Thursday, July 10, 2008

washington post, you make me sick!*

As an aspiring writer, hoping to one day make the New York Times bestseller list, I tend to envy those who are already at where I'd one day like to be. For instance I'm completely jealous of Michael Pollan. That asshole can write (and, of course, I mean "asshole" as a term of endearment in this case as I pretty much pour pore over anything that bitch has ever written (and, of course, I mean "bitch" as a term of endearment too as I not only pour pore over his work, but have several times written essays not for school but for myself about his innate ability to write so wonderfully about sh*t as mundane as foliage and corn (and, of course, I mean "foliage" and "corn" as f*cking foliage and corn because, um, that's what he writes about...anyway...))). Absolutely ridiculous parentheticals aside, however, Michael Pollan can seriously write like the dickens! (And due to the fact that I just wrote "write like the dickens," clearly, I'm still working on it...)

But enough with the complimentary hullabaloo; that's not my forté. (Although, Michael Mr. Pollan: If by the grace of Topsiders, you're somehow magically reading this, I beg you to E-mail me and, you know, take me under your proverbial wing and what not.) We all know my real talent is in the art -- yes, art -- of complaining.

And so, here we are. There will be no pictures of me today dressed up like an asshole. Nor will I be dropping subliminal messages suggesting that you should dump slime à la You Can't Do That On Television on anyone wearing madras or douche-denim. In fact, today I'm not even going to mention fashion and the dishabille doo-doo DC's denizens drop day-to-day. (D-lightful! See Mr. Pollan? I need help!)

Nope. Instead, I'm going to deride what quite possibly is the most retardulously written article I've ever read in the Post. In fact, this might be the worst written article I've read in any American newspaper...ever. Wait, I take that back. It might be the second worst. The first worst -- hands down -- goes to Gene Weingarten's "Pearls Before Breakfast," which somehow, quite mysteriously, in fact, won the Pulitzer Prize. In short, it's a nearly 7,400-word article on how DC is chock full of assholes because commuters failed to stop in their tracks flip-flops to listen to a concert violinist play in L'Enfant Plaza during rush hour.

[Necessary sidebar: First off, it's not rude nor is it a sign of the erosion of our collective humanity if people don't stop to listen to some bitch -- although arguably a bitch with more talent in his left eyebrow than I will ever have in my left eyebrow -- with a violin in L'Enfant Plaza, which is quite possibly the gnarliest place in DC. That sh*t is ugly. Bon Jovi could've been playing and I wouldn't have stopped. OK, I probably wouldn't stop for Bon Jovi anywhere. Billy Joel, Wang Chung, The Fat Boys (well, I'd stop for the Fat Boys). But you get the idea. In other words, the only thing Weingarten's article proved was that the metro smells, having a job sucks and the Pulitzer committee was getting paid off by someone.]

But getting back to takin' care of business: What could have almost topped Weingarten's drivel? Wil Haygood's drivel. And no, I neither misspelled nor made that name up.

Mr. Haygood penned an article called "Lonely, Dark and Deep," and while it sounds like the title of a personal ad you'd find on Craigslist's Casual Encounters (not that I'm looking or anything...), or, um, a stanza from a Robert Frost poem (but aren't those two things not at least a little similar?), it has nothing to do with either. It's about some killer (ooooo!). OK, it is creepy, and the actual story is a bit interesting (unlike the predictable Weingarten set-up), but the writing is -- and I'll aim to keep my criticism both constructive and professional here -- totally sh*tastic.

In fact, I have to take back what I said about the story. I actually don't know if it's interesting because I couldn't bear to read it from start to finish. I started to feel physically ill halfway through. At first I thought my nauseousness was due to the several ounces of brie I consumed instead of a real dinner. But then I remembered that brie is effing delicious and realized that my feeling of near-hurl was due to the choppy, cheesy chiché-filled writing style with which Will Wil seemingly tried so hard to make as, well, sh*tastic as he possibly could. He succeeded:

Haygood writes: "All manner of animals feast in the deep woods along this lovely stretch of mountains."

I write: Really? "All manner of animals?" Is he joking? Is that even proper English? And that's how you're going to start this series? REALLY?!

Haygood writes: "The man's eyes danced all over the fish."

I write: Again, really? Is this cheesed out personification really necessary? Ugh. It's cheap romance novel writing, is it not? Here, let's see. "As Lorenzo's silky pirate shirt buckled under the pressure of his throbbing pecs, the sun gently kissed his buttcheeks. Lorenzo was dressed as he always was -- in assless chaps." (Hmm...not bad, actually. Perhaps, that's how I can get on the NYT bestseller list...) But you know, if Wil was going to use this sort of eye-roll-inducing writing technique, at least he could have made it memorable. How's about, "The man's eyes krumped all over the fish." I could get behind that.

Haygood writes: "There was a gentle breeze, like feathers swirling."

I write: What? "Feathers swirling?" Do feathers "swirl?" Toilet water swirls, sure. But I don't think I've ever heard of feathers "swirling." Seriously, if you're going to use a non-sensical simile, at least choose something that you can picture like, "There was a gentle breeze, like angels hurling." Again, I could get behind that.

Haygood writes: "Just as darkness fully descended on this remote mountain like a dark blanket over the eyes..."

I write: You know what? I'm super glad Mr. Haygood used an adjective to describe the blanket as "dark" especially when comparing it to the concept of "darkness." Because imagining darkness coming on like a plain, nondescript blanket over one's eyes just flies over my head. Oh wait. No, no it doesn't. They're both stupid clichés. But not only is Haygood's version stupid, it's also redundant. And repetitive. And reiterative. But mostly it's just stupid.

That last one made me run to the bathroom and not even for something cool, like sniffing cocaine through a crisp 100 euro bill off the backside of a midget hooker. Wait, what? Forget I said that. What I mean is, sh*tty writing in renowned publications seriously makes me feel physically ill. I'm not kidding. It's like seeing a really sh*tty band like Good Charlotte on MTV exist. Somethin' just ain't right about it.

And I'm sure Mr. Haygood is talented. From what I was physically able to handle, the story arch was decent and the actual story seemed interesting enough, but the writing just ruined it. Perhaps it's the editor's fault then?'m joking. The editor probably has some hiring power (and, you know, I freelance...just sayin'...), so let's just keep the blame squarely on Wil, who's getting an e-wag of the finger right now. Yet, here I am, still envious of him. *sigh*

OK, so, which major publication wants to hire me? Come on! I would make a tight ombudsman, no?

*Sick with the urge to write for you, Washington Post! E-mail me, editors!


BAD said...

I just laughed so hard my saliva krumped across the computer screen.

Gilahi said...

I read that article and you're right about it. If it had been a mystery novel, I would've put it back on the shelf.

But, um, nauseousness?

I-66 said...

Uh, I think "The man's eyes danced all over the fish" could be written into a romance novel, and I wouldn't know if it was an actual fish fish, or...

Anonymous said...

Read that article. The author is retarded. No wonder newspapers are failing. Dora the Explorer has better writers.

Also, two thumbs up for the Strunk & White pic! I love those fuckers.

Victor9000 said...

"But sometimes, man feasts here as well.
And the killer was hungry."
Doesn't Strunk have a rule about not suggesting cannibalism unless you can back it up with actual chomping?

John Foster said...

So funny that you mentioned this. I would read The Post front to back for years; but the past two I have somehow put it aside each morning (I still religiously read Sietsma's food coverage.) I was stuck waiting on a car repair and saw this article peeking out at me - so I bit. The actual tale looks to be fascinating, but the piece itself was horrid and nearly unreadable.

The very fact that I could ponder putting down a three page write-up (with photos mind you) about a convicted murderer out on parole and on the hunt again AND the subsequent daring escape by his most recent victims is pure insanity.

Thanks for calling them on this.

Anonymous said...

I read the whole thing and think I tuned out the terrible similies because the story itself was so amazing. You are right though: it was a poor man's "In Cold Blood" ... a very very poor man.

Marissa said...


See, I can get behind that type of personification.


I have a weak stomach for stupid shit.


You are a sick freak, son.


I love that you just referred to Strunk & White as "those fuckers!"


Was it chomping that was need or simply a little nibbling?

mr. foster--

No problem. Like I said, bitching is my thing!

Mary said...

Thanks - that article was the most badly written piece of /In Cold Blood/ wannabe drivel I've read in a so-called "major" newspaper.

Shannon said...

I couldn't get past the first graf of that article. Ouch.

And, yeah, who knew the observation, "People on their way to work are usually in a hurry," was worthy of a Pulitzer. I mean, hell, the sky is blue. Where's my award?

Also, go check out CityPaper blog - did Cherkis rip you off or no?

Marissa said...

anon 5:42--

It's not often that I wish to be illiterate. In fact, it's never. But when I was reading this I thought for a split second about how it would've been to not be able to string all those stupid words together.


I must admit, as bad as it was to read, it was so much fun to rip apart. I'm cruel.


Hmmm...I see Cherkis and I have a different opinion on Topsiders. He'll come around. Especially if he ever tries a pair on. They are seriously ridiculously comfortable. And hott.

Stevious said...

Whenever I hear about krumping it makes me think of scrumping, which is highly illegal and might get you in trouble with the rozzers.

kid said...

Look, I was down with all these comments until someone above dropped subtextual disses at Dora The Explorer. Pistols at dawn, Cabron!

Anonymous said...


Can you say lechuga? LE-CHU-GA. Bueno!

Anonymous said...


Can you say lechuga? LE-CHU-GA. Bueno!

Pop Cesspool said...


Marissa said...


"Scrumping?" "Rozzers?!" Are those common words in the UK? They're gold!

kid & anon--

OMG! You're takin' it to the e-streets! E-duel! It's like the breakdance fighting of the virtual world!

pop cesspool--

I suppose I did write the f*ck out of this sh*t. Yeah, yeah I did. With Topsiders on. Truth.

I-66 said...

Official Highway Suggestion: You pen blogger style guide in fashion of Strunk & White called Crunk & Tight.

That is all.

Marissa said...


HOLY GOOSE EGG! That's the best idea I've ever heard of...