I don’t know if there’s a way to search how many times I use words ending in “ly,” but I’m taking a vow today: No more adverbs. OK, fewer adverbs. OK, just no more of the bad ones.
Which are? The ones that appear in newspapers these days. The big three chapping my ass at the moment are “deeply religious,” “wept openly” and my current bete noire, “visibly shaken.”
There was an upset in the mayoral primary in Fort Wayne Tuesday. A reporter describes the scene at GOP headquarters:
Peters, who had the backing of the majority of Republican elected officials, left Republican headquarters on Main Street visibly shaken. “You don’t embark on a process like this without feeling you’ll prevail,” he said.
The first sentence writes the check; the quote bounces it. The candidate in question is a veteran pol and corporate HR executive, something of a career bureaucrat, and I bet the last time he was visibly shaken was when the Hurryin’ Hoosiers were upset at Assembly Hall. Yes, he was the favorite, but “visibly shaken,” to me, means he was pale, trembling, confused, teary, whatever. And if he was, then say so, dammit.
“Wept openly” — there’s another one. I suppose it’s possible to hide one’s weeping, behind your hands or in a bathroom somewhere, but if you’re in a position where you’re visible to others, your weeping is pretty open. You’re not fooling anyone with that “I must have something in my eye” trick, you know. “Wept unashamed” is better, if you have to point it out. (I had an editor once, Richard the Fabulous, who had the most deadpan sense of humor on the planet. He liked to say, “I wept openly” in describing some cheesy movie he’d just seen; it was code for “boy, did that suck.”)
“Deeply religious” — we all know what that means. Crazy religious.
Oy. It’s been a week, hasn’t it? I feel as though all I’ve done is rattle keys and approve comments. Thanks to all who stopped by, but if I’m going to make a living I can’t sustain this pace. Deadlines are callin’ and today I sign a contract for my summer project — text for a coffee-table book. Why Nance, you’re asking. Doesn’t that boil down to “cutlines?” No, it doesn’t. But it doesn’t add up to a 90,000-word manuscript, either. More like 20K, for a book with a nice history theme, which means lots of library research, old photos, microfilm and, because this is a Detroit project, deep sighing. It’s impossible to look at What Was in this city without mourning What It All Came To. I can be fairly dispassionate about the way societies change — the wheels turn, etc. — but “no regrets” isn’t really in my DNA, either. I’m not a Detroit defeatist; the city remains, even in its ruin, endlessly interesting and worth sticking around to see what comes next. But it was once something so grand, and you have to give that a moment of silence, too.
More on this project as it gels.
Do we have bloggage today? We do.
One night last week, someone firebombed an abandoned house on Caldwell Street in northeast Detroit that was 4 feet from a home occupied by 22-year-old Adrian Griffin, a small, taut woman who awoke in a bedroom radiating heat like an oven.
When she opened her eyes, she saw flames from next door licking through a cracked window. She jumped out of bed and rousted her younger brother and sister. They escaped and stood on the sidewalk, watching the flames consume their home.
As she stood there, Griffin said, she thought to herself: “Is that fire engine smoking?” Yes, that was smoke. It was pouring out of the motor of the principal pumper engine on the scene, and it eventually forced the firefighters to shut down the pumper and rely on other equipment.
You live next door to an abandoned house, which is then firebombed by an arsonist, which sets your own house on fire, and the fire fighters arrive, and the pumper breaks down. Someone once told me that “living on the south side of Fort Wayne is a political act,” probably with an index finger raised in the air. But let it be said: Living on the south side of Fort Wayne is to living in Detroit what watching “Black Hawk Down” is to actually fighting on the streets of Mogadishu.
Meanwhile, Golden Wheel honoree Ron hits another one out of the park with his explication of how Michigan teachers will end up bankrupting us all. OK, a bit of overstatement, but not much. Probably not for non-Mitten residents, but for all interested in how these things get out of hand.
That’s it for me. On to the gym; my knee’s finally up for more abuse.