website stats
When I am Copyeditor General ...: October 2008


Hallowe'en will not scare me

There are only eight more days to Hallowe'en (and yes, it has an apostrophe, dammit!) and I still don't know what to wear. I could go with something topical, such as:

Well, that must be an anomaly, because—

Oh, come on! The guy has only been front-page news for the last two years; it's not as though you've had no chance to see his name written down.

But I understand; his name is unusual. At least that (other) one has a more common name:

Okay, maybe we should move away from politics. How about dressing as a pop star?

Hm ... some sort of Spears/Spongebob hybrid, perhaps?

Apparently it's just too much trouble for some companies to spellcheck the names of extremely famous people.

How about a historical costume?

Perhaps we should look to more traditional Hallowe'en disguises: ghosts and witches and so on. And then what?

All right, that's it. No costumes at all this year. I'll just decorate the house. Does anyone have any tips?

Copyeditor General's ruling: I'm considering spending October 31 in an abandoned hospital next to a cemetery where bats roost. After seeing the frightening amount of poorly proofed Hallowe'en copy, it won't be scary at all.


Signwriters won't make up new movies

I still remember reading the movie listings in my local paper in 1987 and howling with laughter on seeing that my hometown theater was showing the Jack Nicholson/Susan Sarandon film Richard of Eastwick.

So I felt quite nostalgic when I saw the offerings at the Fresh Pond Cinema the other week.

Copyeditor General's ruling: I'm not too sure about Ghoast Town, but frankly Knights in Rodanthe would have made for a much more interesting narrative.

Oh, also, the listings on the other side of the board had Righteous spelled wronglyous.


Even magvertorials will have real editors

Sometimes I have to go looking for examples of poor grammar, and sometimes they just land in my lap. The latter happened this week at the hair salon, where I discovered the magazine North End Scene, published by DePasquale Ventures, which owns a number of Italian food outlets.

The North End is not an area I know well. But as it's crammed with restaurants, bakeries and an increasing number of hip boutiques, I feel I should get a better sense of its contents. So I started to read.

Let's leave aside the fact that the best feature—interviews with Boston hotel concierges—is unrelated to the North End, and skip straight to the good stuff, in order of reverse heinousness.

First up, the conclusion to an article about buying cheese for a party:

First of all, if you're writing a food article, could you please check brand-name style? It's Ritz crackers (or, according to the Nabisco site, Ritz®).

Side note: the current online Ritz campaign has the most awesome wording on its opening page ever. If it's no longer up, don't worry: I saved a screenshot.

And what's with the punctuation here? That comma after "extraordinary" should really be a colon. And that's without considering whether the intended (upscale) audience for this mag would view buying a selection of imported cheeses as an "extraordinary" action.

Moving on. The next one's pretty long, and needs more space than this narrow layout allows, so please to read it here.

Oh, where to begin? The observation that "American women" (all of them, one imagines) "literally have their bank accounts hanging in their closets"? The writer's unchecked disagreement with the opinion of "any 'fashionista'"?

The line describing Valentino's 45-year career, followed by another noting that he's worked in the fashion industry for at least 48 years?

Or how about the way this writer re-invents "to profess" as a reflexive verb? Genius!

And for those who literally explode when they see misuse of "literally," there's more:

He literally lives in a lifestyle dictated by a fantasy world! And there are no normal people!

Why does it not surprise me that Alisa Kapinos, the writer of this article, is also the magazine's editor in chief?

But all of this pales into comparison with the simple beauty of one of the most egregious basic errors I have ever seen in print.

In a clumsy approximation of an upscale travel article—the type that says things like "we meet and greet beneath flowing waterfalls"—is this jaw-dropper:

What? WHAT? "The bow-shaped boat, what used to be the traditional means of transportation ..."

Copyeditor General's ruling: It's perfectly acceptable for a company that owns multiple restaurants to create a glossy magazine whose central goal is to promote those businesses. But as I've said many times before, you can't overlook the details.

If you're trying to brand yourself as a model of upscale sophistication, you have to hire people who can write and edit.

Or is North End Scene an accurate reflection of the dining experience at Bricco or Umbria: a veneer of style hiding poorly executed dishes?
Add to Technorati Favorites