John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and random topics. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. The original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/, at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/, and now at https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/columnists/mcintyre/
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Friday, December 8, 2017
Though we took him to a vet for his first shots and were assured of his good health, he developed feline leukemia anyhow and was with us for only two years.
I don't want to be mawkish, but he was a cat with a big personality. A boulevardier, he sauntered along the streets of our neighborhood, paying calls at various houses. And he was affectionate. Every time he returned to grace us with his presence and I picked him up and slung him over my shoulder like a baby, he purred so loudly he could be heard in the next room.
My plan was that after I left the paragraph factory, Mr. Saunders would be the cat of my retirement. As I sat on the porch reading (don't tell Kathleen I was going to be sitting on the porch reading books instead of doing yard work), he would doze companionably on the chair across from me.
But he is gone into the realm of what would have been.
Miss Massie lives with us now, and she is an excellent cat, though perhaps not as enthusiastic for me as her predecessor. It is a good thing to have a cat in the window.
We suffer great griefs, major losses, and learn to bear up. But the little losses, too, leave a pang.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
It has been a wet spring, delaying planting, and a farmer has been out in his fields from sunup to sundown, hastening to get his crops in.
One day his little boy comes down to the field and says, "Daddy, Daddy, Mama says the 'Piscopal preacher has come to call."
His father says, "Son, I can't leave the field. Go back to the house and tell your mama to make him a cup of coffee and send him on his way."
The next day, his little boy comes down to the field and says, "Daddy, Daddy, Mama says the Presbyterian preacher has come to call."
His father says, "Son, I just can't leave the spring plowing. Go back to the house and tell your mama to fry him a chicken and send him on his way."
The day after that, his little boy comes down to the field and says, "Daddy, Daddy, Mama says the Baptist preacher has come to call."
His father says, "Son, you run back to the house as fast as you can and you sit on your mama's lap till I get there. I'll be right behind you."
Note to readers: If you find this offensive, please feel free to adjust the order or substitute denominations of your choice. This is not a canonical joke.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Lists of important or best or essential books are going to be so arbitrary, idiosyncratic, or boringly conventional that they are a waste of your time. I have a better idea for identifying important books: Tell me which ones you have read more than once.
I'll go first.
As winter approaches, I'm hoping for a snowed-in day, on which I can brew a pot of tea and settle down with Trollope's Barchester Towers, which I re-read with profound satisfaction every ten years or so. (Or perhaps I will pick up Eliot's Middlemarch, which I read forty years ago. I can't stand any of Eliot's other novels, but I loved every word of Middlemarch. And if it is more than one snow day in a row, I may pick up Boswell's Life of Johnson, one of the best books ever written.)
I have read Randall Jarrell's Pictures From an Institution three or four times since discovering as an undergraduate at Michigan State in Roger Meiners's class on the midcentury American poets. It's an academic novel, urbane and epigrammatic.
The other academic novel I've returned to repeatedly is Nabokov's Pnin. Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada, splendid as they are, require some work from the reader, but Pnin is pure delight throughout.
All of Barbara Pym's novels, particularly Excellent Women. Very British, quiet and understated, like Jane Austen, and, also like Austen, merciless about her characters without being cruel.
I go back from time to time to John Cheever's collected short stories and Joan Didion's essays.
For the low tastes that every writer and editor should cultivate, since high school I periodically re-read my way through Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe murder mysteries. As I have said before on a number of occasions, at the end of a long day of working with professional journalists, nothing gives greater pleasure than a comfortable chair, a good light, a drink at your elbow, and a book in which disagreeable people meet violent death.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
I plan to be at Ryan's Daughter at Belvedere Square on Sunday, approximately 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., for a restorative pint or two (I believe they also serve non-alcoholic beverages) and would welcome conversation with any reader of the blog who should happen by.
Some days there's live Irish music.
Friday, July 14, 2017
As winter wore on, Kathleen found it increasingly bleak to come home to an empty house in the evenings while I was at work. So, though we had thought not to rush into finding another cat, she began researching.
And she found a notice of a rescue cat, a female ginger tabby who had been abandoned at a gas station in Winchester, Virginia, after the death of the woman in whose house she lived.
We applied to the rescue agency, we passed muster, we were granted an interview, and we met Massie.
The young woman who was fostering her named the cat Massanutten for the mountain near Winchestewr, "Massie" for short, and the name stuck. She was very shy with us at the interview, and we wondered whether we would be congenial if we adopted her.
No worries. She is very much a lap cat. She dozes in the afternoons on the cat tree by the window in what was once our son's room. She will scramble up and down the hall for the red dot of the laser pointer, which she understands that we operate. She has quite an odd quirk: When in one's lap, being stroked and purring, she will lash about with her tail and thwack the human repeatedly.
We are, for good or ill, cat people. We knew that no other cat could be to us what the late Mr. Saunders was, but Miss Massie has made a place for herself in our home and in our affections.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Yesterday, after eighty-four days in the neonatal intensive care unit, Julian, having passed all the tests, was released from the hospital and is home with my son and daughter-in-law. He looks grand, and all is well.
Next week I will be in Chicago to assist his fledgling parents in meeting his demands.
It is possible that there may be some stray moments away from bottles and diapers, and if any of who in Chicago who read this blog would like to meet for a coffee, please let me know. It may be possible.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Monday, January 16, 2017
Their high standards were in evidence in their quick and decisive evaluations of men on a dating site one had called up on her cellphone, but that palled and the conversation turned to excursions at friends' weddings.
There was a good bit of detail about getting hammered on the party bus and about staying awake for an entire night after multiple rounds of Red Bull and vodka. It was at that point that the bartender, who, like me, had been a silent listener, remarked that his bar didn't offer Red Bull. One of the young women commented, "At the bars in center city Philly, to keep the kids from Jersey out, they won't stock Red Bull."
I offer this bit of learning to friends and colleagues who also enjoy an occasional quiet pint: Your chances of avoiding the company of obnoxious drinkers will improve if you first ascertain that the bar does not stock Red Bull.