[YOST IN THE MACHINE]
Getting up to speed
By Scott Yost
Currently, I’m in the process of trying to settle into a mindset appropriate for YES! Weekly, which I’ve been with for just one week now, and I’m trying to get out of the mindset of the now defunct Rhinoceros Times, for which I wrote for 10 years. It turns out that, even though both publications are free weeklies found at bar entrances and on streetcorners, YES! is a lot different than the Rhino; and, while there’s always much to learn with any new job, the learning curve is particularly steep when it comes to jumping between these two local publications.
At The Rhino — may it rest in peace — the publishers had a litmus test, a standard, for what could or couldn’t go into the paper. It was called the “Grandmother Test,” and that’s no joke. At the Catholic-oriented, family-owned weekly, that rule stated: “If it might possibly offend someone’s grandmother, then it’s not going into the paper.”
YES!, on the other hand, seems to be the wild, wild West of publications. A lot of words, stories, pictures and ads in its pages would never, in a billion years, have made it into the Rhinoceros Times.
YES!, on the other hand, seems to be the wild, wild west of publications: As a writer, you have a lot more leeway here than you would writing for the Rhino Times.
For instance, there are bad words that I can use writing for YES! that I could never, ever, have used while writing for the Rhino Times. When I’ve read YES! in the past, I have sometimes been mentally jarred to come across the D-word, or the S-word, or even from time to time, if I’m remembering correctly, the F-word.
I could just type them into my column and they would appear in the newspaper’
So I guess that means that at YES! I can use those words whenever I want. (Editor’s note: He cannot. We use words like this when they appear in quotes, and even then we make liberal use of asterisks. We need to talk about this, Yost.)
In fact, I could use them right now if I felt like it. I could just type them into my column and they would appear in the newspaper — unlike at the Rhino, where those words would certainly be summarily removed with the red ink of the editor’s pen.
Come to think of it, I am going to use them right here, just because I can; so, if you have small children, now would be a good time to get them to leave the room.
Okay, here goes nothing. I’m going to write the D-word, the S-word and the F-word one right after the other.
Darn. Shoot. Fiddlesticks. There, I did it. Wow, that felt good, freeing.
It was liberating. Sometimes it feels good to be bad. (Editor’s note: Oh, okay. Carry on, then.)
In addition to the Grandmother Test at the Rhino Times, anything you wrote had to pass the Catholic Churchgoer Test as well. Since the people running the Rhino were highly involved in the Catholic community, you couldn’t write anything that Catholics might get upset about. Like, you couldn’t make fun of the Popemobile. But, I’m sorry, I don’t care what religion you belong to — the Popemobile is just plain funny.
And there were a lot of other things that I never understood about the Catholics, but I couldn’t write about those things. Like, if a priest is involved in a sex scandal, sometimes the Catholic church will punish that priest by defrocking him — but, if you ask me, that’s exactly what he wants in the first place. So that doesn’t make any sense to me as a deterrent.
Aside from the more all-around permissive attitude here at YES!, there are also other changes that I have to get used to.
For instance, YES! Editor Brian Clarey wants me to join the new craze called “Twitter” on something called “the internet.” It shouldn’t be too difficult for me because I already know a thing or two about the latest technology — for instance, I’m very active on my ham radio.
When you go on Twitter, I think you do something called “chirping” where you incessantly send out short messages called “chirps” to let people know what you had for breakfast that morning or what room of your house you are currently in.
Though I have to say that, to me, the whole Twitter thing seems very confining. From what I understand, your Twitter chirps are limited to 140 words each, and I’m not exactly sure how you’re supposed to condense all your thoughts down to 140 words or less. That’s very difficult, especially for me, because, not only are my thoughts deep, they are long as well.
However, these days, you do what you have to do, so I’m getting up to speed on this internet thing. In fact, I’m going to do all the cutting-edge things that the hip and “with it” kids are doing.
So, be on the lookout for me: I’m going to start a MySpace page and get an America Online account, and soon I may even be posting something on your Facetime wall.