Daily Transmission #19: The Best Thing About Wolverine

Wolverine is a terrible character.

I’ve written about this before but with the new trailer for Logan hitting the internet today, it seems like a good time to harp on about it. Besides, if I don’t write about Wolverine, I’ll be forced to write about politics and as the young kids say when grandma asks about iPhones, “I just can’t.”


To sum up my feeling on the character: Wolverine, like Boba Fett or Hannibal Lecter, is a character who works wonderfully when limited to a few key scenes. The moment he becomes the star, the spotlight shows all his imperfections. And no amount of healing power can wipe away the wounds of poor character motivation. Continue reading Daily Transmission #19: The Best Thing About Wolverine

Daily Transmission #18: Creating the Perfect YouTube Video

Date: 1/18/2017, 10:30 a.m.
Location: Conference Room 207
Meeting Agenda: Crafting the Perfect YouTube Video

In Attendance:
Mark Loogus – CEO, VizTech Pool Furniture
Tina McCork – VP Digital Marketing
Linus Roth – VP Branding and Petroleum Engineering
Francesca Albers – Director of Content
Simon Paulson – Content Director
Doug – Millennial Intern

MARK LOOGUS: Should we get this meeting started?

TINA MCCORK: Great. Yes. Over the past nine months we have monitored every video on YouTube. All of them. We watched all of them. And we tracked the analytics of each video using illegal software developed by a mysterious organization with an address in Sri Lanka. Simon, would you care to speak to that?

SIMON PAULSON: No. Not really. It’s all pretty…iffy. The takeaway is that we have mountains of data. From this data, we should be able to create a perfect YouTube video, one that will connect with every person in the world.

MARK: I like that. I like the sound of that. That’s a good angle. Every person, huh? Walk me through the video pitch. What will our video look like?

FRANCESCA ALBERS: Let’s start with the cover image of the video — the still that will appear as a thumbnail on YouTube’s main page. The data indicates this is important. Right now, we’re playing around with the idea of a sexy woman standing in a scene from The Shawshank Redemption.

MARK: Shawshank?

SIMON: It tracks well, sir. Trust us.

MARK: Go on.

SIMON: In this cover image, there will be a red arrow pointing at the woman’s elbow. And there will be a red circle around the character Andy’s wrist.

MARK: Why?

FRANCESA: Doesn’t matter. When people see red arrows and circles, and they can’t tell what the indicators mean, they will click the video to learn what these arrows and circles are all about. But we never mention the arrow or circle in the video. They just exist outside of the narrative…like phantoms. It’s best not to think about them. Continue reading Daily Transmission #18: Creating the Perfect YouTube Video

Daily Transmission #17: Simon’s Impossible Quest

Childhood Memory #903: Simon’s Impossible Quest

My brother, our friends and I crowded around a 13-inch computer monitored which was connected to our Nintendo Entertainment System in our family’s computer room. The computer room began as a guest room, and because it was painted beige, with beige carpet, beige bedding and beige furniture, it was known in our house as “The Beige Room” — a boring name for a room in which plumbers would fight turtles, robots would hunt evil scientists, and entire universes were saved (or destroyed).

On the screen, famed vampire hunter Simon Belmont was waging war against his archnemesis Count Dracula, but before he could climb the stairs of Dracula’s Castle, Simon had to travel through towns and haunted woods, fight skeletons, zombies and wretched swamp hags, locate magic crystals and die… a lot. We were playing Simon’s Quest.

It’s proper name is Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, but going into the game I had no idea it was a sequel. Simon’s Quest sounded like any number of wonderful Nintendo games of the era. Only after examining the box did I learn it was indeed the second part of the Castlevania series, a series which is still around today, though to keep track of the mythos and story is like trying to untangle the plots of The Silmarillion while learning to ice skate for the first time.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest was my first Castlevania game. I can’t remember how, exactly, the game ended up in my hands. I vaguely remember spending precious birthday money on the game, which at the time cost between $30 and $40 — a big purchase for someone with a gross annual income of around $100. Because I was spending half of my income on this game, I was guaranteed to enjoy it. I was in. I was invested.

And what kid wouldn’t want this game. Monsters? Heroes? Whips!?! Sign me up. Continue reading Daily Transmission #17: Simon’s Impossible Quest

Daily Transmission #16: My (As Yet Unused) Inauguration Speech

My fellow Americans, I stand here humbled by your decision to elect me leader of this great nation. During the past fifteen months I have seen the very meaning of Americanship, and I will use that Americanship to bring this country to its peak of prosperity and glory.

[applause break]

The campaign trail was tough and difficult. It was harder than anything you had to do. Many times I wanted to give up, like in Indiana when a young girl came up to me and said, “Quit.” That same day, another little girl, a better little girl, also came up to me and said, “I saw you on TV,” and that changed everything. That same little girl is here today, standing in the cold January air for hours because her parents made her come and told her this was a big deal. It is a big deal, Alison. And making that face won’t make this speech any shorter.

[applause break]

Our country is clearly divided. It’s mostly my fault, but now as your president, I will bring this country together. You will see that I am a man of all people: Black or white, man or not man, wheelchaired or regular.

[applause break] Continue reading Daily Transmission #16: My (As Yet Unused) Inauguration Speech

Daily Transmission #15: The Daisy That Rose

The Daisy That Rose
By Dan Bergstein

Next to the rumbling highway
In the wild grasses and weeds
A small purple flower
Talked to her small purple seeds

“You will one day be planted
And then slowly you’ll grow
But listen my children
There are things yet to know”

“You can grow to the left
You can grow to the right
You can grow ziggy and zaggy
Or grow only at night”

“I won’t tell how
Or yell if you’re wrong
But let me just tell you
Of Daisy Susan, the strong” Continue reading Daily Transmission #15: The Daisy That Rose

Daily Transmission #14: Cover Letter and Resume

To Whom It May Concern:

I was delighted to find your job listing as my skills would be a great asset to your team of motivated individuals.

To hit a few points mentioned in the job listing, I’d first like to be upfront and admit I have no experience working as an accountant, but that just means beginner’s luck is on my side. I know your ad stated applicants should have eight plus years of experience, but eight years? Really? That seems like overkill. You can probably teach me the important stuff in just a few months, and I’d be ready to go. I learned how to play “Jingle Bells” using a rubber band guitar I made out of a milk carton, so clearly I’m a good learner. By the way, how much vacation time is there?

My organization skills are poor and the thought of multitasking stirs within me a panic so sudden and real that…I can’t even finish this. Ugh, right? People scare me, as I assume them to be puppets, and while your ad recommended the job applicant be self-motivated, I’m assuming there’s wiggle room there. I can self motivate myself, but I work better when I don’t have to. I hope that is not a deal-breaker. All of these things are based on my brain’s biology, and so it’s part of my health according to my friends and I. As such, you kind of have to hire me because of the laws.

As for references, I’d really rather not. I trust that my past employers would say only glowing things about my performance, but I told them all that I’d be a famous singer by now and the thought of them learning the truth bums me out. So let’s keep this between us, okay?

Thank you for your time. The best way to reach me is tomorrow when I stop by your office to see how the job search thing is going. (I’ll be the one in the gold sunglasses.)

Resume is attached below. Click to make it bigger.

Yours Truly

Daily Transmission #13: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (24-1)

Continued from yesterday.

24. Try writing longhand. And then you’ll realize what a crap-show that is when your hand cramps up and everything is slow and AGH! Go back to electric wording. It’s better.

23. Writing about gadgets and tech is harder than you think.

22. Don’t brag about seeing a movie early. That doesn’t suddenly make you King of Entertainment.

21. How much have your written today? If the answer is less than 1,000 words, you’re not trying. Writing is work. Take it seriously. Get to it!

20. Try your best to never begin a headline with “Here.”

19. Even terrible websites and magazines are staffed by smart, creative people. They know how crappy their product is and are doing the best they can. Continue reading Daily Transmission #13: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (24-1)

Daily Transmission #12: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (49-25)

49. Before you begin writing for the day, clap your hands together and say, “Let’s make some magic!” Then knock over a lamp.

48. The less you use parentheticals, the more effective they are. (This is a waste of them, and now when I use them later, it won’t reach maximum wonderfulness.)

47. Cormac McCarthy was given a free pass to omit standard punctuation in his novels.
There was a secret ceremony and he got a special sash. You are not Cormac McCarthy. You should use standard punctuation.

46. To combat writer’s block, be a big baby about it and tell your Twitter followers, “Ugh. Terrible day. I don’t even want to talk about it. Please RT.”

45. You are trying to connect with readers. Never forget this. If you simply want to express your thoughts, write them in a diary. The goal of a professional writer is to share their work with the reader. Look at your work from he reader’s perspective. What do they want? Compare that to what you are offering them. This isn’t about you! Continue reading Daily Transmission #12: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (49-25)

Daily Transmission #11: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (74-50)

Continued from yesteday.

74. When asked what you do, say, “I am a writer.” Never, ever say, “I am a content creator.” It’s bad enough you tell people you’re a writer. Don’t make it worse.

73. Typos are not the worst thing. Clutch your pearls, but it’s true. Ideas are more valuable than correct spelling and grammar. As an editor, I accepted a story with great ideas and poor grammar long before I accepted a story with mediocre ideas and correct grammar. Don’t get hung up on grammar and spelling.

72. Don’t correct a person’s spelling and grammar unless you are that person’s editor. Otherwise it’s rude. You don’t tell a stranger, “That hat is ugly. That is the wrong hat. Change your hat or else your face does not matter to the world.”

71. Sometimes people use the word “literally” literally to make a point. It’s an exaggeration. It’s okay to do that.

“After the kiss, Gretchen literally died.”

I am using the word to suggest that the reaction is so extreme it transcends figurative expression. I know what I’m doing. It’s called art, piss hole! Back off!

70. Use “piss hole” as a derogatory term. It’s gross and mean yet does not carry with it the social weight of gender modifiers or sexual preferences. It’s just a yucky, funny thing to call someone. Continue reading Daily Transmission #11: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (74-50)

Daily Transmission #10: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (100 – 75)

I’m a writer. Here are my rules for writing. (All of which can be bent or broken.)

100. Never use, “I feel.” This should be obvious. If you’re writing an opinion, then of course it’s how you feel. Stop being so precious about it. This applies to professional writing, but also everyday conversation and social media. Your thoughts are stronger without the feels.

I feel we should stop launching dogs into space.

We should stop launching dogs into space.

99. Use your third idea. Throw out your first idea because it’s probably an idea everyone has had. Your second idea will be a desperate attempt at originality, and will suffer from your desperation. But the third idea? That’s gold! [This applies to all manner of creativity, from writing headlines to painting murals.]

98. “In conclusion…” is for B- high school presentations. If you use it in your adult, big-boy wording you are not getting a TED Talk.

97. Don’t make friends read your work. My best friends in real life have never read anything I’ve written. I like it that way.

96. Don’t worry about what your family thinks.

95. Make a website. This is a great way to share your work, but it will also teach you about online formatting and presentation, required skills for digital writers.

94. Never, ever steal. Do not steal words, images or even headlines. Make your own. You’re a creative person — do the work! I have no sympathy for plagiarizers or image thieves. Continue reading Daily Transmission #10: Dan’s 100 Writing Rules (100 – 75)