Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Warning Against Language Manipulation


A man walks into your house. He goes into your living room and proceeds to unplug the television. You find him as he’s about to lift it away. Before you say a word he says, “Excuse me, can you tell me the best way to move this television out of the house? I have back issues and I’m looking to reduce the strain this may cause.”
You are stunned for a moment, but then reply, “I’m sorry about your back. The easiest way is to go down the hall and out the back door. Then you won’t have to worry about the stairs.”
The burglar then leaves with your television. How could this happen?

I know that scenario sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it illustrates an aspect of verbal confrontation that I’ve been made more aware of as time goes by.

How did the burglar get away?

We understand that the main issue at hand is the stealing of the television. And we can assume that the burglar and the victim understand the same thing. But what happened?

The burglar immediately set the terms of the conversation, which were designed to distract, confuse, and manipulate the victim’s thoughts and emotions. But any reasonable person would see through this and get right back to the main issue of the robbery. Right?
Where the victim loses both their television and the confrontation is the moment they accept the terms of the conversation. Now the conversation is about the easiest way to move the television and not about whether the television should be moved in the first place.

It’s like a child who asks their parent how many pieces of candy they can have instead of if they can have candy in the first place. The focus turns to quantity, bypassing the issue of legitimacy, and if the parent isn’t aware they will submit to these terms.

If you engage in conversation or debate, be aware of what you are accepting when you begin to respond to a statement or claim.
Perhaps you are hit with an “either/ or” which forces you to choose one of the options presented, when in fact both options should be dismissed. Or maybe it’s a “Yes or No” topic that isn’t that simple. And back to the first example, which turned a “Why” conversation into a “How”.

Just figured I’d share that little tidbit.

The Complete Works of David Lavallee

Reflecting on the stories I have written over the years, I thought it would be “neat” to write them all down in the basic order they were created.

Rokine (5th Grade)- A short story involving Superman’s superhero son. He outraces a wave of lava and looks at the sunset from the top of the Empire State building. I wrote a sequel in which he goes into a giant space station and travels faster than the speed of light.

Star Wars Episode 2 (7th Grade)- After the Phantom Menace came out, I decided to write the sequel with my friend Curtis. In our version Mace Windu is killed three times over and Darth Maul returns with a mechanical lower body. In my opinion, this was better than the real version that soon followed.

Team Justice (Senior Year High School) This is my first real attempt at writing a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It was about Bob Costas and a group of fictitious cartoon characters trying to stop Santa from killing children because he had lost faith in humanity.

Team Justice 2 (Senior Year High School) I tried to write a more serious sequel. Surprisingly, it didn’t work out very well.

Freeman (Senior Year High School) A post-apocalyptic tale about a man in his thirties attempting to keep his 8 yr old daughter safe from the dangers of a fallen civilization. I wrote about 20 pages in an attempt to write a long story but lost steam when I realized that I was 18 and trying to write about matters far beyond my experience.

Flesh of My Flesh (Freshman College) My response to the agony of breaking up, this short story deals with a young man who is pregnant and wandering alone in the wilderness. I see this as the first of a series of short stories.

Walk of John (Freshman College) A young man walks up a hill and observes people interacting. It ends with a chance meeting with a girl at the top of the hill. Another story written to ease the pain of love lost.

Eve ( Freshman-Sophomore Year) My second attempt at a longer story. This is also my first attempt to write the major story I have been tossing around for years. The pre-apocalyptic love story. I got about 25 pages into it. This was also largely in response to matters of the heart.

Milton High (Sophomore Year) A Short story about a High School. It is a biblical allegory and my favorite story to date.

Women (Sophomore Year) A young man deals with women. Yeah, I see a theme here.

George Washington (Junior Year) A short story about the start of George Washington’s presidency and Benjamin Franklin stealing people’s souls.

I’ve started many more stories, but I don’t consider them legitimate since they never really developed into anything.
It has been a while since I’ve written anything like these. That pre-apocalyptic love story still peaks my interest though.

Snack Tyme

I’d like to discuss some snacks.

Last night I went to Shaw’s with John Benton to cash in some coins. We discovered a loophole in the Coinstar system. Usually it takes 9% of your money just for using it. I guess you could call it a convenience charge. But if you select the Gift Card option, it lets you keep all of the money. So I got myself a Gift Card to Amazon. Not a bad deal. And now you know. See, this blog is already paying off.

We had planned to watch the awful film, Master of Disguise, starring Dana Carvey. John and I intentionally watch awful movies. I assure you there will be more on this at a later date. What’s important for the current moment is that you understand our tradition of purchasing unhealthy snacks for the purpose of easing the pain of watching these films. That is the other reason we went to Shaw’s.

I purchased Cotton Candy and York Peppermint Pieces. These I will discuss in greater detail.

The Cotton Candy is actually called Olde Tyme Kotton Kandy. As you can see in the picture below, there is a sad looking clown holding a balloon. What were they thinking? I have some ideas.

Everything is misspelled. They clearly went out of their way to do this. Perhaps it is meant to appeal to children who may view it as silly and fun. On another level, seeing so many misspelled words may force the educated observer to do a double take. Your brain works tirelessly to make sense of these errors. As more time passes, the chance of you purchasing this item must increase. It’s just like those annoying commercials. WAIT A MINUTE! Kars for Kids. You’ve heard that awful ad on the radio. They make it a point to tell you that Cars is spelled with a K. I must be on to something. Whatever the case, I bought the cotton candy. It worked.

But what about the clown? Everyone hates clowns. Who likes clowns? No one likes clowns. Why put an evil, awful, sad clown on your product? On the surface we can see that it follows the playful nature of cotton candy, which is often consumed at carnivals and circuses, classic clown hideouts. If we go a little deeper, we start to understand what’s really going on here. Clowns are simultaneously fun and terrifying. They promise happiness, but we know that they hide a terrible secret behind the makeup and smiles. Such a complex emotional response surely does a number on our minds. This product affects you on all of these levels. There is no escape from Olde Tyme Kotton Kandy!

On a lighter note, I also bought these York Peppermint Pieces. It promises to deliver on the refreshing Peppermint Patty experience, and I am pleased to say that it does satisfy. Sure, it’s not the same, but are Reese’s Pieces the same as Peanut Butter Cups? They’re different, but close cousins. If you like hard shelled candy and peppermint, I encourage you to try these.

That is all for now. I will continue to write.

Where I Work

I’ve somewhat dreaded (can you really “somewhat dread”? Why use a word like dread and then take the air out of it by putting somewhat before it? I’m sure there is one word that does the same job. I’ll start over)

I’ve feared certain social gatherings since graduating from UMass. The reason is the question of what I have been doing with my life. It’s not that I’m ashamed of working at the RV place. It’s actually a decent job… for now. The issue is that I know it’s not what I want to continue to do into the long future. And it’s certainly not what I went to school for. What did I go to school for again?

Rousseau’s R.V. Center was founded by Leo Rousseau in 1976. Then in May of 2002 I started my first summer of employment. Gee. That was almost eight years ago. I worked every summer through 2009. Then I graduated UMass with an English degree and realized that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I suppose it was fortunate to have the job waiting for me, but I wonder if the adversity of unemployment would have benefited me. Whatever the case, on to the details.

My main area of expertise is cleaning, although, you wouldn’t get that impression from my personal life. Nevertheless, I am a good cleaner. My attention to detail coupled with an ability to “clean the dirt that isn’t there” often results in superior customer satisfaction. Over the years I have learned that Windex and Scrubbing Bubbles are as important to cleaning as Bob Costas is to the Olympics, or Dick Clark to his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.*

I also fill propane tanks. Propane gas smells bad they tell me. I say “they tell me” because I have tremendous difficulty smelling bad odors. I’m sure this gift/curse will be addressed again at a later date.

The truth is, I do dozens of little things. I transport trailers, check-in inventory, file warranty claims, conduct gas and water tests, present trailers to customers, provide sporadic comic relief, destroy old trailers etc.

One of my greatest pleasures is making the sign. Some of my best works include “Reserve Your Rental Camper Today” and “Meeting Your Camping Needs for 34 Years”. I suppose it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s really my only outlet.

Sometimes I feel that I don’t have any business there. I’m not a technician and I have little interest in recreational vehicles. Sometimes it’s not so bad. When it’s nice outside and I have a sense of a job well done.

I can’t stay, but where am I going? I’ll keep writing.

* It’s certainly debatable whether Dick Clark has any business as the host of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve these days. Don’t see this as a lack of compassion on my part. I just question if it’s appropriate for him to continue in his current condition.

Thoughts of a Post-Grad English Major

I’m going to write.
That’s the plan.

Everything else should take care of itself.

So I’m sitting with my thoughts the other day and I think to myself, What have I been investing myself in? What have I poured myself into?
The first thing that comes to mind is the Logos magazine, which I worked on the second half of college.

After that, I think of all those classes and essays and teachers.
Words Words Words. Everything has to do with words. I’ve been learning how to write. And there I was, not writing anything. And here I am, writing something.

The first memory my mind ever stored is of me choking on a penny. I’m not fearful really, in this memory. There was a certain level of concern for sure. And the fact that this is my first memory, birthed out of a trauma, seems to indicate that I had an awareness of my own kid mortality. Perhaps this was my first brush with death. Anyway, I ended up throwing up all over the brown rocking chair. I survived.

I figure this is a good place to start. Until next time.