Thursday, June 19, 2014

“Ulysses" in the Age of Buzzfeed

Marilyn Monroe reading "Ulysses"
Did you know... you have an 8-second attention span?

That’s one second less than a goldfish’s.

Also, if I haven’t hooked you into reading this within the next 11 words, you’re outta here.

Those are essential web-writing tips from Andrea Smith, an award-winning digital communications consultant. She came all the way to Basking Ridge, NJ, to offer advice to Verizon's PR team. Other tips: use short sentences. And numbers. And bullets.

The advice was truly terrific for the type of writing I often do. But I enjoy writing other things, and the workshop happened to take place on the day after Bloomsday. I thought: What if I were James Joyce, trying to make a living in PR these days?

I could only imagine:

4 Homerically Interesting Observations About Dublin

I got lucky on a first date this past week. I’m not going to write about that here (I’ll save it for Snapchat or some other form of private communication). But it got me to thinking about ordinary life and romance in my home town.

So here’s a list of 4 things I’m sure all Dubliners can appreciate:

  1. No grey trousers. Ever. 
  2. There’s history on every corner! (Of course, all the tourists are just a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.) 
  3. Want to be taken seriously? Try shouting in the streets
  4. Local cats cry “Mrkrgnao!” when they are hungry. 
That’s just a taste, of course. Right now, I have to run. My girl just asked me would I yes to say yes, and my heart is going like mad. So, yes I said yes. I will. Yes.


That’s it. Exactly 150 words! Flesch reading ease of 92!! Cats!!!

I suppose if you really want to learn more about Joyce's novel, you could start with the backstory behind Eve Arnold's click-bait photo I’ve attached to this post.

I tried reading “Ulysses” myself this past week, but gave up on it.

As I eloquently observed to my nephew Steven yesterday while loading a cargo van with things he had borrowed for college, “I thought ‘Ulysses’ was a pretentious pile of garbage.”

Steven happens to be a linguistic prodigy. He will someday earn his doctorate from Michigan State in classical languages and someday publish a new translation of “The Odyssey” that will make Grene and Lattimore look like bumbling idiots.

“A pretentious pile of garbage?” Steven laughed… then delivered a pitch-perfect reply, as if a siren putting me back in my place:

“Well, Uncle Bob, I can see why you’d think that.”
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