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Marilyn Haggerty: Accidental Anti-Snark CrusaderPosted Thursday, March 15, 2012, at 5:20 PM
It may not kill the snarky reign that has grabbed hold of the media and has it in a half-Nelson; it may just make a little dent and a ding here and there.
I'm as much for snarkiness as the next snark except when it crosses over and veers off into nastiness. And like high fashion and haute couture, few people can pull it off. It's the tilt of the head, the slight turn of the phrase that does it. It doesn't try too hard and ain't obvious. It's like that expression about love and butterflies. Pursue it and it will run away, but sit quietly and it will come and rest on your shoulder. That's snark, I think.
In my sojourn here on the mother lode, I've met few people that can pull it off, and they are:
Dorothy Parker: Author of such quotes like:
"The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue."
"If you want to know what G-d thinks of money, just look at who he gave it to."
"It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard."
Et cetera. She also wrote one hell of a novel.
Queen of the Couch. It takes a talent to place an expletive just so in the right place and the right sentence. But the Queen in her earlier posts did just that, but that was before she veered off into topics involving general housewifery moaning and groaning and complaining.
The Problem with Young People Today is.... By Don Mills, an octogenarian. Not having seen a new post in a while, I assumed that Don went and met his maker, but it turns out that he's been busy.
Before then, he wrote phrases like:
It seems to me that one of the best indicators of this nation's moral decay is the reprehensible nonsense that passes for humor nowadays.
When I was a boy, we didn't have time for humor. We were too busy wiping the smirk off Hitler's face to concern ourselves with mindless tittering and idle guffaws. For us, laughter was like shoelaces of smallpox vaccines -- nice to have but not a luxury most of us could afford.
Although he is usually good, he does follow a formula: First there is a complaint about young people, followed by some descriptions of what his parents would have done to him had he walked around with droopy drawers, spent all day texting on the couch, etc. followed by a repeat of the opening, "The problem with young people today is..."
It may work only minimally in the long run for the tightly wound, anal-retentive types, and it is funny at first, if you don't mind the formula.
Yew Boy, in League of their Own:
The late, great Mike Royko, one of the best columnists ever, IMHO. He uses simple words and short sentences to convey his meaning tweaked with the killer word choice. A dome is a bald head, for example or a pate. And can anyone ever forget Slats Grobnik? I've tried deciphering the code many times, but to no avail. And when that genius was alive, I was sure I would get arrested for impersonating him. Thankfully, alas, to no avail.
Mark Twain: Another smooth one who did the same thing as Royko. "Huckleberry Finn" is a masterpiece, and the schoolchildren from the South who don't read it are missing out, though it is easy to see why it didn't make the curriculum, but the river as a backdrop for social commentary was a brilliant stroke, and the book is a doggone masterpiece.
Zadie Smith for her stunning debut novel, "White Teeth." Great story line, great research, great characters and great writing. What more can I say for this in-your-face novel about two multi-ethnic, multi-generational families, the Jones and the Ikbals in London? The novel was enough to win her all sorts of prizes and a place in the most promising British novels under 30.
So here is my formula for successful snark: Be real, be honest be yourself and be spot-on funny and don't push too hard. We are talking about a piece of writing here, not having a baby.
Thank you, amen and over and out.
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