i must make a list

I’ve never been a particularly linear thinker. My mind has never worked that way. And, I probably have ADD. This is a challenge if I’m writing, because when people read something, they usually expect it to be in some sort of order. But frankly, sometimes I just have a whole bunch of randomness. I’ve got ideas coming out of my ass (which, admittedly, is a weird way to write), but stringing them together and having some sort of through line—

So, once a week or so, I end up with a basket full of disconnected thoughts that I want to fling at the screen. While I’d love to become known as the Jackson Pollack of comedy writing, you damned readers seem to want a structure. So I need to do the writer’s work of shaping, and connecting, and focusing. Cool–Hulu is running the first episode of “Fringe.”

Now, I try to avoid lists, for several reasons:

  1. they’re limiting
  2. they’re overdone
  3. they’re too easy
  4. I get bored making lists
  5. I could get confused and accidentally include items from an entirely different list
  6. eggs

Besides, after a certain number of list items readers start to become annoyed and think the writer just doesn’t know how to compose a paragraph so they move on to another piece and even an ironic self-referential run-on sentence won’t get them to stay.

At a time like this, I usually fall back on that old standby, ‘things that irritate me.’ The danger with that is if you only list one or two things that irritate you, readers get to the end and think “Sure seemed like there was gonna be more to that.” And, if you list too many things that irritate you, you turn into the print version of my eighty-year old uncle. Or Andy Rooney. Seriously, how many years has he been bitching at the end of “60 Minutes”? You’d think he’d eventually run out of things that bother him. You know, since I brought it up, there are a couple of things…well, these things don’t bother me as much a they baffle me.

Gadgets Which Combine Things That Were Perfectly Good By Themselves

You’ll find this kind of gadget in your Sharper Image, your Hammacher-Schlemmer, or the Skymall catalog you look at instead of listening to the flight attendant’s safety instructions (if they ever change the protocol for a plane crash, a lot of people are gonna be screwed, because nobody pays attention). For example, it looks like a ballpoint pen, but the ad tells you that if you think of something important, you can click the pen and record a thirty-second voice message to yourself. Or, and I’m thinking way outside the box here, you’re holding a pen—you could write it down! Obviously if you have a pen, you had the intention of writing something, so go the extra step and carry a notepad. These are sometimes advertised as being ‘stealth’ recorders, but really, isn’t jotting a note down on a scrap of paper more stealthy than…talking to your pen

People Who, After I Leave A Voice Message, Call Me Back Without Listening To The Message

“Yeah, Michael—I see that you called? What’s up?” Forget for a moment that I might have wanted to JUST leave you a message and the message didn’t need any conversation (“Don’t forget to bring the fifty bucks for the hookers” is pretty self-explanatory).

There’s also the possibility I left a message saying “Yeah, Matt—listen, some Honduran guerillas are holding me hostage…they’ve got a manifesto…it’s a whole big thing…anyway they’ve got me wired to some explosives which will detonate if my phone rings, so no need to call me back.”

What baffles me is this. Why you would look at your phone, see that I called and that you have a voice mail, and not use the very same phone your holding TO FIND OUT WHAT’S UP? See, voicemail can work like a handy record of why people called you! Otherwise you might as well get rid of your phone, go back to 1985 and get a pager. You can put it in the pocket of your Members Only jacket. Using your phone to just see who called is like getting a laptop just so you can use the calculator on it.

Lest you think these are the ONLY two things I don’t understand in the world, rest assured I also don’t get

  • the success of “Two and a Half Men”
  • football in a domed stadium
  • snuggies
  • pub crawls
  • Snuggie pub crawls
  • drinking games, as opposed to just drinking
  • why Scientology gets tax-exempt status despite the fact that it’s founder actually acknowledged that ‘the best way to make a million dollars is to start a religion”
  • eggplant
  • most of what airs on Cartoon Network after about 1 AM
  • return library books

Well, I feel better now. And I feel productive. I’ll try to write something else tomorrow, or at least I’ll make a list of things I should write.

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Posted 7 May 2011 by goodwriting in category "COMEDY

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