A Copywriter’s Blog
Sorry, My Bad. Ben Levy 29, June

Perhaps the most important thing my father taught me is that everything is my fault.

My father, along with being a cardiac anesthesiologist, is a programmer. And programmers understand that computers are almost never wrong. 99% of the time, they do exactly what you tell them to do. It’s just that you’re not telling them what you think you are.

The trouble is that computer programs don’t interpret. It’s like that short story, The Monkey’s Paw. If you haven’t read it, click that link now because I’m about to spoil it for you.

The paw grants wishes. A family wishes to be rich, their son dies, and they get a ton of money from his life insurance.

Code functions exactly like the Monkey’s Paw. It does what you ask it to. In the simplest, most expedient terms. Which are always correct. It’s just (in my case) rarely what you intend for it to do.

I bring all this up because I’ve begun to explore programming a bit. And all I hear in my head, over and over again, is my father saying “It’s not the program’s fault. You’re not asking correctly.”

An example:

I wanted to make a ball bounce off a wall. So I did the following:

I drew a long black rectangle to make a wall.
Then I drew a small red circle to make a ball.
I told the program the circle would move forward at a set speed, and to bounce if it hits a solid object.
Then I executed the program and watched as the ball sailed right through the wall without stopping or bouncing.

I’ll take a few seconds to hum the Jeopardy theme while you look through that paragraph again for the mistake I made.

Answer: I forgot to tell the program the wall was a ‘solid object’. So it did exactly what I told it to do. It moved the circle right past the incorporeal rectangle and out the side of the screen.

I know, Dad, I know. It’s all my fault.

Migraine Now Ben Levy 26, June

Post later

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Friday Feature:LMFAO Ben Levy 24, June

Someone sent me this link yesterday and I was crying. At work. Real tears. The site is called Animals Being DIcks.

For some reason, my blog does not like their animated gifs. This is irrelevant. You click link. Now.

Or I unleash this squirrel on you.

Later on, I shall perhaps look up how to properly embed gifs.

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Younger Every Year Ben Levy 19, June

I was at a bachelor party a few months ago where a guy knew a guy who tracked down the customer service number for Facebook. When they called it, they heard an automated message telling them that Facebook has no customer service. Then they were disconnected.

The point is that if something goes wrong on the world’s largest social media network, something that can’t be fixed using the consumer-facing tools, it stays wrong.

A good example of this would be if, while creating your account, you accidentally said you were born in 1993, as opposed to 1983. You know, like I did.

Once submitted, there is no way on Facebook to change your birth year. So, as far as 500 million people are concerned, I just turned 18.

That’s even better than what I got las year.

I just turned legal. Happy birthday to me.

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Hey look, these guys did another video. I’ll just put this right one here, then.

Man, this really makes me want to pick up the electric kazoo again.

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Whoops. Ben Levy 12, June

The best time to write is when you feel like writing.

This is often inconvenient when you write for a living. Because there are things called deadliness. And they don’t give a Rhodesian Flying Squirrel about whether or not you’re in the mood.

Side note: Rhodesian Flying Squirrel is the new euphemism of the week.

So sometimes, when the mood strikes, I quickly scribble a blog post (or the start of one) in a Word doc.

And then I normally forget about it.

But sometimes! Sometimes I remember it! And then I use that writing that I did while I was in the mood, and I’m able to rediscover that passion and channel it! Yay!

I don’t write these in the blog itself, or in a google doc. Because the odds are that I already have Word open on my desktop, and I’d rather not waste time opening the other two in a browser. The whole idea here is to strike while the iron’s hot. While the Rhodesian Flying Squirrel is still flying, so to speak.

Point is, I tend to have several half-finished blog posts going at any one time. Which normally means, if I can’t think of anything to post about by Sunday, I have a back up. In fact, I have several in a Word doc right now.

On my machine at work.

Rhodesian Flying Squirrel.

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This PSA for the Alamo Drafthouse Theater totally proves that old adage true: “If you can’t beat ‘em, throw ‘em out of your theater and then use their angry, drunken, voicemail message as your advertisement.”

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Trial by Fire Ben Levy 5, June

I am a person who reads directions.

This is partially because, as a copywriter, I appreciate the fact that some poor bastard had to write all those words. I feel like someone ought to read them. Even if it’s just me.

And it is partially because I enjoy looking smart in front of other people, and one of the best ways to do this is to know precisely how to operate something that someone else doesn’t.

There. Now you know my secret.

However, I did not read the directions to my new toaster oven. This is because it’s a toaster oven. I am familiar with it’s purpose and general means of operation. It is an oven. That toasts. This knob controls heat, that knob controls time.

(Well, it doesn’t actual control time. Just a tim-er. Although I would totally pay more for a toaster oven with time-controlling functionality. Are you listening, Cuisinart?)

Right. As I was saying: I didn’t read the directions to my new toaster oven because I understand how toaster ovens work. Except maybe this one. Because I spent every morning last week failing to make toast. No matter how few minutes I set on the timer, I received a charred lump of yeast product in return. Every day I adjusted the setting. Every day blackened sadness.

Finally I set the damn thing on “so few minutes I’m not even sure you’ll heat up before the buzzer goes off”. And then, out of sheer stubbornness, walked away from it.

Very shortly thereafter I had to soothe the dog, who was inexplicably upset. I explained to her that everything was fine, we’d go for a walk in a minute, and hey doesn’t it seem very smokey and hard to breathe in here all of a sudden?

I would write more, about how I had to turn on all the fans in the apartment, open all the windows, and how impressed/terrified I am by the sheer amount of smoke that can be generated from a small slice of bread. But I can’t. Because I have to go read the directions to my toaster oven now.

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These days, people are busier than ever. So it’s up to you whether you want 8 seconds of the funniest video I saw on the web last week:

Planking from 5-Second Films on Vimeo.

Or if you’ve got three minutes to learn the terrifying truth about George Lucas:

Of course, I didn’t even find the time to post these on Friday, so I’ll be watching whichever video explains the theory of time travel.

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