You Don't Say
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 email@example.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/.
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.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
These photos, which recently surfaced in a folder deep in a file cabinet, were from the workshop I conducted there at the invitation of Pam Robinson.
Over the nineteen years since, as I have come to examine the things about English usage that I had been taught, looking at evidence in Bryan Garner's four edition of his usage manual, at the evidence presented by lexicographers and linguists about usage, and at the evidence of my own eyes, the advice in that workshop has undergone revision.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
A few weeks ago, there he was, the bane of my life in the third and fourth grades, my principal bully. I was a skinny bookworm and teacher's pet. He was bigger, more muscular, a halting student at best, and he was seldom at his best. He enjoyed tormenting me.
Now he is dead, an old guy, like me, apparently mourned by his daughters.
I don't visualize him as an adult with children. He is fixed in my head as he was then. The subsequent fifty-five years don't signify. (I will not describe him further, because he has children who mourn him.)
There is the problem. He is fixed in my head.
He, and the subordinate bullies who sometimes chimed in, established in my mind that I am someone to be bullied, someone who lacks power, someone with no recourse. My parents and teachers knew that I felt bullied, but they were at a loss to do anything beyond allowing the children to work it out on their own.
My bully, to my astonishment, metamorphosed into adult for whom someone could bear affection. I, in turn, metamorphosed into an adult with a family, a profession, a reputation, a standing.
But I am also someone who typically shies away from conflict and confrontation, because I was thoroughly programmed early on to see myself as unable to prevail in such circumstances.
Sixty-five years old, and I could still use some work.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Surely you don't think that it's wholesome for him to drink alone.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
And if your bright-eyed scholar aspires to be a writer, you may also have thrown in a copy of Strunk and White.
Well, mistakes are made. But they can be corrected.
At Amazon.com you can find, for an exceedingly modest price, The Old Editor Says, a pithy compilation of invaluable advice about writing and editing. Grammar Girl loved it, and your embryo Scott Fitzgerald or Max Perkins will benefit enormously.
Operators are standing by.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
"They that have never peep't beyond the common belief in which their easier understandings were at first indoctrinated, are indubitabely assur'd of the Truth, and comparative excellence of their receptions, while the larger Souls, that have travail'd the divers Climates of Opinions, are more cautious in their resolves, and more sparing to determine."
Thursday, July 14, 2016
This afternoon, as the sun heats up Baltimore to a muggy ninety-five degrees, it will also be running the fan on our air conditioner.