Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Heart for Glass

I just went to make myself a couple of hotdogs. Real beef hotdogs. Not tofu dogs, turkey dogs, or chicken dogs. (There seem to be too many pieces of beak and feet in the chicken wieners and my teeth aren't up to it. I'll take my chances on the rat droppings, thank you.)

Real Piller's Ball Park hotdogs. (Sorry, Galen, but President's Choice Ball Park's are not Ball Parks. Your marketing / tasting people are lying to you. What is it about the poor saps who take over when Dave leaves? Another prime example of this is Wendy's Restaurant. When Dave was at the helm the burgers were hot and juicy (and the staff spoke English you could understand). Now the food out of Wendy's is cold, dry, and covered in indeterminate sauce. It's like the burgers died with Dave. Or maybe they're now making the burgers out of Dave. dun dun dun)

Now we get to the condiments. I like a little ketchup on my hotdogs. A little ketchup. Not great squirting mounds of ketchup. But that's exactly what I got thanks to the design of Heinz's squeeze bottle. The ones that sit on their lids. The hole is off-centre so the aim is screwy, too. (Ow! My eyes!) The idea of a squeeze bottle that rests on its lid is sound enough, but the execution of the design needs work. Few people want geysers of ketchup shooting at high velocity across their food. What happened to Heinz's speed limit on their ketchup?

I miss glass bottles. Not just glass ketchup bottles that took three days to pour (and you could draw out a nice, even, straight line with), but glass bottles of pop. Having to endure the residual chemicals released by plastic or tin are not doing any of us any favours.

When I was a kid you could buy bottles of pop for twelve cents. Ten cents for the bottle and two cents for the deposit, because they used to be recyclable. I don't know what they can recycle and what they can't anymore. The rules keep changing and I've given up. I suppose the butterfingered public is to partly to blame for the demise of the glass pop bottle, but I also suspect it's the gluttons for soda who want twenty-seven gallon bottles who are also behind this. Fond memories of pop in glass bottles refers to Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. Remember the hillbilly on the Mountain Dew bottle? They were tasty, thirst-quenching, and kids could get money when they took the bottles back. (Which they would then spend on penny candy, so it was in the best interest of the corner store to stock the glass bottles of pop.)

Penny candy is gone with the memories of yesterday, along with the glass bottles of name brand soda. Now we are faced with bulk bottles of pops, mountains of candy, and bulky, mountains of children.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sociopathic Media

I know that in my last post I told you not to expect posts on a regular basis. I did not say there wouldn't be a new post today.

Today I'm talking about social media and the perceptions of people online.

Social media started as a way for people to stay connected with friends and family. These communities were then infiltrated by companies seeking word-of-mouth advertising. This gave rise to the social media 'gurus' who turned the whole social media landscape into a popularity contest. It's gone from, "What's new with you?" to "Buy my stuff!" It's turned into more sociopathic media than anything social.

Let's not forget the blatant invasions of privacy taking place either. Facebook has even admitted trying to manipulate the emotions of the masses. Now they are under investigation because of this. Why does your time line keep going back to 'top stories'? Why won't Facebook let you post pictures or change your privacy settings? Because Facebook is screwing with you. That's also why they make it nigh unto impossible to actually delete your Facebook account. How does Facebook keep coming up with advertising targeted to your interests? They track what you 'like' online. This goes beyond just what you do on Facebook. They dig through your cookies and cache. Pretty soon you'll be jolted out of bed at night by the din of Facebook and Google going through your trash cans.

Human Resources departments can share some of the blame. Hiring someone with a higher Klout score (who's the most popular / who's the trendiest / who's the prettiest) than someone who can actually do the job is sheer idiocy. Ever stop to think that maybe these social butterflies will be too busy chatting and posting to actually do their job? 

You can't always judge a person's abilities or personality by how they behave online. People are always bolder when they can stand behind a wall. Take me, as an example. I'd hate for clients to think I'm going to show up to the studio with a bad attitude. 

Clients find me punctual, polite, and professional. (Check out my website for some testimonials. If you're paying me for my time then I can be as happy or bland as you want. I spent too many years in radio not courting controversy to slip up now.) Unless there's a delay on the subway. Look, if you want to off yourself at least have the common decency to either do it at home or throw yourself under a truck. That way the trains run on time and you add some excitement to the street. You might even get on the news and be famous. Not to mention the bonus of ticking off the status symbol steering idiots on the roads. 

I'm kidding, of course. No one should take their own life. We have cars and processed food that do that for us. (Although the signs on the wall of the subway stations that say, "Thinking of suicide? There is help." always make me keep looking behind me to make sure someone isn't going to 'help' me onto the tracks. - there's something for the editors in the audience to gape at) 

Maybe I crossed a line there. And came dangerously close to the third rail. But before you get on your high horse and condemn me, know this: I suffer from depression. It's an inherited trait from my father. 

Yes, depression is real. It's an obsessive compulsive disorder that goes on inside certain people's heads. Often it manifests by over thinking a situation where the thought processes keep coming up with only the negative. It is a downward mental spiral that a person can only break free of by changing their thought processes. Many times this self-flagellation is brought on by the repeated mental bashing delivered by outside forces. Screw them. They are not you. They aren't living your life and have no right to tell you how should look, act, or feel. It has been said that depression is anger turned inwards. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. If I'm railing against something else, I'm not beating myself up.

Some people find medication helps. Others use meditation or music or exercise. The only thing that works for me is a good dose of comedy. If you are depressed, stop thinking. You are pounding yourself with the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Your brain keeps feeding you the same negative answers. Shut it down by concentrating on something pleasant.

And tell Facebook and Klout to get stuffed.

But be sure to follow me on Twitter: @StevenMittler :)

Monday, 28 July 2014

A Post About Not Posting

This is a short post about why I won't be posting to this blog every day.

Blogs are a form of social media. The social media 'gurus' will say that it is important to blog as often as possible and to put up posts at the same time on those days. 

Well screw them.

I'll post when and if I feel like it. I've got enough to worry about without stressing over whether or not I've come up with another piece of pointless drivel to waste people's time.

A friend (whose name is an anagram of 'Savanna Feisty Hug' or 'Fantasy Naive Hugs' and even 'Unsafe Gash Vanity', but that one's a bit rude) told me that she had written a year's worth of blogs, just so she always has something to post. That's admirable. Her discipline in being able to churn out that amount of writing is something to aspire to. (See? I'm not always a spiteful bastard. Always a bastard; not always spiteful. Hey, the marriage arrangements of my parents is none of your bee's wax.)

It's not me, though. I prefer the spontaneity of the moment. Whatever is pissing me off at any given moment brings rise to my instant venomous humour.

There are certainly plenty of topics for me to rant about. Most times its hard to stay on one topic because the venting of my spleen leads me off on tangents about subcategories within the original post. When I mentioned social media 'gurus' at the start of this message it took tremendous effort not to wale on those self-appointed, full-of-themselves, popularity hogs. Those smarmy gits. Telling people what to do and when; all in the name of 'helping' others. What they're really doing is pushing people into panicking about trivial matters. It's an age-old sales technique. Create a crisis and come in to solve the problem - at a nominal fee.

Oh, bugger. Looks like I couldn't help myself. Okay, mini rant over. I have more important matters to deal with.

There will be a full-fledged rant coming soon and many more to follow.

Just don't expect them on a regular basis or at regular times.

If you want regularity, eat more fibre.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Can't See the Writing for the Words

This blog is a follow-up to the one I posted the other day about the story of David Mitchell's back. Back Story is an appropriate title as Mitchell's back plays a prominent role. (No, there are no chiropractors involved. And no anal sex, either.) You'll have to read the book to find out just what I mean. Clever man. Clever title. (Still don't know who he is? Here's the Master Ranter on his Soapbox.)

If I'm so keen on you purchasing David Mitchell's Back Story, why didn't I provide any links? It's available on Amazon, isn't it? Yes, you can buy it on Amazon, but I would rather you did not. 


Because in my estimation, Amazon is evil and needs to be taken off at the knees.

But didn't Amazon revolutionize the e-book world and make it easier for self-published authors to market their writing?

Yes, Amazon did that, in much the same way the Bolshevik revolution seized power from the Tsars and gave the Russian people the right to starvation and endless queues for toilet paper.  Amazon has blinded independent authors with the flashy light of fame and led them into the Amazon boudoir so that Amazon and traditional publishing houses can spit roast these hapless authors repeatedly.

But Amazon is huge. They're worldwide. What about getting my writing out to the masses?

Amazon is only huge because you, independent author, made them huge. It is your right to take back the power you willingly gave to Amazon. Do your homework. Look into alternatives like Smashwords or Lightning Source. Don't believe what you read on the internet or what other people tell you. For pity's sake don't listen to the whiners on GoodReads. That's owned by Amazon, you know. You have to do the research yourself.

Enough about Amazon. Back to what I was ranting about in my last post: editing.

Having just read David Mitchell's latest column in the Guardian I suspect that his editors and proofreaders are falling down on purpose. Maybe Victoria is binding David's hands and feet; thus forcing him to bang out his articles with his John Thomas. (There's something you're not likely to see on Britain's Got Talent. I can see David Walliams instantly stretching out his hands to slap it. The gold buzzer, I mean.) Even so, I find it hard to believe that such blatant errors would escape such a learned man. Unless there's a mask involved as well as the chains.

But that is none of our business. And stop before you go spreading rumours. None of the above paragraph is true other than the bit about the failings of David's proofreaders and editors. And the bit about David being a learned man.

The point is this: No one can proofread and edit their own work. You need at least one or more sets of eyes to see what you, the author, cannot see. You are too close to your work to notice all the words and punctuation.

At the very least you should bone-up on best editing practices by grabbing a copy of Vanessa Finaughty's the Editors' Bible. It's on sale until July 31st, 2014 for half price.

As for places to purchase David Mitchell's Back Story, I'd rather you got off your arse, got on your ass and road in to town to buy it from a real book store. You can even check availability online. Go to the website of your local book store and do a search for Back Story. (Don't just do a Google search. They're just as bad as Amazon, but I'll be ranting Google another time.) In fact, you can even have your local book shop order it in for you. They can do that, you know. Tell them you have the International Standard Book Numbers and they should have no trouble locating copies. Here are the ISBNs for Back Story: ISBN 13: 9780007351749 ISBN 10: 0007351747

You don't have to kowtow to Amazon of Borg.

Friday, 25 July 2014

DM's Back Story: Read and Learn

I am reading David Mitchell's memoir, Back Story. For those of you who do not know who David Mitchell is: what planet have you been living on? I am referring to the comedian, not to the novelist.

He's funny, as the cute redhead of no more than twenty-three commented to me as she rung up the sale of the book. I quite agree. David is hilarious.

Mr. Mitchell is well-known for his trademark rants. Although I don't always agree with his point of view, I do find him highly amusing and always look forward to his appearances on British panel games. (The discussion with Dara O'Briain about psychics and evolution was way off base, but that was Dara's supposition and David was a guest on Dara's DVD and would naturally not challenge Dara's hypothesis. That and Dara could squash him like a bug. Mr. O'Briain (also a very funny fellow in his own right and miles smarter than I'll ever be) put forth the notion that, based on evolution, if psychic abilities did exist, we would all have them by now. Well, no. Evolution isn't just about gaining things; it's about losing them as well. That's why we don't have tails. Evolution is finding what works and what doesn't work. Does he really think the ability for all of humanity to hear each other's thoughts would be a good thing? I think it would drive us crazy, or at least more crazy than we've already driven ourselves.)

Mr. Mitchell is also known for his impressive vocabulary. This is why it boggles my mind to find so many proofreading and editing errors contained within Back Story.

I could understand the mountain of comma faux pas (almost every time I see the word 'but' the comma is either missing or in the wrong place) and occasional other trip-up (such as not capitalizing a name like the Force) if this book had been self-published, but it was not. It was printed and distributed by a major publishing house: HarperCollins.

Even an under-educated buffoon like me knows that a comma generally comes before a 'but'. It's easy for me to remember because I like a woman with a pretty face and sodium (that's NA, or nice ass), one that is pleasant to behold whether she is coming or going. (This from the man with no ass. It's true. I own now donkeys and my buttocks are as flat as the Prairies.) How does that work? Look at the shape of the comma. Never mind the bubble butt; a comma butt is just as appealing. If you think that's sexist, then apply it to men. Do you prefer a man with a firm or flabby butt? I think the old ad slogan 'so round, so firm, so fully packed' hits the mark.

But if I, the most middle-class of the middle-class (my name is Mittler, after all, which means 'middle man') am constantly being ripped away from David's delightful story of his life by niggling imperfections, how are the more educated among us going to survive to the end?

What happened? Did David insist that he knew better and refused to allow his words to be subjected to the editor's scrutiny? Did the people at HarperCollins decide that a man of David Mitchell's impeccable knowledge would naturally write a picture perfect piece that needed no editing? Or were the editors at HarperCollins so terrified at the mere thought of suggesting minute changes to the manuscript that they cowered like frightened children in a thunderstorm and did nothing? Did they fear being flogged by the posh man off the telly? (Not that, as far as I know, David has ever physically beaten anyone (except at games like ping pong), not even a servant. Tongue lashings are another story and those splayed by the venomous Mitchell mouth have only themselves to blame.)

Perhaps the original manuscript, as presented to HarperCollins by Mr. Mitchell was, indeed, perfect in every respect and only after some junior editor flunky (who scrambled at the chance to boast that she or he had worked on a celebrity memoir) made a hash of it, was the world presented with the work in such a flawed form.

Another theory is that Back Story was written the way David speaks. You can certainly hear him telling the story, if you've been exposed to enough of his material. But that still does not excuse the imperfection of the editing. David's voice will still shine through with proper punctuation and capitalization.

I do admire Mr. Mitchell and think the world is a better place with him here, but I wouldn't consider myself a raving fan. I'm certainly not about to fly to Britain to go through his bins to find out which takeaway place he and Victoria prefer most.

Despite the grievous editing oversights, you should buy Back Story. It's a picturesque tour of part of London, packed with insights into the upbringing of one of Britain's funniest men. Self-published authors should also pick up a copy, just so they can tsk tsk at a big publishing house making so many boneheaded errors.

David Mitchell has a new book coming out in November. I can't wait to read it.

Yes, I realize there are probably plenty of editing errors in this blog, but I'm not an editor. That's not my job. Your task now is to get your hands on David Mitchell's Back Story.