The Claven

Dirk Swagger's "The Claven" first appeared in the February 2001 issue of the Inside Carolina print magazine. Due to popular demand and in the interest of fairness to those on the Tar Pit Talk message board that have not read this...enjoy!

The Claven
... it's my opinion and you're welcome to it ...

The year was 486 B.C.; the place was the Mediterranean island of Salamis..... four fishermen from the seaside village of Clavenium watched as the great Persian fleet of King Xerxes was whupped like a mangy dog by the Greek general Themistocles.

The following Tuesday, the Clavenium fishermen called up Xerxes during his weekly radio show and berated his poor use of his warships in allowing Themistocles to devastate his fleet with almost no loss of Greek men or ships. Xerxes, being a bit Bobby Knightesque in his disdain for personal criticism; had the entire village of Clavenium burned to the ground; the offending fisherman buried up to their necks on the beach to be eaten by crabs.


Our scene shifts to Hastings, England, 1066 A.D. The English King Harold, never known as the Bill Walsh of his day, devised a terrible offense against William the Norman (not to be confused with Greg The Norman) and thereby gave William the new nickname of William The Conqueror. The new nickname came via a write-in campaign led by a goatsherd in the nearby village of Claven on Thames. The Claven goatsherdman acknowledged later that William The Big Tuna was the second choice.


A Circuit City in a strip mall in Needham, Massachusetts... the year 1986 A.D..... a US Postal Service employee, C. Clifford Claven stares at a display wall of TVs all showing his beloved BoSox in a postseason game with a team from Queens NY. Mr. Claven suddenly begins shouting for Red Sox manager John McNamara to make a defensive change in his line-up. Store security personnel manage to subdue Claven with riot batons.... as he lapses into unconsciousness; he hears the announcer's voice…"it's a routine groundball to Buckner...."

Cliff Claven awakens in a padded room in the psycho ward of Massachusetts General Hospital. He immediately asks for a jumbo box of Crayolas and a dozen Big Chief tablets..... over the next five days C. Clifford Claven, inspired by a transcendental mind meld with his ancient ancestors, composes the

Complete Compendium of Clavenism

....... while the global community, as we know it, is largely unchanged; a new term is born to describe "those of obtuse opinions with the need to vociferously express same".


The Science, nay The Religion, of Clavenism

..... has its permeating application in all segments of society.... politics, sport, dining, fashion, construction, cinema, et al. For the purpose of discussion within InsideCarolina we shall concentrate on the world of Sports. Clavenism has two (2) basic tenets:

A Claven Insists That:

(1) He/she possesses incredible insight into the subject at hand. The steadfast confidence in his insight is in INDIRECT proportion to any factual knowledge and/or practical experience specific to the matter at hand.

(2) The world at large MUST be made aware of his incredible insight to thereby avoid calamitous ramifications resulting from failure to apply his wisdom to the matter at hand. That the world at large may not share his feeling of immediacy; makes the high volume and vociferousness of his exhortations all the more necessary.

There is no shame to being a Claven.... the characteristic goggle-eyes, spittle expelling mouth, red-tipped ears, and wildly gesticulating hands are only visible during the actual exhorting be it in person or via an internet message board or radio call-in show. In "real life" Clavens are found in all manner of "acceptable occupations"; and many others are attorneys. Those who study Clavens have found no relevance to lunar phases or monthly cycles.... but have noticed excessive Claven activity during the month of March and during certain days known among Clavens as "signing days".

Clavens, regardless of their actual occupation, fantasize about being a college Athletic Director and/or a professional sports General Manager. Oddly enough there is little interest in becoming a coach or field manager.... the degree of direct accountability in those positions being too unavoidable. In the Guinness Book of Claven Records, the record for consecutive correct decisions by any Athletic Director or General Manager is "yet to be recorded" as none have ever been adjudged to be correct.

Clavens have a deep in-breed disdain for any bureaucratic administrative organization i.e. a college athletic department or pro team front office or a Department of Motor Vehicles. If you've ever wondered "who are those extremely weird humanoids standing in line ahead of me at DMV".... them be Clavens.

Like The Marine Corps' Toys For Tots Program..... ClavenWorld HQ has a contract to provide characters for all 50 states' DMV offices. The program has been in effect for years with all parties well pleased with the arrangement.

While all standard grade sports fans employ 20/20 hindsight... Clavens revel in their insistence that even successful strategies can be second guessed. The two most famous examples of such abject Clavenism are: (1) the Claven who never forgave Dean Smith for entrusting the final shot against Georgetown in 1982 to an untested freshman.... and (2) why did stupid Bobby Cox send up Francisco Cabrerra to pinch hit against Pittsburgh in the NL Playoffs.

Do Clavens have a sense of humour? ..... Yes, especially as applied to insulting remarks aimed at Clavens of competing teams/schools. Derogatory references to agricultural schools, military schools, Ivies, pseudo-Ivies, church-affiliated schools, large state universities, mid-size regional universities, elitist private schools and basically all schools except his own are considered fair game and simply "calling it like I see ‘um". Clavens chortle at such cleverness. Those same remarks directed at his school result in IRS audits and independent counsel investigations for those low-lifes insulting his sacred Alma Mammy.

With the advent of internet message boards, Clavens have actually formed cyber support groups where they gather metaphorically late at night and admit their cultish addiction. At the conclusion of a Claven's personal testimony, the members of the group label him a "moron" and tell bizarre and almost unbelievable stories about the female members of his family.

Clavens have no specific physical features to distinguish them from otherwise "normal people". This is not to say that unusual features are alien to Clavens... (NOTE: "alien" and "Claven" often appear very close together in sentences) Such physical anomalies as extra toes, third nipples, and 3" nasal hairs have all been used to win bar bets at Claven gatherings. If a fellow named Bruce DoneDeal ever saunters up to you and claims any/all of the above features....grab your wallet and skedaddle ASAP.

Once a Claven, Always a Claven... with one exception -"The Wishy Washy Rule". Clavens are free to abort or carry to term, eat fish on Friday or pork (vinegar or tomato-based sauce), declare as Conservative or Liberal (ptui !!), and pine for any Bond girl he chooses..... but, under no circumstances may he exhibit a "Wishy Washy" opinion in his particular Claven specialty ...... EMPHATICENESS is a Claven "must".

As with all species and phylum; there IS a hierarchical pecking order among Clavens

In a short orientation phase, Neo-Clavens (aka "newbies")are subjected to direct personal name calling and severely chastised for their opinions. The labels "moron", "imbecile", and "jackass" are worn proudly by a neophyte Claven.... often the adjective "frigging" precedes the above nouns. Once a Claven accepts these sobriquets himself he may apply them liberally to all who fail to view life via his unique perspective..... once through "basic training" Clavens are turned loose to lambaste and vent with total abandon. Clavens, similar to Republicans, tend to devour their own kind in a rite of opine cannibalism that is often difficult for non-Clavens to watch.

The rarest of the breed, the Ninja Claven (NC) is considered the most dangerous. His opinion has the highest conversational venom content.... beginning with a personal insult.... moves quickly into cosmic absurdity....finishing in a flurry of "absolute", "done deal", "guarantee" proclamations. Ninja Clavens work alone; they are solitary folk who consider "networking" to mean their own dog doesn't bite them. Respect only their own opinions; they disdain their own kind and conduct non-covert guerrilla arson attacks among enemy fan groups.

To achieve Master Claven status requires personal adherence to at least one conspiracy theory..... to assist in this a special blended conspiracy has been created whereby a space alien by the name of "Lee Harvey Roswell" contributed to the assassination of Vince Foster by showing him an enhanced photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton clearing alligators from the sewers of Manhattan while listening, barefoot, to The Beatles Abbey Road album..... if you buy into that package you're a true Claven. ...( That visual of Hillary barefooted is a bit much but I need shock value... it's sweeps week for IC columnists)

After years of venting, ranting, and exhorting... a Claven can rise to ElderClaven status which permits him to beat "dead horses" to his heart's content. ElderClavens still discuss the Lou Brock-Ernie Broglio trade; how many Mahaffey brothers actually attended Clemson; and forever remind Lefty Driesell about that "UCLA of the East" comment. ElderClavens are fun to invite to parties; but do tend to "double dip" Fritos.

The Claven "gender" issue… always a conversation starter. It totally depends on the subject matter. If the topic contains any of the following .... Ricky Martin, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, or Sean Connery.... chances are excellent that Female Clavens will be predominate. The #1 Female Claven "raison d'rant" is, oddly enough, Male Clavens. Female Clavens go off the chart opining on why Male Clavens are "Clavens"... the Female Claven's favorite caterwalling mantra is:

"Are you still wasting time on that stupid sports messageboard?"
... to which the proper response is...
"No dear, I'm doing research for that big project due on Thursday."

This paragraph is an "e-mail rainmaker" guaranteed to generate real nasty e-mails !!!

If you think you might be a Claven, you are one..... if you think you're way too cool to be a Claven, you definitely are one ..... if you're sure you're not; but your ne'r do well brother-in-law is.... then you both are. ............ if you've spent the past ten minutes reading this column, you have no defense whatsoever -

You Is A Claven !!

Inside Carolina Top Stories