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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Features Come, Features Go

Every so often I get a hare-brained idea about a new ‘feature’ for the site. Something to spice the place up, drum up some interest, and keep you pesky, finicky readers entertained.

(Yes, for many of you, a ball of string or shiny new quarter would work just as well. Personally, I can entertain myself for hours picking away at navel lint.

Not my own, of course. But I digress.)

Of course, these featurey type of things never quite pan out quite the way I expect. After a furious initial rush, I soon get distracted by other important matters (‘Oooh! Navel lint!’), investing less and less energy until I’m finally just paying lip service to the whole mess. And the first one of you smartasses that comments on this as a metaphor for my love life is getting pimpslapped in the chops.

I’m looking at you, Roofie. Hushit.

Anyway, let’s take a stroll back through the features we’ve… um, featured on the old blog, shall we?

First, there was the ‘Six Degrees of Technorati. A charming little script, designed to make us all feel like Kevin Bacon, and illustrate the wondrous interconnectedness that makes the blogging world so special.

Unfortunately, it was never all that impressive. By the time I got the script written, I’d lost the will to write it correctly, and include things like preventing circular links. So conceivably, you could be six degrees of separation from yourself. You dirty, incestuous little monkey, you.

Also? The damned thing doesn’t work any more. I’ll have to figure out why. Later. Maybe.

(Ed. Note: Or maybe not. I’m pretty sure the Technorati API has changed — or been stuffed in a box entirely, and not in the good way — so the script is kaput. I’m just here to remove the link to it above. Aw.)

Moving on, we next had Quantum Terminology. This was meant to be… well, frankly, I don’t know what the hell this was meant to be. ‘Codsmoker’? ‘Assmometer’? ‘Pudsnugglers’? Jesus. Luckily, it didn’t last very long. And let’s never speak of this again.

Then, there was Punchline Fever!. This went a bit better — I even whipped it back out for a reprise, after a five-month hiatus. It seemed like a fine idea; come up with a joke setup, make the readers do all the work of coming up with witty rejoinders, sit back in the easy chair, and profit!

Of course, I underestimated the difficulty of coming up with a sufficiently open-ended setup to make the thing work. Either that, or I grossly overestimated my wicked comedical skills and the time I was going to put aside each week to make the punchlines happen. Most weeks, I sat here at the keyboard at three in the morning, finally tapping out whichever lame-assed hackneyed bit of fluff I thought of first, and calling it a way-too-late night.

And no, that’s no different than anything else I post around here, thank you very little. But I had such high hopes for the punchline thing! Meh.

Probably the most successful feature to date has been the Cliche-O-Matic. Here, I had the bright idea that neither I nor you should do all the work. I simply jotted down the structure of an old saying, threw some words into the hopper, and let fate do the rest. Think of it as ‘motto MadLibs’. Or don’t. I can’t tell you people what to think.

To be fair, the Cliche-O-Matic hasn’t really flopped on its face, terribly. It’s simply been largely forgotten, because I’m too damned lazy and doodlebrained to remember to update the damned thing on a regular basis. Hey, I never said I was the sweatiest pair of nipples in the titty bar. So to speak.

So, why do I drag these past failures and aborted efforts out of the closet and parade my shame around now? Besides the fact that I have nothing else to write about today, of course. Well, it’s because I’m introducing a new feature today — one which I’m sure won’t suffer the same sorry fate as the others. Because I’m blindly optimistic like that. I was dropped on my head as a small child. From a moving car. Repeatedly.

Anyway, here’s the thing. I’ve done an awful lot of writing around here the past two-and-a-half years. And, yes, a lot of awful, writing, too. See above for one of many references.

But what I’ve not done, really, is write anywhere else. Sure, I’ve had a couple of (admittedly bad) pieces rejected by a local indie paper. And I’ve posted articles on a couple of comedy-related sites where the editorial process is… minimal, at most.

(One of the places doesn’t even exist any more, by the way. I think I broke it. They really should have seen that coming, I think.)

My goal, though — a ‘theoretical goal’ for the most part, to be thought of and aspired to without actually doing anything to get there — is to be a writer. Maybe not a ‘full-time’ writer. Maybe not even a ‘serious’ writer. How ‘serious’ can you really be when the word ‘douchebaggery’ appears in nearly every one of your works? But I would like to be published. Somewhere. Perhaps even in a transaction where money is exchanged.

(I just hope I don’t have to pay too much. Really, I’m pretty sure it’s not worth it.)

That said, I’m finally taking halting, clumsy baby steps towards that goal. One of my favorite online humor resources is McSweeney’s. Many impressive, successful, real writers have contributed there over the years. And a few random schmucks have gotten lucky and snuck a piece in, too. I aim to be one of those schmucks.

To that end, I’ve targeted the Lists section of the website as the likely first target. There are a lot of lists already, so probably it’s not completely schmuck-free at this point. They’d never let me be the first schmuck in, but if other schmucks have blazed the trail, then I’ve got a chance. Also, the effort involved is minimal, and the short format is good practice for me.

(I mean, honestly. I’ve just spent twelve hundred words telling you that I’ve started a new feature, and I haven’t even told you what it is yet. Less verbose, I could stand to be, is all I’m saying. Oy.)

Mostly, though, it’s because those lists often make me giggle like a ticklish German schoolgirl, and I wants to write me some of that. And so (finally), I’d like to point you to Charlie’s Big List of Lists. Which is a real misnomer right now, because it’s really not all that ‘big’. But just you wait. It’ll biggify. Watch and see.

(And no, I don’t say that to all the girls. Just the ticklish German ones.)

The ‘best’ (read: least suckerrific) lists, I’ll likely submit to McSweeney’s, or elsewhere. If I can get a couple published, then who knows — maybe those baby steps will get a little bigger, too. Meanwhile, the ‘other’ lists — rejected by them, or by me — are yours to peruse. These are the mathemetician’s scrap paper, the theorist’s blackboard, the stripper’s practice pole. Maybe there’s something good lurking in there somewhere. Or will be, someday. Good luck in finding it.

Permalink  |  2 Comments



2 Responses to “Features Come, Features Go”

  1. JEP says:

    Good Luck on the new venture! As a blogger myself, I know how difficult it can be to come up with new material. Most of the time I just end up downing a bottle of tequila and a hand full of ex-lax and write about what happens next.

  2. RRaccoon says:

    A) I haven’t been pimpslapped in some time.

    B) Although your Cliches link on the left works, the link in your post is missing the ‘s’ in ‘shtml’.

    C) Stick your new List feature up on the left in the features because that shit is awesome.

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Favorite Posts:
30 Facts: Alton Brown
A Commute Dreary
A Hallmark Moment
Blue's Clues Explained
Eight Your 5-Hole?
El Classo de Espanol
Good News for Goofballs
Grammar, Charlie-Style
Grammar, Revisitated
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Life Is Like...
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Smartass 101
Twelve Simple Rules
Unreal Reality Shows
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Wheel of Misfortune
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Features
Standup Comedy Clips

Selected Clips:
  09/10/05: Com. Studio
  04/30/05: Goodfellaz
  04/09/05: Com. Studio
  01/28/05: Com. Studio
  12/11/04: Emerald Isle
  09/06/04: Connection

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  #11: My Spelling Bee
  #35: My Spring Break
  #36: My Skydives
  #53: My Memory
  #55: My Quote
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List of Lists
33 Faces of Me
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Punchline Fever
Simpsons Quotes
Quantum Terminology

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...Bleeding Obvious
By Ken Levine
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