Something I’ve learned to do living on a weekly deadline is combine tasks. This Deleted Scenes column needs to get written every issue, and I seem to have a perpetual string of interns to train—so this week, I decided to do the ol’ “two birds, one stone” thing and present the 10 items every Aquarian intern needs to know.
Maybe it’s not the universal topic, but if it doesn’t apply to your life and you have nothing to take from it, at least it’s not more slobbering bullshit about Whitney Houston (“Oh we all loved her so much, but I guess tossing her ass into rehab never occurred to us”) or Catholic business-owners trying to weasel out of paying for birth control.
Alright, here’s the list:
1. Read your work. I don’t care if you’re writing a 100-word Spotlight or a 3,000-word feature, if you haven’t read it at least twice, I don’t want to see it. Probably ever. And by “read,” yeah, I actually mean read the damn thing front to back. If you can’t make it through your own work, I don’t know how the hell anyone else should be expected to.
2. When you cut and paste something from the internet and don’t cite it, that’s plagiarism. I know that might be news to everyone born after 1985, but it’s true. Every time this comes up—and rest assured, it comes up every time—there are fewer things in the world that make me angrier and fewer that dispel any hope I have for the generation following mine. Seriously. Taking shit from Wikipedia and band bios is unacceptable. Do your own work and write your own sentences.
3. It’s, its, to, too, two, your, you’re, who’s and whose. I strongly believe that any child who gets past the sixth grade without knowing what each of those words means should be punched in the kidneys every hour on the hour until they do. Shame on you if you consider yourself fluent in this language and don’t know this basic-ass bullshit.
4. Listen to the whole album before you review it. I’m not going to name names, but I actually had an intern laugh at me once when I told him this. Someone has put in hours, days, weeks, sometimes years of their life into making this album. Some records are the culmination of a person’s entire existence, and you’re not even going to listen to every song before you pass judgment? Get the fuck out of my office.
5. Never use another publication’s quotes. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. This comes up a lot when people are writing from press releases. No disrespect to any other outlets, but if I cared so much for what other places thought about an album or an artist, I’d work there. This is The Aquarian. It’s been here since 1969. We don’t have to import our opinions—we make our own. Which leads me to…
6. Have an opinion. And not some wishy-washy thing about how the band is pretty good, but not too good, but alright, but not great, and okay, well, fine, sure. Not every review needs to sound like you’re having an argument with yourself, but if you can’t come up with a point you want to make after listening to an album, you’re doing it wrong. Listen again.
7. Seriously. Read your fucking work. I just looked back on the second-to-last sentence in number five and I had typed “out” instead of “our.” We all make mistakes. Fix yours. And before you send it to me, read whatever it is out loud and listen to the rhythm and the timing. I swear to god, if I had one intern who I thought ever did this when I told them to, I would have to keep a spare pair of undies in my desk drawer.
8. No, you can’t go see Prince. Or Guns N’ Roses. Or Elton John. I don’t have a magic machine that prints free tickets, and if I did, I’d use it to make money so that I didn’t have to field emails from writers I haven’t heard from in a year who suddenly want to cover Bamboozle like they’re doing me a favor and I’m not just getting them free passes to see Bon Jovi.
9. Send it when you say you’re going to send it. Hard to believe, I know, but I have better things to do at three in the morning than wonder when you’re going to email that thing you told me I’d have before the end of the day. What time does the day end again?
10. Ask Chris and Diane if they need anything before you leave. I shit you not, that’s how I got this job, and I’ve seen countless others find gainful employment that way as well. Didn’t always work out, but at least they had a shot. Funny thing about the music industry is that it tends to prefer people who come in ready to work to those who just write their Spotlights and go home. Just weird that way, I guess.
If I had just two interns who could nail these 10 rules every time, I could’ve won the Vietnam War, and done it with proper grammar.