Stephen King’s class versus Simon Cowell’s, Piers Morgan’s, et al’s classlessness

Yes, oh yes, I’ve heard it all before: Simon Cowell tells it like it is when he gives musical wannabes a vicious tongue lashing. So what if aspiring young singers have left his presence in tears, further humiliated in front of millions on television? They need a stiff reality check to remind themselves that while they either enjoy singing or simply wish to use a singing career to achieve fame and fortune, they should definitely not quit their day job.

Of course, Piers Morgan is the same way on Cowell’s show America’s Got Talent. This last season (I don’t watch this show anymore and have only seen American Idol in previews and short clips), one insulted performer went as far as to call Morgan a “Simon Cowell wannabe”.

For this reason, I’ve never liked Morgan and especially don’t like Cowell. As celebrity judges, that is: Cowell is said to be a much friendlier man in his private life. I simply believe that it’s unacceptable to humiliate people on television for the sake of ratings–especially when they’ve been led to believe they have something worth showing.

I am reminded how, several years ago, author Stephen King held a writing contest through his semi-autobiographical work On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He presents a scenario and encourages aspiring writers to send him their stories. King published the top stories and had this to say about the entries. Keep special attention to the italicized, bold-print remarks below in the text:

On Writing contest winners from

Dear Constant Reader:

I think a lot of people harbor the secret dream of being a fiction writer. Why not? You don’t need any special tools, brushes, or even classes. All you’ve got to do is power up your laptop and you are ready to go. So when I suggested that fans of my work and/or readers of my writing book submit a writing exercise to my website I wasn’t surprised to get over 1,000 responses. Not many of them were good, but that didn’t surprise me either. What did surprise me–a little–was how many could have been good if the people who wrote them had tried just a little harder, or had brushed up their skills a little bit before trying their hands at what I think of as the Dick and Jane story. I should add that quite a few were, frankly, abysmal. I am not posting any samples of these. I have always believed that it’s very bad form (not to mention unsporting), to shoot cripples. [Emphasis mine] But here are 3 “good” stories and one which is close to brilliant. Read and enjoy. Better yet, get in touch with these people and tell them what you think about their work or what you didn’t. Like the human beings who create it, writing does not exist in a vacuum.

Best wishes,
Stephen King

Very proud of myself!

Today my wife sent me to the dollar store to get some supplies she needed for her job. While there, I picked her up a belated anniversary gift. Yes, it was inexpensive, but it’s something that she really, really liked.

While at the office supplies aisle to get her some manila envelopes, I saw a package of Papermate Flexigrip Elite pens. Two black pens for $2. Very cheap. I could use some more, since I have only a blue, red, black and purple one with no backups. When it comes to acquiring another Papermate (again, my favorite), I go by these guidelines:

Round 1:
1. If you don’t have the expendable income, absolutely not.
2. If you do, proceed to the next round

Round 2:
1. Are these a new style of Papermate pens OR a type of Papermate pen that I don’t have?
2. Is this a type of Papermate that I already have but don’t have any “backups”?

If the answer to either is yes, then I proceed to the next and final round.

Round 3:
1. Do I really, really, really need it?

If yes, I buy. If no, I don’t.

I decided I didn’t really need it, so I passed.