Read all about it. Newspapers and magazines all over the USA are joining forces in asking Tim Jones to PLEASE STOP SUBMITTING YOUR WRITING SAMPLES! In other news, the stoplight at 5th and Main has finally been repaired. Frustrated drivers say “It’s about time.”
It’s hard to believe I have been at this humor blog for more than 25 years. That may be in part because it’s actually been less than ten. See what I just did? I made a joke. Didn’t find it funny? Join the club. That’s been the reaction so far from just about every newspaper, magazine and online news site in response to my submissions of humor articles over the past year.
I have reached out to publications ranging from The Huffington Post to Field and Stream, and have pretty much received the same response: Who are you and how did you get my email address?
Over the history of this weekly humor blog, I have commented on everything from how to become a Tiger Mother parent to my fleeting friendship with an internet scammer; from my recent colonoscopy to my solution for the US debt crisis; from how the iPad compares to Jesus Christ to my exploration of why the state of Montana hates me. And there is one thing all of these brilliant pieces of satire have in common: NO PUBLICATION WANTS MY MATERIAL.
I’ve been collecting a list of reasons publications have given for rejecting my humor submissions. Below is just a sampling of some of the more common responses:
Okay, maybe I make a few things up now and then in this blog. I’m not proud of it. I have decided to turn over a new leaf and come clean about some of my previous false and potentially slanderous comments (with the exception of my previous remarks in which I have publicly questioned the patriotism of actor George Clooney – I stand by those comments).
As a professional humorist, it’s my job to provide illuminating commentary on the important people and events that make the news – like the Florida Boy Scout troop leader who this past week accidentally set his arm on fire – or the recent shocking study that concluded that sex with farm animals can lead to penis cancer. (Both are true stories. I would not lie about things as important as boy scouts and farm animals.)
In my thoughtful commentaries, I often make use of insightful research – unless it takes more than five minutes on Google to obtain this research, in which case I usually just make it up. But, please don’t judge me. I am not the only offender. The fact is that 68% of statistics cited by bloggers are complete fabrications. Okay, it’s possible I just made up that statistic.
Every now and then I dip into the View from the Bleachers Reader Mail Bag to check out reader comments. I like to hear what my loyal following has to say about my recent posts. It may surprise you to know that my humor blog is (hardly ever) read by people all over the world – from Melbourne to Moscow to Mogadishu, and everywhere in between.
Whenever I wonder whether anybody is paying any attention to my posts, I need look no further than the blog’s comments section to discover that spammers from around the world are regularly checking out my web site. How flattering, I must say. And they always have something positive to say.
As a professional humorist and three-time Golden Globe nominee, I have found that coming up with original, entertaining topics to write about each week is a formidable challenge. But when I stop to read the highly personal reader feedback of spammers from places like Istanbul, I am reminded that this labor of love is well worth it. One week I had over 800 comments from an eclectic collection of web sites, most of which, I sheepishly admit, I had never heard of. At the risk of sounding immodest, the feedback from these spammers has been almost universally effusive. Many times, the comments are surprisingly coherent, if you can just decipher the mangled syntax.
I’ll admit it. There are many mysteries in this world I will never be able to grasp. Like, when did time begin? How big is the universe? Is there life after death? Why does a loving God let good people suffer? How can I get the flashing “12:00” on my VCR set to the correct time?
And this week I find myself confronted with yet another unfathomable enigma: Why does the entire state of Montana hate me?
That’s right. I am convinced Montana hates me. And I have absolutely no idea what I have done to offend it. You see, I periodically check Google Analytics to see where traffic to my web site comes from. I have had visitors from every continent (except Antarctica).
I have had web site visitors from Tanzania, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Belarus, China, South Korea, Ghana, and just about every nation in Europe. I’ve had visitors come all over – from Maui to Moscow, from Singapore to Sao Paolo. In the past year I have had at least one visitor from every single state in the USA…. except for… you guessed it – Montana. Not one visit from anyone in Montana in 12 months – nada –– zippo – zilch – bupkes.
For ages friends have told me that I should start writing. Other than the occasional annual holiday letter or a surprise 50th birthday tribute, I admit I’ve not done nearly as much writing as I know I should. So after years and years of annoying, relentless, “you’ll regret not having ever done this when you look back on your life” pain-in-the-ass nagging (author’s note to self: Be sure to change the preceding to “supportive encouragement” before you publish – Do NOT forget!) from my wife, I decided to finally try my hand at blogging.
And all I have to say is what took me so long!! This blogging thing is a SNAP. You do not need to have five years of html programming experience or be an expert in RSS feeds, tagging, and php. And you don’t need to know about plug-ins, widgets or feed burners. You don’t need to understand the meaning of .css style sheets or header-footer dpi upload specifications. You don’t need to know ANY of that stuff -unless you want to have a blog site, that is. Then, yeah, it’s a pretty good idea to know what some of this stuff actually means.
And boy was it simple, too. Just for a chuckle, how quickly can you spot the obvious error in this html code sequence below?
<a href=”<?php echo get_option(‘home’); ?>”>
<?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?></a>
<?php bloginfo(‘description’); #>
Well if you guessed that the # symbol in the sequence <?php bloginfo(‘description’); #> should have been a “?” instead, you would have been absolutely right. It’s just that simple. Why was I so afraid? Beats me. It only took me 78 futile attempts on my own along with 15 phone calls to the web hosting support help desk (they were starting to know me by first name) to figure out how to upload my new home page header image in place of the lovely “Suzy Sunshine” sunflowers clip art that came with the page template. And here is the secret: beg, whine and plead to have the tech support person do it for you.
Well, before my baptism by html experience creating a blog site, I could not tell you the difference between a PHP code tag and an html tag, or the difference between a pingback and a trackback. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still can’t tell the difference, but at least I now know how to spell them.
So, after just 17 hours of trying in vain to figure out what I was doing, I think I have a vague clue of how to set up a blog site and add new posts. And I did this all without bringing down a single computer network to its knees nor throwing any of our cats out the window in utter frustration.
I guess what I am saying is this: If you don’t have enough pound-your-fist-through-the-wall frustration in your life, and if your self-confidence about your computer literacy is higher than you feel it truly should be, I encourage you to create a blog site. Creating a blog site is as easy as counting to ten…. if you were a Labrador Retriever, that is.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2009