Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The gun to the writer’s head

April 30, 2022

From Facebook discussion on 4/28 triggered by Heidi Harley’s report from the world of apps:

I just learned about this from Twitter and am mesmerized. Just the thought makes me sweat, but I kind of want to try and see how much prose I can generate in a fixed time period. Basically the way it works is you set a timer and start writing, and if you stop for any longer than 5 seconds before the end of your timer, it deletes all your words.

From Wikipedia:

The Most Dangerous Writing App is a web application for free writing that combats writer’s block by deleting all progress if the user stops typing for five seconds. It is targeted at creative writers who want to write first drafts without worrying about editing or formatting.

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The logic of syntax

March 27, 2022

I had two postings in preparation about moments of great joy from yesterday: one from the music that greeted me on awakening in the morning; the other from the plants in Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens, visited yesterday morning on my first trip out in the world for many weeks.

Then fresh posting topics rolled in alarmingly, and a search for background material led me by accident to a great surprise, a link to a tape of a public lecture (a bit over an hour long) at Iowa State University on 4/11/90, 32 years ago. Title above. The subtitle: Thinking about language theoretically.

I listened transfixed as the lecturer, speaking to a general university audience, took his listeners into the wilds of modern theoretical syntax, along the way deftly advancing some ways of thinking that guided his own research. An admirable bit of teaching, I thought. With some pride, because that lecturer was, of course, an earlier incarnation of me.

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From the culture desk: admirable words, admirable things

September 2, 2021

(Plain-spoken appreciative references to penises and fellatio, plus an extended and explicit man-on-man sex scene, so not appropriate for kids or the sexually modest.)

Gastronomy, essays, calliphallicity, poetry. Starting with the New Yorker on 9/6/21 — “Food & Drink: An Archival Issue” — in a “Gastronomy Recalled” column there. From the print magazine, the head and subhead for the piece:


(#1) From the great gastronomic essayist M. F. K. Fisher

Then from the on-line magazine, this version, with the accompanying photo (by Carl Mydans / The LIFE Picture Collection / Shutterstock) and its caption:

(#2)
One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dish.

But, with my imperfect aged eyes — I now misread things so often I’ve pretty much stopped cataloging my errors — and my penis-attuned brain — I am an unapologetic phallophile —  what I read was:

One does not need to be a king to indulge his senses with a dick.

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Z & G tumble into a thesaurus

April 10, 2021

Yesterday’s Zippy strip has Zippy and Griffy falling into a delirium of word attraction, savoring a smorgasbord of colorful synonyms, plundering the Rogetian treasures:

(#1)

592 is the compendium section of Peter Mark Roget’s 1852 Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. If we’re to trust Bill Griffith, the 1st edition had numbered subsections, and 592.4 had the words thesaurus, index, archive, and idioticon (yes, idioticon; see below). The successor edition that I have (the 4th, billed as “Americanized”) has a quite different 592, focused on words for abbreviated compendia, like resumé and summary — but the volume does have the word thesaurus, in four different sections. Details below, after I give you some background.

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The crusty old editor speaks

February 2, 2019

The author of the little — 67-page — guidebook The Old Editor Says: Maxims for Writing and Editing (first published in 2013), the old-school newspaper editor John E. McIntyre, writing as a curmudgeonly, sometimes imperious, character of the same name, as seen on the book’s front cover:


(#1) The name of this image file is McIntyreOldEdtor.jpg; that fact will eventually become significant

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Air spelling

May 14, 2018

Yesterday’s Doonesbury, Mark Slackmeyer interviewing an Oklahoma teacher on the radio:

Um… misspell?

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The way I write now

May 9, 2018

Or: Arnauld le flâneur.

(Edward Gorey caught unawares.)

On 3/15/17 in “Lauren la flâneuse”:

[from Wikipedia] Flâneur … means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer” [the person of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street]. Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations.

Here flânerie refers not just to the act, but also to the reporting of the act — to a literary genre, of which I am an exponent.

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Four more recent cartoons

January 28, 2018

Four cartoons yesterday that present interesting challenges in understanding. Now a mixed set of four more — a Zits, a Zippy, a One Big Happy, and a Dilbert — that have accumulated in my posting queue.

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??That is aliens for you.

November 21, 2017

From Mike Pope on Facebook a few days ago, this excerpt from Ian Frazier’s “New York’s Majestic Passage in the Sky: Revamping the Bayonne Bridge to make space for megaships” in the 11/13/17 New Yorker:

(#1)

Mike wrote:

I can’t decide here whether this is weird. In the New Yorker, a sentence where I think I’d expect a contraction (“That’s xxx for you!”). Is this an editor bending the idiom to house style, or is this a not untypical variant?

Two things: the acceptability of the example (at best, it merits the stigma ?? of great dubiousness); and the circumstances that might have given rise to ??That is aliens for you (not at all clear, but advice on style and usage might be part of the story).

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Exercises in commercial style

November 6, 2017

Two recent pieces of p.r. ad-talk: one over the top with business jargon; one framed as a lifestyle or fashion ad. Both touting a preposterous product: a podcast about the “facets and opportunities” of death; a notebook of paper infused with the proprietary scent of a tech company.

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