Friday, December 28, 2012

The Worst Words of 2012

Man, the Atlantic Wire sure hates a lot of popular words. Not just dislikes them. They. Detest. Them.

Writer Jen Doll created a list of 45 words that she grew to hate, hate, HATE in 2012, and savaged them brutally, saying we need to quit using them. Typically, writers don't actually hate the things they use on a daily basis — it's like a carpenter hating hammers — so these words must have been truly heinous and awful.

Actually, I would agree with her for most of her list, except she hated "actually."

Doll said "it's the word that you use when you're actually saying, 'you are wrong, and I am right, and you are at least a little bit of an idiot.'"

What'd I tell you? Hates it. I'm kind of iffy about the word. I use it, but I've never thought much about it. I don't go apoplectic like a lot of people did when the Associated Press said it was okay to start a sentence with "hopefully." That sent people into word rage this summer.

And we're both in total agreement with our hatred of "Baby Bump." I've never liked that word, because it's so cutesy and saccharine, like the annoying mom who expects everyone to moon over her precious child, and attend all the educationally-themed birthday parties. Baby Bump is the gossip columnist word for tell the world that such-and-such movie star is "pregnant but not fat."

I'd love it if we could start using terms like "brat bulge," "progeny protuberance," and "tot tuberosity." I may start just using "tot tuberosity" myself.

Doll also hated "historic" and "historical" because she thought they were overused. I'm personally sick of them, because every newscaster and pundit on TV likes to say "an historic" in the mistaken belief that it makes them sound smarter. As in "the 2012 presidential campaign was AN historic occasion."

It's not AN historic occasion, it's A historic occasion.

The rule is simple, and we all learned it in first grade. If a word starts with a vowel sound (not a vowel, a vowel sound), then you say "an." If a word starts with a consonant sound, you say "a." Like, "an apple" and "a banana."

Historic starts with a consonant sound, so you say "a historic." Saying "an historic" doesn't make you sound smarter, it makes you sound like you're copying every other pretentious pundit on TV who doesn't know that one basic rule either.

If there's another thing Doll and I don't like, it's "an hipster." The term is so widely used it's boring to complain about it, which makes it even sadder when it's used seriously. I've begun using it as a derogatory term about every skinny 20-something who carries 60 year old cameras and wears nerdy glasses, plaid shirts, shapeless hats, and meggings.

Thankfully the Atlantic Wire hates meggings too, which is the term for "men's jeggings." I hated jeggings when they first appeared. They make people who wear them look like a pair of tweezers wearing big clompy shoes. As a man, I'm especially horrified by the existence of meggings.

As if the original jeggings weren't bad enough, someone had the brilliant idea to make them in men's colors, as a way to further subjugate and humiliate us. No self-respecting Guy would be caught dead in meggings. And those men who wear them traded in their dignity a long time ago.

Speaking of hipsters, the Atlantic Wire hates quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Another writer, Stefan Becket, says "I'm not entirely clear what it actually is. . . but it sounds like some bland hipster thing."

A guy named Stefan decrying hipsters? Is that irony? If you hate hipsters, call yourself "Steve" until they all go away.

Actually, I've had quinoa. It's not bad if you cover it with meatballs and a creamy Alfredo sauce.

Finally, the Atlantic Wire thinks we need to get rid of "Really?!" as "an expression of incredulity." As in, "Really?! You're mixing quinoa and rice together?"

I knew it was time to get rid of "Really?!" when my kids started using it on me. As in "Really?! You're going to make us listen to Pink Floyd again?" In fact, my son even used it on me tonight.

I told him about this article, and he said, "Actually, I don't use it as often as you think."

I've grown tired of these words almost as much as Jen Doll. Hopefully her brave work can help us stop using them before the end of 2013.

I'll spend the entire year being an hopeful Hoosier.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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Friday, December 21, 2012

Dear December 12, 2012

Dear December 12, 2012,

Thanks to our technology in the 22nd century, we're able to respond to the letter you sent us 100 years ago. (Editor's note: see last week's column).

However, this is a costly and energy consuming endeavor, so we are only able to do this once. Still, our energy creation is rather easy.

As you said, we have seen Back to the Future, and many of the "futuristic" inventions in the movie, while laughable in their primitiveness (we were surprised at how many of them missed the mark), ended up inspiring many of the products we have today. Just like your Star Trek first inspired cellular phones and tablet computers, some of the Back to the Future inventions inspired ours.

In 2089, the first Mr. Fusion car power supply was invented, which solved the world trash crisis. In fact, thanks to the environmental policies you created in the 21st century, there is now very little garbage, so we face an energy crisis similar to your own oil crises of 1977 – 2037. And our children are so capable of handling new technology that many of them are given a My First Clone game when they turn five.

We're actually watching our own 12-12-12 concert, and everyone is geeking out over the concert on Badjer, a communication tool similar to Twitter that we use on our iPhone 23s, which are embedded into our bodies.

Keith Richards still looks great. He has amazed everyone at his longevity — 168 years is a long time. He's playing with Trevor Jagger and the 7th generation of the Rolling Stones.

Don't worry, Kanye West won't be around for much longer. In 2018, he and his wife, Kim Kardashian, will be exiled to a leper colony on a small island in Indonesia. Surprisingly, however, they become missionaries to the colony, and actually create a cure for leprosy. The two will share a Nobel prize in 2047, and he will be knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2048. (By the way, that old bat doesn't die until 2063.) The West-Kardashians remained happily married until their deaths in 2051.

In 2112, we now have 54 states. Puerto Rico became a state in 2016, and was followed by Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba (thanks in no small part to Prime Minister Justin Bieber's incompetence that ultimately bankrupted Canada).

On the other hand, Texas seceded in 2021, after President Hilary Clinton was re-elected. They had been threatening to do it since 2012 when you re-elected President Obama, and after eight years of their whining, the rest of the country said, "Meh, let 'em go." After that, the American economy blossomed, and there has been prosperity and personal growth ever since.

We did cure cancer, and we even cured AIDS. We also embraced the gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free lifestyle so much that everyone in North America is now susceptible to the common cold, which there is still no cure for. We live in fear of the next cold epidemic.

On the plus side, no one smokes, no one eats unhealthy food, and no one drinks alcohol. We all live to be in our 120s, easily, and most of our seniors (100 years and older) spend their time questioning whether it was really worth living this long without cigarettes, beer, and cheeseburgers.

We also became a world of yoga and tai chi practitioners. While we're all very flexible and have excellent centers of gravity, no one knows how to fight. We were nearly conquered by Liechtenstein in 2087, and it was only because President Jake G.W. Bush ordered cold-infested blankets be sneaked into a few of their regiments that we were able to repel the invaders.

Yes, Hollywood did finally change, and became more creative. For 10 years, they produced some of the greatest movies in cinematic history. And then the Writers Strike of 2067 created massive riots, and Hollywood ultimately turned into a police state, where all the movie industry people were imprisoned. Now, most of our movies come from Australia.

Those few producers who had been out of LA during the riots have also moved to Australia and returned to movie making. This year alone saw three remakes of Lord of the Rings, a second version of Rocky XLVI, and Les Miserables was made 19 more times between 2012 and 2112.

But don't worry. We overcame many of your problems, created some of our own, and found ways to turn your disadvantages to our advantages. So, thank you.

P.S. We finally got jet packs.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Dear 12-12-2112. . .

Dear December 12, 2112,

Greetings from December 12, 2012. It may be a little weird reading this letter from 100 years in the past. We imagine it's sort of like the end of Back to the Future, when Doc Brown gets sent back to 1885 and sends a letter to Marty McFly 70 years later. We realize you probably don't watch our old movies in 2112. Or at least you have 100 more years of movies, and so would not have had time to watch it. (But if you get a chance, check it out.)

We're writing this while the 12-12-12 Concert is happening, as music's greatest musicians perform in Madison Square Garden to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy recovery. Sandy destroyed and flooded most of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut coast. Everyone is talking about the concert on a social networking site called Twitter.

Although 2112 history may not know them, the men and women on stage tonight are some of the biggest names in rock and roll history — Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Paul McCartney. They were gods in their time who created some of the greatest music of the 20th century. And they came together tonight, sharing their incredible music, creating one of the greatest rock shows in history.

Also, Kanye West sang.

It's amazing how much music has changed in the last 40 years, and many of the musicians from the 12-12-12 Concert had a hand in shaping that.

And then the 21st century happened, and in retaliation for the War of 1812, Canada launched Justin Bieber at us, which signaled the beginning of the end of good music. Happily, he is not playing the 12-12-12 Concert tonight. When a group of people have been battered by Mother Nature, you don't subject them to Justin Bieber. Never kick a nation when she's down.

We wish we could see 2112 right now. There are so many things we would like to know how they turned out, just as 1912 probably wanted to know about today.

In 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state, the Titanic sank, and Fenway Park opened in Boston. In 2012, Puerto Rico wants to become our 51st state, we just re-elected our first black president, Barack Obama, and Fenway Park is still around. Did they expect any of that in 1912?

In our time, the life expectancy is in the mid-70s, people still smoke and eat fried foods, and electric and hybrid cars are becoming more popular. They barely had cars in 1912, and we have cars that can run on electricity.

We're hoping that one day we'll invent a car that can run strictly on solar energy, or even water. That seems like such a pipe dream to us, but we're sure you'll have solved that problem by the time you read this.

It's funny to look back at the culture from 1912 and see how much we still know and remember, and yet how much is lost and forgotten. Many of the songs from back then are now little children's songs today. The movies from 1912 are silent and in black and white, and people don't watch them because in 2012, we have 3-D movies and surround sound, so we feel like we're in the movies.

Of course, Hollywood couldn't come up with a new idea if you held a gun to their heads. So they remade Les Miserabl├ęs, which was first made in 1912. This is the 18th remake. We're also seeing remakes of movies that were made as recently as 10 – 20 years ago. We hope Hollywood has changed by the time you read this, although there are some limits to what people can do in a century.

We dream of what 2112 going to be like, and how far you will have grown beyond us here at the dawn of the 21st century. Will you have cured cancer, solved world hunger, and even found world peace? Is space travel possible? Have you eliminated the world's social ills, or are we still a society where erectile dysfunction medicine is still one of the most profitable pharmaceuticals?

We're sorry for what we left for you, and we hope you have the ability and foresight to fix what we created and caused. We go into our tomorrow hoping yours is even better.

All the best, December 12, 2012.

P.S. We sincerely apologize for Kim Kardashian.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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Friday, December 07, 2012

Karl the Curmudgeon's Writers Feud Rages On

So how's the writers feud going, Karl? I asked. My friend and fellow writer, Karl the Curmudgeon, and I were sitting at First Edition, the literary-themed bar we had visited several months ago, when Karl decided to start a writers feud.

He chose one Rene Whitehorse as his victim, a French poet who'd had a passing acquaintanceship with "success" when his razor-thin poetry book was published by some fly-by-night publisher.

"Pretty good, actually," Karl said. "We've been attacking each other on Twitter."

How is that good? Your Twitter accounts are pretty pathetic, and a fight between you two is like a fart in a windstorm. I have more people living on my street than you two have in your network combined.

"He's also talking about me to his Poetry for Agoraphobes support group."

Is that really a thing?

"No, it's just what I call his poetry writers group. They're all reading slam poetry about The Angry Bearded Man at their little coffee shop every week." Karl signaled Kurt the bartender for a couple more Thr3e Wise Men beers.

Ooh, that's so awful, I deadpanned, rolling my eyes so hard one of them nearly got stuck. Somebody call The New Yorker.

"Hey, that's not all," said Karl. "We've actually gotten pretty nasty."

Like what? You put a 'kick me' sign on his back at recess?

"No, we nearly got into a fight at a party last month."

Oh yeah? I sat up a little straighter. This was getting interesting.

"We were at a book launch party for some creative writing prof at the University of Indianapolis, and got into a shouting match during the party. Some of the writing faculty had to restrain ol' Rancid Whitehead."

Seriously? You two almost came to blows?

"No, not really. Not unless Rancid was going to whack me with his European carry-all."

I'm sorry I missed that. What brought that on?

"I called his poetry derivative and mechanical."

That's pretty nasty. Why'd you do that?

"He said my books were formulaic."

I was glad I had missed it all. Karl and Whitehorse had made some of the worst insults you could make about a writer. Sort of like telling a fashion model her pants make her look chunky.

You didn't hit him, did you? Before I knew him, Karl had once punched a critic for comparing one of his novels to a Tom Clancy novel.

"No, nothing like that. He made that crack about my books, so I said the thing about his poetry being derivative."

Derivative of what?

"A teenage girl's dream journal."

Ooh, snap. What'd he do?

"He tried to throw a drink in my face, but I ducked, and he ended up showering a literature professor with chardonnay."

And that's when he had to be restrained?

"Yeah, so they threw us both out."

Then what. Did you guys fight in the parking lot?

"Naw. We laughed it off and got a drink."

You got what?

"A drink. We got a drink. Like this one," and he polished off his beer.

Why the hell would you get a drink with a guy you're feuding with?

"Well, we're not actually feuding. This is just a little game we're playing to boost our sales."

I stared at him dumbfounded. You mean you're faking a writer's feud? I demanded rather loudly. Karl shushed me, but it didn't matter. Other than Kurt the bartender and a couple of wanna-be novelists with earbuds crammed in their ears, scribbling in their little black notebooks, we were the only ones there.

You're faking a freaking feud? You f—

"Keep your voice down, Kid," he hissed, glancing at the scribblers, who hadn't even looked up.

Why would you do that?

"Because we wanted to generate some interest in our books. It's actually working. Conflict sells books. People hear about the fight, see it on YouTube and Facebo—"

It was on YouTube? I nearly shouted.

"—Shhhh! Yes, we had one of his poetry pals capture it on her cell phone and upload it. It's working too."

How so?

"Because it has over 40,000 views, and sales of his little poetry book tripled since then. Plus, my editor wants to talk to me about reprinting my first three books."

I shook my head slowly. As stupid as it sounded, it made a lot of sense. I drained the last of my beer. If that isn't one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, you great bearded gowk. It's about as believable as 'Hunt for Red October.'

Karl just smiled. "Forget it, Kid. I already have one fake feud. I don't need another."

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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