Thursday Snark

29 10 2009

Here we are, Thursday already, and for some reason, I have not come up with 19 different things I need to do other than write something. Must be the weather. At any rate, I’ve decided to continue the non-existent tradition of making Thursday a day of snarking. It is, after all, named after Thor, and while I don’t know a great deal about Asatru (yet) he strikes me as the sort of fellow who wouldn’t shrink from speaking his mind, especially if he had a day reserved for it each week. So, let’s get to it then.

  1. Facebook users. If you have have more than 5 picutres, or 3% of your total photos, depicting you in some stage of drinking, either getting ready to drink heavily, drinking, holding alcohol as a clear sign that you are in the midst of the the drinking process, or well past the point of drinking too much, either take a few down or reevaluate where your life is. This is fun up to about 22 years old, when the novelty of being able to drink in public lawfully should have worn off. Yes, alcohol is fun. So is heading out for the night and tying one on occasionally. But if this is the only way you can think of to get your jollies, you have either a lack of imagination or a substance abuse problem. I’m no teetotaler. There’s a half-bottle of excellent bourbon sitting less than 12 inches from my fingers right here on my desk. And as a writer, alcoholism is a long-treasured part of the literary tradition. But just like smoking isn’t cool unless it’s in movies, alcoholism isn’t cool unless it’s tortured. And you people, I’m sorry, are just not tortured.
  2. On a related topic, while studying psychology in college I took Adolescent Psychology. Anyone in the class with me will still recall the amusement of hearing the term pronounced “pooberty.” In that class definitions of adolescence were discussed, including when adolescence ended. It’s an open-ended sort of topic, but I can’t help but think that the period has gotten hyper-extended to roll into many peoples’ 30s. I’m not going to write down what my definition of adolescence is, but I’m going to throw out that if a lot of our generation would stop trying to rent an apartment in NeverNever Land through their 34th birthdays, life might go a little more smoothly.
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Fog lights on cars are for fog. If it’s not foggy, turn them off. It’s no different than wearing rain boots because the grass is damp at night. Plus, turning them off is a lot like using turn signals: it will greatly reduce the likelihood of your fellow drivers conspiring to murder you.
  4. Finally, an appeal to common sense. If you’re going to wear pins that your employer asks you not to, if they go out of the way to tell you it violates company policy, that they’ve explained this policy to you, and the policy is evenly applied, don’t go howling when you refuse to comply and they fire you. Is it right that we have to avoid discussion or outward shows of religion at work? Probably not, no. But until we can all discuss the matter openly, without reacting, judging, hating, until we can have the discussion at a national level and work out the hypocrisy about mentioning God in our documents, prayer in schools, and religious symbolism in our monuments, we can’t expect Home Depot and Walmart to have the answers. So leave your pins about Obama and your local Union, about Sarah Palin and your boss being a Jewish carpenter OFF your work uniform. It’s not that hard. They’re paying you to be an expert on where to find 1/4 inch plywood and tubes of liquid nails for a certain number of hours each day. If you punch someone in the parking lot while you’re wearing the orange vest, they’ll get in trouble too. So while you’re at work, just try and be Dan in customer service, and display your views when you’re not on the clock, eh? If your faith is too fragile not to practice every waking moment, you might need to reevaluate things.

Media Carnage Continues as Advertising Plummets: Also, I’m Drinking Tea

27 10 2009


The ongoing discussions of where the horrible, flaming nosedive that has become American media will finally come to ground has put something new in perspective to me today. My (impressive) headline writing skills and command of hedline-ese may be in danger.

This of great concern to me.

My fondest memories of my days (or nights, rather) toiling away in Brat are of Jo and I passing back acronyms, synonyms and various other forms of nyms known only to newspaper night staff in an effort to convey long-winded ideas via 40 point type in 1 column, 3 deks or less. The fun of trying to determine if we could fit the word “whomp” into a front page headline and still be taken seriously (we could, we did, and we were) is impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t tried.

I can’t help but pine a little over the idea that vast swaths of skills unique to the newspaper industry but so useful elsewhere (as knowledge of Latin or Greek might be to the modern scholar) are on the verge of being lost. Will headline-ese soon be in the same category as churning butter, re-masting a square-rigged ship, or lathing and plastering your own walls?

On one hand, the idea of being one of those people with forgotten skills is cool in a romantic “the old-timers can still do it the real way!” sense. On the other hand, I’m not really interested in becoming an “old-timer” just yet, and I’m equally uninterested in having what was once a marketable skill worthy of compensation become an anachronism.

Will someone please stand up, reveal a spectacular new business model, and give classically trained and technically savvy journalist types like myself something to do with our skills? It took thousands upon thousands of dollars and hours to hone these things, and it would be a terrible waste to throw them away now because we can’t figure out how to pay for them.

Before I forget, as the headline indicates, I am drinking tea. And for those of you wondering, here’s how all of that might wrap into a headline:

Writer drinks tea, waits

Reporter bides time with tea

Journalists consult tea leaves

Some of the latest ideas on where the bottom actually is are here