Home > Culture, Edmonton Oilers, Hilarity, Internet, Literature, Navel-Gazing > @Sidslang’s Best of Twitter

@Sidslang’s Best of Twitter

I will freely admit that it took me some time to come around completely to the merits of Twitter, let alone to learn how best to use it (still not certain about that last part). Certainly its instantaneous nature and the direct and unfiltered nature of its communication was always pregnant with possibility, but it could be as prone to insularity and contextless snark as any blog comments section. But I’ve come to see Twitter’s greatest strength as being the feature which I initially found to be its greatest weakness: its enforced brevity. Though I remain irked by the “be more clever” exhortation when the character limit is exceeded, the bonds are useful ones; Gord knows my prose could stand to be reined in more often.

So, for my own edification and in the interest of building up the follow lists of the curious, I present a choice few Twitter accounts that I have found to be worth keeping up with. Each one employs the format to great effect, and demonstrates its potential as a medium for creativity that the comparatively sprawling Facebook could never hope to match. Three examples shall suffice for today, but I may suggest other good ‘uns in future. Therefore, consider:

@tejucole

The Brooklyn-based Nigerian novelist, author of the critically-acclaimed Open City (which has an intimidatingly long waiting list on hold at the library which has thus far kept me from reading it), sometimes employs his Twitter to express thoughts on various aspects of life and culture, as many as wont to do.

But most of his feed is given over to what its subtitle dubs “small fates”. Combining a tone of quasi-journalistic detachment with a sense of irony that is as mild as it is wicked, Cole passes along often-violent events in the lives of fellow Nigerians that give clues to the character of the country and of its people. The construction of Cole’s sentences is always superb, and the masterful ironic twist can hang on a final word or two, or even a comma. The result neither edifies nor mocks his subjects, but reveals instead the absurdity of human choices and the inherent difficulty of understanding and sympathizing with others in a complex world of joys and horrors. In other words, I’ve really got to read the guy’s novel.

Representative Tweet:

@City_Raccoon

Maybe it’s a Toronto thing, seeing as this city has the largest urban raccoon population in the world. But there’s something both amusing and poignant about these skulking nocturnal scavengers, with their probing forays into compost bins and waddling gait. They are the furry carrion-pickers of unchecked urbanization, feasting on leftover scraps of North American’s blithe excess. And I cannot imagine their nightly reality being imparted with anything more appropriate than the gently observant humour of @City_Raccoon.

A parody of the insipid “what I’m doing right at this moment” Twitter updates that dominate the platform, the often extremely short tweets describing tableaus of rodent action (“Waddle triumphantly”, “Scurry across the garage roof. Scurry”) take on an almost zen-like quality that trades on the collective recognition of these shadowy animals by city-dwellers. It also demonstrates a full appreciation of the comedic potential of repetition (“Nibblenibblenibble”). A simple-delights kind of account.

Representative Tweet:

@SHorcov

With their beloved team closing in on six long seasons out of the playoffs, Edmonton Oilers fans have plenty of reasons to feel disillusioned, which is what makes this brilliantly therapeutic and slyly sophisticated satirical account so wonderful. @SHorcov, you see, is purportedly the Twitter account of long-time, overpaid Oiler center and current team captain (or “Kaptain”) Shawn Horcoff. The key comic distinction is that, while Horcoff is a reserved Western Canadian guy from Doukhobor stock, “Horcov” is a brash and talkative Russian stereotype who grew up under Communism, fought in the Chechen War, expresses himself with Yakov Smirnoff-style clipped English grammar, and has a wife named Olga with whom he has frequent “sexiness”.

@SHorcov is exasperated with the Oilers’ spiral of failure since their 2006 run to the Stanley Cup Finals (as most thinking fans tend to be) and expresses this feeling constantly, calling the Oilers “barely an NHL team” while openly defying his bosses in highly bawdy terms, wiping his penis on head coach Tom Renney’s silk scarf after masturbating into a rookie’s skates and having “sexiness” with Olga on general manager Steve Tambellini’s desk (while the latter looks on with impassive blankness, as always). This tweet-narrator’s extreme Russian-ness and stories of deprivation in the Soviet Union and in Chechnya (where he claims he once survived a frigid winter’s night by cutting open a fat dead Chechen and sheltering inside, like Luke and Han in The Empire Strikes Back) prove to be apt hyperbolic analogies for the experiences of the denizens of Oil Country, who can now officially be referred to as “long-suffering”.

But @SHorcov is truly great as a demonstration of worldcraft through the Twitter format. Rife with subtle literary and cultural references, the litany of tweets really constitutes a sort of makeshift situation comedy through the sometimes-bizarre comic exaggerations and ironic inversions that characterize its portrayals of the members of the Oilers roster. @SHorcov is not much interested in the Oilers’ blue-chip young stars like Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. He focuses instead on the established veterans as well as the misfits and also-rans that fill out the bottom of the roster.

Thus, top-pairing defenseman Tom Gilbert is a Adonis-like ladies man, slaying puck bunnies with his flowing locks and “massive knob”. Recently returned folk hero Ryan Smyth, not exactly known for his erudite range of expression in post-game interviews, is a widely-read intellectual with a “big brain” (Horcov recently imagined him giving a lecture on Goethe in the Catalan language). Ales Hemsky is gleeful about his likely-imminent trade away from the frozen hellhole of losing hockey that is Edmonton in February. And Finnish fourth-liner Lennart Petrell is just plain nuts – like all Finns, in our hero’s opinion, although this did not stop Horcov from taking a bacchanalian sauna-and-snow holiday in Finland during the All-Star break alongside Petrell and former Oilers Janne Niinimaa and Esa Tikkanen, which read across several days on Twitter feeds like a slowly-unfolding work of ragged comedic genius. And this is how @SHorcov reads in general, and why it’s a must-follow for Oilers fans (and maybe even for Flames fans, too).

Representative Tweet:

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  1. Mary
    February 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    This is probably stretching it, but perhaps @SHorcov on Twitter demonstrates that the epistolary novel isn’t dead, just… abbreviated. So says this eighteenth-centuryist.

  1. April 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm
  2. October 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm
  3. November 10, 2012 at 8:17 am
  4. February 23, 2013 at 6:48 am
  5. July 14, 2013 at 8:13 am
  6. April 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

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