The Fish
for 28 March 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


[Tim Cavanaugh]
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Terry Colon
Art Director


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Senior Editor


[Copy Edit]
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Copy Editor


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Phillip Bailey
Production Editor

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Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


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Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


[yes, it's
a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager


Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager


Forsyth, " we're just spanning time "]
Brian Forsyth
Production Editor
& Pool Monitor


[the fixin'
pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
& Rhythm Guitar


Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

The Jawbone of a
Scare Quote

in your article for today's
edition of suck, you wrote:

"Let's make a pledge right
now. If you ever find you
need quotation marks up
against a word or phrase so
you can tell a sarcastic
insult from a straightforward
one around here, let us know.
We'll fix things right up.
You want that shirt of
vituperation, you won't have
to "mess" with any
typographical snakes to get
it. And that's not any
Mazola, friend: that's a

how about:

"Kaufman, a lecturer in
American Studies at a
university in England, has
written an entire book
predicated on a stray remark
of Kurt Vonnegut, that
'American humorists or
satirists or whatever you
wish to call them, those who
choose to laugh rather than
weep about demoralizing
information, become
intolerably unfunny
pessimists if they live past
a certain age.' Never mind
that some of the subjects of
the book, like stand-ups
Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks,
didn't exactly make it to 'a
certain age,' or thatothers,
like Herman Melville and
Sinclair Lewis, were always
more pessimistic than
humorous: An academic book
that tells its readers that
all irony, even its highest
literary manifestations, is a
priori doomed, is bound to
please a lot of people who
would rather social critics
like Lenny Bruce and Sinclair
Lewis never even went through
phase, much less the
intolerably pessimistic one.
'Irony fatigue,' a phrase
Kaufman coined looking for
what American
humorist/pessimist Fran
Lebowitz described as 'undue
fanfare,' is a concept whose
time has come. Even as
knowing a filmmaker as John
Waters, never exactly Frank
Capra, ends his latest film
Pecker with a toast to the
end of irony. We've come a
long way from what Spy
magazine in the '80s labeled
"the irony epidemic." The
Irony Backlash has set in.
Everyone is tired of the
trickled-down and facile
irony that pretty much
defines the media sensibility
of recent years; now, a
professor gives the people
who never liked any kind of
irony, facile or otherwise,
the chance to declare it
self-destructive and
unproductive. Unfunniness and
optimism, freed from their
shackles, can reign in the
land once more, and shine on
us even at midnight. I feel
warmer already."

(see also joshua glenn's
"fake authenticity: an
introduction" for scare
quotes run rampant.)

despite the perceived
inconsistency, however, i
appreciate your analysis of
the phenomenon as well as
your writing in general, and
look forward to reading more.
(this will include, of
course, a more thorough
exploration of the hermenaut
site as time permits.)

Jim Kuemmerle

While writing about scare
quotes, I learned many
things. Among them? The New
York Times
used to write
better headlines. Weeks go by
now with barely a mention of
wolf girls or
whisky-demanding bandits

That's because the world has
changed. And so have I. So
please don't GET ON ME for
the lapses of that
pretentious BUM Hamrah.

How do you feel about all
caps instead?

I appreciate your research.
Thanks for outing me. The
world may have changed, but
it can only be for the better
when we're unafraid to be who
we really are.

Slotcar Hatebath
Fish With Letter Icon

Hey Slot,

I enjoyed this one a lot.
Today's essay put into words
several vague ideas that had
been swimming around the back
of my half-semi-subconscious.

I believe that in the
greatest of current writing,
both words and punctuation
should have meaning. As
televised culture threatens
to make readers into little
more than a literary cult, it
is up to the "true" readers
to put depth of meaning
beyond the reach of "couch
potato America". Just for
fun, take an inventory
sometime of all the words NPR
disdains with their
"so-called" quotes.



That's because National
Public Radio is where scare
quotes meet air quotes. The
little jingles that brackett
everything on NPR are perhaps
are form of quotation marks
around all they do.

Fish With Letter Icon

Use and Abuse

-loved- today's article. *s*
(insert healthy contempt for
the 'average user' engendered
by time spent in tech

my retail site has just one
hoop, and that's just in case
of the unlikely event there
are ever scantily-clad humans
demonstrating the products
*sigh* all six customers thus
far haven't seemed to mind.

take a look. maybe you'll be

Proprietor & Lead

Amused? More like amazed. Who
knew goth marital aids were
so expensive? Hae you
considered buying in bulk,
then selling them as tech
support devices?

Pixel Vixen
Fish With Letter Icon

With the number of new
computer users and web
surfers that keep getting
added to the fray every day
(not to mention the
entrepeneurs trying to make
money off of these people) it
ends up becoming the
equivalent of urban
sprawl--too many sites being
built too quickly-with no
attention paid to whether or
not people can easily access
the things they need. If you
have to drive around three
brand new mini-malls to get
to the grocery store, you
haven't progressed at all.

Keep the suck sucking!!!

Robert C.

You know, you've just
outlined the premise for Mike
Davis' new book: City of
Silicon: Excavating the
Profit Line.

Consider the similarities
between the Web model you put
forth and Los Angeles:

- both are filled with people
attracted to shiny objects

- both require inordinate
amounts of time simply to get
anything done

- LA has air smog; the Web
has data smog

- Studio business model:
banking on ephemeral
celebrity; Web business

model: banking on ephemeral

Pixel Vixen
Fish With Letter Icon

Of late, rewarding bogus
competence ("My Child Is A
Super Student At Nosebleed
Elementary") has drowned real
achievement. The unfortunate
answer is that the programmer
was right: the users are
stupid. This will only get
worse as the Web audience
expands beyond the yokels
sporting addresses
and gets to those with full
frontal lobotomies, the
beneficiaries of sustained
electroshock therapy, and
Democrats. I can only hope
none of these savants end up
in technical support -- on
either side of the phone.

Rob McMillin

I admire your joie de malice,
but really — bogus
competence has been very good
to me. How else do you think
I ended up writing this?

Pixel Vixen
Fish With Letter Icon

Hurrah! Well written, and
echoes truths bound to leave
the inane buggered and the
web marketers choking on
their own latex inflatable

As a technology manager
trying (I emphasize trying)
to implement an e-commerce
system for a major financial
services company, very few
understand that Functionality
and Usability are the
priority when trying to
develop a tool to lead to
success. I cannot possibly
cite the number of instances
where marketing managerís
gaze suddenly glazes over and
nearly drool in catatonia
when listening to the issues
of functional flows,
navigation, and usability.

eric lang

You know, I got email from
someone earlier today who
specializes in fetishwear.
Perhaps you and he should get
together and offer an
e-fetish line; latex
inflatable egos might be the
next big thing.

Of course; the marketing
people aren't going to
actually use the product
they're selling. I suggest
recasting the flows,
navigation and usability in
these terms: brand identity.
That should keep them awake.
Then it's your job to pull a
fast one and actually try to
marry the brand to a
non-hideous surfing

Pixel Vixen
Fish With Letter Icon

The Jawbone of a Scare Quote

Thanks so much for your
slight to the AP style guide.

"Yet the term isn't mentioned
in The New York Times'
heavy-duty instruction
manual, nor in The Washington
Post Deskbook on Style; not
in the slim volume the
Associated Press puts out or
The Chicago Manual of Style
or any of the various MLA



Why do people force the blowy
AP style guide on anyone,
anyway? It's one of those
mysteries, like why is the
Associated Press a non-profit

Fish With Letter Icon

One of the local businesses
around here, Danny "D" TV
Repair, had a sign in their
window announcing that they
were going on "vacation". I
puzzled over that one for

Take care,


"Scoats" sounds like a
contraction of "scare
quotes." Is that why you're
so interested in their

As a responsible journalist,
I contacted Danny "D" TV
Repair. Danny (Senior) put
"vacation" in quotes like
that because he spent his
time off sitting on his couch
watching a Philco he repaired
five years ago that the
customer never came to pick
up. Turns out the guy died.
Now there's some ironical

Fish With Letter Icon

Oh boy, oh boy! I already
found a word that needs scare
quotes! In the first
paragraph, you say:

"They pat the phrase on the
back and send it on it's way
bundled up in scare quotes."

Ooh, it's a trendy mis-usage
of non-possessive "it's"!
This is obviously an attempt
to get closer to your readers
by using layman's jargon,

Egads. "Layman's jargon"
sounds somehow very
intimidating, & perhaps a bit
naughty, though it's
certainly not worthy of scare

I did really enjoy the
article, though. Have no
doubts about that. It's just
the militant grammatician in
me that causes such reactions
to occur while I sit here
eating my "Grape-Nuts" &
reading "Suck" naked.


At least one mystery has been
solved here. Those signs at
restaurants that advertise
"Breakfast" Served All Day?
Copy editing didn't catch the
writer's mistake before they
taped it to the wall.

Your letter gets the award
for most interesting batch of
scare quoted words used to
beat me over the head. With
"layman's jargon" and "Suck"
you wouldn't have placed.
"Grape-Nuts" pushed you over.
Especially since you claimed
to be eating them naked. The
facial contortions needed to
chew those things + breakfast
table nudity = most lasting
image of the day. Thank you.

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: ethnic

No, have it all
wrong: ethnic cleansing is
NOT genocide. The point of
genocide is to kill everyone
in a given ethnic group. The
point of ethnic cleansing is
to clear a given ethnic group
out of a given area: usually
by forcibly evacuating them.
Granted, shooting a few helps
get the overall message
accross to the others, but
still they are different
concepts. The reason ethnic
cleansing survived as a
coinage — beyond its
appealingly sinister ring
— is that it conveys
something different from

Francisco Toro

To my cauliflower ear that
sounds a lot like a
justification for ethnic
cleansing. Since the use of
the word genocide isn't
reserved for instances where
it's been successful —
where every member of a group
has been killed — well,
then every member of a group
doesn't have to have been
killed for genocide to have
been committed. It's about
intent. Maybe ethnic
cleansing is what genocidal
maniacs use to describe
genocide that they know won't

Your definiton is pragmatic,
just like in my example. The
numbers just aren't there.
The use of the term ethnic
cleansing anesthetizes
readers to the reality of
genocide and makes it
tolerable. Heavy, huh?

Fish With Letter Icon

Speaking of letters from my
grandmother, she always
signed her cards:



Which always made me wonder
about whether there was real
sentiment behind the $5 bill
she enclosed.

Ted Metzler

These scare quotes stories
are enough to break my
cauliflower heart. I'm so
sorry, Ted. It's sadly
obvious that your grandmother
didn't love you. But you're
better off than me. My Aunt
"Winnie" and my Uncle
"Willie" only sent me a
dollar bill every year. On
the other hand, I was doing
pretty good because I had no
idea who the people behind
those obvious pseudonyms
were. It's like parents who
sign the cards "Santa Claus"
on the Christmas gifts they
give to their kids. That's a
red (and green) flag,
kiddies, and an early lesson
in why you shouldn't trust a
scare quote.

Fish With Letter Icon

Hey, what is a "ho-made"
Donut? Donut made by "ho"s?

Cameron Geiser

See, you see what happens
with scare quotes? People get
all smart-mouthed because
they can't resist questioning
everything inside them.

A (or is that an?) "ho-made"
donut is not a donut made by
hos, funnyman. A "ho-made"
donut is a donut made by
ex-hos who've been forced to
get "real" jobs under new
welfare strictures. I suppose
it's easy to denigrate their
Krispy Kreme efforts. In the
future, resist the impulse.

Fish With Letter Icon

 The Shit
Krushchev Remembers, by Nikita Krushchev (authorship disputed), translated by Strobe Talbott
Five-Star Day Cafe
Athens, Ga.
Salon's "Action Figures"
TV ad
Donna's Famous "Long and Short of It," by Donna Anderson and friends
Two-Lane Blacktop, directed by Monte Hellman (The Anchor Bay/Universal letterboxed edition)
George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance, by Lydia Millet (Scribner)
King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score, by Max Steiner Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William J. Stromberg conductor (Marco Polo)
Eightball #20, by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)
The ECW's Little Spike Dudley
Stan Kenton, City of Glass, featuring arrangements by legendary weirdo Bob Graettinger (EMD/Blue Note)
Comix 2000, Edited and published by L'Association, 2000
Star Dudes
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.

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