doing. Waiting for the revolution, I think.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:15 PM
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136: was there bacon?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:18 PM
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I had a dream last night that Dick Cheney was my boss and made me attend some stupid fancy group dinner where he bragged about his taste and class. My old roommate was sleeping next to me and said I very clearly said "Asshole" in my sleep.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:21 PM
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A college girlfriend told me one morning that she'd just had a dream involving sex with Caspar Weinberger.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:27 PM
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I've had that dream. Accidentally shouting out "Zbigniew!" couldn't be more embarrassing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:29 PM
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It's never just a dream involving sex with Caspar Weinberger, Jesus.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:30 PM
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141: The revelation certainly disabled my, uh, missile defense.

Dreams of Bill is an amusing book, BTW.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:37 PM
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134 was pretty good though, unless it was with sad-sack aura


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:41 PM
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The revelation certainly disabled my, uh, missile defense.

So, parsing, your college girlfriend was able to get her... ICBM.. in your... silo?

I didn't know you went to Bennington!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-19-07 11:43 PM
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At today's (attempted) badminton tournament, there were many attempts at compliments on shuttlecock skill. E.g., "your cock was a bit too big for this serving court" and "you can't double whack the cock, man, but nice form."

These compliments were met with a swig of warm beer and a wiping of sweat from the brow, 'cause goddamn, it was hot.

I'm sure that the unfoggedariat could not come up with better shuttlecock jokes than we did. Sure as the sun will rise, I am.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-20-07 12:30 AM
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of course we can't. Subtlecock jokes are not our thing; we do obvious ones.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-20-07 12:36 AM
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was there bacon?

Yes! That's it. We were frying bacon and waiting for the shit to come down. Were you there, too?


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 08-20-07 8:27 AM
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So how do you alphabetize those non-hyphenated married woman names? by the first last name (ie maiden name) or by the man name?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-20-07 11:05 PM
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