Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Headliners" Was Shit, Though

Josh writes:

"Now, if you wanna work here at the New York Post, you must know that we insert the following words into every headline: 'headless', 'nude', 'sewage' and 'governor'. For instance, 'Subway Fares Raised' becomes 'Headless Governor Found Nude in Subway Sewage'."

"What about the fares?"

"You're fired."

The Critic episode #22 ("Dukerella")

I've long been an aficionado of the subtle art of headline writing. A good headline can make a person's day, but they're hard to come by, like a worthwhile blog comment or a monkey that isn't in some way evil. The best are unintentional, although with thought, patience and skill a state of Zen-like perfection can be achieved. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get things wrong, or at least not-quite-right, which can be even worse.

For instance: 17ft snow penis shocks locals. While it gets bonus points straight away for getting the word "penis" in there, this one nevertheless feels a little redundant -- "17ft snow penis arouses locals" would be news, as would "...dances for amusement of locals", "...grants visions to locals" and so forth, but shock is pretty much a given in today's puritanical environment, where 17ft penises can't be erected in public places and escape comment.

And sometimes they just try too hard -- as, for example, when some poor sap tried to come up with a snappy headline about a recently evicted family of horrible drunken slobs who, among other things, repeatedly blast out Britney Spears remixes at inconsiderate volumes. The result? EVICT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME -- that just doesn't work. As a headline or a song lyric.

With the exception of the gem from which this site took its inspiration, mainstream headlines in New Zealand seem rather lacklustre, too. One day, though -- one day New Zealand will see its Pork-loving couple say 'pie do' and the rejoicing will be heard far and wide. By you. From me.

Addenda to Jack's post below:
  1. I too must emphasize that using other people's posts to comment on Jack's comment-free posts is teh sux0r and will be dealt with swiftly. Too swiftly in some cases -- I heartily regret instantly deleting an anonymous comment a while ago that was something along the lines of "Does anybody else not bother reading Jack's posts now that he's turned comments off?" If only I had waited until after I'd checked our hitlogs that morning, which clearly showed the poster of that comment going to the home page, going to Jack's post, then going to my post to make the comment...

  2. Random anonymous comments insisting that the Swedish monarchy is a force of Satanism are always welcome on any post.


Ben Thomas said...

Is this the thread where we discuss the abrupt end of About Town? Or the fact that I saw Aaron Bhatnagar in public. Yes, that Aaron Bhatnagar.

Ahem. In Sydney, I picked up a book called 'Pig Bites Baby'; a collection of stories from the Sydney Gazette between 1803 and 1810. There are plenty of terrific articles, but headings back then were minimalist - generally along the lines of "Murder" etc.

Not the classifieds though, where could be found:

A great headline and a monkey that's in some way not evil. Beat that, modern journalism.

HORansome said...

The Swedish Monarchy is not a force of Satanism; they are part of the great Alien-reptile conspiracy as started by the Hapsburgs. They are opposed to Satanism as, for we well know, the Hapsburgs were Catholics and the Catholics gave up on Satanism in 1953 after the Great Gerbil Explosion destroyed the RoboPopes and rendered null and void the pact with CyborgSatan v.2.

Of course, more will be revealed when I can finally get the photo off my phone that shows that the Illuminati are alive and well in Regents Street.