Through the Zombie Lens: How the Dead’ish Confirmed My Outlook on Life

It seems every other book these days contains a vampire, a werewolf or, more commonly, a team of staggering zombies. Let’s talk about the latter. They are decidedly mean, violent, and relentless—not unlike your typical serial killer sitting in a faraway prison cell, which begs the question: how shall I treat said beasts in manuscripts that I’m editing?

Certain words are attached only to humans; other words are used only for things. A zombie is essentially a moving corpse, so is Dad still Dad if he’s no longer 100 percent human? Are such semantics considered by the reader, or will he or she care whether the creature is a “who” or a “what” needing a “who” or a “that”? This is why writers hire agonizers. Continue reading “Through the Zombie Lens: How the Dead’ish Confirmed My Outlook on Life”

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Snark Is Not an Imaginary Critter

Some friends and family think I’m a copywriter. It does sound similar to “copy editor” and looks a lot like its smashed-together cousin, “copyeditor.” No worries. Despite my smartassness, I’m not a hater. I get it. But if I had a job writing sarcastic gold like this, I might switch professions. Continue reading “Snark Is Not an Imaginary Critter”

Ouch—and Yeah!

 

From Slate’s Dear Prudence column:

I am five years younger than the newest hire [at this newspaper], and I am infinitely more efficient, clear with my writing, and communicative with my sources than the new reporter. [She] constantly works overtime, is defensive to managers, and is overall awkward and completely aloof to her bizarre treatment of sources, other reporters, and bosses. I wonder why nobody ever suggested to this girl that she pursue copyediting instead of reporting.

(You can read Prudie’s snippy response here.)

As a colleague of mine said in her email, I’m laughing too hard to be offended.

Working From Home

 

The following observations took place over the course of a very busy day.

Morning  You don’t really know yourself until you drink a liter of Stumptown and beat an egg.

Afternoon  My seventeen-year-old microwave has lasted five times longer than my MacBook or iPhone.

Evening  I read an article that said a “pentobarbital manufacturer is adamant in its opposition to Florida using it for executions since it may cause suffering.” Then I thought: Why would Adam Ant care?

And, scene.

Just Talk to Me

I’ve experienced a specific kind of hell on Earth on more than one occasion. It has nothing to do with music yet everything to do with performance. I’m all for creative expression, but may I ask why poetry is too often read in the most unnatural manner possible? I know I’m not the only one who’s been stuck sitting there like a good puppy, eager to listen, ready to be enlightened and shaken. But something kept happening, something distracting, and finally it forced me to scoot out the door with a sneeze face.

Let me elaborate so that you may recognize yourself, you poetry reader. Continue reading “Just Talk to Me”

If Only I Were Eugene Mirman

Some people, such as software engineers, make useful things for a living. Other people, like workers in a state unemployment office, make misery for a minimum of one full hour. I endured a phone call from one such person, a dour and condescending lady-robot sliding off the mild end of the autistic spectrum. I haven’t been spoken to like that since I was five. Perhaps she was elitist and judgmental, perhaps she had been encouraged to be suspicious, or maybe she simply hated herself for not getting fired from her horrible job. Wouldn’t it be the sweetest slice of irony to have her get the business end of a phone call from her former employer? Continue reading “If Only I Were Eugene Mirman”

Make It Happen

Dear Santa,

The last time I wrote you a letter, you ignored me. Why was a swimming pool full of plastic balls out of the question? It was only a little bigger than Chuck E. Cheese’s. I guess I should have just asked for a Blondie concert in our backyard. Anyway, I thought I would try again, this time with an adult list of commands. See to it, or I will tell everyone that you’re a fraud. They will believe me because they know that I know things.

  1. the power to make me follow through on my threats
  2. a magic red pencil that always has a sharp point a red pen
  3. dictionary brain
  4. computer brain
  5. a part-time job naming babies, pets, drugs, and nail polish—I can freelance

Sincerely and all that,

Me

You Need an Object

In my line of work, as in life, things of a lewd nature creep up from time to time. I spent one day replacing every fucking with fuckin’  in a certain character’s dialogue to better convey his Scottish brogue. I quite enjoyed that one.

Then there was the author who had written about a young girl who fisted in her dress. My eyeballs skidded to a halt. Continue reading “You Need an Object”

Helvetica on Wheels

Association can be deeply ingrained. Think corporate, think business, and if you’re design-oriented, you’ll see all kinds of words floating above your head, twirling on their axes in a simple, smooth font devoid of pizzazz or personality. What I tend to see are the actual words.

It’s clear that language is a living thing powerful enough to reshape how we speak, read, and write. I appreciate that and allow for some wiggle room. Although I refuse to use disrespect as a verb (we all have our standards), the words nauseated and nauseating are used interchangeably without any twitch of the eye, and that’s fine by me. Such judgment calls depend on how conservative you choose to be. Although irregardless is a word, if your aim is to be taken seriously, you cannot use it; people will question your integrity, your level of education, your hygiene, and the ability to maintain relationships.

Continue reading “Helvetica on Wheels”

Yeah, Right

 

Do you have a quick answer to this question? If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Here’s mine: Sidney Morgenbesser. Unfortunately, he is of the latter category. A revered philosophy professor at Columbia University for five decades, he was in the business of blowing minds. Noam Chomsky once stated that he was “one of the most knowledgeable and, in many ways, profound thinkers of the modern period.” He was “a philosopher in the old sense,” Dr. Chomsky explained. “Not so much what’s on the printed page but in debate and inspiring discussion.” Some have even likened him to a modern-day Socrates. Continue reading “Yeah, Right”

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