Saturday, August 18, 2012

How to (not) be on Twitter,

Back in late September and into October, I started posting ridiculous things on Twitter, an account I’ve predominantly kept as a morning ritual of promoting whatever I’ve put on the daily blog. One could see this as a time-waster, but these tweets (predominantly sent later into the evening) first occurred as a series of brain twists, bad jokes and small studies. Just what can one do in such a short space? The Montreal writer Arjun Basu, author of Squishy (DC, 2008), has long used his twitter account to post tiny short stories, deliberately built to exist within the medium of one hundred and forty characters, and some of the pieces are quite amazing (I keep waiting for him to produce a small book of such, but it hasn’t yet happened). And doesn’t just about everyone remember that infamous short story by Ernest Hemingway? (Brautigan wrote a tiny one as well, equally sharp, although less infamous) Originally, I began composing these short tweets triggered by an episode of The Daily Show, after Jon Stewart made some tweet jokes with the tag line #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp. I think I composed half a dozen over the following forty minutes. And since I was composing a collection of short, short stories at the time, I included the best of them in the eventual manuscript:

Pee-Wee Herman 1st created using secret Soviet stealth tech; it’s why we’ve barely seen him since #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

at least 1 Cdn province and 2 US states don't actually exist; try 2 guess which ones #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

17 perfect clones of Winston Churchill exist, but chose vintage car restoration over world issues #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

most breeds of dogs dream secret lives as cats #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

Winnipeg was founded by cheese moguls #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

radishes, eaten raw, have been known to grant superpowers #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

Radium tastes like buttermilk #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

Jim Morrison died in 1971. Elvis Presley died in 1977. No, really. Get over it. #IDontHaveFactsToBackThisUp @TheDailyShow

Most of these were composed relatively quickly in front of the television as odd little jokes, some groaners, some absolutely awful. They can’t all be winners, obviously, but some I’m pretty pleased with. The bite was the thing. A later run one was for #badsuperheronames that somehow evolved into #badcerealnames when I realized I was starting to write something else.

The Grand Turnip #badsuperheronames

Incredible Stench #badsuperheronames

Artichoke Lad #badsuperheronames

Wet Hair #badsuperheronames

Gingivitus #badsuperheronames

heat rash #badsuperheronames

armpit hamburger #badsuperheronames

Enron #badsuperheronames

Patio #badsuperheronames

The Incredible Pork #badsuperheronames

Gary Busey #badsuperheronames

Horseradish #badsuperheronames

Diaper Baby #badsuperheronames

the spinning kilt #badsuperheronames

The Boil #badsuperheronames

Italian Pete #badsuperheronames

The Baking Frog #badsuperheronames

Malfeasance Lad #badsuperheronames

The Rotting Fish #badsuperheronames

Bat-Genitals #badsuperheronames

The Hateful Ukulele #badsuperheronames

Spandex Tapeworm #badsuperheronames

The Runnel Man #badsuperheronames

the surprise motorist #badsuperheronames @nikkireimer

the athletic support #badsuperheronames @nikkireimer

the headache #badsuperheronames @nikkireimer

Apple Nards #badsuperheronames

Cracker Lacks #badsuperheronames (or are these simply #badcerealnames ?

Gary Busey #badcerealnames

Animal Crack #badcerealnames

Stepmother Puffs #badcerealnames

Daddy-replacement Flakes #badcerealnames

Beer Berry #badcerealnames

Acne Pops #badcerealnames

Leper Flakes #badcerealnames

Okay, some are a little strange, and some, even, start getting quite dark (perhaps I was channeling Jon Paul Fiorentino, who was posting some also, as well as Kevin Matthews). Another run came up from the London Olympics:

triathalon cursing #RejectedOlympicEvents

downhill full-body tax evasion #RejectedOlympicEvents

Gary Busey #RejectedOlympicEvents

cross-country crying #RejectedOlympicEvents

Skeet Ulrich shooting #RejectedOlympicEvents

Hand-balling #RejectedOlympicEvents

old man fight #RejectedOlympicEvents @TheDailyShow

dinner #RejectedOlympicEvents

cross-country bowling #RejectedOlympicEvents

And then, of course, #MorrisseyOlympics that morphed into #MorrisseyType, when I realized I’d quickly ran out of Olympic jokes and started writing something else:

Judo in a Coma #MorrisseyOlympics

There is a Phelps that Never Goes Out #MorrisseyOlympics

You Just Haven’t Earned it Yet, Kellie #MorrisseyOlympics (Women’s 100m hurdles)

Everyday is like Replay #MorrisseyOlympics

This Charming MacLennan #MorrisseyOlympics (Trampoline)

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore #MorrisseyOlympics

Podium knows I’m miserable now #MorrisseyOlympics

Badminton, It Was Really Nothing #MorrisseyOlympics

The More You Taekwondo, The Closer I Get #MorrisseyOlympics

Girlfriend in a Comma #MorrisseyType

The Queen Is Predicate #MorrisseyType

Boy With A Thorn In His Prime #MorrisseyType

Meat Is Pronoun #MorrisseyType

There was an essay by Don McKay I read some time ago that talked about that “aha” moment in a poem that was the equivalent of a good joke by a stand-up comedian. In poetry, the moment where you see something familiar yet turned or twisted becomes “aha,” and yet, for a stand-up comedian, the moment becomes the punch of the joke. Just what is the difference? I’ve long wondered why there isn’t more overlap between poetry and comedy, and those poets who do introduce humour into their works, whether McGimpsey, Fiorentino, Stuart Ross or Nathaniel G. Moore, have all talked about how they feel the seriousness of their works dismissed for that same humour.

What the hell is the purpose to all of this? Self-amusement, perhaps. Watching Christine roll her eyes and groan, or even seeing just who out there on twitter responds. I mean, I half-expect David McGimpsey or Jon Paul Fiorentino to be amused by these (and they were), but Megan Burns, Kevin Matthews and Jason Christie?

Perhaps, simply another strange little writing constraint (or, “baffle,” as George Bowering calls them) to force a particular kind of writing, and to see what might be possible through the attempt. We write to see what we can come up with next. To catch that smart, peculiar twist or grand surprise or in what we’ve somehow written. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for?

And is it wrong that some of these still crack me up?

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