How to get on the OBO/MBM
Mac Millings bites the hand that birthed him
As you’re here, there’s a good chance you have also visited Guardian Football, a decent site which, much like nostalgia, wanking and this article already, isn’t what it used to be.
Perhaps you’ve visited the football blogs. If not, allow me to describe: commenting there is precisely like shouting a pointless opinion about football in a crowded pub, only without the comfort of alcohol or the exquisite thrill that comes with the potential for being a victim of casual violence. (The cricket blogs, on the other hand, are just like going to a county cricket match – willfully eccentric, desperately unimportant, and there are only ever about 30 people there.)
If you’ve been to the blogs, then you’ve probably followed a Guardian Minute-by-Minute report (or MBM, as it is “popularly” known). The MBM is a purely 21st Century phenomenon, but only in the sense that this happens to be the 21st Century. 2011, it is, and we’re reading text-based commentary. Teletext with user feedback. Ceefax 2.0.
Still, there you are, trying to avoid doing something worthwhile. You see other people emailing in. You’re more insightful than them – and much funnier – and you want people to know. And why not? It’s about time your genius was recognized, and it’s going to be at least 6 months before your screenplay/novel/book of anguished poetry is going to be ready for you to think about sending in to publishers before shelving it because you know they just won’t get it.
You’re in luck. Millings is here. (Savour those two sentences. You’ll never see them adjacent again.) The MBM is easy to infiltrate, and there are several approaches:
The “Gary Naylor”
Gary Naylor is the Old Faithfulof football insight, expelling his wisdom with regularity – a porn star’s cock of soccer sapience, if you will, spurting silky gobs of acumen on request, with minimal fluffing required. You can watch his DVDs read his comments all you like, you’ll never be half the man he is. He’s the late-Old-Testament God of MBMs – he doesn’t walk amongst mortals as much as He used to, but you’re always aware of His presence.
How, then, do you use Him to get onto an MBM? Treat Him as any 21st Century Guardian reader would and deny His existence. A simple “Who is this Gary Naylor?/He’s on every MBM, can he possibly be real?/You realize, don’t you, that your entire readership, including Gary Naylor, is the invention of an under-medicated basement dwelling netgimp?” gets you straight on, every time. Yes, you’ll look like an unimaginative first-timer, but micro-celebrity beckons. Do you want your name published on the text-based pseudo-commentary arm of a major global website and its literally threes of readers, or don’t you?
Alternatively, you might mock him. I could link you to upwards of 200 MBMs into which I have insinuated myself by this technique alone. But I won’t because then I’d look like I was obsessed with the man, which this close-to-500-words about him clearly show I am not.
But if you must, you can still try to be him. I have done so successfully once, but it’s not something I suggest you try at home. For a start, if you are to e-impersonate him with any degree of accuracy, all of your emails must contain a link to one of your self-penned articles, meaning that you’d better get working. Recent estimates suggest that the collected works of Gary Naylor make up approximately 82% of all web content.
Any pun – literally, ANY pun – will get you onto an MBM. It doesn’t matter how bad they are; in fact, the worse the better. Is there a Global Pandemic in the news? You’ll need to write to Scott Murray about Plague Bellamy (or to Andy Bull on the OBO about Quarantino Best). Perhaps there’s been a scandal over a sexist commentator. Sounds like there’s a hint of Misojohnny Metgod in the air. Scan the team sheets. Is Fabrice Pancrate playing in the midweek Euro Tin Pot game? Then Rob Smyth is dying to hear your pancreas/spleen/gall bladder gags. And if Emmanuel Pogatetz is on the pitch, things are about to go Pogatetz-up. They have for me. On three separate MBMs.
Write under a pseudonym
You know the old phrase: “Just be yourself.” Now take a long, hard look in the mirror and tell me with a straight face that this applies to you. I understand that you may balk at using a pseudonym to begin with. After all, what sort of an excuse for a man is too afraid to write under his own name? But face facts. Since you were a child, you’ve dreamed of being someone else, and with good reason. Now is your chance. You could be Raúl. Rafa Benitez. Rafa Benitez’s kidney stones having an argument with Rafa Benitez. The world is only restricted by your imagination. Ah. Let’s move on.
Flatter Your Host
An MBM is like a party (it isn’t, but bear with me), and you want to treat your MBM provider as you would a party host. Because trashing the place might be difficult to achieve (although I have no objections to you trashing your own place. Quite what your mother will think of you defacing her dingy basement is, of course, another matter), this means you must use flattery.
Naturally, despite the obvious absurdity, starting your missive with a phrase like “You’re the handsomest Guardian employee by far” never fails. But if you are more ambitious, you’ll find that you have to treat each recipient of your praise on a case-by-case basis. Your 20-to-30-something, single white male MBM writers, you see, are a diverse bunch, and each needs his own specialized treatment. They all, for example, have their own prose style and world view. Incorporate toadying imitation of these in your emails, and you’re well on the way to attaining a dream the achievement of which, I can tell you from experience, is a lot less satisfying that you can possibly imagine.
Here are examples of what you might send to three prominent MBMers:
To Scott Murray: “The ball was traveling at speeds of up to 0.0000001 mph before taking a comedy bobble and hitting the goalkeeper right on the end of his tig, rebounding to Steven Gerrard, who lashed it into Row Z of the Moon’s new Gravito-Ball stadium. Patented Guardian Steven Gerrard Flay-o-Meter: F.
(Disclaimer: This applies only to the Scott Murray Steven Gerrard of more than two years ago, when he was still actually trying).
Barry Glendenning will not publish your emails, ever. (Please note, for “your”, read “my”.) Try quoting “Seinfeld”, or writing something anti-American. See if you can fit both into the same email. Otherwise, make sure your missive allows him to disdain you. This will be easy for both of you.
Rob Smyth: “Dear Rob, I hate myself, I avoid contact with the opposite sex/everyone, I am afraid of answering the telephone/the door/simple questions. Balding, rotund, and with a bat’s idea of eye contact, in order to face the world I am forced to drink large amounts of Liver Compromiser /Artificial Fortitude Provider/Self-Reflection Inhibiter/Personality Suppressant. Form an orderly one, ladies.”
Or just send him a fucking shopping list.