Blogging a Dead Horse

john blumenthal

john blumenthal
January 05
john_blumenthal (On Twitter)
Curmudgeon. Formidable braggart. Comedy writer. Eight books, 2 movies. Former associate editor at Playboy Magazine. Movies include "Short Time," (major flop), and "Blue Streak" (huge hit, no idea why.) Last three novels were "What's Wrong With Dorfman?" (St. Martin's Press), "Millard Fillmore, Mon Amour," (St. Martin's Press) and "Three and a Half Virgins" (Finalist, International Book Awards.) Latest book -- a spoof of romance novels called "Passing Wind of Love."


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SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 11:43AM

Can We Please Stop Thinking Outside the Box?

Rate: 42 Flag

The expression “thinking outside the box” originated as a corporate phrase, meant to prod dull-witted executives into being more creative. So why can’t corporate executives just say what they used to say to their sycophantic underlings, “Get off your fucking lazy ass and be more creative.” What’s with the box?


Did the Founding Fathers need a box? Try to visualize Ben Franklin coming up to Thomas Jefferson at the House of Burgesses’ water cooler and saying, “Listen, Tom, we really need you to think outside the box on this declaration thing, okay?”

And if you must have the stupid box, why can’t you be just as creative inside the box? No matter how brilliant or boneheaded you may be, your brainpower is still the same whether it’s inside or outside an imaginary box.


Presumably, it took some idiot inside the box to come up with the dumbass idea of thinking outside the box. If it was such a spectacular idea, how did he manage to come up with it from inside the box?

And how much has mankind actually progressed since people started thinking outside the box? Do cars get more mileage? Is the problem of global warming solved? Is there a cure for cancer? Is there some entertainment value in observing Ashley Simpson paint her toenails for an hour?

Sarah Palin doesn’t think inside or outside the box, because she doesn’t think at
all. A box won’t help.


Joe Wilson, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck should all think inside the box. That box should be a coffin.


Take Wall Street. Please. Sub-prime mortgages evolved because some moron was thinking “outside the box.” Thanks so much. Now, because of all this pointless external box thinking, a lot of ordinary people are actually living inside a real box and when they go outside the box, it’s usually to smoke an ancient cigar butt or cook moldy spam on a Sterno. 

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And all of us will one day do all of our thinking outside, in a pine box.

Good piece John.
What if you are a box? Then what?
Sorry John. Feeble attempt at one of those "meta" sort of questions.
I like to cook the moldy spam outside the box
Try to visualize Ben Franklin coming up to Thomas Jefferson at the House of Burgesses’ water cooler and saying, “Listen, Tom, we really need you to think outside the box on this declaration thing, okay?”

Funny, John, funny!
As a doctor, I was thinking about the inside and outside of a box: that it must be clean and pleasant! dirty boxes are unacceptable and unattractive. Are we on the same page?
Okay Henny, I'd like to take them to China and leave them. It looks to me like outside the box was no different than inside. Idiots are idiots no matter where they do their "thinking". The most notable example being your Ms Palin. I say yours, because I don't have any use for her. Even that one use is out of the question, her personality is so evil that she would bring on a case of ED that couldn't be overcome with a five pound Viagra tablet.
You are right John as always you happy f--- you, it is such a pleasure to read your reassuring pieces. It actually makes sense to read that some people are still alive and breathing and could talk about it rather than rant and phrase things that are dumb that need no correction. Due to the rather in ept pieces of crap they are, and there are loads of them that rather than being in a toilet where they belong, they flood your curbs, over ride vetos in governments, and share pukey storys that would be better off left at a sewer some where other poisions could help contain it better. As always it truly is a pleasure to read your commentary, it should be passed in legislation there are a lot of people that are in deep need to laugh, and I do mean that in the most serious of ways.
I just hope the box is bio-degradable, user-friendly, and has its paperwork in order.
Hey John. I think you let the cat out of the bag.

It is never good when a cat thinks outside the box.
My cats think (and stink) inside the box all the time. I wouldn't want them to do it anywhere else. And of course we all know that cats are paragons of mental health, self-esteem and general bliss.
Ah yes, but why a box and not a parallelogram?
I have said many times how this is my most disliked cliche' ever.
I could do a whole list on my retorts when people use that phrase.
Well done and this post needed to be read by some.
Who moved my box? I can't find anything clever to say without being inside or outside of it other than to say this was very, very funny.
People have been thinking outside the box for twenty years now. Time to think outside the box and come up with a brand new corporate slogan!
So you see? All it takes is a little "outside of the box" thinking to get people out of their chairs, out of their houses, and into the streets living creatively. And don't knock moldy spam on a sterno until you've tried it!
Kind of Blue: Also not crazy about "To die for," "Enjoy," or " Have a nice day." Not wild about the much over-used "awsome" either. Anybody else got any they hate? This is the time and place to vent.
John, this is just plain brilliant. I'm guilty of using this phrase and after reading this, I never will again. The point about Sarah Palin was ultra-brilliant.
John, head for Vegas, dude you're on a roll!
Something there is that does not love a box,
That rips its seams and tears its sides apart
And spills the packing popcorn on the floor,
While we would but send a manuscript to press.
I think you should direct efforts to build a new box, but for god's sake, don't try to make it state-of-the-art.
Good one, John. That phrase does need to be retired. I know I have some cliches that irritate the hell out of me, but I can't think of them now. Figures.
Here's another one I hate: The ticket takers at movies used to say "Enjoy the movie." Now, at least in CA, they say "Enjoy your movie." Uh huh. If it was my move, doofus, I'd have already seen it five times and I'd be getting residuals.
I hate the phrase, "it is what it is" because it isn't, unless it is an inanimate object, like a waterfall. Otherwise it's usually some asshole pissing you off and you are unable to do anything about it because they have all the power and you are just worthless in their eyes. (Can you tell I'm thinking about insurance companies?)
L-o-v-e-d it. (Rated).
It's amazing how many men spend their lives trying to get into the box only to be told think outside of it. I dated a man once who was still screwing his wife. He called her his "ex-box". What's with you and Ben Franklin? Are you like colleagues or something?
The reason corporate execs came up with the term is because they want to put all their employees into a box and set up rules and regulations that don't let people stray too far from the "correct" path.

I know I irritate the hell out of the people who are above me on the corporate ladder because I don't do things the way they would like them done. They want a certain type of person in the job and I'm not that person. But I generate revenue and continuously exceed my quarterly quotas, so they can't say but so much to me.

The numbers don't lie, and because I bang them out, they have to give me good performance reviews and raises even though I know they don't like doing it.
marcelleqb: YES! I hate that one too. Bravo.
not pointless at all, somebody got rich, just not you...
I think it's time to move on to another shape. Heck living in a box and working in a box and driving basically in a box, and most people staring at a box with moving pictures when they get home to their box isn't enough.? OMG I'm so like boxed in! Great piece!
O'Really: Yes, Ben and I are frriends. I call him Benjy. Also, I made the kite.
I have always hated that expression, John. To paraphrase Wilde, Thinking outside the box is the last refuge of the mediocre.
Just for that, you cynical b-tard, I'm going to go fish, move your cheese, and six-sigma all over you. :-)

God, I loathe business books.
I like those snack-size cereals that let you eat the cereal in the box.

btw... Ashley Simpson's toes? Your fetish is showing again... ;)
other things that have resulted from thinking "outside the box":

nuclear weapons
killer bees
mexi-fries (folks, they're just TATER-TOTS)
Billy Bass
musical doorbells
Carrot Top's "so-called" comedy
That creepy Burger King guy with the huge, plastic head
Sounds like fun, Verbal. Can we start now? Your place or mine?
what we need
is a
bigger box?
I have a cartoon framed in my powder room showing a man standing next to a box of cat litter, shaking his finger at the cat and saying, "Never, never think outside the box!" (I guess the asshats in your final three graphs made me think of cat shit).
When I was a kid back in the 70s, a popular saying was "rules are made to be broken!" I'm not sure I'd know how to explain that one to someone today.
"Joe Wilson, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck should all think inside the box. That box should be a coffin."

You made me laugh out loud.
You seem a little cranky today, John.
Amen with a bag of chips. The people who instruct other people to think outside the box are the people most likely to be frightened when someone actually does.

"Think outside the box" is one of two phrases that doom any project to awfulness. The other is "Have fun with it."

Note to corporate America: freelancers charge 5% more to pretend to have fun. Fake fun is hard work. Real fun, you don't have to pay for.

I got yer fun right here, boss. In this box.
nice post. great minds think alike :)
another name for the Box.. the Matrix :)
Thanks for siding with us inside-the-box people. I like being inside the box. It's comfortable here. And safe. Very safe. Safe and secure. The way I like it. Oops! Got to go. Ten minutes to Wapner!
Sarah Palin is a box. An empty one, like the one that you put on your head and pretend to be a robot? Except with her, you take the box off and guess what - NO HEAD!!!!
If you are inside the box, are you aware of being inside it? If you are outside, is it possible to *not* think outside the box? How big is the box, anyway? And how far do you have to go to get your thinking outside it? What if you are in a different box than the one someone is telling you to think outside of? Wouldn’t you be thinking outside their box but inside yours? Will people recognize that you are thinking outside the box, or will they not even notice? What if your box is older or newer than someone else’s box? What if all the boxes are so close together that there is no room between them? Do you wind up thinking inside someone else’s box if you think outside yours? And who put all those darn boxes there anyway?
Now I'm going to go draw a box of brain weasels....if I can just stay focused....ooooh bright shiny object
Extremely funny! Do you write sketch comedy as well? I'll bet there's a support group somewhere for people who think in the box...