Jane is in a mood, today. Anyone who has ever had the undeniable pleasure of working with, or just being around, women, understands the idea of 'moodiness.' Women are notorious for having 'mood swings.' Those women enduring -- and trust me, it is an endurance test -- the onset of menopause, have this label thrown at them with sneers or rolled eyeballs, as if being 'in a mood' is the equivalent of touting a loaded gun around with you.
Jane's mood isn't life-threatening, to her readers or herself. It's merely the result of following the election and watching the Olympics, two mutually distinctive events that...on the surface...have nothing to do with each other. Jane does not care to scratch below the surface -- she will leave that to political pundits and sports journalists -- however, Jane's interest in the election and the Olympics compelled her to pull out a book she had almost forgotten about, and today, she would like to share parts of this book with her readers.
The book,, a Wall Street Journal book edited by Ken Wells, was published in 2001. The excerpts here are merely tidbits...do get your own copy of the book and learn not only what good writing is, but what good journalism is, and apply it to everything you do. These essays are a compilation of The Wall Street Journal's "Middle Column" where author Michael Lewis explains the Foreword: "These...aren't typical newspaper articles. They are quixotic reportage, with a whiff of the literary about them."
1. From Chapter Three: Things You Might Not Know:"The Fat Man Cometh"
Who thinks about sewers? Jane may have passingly thought about sewers recently when she moved, that being a consideration when buying or selling a house. But, generally, who thinks about sewers? Barry Newman thinks about sewers. In his essay on "The Fat Man Cometh" he reveals some startling facts about our nations sewers:
"America's sewers are in a bad way. Three-quarters are so bunged up that they work at half capacity, causing 40,000 illegal spews a year into open water."
"The Water Infrastructure Network, a coalistion of the wastewater-aware, warns that it will cost an additional $20 billion a year for the next 20 years to keep them from falling apart."
2. Also from Chapter Three: Things You Might Not Know: "The Sky, Sometimes, Is Actually Falling."
Barry Newman writes, in this section, about Robert J.M. Rickard, of London, "archivist of the unexplained" and author of Fortean Times, a magazine (and now a Web site) devoted to "The World of Strange Phenomena." We're talking stuff such as raining cats and dogs, worms moving stones, spontaneous human combustion, and other "curious facts" and "oddities."
Think this isn't relavent to your business? Think again. "Not a bottle of ketchup can fall from a tenement-house fire escape in Harlem," Mr. Rickard's partner, Mr. Fort is quoted saying, "without affecting the price of pajamas in Jersey City."
Hmmm...could these incidents be sidebars on your homepage, or on a news page? Could you post fascinating information not found on your competitor's sites, and generate interest in your products and services by being...unique? Could you get Jane coming back again and again, just to see what new, interesting stuff you were posting? The trick, of course, is to make the stuff you sell just as compelling.
3. From Chapter Six: What We Wrote Home About: "The Last Word."
Final words, from Roger Thurow, who writes more serious things, such as An Indian Paradox
Bumper Harvests And Rising Hunger, regarding the epitaphs on tombstones in Romania. (A country showing excellent performance in women's gymnastics this Olympic year, by the way.) This "doozy" starts Thurow's humorous piece:
"During my life, I like many men. I loved to drink and have a good time with handsome men by my side. But you, Darvai, my husband, as long as you live you should think only of me, because you'll never find another wife like me."
Followed, not so much later, by this note on the gravestone of a lumberjack, "I was drunk and walked into the woods and had an accident. The logs fell on top of me. To you who still live, be careful and don't do what I did."
Sounds like a mother, to me.
4. Also from Chapter Six: What We Wrote Home About: "Smoke Got in Their Eyes."
Describing an "incubator for best-sellers," Stephen Grover writes about the Frederick Lewis Allen Memorial Room in the New York Public Library, located at Fifth Ave. and 42nd St. A place, he says, "where authors come to do research and write, and to smoke, if they wish."
One knows there is no smoking going on there today. However, history, according to Grover, shows that the likes of Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique) and Nancy Milfor (Zelda) worked on their books in the public library, claiming specific rooms for themselves, for nine months at a time; hidden away from distractions, wrapped in cubicles which "have bookshelves, a chair and a desk -- you bring your own typewriter (???...oh yeah, I had one of those once)." Surely, Virginia Woolfe would have embraced this 'room of her own' had she been afforded the opportunity. Surely you could glean some marvelous insight from this essay -- something that would touch Jane as a woman...as a dreamer...as a human being in search of her own space, somewhere to put her talents to good use? Surely, she needs your products and services to help her achieve her dreams? Surely.
5. From Chapter Two: Style: "Men in Brown."
We conclude our look into the musings of the literati at one of the largest print publications in the nation (the world, perhaps?), by revealing the lengths women will go to, just to find the right man.
From Robert Frank, who writes in the StartUp Journal, a short piece on a woman who ordered Nike sneakers every week for four years, just to get the UPS man to marry her. Of course, it wasn't that simple, and Frank makes a much better story out of it, going as far as calling the "humble couriers in tight brown polyester uniforms...sex objects of the service world."
Jane would merely like readers to understand that the TV commercials are not all fiction -- those UPS men, and those Federal Express men -- are often as hunky as they are depicted. And as pleasant and agreeable.
The newest competition is from DHL -- but we will have to wait and see how well they deliver.
What's not to like about that?