Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Everybody wants to be an executioner.

Or so it seems from all the marketing copy I’ve been reading and editing lately. When asked what they do best, companies continually answer:

We execute.

When asked what differentiates their company from the rest; what they excel in, they say:


What concerns me about this is that, if you take their meaning to be that they “get things done” and that they “excel in the implementation of their solutions to customers’ problems,” that’s not really something to brag about, is it? That kind of execution barely keeps you in business, let alone propelling your company to the front of the pack.

Therefore I must consider: are these companies doing some side jobs for the mob?

I know that’s not what these companies mean, but seriously – come up with something original to do, and an original way to express what you do, or I will assume that you’re whacking people in the back room.

On a lighter note, all this talk of execution makes me think of the almost-fate of Bartholomew Cubbins, the 500-hat-wearer of Seuss fame. Check out the book if you’re bored; it’s one of my childhood favorites.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Of Pop-Tarts and split infinitives

I am not a Pop-Tart eater. What’s more, if I were to consume a Pop-Tart, I would certainly not choose the frosted variety with hot pink sprinkles. But in order to satisfy a post-lunch need for carbs (which I should have predicted, since I brought salad for lunch), I ate one today. Two, actually, since they come two to a pack.

Now, I’m a fan of Brian Regan and his legendary rant regarding Pop-Tart instructions. How stupid do you have to be, truly, if you need to read the instructions in order to toast your Pop-Tart properly?

But today I found that, in my relative inexperience with this fruit-filled toaster pastry, I needed to read the instructions. Remember, these were frosted. Given that we have both a traditional vertical toaster – designed for speed and even browning of toast and bagels – and a sophisticated-looking toaster oven – perfect for reheating pizza, melting cheese on bread, and other messier jobs, but very slow – I was left with a choice.

Do I wait six minutes for the toaster oven to barely warm these processed strawberry treats? Or do I choose the fast track, inserting them on their sides into the toaster (all the while praying the icing doesn’t melt, gunking up and possibly shorting out the appliance)?

Choosing life on the edge – and a swifter return to my desk – I went vertical. As I waited and watched, planning the Pop-Tarts’ emergency exit from the toaster should it become necessary, I wondered why the package did not stipulate the orientation of the toaster pastry. Surely others like me have wondered if it is safe to toast them on their sides.

But what I learned today is that Pop-Tart manufacturers have designed icing that defies heat, resisting meltage, even at the high temperatures that render the filling too hot to eat. This leads me to believe that it is not truly icing, but some form of sweet, marginally edible ceramic substance that allows morons to keep their vertical toasters in clean and working order.

On a completely unrelated grammatical note, I also cemented my personal views on split infinitives. I know they’re messy – even, as many people would note, wrong – but they’re far more musical and dramatic than their grammatically correct counterparts.

Which is why, when it comes to Pop-Tarts or anything else, my goal is to boldly go where no man has gone before. “To go boldly ” just doesn’t cut it.