Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness

Ron Swanson, on Parks & Recreation, is truly one of my all-time favorite television characters. Do I agree with everything he says? Not even close. Do I admire his stalwart dedication to his own principles, and his general attitude of “I do what I want, and I get away with it, because I am Ron Effing Swanson?” Absolutely. He is also a decent person underneath it all. If I could get a beer with anyone on the planet, he would be at the top of my list. I loved the “Pyramid of Greatness” episode, and I decided there are probably some Swansonites out there who would appreciate seeing it all listed out, so here it is. Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness.

If you need it defined, you don’t have it.

The only country that matters. If you want to experience other “cultures,” use an atlas or a ham radio.

Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality.



Welfare Avoidance

Work together as if your life depended on it…IT DOES!

Take what’s yours.

3 acceptable styles: high and tight, crew cut, and buzz cut.

Greatness Itself
The best revenge.

The ability to repeat a boring thing over and over again.

Shorts over 6″ are capri pants. Shorts under 6″ are European.

Trust yourself.

Do not trust anyone else.

Skim Milk
That’s right, it’s on here twice. Avoid it.

Cow Protein

Pig Protein

Chicken Protein

Romantic Love

Deer Protein


Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that.

Should be thick and impenetrable.

Old Wooden Sailing Ships
They’re beautiful.

Cultivating a manly musk puts your opponents on notice.

Don’t waste energy moving unless necessary.

Skim Milk
Avoid it.

There’s only one bad word: Taxes. If any other word is good enough for sailors, it’s good enough for you.

One to three is sufficient.

Property Rights
They exist. Do not let them be taken away from you.

Building walls makes you strong. Defending them makes you even stronger.

A place to rest that is made of logs.

Only sweat during physical activity or love making. No emotional sweating.

You are your biggest ally.

Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.

Physical Fitness

Cut the B.S.

God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.

Facial Hair
Full, thick, and square. Nothing sculpted. If you have to sculpt it, that probably means you can’t grow it.

Living in the Woods
Live off the land.

One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.

Secure the land.

Sting like a bee. Do not float like a butterfly. That’s ridiculous.

Firm, dry, solid. 3 seconds.

Body Grooming
Only women shave beneath the neck.

What Would Don Draper Do?

The thing I am most excited about at the moment is that one of my all-time favorite shows, Mad Men, just premiered its fourth season. As we all know, I have been lamenting the lack of any TV worth watching during the summer, so this comes as a welcome relief. Actually, I did discover one other show this summer in desperation — BBC’s Robin Hood. The first two seasons were excellent, and then one of the key characters died. So I’m done with it now, but there is a third season. All three are available on Netflix’s Watch Instantly. I recommend checking it out if you’re bored and in need of new TV like me.

Mad Men is ridiculously awesome. For those of you who may not have seen it, it’s a drama on AMC about an advertising agency in Manhattan during the early 1960s. That’s a very basic description that tells you almost nothing about why the show is so great. As a literature aficionado and aspiring writer of some kind, I’m attracted to film and television that is so well-written it would read like a great novel even if there were no pictures to accompany it. Like great literature, Mad Men’s characters are fascinating and well-developed, and the plot contains a lot of cultural subtext. The writer, Matthew Weiner, is notorious for his attention to detail and spares no expense at furnishing the set with authentic vintage furniture, decor, clothing, you name it. You can be sure that if you are watching Mad Men and you see a secretary using a typewriter, it is the same EXACT vintage model of typewriter that a secretary in 1963 would have been using.

Another thing I think draws people to Mad Men is a fascination of how different the time period was socially from today, even though it was not that long ago in the grand scheme of things. It’s pretty fascinating to see a depiction of how real life problems may have been handled (or swept under the rug), instead of the usual idyllic, rosy portrait of the era we are normally fed. Not a single character on that show is perfect, and their flaws are reflective of their environments, circumstances, upbringings, and so on — just like real people.

This is a good recent interview with Matthew Weiner on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Or you can download the podcast for free on iTunes.

Random Pet Peeve: Summer TV

Seriously, can’t they stagger seasons so there’s at least ONE good show to watch during the summer when I’m trapped inside because it’s 100 degrees out?

MamaSox Rox My Sox!

Girl, you don’t need to “put your guitar down.” It’s all about you and your guitar. Keep being true to yourself. Your voice is powerful enough, and you have enough emotion, that you can’t lose. I feel like you have still not unleashed yourself. Like they said, “People love you — take it in!” GO MAMASOX! We love you! You are a superstar and you’ve earned the right to enjoy the accolades. When they talk about how you act like you think you’ve got it in the bag, they’re wrong because you’re humble even though you are the best hands down. YOU ROCK! GO, GO, GO!!!!!

Peeve of the Day: Maury

Let’s face it — this has gone way beyond the “Random Pet Peeve.” My peeves are more than random. They are frequent. Whose aren’t? Good thing I have a blog to vent about stuff.


I will readily admit that I have watched very little TV over the last five years or so. But when did this guy become the new Jerry Springer? Didn’t he used to be semi-respectable? Has his career shift affected his wife’s reputation as a “serious” journalist? Or did she lose respect years ago? I feel so out of touch. I just walked through my living room and read a caption that said “Jessica just found out her 16-year-old daughter has already prostituted herself.”

That sentence would be disturbing enough if not for the use of the word “already.” Why do we have TV shows that publicize the antics of the lowest rung of the intelligence scale? Why do people find this entertaining? It makes me so sad I can hardly stand it.

Dude! Pam’s Pregnant!


You know why this is a good show? Because I totally feel like all these people are my crazy coworkers, and I love all of them in spite of (and sometimes because of) their flaws. Except Ryan. I really don’t see any redeeming qualities in him. And I am super excited for Pam and Jim that they’re going to have a baby! And they’re not. even. real. people. As someone who has worked as an office manager for 70+ employees, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this show. As my mother would say, “Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses.”

I really want to have a Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro Am Fun Run. And then a “The Office” party to watch all the best episodes with mixed drinks. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Thoughtful Thursday: Four Arguments…


I’m currently reading this book. It’s nothing new — it was written in the late 1970’s. But it needs to be resurrected and brought into the public awareness again. When I was a kid, my parents knew some people who didn’t have a TV. My friends and I always thought they were SO. WEIRD. I mean, the thought of living your life without television as a kid is unfathomable. However, I spent the bulk of my twenties, not without a television, but without television channels. I was living in the mountains and didn’t have cable and couldn’t get anything with rabbit ears. I watched plenty of movies but saw no TV shows (and more importantly no commercials) for many years. I think it’s one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done for myself. I do have cable now, but I find that I rarely watch TV at all, and when I do it’s with a much more discerning eye and critical approach. I still love movies and stay pretty caught up on that side of the entertainment industry. Since I got out of the habit of watching TV, I haven’t seen anything that’s been entertaining enough to reel me back in except for Lost, and that is the one show I do watch. I am more likely to be reading, visiting with neighbors, catching up with friends over the phone. I think one of the best things anyone could do would be to give it up for a year, and then see if you actually missed it. I never did, and I learned a lot about myself and about our TV-obsessed culture during that time. I would be hard-pressed to give up my internet connection or my DVD player, but this book is making me seriously consider getting rid of cable again.

Forget Jessica, what about Betty?

Okay, I swore that I was not going to add to the plethora of comments about Jessica Simpson and weight. But I can’t help myself. I went to a women’s college, where we had entire classes devoted to things like female body image and the portrayal of women in advertising. Jessica has put on a few pounds. Her outfit was a bad choice. Does she look unhealthy? No. Does she look like she weighs 500 lbs, New York Post? No. Come on. This will ultimately be good for her career, once she’s back on the cover of US Weekly talking about how Harley Pasternak helped her lose that 10 lbs. Whatever. I’m more concerned about something else that no one is talking about: Ugly Betty.


Ugly? Are you freaking kidding me?

Just because you put braces and ugly outfits on a perfectly attractive girl does not an ugly character make. She’s even lost weight since the show’s first season, and now I would say she is around a size 6. Which is about 4 sizes smaller than the average American woman. In general, I appreciate the way the show’s writers focus on individuality and the importance of staying true to yourself. Betty always does the right thing, even if no one else would in the same situation. And that is inspiring and uplifting, and something we don’t get enough of on TV nowadays. However, it is not respectful to the character they’ve created or the theme of the show when they 1) refer to her in the title as “ugly” 2) write episodes where Betty is crying because the boy she has a crush on would rather hook up with the tall, blond, model-esque, dumb girl than her. Why didn’t that episode make the guy look stupid instead of making Betty look sad and pathetic? Why does the one show on TV that encourages people to be themselves and be proud of that also have to feed into the thin-is-ultimately-beautiful stereotype? Because it’s Hollywood. Because it sells. Because the writers of that show are more concerned about ratings than morality statements.

What I’m going to do, as someone who works in marketing and is sometimes responsible for choosing advertising images, is to promote the idea that normal is beautiful. Be the change you want to see.