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"The Apprentice" Comforted Me

Part of: Literati , Television

[Breakfast: Mint Cookie Balance Bar (sounds scary, eh?)]

I was watching last week’s "Apprentice" and noticed that one of the groups was saying how great another team member’s schpeel went at the art gallery. They were laughing and in high spirits.

This got me thinking about a job I didn’t get last year because of using schpeel to describe the monologue the employer did about his new website and company. I had been told I was one of the top contenders for the job. I was surprised I didn’t get it, because my work experience and sensibilities were perfect for the position.

A few months later the employer and I had contact again. He
mentioned that I had hurt his feelings by “calling our conversation a schpeel.”

Yes, a couple of months later he still remembered.

Well, at my initial interview, he had started off saying it wasn’t really an interview because he was going to do most of the talking. I thought schpeel sounded better than monologue, but apparently I should have said conversation. This was the beginning of my post-interview e-mail.

Dear Mr. Sensitive,

I enjoyed hearing your website schpeel on Monday.

I thought that was a pretty innocuous first sentence. I know I can be overly sensitive at times, but I was pretty shocked by his sensitivity. For him to bring it up in our correspondence meant he had been stewing over it for a while. I wrote him back an apology and a definition of schpeel from Urban Dictionary. I don't know what I would've said to offend him next. I probably already did, considering he didn't write me back.

Jazzchic writes:

"My theory on spiel versus schpeel all comes down to Disney. The employees (castmembers, ahem), in their uniforms (costumes, ahem), have a script to follow, the spiel. Written the dictionary way, half the park employees (when I worked there), called it their sp-I-el. Since the park I was working at was new and the spiel kept changing, each new script progressively became more phonetic in spelling. Conformity first: You are a castmember in costume on property doing your schpeel. Always point with at least two fingers when giving directions, so as not to unintentionally insult someone by making them think you are pointing at them. Keep that happy happy smile, even when answering questions including, "What time does the three o'clock parade start." ...end ramble....
If we were allowed to have taken the ever changing script off of property I would have been stashing them for later profit, I did snag my costume laundry bag though!

Updated Yiddish definition


David Deutsch writes: "Ms. [Cathy] Seipp (and you may inform her of this privately, as I'm not trying to embarrass her, since she never claimed to be a Yiddishist, just a large-bladdered Jewess) is incorrect in saying that "spiel" means song. It means "play," and can be used, as in English, as both a verb or noun. It is the latter use that she is familiar with, like a Purim Schpiel (to use the Yinglish spelling, which gives the reader a more accurate key to pronunciation). In that sense, it can mean a "song and dance routine," but it isn't a song. A song is a lied in German, or a lied, zemer, or shir in Yiddish. I hope her ability to be set straight when wrong is as well-developed as both her ability to set others straight, and, of course, her ears."


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