How would Michael Westen describe eating cereal? Or what about heavy traffic?
If you don’t know who Michael Westen is, shame on you.
Go watch Burn Notice immediately. That’s right, all seven seasons (it helps if you have Netflix and the ability to stop time).
Are you finished?
Okay, let’s get started.
But first, a little history (as in, I talk about myself, duh).
When I watch a really good movie or TV show, characters are contagious. Sometimes, it’s like I’m becoming a character because of their awesomeness. For example, highlights include affecting a Boston accent after watching The Departed, a Russian accent after watching Eastern Promises, telling everybody I drink their milkshakes after watching There Will Be Blood, and acting like Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation.
That’s what happened while I was watching Burn Notice. It also helps that the character Michael Westen, portrayed by Jeffrey Donovan, has very specific character traits and mannerisms. But Westen might be most known for his constant narrations during each episode, usually informing viewers on how to do things like build improvised flash bang grenades and deal with being taken hostage in a bank. You know, really useful stuff.
Because his narrations are so amusing, borderline condescending, and polarizing (some people say they’re overdone while others say it suits Westen’s personality), I decided to narrate regular events like Michael Westen would.
I posted some parodies on Facebook a few months ago, which ended up being fairly popular, surprisingly so. Therefore I’ll be posting the Facebook ones here (slightly edited) and then expanding on the concept.
All for you guys! Well, and me – it’s fun as heck.
The most efficient breakfast and dealing with expired milk:
A breakfast operative knows two things: breakfast is crucial and cereal is most efficient with milk. It’s even more basic than basic chemistry. But milk can be tricky because it has an expiration date. If you’re smart, you use it up before that date. But even the best operatives make mistakes.
When that happens, it’s time to improvise.
The quickest and most efficient solution is to use the milk even though the date has passed. Milk is usually fine for a few days after the date printed on the container. Cautious operatives will note the risk, however, of drinking spoiled milk.
The best operatives choose to eat the cereal plain. While it’s not as good, both in taste and nutrition, it’ll get the job done in a pinch. If you’re desperate, water is an option.
Water is to be used when there’s no way out and you’ve got nothing to lose.
Being male in a lingerie store:
Operatives can often be inserted into awkward tactical situations. No amount of training can prepare you for the mixture of dread and fear that try to take over your body. For a male operative, one of the most difficult assignments is in a lingerie store.
Look too uncomfortable and people will think you’re there for the wrong reasons. Look too comfortable, on the other hand, and those same wrong reasons will be in play. The best approach is the natural approach.
Seasoned operatives will use their natural awkwardness to their advantage, erasing suspicions and lowering barriers with disarming ease. Remember: access to important information can often come from making the enemy operative feel superior.
Getting into an online argument:
Online commenting operatives often find themselves engaging in shadow warfare. Shadow warfare, by its nature, is disadvantageous because the enemy is usually anonymous and invisible.
The best solution in a fight like that is simply to retreat. No matter how smart you are, or how much experience you have, all the factual data you reference won’t stop an enemy trolling operative from using the low road as his primary weapon.
Remember: trolling operatives have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Defeating them takes skill – not to engage, but to run away. Tactical awareness is essential in situations like this.
No plan is foolproof, however, and enemy trolling operatives have been known to use their secondary weapon: rage.
Raging enemy operatives must be avoided at all costs. They will take everything down with them. Do not engage unless the mission’s success hinges on it.
The nuances of going on a date:
Going into any situation blind is a tactical nightmare. Preparation is the main battle, but going in without much warning usually leads to serious mistakes like death. Dating operatives may deal with this stress more than any other operatives.
The worst thing for a dating operative is when a date goes bad. A bad date can take on many forms, but escape is the most important aspect in each one. The most obvious solution is to get up and walk away. While that may raise red flags, sometimes the direct plan is the best plan.
The dating operatives with the most experience tend to use the timeless “friend calls at designated time” technique. It is classic misdirection at its best that can fool even the most cynical enemy dating operatives.
The friend calls at a designated time and during this exchange, you can choose to abort the date or continue it. What the friend says is irrelevant – the presence of being on the phone will be enough to convince the enemy that the date must stop for personal reasons.
Other solutions exist as well, although they involve more grisly methods. Those solutions must be used only when the outlook looks especially grim. In other words, lethal force may only be used if that same lethality is directed at you.
Overreactions are the downfall of any operative. Much like a game of poker, an operative must remain calm at all times, unless emotion can be utilized to your advantage.
Trying to fall asleep:
Rest must never be taken for granted. Sleep is a luxury in the world of special ops and must be utilized at its fullest. However, adrenaline may be high. Tension may be high. Sleep may not come, even though you are tired.
Civilians may use drugs to aid their passage to Dream Land. Unfortunately, as an operative, that is not a viable option. Instead, the mind must be used to induce sleep. One of the most reliable methods is the “blank mind” technique.
The operative must clear the mind and specifically can’t think about sleeping. Thinking about sleeping while trying to sleep is counterproductive and will most likely result in tactical blunders later on. Instead, the operative thinks about nothing and eventually the operative will fall asleep.
If sleep is still elusive, the next best thing may be to prepare for the next day’s work. Whether it means chowing down on some yogurt, or cleaning guns, make the most of your time awake. There’s little use in trying to do something that simply won’t happen.
Waking up in the morning and feeling like P. Diddy:
When an operative wakes up and feels like P. Diddy, there is bound to be a serious problem. It could be chemical, it could be psychological, it could be neurological. An operative under those circumstances must immediately be removed from the field. You can’t trust somebody to have your back when they’re constantly thinking about what name to use next and how to spend their $700 million.
If an operative is taken hostage, it may be a clever move to pretend to feel like P. Diddy. The enemy operatives will be thrown off and time will be gained by the operative to deduce the next plan of action. However, it’s important to keep the self and P. Diddy separate. Going undercover is strenuous work and many good operatives have fallen into the deep and never climbed back out.
Embrace the role, but don’t lose yourself. That’s the motto.
Watching a movie with your parents. A movie that has moderate to strong sexual content:
An operative may occasionally have to work with family members to accomplish a mission. While those instances are incredibly rare, they do happen. Your family’s safety will naturally be your first priority, but you have to make sure you get your mission done. When those two objectives conflict, problems arise.
One of the most common examples of this is when an operative watches explicit content with family members. This is an uncomfortable tactical situation to be in, but it must be dealt with swiftly. New field operatives have a tendency to forget their training and overreact to the images being shown on the screen. They will make the situation worse, which inevitably leads to mission failure.
The most appropriate plan is to address the elephant in the room by displaying subtle signs of emotion. A light chuckle may ease the tension. Observational comedy can do the same. Tension is a dead giveaway something is wrong, so it must be dealt with quickly.
If the family members become uncomfortable, they may evacuate the combat zone. Once they are out, their safety is almost guaranteed, leaving you to complete your objective. Unfortunately, that occurs in only the most ideal of scenarios.
When the wi-fi suddenly stops working:
There are many obstacles that a spy comes across and equipment malfunction should always be accounted for. In the case of wi-fi suddenly failing to work, the power source is usually the place to go. Turning the router off, waiting thirty seconds, and then turning it back on will usually bring the wi-fi back online. It’s a quick, easy, and free method of improvisation, which is the best trifecta an operative can ask for.
Other possible solutions are out there, such as troubleshooting the computer, although they take more time, more resources, and more expertise: the worst trifecta an operative can ask for.
Handling heavy traffic:
A well-trained operative will prepare for traffic before leaving for an assignment. However, traffic can often be unreliable, ebbing and flowing almost randomly. When an operative encounters traffic, patience is usually the only option.
If the distance isn’t too much, traveling on foot may be considered. While the vehicle is stuck, a person unburdened can slip through the other vehicles and approach the target destination more quickly.
If the distance is too long for running, or if time is of essence, the operative may choose to break the rules of the road. When that happens, it’s best to make sure the police are not around. If the police start tailing you, it’s time to perform evasive maneuvers.
Once evasive maneuvers are completed, it’s safe to head towards the goal.
Going into a job interview:
A job interview is similar to hostage negotiations and prisoner exchanges: do it right and you get what you want. Do it wrong and things go south in a hurry. An operative looking for a job has to make sure to do research before going in. Identifying the company’s needs and addressing them will make an impression.
It is also important not to seem too good to be true. Deception often means intentionally making mistakes or showing signs of weakness. Those strategies apply here as well. A good operative will make sure to point some of their flaws out, but will then flip the table and show how those are actually good things.
Much like seducing an enemy spy, job interviews are stressful but rewarding when done right.
“You are not the father”:
If you find yourself on Maury, you’ve done something wrong. Covert operations are impossible when every move is being displayed on television. This is a foolproof way to get burned. Escape must be immediate and stealthy.
If you find yourself on the stage, hearing the results of a DNA test, it is basically too late. Lethal force is not cleared, because the sheer number of witnesses and cameras will lead to your arrest and trial under the government of the United States of America.
In a case like this, a solid operative will listen to the results and show no reaction even if the news is good. An operative must express nothing and make the appearance the least memorable in the show’s history. Making a mark is the wrong thing to do and will result in getting blacklisted and burned. Assassination may also be considered in the most extreme cases, so caution is necessary.
This is perhaps the worst situation a spy can be in. Media coverage is the killer of all black ops.
Deception may truly be the only option. Faking a heart attack is cliché, but could save your life.
If all else fails, playing the P. Diddy card may be the only thing left.
You know, some of those weren’t very mundane life events. But then again, Michael Westen is so badass, even his narration makes people’s lives suddenly become more action-packed.