Yeah, but do they have liner notes, huh? Do they?

Wow, only a day into hols and I’m already… well, as Bertie Wooster might put it, if not actually disgruntled, I am a long way from being gruntled.

See, I’d popped over to check my TV Tropes watchlist earlier and noted an edit on the Seltzer & Friedberg page, which I have spent some while nurturing from bare crumbs into a tasty snarkeriffic treat…

…past tense. The mods had ‘wiped and locked’ the page — basically, removing all individualistic content and replacing with the version — citing concerns over ‘negative’ writing. Or ‘juvenile’, as per a first draft of the replacement text on the talk page.

Which… yeah. OK. Not to start ranting outright here, but S&F were responsible for Epic frelling Movie, ferPetesake. I don’t quite see how society at large is benefited by protecting them from negative feedback. As I pointed out in my huffy talk-page note, that way ultimately lies ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space: Ed Wood’s misunderstood masterpiece.’

Whereupon I wound up with the classic threat to take my Internet and go home, so there! — but on solemn reflection I don’t think it’s worth quite that level of huffy. Still peeved that that much work can be wiped out without my input, though. Granted, the wipe doesn’t necessarily redound onto my particular contributions, but it’s still hard to avoid the personal. Why, thank you, mods, for that lovely acknowledgement of many hours spent working hard to improve your wiki. Thank you so bloody much.

I’m also a bit discouraged to discover that once again, my particular writing talents are the… trapezoidal-or-something… peg in the square hole. At least it’s never dull, trying to find a compromise between reason and snark on the Net.


Did I mention it’s in *really* nice font?

So I have just seen the final version of my… *ahem* the Bob & Ray CD liner notes. Which my article appears in. Which OH DID I MENTION I AM INSANELY HAPPY ABOUT THIS?

Because I so am. Tempered only slightly by the Grandshoes’ refusal to get into the spirit of the thing during a recent visit, especially once they found out I wasn’t getting paid. Yes, yes, I was probably a bit naiive and should’ve held out for more than a ‘cultural critic’ credit. On the other hand, I now have liner notes, whereas you guys have a weekly trip to Swiss Chalet Chick’n’Ribs to argue over who ordered the vegetables and why they don’t allow you an extra baked potato with your value meal.

…um, sorry. I do realise they’re, like, eighty-nine. The Peterborough Experience generally tends to have that effect on me — kind of the same effect that Idol forums do. Eventually, I snap and start blurting random stuff in self-defense of my sanity. Because there is no straight-faced way to handle the news that your elderly Aunty has run right out and bought wedges of actual sod to replace the burned spots on your Grandfather’s lawn, and they are now in her trunk. The sod, not the burned spots. Oh, and by the way, could I look up The Magic Google to find out how one installs fresh sod?

Anyway, liner note squee. It’s beautiful, really. Elegant font and everything. My words, in actual print — this remains a significantly different feeling from seeing them online; I don’t know why that should be exactly, but there you go.

And I will never have to proofread them again. This thing is becoming the adult equivalent of that speech on Canada geese I gave in the eighth grade, that made it to the school semifinals; a beloved memory of a literary success, except that why, exactly, is becoming increasingly fuzzy.  "The Canada goose is the most popular goose in Canada…"

Especially since this thing is designed to be read and appreciated almost exclusively by experts. (Face it, not a huge market out there for ‘Ooh, Bob & Ray? Sounds fresh and funky! I’ll make a playlist!") You know ‘pee shyness’? I think I have article shyness, sort of. I didn’t quite expect anybody to be looking.

Still… my words. In elegant font. On account of I am a ‘thoughtful’ cultural critic.

Life is good.

I am chuffed.

So I got the first revision back of my liner notes, and was pleased to note that the changes were mostly minor and make the whole work much better (even if a bit further out yet from the way it reads in my head. *tiny sigh for choice but indiscreet phrases, now goned forever*)

The really pleasant surprise, though, came at the end. I had been offered a short bio line, and had responded that I had no idea what I’d put in one. But when I got it back, I discovered they’d translated me as: ‘cultural critic and writer.’

Cultural critic and writer. 

I think I want that on my tombstone, ‘kay?

Excuse me, I have to go die now.

 Well, the liner-note project made it past PopMatters’ approval. All that’s wanting is the rubber stamp of the CD’s producer — who also happens to be the man who produced their NPR series. And runs their official website. And is pretty much the foremost living Bob & Ray ‘spert, to say nothing of a famously, ferociously intelligent and opinionated radio legend himself.

"I’m sure he’ll love it," my contact (do liner notes have editors?) blithely assures me. "But would you mind if he runs an eye over it to make sure everything’s accurate?"

No, I reply. Noooo, of course not. 

Then I go hide my head in the sofa cushions for a full ten minutes.

Social scientists must be very frustrated people.

One more because-it’s-still-vacation-and-I-can link:

The Word Banishment Committee of Lake Superior State University has a message for the technically savvy this year — put down your app and chillax on the tweets, people.

This is not, strictly speaking, news. As can be seen from the comments. People have been irked with the current vocabulary since Jehovah first asked Cain where his brother was. ("God! Like, am I my brother’s keeper, or what, you know?") Frankly — speaking especially as a technophile who resents being demonised just for being up-to-date — most of these people should just chillax.

But it can’t be denied that it’s satisfying to imagine, every now and then, just what would happen if you had sole charge of the English language. For one thing, you would never have to look at another ‘grocer’s apostrope’ as long as you lived, which would significantly reduce chances of at least one mass murder. Just think: a world in which everybody understands that ‘loose’ and ‘lose’ are two different words. Bliss.

I can’t say I disagree with everything on the list, though. ‘Bromance’ is stupid. So is the Obama-mania — we get it already. ‘Chillax’ is, in fact, completely un-necessary.
And (per the comments) I never have quite got the hang of ‘sick’ meaning ‘excellent!’. To paraphrase that great philosopher (and, interestingly enough, contemporary of Max Headroom) Huey Lewis on the general subject of trendy superlatives: while I stay cool as a rule, sometimes, ‘bad’ is bad.

One the other hand… what’s with the hostility for ‘twitter’ and ‘tweet’? I’ve always liked how they perfectly describe their function and its value — a little burst of inconsequential words, exactly like a sparrow’s song. Ditto ‘app’ — an ‘application’ is what you run on full-sized computers. What else are you going to call the handheld version, ‘Fun and/or useful programs sized so you can carry them in your pocket’? And while ‘friend’, in the telecom sense, may be an awkward misuse of the concept… let us all just be grateful ‘buddy’ never caught on big-time, OK?

Personally, as noted, I’m more of a grammar nazi. My list of really annoying buzzwords is small — but mighty; anyone using the phrase ‘Kanye West’ in my hearing is guaranteed an earful.

Seriously, also, people, can we get over the cutesy terms for female anatomy? ‘Vay-jay-jay’ etc? What Britney was showing the world was her — well, I didn’t study the photos closely, but I can guarantee you that was not it. Incidentally, while I find TMZ-speak generally really annoying, I can also guarantee that once you respond with something like ‘laeve britny alone shes workd sooooo hard your all just haterz!!!’ you have — to put it delicately — forfeited the intellectual high ground.

Yours truly the Grand High Authority on All Things Spoken would also like to have a word with you management-consultant types. Can you please stop lecturing me on how I can ‘leverage’ my ‘synergy’ to ‘impact results’ long enough for me to actually do my job?! Thank you.

In return, I resolve to quit starting every sentence with ‘Basically…’, and explaining to you how ‘text’ isn’t a verb, and we’ll all be a lot happier.

The Internet: Allowing people to publicly whine about not being noticed since 1995. declined my deathless prose. I am not as surprised by this as I would have been had they not posted their ’10 Golden Rules of Internet Writing’ on the confirmation page for the application — evidently their idea of a little gag. Ten seconds past confirming that sucker, and I knew I was screwed. Turns out those little dry sticks of articles that *ahem* convinced me I was a shoo-in are actually the house style. Oopsie.

So once again the search for an appropriate home for my writing aspirations has foundered. The ‘am I good enough for publication’ hurdle has been well and truly breached, and my horizons are all set to be broadened; the trouble is that what I write seems to fall, messily, between several different cracks.

I can write on specific subjects, but am hampered by the conviction that most everybody I’m writing for already knows more about whatever-it-is than me. I have no university education, no way to claim expertise. Besides, I can only prattle on for so long before getting deadly bored with myself and deciding to liven up the joint.
So instead I’ve honed a knack for what you might call comic appreciation. To put it another way, I can review things fine, but it always seems to turn out funny… look, you in the back, this is where you just go with me, ‘kay? OK.

I can pick out the odd and irrelevant and downright strange and turn it to at least some kind of account. Which I had figured would make me a natural negotiator through the pop-cult wilderness, but the one time I proposed a column on those lines to PopMatters, it was turned down as not focussed enough. Apparently you need to be a certified expert even in celebrity gossip, which raises the disturbing spectre of Perez Hilton: Career Counselor. I’m too wholesome to be slapped! …but I’m also a bit sick of being asked when the tea and cookies show up.

All told I still think of myself as a would-be humourist, anyway, as the closest thing to a category I’d fall under. In various unofficial fora I have recapped, ranted and mused, and people have laughed in turn. So far, so good. Thing is, I have no idea where one goes to become an official Humour Writer. There doesn’t seem to be any online application labeled ‘Future Erma Bombecks needed here!’ Unless I just haven’t been looking in the right places, in which case, any direction available would be most welcome.

The simplest route to recognition would likely be to pick a popular show and start recapping again, but that would mean dealing with fan wank. And I really, really don’t wanna do that… to either myself or the fans in question. You have to sincerely buy into the machine to at least some degree, in fandom (see note about quickly getting bored and deciding to do something about it, above, and shudder).

So the search continues. Just by way of convincing myself that I’m not totally delusional, I will point out that my writing style has been dubbed ‘unusual and nice’ by a commenter on WordPress.

And then I will go over to, read their ‘golden’ articles, and snicker quietly to myself.

At least, we know I’m an expert on *one* subject…

So Facebook continues to expand my horizons in new and odd ways, and I’m looking at this application for

It’s evidently one of those online zines where they collect lots of random people to write articles on subjects they know stuff about, so the whole thing’s got a kind of charming Family Circle-meets-Wikipedia vibe. You fill out an application and send a writing sample, and they assign you an editor and expect you to crank out ten articles every three months. Then they pay you out of petty cash, aka whatever the GoogleAds bring in.

I could do this, obviously. I mean, not to be pretentious here, but I have done this, and well. And I admit the prospect of actually getting payback out of those nigh-inescapable ‘Secret of a flat stomach? Obey!’ ads… well, it’s not zapping through the monitor down the lines to shock the hell out of certain sensitive marketer body parts, but it’s something.

The one rub isthe contract. It has a clause whereby everything you write for Suite101 becomes theirs. Absolutely. In perpetuity. Were you to send the link to your weird inventor uncle, and were he to escape to another dimension that had interstellar travel and start publishing the material deep in the heart of their version of the Andromeda galaxy, this contract leaves the distinct impression that Suite101’s lawyers would not be happy.

I dunno. Seven million (claimed) readers, some of whom might be pro editors trolling for talent, that’s something to think about. Maybe I could just write the ten articles, and if anything looks *really* good I wouldn’t give it to them but save it for the ol’portfolio. Or PopMatters.

Or maybe I’m just desperate and weird and about to be taken for a ride. I dunno. But I’m still thinking.

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