January 14, 2003

More evidence that my career as a writer is doomed

Mark Morford, whose writing sucks the chrome off the tailpipe of a city bus, has a sweet paying gig at a major newspaper. Man, even I couldn't write anything as bad as

Screw it all, says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his black eyes gleaming like the devil's own golf balls.
Do golfballs gleam? The Devil plays golf? The hell? Just pocket that paycheck, Moanford. Oh, and it's nice that you are so certain that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the US, he's just a minor thug, so let's just leave the Iraqi people under his boot -- at least they won't be dirtied up by nasssty Americans tromping all over their country! Mark Morford: hypocrite, thug-worshipper, creep.

I don't understand why this newspaper continues to publish a columnist of such low-caliber intellect as this person. His opinions cannot be described as even slightly informed; they are just kneejerk responses to his automatic dislike of George W. Bush, the Republican party, and America in general. Actually, I do know -- all the outraged letters the editor must get at least let the paper's owners know that someone still reads them.

(Note: this is a link to the main page of Morbidfraud's column; I don't know how to find permalinks to the dated column at the SF Chronicle's site, nor do I care to spend my day figuring it out. It's the column for January 10, 2003. Via Juan Gato)

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 14, 2003 01:42 PM

Cheer up, Andrea: It's not like he wrote it for a real newspaper. It was just the S.F. Chronicle. (Although "chronical" seems more apt.) When crap like that gets into print, it's not a newspaper- just a tabloid. No real editor would have let that go. There's hope yet!

Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 14, 2003 at 02:06 PM

Still, he is getting a paycheck for it. ::gloom::

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 14, 2003 at 02:21 PM

Reminds me of my personal favorite line from the "bad high school writing" list:

The little bowl drifted gently across the pond exactly like a bowling ball wouldn't.

Quality writing!

Posted by: andy at January 14, 2003 at 02:48 PM

So, um, maybe he was just warming up for the annual Bulwer-Lytton Writing contest? You must admit, he is a contender. Just because he gets paid to do it doesn't mean he's any good at it. (And just because you don't doesn't mean you're not.)

Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 14, 2003 at 02:59 PM

Do golfballs gleam?

They do after Bill Murray's done with them. Oh, Mrs. Green!

Posted by: David Perron at January 14, 2003 at 03:02 PM

Morford isn't talking about golf balls, of course.

He's tossing the "golf" adjective into the mix to avoid the crassness of saying "the Devil's own balls." Plus, using "golf" avoids any implications that the devil's balls are black, which would mean Morford the Devil's black.

Everyone knows the devil is red. A copy editor may have changed it to "black as the devil's own heart" but that's a little, well, religious in tone.

Morford wrote himself into a corner.

On a leftie newspaper, starting a simile "black as a ..." leaves you with few good choices. Better to have said "Rumseld's eyes were red as the devil's balls" which would've been just as true as the black balls statement since Rummy's eyes aren't black or red.

In any case, Morford's an idiot and his writing problem's stem from that, not from lack from skills.

Posted by: Bill at January 14, 2003 at 04:20 PM

Never give up! Here's something I discovered when poking around on another issue. The Canadian novelist Thomas Costain published his first novel when he was 57 after years of work in journalism and entertainment. He turned out an immense quantity of work after that, based on (if I guess right) years of reading and scribbling in notebooks. He's passe, unfairly I think, but most of his books are still in print, and very readable if sort of burdened with unfashionable things like plot and good research. NEVER GIVE UP!

Posted by: Jack at January 14, 2003 at 04:23 PM

Remember, this is in the Chron. The guy probably gets love letters.

Posted by: Emily at January 14, 2003 at 05:17 PM

..."sucks the chrome off the tailpipe of a city bus"...what a great metaphor!

Posted by: David Foster at January 14, 2003 at 05:38 PM

I kind of stole it from Andrew Dice Clay.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 14, 2003 at 06:53 PM

I always thought of golf as the devil's game.

Posted by: Fred Boness at January 14, 2003 at 07:58 PM

Get a grip on yourself, Andrea. Or let me do it for you. I promise to wash my hands first.

The main reason I quit writing was that liberals OWNED the industry. It didn't matter whether I was any good. I can write rings around Carl Hiassen--so can a trained chicken--but I was frozen out of the Miami Herald at the freelance level because I wasn't part of the "in" crowed.

I started writing again because I knew that once I got on the 'Net, the liberals couldn't stop me. And suddenly I have an agent at a big-time agency talking directly to me about a book. Might even get published.

Times have changed. Find yourself some publishers who aren't scared of the right. Sell your work. Get rich. Send me a check for giving you a pep talk.

Posted by: Steve H. at January 14, 2003 at 09:54 PM

I feel better. Thanks, guys. ;)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 14, 2003 at 10:37 PM

Suck the chrome off the Devil's own (golf) balls?

Invariably this also makes me think of Lee Ermey in "Full Metal Jacket" saying one of the recruits could probably "suck a golf ball through a garden hose." As well as the hate mail to Bruno Kirby's Lt. Hauk in "Good Morning Vietnam," read in perfect deadpan by Forest Whittaker as PFC Garlick: "Dear sir, you suck the sweat off a dead man's balls. Eat a bag of shit and die."

Posted by: David Jaroslav at January 14, 2003 at 11:04 PM

Sometimes I think I could pretend to be a liberal writer and write crap like that. Actually, it would be parody, but the dkwds at the Chronicle (or the SacBee which has their own stable of fkwds) would actually take it seriously. I could laugh all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Denny Wilson at January 14, 2003 at 11:07 PM

"they are just kneejerk responses to his automatic dislike of George W. Bush, the Republican party, and America in general."

That is why he keeps his job. He pleases his leftie Bush hating editors.

Posted by: Brent at January 15, 2003 at 07:26 AM

I agree that the reference should of course actually have been the devil's balls, rather than the devil's golf balls. The devil is traditionally, in texts dating from the 19th century and earlier, represented as a dark man.

The thing which irritates me most is, a black golf ball would not be expected to reflect light, so how the hell did it gleam?

Posted by: Bryan at January 15, 2003 at 09:59 AM

Years ago, when I was on the copy desk, a reporter wrote what I still consider the worst sentence ever written by a professional journalist:

"Fortunately, his mother was kicked to death by a horse."

Though the gleaming black golf balls that look like Rumsfeld's eyes have a certain appeal I have to admit.

Posted by: Joanne Jacobs at January 16, 2003 at 05:30 AM

Oh, Joanne, you can't just pop up and throw out that statement and then breeze merrily off, without telling us more!

I fully intend to become every bit as bad a writer as Morford. I have no shame.

I have begun with a poem, which Andrea will love, or more probably hate.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at January 16, 2003 at 11:54 AM

Oh no! I loved it. ;)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 16, 2003 at 06:23 PM

For the absolute dumbest columnist in America, check out Lewis Duiguid, the Kansas City Star's token affirmative-action hire.

Posted by: John at January 19, 2003 at 06:49 AM

Actually, Morfords stupidity ranks right up there with Ted Rall. He's a complete asshat that seems to get his "facts" straight from Democratic Undercround.

Posted by: beaker at February 7, 2003 at 10:20 PM