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/.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day 6

When I woke at six o’clock, the snow had stopped, having deposited three inches or so overnight, but now it has resumed, and we are apparently to feel the brunt of the storm through the day. So far, the power has not failed.

Some events to date:

Item: Yesterday afternoon, with Diana in the cat carrier, Alice and Kathleen close behind, I made my way past the Value City furniture van stuck in the snow at the end of the block, and over to Laurelton, where Alice’s ride back to Garrison Forest School waited. Both daughter and cat are warm and secure in the dormitory.

Item: Elizabeth Large announced her impending retirement as restaurant critic and blogger at The Baltimore Sun. Dining@Large, which will cease publication, has been a remarkable success, on some days outdrawing the paper’s sports blogs, and establishing a rare community of articulate and entertaining readers. They are called the Sandbox, which did not please everyone, but you go with the nickname you have, not the nickname you want.

Elizabeth was one of my favorite colleagues at The Sun, someone with whom it was a pleasure to talk about food or blogging or the personalities in the newsroom and or the essential looniness of the newspaper business in its last days. Her good humor was unfailing, even when she was hard pressed. No one better deserves the ease of retirement, and no one will be more missed.

Item: Of course, amid the outpouring of affection and regard in the comments on her announcement, there was one jarring note. Someone writing as “Sadie” commented:

Happy for you but frankly i'm not sad. It was clear that you weren't happy with your job - it was increasingly rare for you to treat us to an actual review rather than asking your readership to do your job for you by writing about our own experiences. The point of a professional reviewer is to share with us your vast knowledge of cuisine etc. I don't care what Joe down the street thinks - You are paid to use your expertise and review restaurants. Maybe the Sun will be able to find a reviewer who will enjoy their job, actually review restaurants and possibly come close to what the Post has in Tom Sietsema.

Those who have actually read the newspaper are aware that Elizabeth has maintained her standard schedule of reviews without faltering. The blogging, including posts on her days off and during vacations, was in addition to her reviews and articles for the print edition. Further, Sadie appears not to understand what a blog is and how it works.

Thus she illustrates that characteristic feature of the Internet, the combination of ignorance with effrontery.

Happily, some Sandbox regulars, in the self-policing that has been a notable feature of Dining@Large, called Sadie to account. Shut up, they explained.

Item: As I walked back to the house after seeing Alice off, I got a telephone call informing me that I had been passed over for another job. After nine and a half months out of work, this no longer strikes me as a momentous event.

Item: Today, as several people have discovered on Facebook, is my fifty-ninth birthday. A bottle of prosecco is chilling in the refrigerator, and we will open it at dinner to toast the years past and the years ahead. Unemployment and THE WHITE DEATH FROM THE SKY have not done me in.

18 comments:

  1. Happy birthday! I love birthdays....

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  2. Happy birthday, John. Sounds like it should be a well-deserved joyous day. It'll take more than snow and idleness to do you in.

    (At least you got a phone call. Even that is a rare commodity these days.)

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  3. Happy birthday wishes from Canton!

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  4. Well, I have not got a bottle of prosecco in my refrigerator to enjoy... but have got your blog on my screen to enrich my day.

    Thank you, John.
    I hope you and your loving family have a nice day together. :)

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  5. Congrats on your 59th birthday. That sounds young to me. In fact, people's 50s are the new awkward adolesence -- too old to easily find work, too young for pensions and Social Security. The perfect age, given today's economy, is 106. A sickly 106. The perfect age for a journalist today might be 109.

    But we must remain cheerful as the snow blows past our windows horizontally, seekly drifts to pile higher and trees to crush. All we know for sure, as the storm blasts away, is that the poor will suffer the most. Incidentally, there ought to be a rule that the wealthy may not complain about anything, not even about the poor, certainly not about snow. Got a net worth over $3 million? Can't complain. Another rule: If you don't shovel your own walk and driveway, you can't complain about the snow.

    Happy Birthday! You'd be three candles removed from SS except the minimum age will probably be raised.

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  6. Best wishes for a very happy birthday!

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  7. Happy birthday, John!

    And I hear you on the phone call thing. For me, it's been 16 months. Sigh...

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  8. Happy Birthday, Mr McIntyre. I hope the snow stops falling soon. After 8 months out of work myself, I re-enter the workforce next week. I never imagined in my wildest nightmares I'd be out of work this long. And I know I'm among the fortunate. I think I'll be able to hang on to my house now, with the help of some good friends and good fortune. Good luck to you and best wishes for the year ahead.

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  9. Happy Birthday, Prof McI!

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  10. Happy birthday, Professor McIntyre.

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  11. Happy birthday John McIntyre. Many more to come!

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  12. Many happy returns of the day, Prof. McIntyre. Good luck with the job search--I hear the Sun is looking for a restaurant critic.

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  13. I'm still laughing....but I just have to comment. First of all, Happy Birthday! Second, I love that your blog posts are always the exact, correct length. Never too long, and never too short. Third, I'm still laughing! The phrases "the combination of ignorance with effrontery" and "Shut up, they explained." will linger in my mind for several days now, making me chuckle at odd moments.

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  14. Of all the blogs born at baltimoresun.com, yours and Elizabeth's have been my favorite. You showed that mastering the new media is best done by someone who already has mastered the language as well as the subject. Actually, in your case, they are one and the same.

    Elizabeth, though she wrote for the paper and the blog, never seemed to mind when I would talk restaurants with her at the gym. She truly loved her job, and it showed.

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  15. Happy Birthday!
    I love reading your blog for the humor and insights you give to life and the English language.
    Keep fighting that white death!

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  16. *◄:o)╥╥~YumPorchettaFebruary 11, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Buon compleanno, Professore. Enjoy the Prosecco -- a fine way to celebrate.

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  17. Ha! I have to say, bold-faced "THE WHITE DEATH FROM THE SKY" is probably the best encapsulation of the weather forecast frenzy I've seen -- including the reaction in Chicago (my fair city), where I'm pretty sure our meteorologists were just jealous of the snowy doom elsewhere. Nicely done, you. :)

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