It’s time for another edition of Short Attention Span Theater:
In honor of “unfriend” being christened a word by the New Oxford Dictionary, I decided to do some. My Facebook is becoming ridiculous, not only a time suck but a ceaseless update on the lives of people I wouldn’t recognize with a gun to my head. In a few cases, they’re people I’d recognize, but cross the street to avoid.
And so (cracking knuckles): The guy who posted video of Red Skelton doing his pledge of allegiance routine? Buh-bye. The alter ego of one of my old writing-group buddies? Probably outta there, although her regular self stays; she’s doing some anonymous-blogging thing, but jeez, do I have to keep up with non-existent Facebookers, too? Probably gone. Dunno this person, but her status updates are funny, so she stays. And then my mind wandered, and I gave up that project. Net friend reduction: Two, one a non-existent person in the first place. The internet has destroyed my attention span.
I’ll do anything to avoid reading one more thing about S- – – – P- – – -, but every so often something squeaks past my P- – – -Filter that I’m not sorry about. This brief passage quoted by the guys at LGM, for instance:
When Gerald Ford took over, I knew who he was because I remembered reading about him and seeing him a picture in a scholastic magazine. He’d been America’s vice president then, sitting parade-style atop the backseat of a convertible, waving at the crowd. Now he was our president!
Note the exclamation point. (I’m assuming that “him a picture” part is the blogger’s transcription error.) When I’m editing our student reporters, I sometimes find myself on a search-and-destroy mission for exclamation points, and my stock line is to save them for the next time you are eyewitness to a Hindenburg explosion, and even then, hold your fire and let the facts speak for themselves. You hardly ever need exclamation points in mundane copy, and to use one to punch home the fact that a man who was once vice president is now president…well, let’s just say that’s a punctuation tool the rest of us get to use about you, Mrs. P:
I can’t believe a three-time cancer survivor in his 70s would choose this nitwit for a running mate; it’s not hard to imagine a scenario that could make her president!
Sometimes, even facts that speak for themselves need a certain boost. Sometimes they need a boost and afterburners:
…it’s not hard to imagine a scenario that could make HER president!!!!!
If a student turned in a story with that passage in it, I’d underline it and scrawl “word, dude” in the margin.
It is, of course, pathetic when a person older than 30 uses the word dude. Far from fading away, dude is now unisex; Kate and her friends call one another dude. When I was at the University of Michigan in 2003, I nearly blanched when a girl in my screenwriting class, a sweet-faced cherub with the sort of complexion S- – – – P- – – – would call peaches and cream, casually discussed what a pain her film-history professor was. Direct quote: “So I’m all like, ‘dude, quit jumping on my nuts. I’ll finish the paper.'” She was headed for Hollywood after graduation; I’m sure she fit right in.
Speaking of yawning gaps between the generations, the other day I was using a yardstick. Kate said, “Hand me the meter stick.” What are they teaching you at that communist school, I wondered. “It’s a yardstick,” I protested. “What’s the difference?” Kate replied. What’s the difference? I can’t believe this girl is the daughter of Mr. Measure 10,000 Times, Cut Once.
Roughly three inches, if you’re taking notes.
Jeez, what a train wreck. Next time, people. Until then, tip your waitresses, but feel free to stiff me.