Sunday, August 24, 2014

CYCLISTS GTFO

I hate these people, and I feel justifiedish enough to be open about it it.

Of all the trifling, stupid ass things to be smug about - bicycling.  Not casual riders, but the intense hobbyists who buy the little 1920s swimsuits and thousand dollar bikes and race up Dreamy Draw like it's their fucking job.  Why I hate them: they are SO INCREDIBLY RUDE. ALL OF THEM.  They seem to feel entitled to the entire street.  Entitled in a resentful, angry way, as though cars are the enemy, as if you won't see them loading their bikes onto a Hummer H2 an hour from now.  I concede that they are pretty easy to kill/maim on their little bikes, which is why I do keep an eye out for them, but don't think I won't instantly lose my temper when some errant Lance decides to unnecessarily ride in the center of a neighborhood street, leaving no room for cars to pass.  When you do pass him, he is angry!  He wants you to drive 8 mph behind him, admiring his gristly, ropy body as he sways furiously on his dream machine.  Blow me, Lance.  Get a real hobby, you yuppie fool.  Try taking all of that time, money and anger and directing it into a more relevant occupation, LIKE BLOGGING.  Who could possibly derive such smug satisfaction from such a useless, pretentious engagement?  Riding your bike really hard over hills?  That's one for the history books.  Does the President know about you?

If my reaction seems strong, then I encourage you to live on a street favored by cyclists.  In 6 months, you would be sitting on your roof, trying to shoot tires out with a bb gun, I promise.

Oh, here's another thing - the ones whose little suits are covered in sponsor logos.  I KNOW YOU CAN BUY THEM THAT WAY, BLAINE.  No, I do not believe that Dyson has sponsored you for your weekly trek through the Squaw Peak Preserve.  Jesus Christ!  I can't deal with this.  Much of the point of this hobby is display.  Look at my bike!  Look at YOUR bike.  It is not as expensive as my bike!  Look at my calves!  Are they not hideous!  How do I even find pants to cover these things!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Written Language: It's over, find something else

Everyone is so tasteless and no one can write.

After months of composing all of our communications at work (as a favor: relevant), it has occurred to me that our director has no actual ability to see the difference between bad and good writing.  Not that I'm trying terribly hard or am turning out pieces that are spectacular, but they accomplish the purpose in an easy to read way that is appropriate for our audience.  Without explaining anything, partly because I'm lazy and partly because I don't want to be at all identifiable on the internet by people who know me in person except when I'm cursing and spitting on Facebook (and even then, I don't like it), I have to show all of my pieces to this facilitator we're paying before I put anything out.  This person is allegedly an expert in the field and, perhaps more importantly, is a personal friend of the boss.  Instead of making suggestions to me, she rewrites the copy and sends it back, but the rewrites seem to have been composed by a child, and they contain outrageous spelling errors as well as the most fragmented sentences I've ever seen.  Find the worst fragmented sentence in the world, and I will best it with the output of this titan of communications.  The errors are obviously not intentional, but this is no excuse because it means she didn't proof herself, because she apparently has no respect for the world or anything in it.  She just rewrote the copy like an asshole from her phone in bed or perhaps while drunk or on a rollercoaster and then sent it back.  And because she is apparently some kind of deity, like She-Ra, I get "the hand" when I complain, and the repeated answer that the facilitator knows best.  

Like these fucking spelling errors and half-sentences, which don't include any new or altered content and which disrupt any organic flow to the pieces, are all part of some master plan which is too complex for my puny mortal brain to understand, and that some day, in the future, we'll all look back and understand why it was necessary that we put out an annual report that contains the word "defiantively" instead of "definitively".  

This will not stand, of course.  Now I just show her the copy, she shows me her crayon drawings, and then I publish what I already had in the first place, and no one notices because they don't actually care.

Language obviously doesn't matter to many people anymore.  Half of my time on the internet is spent  making shitty remarks in the comments section on Gothamist about what duress the writers must have been under to have produced such tripe.  Not only that, but tripe that is hardly legible to the English-speaking audience.  Are these words?  Is this some kind of...new language?  Did someone give you money to create this?  As Truman Capote said, "That's not writing. That's typing." (about Jack Kerouac. I agree. Sorry, latently literate 26 year olds.)

The problem with today's shitty writing is three-fold:

1. They're writing about something that is insultingly stupid and irrelevant to begin with. The intent is to create something where nothing exists.  This is possible if you are particularly witty or an expert comedian.  Unsurprisingly, people with these skills are not sitting around writing Buzzfeed articles.

2. Structurally weak pieces with poor word choices and awkward, stilted sentences.  There is generally no flow, and they often fail to make the intended points.  These pieces usually leave the reader with more questions than they had before they began.  The people who create these pieces are not writers, they are merely people who are trying to write, perhaps because their first career choice of being a music video producer didn't work out.

3. Basic grammatical errors, spelling errors, fucked up punctuation, weird capitalization.  The core elements of a sophisticated written language are missing.

Even blogs and publications that I like are turning out more and more items of dubious quality.  I don't want to be the uptight basketcase who's like, I ONLY READ LAPHAM'S QUARTERLY AND THE NEW YORKER BECAUSE I CAN'T EVEN, but I will be, eventually.  And it's not that I want everything to be written in the Queen's English, but there's a difference between an artful or playful flouting of "rules" and just plain boring, shitty, stupid fucking writing borne of ignorance and laziness.  I like to write in a conversational manner that echoes my speaking style because that's most amusing to me, but I think it's possible to write informally without creating something that would make Gore Vidal shoot himself in the face and then drown himself in a well.

At least SOMEONE cares:


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Interpersonal disputes with foreign language animals

I hate mockingbirds.  I never did before.  I guess their mocking was less noticeable to me in the past.  They used to build nests in our citrus trees, and I would drag a splintery wooden ladder just beneath them, and climb up to peer inside the nest.  Sometimes there were speckled eggs that looked like Easter candies, and sometimes there were a few bedraggled pinkish nubs with brown down and comically unhinged beaks.  I remember watching their tell-tale striped wings as they wheeled around our yard, hollering and screaming.

Mockingbirds used to torment my great-grandmother's cat, a marble-gray Persian named Sheena, who would be permitted on nice days to lay in the grass just outside the front door, and sunbathe.  It was only a matter of time, after a peaceful interlude of slow blinking in the sun and lazy tail waving, before the birds came.  They'd flit from branch to bush and circle in the air, hooting and jeering.  Eventually, the brave ones would dive bomb her, floating down with wings awkwardly splayed to seize a beak or clawful of the loose long hair, and then shoot away impossibly fast to stash it somewhere.  I couldn't believe the ego and audacity; Sheena was scary and everyone knew it.

I haven't thought about them much since, but they've been hell on wheels this summer.  One of them followed me for a long time after I passed under her tree, jeering and screaming and swooping as close to me as she dared, which was pretty close.  Now two more live at either end of my house, and all they do is charge around their respective trees, branch to branch, barking at nothing.  Their chirps are aggressive, loud and mechanical sounding, like something caught in a machine.  I don't know what they're angry about, no one ever goes outside now except for a few listless outdoor cats who lie like corpses on their sides underneath bushes, motionless except for wind ruffled fur and occasional tail flits.

The birds will bark for an hour after I've passed by, or after a cat has moved.  Their indignation is completely unreasonable.  So now I just yell at them like a common schizophrenic, shouting and gesturing at a tree. "Shut the fuck up! Right now!"  "No one cares about your nest!"  "Should I get the hose?"  They're very obnoxious.  Nothing like the distracted tittering of normal birds.  Normal birds aren't trying to talk to you.  They're just living their lives.

Mockingbirds have to talk shit, though.