Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Ignore

See, I enjoyed Bitterly Books' writing way more than his blog. There is a difference, you know. What's funny, other than Bitterly's wit and deadpan detail, is this blurb he wrote about his blog: Bitterly Books takes caustic, uncomplimentary tours through ill-advised and poorly executed nonfiction. Hey, Bitterly? Put that shit in your "About" section. Feel me? Holla.

Dear The Editor,

Your blog, "Complaints on a Plate," is either the bare minimum of lashing something together for Adsense banner ads, or you need to seriously re-examine some of the life choices you've made. I've got no idea what you're trying to do here.

The "about" page promises "Interviews, reviews, views and musings on people, places, events, times and things." This may be the first in series of cultural misunderstandings between us, but here on the good side of the Atlantic, you don't talk about "musings" unless you're a pre-teen girl on myspace—or possibly a married man pretending to be a pre-teen girl so he can troll for cybersex.

I'm getting a sense that you're taking the "ironic news for laughs" angle, probably because your March 8 post uses the word "ironic" four times in two sentences. Looking elsewhere, I see a telling quote in your July 1 post. "The problem is that the UK churns out media graduates at the rate of thirty thousand a year into a job market that is quite frankly in its death throes". You wouldn't happen to be one of those media graduates, would you? I'm just asking because setting up a site posting fake news articles seems like an unusual choice for, say, a doctor or a car salesman.

So you've set up your own funny blog on your own terms because the news outlets won't pay you and the Onion won't publish you as is. A lone wolf pointing out the foibles and absurdity of news media, free from censorship. Well, are you familiar with that quote about fighting monsters? When you mock the tedious, you run the risk of becoming monstrously tedious yourself.1 Your entry about George Smedge is so believable that it's boring; I'm not sure what joke you were trying to make. Similarly, I assume that the entry "inspired by Alan Shearer" was mocking sloppy journalism and opinion pieces devoid of fact, but it comes across as sloppy and meandering itself. Both of them take a joke and stretch it too far.

Let's look at the fake excerpt from Targets. You're using more than 1100 words to make three jokes:

  • Pick Up Artists (PUAs) have a disturbingly predatory attitude towards women.

  • PUAs are supposed to dominate women and control the situation, but the book's author dominates and controls would-be PUAs

  • PUAs are pro-abortion2

Look at that. Just as (un)funny, but only 35 words—96% shorter! You're welcome.

Brevity, wit. Coming up with enough short jokes to make something of a decent length is a pain in the ass, but try editing, The Editor. (I had a longer "physician, heal thyself" joke here, BUT I EDITED IT OUT. See how that works?) The Framley Examiner is a great example for making more out of less.

In your Penge O'Clock piece, look at how your jokes ("everyone in this neighborhood studies 'new media'," "reporter gets excited and uses exclamation points when talking about money!" and "all the sources need to mention that they feel safe") get lost in the huge crush of words. Try inserting paragraph breaks to make them stand out more:

I met up with some of the new hip locals to see what exactly it is that makes Penge so amazing.

Annanana Karickiszi is heiress to a Russian oil fortune and studies Media and Godknowswhat at Lewisham College, she is a fan of Sartre and hopes to one day become a poet or fashion editor. She is wealthy! “I love the area.” She says while gazing out the window of her £700 a month bedsit. “There is always somewhere new to go, something new to do. It is cool but not pretentious. There is a community. People are friendly. I feel safe”

Calvin works in New Media, he emigrated from America two years ago. He is financially sound! “There is a lot of history here and it’s quirky, very British.” He owns a small studio above an Icelands. “It’s a friendly area. People say hello. I feel safe.”

James works in New Media and rents a flat in a converted pub. He is solvent! “It’s fun and exciting. There’s lot’s of night life and culture. There are supermarkets but also small independent stores. I love it. People talk to each other. I feel safe”

I also caught up with Gregg, a Railway Station Toilet Professional who has lived in Penge all his life. “Things are definitely changing.” He tells me. “It’s all gastro this and Starbucks that. Just give me a good old cuppa tea” he quips. The old Petrol Station opposite Gregg’s house is now the smoking area for a late night gay club called FatiguĂ©, I ask him what he makes of the many provocatively dressed gentlemen that now reside in the area. “Well, at least they are driving out the nignogs” he quips.

That gives the reader a fighting chance to find it funny. And this time around, I noticed the dig at media graduates! BURN! So, keep your pieces short and break up your paragraphs more. Now let's talk about your screen name, The Editor.

If any competent editor saw Complaints on a Plate, they'd seize your title and leave your broken husk in a dumpster dripping with red ink. Putting aside your callous disregard for comma placement, other missing punctuation, and my assorted style quibbles, there are some major fuck-ups on your watch:

  • Writing "cliental" (having to do with a client) for "clientele" (the people who patronize an establishment)

  • Writing "physic" (a medicine, or the practice of medicine) for "physique" (the physical structure of a person)

  • Writing "manger" (think of baby Jesus) for "manager" (the person in charge)

  • Writing "anti-percipient" (percipient means either the ability to perceive or one who perceives) for "antiperspirant" (dumbass)

  • Writing "you no nothing about" for "you know nothing about" (ironic, no?)

  • Writing "cacogenic" (causing defects in offspring) for "carcinogenic" (cancer-causing)

  • Writing "cloistral" (secluded, sheltered, like a cloister) for "cholesterol" (the lipoprotein associated with cardiovascular disease)

  • Writing "wacaday" (a television show) for "workaday" (mundane or commonplace)

  • And many more!3

These might be intentional problems that you introduced for laughs, in which case congratulations are in order. You have annoyed the only person who will ever give a fuck.

You also need to work on your packaging. Could you have done a worse job with your title graphic? I guess you want to use the cake-holding housewife image as a brand logo or something (it's also on your blogger profile page and your facebook page), but a title graphic should do better than the mangled results of Norman Rockwell's fight with a taffy pulling machine. Even plain text on a colored background would be better.

The best I can say about your layout is that it's simple and uncluttered. But for what you're trying to do here, it may be too simple. You aren't putting your entries in any sort of context, and the jumble of fake news, reviews, and opinion pieces leaves me baffled as to your ultimate purpose.

I give people the benefit of a doubt when it looks like they're trying to be a smartass as long as there's some style to it, but this whole blog feels unfinished. I'd give work like this a solid "meh," but it tries so hard to wrap it all up in a "fake news for comedy" package—and fails so spectactularly at it—that I'm giving "Complaints on a Plate" the short bus.

1) This entry being exhibit A.
2)Actually, one of the main justifications of PUA behavior is that your evolutionary imperative drives you to get out there and distribute your seed, so routine hook-ups are just practice. Unwanted pregnancies are proof that you can successfully distribute your genes, and not your problem.
3) Other problems:
"Perpetually transmogrify villages," in that context, should be "perpetually transmogrifying villages"
"Bright young thing" should be plural "things"
For "sciencesque-like" I recognize that you're reaching to make a joke about your study's validity, but either "sciencesque" or "science-like" get the point across without overkill.
"Scientists long-held theory" should have an apostrophe.
"Vote's green," if used to mean "voting for the green party" shouldn't have an apostrophe.
"Everyday" (adjective meaning "mundane") should be "every day" (occurring each day)
"You maybe wondering" should be "you may be wondering"


  1. Huh.

    I tried to post a comment over at Complaints on a Cake to say that this was up, but I can't get the comments form to work over there.

  2. I'm also very angry that this asswipe has only twelve posts. Fuckin' what?

    and before all of you fuckers make snide "well then don't review it" comments, fuck you. Fact is you have no idea what you're talking about.

  3. "a title graphic should do better than the mangled results of Norman Rockwell's fight with a taffy pulling machine"

    I think I am in love.

  4. Seriously, Bitterly got it going on.

  5. I'm continually horrified by the shitty writing and grammar in journalistic pieces. This guy seems to be the epitome of it.

    Also, I've found the comment form in some Blogger templates doesn't work with Firefox. I've even emailed a blogger about their template, since I can't leave a comment.

    If they don't change it, I don't bother to read the blog anymore. I'm not going to switch over to IE just to leave them a fucking comment, when they don't have the courtesy to have a user-friendly blog.

  6. You know, if I had to describe this blogger, I'd probably go with anti-percipient. So kudos to The Editor for unintentionally inventing wicked appropriate phrases.

  7. I get what he's going for but it just didn't work for me. The funny is slogged down in too many words. Likewise, for this to be funny, it needs to be far more clever.

  8. I think you'll find that my mood has not improved since my last review, and time-wasting shit like this does not help in the least.

    Following up on Shiner's comments about this person's (male/female, or is that even relevant?) whopping massive output, assuming that there's still a 4 month queue (granted, there might not be), by my calculation, this self-aggrandizing [insert disparaging noun here] submitted for a review when there were exactly TWO fucking posts online.


    You gotta be some serious narcissist to submit for a review after writing two fucking posts.


  9. We're nearly up to June now. So like, what, ten weeks? About that, yeah.

  10. Complaints on a plate? SHIT on a plate.

  11. Okay. Giving the benefit of the doubt. June had a veritable flurry of activity (seven whole posts in one month), so if this review was requested in June, I'm not as pissed about it as if it were even in May -- which would have comprised FOUR posts to review.

  12. Damn, Bitterly. Your harsher with a red pen than I am. Nice one.

  13. Hello all.

    Thank you so much for your interest. Your reviews and comments really mean a lot to us and we will think about them a lot and do things because of them and what not.

  14. I don't know anything about computers but I will get the comments section working one day.


Grow a pair.