just wing it baby

Pothead Obama’s Five Tips For Good Pothead Writing

The realest photo everYahoo has published more excerpts from David Maraniss’ Barack Obama: The Story, mostly about how much he loved getting drunk and high and drag racing and then getting high again, while writing gay letters to ladies. Grow up, Obama of 30-35 years ago! But Maraniss was also able to get his hands on a list of writing tips Obama once sent a friend whose manuscript he’d overlooked. Just who does this elitist think he is, an elitist? It’s not like Bill Ayers needed any of Obama’s “tips” to write Dreams from My Father.

Here’s the nitpicky list:

1) “Careful about too many adverbs, particularly describing how people speak (Paul asked disbelievingly, etc.) It can be cumbersome and a bit intrusive on the reader”

2) “Resist the temptation of easy satire…Good satire has to be a little muted. Should spill out from under a seemingly somber situation.”

Ha ha, two tips in and he has already destroyed Wonkette.

3) “Try to get the basic stats on the characters out of the way early {Paul was 24} so that you can spend the rest of the story revealing character.”

4) “Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.”

5) “[W]rite outside your own experience…I find that this works the fictive imagination harder.”

It’s not a perfect match, but let’s compare these writing tips to those in George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, your Wonkette writer’s favorite essay.

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

George Orwell was a better writer than Barack Obama. We should all vote for Mitt Romney, now.


About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined Wonkette.com in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell
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  1. Barb

    6. Submit the picture and don't just "noun shout."

    A fun sized Snickers bar to the first person who understands this reference.

      1. DustBowlBlues

        Oh, noes. Now we have to twitter, too? I knew I should have written my username and password down somewhere. Damn. (Even sadder, I actually did write it down and now can't find it or the password for my Google account, so now I am officially fucked more than usual.

          1. fuflans

            wonderful as you are barb, i think these gentleman can procure their own candy. i happen to know – for a fact! – that snickers bars are available in BOTH ny and chicago.

          2. Chet Kincaid

            To be nice for making us work late yesterday, our boss went and got us Starbucks, along with these chocolate-covered lollipops that were actually a round piece of cake on a stick. Goddamn, that was good!

          1. MittBorg

            I have passed it on to the wide world of Twitter. Very impressive. And all made new again. So many hidden treasures that survived through slavery time! Did you read Wole Soyinka, You Must Set Forth At Dawn, where he discusses the musical traditions imparted to the world through the African diaspora?

            Oy, you!

            Fish noodle soup (it's a slight variation on Burmese mohinga, since I can't get some of the ingredients here)

            firm white fish, large prawns in shell, blachan (shrimp paste from Indonesia), fish or chicken stock, garlic, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, hot chilli powder, fish sauce
            Raw baby greens,coconut milk, hot Thai chilies, cilantro and green onions for garnish.

            The stock is heated with the coconut milk at a low simmer on a back burner and poured over the assembled dish. The prawns are peeled and deveined, and a stock made from their shells fried in oil with 1-2 cloves of garlic, and water, which is added to the stock on the back burner to give it a sweet taste. The fish is cut into large pieces, rubbed with the turmeric and chilly powder and salt to taste, and the remaining spices, roasted and ground, and then fried with the onions and squash. Fresh Chinese wheat noodles are best, but rice sticks or bean threads can also be used, and even dried pasta is OK. Should be a thin noodle, though. Cook prawns with garlic, fish sauce, and snow peas.

            Assemble the raw greens in the bowl, top with prawns, fish curry and sauce, and pour hot stock over. Garnish with LOTS of hot chilli and herbs. If it doesn't blow your socks off, check your pulse, as you may already be dead and not know it.

          2. MittBorg

            I wish I could cook it for you and your lovely wife, but I can give you the recipe and maybe you can surprise her with it some Valentine's day.

          3. MittBorg

            I'll try to post it on my blog tonight, if not, tomorrow night. (Hugs Chet fondly) I feel like we're friends, you know. (Not rellies. I hate my fucking rellies.)

  2. actor212

    2) “Resist the temptation of easy satire…Good satire has to be a little muted. Should spill out from under a seemingly somber situation.”


    President Obama has declared WAR on Wonkette, 35 years in the future!

    ARE WE GOING TO LET THIS STAND, my fellow (and sister) Wonketeers?

      1. Jus_Wonderin

        DAMN! I can't spell to save my………………………………………………………

  3. actor212

    4) “Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.”

    SHORTER OBAMA: Fap harder the closer you get.

  4. Crank_Tango

    Is there a link to the Wonkette Manual of Style for Snarky Communications? I am still unclear on the preferred spelling, is it buttseks or buttsechs?

  5. Dashboard Buddha

    "he loved getting drunk and high and drag racing and then getting high again, while writing gay letters to ladies."

    Wasn't this is in some other book? I don't think any of this is news.

  6. WeHaveIssues

    Hellerrrr Wonkette – apropos of nothing, you do realize Riley Waggamans' blog hasn't been updated since September 23, 2011? [delete from blogroll] Cute only gets you so far.

    1. sezme

      9/23/11 … Wasn't that when all those wars spontaneously ended? Or maybe it was when Breitbart died (same thing).

  7. CivicHoliday

    I dunno, ii and v sound like a great way to achieve mass appeal but not a great way to challenge a reader and suitably take advantage of the depth and variety of the english language. Reminds me of why I always preferred to read Camus in the original french. (*oh snap my elitism is showing…time to buy bigger pants*)

  8. Dildeaux

    I blame Obama for creating the toxic environment which requires there to be books written about how bad a person Obama was and is. He's just so polarizing!!1! What could be the reason? Im perplexed….

  9. Jus_Wonderin

    Using actual list numbers, instead of simple bullets, is characteristic of this presidents need to show how he is more, extra specialous than we common folks.

  10. weejee

    (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

    Guess George Will is not Orwellian and I always thought he was such a little Squealer.

  11. DalePues

    I follow those rules (have them on a sheet of paper taped to my desk), so I never publish anything.

  12. MissTaken

    The total lack of "add lotsa exclamation points!!!, keep CAPS LOCK on at ALL TIMES, and throw in some 9/11" proves that Obama is not a REAL AMERICAN.

  13. coolhandnuke

    6) Just read from the fucking teleprompter…it'll drive the wingnuts to batshit levels.

  14. ManchuCandidate

    I have in my hand the Teabagger Style Gide.

    Top For Tips for Rittin
    1) Don't use "niger" unless it fits.
    2) Always point to Ronny Raygan.
    4) Logic, nuance or even wit has no place in rittin.
    5) Spellin'gs for pussees and foggity liebruls
    5) Weeevuh US Amercia, troops, starbursts and Kenyan into each paragraf
    9) Tax kuts alwayz.

    1. Poindexter718

      10. Unexpected quotation "marks" can add a "sense" of wonderment and mystery to "your prose" and needn't be confined to indicating irony or that someone sez it.

      1. C_R_Eature

        11. aLlwAys Use UnexPecTeD RAndoM caPitalIZatION


          1. C_R_Eature

            I have seen that stylistic form used, infuriatingly, on RW sites to spell out "Teleprompter". I have no idea why.

    2. Chet Kincaid

      Tax Kutz® is the new teabag barber shop chain. 20 flat screens all tuned to FOX News all the time! Leggy blonde hair-cutters! Shootin' range while-u-wait!!1!

    3. Buckminster

      Magic underwear automatically trumps the need for anything factual in your account? Is that a rule, too?

    4. Buckminster

      Allas beggin by calling the other ritter a communist, socialist or unamurican.

  15. SexySmurf

    6. No threatening to skullfuck your opponents.

    7. No mocking Willow's youngest brother.

  16. Poindexter718

    WONKETTE COROLLARY to 1) : "Cold" as an adverb cold works everytime and, by definition, cannot be overdone.

  17. Generation[redacted]

    More writing advice from Obammers:

    If you need a teleprompterz, have Bill Ayres ghost write for you

  18. Nibbler of Niblonia

    Was the novel written by Israel? Because Obama will jump at any chance to insult Israel.

  19. Chet Kincaid

    The Cock-Blocker In Chief!

    8. Obama thought the world would be a better place without clothes, especially when nice-looking ladies were around.

    Allegedly stoned and drunk one night at Occidental, Obama and a friend stopped to talk to an attractive girl and "Barry launched into a riff on nudity, offering his theory that the human race would be better off if people did not wear clothes. This declaration was made with the urgency of someone ready to strip then and there. …It seemed apparent that Barry was trying to seduce the woman right in front of" his friend who had a crush on the girl.

    She appeared "sympathetic to the theoretical argument but not ready to put it into practice."

  20. Mumbletypeg

    whose manuscript he’d overlooked

    Didn't Flannery o'Connor say something to the effect that she wished editors "overlooked" the magnitude of profligate manuscripts more often than less?

  21. SorosBot

    Well of course you "get the basic stats on the characters out of the way early"; I mean that's the first thing you do when creating a new character, roll up the strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma.

  22. HogeyeGrex

    He spent his first night in the big city outside, curled up in a nearby alleyway, and woke up with a white hen pecking at his face.

    Right. Because there are so many fucking chickens wandering the streets of NY.

  23. ttommyunger

    We know he is left-handed, but we still don't know which hand he wipes with. This man has not yet been vetted, my friends.

    1. Chet Kincaid

      If he really was born in Kenya, he wipes with his left hand and eats with his right, even though he's a lefty. His grandma would have beat that into him. Get Breitbart's "Big Folkways" site on this immediately!!

  24. DustBowlBlues

    "Ha ha, two tips in and he has already destroyed Wonkette."

    Jim–I don't care if you do look like a teenager, don't let anyone tell you that you are not a national treasure. They kind they keep in the sub-basement of the Smithsonian.

  25. DustBowlBlues

    Easier advice than the time my online critique partner told me, "Can't make it past page 2 of Chap. 3. Scrap it."

  26. elburritodeluxe

    I guess he really turned his life around after he discovered radical Islam!

  27. fuflans

    Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.

    works for porn too.

  28. Buckminster

    Words to live by–both lists. I do like to throw around the occasional "schaffwolweich" however.

  29. Buckminster

    Actually, the most puzzling detail given in the source article is that he named his monkey "Tata." Obviously some Freudian slip? Goopers want to know.

  30. hellbabe

    god, if only he were elitist, instead of a pompous ass…..wish i'd read the book before i voted for him….not that it would really have made any difference.

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