Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Short lesson in writing



Remember when you were, to be generous, a freshman in high school and your English teacher was all, "Ok, now we're going to learn about a thesis"? At least to me, the moment a thesis was explained, the rest was mother effing PIE for writing essays the rest of my school career. It's simple enough right? I can break it down to those a little rusty:

Intro Paragraph = Kickass opener --> Some quality BS --> Thesis asplainin' your main argument --> Possibly subcategories (topic sentences) to justify said argument.
Body Paragraphs = 300-1200 words of garbage that sound like they relate back to your argument.
Conclusion = Giant turd that sounds relevant to your intro's THESIS.

Hokay. So when you graduate into the highly sophisticated genre o' journalistic writing, this whole concept varies slightly to be this:

Headline: OH HEY LOOK A COOL STORY
Lede: WOW BAM HERE'S THE NEWS (Thesis)
Body Paragraphs: HERE'S MORE RELEVANT NEWS
Conclusion: WHO CARES BUT IT'S STILL RELATED TO MY LEDE.

I get that with a typical news story, the farther down you read in an article, the less important the info is. But I cannot STAAAAAND Jeff's level of uncorrelated sentences. He's in his prime with the Write Stuff bowel movement every Sunday but here's an example from yesterday that just really burned my biscuit:

Determined to show quality in life after war injuries

[Right, okay. So the story is going to be about how someone's appreciating their life post war. Got it.]

Posted: 04/28/2009 09:53:32 AM EDT


You may have caught it on the TV news recently -- Army Lt. Col. Greg Gadson walking determinedly around a track at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. If not, you missed something extraordinary.


You may have remembered him from the sidelines of New York Giants games. The team made him an honorary captain when it won the Super Bowl in February, 2008. He was in a wheelchair then.


And then there he was, walking with the aid of two canes for the benefit of the press. Two years ago in Iraq, his convoy was hit by an IED and Gadson lost both legs above the knee, which limits the effectiveness of traditional prosthetics.


But Gadson was walking with the aid of two bionic prosthetics, "Power Knees," developed by an Icelandic company. They are also "smart" knees, lightweight but packed with technology that anticipates his steps, rights his stumbles, keeps his balance and communicates with his therapist and trainer.


The first day on the new legs, he said, he fell a lot. Two days later, he walked a mile. The next day, he didn't fall at all. He told reporters that the Power Knees were the closest yet to "the feeling of a normal leg."


Gadson's ambitions are to be able to go shopping, graduate to one cane and, "Then we'll tackle stairs." He'll do it, too.


[This is all fine exposition, but... is there any mention at all of how he's feeling morale-wise? Did he battle depression and then turn around into this grateful, excited guy because of these new walking possibilities? WHERE'S THE BELL CURVE OF EMOTIONS? This is the whole article! Well, almost. I'm sure this last line will sum up everything to avoid any confu--]


Gadson's bionic legs underscore the truth of the old observation that wars are invariably a catalyst for major advances in medicine.


[EXSQUEEZE ME? Alright, I was going to avoid graphing this out because I am, of course, at work and should be focussing on formatting things into BU text, but I can't. ignore. this. fucking. non sequitur.]



If he had even remotely mentioned that this article was going to be about breakthroughs in technology, fine. All this is, is a barfed up version of what he must have been thinking about while, I'm assuming, eating a sandwich. There's no other explanation. WHYYYYY.



Monday, April 27, 2009

My Best Friend Lyle Says, "Oh, She's just bein' Miley"


Folks, I there are times that I legit shut my brain off for the sake of retaining my remaining functional cells. Some examples include:

- Meetings at work that take an hour to explain how to cut/paste images from PowerPoint into Word

- Nickelback on the radio

- Listening to campers at my other day job talk about ZOMG ZAC EFRON (Realistically, I will not even attempt to deny his dreamboatiness, but they're 12. THEY DON'T KNOW.)

- ShamWow commercials

And I mean, I am into a lot of retarded shit. Don't think a day goes by that I don't watch an Andy Samberg video or talk like Homestaw Wunnuhhhhhhh. I Jai Ho after one rum & Coke, for Pete's sake.

Aaaanyway. This article fell into that category the moment I trolled through some Sentinel Archives and laid my eyes on this bad boy's title. I'd say enjoy, but I should disclaim that you miiight wanna watch like, five minutes of some Carrot Top standup to prepare your occipital lobe's visual processing. Here we go:

Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys

[YOU CAN REALLY JUST STOP RIGHT HERE. SERIOUSLY. I WON'T JUDGE. IN FACT, I'D RECOMMEND.]

As I've mentioned in this column before,[rather than, you know, real news] I'm a big fan of country music [stop the presses. No, seriously, please.]. Much of country music, especially the kind practiced by older artists, is either country rock or outlaw country, which sits just fine with me [thanks for the breakdown, but I think the readers need a better visual, which I gladly generated for you here].

I appreciate the fact that some of the better country artists, like Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakum, Travis Tritt and Brooks and Dunn care about song lyrics along with the music [Ohmuhgahd I know! The musings of Lyle Lovett always hit close to home, like these words from the song "Church": "To the Lord let praises be/ It's time for dinner now let's go eat/ We've got some beans and some good cornbread/ Now listen to what the preacher said/ He said to the Lord let praised be/ It's time for dinner now let's go eat." 'Scuse me. I need a moment.]

I also like the fact that other country musicians, like Big N Rich, are willing to make you laugh along with making you rock [out with your *** out.. save a horse, ride a cowboy, pard'ner...].


That's why I was so disappointed when I watched the Country Music Television awards Monday night [Backstage at the CMAs a dick-in-a-boooox....].


The network, along with much of the rest of the world [a little broad, don't you think?], apparently seems determined to get a younger demographic.


So they trotted out teenage stars like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus [I love his horse allusions, 'cause it's country, get it!!],along with a horde of younger country musicians, who must appeal to younger consumers, but are lacking in real talent [ugh, sing it loud and proud. BRING BACK THE GOODS].


Miley Cyrus sang a duet with her father, Billy Ray - yes he of the "Acky Breaky Heart" fame, which exposed her for what she is [this sounds... sexual], a likeable and smart teenager who can't sing, at least not on that night [Yeah. But at least she's like the first one evs to not have a mullet, skullet, or any 'ullet' whatsoev.].


In fact, she sang so poorly, it was painful to watch [alright I need to find what clip he's talking about... nope can't find it, this'll do just fine], even considering the fact that she's made so much money in the past few years that she probably never has to work a day again in her life to live quite nicely thank you [um... what?].


The truth is that younger isn't always better, despite our society's devotion to all that is young and hip [you're telling me].


Old-fashioned values like hard work, dedication and devotion to your craft still mean more than just youth [Ruh roh, I feel a grandpappy lecture a-comin'. Please, tell me more about country music's hay day (HAHA MORE HORSE FUNNIES)].


Take the Boston Celtics for example [Ok, get it, country mus-- hold the phone?].


Up until this year, the Celtics have been enduring a rebuilding phase with young talent for as long as I can remember [What the deuce? I'm just going to ignore the double prepositional phrasing going on, but the subject change? That was more abrupt than then ending to like, Blair Witch Project.].


It had been an abysmal failure. The Celtics were easily the worst team in the National Basketball Association last year and after losing the lottery, traded away their first-round pick to land veteran Ray Allen, who is simply one of the best pure shooters in the league [I know you enjoy sounding informed, but I'm not following the relevance.. I'm going to to watch some more Miley vids, brb].


They then added perennial All-star Kevin Garnett and prepare to enter the NBA playoffs today as one of the favorites to win the NBA championship [I st-st-st-uttered when you asked me what I'm thi-- oh this is still happening?].


Veterans like Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce have a passion for what they do and know that in team sports, like any organization, you have to put the group in front of the individual [have you seen "Kittens: Inspired by Kittens" yet?].


At the same time, it's important to remember that the Celtics also have a group of valuable younger players who can now learn how to win under the new Big Three.These new country singers may be young, but for the most part, they're not very good [Oh. I see what you did there. Actually... no I don't. What kind of correlation are you trying to make? Celts are good, singers bad? All bad? Some good? Are you suggesting a Hannah Montana BBall team?].


Yet one by one, CMT trotted [ROFL MORE HORSE JOKES] out new artist after new artist, and left great artists to play a secondary role.


Sara Evans, who is performing at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Friday - which is an incredible place to see a concert - [- did I mention it's in Lowell - which is a town next to Chelmsford - which is where the Simspsons' town was based off of -] was asked only to introduce a performer, despite her great voice and hit greatest hits release.


That's the way it goes these days.


The truth is that unless you have a passion for what you're doing, whether it's basketball, country music or even newspapers, nothing else really matters [except for talent? Wasn't that the message? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?].


The key in life is to try to surround yourself with as many people as you can who are passionate about what they do [unless you're Miley. Having a passionate dad doesn't count].


I'm lucky to say I have a bunch that work with me here at the paper [lucky they haven't quit yet... give it like, 3 months], and yes most of them are young [TROOF. I was 19 when he hired me and 21 when I was told they couldn't take me back 'cause of a hiring freeze. And I was still like, the 4th most senior person there...].


But even old-timers like me can still get excited about what we're doing [Save a horse...] .


As for country music, if you were thinking of plunking down $100 per ticket to hear Miley Cryus, I'd suggest saving your money [save for it a rainy day, or for SOLID GOLD].


Did anyone else not realize that Lyle Lovett was Kramer from Seinfeld? Yah learn something new everyday.


Also, if I could make a sidenote about the absolute diarrhea that is sentinelandenterprise.com: So I go on there to look up old McMenemy schtuff, and they have the balls to charge $2.95 PER ARCHIVED ARTICLE. I can tap the NYT archive for fucking freesies. FREESIES! So, savor this post, readers. It cost me $3.00. I'd say it was spent better than the inevitably gross burrito I planned on buying for lunch.


Til next time!


LYLE'S ON A BOAT, NIGGAS, A FUCKIN' BOAT.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Special Needs Irony is the Best Kind of Irony


Folks, this shit's HILARIOUS. I don't even know how these stories just get dumped on my lap. Here, we see the Ash-West SPED director Alan Chates resign because he was using his dead father's handicapped placard for 8 months to get the primo parking spaces at school. IS THAT NOT HY-STERICAL?

I truly love this. Like, there is no other parking scenario that really could be considered funny. This guy yoinked the spot that many of his students' parents might use. The thing is though, if I was the one who discovered this gem, I'd probably go up to Chates and high five him. That guy's got BALLS. We can't dispute that. That would be like me canvassing for Obama while slipping some Lincolns under the RNC's drawbridge (I mean let's face it, you know they have a legit cobblestoney lair).

Furthermore, I totally wouldn't make this chump resign. Realistically speaking, if they poo-poo him because he's been stealing a handicapped spot over his work as a director, their priorities here are monster whack. Then again, Jeff fuckin LOATHES handicapped spot stealers and puts them on a plane comparable to baby rapists when it comes to judgment. He ran an article a few years back about spot stealers and came up with some ridonkeykong stats, claiming like over 30% of the handicapped placards you see were actually just inherited from a dead relative. My only concern with this would be a severe case of Zombie Karma when the dead finally decide to arise and pillage. I mean personally speaking, my dad would probably fully condone reaping the benefits of his expired placard but others... maybe not so much. World War Z may not be a perdy picture for yous.

But what the fuck? Is this really a huge deal? This is the big news of Ash-West? The sad part is, a fair number of Jeff's readership probably does consider this unavoidably important. Pfff.

Anyway, enjoy. Jeff's articulation is on par with a five-year-old's and his main message is something along the lines of "CHATES IS BAD MAN. BAD MAN PUNISHED."

Ash-West's former special education boss was right to resign
Former Ash-West Special Education Director Alan Chates, seemed contrite and apologetic in a letter he sent to school district officials after police caught him using a fake handicapped parking permit.

In the letter, Chates said, "I am writing to all of you to tell you how deeply sorry and ashamed I am by my actions."

Chates, who held his position for four years, used the parking placard belonging to his now-deceased father to park in handicapped spaces at his office at Oakmont Regional High School for the last eight months, according to the letter.

He also noted that "my primary embarrassment comes from the fact that I am the district's director of special education/pupil services [I would be cracking up while writing this]. I realize that the public perception is my utter disregard and insensitivity to the community that I have been hired to serve."

In the letter, he asked to be allowed to continue serving the district, but later resigned.

However, after he resigned, the apologetic tone of the letter disappeared.

Instead, Chates told the Sentinel & Enterprise he felt he had been "raked over the coals," by the school system, because they based their decision to accept his resignation on the license-plate incident and not his job performance.

"I resigned in good faith because I thought it was the right thing to do. I wish I'd been judged for my work over four years, but I wasn't, and I think it was a political issue," he said.

He also added, "I have a whole briefcase full of really nice letters, cards I received from parents," Chates, 59, said. "None of that's been recorded."

Superintendent Michael Zapantis did not want to comment on the matter other than to say that Chates made the right decision by resigning.

"I think it was best for the district and himself," Zapantis said.

We couldn't agree more.

Chates' decision to use his dead father's handicapped license plate and to park in a handicapped spot wasn't a one-time indiscretion or infraction.

By his own admission, he parked in the spot illegally for eight months.

Every day that he used the license plate and every time that he parked in a handicapped spot, he was violating the law.

He was also sending a horrendous message to the students he was hired to serve by in essence telling them it's okay to break the law sometimes.

Chates, unfortunately, has no one to blame but himself for this situation, and he was right to resign.

He was being paid $91,520 in his position, according to school district budget figures, and his decision to use the fake license plate and park over and over again in a handicapped spot rightly cost him his job.

We hope that the school district will be able to quickly hire a capable replacement and that school officials will be able to move past this sad chapter in their history.



**EDIT**: This editorial contradicts everything Jeff McMenemy stands for. WHY, you ask?

Jeff LOVES BRITNEY SPEARS. And Britney Spears illegally parks in handicapped spots. I will enlighten you another morn on this adoration. But for now, you'll just have to trust me.

IT'S CHATES, BITCH!


Friday, March 27, 2009

If You Have Something Wrong with You, God Most Likely Did it for a Reason.


I saved this article from when I worked at the Sentinel. In the summer of 2006, Jeff launched a county-wide contest for elementary school children, asking them to write an essay on who was the most influential person in their life. The following was awarded second place. Second place. I am not even going to attempt to provide annotations for this at the present. Maybe when I'm a little bit drunk. I'll highlight my favorite lines.

By Courtney Stoltzfus- Lura A. White Elementary School

Think of the most important person in your life? Does that person make the green grass? Mine does. His name is the Holy Lord, God for short, he made me and the wonderful you. No offense, but if you want to live on Mars, Jupiter, or Pluto, forget it, God made this planet just for us. Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto don’t have the wonderful stuff on this earth. But if you don’t want to be on this planet, you’re most likely saying to yourself, "Hello God, are you there? It’s me. Why did you put me on this planet? I’d rather be dust!"

Now, would you
rather be dust or live a good life going to baseball games, going to the mall, and having the best pet. Now I could go on and on, but God put you in this planet for a very good reason. It’s because he loves you and if you’re the person I hope you are, you will love him too.

Oh no, that’s not the end. Do you
like going to the beach? If you don’t, you’re probably thinking that the birds sound like a broken tuba, the dolphins sound like a screaming kid dying, and the whales don’t sound like a peaceful "hmm." They sound like they’re trying to push each other with the sound of "hmmp". If you like the ocean, guess who made it. You’re right, God. God made the birds to sing for us. He also made the dolphins laugh, and the whales too. God made them all peaceful. He didn’t make them so when you go scuba diving and see a whale, you scream and jump out of your pants. Let’s leave the ocean part now.

If you have something wrong with
you, God most likely did it for a reason. If God did do it for a reason, it doesn’t mean should say "See you later God. I’m going to live life my way." I can go on and on about what God made. But I think it’s time for you to think about God.

Second place.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Greatest Mother of All


A letter to the editor Jeff gave the greenlight:

St. Leo's-Grade 4-Smith
Editorial / Opinion By Eric Smith

My mom is the most important person because --> she feeds and she lets me watch Raw, Ecw, Smackdown and Tna <-- which are wrestling leagues. Once my mom helped me when I got my finger stuck in the car [after wrestling]. She's kind and caring [except when I deserve a smackdown]. She helps me do my homework. She brings me to all my games. She also cheers me on. That is why she is the best mom.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Dat Governor?


We Deserve More From Our Government

March 15, 2009.

Sixty percent.

[Fragmented sentence.]

That's the percentage of city lights in Fitchburg that will be going dark as early as this week under a plan hatched by Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong.

[Lisa Wong is a covert moniker for Penguin (HATCHED! GET IT? 'CAUSE SHE'S PENGUI...Nevermind). Loving the exposition here. "Heh heh dude, this is totally like, keeping my reader on the edge of their seat."]

That means that more than half the lights [really?] in a city with a significant crime problem [too many trick umbrellas] that's trying to attract new businesses [I could use another New York Bling! Bling!] and residents will be turned off [Yeah, I didn't believe this sentence could go as long as it did, eith-- Oh, hold up, was this supposed to be pun? You know, 'turned off' as in not interested, and then 'turned off' like how the lights will be? HOLY MINDFREAK BATMAN].

As I sit here in our downtown office [read: bathroom] on Main Street in Fitchburg writing this column, I still can't believe it [CALL RIPLEY'S. LIGHTS ARE EXPENSIVE.]

The mayor of a city in North Central Massachusetts [wait where?], not a war-torn part of Iraq or Afghanistan mind you [are you sure?], but North Central Massachusetts [Right. Thanks], has actually [the noive!] decided to turn off more than 60 percent of the city's streetlights [a totally new fact not yet presented in your article].

When Unitil took up to two weeks to get all the power turned back on after the December ice storm, people were ready to lynch the company's executives [Yiiiiikes. Good thing Robert Schoenberger looks Mormon ].They still are [Fact: Home Depot ran out of pitchforks right after generators.].

[Here Jeff made about 15 insinuations that Wong plans on cutting some street lights and how that (not ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT FITCHBURG, mind you) will lead to more crime or something. Bogus claims, says I.]

Whether it's at the local, state or federal level, we have endured so many injustices [I KNO RITE? LOlz I hate being an upperclass white man] that nothing seems to get us angry anymore [why don't you go blog about it? On second thought...], and we just expect things and go on with our lives [Ugh, journal, my parents JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND ME].

We deserve better [Oprah knows best] and we should demand better [U GO GURL] from our elected officials.

[Then he long-windedly poses the question of just how much Wong's plan s's Fitchburg's d:]

It's saving the city only about $64,000, roughly half [that's fifty percent] of the deficit in the streetlight account [HOLD THE PHONE. You mean to tell me this plan will cut the deficit in half? ONLY HALF? What is Wong with you? Hah.. hah..].

Coming after Wong slashed the library's budget last year [hey, the library budget challenged Wong to Mortal Kombat and she fuckin' pulled that fatality outta NOWHERE] and forced it to permanently shut its doors for four days a week, the mayor's latest move [Hold Start, then press Up (2)] again flies in the face of her promise to attract new businesses and residents to the city.

You don't get people to come to Fitchburg [period.] by turning off the streetlights [I mean, really. How are the coke dealers supposed to see?] and closing the library, you get people to leave Fitchburg [HEADLINE: Wong voted best Mayor EVAAAAR].

[Some foreshadowing about how he hates Deval Patrick.. trust me.]

Don't get me wrong, the mayor is very nice, very smart [but isn't an anal-retentive dude. Gah, so close, Mayor] and had the courage to take over the sinking fiscal ship [Fitchburg was called the Fiscal Ship of dreams! And it was, it really was..n't.] that is Fitchburg's city government [I'm not done with the Titanic references... The recession itself could not sink this ship!].

But she came into office without a real, specific plan to fix the city's finances [but she did have an excellent fantasy football draft] or encourage more development [maybe if she changed Fitchburg to Wongka's Chocolate Factory.. HAHA...hahaha..aha..phew].

And now we're all paying the price for her inexperience [but between now and April, find a Wongka Golden Ticket and you'll have 24/7 LIBRARY ACCESS!!!].

For example, Wong agrees to give raises to countless city unions that the city can't afford, along with leaving untouched some sweetheart deals [<-- real talk, Jeff: Lisa dumped you on prom night. And now you're bitter] in the contracts, and only now is trying to convince the unions to give the city concessions on their health-care coverage [you have no idea what you just said, but man, did it sound good].

Again, she's right to ask city employees to pay more for their coverage [weren't we talking about lights a minute ago...?], but she should have asked before she agreed to the raises and signed the contracts , not after [hun, I know you love your sister's Jonas Brothers t-shirt, but you have to ask BEFORE you show it off to your friends!].

Likewise, Gov. Deval Patrick [here we go] swept into office as the state's first black governor [so, so relevant] more than two years ago with promises of changing the culture on Beacon Hill and returning accountability to state government.

Unfortunately, he's done just the opposite [OHHHHHH BURN].

Sentinel & Enterprise reporter Marisa Donelan broke a story a couple of weeks ago about how Patrick's state police security detail went out and bought a $50,000-plus SUV to help protect the governor [she didn't break that; Fox whacked off to it several times before she got a hold of it].

Former Sentinel & Enterprise reporter Hillary Chabot [you may not realize this, but as a past copyeditor in the Sentinel Newsroom, I must disclose her stuff was teeerrriibbble. Like, we're talking, if you had to choose between wiping your ass with the junior novelization of High School Musical or a Hillary Chabot article....actually, no, nevermind],who now writes for the Boston Herald, broke a story on Friday detailing how Patrick's administration hired a longtime political supporter to fill a vacant state government position at a cost of $175,000 a year [yet you make how much, Jeff? For filling a spot in the newsroom with mental vacancy? Srsly though I'd love to know what his salary is].

And now, while the Legislature is debating his [BIG WORD OF THE DAY ALERT -->] inane proposal to raise the state gasoline tax to the highest level in the United States and trying to figure out a way to balance the budget, Patrick is again out of state [The puns! They slay me!].

This time he's vacationing in Jamaica [oh, my bad. Wasn't a pun] and has taken some of his state police security detail with him, all on the taxpayer's dime, of course [hey, remember when you used to take a brazillian vacations while the turnover rate of your newsroom staff was almost 100% per year? Yeah, me too].

We'd like to tell you of course exactly how often Patrick has been out of state and how much his travel has cost taxpayers, [but we use older-than-John-McCain iMacs that can't handle any browser newer than NetScape 4.0, let alone news feeds] but the governor, consumed with doing business behind closed doors just like the fat cats [like dees?] in Boston have always done, refused to provide us with documents detailing his expenses.

So much for open and honest government [Pfft, the government! Don't even get me started on the government! (Simpsons y/n/m?)].

He, like Mayor Wong, had no elected experience [like Urkel!] and no professional experience that seemed to indicate he would be successful in government [like Urkel! Sorry, enough of the Simpsons shout-outs already. This is just getting retarded].

Instead, he made his money by being a hired gun for an oil company [he's the first politician to ever do this ::cough BUSH ZOMG cough cough::] and a subprime mortgage lender, a fact that was conveniently ignored by his supporters who looked at him and saw the next rising star [dude! KERRY HEALEY!] in the Democratic party.

Well, how do you like him now [not as much as you like Toby Keith, apparently]?

There's no telling for sure what Patrick's next move will be [who dat ninja?].

But we're hoping that when he finally pulls himself off the beach in Jamaica [damn.] and heads back to Massachusetts with his security detail that we're all paying for, his stop in Boston will be a temporary one [DAYYUM].

Keep your fingers crossed and President Obama [nice.] may just end up finding a well-paying but not too challenging federal government job in Washington, D.C., for Patrick to escape to.

God knows he's not doing anything worthwhile here [Guh. I fold the laundry, iron the drapes and starch his suit and it's just NEVER ENOUGH. MEN!] .

The thing is, Jeff's columns are so heinous they're not even worth refuting intelligently (hence the multitude of Simpsons references). Crap like this makes its way into his own Sunday column EVERY WEEK. That's like, 20" or so of legitimately retarded text. How this douche gets a weekly byline crosses the border of unfair over to "you've got to be shitting me" territory.

Til next time!