Monday, November 16, 2009
[Got the cat HERE.]
If you’ve been coming here for any considerable length of time, then you know how I feel concerning the talent of Magazine Man. Even if you’re new here, all you have to do is take a look at my sidebar. I have a link to his blog, and it’s the first link to something other than my own backlog. And the link is listed under the header "The BEST Writer On The Internet." I’m prone to hyperbole, but I’ve never been given reason to back down from that particular use of a superlative. His writing is amazingly consistent.
No, I take that back. To say that his writing is consistent does it a disservice. That conveys a sense of steadiness that might be misleading. I should rather say that he has a bottom line of consistently good writing, but he often rises to spectacular. As proof, I offer the following examples of superbly crafted, hilarious storytelling:
In Which My Secret Origin As A Super-Villain Is Revealed
In Which It All Depends On Your Point Of View
In Which I Have Promises To Keep
(You’ll notice, I hope, that the title of my piece today is homage to his own titling convention.)
Lots of people write funny stuff. What makes Magazine Man such a special talent is his ability to generate huge belly laughs within well-constructed full stories. Some folks… well, let’s take me as an example. I string together bunches of weird little jokes. If the end result is coherent, that’s nice. However, I rarely sit down at the keyboard with the aim of just telling a good tale and then letting the laughs take care of themselves. That’s the difference between a truly good writer, such as Magazine Man, and myself. His laughs are organic, whereas mine are often produced via a conscious effort to appear clever. I sometimes wedge them into spaces they may or may not belong.
(I’m not trying to put on false humility in an effort to have you comment along the lines of "Gee, Jim, you’re a swell writer, otherwise I wouldn’t be here." I know you like me, and I appreciate that, believe me. It’s just that, honestly, I know I’m often a good writer, but sometimes I stink the joint up. He’s always excellent, and therein lies the difference.)
Comparisons with me aside, he also has the ability to construct serious prose that is moving and heartfelt without entering into the realm of melodramatic bathos. I’ll give one fine example, but there are certainly others. You would do yourself a favor by going through his archives and finding them.
In Which I Tell A Slightly Less Heartwarming Father-Son Story
So, once again I’ve glorified the man. I’ve done that before. Aside from the fact that his talent deserves such appreciation, why am I doing it again? And what is the point of my title?
Magazine Man’s real name is...
No, hold on a minute. I’m not going to give away the goods so early. That should be enough to whet your appetite, though, right?
Here’s the thing, in case you just fell off the turnip truck and have no idea: Magazine Man has kept his true identity secret since the inception of his blog. He has granted anyone with brains enough to figure out his identity the boon of confirming their correct guesses, but he has never just openly given it on the blog. Some circumstances have, on occasion, conspired to make his real name more readily obvious to those with a desire to find it out, but it is still not wholly public. Until now, that is.
Magazine Man’s real name is...
See, I know his real name. He told it to me a while back. All of the folks who know his real name have kept it a secret, allowing him to retain some anonymity (as well as allowing those who wish to work out what it is, via logical deduction, the opportunity to keep enjoying the puzzle.) Now, however, he has granted me the opportunity to spill the beans. He has given me written permission to reveal his real name.
Why has he decided to keep his real name secret no longer? Better question: Why has he given a slug like me the opportunity to let the cat out of the bag?
The answer to the first question is that he feels his personal life and his blog life will inevitably collide soon enough, so why bother trying to keep a secret that will not last much longer anyway? Also, he feels that one of the more dire occurrences in his past – the death of his parents in a well-publicized auto accident, and his subsequent writing about that hideous incident – pretty much gave anyone with even a smidgen of curiosity a clear path to discovering his name. All anyone had to do was take the time to do some research and the clues would all come together rapidly.
The answer to the second question is even easier. I asked him if I could.
He recently acquired a new job as editor of a famous magazine. I wrote him and asked if he was going to announce his good fortune on his blog. I suggested that I was anxious to write something about it. It would give me the opportunity to ask my own readers – that would be you - to help him toward success via either subscribing to the magazine for themselves or perhaps purchasing gift subscriptions (which, of course, given the time of year, would make wonderful Christmas presents.)
His reply to me, in part, was as follows:
I appreciate your offer to plug me and my new job. I’ve been planning some big changes at the Masthead, including at last dropping my anonymity (which is pretty well shot to pieces anyway), but I just haven’t had time. Or conclusively wrestled with whether or not I should be going back and cleaning up my language, deleting certain posts altogether, etc. Because if I’m blogging under my own name, sooner or later... readers will find me, and I have to remember I’m now in a position where I represent the magazine, more or less 24/7. Not sure I need our readers (or my fellow staffers, come to that) reading about my hemorrhoids or [my] counting the number of Tootsie Roll wrappers in a pool of dog vomit. Maybe it’s just a matter of reposting the racier/grosser stuff to a separate blog — Masthead Classic — and papering it with all kinds of warnings.
...So yeah, feel free to mention me as you will on your blog, including using my name. If nothing else, it will spur me to get on my horse and make the changes I need to make. And sincerely, thanks for asking.
So, Magazine Man’s real name is...
I think it might be better if I give you the name of the magazine he is now editor of, first, and then give you his name. That way, you’ll probably be more impressed. It’s a really, really famous magazine. When he originally told me that he was the new editor of this magazine, I was floored. This magazine is one of the most famous magazines in the history of American publishing, with some of its content a permanent part of the American cultural landscape. Being named editor of this magazine is a seriously impressive accomplishment. I think you’ll agree.
The magazine he is now editor of is...
Nope. I’m not going to give it to you. And I’m not going to tell you his real name, either. What I’m going to do is leave it up to him to tell you. Forgive the crass religious comparison, but I sort of consider myself John The Baptist to Magazine Man’s Jesus. John proclaimed the coming of the kingdom, but he never did tell anyone that The King’s name was Jesus, nor did he specify where Jesus' ministry would take place. He waited for The King to show himself in public, and then he pointed him out to everybody, but give his name prior to that time, or give specific details concerning his ministry? Nope.
So, MM, it’s up to you. I hope I’ve given you the spur you requested. I’ve created some bit of curiosity and buzz. Now it’s time for you to give out the good word.
(If this ridiculous comparison I’ve invented starts running true to course, and it appears you’ll end up crucified, just remember that John The Baptist was beheaded. It’s not all skittles and beer for the prophets, either.)
MM, I hope this leaves us even-Stephen, by George, and if you don't Post by Saturday Evening, I guess I'll have to, but...
Oops! Freudian slip! What I meant to say was...
Soon, with more better stuff.
(Oh, for goodness' sakes, go HERE and read the official press release. And buy many subscriptions for your family and friends HERE.)