PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

The Press

I wonder if there is a particular letter that gets pressed harder on a standard computer keyboard, on average, than all the others. Or a punctuation mark. There must be!

For example, does an exclamation point get whacked harder than a period? Or a comma?

What gets more forceful pressure: a semi colon or a colon? Surely, a colon. In a perfect world, a semi-colon would get pressed roughly half as hard as a colon.

And yet I have no data! This is my problem. Data is king, and I lack it in large quantities.

So, it's on to educated guessing: The I is probably hit the hardest of all letters, because we all like to toot our own horns. For punctuation, it's probably the exclamation point, especially when it follows the question mark. Otherwise, if my 35-plus years of watching people use a computer is any indication, the "enter" key is the one that's smacked hardest of all.

Planning to apply for an NEA grant will call this research "my art." 

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Flailing Away

If I were going to write a play for the next BBC radio play contest, I’d make it the about the ridiculously porous border between our country and our neighbor, Canada. And how cheap Canadian moose antlers are flooding our market and getting passed off as “Genuine Maine Moose Antlers,” which is a total joke! Maine Antlers are known to have a much higher tensile strength than those weak-ass Canadian moose antlers. They make better coat hangers and look much better when you mount them on your bike handlebars. If you needed to make crutches from moose antlers, you’d want to make them from Maine antlers because of their strength and the striations in the “grain” of the antlers, which add a highly desirable element of design.

And, frankly, Maine antlers make much better flails. You think you don’t want a flail, but you want one for the coming moose antler war, trust me on that. Can you imagine being in the antler crossfire without a flail?

Anyway, I’m going to write a 53-minute radioplay about the war of the antlers in the next two weeks.

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Whistle Blowin'

I’m not much of a folk singer, but if I were one I’d be writing folk songs like “Blowin’ a Whistle.” My songs of rebellion would be aimed squarely at “The Man”. Troubadours would be singing my songs in subway stations, with their guitar cases laid open and piles of CDs put out for people to buy, filled with folk numbers by Seeger, Guthrie, Dylan, and me.

Wake Up, For Cryin’ Out Loud! would be my first, breakout album. Songs like “You Can’t Possibly be Serious,” and “It’s no Longer Funny, People”, would start to appear on critics’ lists of top hits, and everyone would marvel at my ability to be both humble and kind, and yet have an attitude. Sounds impossible, but the magic of my folk song art is my humility/attitude continuum. My song “Ramblin’ Tweet” would crack the top ten, and “If I had a handgun (I’d shoot it in the morning)” would get to number three.

Of course, half the country will hate my records, either because they dislike hearing whistles blown, or because they happen to be “The Man,” or because they think handguns are for wimps.

What songs would you sing if you were a folk song artist?

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Proper

I’ve decided to make use of props at my job to keep my co-workers off balance. If I show up now and again with, say, a stethoscope slung around my neck, they might assume I’m a doctor on the side and rethink their opinion of me.

Not that I worry about their opinion of me. Heh heh. They all love me, my co-workers: the way I arrive for work via helicopter and parachute; the way I use my office to hang my damp clothes (“better for the environment”); the way I adopt stray cats and build play areas for them beside my executive suite conference table.

The Board of Directors doesn’t know what to make of me, because sometimes I come to board meetings dressed in a lab coat. I’m always sure to have a few test tubes in my lab coat pocket, sealed off at the top so I can shake one every now and again and eye it over my glasses, saying “Very interesting” as my co-board members look upon me with a mixture of admiration and bemusement. I’ll get food coloring too, so that all the test tubes glow.

Instead of going to meetings like I usually do, I’ll be purposely late, arriving with a level, carpenter’s square, and some kind of wall-mounting task ahead. “Someone told me to install this floating shelf in here. Please, go ahead with your meeting, don’t bother with me.” Occasionally, I’ll chime into the conversation, as I was invited to the meeting anyway and am only hanging the floating shelf to play a part. The part of the guy hanging the floating shelf during the meeting. Like, what, there is no other time to hang the floating shelf? Give me a break.

I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Except, wouldn’t it be cool to have an acetylene torch and welding mask on hand when you attend your next meeting about your company’s finances? What, like you can’t comment on finances if you’re donning a welding mask and have an acetelene torch in one hand? That’s weak!

Lots to think about when it comes to how to dress for work.

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