Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vincent is a truly bad writer...

At least when he tries to be. He is a Squeeze reader and the winner of our Bad Financial Writing contest.

Last week, as a fun breather from dire financial news, we asked you to send us the most overwrought, awful financial writing you could produce. Vincent, who is from Charlotte and asked us not to use his last name, lived nicely down to the task.

Here's his winning entry:

"Floating round and round with the push of each handle bestowed upon us by a novice in office, refusing to go down any less, refusing to rise any more. This recession hangs around our necks like a drunken sailor on Elizabeth Taylor’s waist, when it was a waist Bernard Schwartz could hang onto. Set in a gorgeously dreamed of if not self actuated Rockwellian depiction of Skynet proportions, fed to grow on the pillars of minutely propped socialist indicators of soothsayism. Which have been too busy to be noticed setting up the pins on the bowling alley of our existence for our own worse, enemy …ourselves, and our foes abroad to gather up in block party fashion to roll down the lane balls bigger than we have ever seen. Great big crushing, socioeconomically eviscerating ones trademarked with the symbols of our frustrating societal greed and blindness. 
Nay there is not enough Charmin for this bottom, but it sure do make (NYSE: PG) a heck of a buy."

Whew. That kind of bad takes work. (We hope.) 

Second place goes to Charlotte's Terry Maskin, who delivered a fine blend of prose and standup:

"How sick is this economy? It's sicker than a dog after it's got hold of a bad piece of fish on a hot day in July during a typhoid outbreak. And did I mention that the dog's already got rabies? And the fish was the only remaining asset in your company's 401(k) plan?

If this market were a teenage Country singer, it would be singing, "Teardrops on My Portfolio".
On a one-to-ten scale, it's ugly out there. I mean this market's just going to take its clammy, slimy, sweaty hands and grab you by the throat and tell you that it wants your socks and your shoes and your dental floss---and it's not going to leave until you make it some breakfast."

Third to New Bern's Ben Bomar, formerly of Charlotte, for his most painful stretching of a metaphor:

"Have you ever been frustrated when Christmas shopping? Exactly. Or, did you ever witness your mom get frustrated when she was Christmas shopping and you were a kid? That’s even more like it. She’s got a last minute list of must-have presents and it’s 4:50pm on Christmas Eve. She’s yelling and screaming about needing to buy the presents, but what’s really the problem is that she can’t decide if it’s better to cruise the parking lot looking for a spot up close to the mall entrance, or just suck it up and take the open space on the far end of the lot. Don’t you feel that same way about our current situation? I know I do.

It’s time for our leaders in Washington to either suck it up and begin the long march to the mall, or to decide they are not going to do anything until the option closest to the goal (in this case the mall entrance and a healthy economy) is available. Either way, it’s better than being yelled at while sitting in the back seat."

Thanks to all for playing. Now, back to the real, awful stuff...


Anonymous said...

4th - Peter St. Onge
5th - Any Observer business writer

Anonymous said...

I dunno. The people who wrote today's article on Sanford rejecting some of the stimulus funds have to be in the running. Note that the article was written:

1. Without noting Sanford's stated reasons for doing so
1a. While repeatedly speculating without any information that his motive for doing so is purely political

2. Without finding *any* people who support the move

3. Including the howler of an unsupported inference that the only reason a governor of SC might visit a place in SC is to begin a presidential campaign (because, you know, it's soooo important that he shore up that constituency)

4. Without stating what the money rejected is for

5. Calling Sanford a "powerhouse" after noting that the SC good ol' boy GOP establishment won't even follow his example of integrity

6. Repeatedly noting SC's unemployment rate as though that were a factor of the governor rather than the legislature (you know, the people getting ready to eat at the trough)

I suppose you could argue it's not financial, except that the article goes out of the way to talk about the economic angle.

The only differences I can see are that (1) Vincent won't put his full name on his hack job and (2) Vincent doesn't get paid to write this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22, I call BS. I don't think you actually read that story.

1. Sanford's stated reasons were (quoted directly from the story): "We don't think it's a good idea to spend money you don't have." Claiming that the stimulus money would destabilize South Carolina's economy Sandford said, "We need to look longer term and much more holistically at the notion of economic stimulus."

2. You make a point that they didn't find anyone who supports it, but in a state with more than 10% unemployment you're more likely to stick gold in my backyard than find someone who supports turning down this money. Besides Sanford of course.

3.How is it a howler to state that he toured his state? His name has been batted around by bigger names than the Observer that he may be eyeing a presidential run in 2012.

4. Again, from the story: The stimulus package is worth up to $8 billion to South Carolina, including $2.5 billion in new tax cuts, $1 billion in extra Medicare payments, $56 million for education, $588 million for unemployment benefits, and $463 million for building or repairing highways and bridges.

5. They called him a powerhouse. He has a lot of clout in his state and out, just not with his own party legislators at the moment.

6.Yes, the unemployment rate was mentioned several times. It's the second highest in the nation, for goodness sakes! It deserves a mention or two. No one said it was the governor or legislature's fault. No one implied it in the story. But to refuse this money after the state unemployment office has already nearly run out of money once. That's crazy and that is why the unemployment rate needs to be repeated.

Try reading the story before you call it bad writing. Maybe the Squeeze should hold a bad reader contest. You'd win hands down.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:03,

Reading comprehension, please.

1. No, his reason for rejecting the money is that it's a stop gap payment that obligates the state to take over funding after two years. Thank you for illustrating my point that the article leaves the reader ignorant of this if they didn't already know it. Also note the bowdlerized version of Sanford's response to the unemployment rate.

2. If you're going to quote random people, you have an obligation to get both sides. Journalism 101. And since SC is a conservative bastion, it's not hard to find principled conservatives - if you try.

3. Read what I wrote, please. The article says "...made his announcement during a daylong tour around the state that fed speculation that he's eyeing a 2012 presidential run." This was, in fact, an allegation made by Clyburn in a conference call to reporters; taking partisan allegations and attributing them to some nameless third party is a hallmark of bad and impartial journalism.

4. Read what I wrote, please. It's not what the stimulus as a whole is going for, it's what the money rejected in particular is going for.

5. So he's a "powerhouse" - just not with anyone the "reporters" could find to talk to?

6. No, it was relatively unimportant to the actual story. It was, in fact, a charge raised by Democrats (specifically Harold Mitchell) that the reporters made the centerpiece of the story while not attributing it. Agitprop at work.

Funny stuff. Not as funny as when McClatchy reported the success of the surge as a horrible burden on the income of Iraqi gravediggers, but still funny.

Vincent said...

Thanks Peter, you can send the mug to Anonymous 9:22.

Anonymous 9:22, if that is YOUR real name, I do believe hack job was the goal of the contest proposed, so thank you as well.