Hey, look! More high weirdness from the zombie known as The Extra Reading Company — a creature that just won’t die no matter how many times it’s shot and that suffers from a desperate lack of brains.
If you care to, you can read the short article I wrote about ERC for Secular Homeschooling:
If you have another eight or nine hours to spare, you can read the follow-up rant at the Mad Editor blog:
If you don’t have that kind of time, take my word for it: ERC is bad news. Their CEO is nasty, deceptive, and a terrible writer — and that last one is a particularly unforgivable quality in someone who writes educational material for children.
More evidence of this ickiness landed in my mailbox this morning. Someone posted a comment on the Mad Editor blog posting letting me know that, sadly, ERC is still in business and still being run by someone whose idea of outstanding customer service is siccing his non-rabid starving guard dog on your newborn.
A woman who was hoping to be an ERC customer posted the entirety of an email exchange she had with Josh Mason on The Parenting Pod, a link to which was given to me and which I offer now to you. This one I need you to read, if only so that you don’t have to take my word for it that ERC’s idea of customer service also includes helpful hints, such as that their customers please refrain from being retarded on the premises:
The guy doesn’t admit that he’s Josh, but that writing style is unmistakable. Lots of quotation marks. A surfeit of sentences beginning with “so” or “but” followed by an unnecessary comma. Lots of random commas, in fact. Hyphens, hyphens everywhere. A deep and abiding love of the word “such.”
And an ego the size of the moon, with no discernible redeeming qualities with which to rationalize it. Yep, that’s him.
As I wrote, I’ve had my own run-ins with him. It’s been a few years, though, and I’d forgotten just what a nasty piece of work he is.
Seen from the right angle, though, he can be deeply entertaining. And that’s where you come in.
I read the entire Parenting Pod posting aloud to my husband and son at the dinner table, including such gems as the hyphenation of phrases like “lighten-up” and “time-to-time.” We were all incensed — but by the end of the exchange, we were also howling with laughter.
That evening turned into “Write Like Josh!” night at our house — especially when I shared some choice bits from ERC’s “Questions and Answers” page, which reads in spots as if it’s been translated into Japanese and back again by someone struggling to understand our punctuation. “Our advice as to choosing a price is for you to offer the most you can afford to pay; given your financial situation. The way this system works is that those who pay more, allow others to pay less who struggle financially.”
This style turns out to be delightfully contagious.
“Mom,” my son said. “Could you, comma, rinse hyphen this hyphen dish? Semicolon.”
Which gave me one of those brilliant ideas that happen maybe once in a lifetime.
You know the Bad Hemingway contest?
It’s time for some Bad Extra Reading Writing.
Post your entries here. They can be as long or as short as you like. Content is entirely up to you, but you need to include at least one sadly misplaced comma and one jarring semicolon. A special prize will be awarded for best use of bizarrely random hyphenation. Remember: NEVER use italics for emphasis. That’s what capital letters are for. And don’t forget that oozing condescension!
When we get enough entries, we will publish them in a book that will be available at whatever price you can afford ($100).