Feb
25

Shortering: not as easy as it looks [updated for extra length]




Posted at 3:49 by Gavin M.

So The Liberal Avenger starts snapping on Jeff ‘Protein Wisdom’ Goldstein in Goldstein’s comments.


Shorter Jeff Goldstein:
“I don’t care if GEORGE W BUSH says that we’ve lost the war – victory is ours, goddamnit!â€?

And then he does another.


More shorter Goldstein:
“The Samarra bombing was a major event, but it doesn’t count because al-Qaeda was responsible for it.�

Then a third one.


More Shorter JG:
“Aside from the foreign-run insurgency and al-Qaeda’s role in Iraq, we’ve already won!�

And then Goldstein is all like, “Oooh!” and shakes his fists and grabs his hat off and jumps up and down on it, and goes:


Shorter “Liberal Avenger�: “Burn Iraq! Pushing for a civil war will teach us the lesson of our imperial arrogance—and so therefore, I am FOR IT! GORE IN ‘08! Oh, and DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION MY PATRIOTISM!�

Dear Jeff Goldstein,

The ‘shorter’ concept was invented in early 2003 by Daniel Davies (now of Crooked Timber), as a way to make fun of long-winded right-blogger Stephen Den Beste. Today, the acknowledged master of the form is Elton Beard of Busy Busy Busy, but the ‘shorter’ is also used by countless other left-bloggers, almost exclusively against targets (such as yourself) on the right. I am not aware of a prior attempt by a right-blogger to use this technique. I certainly welcome you to it, and hope that you can benefit from my (admittedly limited) experience.

Those who attempt to do a ‘shorter’ for the first time quickly learn that the form is much harder than it looks! The object is to distill a twisty, mendacious right-wing argument into a single brief passage that manages both to accurately portray the thoughts and sentiments of the victim, and to highlight the argument’s absurdity. Many hints and insights are embedded in Daniel Davies’s original ‘Shorter Stephen Den Beste’ series, the beginning of which is here.

In my judgment, the following is one of best ‘shorters’ ever written. It’s a 2005 composition by Elton Beard that shares a quality with many other great works of art in that any attempt to describe its appeal must ultimately fall short in the face of the work itself: Its appeal is imminent, yet elusive; its economy not unlike that of Haiku. Much more is revealed than is said. I find myself returning to it again and again, nearly always discovering qualities in it that before had escaped notice.

kennethpollack05c.jpg

Shorter Kenneth M. Pollack:
Five Ways to Win Back Iraq

I have some more advice to give about Iraq.

Now, I don’t even know who Kenneth M. Pollack is. That’s the beauty of it: His column becomes a mere footnote to the main work, a near-irrelevancy, for it’s impossible to experience him in this way and not to know him more deeply than his own words would allow. Here we see Pollack in apotheosis — we see all the Pollacks, the multiple incarnations of ever-opining, oddly misinformed, media-enabled Pollackitude past, present, and to come. Always talking, these Pollacks! Even after it should be clear that nobody in power is listening. This is evoked gesturally, algebraically. The economy is architectonic.

I hope you find the above example as rich in inspiration as I do, Jeff, because I’m trying to use it to clearly preface what I’d have to call a basic criticism of your first attempt at the ‘shorter’ form. I’ll reproduce it again.


Shorter “Liberal Avenger�: “Burn Iraq! Pushing for a civil war will teach us the lesson of our imperial arrogance—and so therefore, I am FOR IT! GORE IN ‘08! Oh, and DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION MY PATRIOTISM!�

See, it’s really pretty much a foundational rule that a ‘shorter’ should be less long than the thing it’s supposed to be making fun of. Otherwise, I guess it would probably be called something else — like maybe a ‘longer.’

Here, I’ll do one for you.

Shorter Jeff Goldstein:
YOUR MAMA’S SO UGLY [droning voice, snores, crickets] AL GORE!

(Den) Best(e) Wishes,
-G.M.

27 Comments »

  1. Pinko Punko said,

    February 25, 2006 at 6:24

    Shorter Pinko Punko:

    “SPLARF”

    That means a carnitas taco bite just hopped up into my left sinus.

    Still waiting on animated stupid-cano in mid eruption.

  2. The Liberal Avenger said,

    February 25, 2006 at 6:41

    Of possible additional interest:

    1. I am acutely aware that my Goldstein “shorters” rated very low on the funny-meter.

    2. They must have gotten under his skin because he BANNED me from his site for those comments alone. That was my first and only JG interaction, ever.

    3. Haider Ajina really is “special.”

  3. Pinko Punko said,

    February 25, 2006 at 6:56

    I can’t even try to pile onto the that guy. He’s a goppy, festering git.

  4. Auguste said,

    February 25, 2006 at 8:36

    I’m convinced that I would like Jeff Goldstein even less in real life than I do on the internets. And that’s saying quite a bit.

  5. Thlayli said,

    February 25, 2006 at 12:50

    My understanding of the shorter form is it’s supposed to be a single sentence. I may be wrong.

  6. Strange Forces said,

    February 25, 2006 at 14:25

    Reading this, my head is doing the delicious slow roll that usually follows reading zen koans.

    Long article about shortering, which then illustrates the shortering with a longering.

    Perhaps upon rumination, I may just find enlightenment.

  7. spiiderweb said,

    February 25, 2006 at 15:22

    Zeroed in on your statement.

    Those who attempt to do a ‘shorter’ for the first time quickly learn that the form is much harder than it looks!

    No shit! I keep trying and don’t even like my efforts myself. Someday…

    And you rub it in by coming up with 3 good ‘shorters’. Showoff. lol

  8. spiiderweb said,

    February 25, 2006 at 15:25

    Scratch that last comment.

  9. Snatch Adams said,

    February 25, 2006 at 15:50

    Actually, the ‘shorter’ form was invented by the right, not the left. It’s just that their version is devoid of meaning. To wit: “Heh. Indeed.”

  10. The Liberal Avenger said,

    February 25, 2006 at 18:07

    I think multiple sentences are allowed in a “shorter,” particularly if you’re “shortening” something huge or particularly obnoxious.

  11. Gavin M. said,

    February 25, 2006 at 18:32

    True, but I think the rule is that it’s supposed to express a single thought.

    If it starts to get all like, “Oh, and another thing…” then the game is pretty much thrown.

  12. The Liberal Avenger said,

    February 25, 2006 at 19:26

    You’re right, per usual.

    I defer to you.

  13. Sadly, No! said,

    February 25, 2006 at 21:19

    Shorter Glenn Reynolds

    SOME ADVICE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE I have some more advice to give about the port deal. [see below]…

  14. Sadly, No! said,

    February 25, 2006 at 21:20

    Shorter Glenn Reynolds

    SOME ADVICE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE I have some more advice to give about the port deal. [see below]…

  15. Hysterical Woman said,

    February 25, 2006 at 21:27

    Shorter
    “Shorter Liberal Avenger”: Because I point out that things are going badly in Iraq, that must mean I want things to go badly in Iraq.

  16. Pinko Punko said,

    February 25, 2006 at 22:21

    Why did you change it from the BJ? That was fun-ny.

  17. Pinko Punko said,

    February 26, 2006 at 1:02

    Also, somebody just Sadly, No’s your whole bog.

  18. battlepanda said,

    February 26, 2006 at 1:31

    I think Jeff was actually induging in a much more ancient playground ritual “this is you…this is you…”

  19. appletree said,

    February 26, 2006 at 1:54

    Gavin M. on Shortering

    Shorter Gavin M.:
    Explaining a simple concept in excruciating detail to a complete dunce is an oddly hilarious exercise.

  20. gordo said,

    February 26, 2006 at 2:03

    Battlepanda–

    I wish I had been the one to realize that, but “this is you” is from so long ago. I stopped playing it when I learned the “stop hitting yourself” game.

  21. crazy said,

    February 26, 2006 at 8:55

    I think, in the “shorter” form, you are allowed to add one extra sentence to the end of your statement. But it has to be even shorter than the first sentence, and perhaps even be a shortening of the original thought, or a quick addendum. Kind of like a P.S. on the end of a letter.

    And perhaps you’re allowed to continue adding sentences as long as they keep getting shorter. Which, of course, makes the number of addition sentences technically infinite but realistically very small.

    For example: Shorter Me:
    You can add more sentences to a “shorter” as long as they themselves are shorter. For example, this one might work if you’re funny. Rarely, this one could work.

    And yes, doing a “shorter” is much harder than it originally appears. You have to be witty, concise, and precise in a format that functionally can’t be more than 4 sentences, and that’s only if the original was a 20 page essay.

  22. gordo said,

    February 26, 2006 at 13:10

    Crazy–

    I think most people run into trouble in one of two ways. Either they just restate the thesis in a sarcastic way, or they tackle an article that has a bit of substance to it.

    Goldstein is the first guy I’ve ever seen screw it up by providing a longer version.

  23. ahem said,

    February 26, 2006 at 20:02

    The essence of the ‘shorter’ form is this: it must be droll.

  24. Dorothy said,

    February 26, 2006 at 20:15

    Shorter Jeff Goldstein:
    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

    Actually, that’s too easy, on a par with the sappy iambic septameter ABAB tripe they forced us to read in grade school “intro to poetry” classes…or Hallmark greeting card “shorters”.

  25. RETARDO said,

    February 27, 2006 at 9:23

    What, he hasn’t come over here yet to threaten you with sexual assault? I can’t believe it. Surely this will inspire him to talk about his cock, your cock, everywhere a cock-cock, because, like, everything else seems to have the effect.

  26. Jeff Goldstein said,

    February 27, 2006 at 20:07

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (heart attack)

    _________________

    (worm food)

  27. Thers said,

    March 6, 2006 at 5:20

    In some ways, Jeff Goldstein is an asshole. In other ways, he’s also an asshole.

Leave a Comment

  • Things of Interest

  • Meta Goodness

  • Clunkers

  • httpbl_stats()