Friday, April 17, 2009

Caca Del Toro. Confessions of a Copy Boy

I write for several magazines, most of them local, but to keep my style fresh, I read a lot of national publications and try to mimic the writers’ styles, pacing, rhythms, etc. I figure if these guys are good enough to be in Newsweek, Real Simple, or even People, then they’re worth studying. What I’ve noticed (and I mean years ago, not just recently) is the amount of crap (editors call it filler or fluff) in these publications.

I started to call this particular blog post Mythbusters, but since that name is already copyrighted for the TV show, let’s just call it the Bullshit-o-meter. Here we go:

The Helpful Hints articles: You know the ones I’m talking about… “Red or black paint bottle caps make dandy replacements for lost checkers;” or “You can use a worn out ironing board cover to make pot holders, mitts, or hot pads…” One even suggested covering wire hangers with fabric or wood to make a nice gift. Yeah…try that giving me that one for Christmas. You’ll need a butt surgeon. Bullshit rating: 10

The best helpful hint I’ve ever heard comes from my friend Tom Poland, another magazine writer. Tom saves all his junk mail that comes with postage paid return envelopes. At the end of the month, he takes the flyer from one piece of junk mail, stuffs it in the envelope that came with another piece, and mails the junk to the people who keep uselessly filling his mailbox. It’s a genius idea and a lot of fun, too!

This one is from Women’s Day and it’s for businesswomen who are on the road a lot, but who also miss their families terribly. The writer suggests to take along a framed picture of your kids and place it on your hotel room nightstand. Also to “maintain normalcy and a sense of stability” for the kids, set aside a certain, specified point each night that you will call your kids and have family time.

You can always tell when a writer has never worked in a business. Has this guy never heard of business dinners or late night meetings when you’re trying to bring a project into production? What happens when mommy is too busy cajoling the IT guys to make her 8:00 o’clock call? Are her kids going to dive headlong into drug abuse or prostitution? Maybe join a gang?

This rates up there with all the articles for people who are so busy that they actually have to schedule time for their spouses and kids—I mean literally key it into their PDA. By the time you get to the point where you feel it necessary to have your administrative assistant schedule family time, your kids and spouse hate you already. If you’re that damn busy, get a divorce and buy a cot so you never have to leave the office. Bullshit rating: 25 (on a scale of one to 10).

I was in a doctor’s office years ago and read a People magazine whose cover said “Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston: Hollywood’s Perfect Couple” Bullshit rating: Do I even need to say it?

I waited so long so see the doctor, that I found an issue of Us that was published about a year after the People. It said “Friends Say Brad and Jen’s Breakup Longtime in the Making.” (I’m not kidding…this is true). The same issue said that masturbation helps boost your immune system. This one’s isn’t bullshit. I haven’t had a cold in 12 years, but I got a pretty mean case of tennis elbow and rotator cuff tendonitis. Anybody got any helpful hints?

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