Be It Ever So Humble…

August 23, 2002

Reality television has given us so much: we’ve been able to watch people eat cockroaches and worms, which admittedly is something you can see on just about any playground when children are around, but it’s so much more fascinating when it’s adults who are being paid to do it. We’ve seen the marriages of complete strangers and seen couples who obviously had problems, otherwise they wouldn’t agree to be on reality television shows, enact psychological warfare on each other. We’ve become acquainted with complete strangers in ways most of us never want to be acquainted with anyone we really know and spend time with. We’ve even been able to choose a new rock star…from a small group of pre-selected attractive people within a very restricted age group.

Now this great cultural vampire is getting another transfusion in the form of shows that follow around celebrities whose star had either faded or who, because of their complete lack of talent for anything other than investing in silicone and liposuction, had been pushed out of the limelight. And these shows not only provide great marketing opportunities, they allow those celebrities to stuff even bigger wads of cash into the attics of their Malibu beach houses. This gave me a great idea: why not take two social diseases – reality television and homelessness – and bring them together? It’s like the old saying goes: give a hungry man a fish and he eats for a day, but give a hungry man a reality television show and he’ll finance a four-star restaurant serving a unique fusion of Indian and British cuisines. Spotted dick masala, anyone?

We’ve seen ordinary people in oddball situations, and seen famous people in ordinary situations (or at least as ordinary as the domestic life of a former pin-up model or hollowed-out rock star can be). Why not take ordinary people living in their car or on the street and give them a home – albeit one equipped with more surveillance cameras than Fort Knox? It’ll not only take them off the street, it’ll make them celebrities. Soon they’ll be appearing on talk shows and in magazines, and bobble-headed dolls will be available everywhere with catchy, pre-recorded messages like, "No more eating out of dumpsters for us!"

The only problem is this is a one-shot deal: the people chosen will probably be a family with 2.5 children that’s somehow, despite their trouble, managed to stay together, and who will, when cleaned up, be reasonably attractive. And this is only going to fix the problems of one family (although like anybody else they’ll find new ones, but hopefully they’ll be better equipped to deal with them). Why not have a reality based television show that follows some of the thousands of homeless people just in North America, documenting their struggles and raising not only awareness but advertising revenue to help them? Because no one would want to watch that. That’s the trouble with reality based television: nobody likes it to be too real.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Verbs HAS to agree with their subjectsPrepositions are not words to end sentences with

And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction

It is wrong to ever split an infinitive

Avoid cliches like the plague (They’re old hat) 

Also, always avoid annoying alliteration

Be more or less specific

Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary

Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies

No sentence fragments

Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used

Foreign words and phrases are not apropos

Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous

One should NEVER generalize

Comparisons are as bad as cliches

Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc

One-word sentences? Eliminate

Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake

The passive voice is to be ignored

Eliminate commas, that are, not necessaryParenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas

Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice

Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them

Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas

Eliminate quotations As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations Tell me what you know." 

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly

Puns are for children, not groan readers

Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms

Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed

Who needs rhetorical questions? 

Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement And the last one..

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out

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