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Rant #57
(published September 13, 2001)
What Should be in *Your* Submission?
by the PMjA Staff

Fritz Swanson speaks:

This is a webzine. What is the goal of a webzine? Some people say that it is to serve the readership. Some say it is to serve the greater good of literature in any medium. Some say it should spread the word about the power and glory of hypertext.

All of this is utter horseshit.

A webzine has one purpose in life: to be updated.

A webzine is a text machine. It just churns through submissions, bringing up the cream and throwing out the chaff (irregardless of metaphoric sense) in an ever growing, on going, Rube Darwinian desire to continue existing. Once a day, once a week, once a minute... it doesn't matter. The only desire of the little webzine that could is to not can't.

Keep on trucking, little webzine.

Keep on keeping on.

Say when you plan to update—in this case, 4am eastern standard time every Thursday—and just stick to the damn clock. Good or bad, enlightening or disgusting, the content has to keep going up and coming down.

My favorite old saw: A webzine (like so many other things in the Fritziverse) is like a shark: it must swim and swim and swim, because if it stops it will sink to the bottom and die. Keep water coursing over the gill slits, keep the muscles rippling, keep text going up and coming down.

That is all a webzine is.

How does a webzine do this?

Interestingly, this is where the horseshit comes into play. While webzines are, themselves, content agnostic (aside from a desire for the new... no repeats on a webzine please) the acquisition of content is not so blase'.

In order to get content, you need writers. In order to acquire writers you need some combination of readers, money and prestige. The more you have of any one, the less you need of any other. So, as you can see, horseshit comes into play.

Writers want to be read, paid, and/or respected. So now the little webzine is essentially out of its element. It has to please people. This is not what a webzine does by its nature. This is, instead, what it does by necessity. This is why webzines secure the services of editors. Parasitic though they are to the general existence of the independently operated, in-the-wild webzine, editors do play an important role in securing content, readers, money and prestige. Like pilot fish to the great shark that is Poor Mojo, we editors are tasked with keeping the skin clean and the action moving... we seek out the weak seals, the chum and the New Englanders. And the Rube Darwinian wheels, with their overlarge hands and their chicken-egg racetracks, keep spinning and spinning and spinning.

So, while Poor Mojo herself may not give a good god damn about you pathetic writers with your wants and needs, we editors do , despite our intrinsic desire, have to care.

In order, however, to better care for you, the prospective Poor Mojo writer, we have decided to compile a sort of wish-list for prospective content. What should you write about so that we will throw your work to the mercy of the great Mojo Machine? What will win for you readers, respect, and perhaps some day (HA HA HA) money?

Here is a brief list:


1. Abraham Lincoln, woozy and roaming the moors. (+10 pts)

2. Coffee shop conversation amongst those coy, upper-middle class friends of yours. (-100 pts)

3. Any piece which functions completely palindromically. (+15 pts)

4. Jet packs. (+5 pts for each instance. +10 pts if used for metaphoric effect)

5. Any little-known president. (+20 pts. Zachary Taylor +15 pts. Chester A. Arthur +35 pts. Rutherford B. Hayes at the Garfield Tomb alone, in the evening, slightly tipsy, remembering old times +100)

6. Personal narratives regarding your experiences with or near dead presidents and their memorabilia (+5 pts. Ends in tragedy +20 pts)

7. Men sitting, sadly, in the shower (+20 pts)

8. Monkeys (+20 pts)

9. The meaningful use of advertising slogans in dialogue (+5 pts. "Hotwheels Leads The Way!" +30 pts.)

10. Sam Donaldson against any colorful adventure backdrop—fighting NAZIs, Russians, Pirates, etc. (+30 pts. If you can produce an accompanying Doc Savage style pulp-cover featuring Mr. Donaldson from a scene in your adventure, your publication is assured.)

11. Cokie Roberts (+5 pts)

12. Perhaps Tom Brokaw as some sort of villain? (+5 pts)

13. Dan Rather as the easy going country sheriff (+5 pts)

14. It would be pretty sweet if we could get dead presidents and news anchors together somehow.

15. Time travel?

16. Yes. A dead president corpse trading ring managed by Tom Brokaw in which some ancient artifact presents itself allowing the spirits of the dead presidents to be sucked forward in time to re-constitute and re-animate the corpses in the possession of Mr. Brokaw. Sam Donaldson uncovers the fiendish plot, enlists the aid of Ms. Roberts and a wise-cracking but reluctant Georg F. Will, and goes on a journey through the heart of America to find the homes of the wealthy but corrupt industrialists who have purchased clandestine bodies from the Greatest Generation Author. (+1000 pts)

17. Paul Duricka told me about a version of that idea that was almost made into a movie, without the news anchors or the presidents.

18. Honest.

19. Chopsticks (+1 pt)

20. I just like chopsticks. They are cool.

21. A story entirely composed of quotes from the films of Savage Steve Holland (+50 pts. Meaningful metaphoric levels +50 pts)

22. What if the ghosts of the dead presidents donned colorful costumes and had superpowers based on their presidency? That's be cool. George Washington could bite through anything with his dentures made from hippo bone and the teeth of dead British soldiers. Teddy Roosevelt would have the strength of ten really strong men. Richard Nixon could have mysterious mind control powers. (+500 pts.)

23. Any dramatic description of smoking. (-100 pts.)

24. Any use of the number 23. (+23 pts.)

25. Use of tattoos or zombies. (+15 pts.) Use of tattooed zombies, in which the tattoos are portentous and must be deciphered by the erstwhile protagonist even while the zombie struggles to devour his protagonizing brain. (+100 pts.)

26. Substitution of posing, pop culture references or glib dialogue for honest emotion. (-20 pts.)

27. Andre the Giant. (+ 5pts.)

28. Even more monkeys. (+15 pts.)

29. Mocking Hemingway, Harper Lee, or Henry James. Because they really are some punk ass bitches. (+7.5 pts.)

30. Use of Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) as a character, especially as a diabolical villain. (+1000 pts.)

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