Little cat feet.

“Patchy dense fog,” the guy on the radio said this morning. I guess they can’t say “lovely wisps of water vapor will cling to low-lying areas, including creek bottoms and golf courses, catching the early morning light in opaque streaks of loveliness that remind us of the dying of the season,” but that’s what it looked like as I drove Kate to school this morning. I’m not supposed to drive the morning shift, but as I said yesterday, it’s good to get out of your rut from time to time. Sometimes you see the morning light in new ways.

Then I came home and read this story, from AnnArbor.com, which replaced the daily newspaper there a few years back, and discovered I’m the same old grump. On just one readthrough, I spotted facts repeated in adjacent paragraphs, the governor’s name misspelled and windy quotes that needed a trim. Argh:

Dennis says, if passed, the bill would be an insurmountable blow to U-M.

“Surmount” and its variants apply to obstacles and other things you have to get over or around, not blows, even figurative ones. I’m sure two or three more reads would turn up more fat and gas, but editing brave new experiments in journalism isn’t my job. (Well, yes it is, but not this one.) Point these things out to people who aren’t in the journo-biz, and they look at you funny, but dammit, EDITING MATTERS. Proper use of quotes matters a lot. This is how you don’t do it:

“I am concerned for the university as a whole,” Dennis said. “It would be a really damaging blow to the university’s reputation as a fair and humane employer. I think it would cause us to lose faculty and never get them back.”

“It would just be tragic for the university,” he added.

I tell my students: Avoid using quotes to carry information. Use them to comment on the information. They are the pinpoint spotlights of storytelling, drawing your eye to important or interesting facts. The first and last lines of that four-sentence quote are unnecessary. In a squeeze, so is the second one.

Everybody loves the last scene of “A River Runs Through It,” but my favorite is the Zen writing lesson:

NARRATOR: Each weekday, while my father worked on his Sunday sermon, I attended the school of the Reverend Maclean. He taught nothing but reading and writing. And being a Scot, believed that the art of writing lay in thrift.

NORMAN turns in his essay.

REV. MACLEAN: (handing it back) Half as long.

NARRATOR: So while my friends spent their days at Missoula Elementary, I stayed home and learned to write the American language.

NORMAN turns in another draft.

REV. MACLEAN: (handing it back) Again, half as long.

NORMAN turns in a third draft.

REV. MACLEAN: Good. Now throw it away.

Throw it away! Now that’s a man who knows the value of words on paper. Every so often a group of Buddhist monks show up at the Allen County Public Library and spend several days making a sand mandala in one of the public spaces, after which it is poured into the river. That’s all we do, although newspaper people have the added thrill of knowing their words are now lining my rabbit cage.

Let’s hop quick to the bloggage, so I can get a workout in today:

The Onion proves, once again, that it is America’s truly indispensable news source:

A team of leading archaeologists announced Monday they had uncovered the remains of an ancient job-creating race that, at the peak of its civilization, may have provided occupations for hundreds of thousands of humans in the American Northeast and Midwest.

The latest from Chest magazine (yes, it exists): Your blue jeans may have killed Turkish garment workers. Have a nice day!

One for Connie, Beth and the rest of you librarians and archivists, via MMJeff, a library mystery that reminds me, a little bit, of the guy who leaves cognac and roses on Edgar Allen Poe’s grave every year.

Jon Corzine, financial genius, nearly bails out of the company he ruined with a measly $12 million severance package. I can’t stand it.

Happy Tuesday to all.

Posted at 10:06 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |
 

46 responses to “Little cat feet.”

  1. MarkH said on November 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Nance, to be fair, Corzine did not get that package. Nocera makes it clear, that had he sold MF, no matter how bargain basement the final stock price, Corzine would have still got that obscene number. But he did not succeed as chapter 11 intervened. Just another Wall Street carcass, so no cash for you, Jon.

  2. nancy said on November 1, 2011 at 10:44 am

    True dat. Clarified.

  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Sadly, it appears that the Poe Toaster (or, as most suspect in Baltimore, the son) is no more. The tradition, such as it was for an era, is dead. I’m listening to the whooshing sound of deadlines today, or I’d look up the cite, but Google/Bing “Jeff Jerome”/Baltimore/Poe/cognac/roses and see the latest stories for details, not that anyone really knows.

  4. Kaye said on November 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    The treasures popping up in libraries are a wonderful gift and the mystery is a huge part of the charm. You’ve reminded me to share this wonderful story which was initially a surprise for a small Ohio library. http://tinyurl.com/3m22mj5 Perhaps the librarians and/or authors among this blog’s readership can magic similar magic in other communities.

  5. Chris in Iowa said on November 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for the reminder of “A River Runs Through It.” I’ve always loved that movie and that is one of my favorite scenes.

  6. Connie said on November 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I love those paper artworks, I had seen the first two in the library lit and am just delighted to see the rest. We have some collage art work done by a local artist using only things found in library books, which are great fun. Amazing things are found in library books, bills, cards, doilies, valentines…. I did once find an individually wrapped cheese slice.

    The real art work in my library life right now is the demolition of the back end of my building, which used to be a country club. Removing two locker rooms is like having two bedrooms magically appear at your house. Though I currently have several desks and folding tables stacked in my office floor space, as well as 9 people working in a space usually occupied by 5 right outside my office door. I just keep telling them all that surviving construction is all about going with the flow, and we’re doing pretty good.

    I am just back from a road ribbon cutting, the Detroit CBS news was there, perhaps you’ll see me in the crowd on the news if you’re in the Detroit metro area.

    Another benefit of working in a former golf course complex is the amazing wildlife in the nearby wetlands. For the past week this has been a regular sight on the road to the library: http://aroundcommerce.blogspot.com/2011/10/sandhill-cranes.html

    And hey guys, sight, site, cite, get them straight, one of my pet peeves.

  7. nancy said on November 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

    The last passage of that book was read at my wedding. I can nearly quote it from memory, but when I just tried to, I forgot the line I bolded here:

    Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

    I think Norman Maclean should have cut that one.

  8. Dave said on November 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

    The monks were at the library last week when we stopped by to seek out some books we didn’t want to wait on. We had no idea that they take it to the river when they’re done. I was struck by how it appeared that about three of them appeared to be working industriously on it and the rest were standing around and wondered if each one had a role to play, each one adding their own part. Does anyone know?

  9. LAMary said on November 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I never saw the movie, but I remember being knocked out by the book and annoying the shit out of everyone by going on about it.

  10. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 1, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Dave, there are always monks whose job it is, as the mandala is formed, to meditate on visualizing the painting as three-dimensional, which adds to the power of it for all who witness it; that’s what I’ve learned as to a Kalachakra sand mandala, anyhow. I’d rather have that task assignment than have to sprinkle fine lines of colored sand, but I drink more coffee than the average Tibetan monk, too.

    Only our Nancy would edit MacLean. Yet, she’s right. I miss being edited, I really do.

  11. Sue said on November 1, 2011 at 11:59 am

    “three of them appeared to be working industriously on it and the rest were standing around”
    Were they leaning on shovels or brooms or something?

  12. Deborah said on November 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    A few years back some Tibetan monks made a sand mandala at the St. Louis Art Museum. It was fairly large, they started in the center and moved out as you would expect. Some were sitting around meditating in a circle surrounding, while others worked. One guy “meditating” was drooling, so I assumed he was asleep.

  13. Maggie Jochild said on November 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    As much as I loved the book “A River Runs Through It”, I loved his “Young Men and Fire” even more. I now have an enduring fixation on the Mann Gulch fire and on smokejumpers in general. And the example of Wag Dodge is one that my brain brings up and reminds me about at least weekly: In extremis, you will either remember or invent impossible solutions, if you believe in your own ability.

  14. Joe Kobiela said on November 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    If you want to see a captain earn his pay, check out the Chicagoe Tribune Vidio of the Boeing 767 landing wheels up. That airplane will be fixed and in less than a year. One hell of a good job.
    Pilot Joe

  15. Jim Moehrke said on November 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Knowing the proprietress’ choice of pets, I thought you all would enjoy these photos: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-25-best-pictures-from-the-2011-european-rabbit

  16. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Sandblasting is dangerous to the blasters? Who would have thought. Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. No shit Sherlock. This surprises somebody? Breathing dust is not healthy for humans.

    We have wonderful sounds in the air today. Chopsaws and framing hammers, and mortar mixers. Houses being built. Meskins and rednecks at work, and enjoying each others company. I never read A River Runs Through It, and haven’t seen the movie. Tom Skerrit was great on TV, but in the movies, he screwed up Poltergeist beyond belief. He was in that, right? As far as ending on a water theme:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTzA_xesrL8

    “I am haunted by waters” is egregious. Atrocious. Fucking gag-inducing. And Maggie, have you read Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowatt? I’m pretty sure you’d like it if you like a book about fire jumping. In general, the drooling monk is the one on smack.

  17. Bitter Scribe said on November 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    In my current job on a trade magazine, there is no one, I mean literally not a living soul, who sees my copy before it’s published.

    I’m a good enough writer not to need a copy editor as a matter of routine. But it’s still a distinctly uncomfortable situation.

  18. Sherri said on November 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I second the recommendation of “Young Men and Fire.” I love books that tell me the story from a variety of angles: the characters, the politics, the science and engineering involved, etc. Maclean does that, and writes well on top of that. “Young Men and Fire” is one of the books I’m always pestering people to read, along with “Rising Tide” by John M. Barry.

    If we’re lucky, Corzine might face a perp walk instead of a severance package – there seems to be some missing money: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/regulators-investigating-mf-global

  19. paddyo' said on November 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I second that, Bitter Scribe @ 17 — and to be honest, is there anyone at your workplace whom you’d trust to edit your copy as a matter of routine? (Me neither.)

    Since leaving the newspaper biz, I’m haunted by the dearth (if not absence) of expert eyes to catch my mistakes in my federal workplace. I think I’m good enough, too, not to need the routine editing — which means, of course, that I’m still missing my nits, and sometimes larger ones. Nobody gets out unscathed by self-inflicted errors without a good editor. Nobody.

  20. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Does anybody think Kommissar Karl Rove isn’t behind the Cain expose? And Limbaugh is calling it racism. Godamighty what an asshole.

    As far as missing money is concerned, I want Cheney gone to jail over the pallettes of millions. He arranged it and he stole it. And he is most certainly a war criminal. If there is justice in the world, this rank bastard will get his. Inexcusable POS.

    I once worked for an engineering company in Boston, and one of the owners decided I should edit every single piece of correspondence before it left our office. Obviously, this was immenseley burdensome and cut into my real job, which was writing specs for heat pumps. Worst of all was dealing with the hard feelings from people that actually thought, with some reason in fact, that they were decent writers. I despise split infinitives, but that is frequently unreasonable. I dislike prepositions at the ends of sentences. Big Whoop. When you change the words of people that don’t write for a living, hard feelings ensue. This experiment was a disaster. I was also the boss of the word procesing ladies, and they were told not to type a letter unless I’d initialed it. Nucking Futs.

  21. nancy said on November 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Outstanding bunpix, Jim. I see many of them like to “lighten the load” on takeoff.

  22. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Tibetans are grossly over-rated on mandalas. Here in North America, we have the Navajos.

    http://www.penfieldgallery.com/sand.shtml

  23. MarkH said on November 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Wow, what a….surprise. If Ray LaHood thought he’d easily transfer boats in a 2012 republican administration, well, goodbye to all that.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/10/31/ray-lahood-for-gop-colleagues-obama-defeat-more-important-than-jobs.html

  24. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Jim, that woman at the beginning, looks like too many old football coaches that haunt my memories. She looks like she’s telling the bunnies they will end up stew if they don’t clear those hurdles.

  25. Sue said on November 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t know about the journalism world, but in general, if you’re smart, you’ll rely on your secretary or the department secretary to clean up your work for you and catch things. I’ve worked for people who were atrocious word crafters and it was an embarrassment to send their work out – any self-respecting clerical worker, secretary or admin assistant hates the idea that people think she (usually she, yes) is responsible for the p.o.s. that they’re reading, or that people pity her for having to work with someone like that.
    I especially hate the ones who insist on formatting their own stuff as well as writing it; for some reason they never see that a letter hasn’t been centered and is crammed in the upper third of the page with the date invisible because it’s disappeared into the letterhead, or that a report is missing little eyesavers and timesavers like gridlines and page numbers.
    The best boss I’ve ever had is my current one, who seldom needs review but always asks for it and better yet, sometimes ends up discussing suggestions.
    I worked for a guy once who self-edited. He couldn’t get a letter or report out without looking at it at least five times; back and forth it would go as he tweaked it into his idea of perfection. Sometimes he only changed one word, sometimes I swear he only changed one letter. Sometimes the thing would come back practically unreadable with the cross-outs and scribblings between lines and in margins. I used to feel sorry for myself until I talked to his first secretary, who had to work with him before word processors. Oh, and he would send things out for review and then change them all over again, and you would have to save and file each version, because of course you never knew when you might need to refer back to that version (never happened once). The man went through whole continents of trees for his paper supply.

  26. beb said on November 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    caliban, I think the hatch job on Cain is the work of Romney, who would have the money and experience to run an oppo team. Rick Perry doesn’t have the brains to find his way out of a paper bag. Rove could have been involved but I think Romney had the more visceral reason to eliminate the competition.

    Corzine. There seems to be an unstated law that anyone who has ever worked for Goldman Sachs will never be held accountable for their crimes. Now Robert Rubin, Ben Berneicke or Tim Geithner, or the current corporate leaders of that “cosmic vasmpire squid.” Corzine, however has been away from Goldman for too long, been governor, and then ran a small company (compared to Goldman) so that his immunity is all gone. It’s not that client’s money has disappeared, because I’m pretty sure that happened with the big boys in 2008. Corzine will have to suffer for the sins of his betters. That’s all.

  27. Dave said on November 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Sue, no one leaning on rakes and hoes.

    Once upon a time, the supervisors where I worked all drove blue Ford Torinos. One of my co-workers had a blue Ford Torino and he had a lot of fun with it, driving up and watching whatever activity was going on intensify, so to speak. He really missed the fun when they switched to white Chevrolets.

  28. Dave said on November 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I was surprised to learn that Bradford has a public library. Wonder how the author happened to pick out Bradford, the only thing that I know of that Bradford is known for is that it was once the site of a very busy railroad terminal and today has no railroad whatsoever.

    http://bradfordpubliclibrary.org/images/Bradford%20Library%20$10K%20Donation.pdf

    My hometown, Pickerington, OH, was the smallest town in the U. S. to get a Carnegie library. I’m glad they did.

  29. Connie said on November 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Author Scalzi lives in rural Ohio and it is his local library. You can keep up with this Best selling science fiction writer at his blog, whatever.Scalzi.com.

  30. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Gee, Mark. Which part of what LaHood said isn’t actual fact? Senator Blancmange-face (R, Massey) actually came right out and admitted it. As far as a 2012 GOPer administration, keep dreaming. Who’s that gonna be. Hermanator? Mittens? Santorum? Newt? Sorry buncha weenies.

  31. moe99 said on November 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Caliban, I think MarkH was pleasantly surprised at LaHood’s candor. Not the opposite.

  32. Dave said on November 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I hang my head in shame, had I read the linked letter better, I would have seen “local author”.

    Not being a sci-fi fan, I had no knowledge of this author until today.

    Skimming has its drawbacks.

  33. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    If the correspondents Cain paid off have to honor a confidentiality agreement, where does the obnoxious bastard get off badmouthing them all over the place. He’s currently perpetuating his original offense. What a creep.

  34. MarkH said on November 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Dave — We may have already had this discussion, but I lived in Picktown for a few years in the late ’70s. When did you live there? That place has become a megalopolis since I left, reaching almost to Baltimore, it seems.

    Caliban, must you beat up on everybody, regardless of the post? Moe is correct, although I’m not exactly pleasantly surprised. But, someone’s gotta say it and coming from LaHood gives the whole notion added heft. I was not making a statement on who will win in 2012, just that LaHood may have other non-political plans in store after the election as demonstrated by his bravery. In any case, the honesty is always appreciated.

    EDIT — And, Dave, I NEVER knew Pickerington has a Carnegie Library, which puzzles me no end. Not that they had such a facility, why it was not on my radar at the time.

  35. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Sorry Mark. I didn’t mean to give you a hard time. It’s fascinating that a Republican called out the GOP on their nihilistic and irresponsible behavior. Like back in the day when there were Republicans that weren’t virulent partisan aholes. Seems like aeons. Closest they get these days is Lindsey Graham.

    Some more amazing piloting.

  36. coozledad said on November 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    In filing the complaint, officials have opened a new front in a long-running and very public dispute over the way Goldline has turned the sale of gold into a massive retail operation that capitalizes on popular conservative figures — most notably Glenn Beck. The marriage of conservative talk and gold sales appears to make sense — both have traditionally targeted an audience that is skeptical of the government, concerned about the nation’s economic future, and uneasy about inflation and the stability of American currency.
    I think the term of art here is suckers.

  37. alex said on November 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I think the term of art here is suckers.

    Just ask any editor worth his salt.

  38. caliban said on November 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Cutting government spending, at all costs.

  39. alex said on November 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I think the national motto needs to be changed to God help us.

  40. Sue said on November 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    “I did once find an individually wrapped cheese slice’
    Connie, I found a wrench in a Chilton car repair book once. It was in the book drop and never fell out of the book. Those books are so heavy I didn’t even notice, and of course library Chilton books are usually so grody that a greasy wrench doesn’t make a difference in page-condition.
    We recently opened our new library, almost half of which was paid for by years of private fundraising. My city’s common council has had a 2/3rds turnover in the last two elections because a taxpayer group objected and got involved. They were not in time to torpedo the project but unfortunately the library has become an unhappy symbol of either waste or shortsightedness for a lot of people, depending on their viewpoint, rather than an example of proud community/government cooperation.
    It’s a beautiful library and I’m proud I supported it from the start.

  41. Bitter Scribe said on November 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Oh how I wish more of those Tea Party losers would get fleeced by Goldline. But knowing them, they’d just blame it on Obama.

  42. Dave said on November 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    MarkH, I grew up there, actually on State Route 204 north of town in the country (it was then), graduated from high school in 1968, this was well before Pickerington became a suburban sprawl, but it could be said that it was obvious that it was coming.

    The library was on the corner of 256 and Lockville Road, by what was then the only traffic light in town. It’s a red brick building, it has that Carnegie Library look. I don’t know when the new library was built, the old library is now the town museum.

    The marker says it was one of the smallest towns to get a Carnegie library, when I was growing up we always were told it was the smallest town to get one.

    http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=17432
    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/31825920

    We still go there, my parents and some family are still there, I really haven’t lived there since 1972 except briefly in the mid-seventies.

  43. MarkH said on November 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Dave – Ol’ Picktown is a happenin’ place for sure. Two high schools now and maybe a third(?) on the way or already there. At the time, ’77-early ’80, I worked at the Lancaster radio station, and part-time at the late Canal Winchester Times. Lived in a little house on Hill Road just south of the 256 intersection; Ridgeview Jr. High School appears to be there now. I liked the little town but, man, it has changed.

  44. moe99 said on November 2, 2011 at 12:41 am

    exercise can be fun!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEH4Yum4nN4&feature=youtu.be

  45. Linda said on November 2, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Moe, that was a bitchin’ video. Perhaps it should be part of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. It’s motivational.

  46. alex said on November 2, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Very cool, moe. French advertising has a lot of flair and isn’t constrained by puritanism in the same way as its American counterpart. In the U.S., the stuff on tampons and diapers is always blue. In Europe, they don’t do things that way. In fact, I wish I could find a clip of a French tampon ad I once saw that was the most blood-drenched thirty seconds ever and yet tasteful and clever.