Archive for the ‘FAIL’ Category

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Advice on Writing Advice for Writers

July 5, 2011
[This post was kicked into gear thanks to a FB note by JPM, whose Facebook feed is often full of moments like this. This piece has been laying around in my “unfinished” work folder, under the presumption that at some point I would finish the mofo off and send it out to be rejected by various humor sites.
Thus properly motivated by JPM’s note, I took a look at it and decided that it looked pretty finished to me. I also have other “unfinished” posts that tie into this one, so I’ll probably be looking harder at those as well. If nothing else, you’ll get to see (and experience) the immense amount of self-loathing that goes into calling yourself a “writer,” which makes all of us a bit masochistic and probably even more than slightly deranged. (This isn’t some sort of power tripping derangement either. This isn’t a “I suffer for my art” thing. This is a “I hate writing but am internally compelled to do it” sort of thing.){Also, it’s not a real “hate.” Obviously. It’s a special kind of love that manifests itself most frequently as hate and is usually self-directed and has nothing to do with writing as much as it has to do with “not writing”.}]

This is what a blogger looks like. Except, replace the "pipe" with a nicotine patch and the pen with "completely useless box o' electronics/internet."

So, you want to be a writer? Waving aside the fact that this makes you about as unique as a band influenced by the Velvet Underground, and the fact that there’s an entire internet full of writers already, you have to ask yourself, what do I have to offer the written world? What do I bring to the table that hasn’t been brought to the table so often it’s being sent back?

Still drawing a blank? Put down that sketch pad and listen up. (Just a little metaphoric humor there. Feel free to use that when breaking the ice at your next book club meeting or whatever the hell it is you writers do with your spare time.)

What most writers are looking for, despite the fact that they’ll never ask directly, is advice. All writers, especially writers who have never been published, crave writing advice. If nothing else, it allows them to put off writing for at least another 10-15 minutes. Never underestimate a writer’s desire to be doing anything but writing. This element is key to the “writing about writing” business.

Another crucial element is a side-effect of the advice itself. Whether the reading writer agrees or disagrees with the advice is immaterial. The end result is always the same; a refreshing confirmation of the reader’s superiority to other readers/writers/advice authors.

If the writer agrees with the advice, it justifies his or her peculiar habits, no matter how unpleasant or anti-social.

What if the writer disagrees entirely with your slapped together and mostly borrowed (without attribution) advice? Not to worry. Your new adversary will be enjoying a nearly identical sense of superiority, with each point of disagreement becoming a shiny new feather in his or her cap of Writing Knowledge.

My other typewriter morphs into a large beetle. I get more work done on that one.

An added bonus for the reader is the chance to compose an overly long comment expressing (point-by-point) how completely wrong you are about everything from the amount of time you should spend writing each day (2-12 hours) to how much margin is acceptable for submissions in .doc format (2-12 inches). Once again, the aspiring writer is allowed to escape the hellish prison of their current novel/essay/fanfic submission and right (or should I say, “write”?) any and all perceived wrongs with a pure passion borne of vindictiveness and procrastination. (You’re correct. I shouldn’t say “write.” We’ll leave that for the struggling writers to use.)

At this point you’re probably wondering why YOU have to do all this writing while other writers are allowed to duck their chosen profession. Well, I’ve got good news and great news.

The good news is that practically anything you come up with off the top of your head can be considered “advice,” whether it’s a suggestion they read every day (something they already do) or more drastic recommendations like cutting themselves out of important family events (immediate and extended) to ensure they have more time to sullenly glare at their blank pages.

The great news is that other writers have written plenty of advice for writers already. It’s everywhere. A quick internet search should find you a few thousand articles to cherrypick from. If you don’t mind doing a little transcribing (don’t worry, it’s much easier than writing “from scratch”), you should easily have at least 10-15 items on your list. With this pre-paved list in hand, you may now allow the children to return from their basement exile, provided they still communicate using ASL only.

Still need another nudge? Here’s a brief list of sure-fire advice:

Problem solved: My homunculus will be writing all future posts. In second person.

1. Read more.
Reading is a great procrastination technique. Writers reading are “doing research” or “developing technique” or simply doing it because “it’s a dying art. Well, both reading and writing, actually. Turn off that TV. It’s killing your brain.”

2. Write more.
As much as writers hate being reminded that, as writers, it would logically follow that they spend a great deal of time writing, it’s an even bigger faux pas to leave this off the list. Try to give your readers some leeway. Make it sound like a suggestion and utilize the word “try,” which will allow them to excuse their failed attempts and often, their failure to attempt. Avoid specifics as to what kind of writing should be done. This allows your reading writers to justify angry comments, angry Facebook status updates and angry comments on the statuses of others as being part of their “writing 2-12 hours a day.”

3. Be honest.
Basically, this is “write what you know” phrased in a way that allows writers to more highly regard their own confessional pieces involving more unseemly moments in their lives. These moments are often something they’ve often secretly wanted to brag about without having it sound like a rejected Penthouse Letter. Just as every writer believes themselves to be a “unique voice,” they also tend to regard themselves as the “last honest writer.”

4. Write in your own voice.
Yet another form of “write what you know.” Nothing makes writing easier than writing the way you speak. In theory, just typing up whatever rolls through the writer’s head (unless it’s sporting a foreign accent) should get their great American novel or Kim Possible fanfic epic kicked out in no time. Everything should click for a few minutes until they realize how limited their vocabulary actually is. A loss of momentum is to be expected as they spend the next hour or two looking up synonyms for “nice,” “awesome” and “asstacular.”

This should give you the headstart you need to start cranking out post after post of “Advice for Writers.” In fact, you could just copy and paste what’s included here for a quick eHow post. Just make sure to remove all disparaging comments leveled at your potential readers before submitting.

-CLT

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Jay Maisel + Asshole = 11,400 Hits

June 27, 2011

Some of you may be familiar with Jay Maisel. Some of you may know him as a talented photographer. Others may only read architectural magazines or NY Mag and such and know him from his 72-room mansion. Now, thanks to some extraordinarily nasty copyright thuggery, people all over the internet are getting to know Jay Maisel in a whole new way.

Jay Maisel + Asshole
11,400 hits

Here’s what happened. Andy Baio (of waxy.org) decided to compile an album of chiptune Miles Davis covers. He did everything he was supposed to:

I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis’s publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated.

But then he ran into an unexpected problem:

But there was one thing I never thought would be an issue: the cover art.

Before the project launched, I knew exactly what I wanted for the cover — a pixel art recreation of the original album cover, the only thing that made sense for an 8-bit tribute to Kind of Blue. I tried to draw it myself, but if you’ve ever attempted pixel art, you know how demanding it is. After several failed attempts, I asked a talented friend to do it.

You can see the results here:

That’s when Jay Maisel, the original photographer, entered the picture:

In February 2010, I was contacted by attorneys representing famed New York photographer Jay Maisel, the photographer who shot the original photo of Miles Davis used for the cover of Kind of Blue.

In their demand letter, they alleged that I was infringing on Maisel’s copyright by using the illustration on the album and elsewhere, as well as using the original cover in a “thank you” video I made for the album’s release. In compensation, they were seeking “either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury’s discretion and reasonable attorneys fees or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations.

After seven months of legal wrangling, we reached a settlement. Last September, I paid Maisel a sum of $32,500 and I’m unable to use the artwork again. (On the plus side, if you have a copy, it’s now a collector’s item!) I’m not exactly thrilled with this outcome, but I’m relieved it’s over.

$32,500.

For an album that was created from $4,500 in Kickstarter funds, with all money going to the chiptune artists.

Andy Baio, who hired someone to craft an homage to an iconic album cover, who curated an album of covers with permission from Miles Davis’ publisher, who profited nothing from this experience other than the joy of creating something, is out $32,500.

Meanwhile, Jay Maisel, he of the 72-room mansion, is $32,500 richer.

Jay Maisel + Dick
323,000 hits

And for what? Being able to wield copyright like a mafia thug’s baseball bat? For being unwilling to consider the work transformative enough to fall under “fair use”? For being so full of himself that he can’t even accept the hat tip of an homage?

I don’t care how much you may believe that copyright, trademarks, patents, etc. are good and just and fair, but in your mind, if you truly believe that Jay Maisel deserves 7 times the amount the album was created for, then you’ve got problems far beyond being too myopic to recognize a clearly transformative work.

And to argue that this isn’t transformative misses the point entirely. This isn’t some simple PS filter de-rezzing. It takes actual talent to create pixel art. See this for comparison:

And as to all this compressed, very black “art” scattered throughout this post? They’re simple ASCII conversions of iconic Maisel photos (done with this handy tool). These “pictures,” which took me all of 10 minutes to convert and post without using a single ounce of actual talent are transformative enough to avoid a copyright beatdown.

But actual art, created with actual talent? I guess that’s something to throw lawyers at.

Jay Meisel + Greedy
73,200 hits

Jay, I hope whatever you spent Andy’s money on was worth it.

-CLT

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Unpublished Correspondence V2

May 6, 2011

Sneak past my spam filter, will you? Brace yourself for an onslaught of wordiness which contains none of that important personal information you’re barely trying to capture.

Your email just W o n £ 850,000 UK Pounds in our on-going 11th Anniversary PROMO!!!

YOUR DETAILS: L u c k y # : 12-12-23-35-40-41(12),
T i c k e t # : 00869575733664,
C G P N : 7-22-71-00-66-12.

For more information Contact: Email: mrgrahambenfield_101@hotmail.com
Agent: MR GRAHAMS BENFIELD. On behalf of staffs felicitate with you!!
MRS. ANGELO COLLETTA (Promo Announcer)

————————————————————————

NOTE: Do not reply this mail, send your correspondnence to Mr Grahams as instructed.

….

Dear Mr. Grahams Benfield –

Thanks for alerting me to this promotion. I’m not too sure what the prize is but I would love to have your staffs felicitate this. Unless your UK pounds are significantly different than our American pounds, I’m going to need a lot of help hauling these 850,000 pounds to my apartment. I may also need to obtain a storage unit as I’m not sure if 850,000 pounds of anything would all fit in my apartment.

Of course, math never was my strongest subject. I suppose after conversion this prize would weigh something more manageable, but I still think I’d better take advantage of your staffs.

Not that this is important or anything, but when did you “blokes” (I hope I’m using that correctly) ditch the metric system? I didn’t read anything about it online, but I spend most of my time cruising baseball stat sites or leaving mocking comments on various Gawker blogs. All I have to say is: it’s about time. We both speak English, so why shouldn’t we be able to do a 1-1 weight conversion? It’s bad enough that I have to Google up a calculator every time I buy an import album on eBay.

Which raises another question: are you or are you not using the Euro? If not, “bully” for you! (Again, I hope I’m saying that right.) No good can come of a single currency. Prominent conspiracy theorists  have indicated that it could very well bring about the Apocalypse, and I don’t know about you but I still got some livin’ to do! Some livin’ with my new collection of … things… that weigh a lot!

Looking forward to hearing from you. Please let me know how many staffs will be available to felicitate this move. Please keep the number of women and children to a minimum. This sounds like a lot of lifting and I can’t be slowed down by people unable to keep up with me and my roommates and your guys.

If you must send women/children, please make sure that they can lift a minimum of 20 pounds, in accordance with my handwritten EOE compliance form. Please also have several copies of your most bulletproof waiver forms on hand for those who think they might become repeatedly injured during this move.

Sincerely,
CLT

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Unpublished Correspondence V1

April 14, 2011
Let’s face it. My spam blog is dead. I keep the link up under “The Side Projects” as a taunting reminder of all the dreams I’ve killed off with my lack of focus, time or ideas. At least I had the stones to publicly retire Blow by Blow. And Clifton L. Tanager is just kind of twisting in the wind.
(Oh, by the way, I do have something I’m still writing for. Check out “You, Only Awesomer!” I’m doing business as “Thomas Massey.”)
So, rather than just cross-posting or anything productive like that, I’m going to start posting my one-way conversations with my inbox refugees. (I will, of course, be cybersquatting on the tasty penis joke URL.) The spam-crafted pen is unofficially retired. Vive le spam!

Hi there,

My name is Michael

No Matter what you are selling – Hit-Booster will send targeted visitors to your website!

Within 15 minutes you will have your own website traffic generator that will bring in an ever increasing amount of hits to your websites! Automatically

This software is perfect for bringing real traffic to your site… even if… it’s an affiliate link where you have no control over the website content!

Michael –

Thanks for showing an interest in improving my business, which is still very much in its formative stages. In fact, it’s so formative as to not exist. However, l would like to not disappoint either of us at this early juncture. I have an existing blog that could use some more hits and from which I hope to springboard into a sales career.

Quick question, Michael: Do you happen to own any videoconferencing software? If so, I’d like your permission to borrow it. I don’t have a business plan per se, but would love the chance to connect with like-minded customers of yours and sort of “spitball” ideas until I come up with one.

Do you have any idea what the optimal setup for video spitballing is? I’d like to be able to see enough of the other people to be able to monitor body language and such while also being sufficiently far back as to avoid most of the spitballs.

I can’t be too far back, though. I’ll still need to clearly see the others’ eyes in case we decide to take a different angle and approach this exciting new Web 2.0 paradigm through a few rounds of Texas Hold’Em.

Also, (again, assuming you have this videoconferencing equipment, which I would assume you would, considering you seem pretty “on the ball” webwise, not to mention very “email savvy”) would it be possible to view other conference members in rotational 360-degree views? I would like to rule out any of those members who look better from the back than the front as well as those who kinda “look good from a distance.” I have a pretty busy schedule these days and I don’t want to waste valuable time cyberstalking someone who looks great from behind at a distance of 10 feet or greater.

Thanks in advance for the use of your equipment. I will have my secretary forward you the needed information as soon as he or she is hired.

I’m afraid I won’t be needing your Hit-Booster service, however. I’m a little concerned with the last paragraph and its mysterious use of ellipses and exclamation points. Usually the ellipsis would be used to build anticipation rather than making the sentence sound like a horrible bait-and-switch. I’m sure it’s just a typo but it does make me wonder who would be in the market for affiliate linking where they “have no control over the website content.” I’m sure any up and coming entrepreneur would be thrilled to show potential clients a custom website loaded with affiliate links to sketchy foreign porn sites and counterfeit iPod knockoff sales.

Sincerely,

CLT

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The Mozart Makes Us Classy

March 30, 2011

SearchLOL:

[Click to enlarge.]

-CLT

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Internal Documents Show TSA Knew of Backscatter Imaging Radiation Problems

March 16, 2011

The TSA is back in the news again as maintenance reports have indicated that their backscatter imaging devices are emitting up to 10 times the radiation originally claimed. Understandably, this isn’t sitting well with the general public, who are now concerned that they are being robbed of valuable years off the end of their lives along with their dignity.

The TSA and the manufacturer of the device have claimed that all this stemmed from a simple misunderstanding in terminology. However, the leaked instruction manual for the Backscatter Imaging Device (or as it is popularly know, “PornoScan”) clearly indicates there were already concerns when the units shipped.

As safe as any high-powered electronic device operated by glorified security guards.

PORNOSCAN QUICKSTART GUIDE

Congratulations on your purchase of a federally-mandated PornoScan!  We know you have several less humiliating options to choose from when it comes to anti-terrorist devices and we’re glad your employers have chosen the PornoScan to serve and demoralize traveling citizens.

ASSEMBLY

First, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the contents. You should have (several) boxes, each containing (several) parts. Make sure you have everything needed to assemble your PornoScan, including a Phillips screwdriver, 151 self-tapping screws and a B.S. (minimum) in nuclear physics.

You’ll need two people to assemble this properly. When prompted, refer to the included assembly diagram. (Not included. Please call the Help Desk for replacement instructions. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.)

Note: your PornoScan (or Backscatter Imaging Device) contains time-sensitive depleted uranium. Failure to fully assemble this device will result in escalating isotope instability, which can quickly result in full core meltdown. (See Appendix 4.b. “OH SWEET JESUS, MY FACE!!!”)

To avoid causing undue passenger alarm, these mandatory stickers have NOT been shipped with your scanner.

CONTROLS

Now that your PornoScan (PS) is fully assembled, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the control panel. Let’s take a look at the four (4) status lights:

Power” – When power is on, this button will glow bright green. Due to improperly isolated isotopes, this light will also glow bright green when the device is off. A replacement containment device is on the way. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Note: The PS puts out a shitload (metric) of radiation when fully powered. Please maintain a distance of 15-20 feet when “Power” button is lit.

Standby Power” – A “power saving” setting. This will allow the device to quickly “boot up” upon passenger entry. This light will glow red when activated.

Note: This lower setting should allow you to come safely within 10 feet of the device. Be prepared to run 5-10 feet in under 0.2 seconds should a passenger enter the device thereby returning it to full power. Additional note: does not actually save power.

Standby” – Pretty much what passes for “Off” these days. Can still render you sterile within a diameter of 5 feet. Should you need to approach the device (for instance, to power up the PornoScan), please ensure your genitalia are covered with your hands and your body turned 30 degrees perpendicular to the egress of the machine. This button will glow orange if activated or if “Power” button is currently green.

PANIC” – This status light will glow red at all times UNLESS a meltdown or other catastrophic failure is detected by the onboard computer. At that point the light will switch off. DO NOT PANIC. When the PANIC light goes out, a signal is sent to the nearest TSA headquarters. Please remain calm and await further instructions. (Allow 4-6 weeks for signal delivery.)

Note: PANIC indicator light will go out when  “Standby Power” is activated. This is a normal control panel function. Do not panic unless instructed otherwise.

OPERATION

With the controls functional, it’s time to put your PS to work. In addition to providing the illusion of safety, your PS is also a time-saver, freeing up the time you usually spent mentally undressing passengers and allowing you to brush up on your gun handling skills and anger management courses.

The powerful patented “Backscatter” system now allows you to fully undress passengers without leaving your desk or closing your browser window. For added safety, post the included “Clothing Optional” sign above the entrance to the device.

Note: As is indicated by the “Backscatter” terminology, this device is chock full of flying atoms doing God knows what. Please keep door closed when not in use.

As passengers enter the noisy and possibly brightly glowing PornoScan, they may become apprehensive, especially when informed that their hands need to be in what is normally a stickup victim pose. Calm them by suggesting fun “role-play” activities like “Pretend you’re on a roller coaster,” or “Act like you’re at a party where the DJ is busting out some old skool hip hop.”

There may also be concern expressed as to the safety of the untested device itself, in particular the amount of radiation used to provide the naked scan. If your assurances that “Hey, I’ve been working with this thing for X number of hours and I’m still OK” fail to calm the passenger, refer to the information provided in Appendix 2.b. (“No, I’ll Tell YOU What Your Rights Are“) to answer their queries with various threats of detainment.

FEATURES

Let’s take a quick look at the newest features in the PornoScan 1.14 (beta). Here’s a brief list of the items your PS can detect that your average TSA agent can’t:

  • Unusually sized genitalia
  • Prosthetic devices (incl. unusually sized genitalia)
  • Confiscatable items such as high-dollar watches, jewelry and gold fillings
  • Sarcasm

In addition, the latest in bomb detection technology allows the PornoScan to detect these type of explosive devices:

  • Bundled dynamite with a clock/timer/fuse attached.
  • Black, globe-shaped bombs with a fuse attached.

Note: If timer is running or fuse is lit, DO NOT PANIC. Check “PANIC” light. It should be “on” (off). Evacuate terminal of all crucial personnel including TSA members, airline employees and gift shop staff. Next, calmly herd passengers and suspected terrorists to the nearest empty tarmac where they can be safely detonated. Finally, give yourself a pat on the back! You’ve just averted domestic terrorism!

The TSA agents quickly discovered her cast was made entirely out of "bomb."

HELPFUL TIPS

Pregnant women and women with infants will often try to smuggle their own fluids on board through the use of their “breasts.” Most of these suspects will have somewhat of a haggard glow about them. APPROACH WITH CAUTION. In addition to harboring “breast fluids,” their glow will often turn to vitriolic hatred once confronted.

Other women may be carrying saline or silicone in their “breasts.” To date these fluids have not been linked to terrorist activity. Play it safe and investigate further.

Good luck in your fight against terror! Armed with this information (and your gun) you should prepared to deal with any uncomfortable situation!

(Addendum: The manufacturers of the PornoScan and your management team would like to remind you to refer to the device by its proper name [Backscatter Something Something] while on duty.)

-CLT

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Rescued from the Cutting Room Floor: The Best Previously Unpublished Charlie Sheen Quotes

March 8, 2011

Charlie Sheen prepares for an early morning strafing run by summoning his cocaine-serving robot.

Due to the nature of the beast that is the white, powdery monkey on Charlie Sheen’s back, many of his interviews have been trimmed to fit the time allotted. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your level of fascination with this ongoing train wreck), this means that some of Sheen’s biggest proclamations have been excised in order to fit his self-absorbed ranting into an hour-long interview format.

The following is a brief selection of quotes that never made it to the airwaves due to time constraints or some sort of editorial concern over exactly how much “crazy” they were allowed to air uninterrupted. Enjoy.

  • “I’m currently crafting a trained army of attack falcons… well, more of an air force, really…”
  • “Gary Busey? Jake Busey? Winners! Third book of the Necronomicon being written now by these gnarlingtons.”
  • “I sleep only 40 minutes a night, serenaded by air raid sirens and Norwegian black metal.”
  • “Those of us who are actually still rad are still using ‘rad’ all the time. A new wave of BMX destruction is at hand, all before you get your fuckin’ Venti whatever, yuppie.”
  • “TZ [Todd Zeile] and I have spent the last four nights cock-blocking down at the Chicken Ranch because we are insatiable and our waters run deep, my friend.”
  • “We’re also druid shadow priests. Chaotic neutral. No alignment. Take that however you will.”
  • “[Jon] Cryer is buckwheat pancakes with oat bran seasoning. He’s like Jiminy Cricket crossed with John Harvey Kellogg. I’m not sure he’s ever produced semen in his life.”
  • “It’s not a mixtape without Sister Christian. Write that shit down, Alan. Gospel.”
  • “While doing Shaolin monk training with Keith Carradine in Tenochtitlan, Mexico, we ate Alfonso Ribeiro’s heart. A warning: don’t bet on bullfights. You can’t beat the locals.”
  • “Blowing money on coke and hookers is nothing. You aren’t really spending money until you’re ordering Kharma speakers online at 3 am.”
  • “As far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate president we’ve had in the past 600 years was Thor, or as he was born, Nikolai Tesla.”
  • “Do you what makes me absolutely histrionic, absolutely batshit crazy? Just coke, bro. Just this essence. It’s the rich man’s ‘white lightning,’ man. Without it, empires fall. Markets collapse. Human life is devalued. Santa dies.”
  • “I once had sex with seven women simultaneously. It was like Jesus with the five loaves and fish but instead it was with penises and tongues. When you’re winning, doors open for you and miracles are commonplace. Commonplace enough to be almost annoying.”
  • “[To a member of the studio staff] Your mom’s like Aleve, d-bag! All day strong, all day long! In the ass!”
  • “Two albums. Both with Mojo Nixon. Next year.”
  • “I’ve been certified as a nutritionist in 14 states. 40 minutes of sleep a night leaves you a lot of downtime. I maximize.”
  • “If I go down or CBS invalidates my contract, I’ve got a whole list of Hollywood people’s real names in my lawyer’s safe. Try me, Chaim. I have data. DOB. DNA maps. For real.”
  • “Scientologists have Jennifer Grey’s real nose. I traded it for their alchemy secrets.”

-CLT