If commas are open to interpretation, hyphens are downright Delphic.
now that i see i was not the only one to be mysteriously gifted with a copy of thiIf commas are open to interpretation, hyphens are downright Delphic.
now that i see i was not the only one to be mysteriously gifted with a copy of this book in the mail and that even people like melki, who exhibits flawless grammar despite having to type with giant clumsy bear paws, were similarly singled out, i feel less self-conscious about my casual butchery of my mother tongue.
this is one of those books equal parts instructive and fun. it's closer to a memoir than a primer, but the anecdotes about norris' three decades in the new yorker's copy department will generally lead to some nugget of wisdom about usage or orthographic history that will delight you if you are a word nerd.
it's remarkably playful for a book so consumed with usage and the history of punctuation, but it's also as nerdy as you'd expect:
Here is the definition from Web II of a nonrestrictive clause: "An adjective clause which adds information but is so loosely attached to its noun as to be not essential to the definiteness of the noun's meaning (the aldermen, who were present, assented)--called also descriptive clause. Such a clause is marked off by commas, whereas the corresponding restrictive clause is not (the aldermen who were present assented = such aldermen as were present assented)."
Of course, the hilarious thing about this is that the definition itself uses "which" ("an adjective clause which adds information") where standard modern American usage prefers "that": "an adjective clause that adds information."
oh, dear, not 'hilarious' enough for you? luckily, i know the kind of people who read my reviews, so i can point you to something you will likely find funnier:
I have spent whole hangover days laughing at the idea of a law firm with letterhead stationery printed "Johnson, Johnson, Johnson & Johnson." I don't know why it took me so long to find the name of the Band-Aid and baby-shampoo company in my college town funny: New Brunswick's own Johnson & Johnson. I am sure that Samuel Johnson, the father of lexicography, would get a kick out of knowing that his surname was synonymous with penis. One day, in the course of my mundane working life, I read the words "Robert Caro writes in the most recent volume of his Johnson biography…" and cracked up. I know that Caro is writing the definitive biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, but in the privacy of my office I permitted myself to picture Robert Caro as a square-looking guy who had yet led a life of such sexual adventurism that he needed to write a multivolume biography of his Johnson.
i learned a great many things in this book:
the correct spellings of chaise longue,garnishee, and minuscule, and that by misspelling that last one wrong all this time (in my head - i don't know that i've ever written it), i was being barbarous. me, barbarous!!
Webster's includes a lot of words that people spell and use in nonstandard ways. (Lu Burke once jumped all over me because she thought that I had let "minuscule" go spelled with two i's because Webster's includes the barbarous spelling "miniscule" to guide people to the right one.)
that cruel jab aside, she's more forgiving than many of her (dare i say "our?") breed about spelling errors, particularly in grocery store signage & etc:
The lunch specials chalked on a blackboard outside a restaurant in the East Village included a "salomon snad." I would never order a salmon sandwich-- doesn't sound good; obviously, it's not sushi-grade salmon if they're making patties out of it--but I found the salomon snad quite beguiling.
she's willing to sacrifice her own standards, sometimes making grammatical concessions to honor the (fiction) writer's choices; which can come at a great personal cost:
I backed down, allowing something ungrammatical to appear in the magazine, which, in future times, would be held up as proof that it was grammatical because The New Yorker had printed it.
she pokes a little fun at England's Apostrophe Protection Society, founded with the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark in all forms of text written in the English language.
she's realistic about how complicated grammatical rules can be to regular folks:
I don't mean to make this any more confusing than it already is, but let's not pretend it's easy.
and she's always willing to expose her own gaffes, in a confessional chatty tone:
Often a word would come up that I had never seen before and could not find in the dictionary. That didn't mean it wasn't there--I just couldn't see it, probably because I didn't want to see it. I had a skeptical streak and an ego, and at some level I thought that if I had never seen a particular word it didn't exist. One year in the Christmas list on food, the writer inserted the word "terrine," as in "a terrine of foie gras." I had never seen the word "terrine" (much less an actual terrine full of foie gras) and couldn't find it in the dictionary, neither the Little Red Web nor the unabridged. So I changed it to "tureen." I might as well have changed it to "punchbowl." It was no excuse that I came from a family that didn't eat a lot of pate. (The fanciest thing we had on the table was Brown 'n Serve rolls, which we called Black 'n Serve rolls, because my mother usually burned them. A college friend made merciless fun of me in the dining hall when I complained that the butter tasted funny and it came out that I had been raised on margarine.) Fortunately, the structure of the department was such that several people, including the author, read the proofs the next day, and the word appeared in the magazine as "terrine."
although she did miss one error, in chapter 5's title:
-the little double-dot in the word naïve is not an umlaut, but a diaeresis.
-pencil sharpener factoid:
The collection included some double-hole sharpeners, and McKinnon had assumed, as many people do, that one hole was for regular pencils and the other for colored pencils. I explained how it worked: the cylinders beneath the blades are angled differently, and each pencil goes first in one hole, for whittling away the wood, and then in the other, for grinding the graphite.
-some craziness about word breaks as they relate to the word "bumper:"
when the word is being used as a noun meaning a brimming cup or glass, or as an adjective meaning unusually large, the word is divided "bum-per" if split by a line break.
BUT, when it i used as a noun meaning one who bumps, or a device for absorbing shock or preventing damage, the break is "bump-er."
SO MUCH LEARNING!
but not just learning, because her stories are fun and charming and she's adorably dorky, sometimes unconsciously so:
-I was traveling with a black KUM long-point sharpener…I loved having it with me, to sharpen pencils on the go or to whip out in a cafe if a friend's point had gotten dull.
-when you think about it, suspense is what punctuation is all about: how is the author going to finish the sentence?
-Even the dictionary citation illustrating a "restrictive clause" is a bummer: Webster's gives the example of "that you ordered" in the sentence "The book that you ordered is out of print." Oh, no! The Random House College Dictionary has a slightly more positive definition for the grammatical sense of restrictive -- "of or pertaining to a word, phrase, or clause that identifies or limits the meaning of a modified element" -- but it goes on to give yet another bummer of an example: "that just ended in The year that just ended was bad for crops." Just my luck: the book that I wanted is out of print and now the price of corn is going to skyrocket.
-this is how nerds namedrop:
Light Years had an introduction by Richard Ford, whose work I once tried to take a comma out of.
and speaking of james salter and nerdishness, her story about Light Years is that, noticing the unusual and distracting use of commas in light years, I decided to write to James Salter and ask him about his commas.
and he wrote back!
"I sometimes ignore the rules about commas although generally I follow convention and adhere to the advice in Strunk and White. Punctuation is for clarity and also emphasis, but I also feel that, if the writing warrants it, punctuation can contribute to the music and rhythm of the sentences. You don't get permission for this. of course; you take the liberty."
he goes on to explain each and every comma she'd questioned in his book before promising, "The commas are better in A Sport and a Pasttime."
oh my god, adorable. i love it.
the chapter about cussin' is obviously fun because i'm a child, but also because she references my boy
and shares this anecdote so gleefully:
I first gave full vent to the urge to curse after terminating analysis, in 1996. I felt so free--I could change jobs, move from Queens to Manhattan, enjoy a little discretionary income because I wasn't always shelling out to the shrink--and I just let fly with every joyous expletive I could think of. If someone mentioned The House of Mirth, I would say, "Edith Wharton blows," or if a friend suggested reading Middlemarch my response was "George Eliot sucks." It was so satisfying. The shell of prudery surrounding childhood and adolescence cracked wide open, and I emerged a fucking monarch butterfly. So I would say that analysis worked for me.
and a saving grace for those of us with comma issues, w/r/t comma theory:
Basically, there are two schools of thought: One plays by ear, using the comma to mark a pause, like dynamics in music; if you were reading aloud, the comma would suggest when to take a breath. The other uses punctuation to clarify the meaning of a sentence by illuminating its underlying structure. Each school believes that the other gets carried away.
as long as we're all carried away together.
it's just a really fun book -plenty of stories and a really expressive way of explaining potentially dull concepts in a lively way:
The idea that gender in language is decorative, a way of dressing up words, can be applied to the human body: things that identify us outwardly as male or female--breasts, hips, bulges--are decorative as well as essential to the survival of the species. Lipstick and high heels are inflections, tokens of the feminine: lures, sex apps. Those extra letters dangling at the ends of words are the genitals of grammar. And the pronouns turn out to be in our marrow.
so i thank whomever is to thank for this unexpected book-present, even though it gave me a moment of horror when i thought i was being scolded for my transgressions.
because i wasn't, right?? RIGHT??? ********************************************** i got this in the mail, completely unexpectedly - with no begging on my or anyone else's part. on the one hand - AWESOME! this is exactly the kind of book i love! on the other hand, i can't help but fear this is some passive-aggressive jab, since the way i abuse the comma ought to come with its own commercial/ accompanying sarah machlachlin song.
whatchoo trying to say, norton??
i am going to read this as soon as possible. it looks great! ...more
okay, here's how this "review" is going to go. this is the dictionary i used for my etymology class back in undergrad, so i have read this inasmuch asokay, here's how this "review" is going to go. this is the dictionary i used for my etymology class back in undergrad, so i have read this inasmuch as anyone "reads" a dictionary
so it's totally valid for my little project.
to celebrate dinovember, and to make kaethe happy, i am going to do my own series of daily themed tableaux. since i am starting this on the 12th, there will have to be some jumbly crowded bits at the end, but mooops. jumbly crowded bits of what you ask? well, every day i am going to post a picture of dinosaurs posed on or near things that begin with the letter of the day, because - relevant!
these are our stars:
they will not factor into the day's letter. they are just there to scream and be enthusiastic.
these will not be anywhere near as fun as dinovember, but hopefully at least 3 of the 26 will be amusing. next year, i will plan this better, but for now you get what you get.
i gotta step up this staging. this is amateur hour...
which i set up in the tub intentionally, hoping maggie would jump in and sit on that cat pillow, since she is fascinated by the bathtub lately, and then it would be an all-cat tableau.
this is as far as i got. she wasn't feeling picture-y
and of course, once i DON'T want her in the photo
close-up detail for erica and evie
T is for thanksgiving!
and, finally - Z
which is for "zoo." which is an a-z animal goodbye. thanks for all the fun, guys!! see you next year!!!
close-up details, like we are the world is playing in the background...
there are some outtakes and bonus material for this project. i may or may not add them at a later date. but for now - goodbye from all of us here in karenland!!!...more
obmo! ihts kobo si VROE!!! dunqeeroc!!! yb EM! dna froebe ouy ska - ooooooooonoooooo hte npu-sebda "rrpseius wnasres" toprnio veha ont eben enod, cuabobmo! ihts kobo si VROE!!! dunqeeroc!!! yb EM! dna froebe ouy ska - ooooooooonoooooo hte npu-sebda "rrpseius wnasres" toprnio veha ont eben enod, cuabese hyet rea idputs, nad mi ylno eerh orf het ubsjmle. het sunp liwl eb vesad for ym tfaehr. phapy ybihdtar, dydad!!!
way back in the day, when greggly and me were just starting to become besties, we discovered a mutual love of lateral thinking puzzles. i went out andway back in the day, when greggly and me were just starting to become besties, we discovered a mutual love of lateral thinking puzzles. i went out and bought about 40 different books full of 'em, and we would bring them with us when we were out and about and do them in line at book signings, at woodside memorial park, eating hotdogs on the steps of the NYPL...
we were the coolest kids ever.
and one year, for christmas, i made greg the best lateral thinking puzzle diorama ever. one of the coolest things i ever made. i rule.
you know what lateral thinking puzzles are, right? i don't know if everyone is as much of a party-game nerd as i am. one person gives the situation - usually something that is the end of a "story," and everyone gets to ask yes-or-no questions to figure out what happened: a man is found hanging from a noose twelve feet above the ground in a completely empty room. there is a puddle of water on the floor. what happened?
obviously, he was standing on a block of ice with a noose around his neck, which ice melted, killing him...eventually.
i can't tell you how much i love these puppies. even when the answers are so far-fetched no one would ever have a chance of figuring them out.
my discovery of them came when i was about thirteen, attending basketball camp. during our breaks, we would gather on some slip of grass off the URI campus parking lot and go in a circle, playing them off one another. my favorite one from that era is this one:
a man is driving to work listening to the radio when the song playing starts skipping. he pulls over to the side of the road and shoots himself in the head. why?
answer: (view spoiler)[ the man was a dj at that radio station. he had left work after putting on a long record to go home and shoot his wife. on the way back, he realized that the skipping record would ruin his alibi, so to avoid arrest, he killed himself (hide spoiler)]
later in life, i got my now ex-boyfriend into them.we were driving through the mean streets of chappaqua, telling them back and forth.at one point, i decided to try my hand at creating one of my very own.
a man is found hiding in a haystack with a turkey baster and wearing a roman centurian helmet. what is the situation?
he tried to figure this one out for nearly an hour before giving up and asking me for the answer. i just shrugged and said "i don't know. guess he was just crazy."
he was so pissed at me.
but it was fun!!! young love is fun!!
and this book is one of my favorites. it doesn't have a ton of puzzles; there are only 23, but it represents the fancier, giftier end of this type of thing. it would be the perfect gift for me. but i already have it.
all the puzzles are laid out with the question on the verso side and a full-page illustration on the recto. (heh. recto.) the illustrations do not hold any clues to the answer, and are all kind of horrifying: spooky, weirdly-proportioned people, gunfire, screaming people with piano-key teeth. it's pretty dark stuff. which is fitting, because for some reason, lateral thinking puzzles usually involve mysterious death, but they are still strikingly dark visuals. and then all the answers are in the back, next to a tinier version of the same picture.
it is a beautiful, red clothbound dustjacketless book with a very good selection of puzzles. believe me, when you have 40 books on the same kind of thing, it can be difficult to discover new ones. but there were several new to me in here.and i love that these things can definitely be done alone, although it is way more fun with a partner. twis.
i would definitely thumbs-up this as a gift idea for people who like puzzles. it's out of print, as so many awesome things are, but should be easy to track down. go - find it! have some fun. it really makes waiting in line more fun for everyone.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
the best thing is, this isn't even a textbook i had to read for school. i opted to read this textbook. for fun. one better - i aske yayyyy textbooks!!!
the best thing is, this isn't even a textbook i had to read for school. i opted to read this textbook. for fun. one better - i asked for this textbook for christmas, because i couldn't even get it into the store, and we don't get discounts on textbooks, and santa claus came down the chimney and gave me a readers' advisory textbook!
ho ho ho!
readers' advisory textbooks are a ton of fun. but that might just be me talking. i suppose people who are cuckoo for trigonometry find trig textbooks fun to read. but i assume most people on this website are bookish, and enjoy reading, except for those kids who can't find anywhere else on the internet to RP. and this is a book about reading. and how to ensure that you can learn to make better choices as a reader, and read fewer books that you dislike.
i mean, this is a book for information professionals, to help them help library patrons and bookstore customers, but you guys can train yourself do this. most of the resources are available to you. and this book collects a ton of them and they are all there in the back matter of the book.
i have a lot of them listed in the RA group i started on here:
which, yes, is for school, but i think these kinds of forums can be useful for readers, and i am not just pimping my group for my own good. readers' advisory is something i am very passionate about, because who wants to struggle through an unsuitable book? it is both an art and a science, and maybe i am just exceptionally good at it, but it isn't that hard to learn, seriously. and it's fun! if you already like books, and are motivated enough to learn how to select books that are more likely to interest you, i would definitely recommend flipping through a readers' advisory textbook at some point. these are the ones i have enjoyed:
even though there is a lot of information in here that doesn't pertain to me, necessarily, it is still a five-star book, because it reinforces a lot of ideas and practices that hopefully will help me in my future job as readers' advisor to the stars. or queen of RA. i will take any job they offer me at this point, because this is what i am good at and this is what i want to do. so hire me already, jeez!
as far as weak points, they are few, and just personal irritants. i was a little tired of hearing how "robust" various websites were, because it mostly just made me hungry, and how "holistic" reading was,because ew, and the section on e-readers was kind of adorable because of how many changes there have been in just three years, but overall, this is an excellent book, and a very merry christmas (in october) to me.
it took me and greg about eight months to get through this one, due to misplacing the book or boredom or "better things to do" (can you imagine??) butit took me and greg about eight months to get through this one, due to misplacing the book or boredom or "better things to do" (can you imagine??) but today we finished it and celebrated by eating expensive birthday chocolates (thanks, elizabeth!!!) and watching the man in the yellow shirt sleep facedown on the rock. stay classy, woodside!!
this book was not as good as who killed iago (click this, alfonso!) which was our last book of literary challenges shared on sunday dorkouts (and let us not speak of those cards and my devastating loss)(and i just realized goodreads.com deleted my review of these, along with several other things that are not technically books - wankers). i think this one was less fun because it was easier than the other book, and a lot of the quizzes were true/false, which any third grader can tell you are easy to guess correctly just by paying attention to the question's phrasing.
greg probably won this one, too, overall (who knew he was so knowledgeable about the psalms??) but he got zero questions right about chinua achebe because he (greg) is totally racist. seriously. so racist.
a fun pasttime for nerds, but there are more challenging versions out there. find them....more
i concur with greg - these are perfect for sitting in woodside memorial park (aka the median strip) eating fruits and seeing how smart you are. the lii concur with greg - these are perfect for sitting in woodside memorial park (aka the median strip) eating fruits and seeing how smart you are. the literary connections parts were the best - i would love an entire book just devoted to them - they are like lateral thinking puzzles involving books. get a goodreads.com friend (a real one, not a plugging author) and go forth and learn!...more
i just realized i dont need this book anymore!! i have read all the chapters i have been assigned, and to the book i say good riddance!! its a textbooi just realized i dont need this book anymore!! i have read all the chapters i have been assigned, and to the book i say good riddance!! its a textbook, so i wasnt expecting it to be the best book i ever read or anything, but now it is all behind me. its not bad, just unthrilling. i am going to win library school!!!...more
screw this book. im so glad to see the end of this class. i will never catalog. ever. after my final on monday (which i will ace, bitches...), i willscrew this book. im so glad to see the end of this class. i will never catalog. ever. after my final on monday (which i will ace, bitches...), i will never ever think about this material again. i emailed my professor today with a question (and hes a sweetheart, its not his fault this subject matter is a trainwreck) and he responded with "oh, theres a really good chapter on this - chapter 17. you should read it". no shit. i already read it three times. it is, by no stretch of the imagination, "really good". maybe it is really good to nerds, but to me it is gibberishy. i am skipping work to study for this (and to make sweet potatoes) and it had better be worth it. i miss work already....more