Responding to criticism with charity


G’day, Blagophiles,

As you can easily imagine, I get a lot of calls and emails every day regarding BLAG. Book deals, Web writing gigs, pathetic entreaties to be award show arm candy (give it a rest, Megan Fox — your thumbs are all fucked up). I simply don’t have time to reply to them all, or ever answer my phone, but I do read the emails. And it is my even-handed fairness and fervor for the American spirit of opportunity that brings me to today’s topic.


Recently, I received some constructive criticism from Maggie Vernon’s sister, followed by a content submission (which I will get to later). Here’s a partial transcript:

Sarah: cus your blag is suffering
let’s face it readership is down
enthusiasm is not what it once was at the peak of your popularity, during the sorry, dave phase
which in hindsight may not have been due so much to your wit as to dave jose’s universal appeal
so, bringing on a co-author you know could give you the boost you need
no, you DESERVE
me: A) i don’t think you actually have any figures on readership to cite
B) readership is around 20-35 hits day-of for each new post and a handful in the days following
Sarah: yeah it was higher in the sorry dave phase
me: not counting my visits
Sarah: those 20 hits are all paul and gar
jerking of to your blag
me: i think they’re unique visits
me: look, sarah
sorry, dave was fun
but it’s over
it was a one-trick pony
Sarah: i’m not saying resurrect it
i’m saying you need something similar to jumpstart readership
me: a flash in the pan
readership is fine
Sarah: al where’s your ambition
25 or 30 readers is poop
me: how many readers are there for your blog?
i’ll give you a moment to check your analytics
Sarah: fine but this is what i’m saying
you have potential that needs to be fulfilled
me: sarah, so far you’ve done a lot of talking
but have yet to posit an idea
Sarah: that’s because i don’t have one
me: exactly
so why would i need your help with my blog?
Sarah: cus i have untethered ambition
it’s true al, how else do you think i was able to make it to 10th in the class
me: you want to marry a rich guy with a neat accent
well, sarah
i do appreciate your sort-of input
Sarah: oh you’re welcome!
me: personally, i think what the blog needs is a more steady stream of content and a little bit of time
Sarah: ok, ok, ok, i’ll do a guest entry
but only cus you begged
me: no, no,
that’s all right
Sarah: nonsense
me: ok, you know what?
do it
write an entry
i want to see what you come up with
Sarah: hahaha ok cool
me: i want it in my inbox this evening
Sarah: ahh i’m busy this evening
me: no.
if you want to make the morning edition, it needs to be in by this evening
Sarah: damnit fine
Sarah: what’s your favorite root beer
[ed. note: I had already left for 4 o’clocktails so the conversation ended here.]

So, as you can see, pretty strong words. I have to admit, I normally respect such an assertive and straightforward approach. “Here’s what’s wrong with what you’re doing, and my extraordinary writing skills are the tools to fix it.” Bam. So, without further digression, Sarah Vernon’s best attempt, completely unedited:

Let’s face it everyone, this blag has gone downhill after the early successes of Sorry, Dave. In it’s hay day, the staff could afford daily lunches of ham on rye, with root beer on the side (A&W fresh from the factory of course), but now we’re lucky if a passerby drops a penny in our empty plastic cups. Readership is down, and enthusiasm is not what it once was, at the peak of popularity, during the Sorry, Dave phase. In hindsight, this blag’s success may not have been due so much to the author’s wit as to the strength of Mr. Jose’s almost universal appeal. After all, there’s a reason why our Jose is now a television personality in his own right. Let’s face it, making fun of Ed Hardy and bringing up “my father hates me” jokes just doesn’t match up to Jose’s charisma and star-power. What this blag needs is something bigger, bigger than our tired gay man-love jokes, or mis-placed facebook “likes”, something better than the tawdry self-deprecation, or obscure metaphors of which we’ve grown weary, a generational zeitgeist, that, like Dave, will draw large numbers of followers in its wake. Something that will be ultimately bigger than the blag itself. But, what, what, might I ask, could that be?

The obvious answer, my friends, is hamburger jokes. I mean, who doesn’t like hamburgers? (don’t tell me vegetarians) Thus, it follow logically that hamburger jokes would be universally appreciated by all. If a=b, and b=c, then a=c. How did the jury find the hamburger? Grill-ty as charred, I say!!

But even just plain hamburger jokes can’t be enough to top Sorry, Dave. So, even though they are awesome, I had to figure out what could make it bigger.
Well, what is better than one highly intelligent, amusing, witty, charismatic and awesome person (and no I’m not trying to give Dave a ego slob-job, I’m setting something up here guys), if not 3 highly intelligent, amusing, witty, charismatic, and awesome people. And what if those 3 individuals were also making jokes? And not just any kind of jokes, but HAMBURGER jokes?

Think about it. Everyone loves Vernons. EVERYONE. In fact, everyone doesn’t just love them, everyone loves to talk about how they love them. It’s a common occurrence to hear two people congratulate eachother by saying “Vernon-five, man!”
And if all 3 Vernons were to be telling hamburger jokes….well, wow. Nothing, truly nothing, could stop them.

Compelling stuff. Stay tuned for my editorial breakdown, once I work myself up to slog through the first paragraph and, someday, the whole thing. I’m going to “Fire Joe Morgan”* the shit out of this.


*A quick shout-out to my boy Paul Anskat for the term. Hey, Paul!

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