John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An editor's haiku

The coffee is hot,
my hands poised above the text,
its vitals exposed

Regard the comma,
apt with the compound sentence,
not with compound verbs

An expanse of white,
regular ranks of black type,
and slashes of red

The patient labor
of the lexicographer
embiggens our tongue

So sweeping the claims,
so erratic the result —
Wikipedia

The writer who knows
how to use “comprise” rightly
will rise to heaven

Give up explaining
suspensive hyphenation;
insert as needed

A reporter’s hand
reaches for a thesaurus;
screams die in my throat

Too many “touches”
in processing the copy —
layoffs now impend

This writer’s in luck:
I have been turned down to serve
on a death panel

Too many hours
on a chair in the basement
perusing the Web

Previous efforts
emphasize the feebleness
of the work today

Best of Baltimore?

I tried to contribute today to the City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2009 reader poll, mainly to nominate Elizabeth Large’s Dining@Large as the best local blog, but the software wouldn’t accept my nominations because I had fewer than 25.*

Anyhow, here are my nominations, along with a couple of categories in which I have views but no choices:

Best Neighborhood: Hamilton (of course)

Best Local Landmark: Fort McHenry

Best Park: Druid Hill

Best Place to Take Out of Town Visitors: Visionary Arts Museum

Best Oriole, Best Raven, Best Local Sportscaster: Oh please

Best Local Journalist: No entry here — not clear whether the category can include unemployed as well as employed, and I have just about as many colleagues in the former category as the latter

Best Local Publication: The Baltimore Sun, even in eclipse

Best Local Blog: Dining@Large. Elizabeth Large not only offers sound advice on food and restaurants, but she has fostered a genuine Web community among her readers. Come for the food; stay for the topic drift.

Best Independent Bookstore: Ivy Bookshop

Best Auto Repair Shop: Apple Auto on Harford Road (Hamilton again)

Best Liquor Store: Wells

Best Local Beer: Resurrection

Best Neighborhood Bar: Hamilton Tavern

Best Movie Theater: Senator (with hopes for its survival)

Best Reason We Should Invite You to the Best of Baltimore Party: 1. Last year I was working at The Sun and couldn’t attend; this year it appears that I’ll be free. 2. I didn’t nominate my own blog. 3. Sit next to me, and I’ll tell you stories.

Want to dispute choices? Want to add categories? You know what the comments function is for.



*Copy editors don’t get out much. Besides the City Paper categories don’t offer much for a person of my advancing years. Now if there had been a Best Bar Where You Can Have a Conversation Without Having to Shout Over the Music category ...