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”


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.

Old-School Hyperlinking


Have you seen the funny and “clever illustrations of bad decisions”? In the same vein, Evan Robertson, a New York–based graphic designer and writer, created a line of striking illustrations based on quotes from famous authors. He described his inspiration for the series in a Huffington Post interview, deftly breaking it down for the internet generation: Continue reading “Old-School Hyperlinking”


A Viper in the Pipes

It’s sometimes hard to relax when the radiator sounds like a rattlesnake.


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”



The word algorithm :: evidence that mathematicians should not be in charge of spelling


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”


Death and Typography

Trying to nail down which font is friendly and approachable is about as confusing as figuring out which coffin best speaks to the dearly departed’s personality.




French is a silly language :: so many letters pronounced with your eyes, not with your mouth



John Waters: JEW


When John Waters signs his emails JW, his computer tends to auto-correct it to read JEW (yes, all caps). Sometimes he doesn’t catch it in time and it’s sent out this way. Oh, to receive an email like that:  Blah-blah-blah. Sincerely, JEW. Now that’s pride in one’s tribe.


Eat Your Heart Out, Tom Selleck


  • To hoist and secure with a rope
  • A very short period of time; an instant
  • A piece of art I found on a wall

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”


I Still Love You, Mr. Vonnegut

Semicolons get a bad rap. I’ve heard people say, point-blank, to avoid them like a disease; divide the sentence into two separate sentences if you need to. Even more disheartening was this sass from my hero: Continue reading “I Still Love You, Mr. Vonnegut”


Why Grandma Is So Crabby

Osteoporosis of the funny bone


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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