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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

More Engaging Copy For The Ten Commandments

What Moses might have got if God had outsourced the job to Upworthy: “This Little Girl Bore False Witness and the Results Will Shock You” (120 words)

The Art Of The Orchestral Excerpt

Notes from the life of a tuba player. “Orchestral excerpts are short — an average of 30 seconds — and, as the name implies, they are passages from symphonies. They are the basis of auditions for the holy grail of tuba jobs: principal tubist in an orchestra, a position which, if you make it at the highest level, means a performance career with a six-figure salary. It doesn’t get any better than that for the tuba” (1,600 words)

Corporate Time Equivalents

Instant classic. Will be posted on office notice boards for the next 100 years. “Just a sec = 5 minutes; Just a minute = 10 minutes; No more than five minutes = 1 hour; Quick meeting = 3 hours; Let’s revisit this later = never shall we speak of this again” (300 words)

Big Brass: Riding The Air Stream

The tuba, along with the flute, is “at the top of the list for instruments that take the most air to play”, three times as much as the trumpet or French horn. Players guard against hyperventilation by sucking used air back through the instrument to get more carbon dioxide. Orchestra players co-ordinate breathing: “To avoid any gap in the sound, we write into our music who gets to breathe where” (1,800 words)

Santa’s Privacy Policy

“Sharing is one of the joys of Christmas. For this reason, we share your personal information with our affiliates, non-affiliated third parties, and anyone else who has a legitimate financial stake in a successful holiday season” (980 words)

Inside The Apple Store: Product Launch

Apple weaponised product launch with the 1984 Super Bowl commercial for the Mac. Now its capacity to arouse and manage expectations means that enthusiasts will queue for a week in the street just to get their hands on an updated iPhone. Here’s what it’s like to be working in the store when a launch day comes around. “I’m walking past the line. Deja Vu. There are folding chairs, sleeping bags, coolers, and interesting smells” (2,760 words)

Lady With A Dog, Transposed From Yalta To The Internet

“A new person had appeared on his Who to Follow list: a lady with a little dog. @Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov, who had by then been a fortnight on Twitter, and so was fairly at home there, had begun to take an interest in new arrivals. Sitting in a Starbucks, surfing, he saw, on her profile page, a fair-haired young lady of medium height, wearing a béret; a white Pomeranian dog was running behind her” (6,700 words)

Inside The Apple Store

Notes from a Genius. “From behind the Genius Bar, I can check the customer queue on a laptop or on an iPod I keep holstered on my belt. The wait time hangs over everyone’s head. When customers have to wait more than five or ten minutes for their appointment, they get antsy. When the wait time pushes thirty minutes, they get murderous. Every day, in every Apple Store, people flood to customer service, when what many truly need is therapy” (2,950 words)

The Lady Or The Tire Iron?

How to avoid getting locked in the trunk of a car, and what to do if it happens: Find the safety latch, all new cars have one and it’s probably illuminated. “We also explored the options if a car doesn’t have a safety latch: How to feel around in the latch for the wires that spring the lock mechanism; how to search the spare tire well for tools or potential weapons; how to expose wiring near the taillight assembly and disable the light” (2,000 words)

America: A Review

American history recapped as if it were a television series. “It may have veered off wildly from the pilot, but America is definitely worth a look. It’s an interesting experiment in the world of primetime sovereign nations. What the characters lack in consistency, they make up for in body weight, lingering racism, and inconsistency. But it makes for a quick and easy viewing, and can often surprise you with heartfelt turns” (750 words)

An Imagined Conversation Between The Construction Workers Upstairs

Worker: It’s 6:37 AM, let’s begin hammering. Second Worker: Are we nailing anything in today? Worker: No, we’re just striking the bare, wooden floor with our hammers. Second Worker: How hard are we hammering today? Worker: Boss wants us to alternate between hammering with great force and exceptionally great force. We take breaks when the man living downstairs leaves the building” (300 words)

We’re The Uber Of Organ Transplants

Laugh. But ironically. Because you know some day this will happen. “Just open up our app and tell us your age, blood type, and what kind of organ you want. Then we’ll show you nearby transplanters who have the organs you need. Worried our transplanters aren’t totally qualified? Just check their star ratings. When transplanters give great service, our users will give them great ratings” (570 words)

Where I Left Conservatives

Yes, it’s McSweeney’s. But it’s not a funny. It’s a sad, gentle, intelligent reflection on the movement in the American right away from small-government conservatism towards Tea-Party populism, from a writer who returns home to Kansas after 15 years away and feels the change in mood. “I’m talking about the number of people who believe Obama is probably OK with Sandy Hook, or even glad it happened, because it serves his greater goal. I have no idea what those poll numbers would be, but I would be terrified to find out” (1,696 words)

Q&A With Beck Hansen

Discussion of songwriting. “With all these fragments of other songs, there was a Borgesian aspect, whether they existed at all. You could imagine that beyond the fragment, something miraculous could exist, even if it was lost”

Allow Me To Evade That Question

All-purpose monologue, for use in presidential debates. “In America, anything is possible. That’s the American dream—making the impossible possible. And if there’s anyone that can achieve the American dream, it’s Americans”



We Own This Country

Political commentary written with a civil servant’s perspective. “Campaign moving along fast enough for you? Try this on for size: Here in DC, workers are already preparing the US Capitol for the goddamn inauguration”

I Lost My Faith In Humanity

Casino surveillance manager tells all. How they count cash: “It’s a drab, well-lit room. There are 5-10 people there who wear one-piece jumpsuits with no pockets. The tables are clear plexiglass so we can see if money falls down”

JPS: The Jean-Paul Sartre Navigation System

“Ahead, turn left and catch your reflection in the driver’s side window, self as other present to itself, cast against the rushing pavement. You have arrived—not where you intended, but at a point where you agree to be still”

Prospectus For Silicon Valley’s Next Hot Tech IPO

Post-Facebook satire. “Ponzify isn’t like other tech companies. We don’t promise results. We show them to you, on a piece of paper, that has your name and a monetary figure on it that increases every month”

Ken Doyle, Safecracker

Interview. Not burglar, but locksmith. “Usually the victims are children or seniors. Grandpa is busy examining the contents of his safe deposit box at closing time when a bank employee performs the vault-closing procedure”

Buying This Thing Will Make Me Happy

“It’s really cool. They just started making it and not many people have one yet. It does all sorts of stuff and can fit in my pocket. Plus it’s made by a company I trust to put out things that will make me happy”

$100 Hand Of Blackjack, Foxwoods Casino

“‘You count cards?’ he asked me. ‘A little,’ I said. Would I like to give it a go with them? It sounded like an adventure. The fact that I had no idea how to count cards never entered in to my mind before I enthusiastically agreed”

$5 Chess Game, Best Of Three, Zuccotti Park

Six in the morning, waiting for the police to move in and break up the OWS protest. Time for chess with a fellow traveller. But is he trying to hustle me?

Lament Of A Lonely Zamboni Driver

There glides a man. Alone. “You could say I’m married to my art. In the past, options have presented themselves, and why shouldn’t they? I’m well read, and a long standing member of the Local Zamboni and Ladder Operators Union”

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