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Monday
Apr032006

Who's up for some urinal soccer?

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It's great to be a guy. Not only can you pee standing up, but now you can score a hattrick next time you're in the loo. This explains all those awkward times I've been at a pub and overheard "GOAL!" coming from the men's room.

(And a special shout-out to Kevin and Maryke who are following Team USA to Germany for the World Cup!) 

Monday
Apr032006

Dealing with complacency. Or, why I’ll get around to writing a funnier headline later

homer.jpgI was having lunch with friends, playing Suck/Doesn’t Suck. One of those useless things my friends do. (Like getting drunk and winding up naked and stuck in a kiddie-swing, but that’s another story).

The lunchtime consensus was that Richard Marx and Michael Bolton do indeed suck. But that the Kinks and Lyle Lovett don’t suck. There was debate about Cheap Trick, John Mayer and even Barry Manilow.

The real head-scratchers were Billy Joel and Sting. Incredible in the early years. But their last albums clearly plowing the soil of Suckville. We reasoned that when they were young, they were hungry troubadours, but once they "made it" they lost their anger. Lost their passion. Lost whatever it was that made their music worth listening to. (Damn you Betty Ford Clinic, damn you).

With that in mind, do you reckon (I just used the word reckon) that this happens to NYT bestselling authors? Do they get complacent? Is this why it takes Thomas Harris so long to write a follow-up book? And does Stephen King’s Cell have the sparkling edge of his earlier books––granted, he did more drugs than Courtney Love in his early days.

Do successful authors get complacent? Does your favorite author get better, or worse, as the books roll out? What about you?

Friday
Mar312006

When you’re little you believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and yourself

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That's not the tooth fairy!
My six-year old lost another tooth. Like always, he put it under his pillow. And like always, I forgot to get up in the middle of the night to switch out the tooth for a dollar––like Indiana Jones switching a sandbag for the golden idol. My regular excuse is "ah snap, I forgot to call the Tooth Fairy and schedule a pick-up" Whew. He bought it.

What I love about little kids is their capacity to believe. When I ask my daughter what she wants to be when she grows up. The answer is never as wishy-washy as when my wife asks me the same question.

The downside of this unyielding belief is that little kids also eat bugs and dip their Oreos in ketchup. This is why Superman costumes at Halloween come with disclaimers that read: not for use in actual flying. "Billy, take off that cape and get off the barn roof!"

I’m trying to be more kid-like when it comes to writing. To remember that I used to believe new tennis shoes would make me jump higher. That duct-taping bottle rockets to my Big Wheel was a darn good idea. And that another human being might actually pay to read a book that comes from my keyboard. Maybe I need to eat more crayons.

Tuesday
Mar282006

Wal-Mart über alles

store.jpgI’m fascinated by Wal-Mart. It’s an interesting quagmire of humanity. Cluttered rows. Sticky floors. Like a porn theatre with the lights on. (So I’ve heard).

Even more interesting though, are their ham-handed attempts to flood the Blogosphere with bogus praise—courtesy of their egg-faced PR firm.

Does anyone remember Prodigy—the club-footed offspring of IBM and Sears that was mass marketed as an online service?

:::Squiggly flashback lines go here:::

I admit to signing up for a free-trial back in 1989. Unlike AOL at the time, with Prodigy you paid a low fee, and had unlimited access on your screaming 1200bps modem that only weighed slightly less than a four-slice toaster. But times were tough, so the story goes, and Prodigy began censoring any email that had "AOL" in it. As in "this service blows, I’m switching to AOL"—those emails vanished for some reason.

All because some middle-management marketer got too big for his Sansabelt britches and thought he could pull one over on the rest of us.

:::Squiggly flashforward lines go here:::

Now it’s 2006. And Wal-Mart is sending out press releases to bloggers. Hoping they’ll step-n-fetch their spoon-fed corporate credo in a new marketing ploy. And you know what? Like the rest of the crap they sell, a lot of folks are buying it.

But as creepy as it sounds, admit it, you’d still love to have a book (or five) on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Eye-level. Right next to the twelve-pound econo-pack of dress-shields and the Dale Earnhardt air fresheners.