Tag Archives: daily post at wordpress

Prompt Departure

When writing regularly I often used WordPress’s website The Daily Post and its daily prompts to provide me with ideas. I looked it up this morning (see, struggling for stuff to write about already) and discovered that, although the site is still there, it stopped providing daily prompts on May 31st last ….

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It  was June 1st, 2018.

Today, so, would be different. Today he would sit in front of his computer, watch illegally downloaded shows, catch up on celebrity gossip, and stare at YouTube videos.

Ok, so not that different, he admitted to himself. He had done all of those things every day since he had started working at WordPress (during August 2014, for instance, he had watched more than five thousand ice-bucket challenges), but only, and this was important, after he had first finished his work.

Since WordPress started in May 2003 his job had been to provide the daily prompt, a seed of inspiration to bloggers long on aspiration but short on ideas. The job might not seem that taxing, the only necessary qualifications being ownership of a dictionary and the ability to open it at random, but remember that on Fridays he had to work three times as hard, providing prompts for both Saturday and Sunday, and didn’t get paid extra.

Besides, he was a professional, proud of his craft, and put a lot of thought and effort into his selections. He would play word games of his own. One month he chose only words with no letter “e” in them. One month he used only words that derived originally from French. One month he used the last word from every line in Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (river, skies, slowly, eyes), and had had great fun reading the blogposts when he got to the word “pies”.

Because he did read all the posts, all of those that used “WordPress daily prompt” in their tags, and like a school teacher reading a classful of essays on the theme “what I did on my summer holidays” he would marvel at their sameness, but would occasionally be both astonished and gratified when, say, the word “branch” would produce a tirade about, say, the supersonic boom.

And over time the number of posts had grown.  Since nobody can think of something to write about every day, not even the owner of the blog My Cat Is My Life (there isn’t one, somewhat surprisingly), eventually all bloggers had ended up at his virtual door and he built up a huge following, of a size the bloggers themselves could only dream of.

Then he made his first mistake.

In November 2015 he used the word “panoply”, which he had already used in February 2006.

There was a time when such an error would have been ignored, but this is the digital age, when even the tiniest incongruity in a Star Wars plotline will be picked upon by people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

Which is unfortunate when your readership consists solely of people sitting in front of their computers, desperately looking for something to write feverishly about.

So the response was savage. People asked for his sacking, for a refund (of what wasn’t made clear), and, because not all bloggers know stuff, for WordPress to be thrown out of the EU. Things looked bad for him, for a while.

Well, for a day. The following morning he put up the word “moonlight”, and everyone wrote about that instead.

Because by now he was effectively subliminally controlling people, suggesting the direction in which huge numbers of them should think, and that was how, exactly one year later, he made his next mistake.

He put up the word “orange”, and accidentally rigged the US Presidential election.

He realised immediately what he’d done, of course, and the following morning he put up “red” as the Weekly Photo Challenge and “menace” as the Daily Prompt, and a bewildered Russia found itself blamed instead.

But the entire incident scared him, and indeed WordPress, and it was decided to wind the whole thing down. He carried on for another eighteen months, suggesting only anodyne words (such as, well, anodyne) and on May 31st he put up his last prompt (“retrospective”, rather fittingly, he thought), closed his office computer and door for the last time, and headed off into retirement.

Now, as he sat at his screen (“Watch the judges BUZZ TOO EARLY on Britain’s Got Talent!!!”) he found himself hoping that perhaps, one day, his story might in itself be a prompt, might provide one last idea for a story for one last blogger.

It would make a fitting farewell.

 

 

 

 

Morton’s Fork

The people at WordPress ask “If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick?”. Remember, they’re asking you to blog about this, which does kind of push your answer in one direction.
They do not make it clear why anyone would force you to make such a choice. Anyway, the reason I’ve paid attention is because of their post’s title, which is “Morton’s Fork”. I’ve never heard of this, so I’ve looked it up, but not before I had my own guess at what it might mean…
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Morton woke tied to a chair. Blofeld was sitting in front of him, stroking his cat.

“So, Mister Morton, we meet, er, for the first time,” said Blofeld. “Where is Mister Bond?”

“In hospital,” said Morton. “Q gave him a razor that also acts as a mole remover as a Christmas present.”

“And did he burn himself with it?”

“No, he misunderstood the instructions. He tried it on the mole in MI6, who punched him in the face.”

“I see,” said Blofeld.

“What are you planning?” asked Morton.

“Well, firstly to give you some advice. You are here because you were betrayed, just as Bond always is, by the girl that you just slept with. As a general rule, never trust a girl who is willing to sleep with you having met you just ten minutes earlier, especially if her name is something like Randie Greatbody.”

“Thirdly,” he went on, “I intend to flood the world markets with, well, water, install a puppet as US President (I was thinking of Miss Piggy, there’s no way the North Koreans would risk pissing her off) and rule the world secretly from this island headquarters which is apparently invisible both to spy satellites and to Google Maps.”

“And secondly?”

“Secondly I have to deal with you. As you know I cannot just kill you, it seems that’s not the way we murderous, ruthless villains do things, I have to give you a chance of survival, so I’m offering you a choice. We will serve you a meal each day. You can have a fork with no knife, or a knife with no fork.”

“Can I have a spork?” asked Morton. “Like they use on aeroplanes?”

“No. Anyway, have you ever tried eating with a spork? You can’t even cut the ring of pineapple that they serve on top of the wodge of gammon.”

Morton thought. He thought of Grizzly Adams, eating slices of bear off the point of his knife – a knife that he had probably used to kill the bear in the first place. He reflected that there is no such thing as the Bowie Fork, the Stanley Fork, or the Swiss Army Fork. The knife might also be used to kill off the guards – nobody had ever been forked off, except people with really posh accents.

“I’ll have the knife,” said Morton.

The next day he was served steak. He quickly discovered that eating steak off a knife is not as easy as Grizzly Adams made it look. Without a fork to pin it down it shot off the plate whenever he tried to cut it. An attempt to stuff the whole steak into his mouth in one go simply lathered his face in blood and fried onions. He finally managed to tug a piece off with his teeth, and the knife flicked the rest of the steak across the room into the tank of sharks which is part of the décor of all arch-villain headquarters.

He fared little better the following day with roast rack-of-lamb. On the third day they gave him spaghetti.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he shouted. “I’ll have the fork.”

The following day they took his knife and gave him a fork. And pancakes.

Morton had had enough. He jammed the fork into an electrical socket, shorting out the systems of the entire island, setting off a series of explosions and turning on an alarm system that started intoning “T-minus sixty seconds, and counting”.

He raced towards the door, where he was confronted by Blofeld. With a knife.

“We meet again, Mr Morton,” said Blofeld (Morton was secretly thrilled, he’d always wanted a villain to say that to him, it’s the taxi-driver equivalent of “follow that cab”).

They circled each other, Blofeld with his knife, Morton with his fork. Blofeld thrust at him, but Morton dodged, and rapped his fork sharply against a metal counter. The pure, ringing, echoing note that it produced was so loud that Blofeld dropped his knife and staggered about, hands over his ears. His cat leapt at Morton, who pinned its tail to the floor with the fork, a trick that he had learnt from watching Tom and Jerry. Morton dived out of the door and into the sea, just as the entire island exploded and sank beneath the waves.

Morton floated barely conscious on the water until he was picked up by Ivana Normuschest, the beautiful Russian agent who had also been hunting Blofeld. She took him to the nearest port, and then to a restaurant.

“What would you like to eat?” she asked.

Morton picked up a spoon. “I think I’ll just have the soup,” he said.

As Bats As A Blogger

The WordPress Writing Challenge for this week is called “Easy As Pie”, and is about similes and metaphors. This may sound as riveting as a book about rivets, but in fact it gives me the chance to mention the little-known fact that most similes mean exactly the opposite to what we believe them to mean (the phrase “as ironic as a similarian” has dropped out of current usage, but it is as relevant today as it was back before the hills became as old as the hills). Take these examples:

As easy as pie. There is nothing easy about pie. You have to peel and then stew the apples, or boil the rhubarb, or persuade four-and-twenty blackbirds to sit patiently while you cover them in a duvet of pastry. You then bake the whole thing in an oven, frequently producing smoke as thick as, well, you are for undertaking all this, and then make a little pattern of a flower to put on top.
In that time you could have simply bought a packet of Jaffa Cakes, admired your mess-free kitchen and then sat down in front of Downton Abbey with a large glass of red wine.

As nutty as a fruitcake. It has fruit in it, not nuts, the name is a big hint here.

As naked as the day you were born. On the day that they are born most people are naked for a grand total of about four minutes. “As naked as the night of your stag party, when you wake up handcuffed to a traffic cone with one eyebrow shaved off (no, you, not the cone) and a tattoo of Kenny from South Park on your left buttock” is much more apt.

As dull as ditchwater. Tap water is dull. The water in a ditch, on the other hand, might contain leaves, rare beetles, supermarket trolleys, typhus, an abandoned bicycle frame, perhaps even a body.

As happy as a pig in shit. The moment the pig was caught in the orchard with the apple in its mouth it knew it was in deep shit. And it was right, they roasted it without even bothering to take out the apple. Believe me, it wasn’t happy.

As right as rain. Seriously?

WordPress also ask us to attempt the “epic simile”, one which goes on for several lines, and gives this example by Homer:

But swift Aias the son of Oïleus would not at all now take his stand apart from Telamonian Aias,
not even a little; but as two wine-coloured oxen straining
with even force drag the compacted plough through the fallow land,
and for both of them at the base of the horns the dense sweat gushes;
only the width of the polished yoke keeps a space between them
as they toil down the furrow till the share cuts the edge of the ploughland;
so these took their stand in battle, close to each other.

This shows that Homer had a lot of time on his hands, and that he was as nutty as a nutcake. I can’t help but feel that should you introduce this sentence into a conversation you will find your audience begin to drift away, possibly to hurl themselves into ditchwater.

Still, they have asked us to attempt one, so here goes:

As happy as a man who, born to humble beginnings, dragged himself up by his bootlaces (resulting him in him falling backwards onto his arse) and put himself through university by working as a kissogram before winning the lottery and gladly realising that he didn’t have to finish college (he had got there on a basketball scholarship but was only five feet four, it wasn’t going well) so went instead on a trip around the world, had fleeting but enriching relationships with a young girl in a grass skirt in Tahiti, a rich widow in St Tropez and a beach-volleyball player in California before realising that there was no place like home (yes, he was from Kansas, how did you know) and driving back in his Ferrari to his loving mum. Who fed him pie.

There you go. Easy as standing on a log.

Daily Post Challenge: The Sound Of Blogging

(*Silence*)

(*Sigh*)

(*Silence*)

(*Deep, soul-felt, bottom-of-the-depths-of-the-abyss-of-the-pit-of-the-stomach sigh*)

“What are you doing?”

“Blogging.”

“Is that all? You sounded like you had constipation.”

“In a sense I have. I have constipation of the mind.”

“Is that the kind of tripe you write on your blog?”

“No. Well, sometimes.”

“What did you write about yesterday?”

“About how Rome became a city.”

“Oh, I didn’t realise you did interesting stuff.”

“Sorry?”

“Er, I meant, factual stuff. How did it become a city?”

“I don’t really know. I just made it up.”

“I see.”

(*Longer silence*)

“What are you doing today?”

“Going to visit my friend Claire in hospital. Do you want to come with me?”

“I can’t. I’m working.”

“That’s not working. That’s blogging.”

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“I could say it louder.”

“What happened to her?”

“She bought a treadmill to help her get fit, and she fell off it and broke her ankle.”

(*Tapping*)

“You’re not writing about that, are you?”

“Er, no.” (*Silence*)

“What does that Daily Post crowd suggest you write about this week?”

“The Sound of Blogging.”

“Good luck with that.”

Alphabet Soup

WordPress’s Daily Post has not gone away.  It no longer suggests daily topics, but it does still have the Weekly Photo Challenge, lots of articles about grammar and, for those of you who find articles about grammar too exciting, a recent post about a comma.

It does also encourage us all to keep writing, occasionally suggesting ways to find things to write about.

One recent suggestion was a lipogram. I had not heard of this (Spellcheck hasn’t either, I’ve just discovered) and it does sound like a kissogram who turns up to celebrate you losing weight (possibly dressed as a cook instead of a policewoman), but it seems that it involves writing something that omits a letter altogether.

Well, I’ve nothing else to say today, so:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lady dog.

That was quite easy, yet WordPress, for some reason, thinks it’s challenging.

Quite bizarre.

In Praise Of WordPress

I’ve slagged them off all year, but today, just for today, I’d like to be nice to WordPress.

I’ve slagged their SpellCheck (and am about to do so again, since it doesn’t recognise the word “slagged”). I’ve slagged them for their words of encouragement such as “Slick!” and “Bomb!” and then slagged them again when they took them away (by the way, I’ve found out how to get them back). Most of all, though, I’ve slagged their topics.

I’ve poked fun at “what would you like 200 more of”, “is it better to have the first word or the last” and “which is more important, electricity or the internet”. I’ve fought off the urge to answer their question about strength, chose not to answer the one about free will and cleverly avoided the one about stupidity.

I even posted a fake list of the type of suggestions they’d be reduced to by the end of the year, and realise now that it wasn’t half daft enough.

And yet.. last year I wrote 197 posts, sometimes going five or six days at a time without writing anything. This post will be my 350th of this year. Even if it’s only to avoid the embarrassment of having a calendar with a load of blank days beneath a sign saying “I’m Part of Postaday 2011” I have done more writing. And I have to thank them for that.

I have to thank them for all of the new, genuine friends that I’ve made over the year (that’s you lot, in case I’m being too subtle).

And I have to thank them for their Weekly Photo Challenge, which I started taking part in as a joke and then found that I was really enjoying it, and was actually starting to think like a photographer.

We have two lovely photos of New York up in our office, and one day I took this picture:

It’s the Dublin skyline reflected in a photo of the New York one. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I love it and I love the fact that I noticed the possibility in the first place.

So Happy New Year to Scott Berkun and all at WordPress.

And Happy New Year to all of you as well. I hope every one of you has a great 2012.

Tin x

Hot Topics

We bloggers don’t appreciate how hard it is for WordPress to keep coming up with topic suggestions, but the cracks are beginning to show. Twice they’ve asked whether we think everything happens for a reason. They’ve asked about us having an hour to live, 20 minutes to live and forever to live. A couple of days ago they asked which drugs we preferred (sort of) and of course they have had the much maligned “dead puppies” suggestion.

By December they will be really struggling. I have obtained a list of their planned topics for that month:

  
1st. If you were a cat, what kind of cat-food would you eat?
2nd. Describe the socks you’re wearing right now.
3rd. Weekly Photo Challenge: Despair.
4th. Was Little Jimmy Osmond crap or what?
5th. Which of your legs is your favourite?
6th. Humor or humour? Does your blog have either?
7th. Describe a jigsaw puzzle you once made.
8th. Ear lobes. Why?
9th. Will this year ever be over?
10th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Women’s Bums (bonus: if you don’t get slapped).
11th. Bloggers are gobshites who can’t think up their own topics. Discuss loudly, after twelve cans of beer.
12th. Do you like the smell of tarmac on a hot day?
13th. Why did the fourth little piggy get no roast beef?
14th. Do you think it’s easy making up 365 topics? Well, do you?
15th. Describe your most recent haircut.
16th. Write about Pirates of the Caribbean 4 without using the words “utter” or “crap”.
17th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Hold your thumb over the lens.
18th. Were you popular at school? Why not?
19th. How big is Uruguay?
20th. Not worth a hill of beans. What does that actually mean?
21st. No-one reads what you write. You know that, don’t you?
22nd. Write about the back of your head.
23rd. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. How do you get them out?
24th. Weekly Photo Challenge: Santa (no, the real one).
25th. Oh, give me a break, you’re not seriously all here today too?
26th. Write about the worst present you got yesterday (bonus: name and write nasty things about the present-giver).
27th. Describe your left thumb.
28th. How many Star Wars movies can you name? (bonus: what does that tell you about yourself)?
29th. Just what was so wrong with the post about the dead puppies?
30th. Are you counting down the seconds to New Year as eagerly as I am? 
31st. Do you think we’re going to have a Postaday 2012? Are you mad?

Better Half

WordPress asks today Who would play my evil twin in the TV version of my life?

The simple answer of course is that I would. That’s what special effects people are paid for, to put both of me on screen at the same time and make it look believeable. We should be able to chat together, to get a girl to do a double-take when she’s with one of me and the other one walks in (that’s why it’s called a double-take), to link arms in a rousing sing-song, to hug our dad at the same time, to fight with swords upon a dangerous rope-bridge.

One of us should be able to speak while the other drinks a glass of water.

The deeper, more considered, more disturbed answer is Who says it’s not me that’s the evil twin?

Perhaps somewhere there’s another Tinman, Namnit lets call him, who is everything I am not. He dresses exactly like me, because twins do that just to piss off the whole world, but that is his only flaw. Namnit can cook, service his own car and watch documentaries without falling asleep. He has a toolbox the size of a cupboard with which he builds cupboards the size of ships. He goes to the gym, eats six a day (he is partial to wortleberries and that gets him extra points, just as it would in Scrabble) and runs the Dublin City Marathon. He can lift one leg over his head in yoga, and in other pursuits besides.

Namnit’s local is also the opposite of mine (for a start, it has a carpet), but he rarely has more than one drink there, a chilled white wine. He prefers to go to poetry readings, improvised theatre and exhibitions of ceramic pottery.

Namnit owns his own dress suit. He is on the board of five charities, and donates anonymously to seven others. He sees the best in everyone and helps to bring that out. To steal Lee Child’s phrase about his character Jack Reacher: men want to be him, women want to be with him.

Namnit would never steal anyone’s phrase. He too has a blog (and is on Facebook and Twitter, where he has four thousand followers), but his blog is a useful daily dose of spiritual encouragement and practical advice. He uses it to promote meditation, a greener planet, fairtrade products and less slagging of gingers (since we are not ginger this is a typically selfless act).

He does not have a pacemaker. His heart is too good for anything to ever go wrong with it.

I hope I never meet him. He sounds like a right git.

Keeping it Real

So today the election is upon us. Commentators say our crap governance is the fault of our tired old electoral system and not, strangely, the fault of our crap politicians. Let’s try a new system, then.

This election should follow the X-Factor format, complete with the existing panel of four judges. This may appear as if we‘re handing our democracy to them, but bear with me.

While the current system offers us only party hacks and the offspring of retiring politicians, there’ll be no shortage of fame seekers willing to stand under my plan. And absolutely every one of these will get the chance to perform in front of Simon and the gang. The early weeks would feature some of the worst of them. People will say daft things like “bigger people breathe in more air, so there should be a tax on lung capacity”. Others will say dafter things like “sure, let’s stick with the current lot, the others might be worse”. Some will forget their lines and ask to start again. Some would forget their own arse if it wasn’t attached to their legs.

Every now and again some middle-aged woman will captivate the audience with an astonishing, fiery oration. Cheryl will cry, the audience will go wild and the woman will embark upon a career which will eventually see her embark upon cruise ships, performing the “I have a dream” speech in the nightly cabaret.

The ones who make the knock-out stages will perform upon a specified theme each week, the health service first, then the economy, etc. We all get to vote (that’s the ‘X’ Factor) and on Sunday nights the candidates will stand nervously side by side. Some will tremble, some will cry, some will link arms (it’ll be a bit like the end of the night in my local, in other words). Eventually Dermot will speak.

“The first person through to the next round is……………………….. (there are not enough dots in my laptop to illustrate how long this pause is) ………………… (meanwhile girly screams of “Pete!” or “Mikey!” will issue from the crowd)……

………………”Mikey!” The screams will be deafening. Mikey will punch the air, all the others will link arms closer, like a  wall in front of Cristiano Ronaldo. Eventually Dermot will deign to speak again. “The next person..”

And so on, until there are just two left. These will each perform again, giving thirty seconds of powerful rhetoric, then wait upon the judges. Simon will call one of them poor. The crowd will boo. Louis will praise whichever one Simon slags off. The crowd will cheer. Dannii will look like Kylie. Cheryl will say they “ah booth winnas”. The men watching on TV will fall even deeper in love with her. Then all four will vote. It will be a tie, and they will go back to the audience vote (see, we haven’t lost our democracy at all). The loser will go home to apply for whatever reality show is on next. The winner will go forward to the next week, and so on, until we have a winner.

Let’s face it, it’s not that radical a change. The standard of debate in our Dáil has always boiled down to a bunch of dull nobodies sitting in a big house talking shite at each other. If they can copy Big Brother, surely I can use the X-Factor. And in my programme the winner is decided by phone vote.

In other words, the more you spend, the more power you have.

You might say that I am mocking Irish democracy. I say I am continuing it.

Techno Party

One of the WordPress topic suggestions over the weekend was What’s one piece of technology you can’t live without?

To a man with a pacemaker, such as me, the answer is a no-brainer. To a man with no brain, such as me, that answer is no fun.

And the really top ones like the TV, the computer, the car and the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grill will have plenty of espousers (to my amazement Spellcheck says that’s a real word), so I’m here to stand up for the forgotten ones, those little inventions without which life would be a lot less, well, interesting.

The Garmin Sat-nav. Back-seat driving in robot form.

The I-Phone. Gradually bringing the mobile phone back to the size it was in the 1980s, i.e. too big to be mobile.

Now that's entertainment

The underwater TV camera. Without it Synchronised Swimming could not exist, and the girl leaping about with the bit of ribbon would still be the silliest sport in the Olympics.

The canned-laughter machine in sit-coms. How else would we know when the jokes come along?

Run, Forrest, run

The yellow traffic light. The technological equivalent of tapping a racehorse with a whip, it gees us up so that we don’t get stuck at the red.

The treadmill. For people who don’t have footpaths.

The GHD hair-straightener. Shows that women are more vain than men.

The fact that Tinson2 uses Tingirl’s GHD hair-straightener. Shows how little I know.

Screw-top wine bottles. Confirmation that all that stuff wine-snobs used to do about sniffing the cork was a load of bollocks.

The microwave. Heating food by applying radiation to its internal molecules. Sure what could possibly go wrong?

And finally, the nipple-ring and all other forms of body-piercing. Proof that we are not the cleverest race on the planet. Do dolphins do that to themselves? Do tortoises?