8.31.2005

Oh, the consternation one person can create by taking two things completely out of context, mashing them together, inventing his own take on it, and posting it to the internet...

I refer to the recent nonsense on flickr where some elitist socalite jerkoff from New York with a Flickr account and Adobe Photoshop took something way too far with no research whatsoever.

I'll admit, at first I was a little outraged myself. But after about 2 seconds of fury, I looked at the credits for both captions and noted that one was Associated Press, while the other was AFP (the French equivalent of the AP).

If you read the comments, there are a few others who noticed the same thing. They even went so far as to explain this situation, stating that Yahoo! had nothing to do with the quotes, which completely invalidates the theory that a single media outlet showed bias to the people in the photographs on the basis of race and further explains that two seperate media outlets with (probably) two seperate guidelines for caption writing wrote two seperate captions, all in one observation. It's efficient and true.

Now, the proper response to these posts SHOULD have been "Oh. Good point there, (observer). No story here, move along."

And honestly, 5 years ago, this probably would have been the case. But not today. Today, you have all these ridiculous fuckups who act like seven year olds walking by the announcement microphone in the auditorium in their school's gym and simply cannot resist the opportunity to hear their own voice.

Now I'm not saying this is a horrible thing in and of itself. Once in a while, it's cute and funny and you can't help but shake your head and smirk at the antics of the immature brat. But if you take EVERY kid in EVERY school in the entire world, put them all in the same gymnasium and station microphones every 10 feet, all of a sudden, it's not so cute anymore.

Especially when that very same gymnasium used to be somewhat fun and entertaining to be in.

But not anymore. Now, it seems like EVERY FUCKING SITE ON THE INTERNET is overrun with people who just discovered it yesterday and are super excited by the prospect that they might get a chance to talk to everyone and dazzle them with their wit and candor. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. To them, it's OMG INTERNET! OMG ME! OMG I HAVE COMMENTS! OMG I MAKE BAD JOKES HAHA! LOLROFLOMGWOULDDOBUSINESSWITHAGAIN A++++ FRIEND

Just. Shut. Up.

8.21.2005

I was reading an article at Yahoo! Sports about the death of a lineman that played for the San Francisco 49ers, and inbetween wondering just how he died and feeling an immense sense of loss for this young man's poor family, I was presented with an interesting offer -- I was prompted to "roll over" an ad to save $3.00 off General Mills cereals.



Of COURSE my mind went immediately from feeling remourse for the family of the man who was simply living out his dream of being a professional football player when suddenly he met his end in an unfortunate and sadly-timed demise and it LEAPT to the immediate impulse that I might save some money on my favorite cereals. So OF COURSE I rolled over that ad.



"Save a dollar off LUCKY CHARMS???? I am SO THERE." I grinned and I clicked.

While I waited for the offer to load, I leapt from my chair and immediately began hunting down socks and shoes. Such was my newfound craving for marshmallow hearts, stars, clovers and horsehoes that I knew I'd have to run out the door the second the coupons were printed to go buy them. I netted a pair of cycling socks (featuring kokopeli and some sort of chili-pepper / guitar hybrid thing... Don't ask me, they were on sale) and my brand new Nike Free shoes (they really do feel like you're barefoot, by the way) and slid them on as fast as I could. I returned to my computer monitor just in time to be prompted by Coupons, Inc. to install the SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS.



Secure Coupon Printer for Windows? HUH??? Why do I need that?? Whatever happened to just plopping a .jpg of the coupon with a barcode onto the user's screen? Why couldn't they send me a .pdf with the coupons attached??? HUH? HUH? WHY NOT????

Anyway, I saw the insane number of "SECURE!!! WE GUARANTEE IT!!!" logos all over the place - Verisign, microsoft, thawte, etc. - and thought "Hmm... maybe it IS a SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS. Maybe I should install it... After all, I DO want to save a dollar on the most delicious and delectable of cereals..."



And that's when it happened. That's when I saw the ghost of the San Francisco 49ers player who's death had prompted my lust for marshmallow goodness in the first place. He floated before me and said "No, Joe! Don't make this mistake! It's a cleverly disguised attempt for another company to sodomize your computer and infect it with digital STD's! Stayyyyyy Awayyyyyy..." And then he floated away.

I was baffled. I'd just had an otherworldly experience! I'd communicated with the dead! I'm psychic!!! But then I realized I'd just left the cap off of my Jumbo Sharpie which was both responsible for my haluciantions and my momentary lapse of reason with installing something called a SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS.

The lesson here, boys and girls, is "Don't let the death of a football player trick you into installing spyware just so you can save a dollar on cereal."

Or maybe it's "Put the cap back on your markers when you're done."

Or even maybe "Don't read people's online journals because they're full of nonsense about markers and cereal and the NFL."

Pick your own.

8.18.2005

Sometimes, I'm just plain mean.

Seriously. I'm wretched. Horrible. Spiteful and vindictive.

Take for example this conversation I had with a perfectly innocent and nice person, Rita. Rita apparently IM'ed me a long time ago and when she did, I added her to my buddy list (as I do with all random IM'ers) into a folder called Random. I was looking for a person I spoke with a few weeks ago to give them some info about the MI shirts I have available and saw a little cellphone icon next to poor Rita's name, indicating that she was logged into her IM client via her cell. So, I thought I'd just make it beep.

joe: YOUR PHONE JUST RANG
joe: OR BEEPED (AND IT JUST DID IT AGAIN)
joe: OR POSSIBLY EVEN VIBRATED (AND LOOK, IT JUST DID IT AGAIN)

But then, she responded:
Rita: Stop! Each message costs of ten cents you know...

Now. A normal, nice person would have just stopped.

I am neither normal nor nice. Thus, the rest of this conversation.


joe: 40 cents
joe: 50 cents
joe: 60 cents
joe: 70 cents
joe: how about it... am i worth 80 cents to talk to?
joe: how about 90?
joe: or a dollar?
Rita: No.
Rita: But i can send 200 messages
joe: :(
joe: you hate me and that's sad.
Rita: Yeah. Dont worry im sure someone loves you
joe: oh, im sure too
joe: but you don't
joe: which is why i'm now costing you 1.60 to talk to
joe: actually, that was supposed to be 1.40, but i'll catch it up to 1.60 in a second
joe: there. now it's 1.60
Rita: Smeh
Rita: Not everyone loves you.
joe: a fact I know to be explicitly true, seeing as how i'm talking to someone who apparently doesn't
Rita: You cant please everyone
joe: well... I can. it's just that I don't feel like it
joe: I'd rather cost strangers 1.90 in mobile messaging
joe: it's more fun
Rita: No.
Rita: You couldn if you tried
joe: oh, i could if i tried, it's just that I'm trying something different now
joe: I'm trying to make it to $5.00 before you shut me off
joe: and now i'm only 3 messages from being halfway there
joe: 2 now
Rita: Besides, im very judgemental towards strangers that waste my money
joe: Hey, don't think of it as a waste...
joe: think of it as a lesson in how not to spend 2.50 wisely
Rita: Whaveter.
joe: was that on purpose, or a product of typing on a cellphone keypad?
Rita: Im sorry im much cooler then you
joe: cause if it was on purpose, i like it. "Whaveter..." im going to use that.
joe: but if it was an accident, i'm going to harangue you for the rest of eternity over the size of your thumbs
joe: and the fact that you've spent 2.90 talking to me
Rita: I know.In extremely clever.
joe: Three dollar smile --> :)
Rita: You must be jealous of my extremely cool personality
joe: not jealous... It's admirable, to be sure
Rita: :'(
joe: and I'm enjoying being in the company of it, at least for the time being
Rita: Yay! Im admirable!
joe: no
joe: your personality is
joe: you, however, are silly
Rita: Im in a meeting.
joe: oh? what kind of meeting?
Rita: Be right back
joe: not budget, i hope
joe: cause they're going to be mad at you for spending 3.90 talking to a guy on your cell phone IM
joe: well, 4.00 now
joe: just 90 cents short of his goal of wasting one of your Lincolns
Rita: Not budget. Fencing. Sh!
joe: a fencing meeting?
joe: like, to protect property or to... well, i guess both types of fencing could be used to protect property
Rita: No. The sport.
joe: and you have to admit, it's fun to be in the middle of your fencing meeting and people are like "Now, when you riposte, you should feignt and tete-a-tete with a slash stroke" while you're talking to a random dude on the net
joe: from your cellphone
Rita: No.
Rita: Its not a strategy meeting.
joe: oh...
joe: is it about a hostile takeover?
joe: are you guys going to rumble with some ninjas in a back alley behind Kroger's?
Rita: Im with the coach at [a college]
joe: Cause if you are, i have to warn you... They have those tiger claw thingies and can scale walls and stuff
joe: Oh, and by the way: $5.00!!!!!! I have reached my goal! I REIGN SUPREME!
joe: ok, i'll let you talk to your coach. good luck.
joe: let me know how it goes
joe: $5.30. Man, i'm such an overachiever.

Don't worry. Rita and I are still on good terms, and I'm sending her 5 bucks to cover my asshattery. I'm still a jerk, I'm just a jerk with a guilty conscious.

8.08.2005

As you may or may not know by now, I like to write. In fact, I LOVE to write. Writing is something that brings me immense joy, if for no other reason besides the fact that it allows the cacophony of noise in my head to come out in some sort of streamlined and organized manner. It's a lot of fun and gives me something to do while I'm pretending to be working, because it really does look just like work (especially if you choose to write your stories in your software development IDE [AKA Code Editor]).

I'm kidding, of course. I'm sure you know I am. I'm only saying that for the benefit of my boss, who reads this journal sometimes. I promise, Kev, I wrote all this at home and brought it in to post.

Anyway, even though I post a lot of what I write in a public forum (my website and magazine articles I do), I don't consider myself a "Writer." To me, being a "Writer" requires that you either wear a smoking jacket and talk obsessively about subject-verb agreement OR circumvent the establishment and sign a movie deal, guaranteeing your ability to keep churning out similar-sounding novels for the rest of your life.

Again, I am kidding.

This is just my opinion and my opinion alone, but being a "Writer" is an attitude and a lifestyle. Authors and "Writers" aren't the same thing, in my opinion. Anyone can be an author. If you've ever written documentation for a software product, instructions on how to clean the cat box, etc. You are an author. Congrats. You've authored a work.

To be a "Writer," however, you need to be KNOWN as a "Writer." It's your identity, much like being a Goth. You NEED people to know what it is you do, because only then can it lend some validity to the entire enterprise of spending time putting a pen to paper. This is NOT a bad thing, it's vital to survival if you are going to write and have what you write produce the food you put on your table. The title itself is very self-inclusive. It's not that you enjoy, say, cycling and have written things about it. It's that you're a "Writer" and have chosen to write about cycling. Or murder, or espionage, or even some horrible crap about Guns N' Roses and their song, Welcome to the Jungle (God, that whole thing still - as my friend Liz would say - gets my hackles up). Doing something and writing about it is FAR different than Writing about something. It's hard for me to express just exactly how I view it, hopefully I've done so enough that you get the idea of what I'm talking about.

And it's important to note that none of the above is an insult toward "Writers". It's just the truth as I see it. I don't hate them, I don't dislike them, and one day, I'd hope to become one. I'd love nothing more than for my entire existence to revolve around the practice of writing. Making enough money through writing to pay my mortgage and put food in my mouth is my wildest dream (and don't even let me get started on how annoyed I get when I think of people like Paris Hilton and anyone and everyone in the WWF who can just simply crank out a book [or, more accurately, pay someone to do it for them] and not even care about how it does, because to them, it's just something else to do... Us poor working-class slobs dream of even getting one book out there on a shelf. We don't care if there's a gigantic encap with our name on it, we don't care about glitter on the cover. We just want to be out there, and you guys are hogging up all our shelf space! FUCK YOU, PARIS, YOU WHORE! *ahem* where was I... Oh, right. Writing as a career). But I'm not at that point right now, and that's the point I'm trying to make here, because it's vital for the rest of this crappy journal entry.

In summary, I like to write. I am not a "Writer". And this fact made for an interesting situation when I attended a Writer's workshop this past weekend at the local college.

I went because, for about 3 years now, it's been suggested to me by a whole lot of folks. "You're a writer, you should attend some workshops and conferences and network and get to know other writers. It could help your career." After hearing that long enough, I thought "What could it hurt? I might as well give it a shot."

Ha. HAHAHAHAH. AHAHAHHAHAHAHSDGGHSGHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

I won't waste time describing anything about it in depth, because that's one of the things they "taught" at this workshop - don't waste time on details, because it distracts from the S.T.O.R.Y.

Yes, S.T.O.R.Y. They acronymized it. S.T.O.R.Y. stands for Story (AHHAHA they used the word itself in its own acronym), Timing, Orientation, Readability, and “Yet?” as in “are we there yet?” (Which I thought, at first glance, was "Yeti". Which, honestly, would make more sense, since this theory is about as valid as the theory of the existence of Yetis). Essentially, each of the callouts on these elements combined and boiled down to "You need to be writing Michael Bay movies, young writer. Trust us, because we are writing experts who - even though we haven't had a thing published - have managed to put on a Writer's Workshop, which qualifies us to tell you what's right and what's not. And the fact that you signed up for it instantly signals to us that nothing you have ever done is worth a damn."

Anyway, I digress, since I'm starting to get into details and that's forbidden. This Writer's Workshop was attended by about 40 or 50 folks, all of whom seemed to be either housewives or ex-dotcom employees, both looking for validation for not having a job (and before I get any angry emails, yes, I think that the job of "housewife" is perfectly valid. My mother became one after she married my dad, and I can honestly say she'd have toiled less during fewer hours if she'd kept her job as a bench tech at NorTel. Housewives do NOT have an easy job, folks, and I admire each and every one of them... Unless they are housewives who don't actually work around the house and raise their kids, instead spending time writing "Henry Porter and the Stone of the Sorcerer" in the hopes that they, too, can have a breakout novel with a great backstory of being a housewife while working on it do NOT get respect. They get bricks. Lots of bricks, right on their pointy heads).

I most definitely did NOT fit in.

Perhaps it's the years I've spent avoiding organized educational events (like, you know... School), but I personally feel like it's a sin to tell someone that they write WRONG. I mean, sure, there's bad writing out there. I don't argue with that. But I wouldn't ever go so far as to say those people are writing WRONGLY. They're writing - that's what matters. The market they're writing for will do the job of letting them know just how good or bad their writing is all on its own. People have a way of not spending money on things they don't like.

So I took all the things they talked about with characterization, plot, timing, details, etc. and evaluated some of my stories with them in mind. It turns out; I'm quite possibly the worst "Writer" on the face of the planet!

I waste time on details! I "Tell" instead of "Showing", especially through DIALOGUE which apparently should never be used to detail a setting or storyline, because the voice of a character is insufficient to carry the burden of description. I leave things to the imagination. I don't assume the reader is a nitwit and let them draw their own conclusions based on the information I've given them. Bottom line: I'm never, ever going to get a movie deal. My novels will never make it in the marketplace, as there is no audience in the world who would want to read something as boring as short stories and memoirs.

At least I know FOR CERTAIN (cause the workshop telleth me) that all the things I've been suspecting about myself are true.

It took about two hours for me to get fed up and walk out. The breaking point was the group "plot creation" exercise. All I did was wonder aloud "Just exactly how many vampyre (with a 'y') code-breaking mutant adolescent wizards attempting to save the Earth in a post-apocalyptic society novels do we really need?" and I was instantly branded as "Just not getting it."

I sat silent until it was time to break for Fudge Stripe cookies and coffee, where I grabbed liberal amounts of both and made my way to the car I crashed into a fire hydrant and wrote a story (a BAD one, too) about. I drove home, put on my smoking jacket, and immediately started writing about the entire thing, hoping like hell I'd have some sort of kitschy moral to end it with.

The moral is this:

My blog entries are not only boring, they're far too long.