I never thought I would read the word “turgid” so many times in my entire life. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace repeats the word, of course, because it’s telling you how to avoid writing “turgid prose”.
There’s a lucid chapter on the subject of usage, which deftly cuts through all the normal chatter about what should be a rule and why or why not, but most of the book is not about controversial words and grammatical constructions. It’s about what makes a passage understandable, and it describes the process of transforming one that’s not into one that is. It’s describing the acquisition and communication of concepts and knowledge as much as anything. It’s almost a book of cognitive psychology. I have a lot of books on language and writing, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this before.
Maybe that’s because it was originally a textbook. It feels a bit strange to watch someone poke sentences and move bits of them around on the page; the skills being described can only really be improved through use. This version of the book is informative, but perhaps not as effective as the versions that give the reader practice writing and revising.
More on what I liked about the book and when and why I read it below.
Note to self: There is no need to ever watch Blade Runner again.
I think we Netflixed it sometime in the New Jersey era (2003–2008), and parts of it seemed vaguely familiar this time around. I didn’t like it then, and I didn’t like it this time, either.
Yes, Blade Runner is a classic. And yes, the rainy/neon Japanese/German/Spanish vision of the future, with giant pyramid skyscrapers, is wonderfully creative (if not realistic for 2019). And yes, the movie has an interesting, philosophical sci-fi premise. But it’s just brutal. And it goes on for too long.
We watched the theatrical version this time; maybe the international version? I dunno, there are lots of versions. In the version we watched this time, there were silly voice-overs, a happy ending, and no unicorn dream.
The premise is that bio-engineered people (originally created to do dangerous work off world) have developed realistic emotions and thus resent their short lifespans. Four of them are back on Earth for some reason and Harrison Ford’s character is supposed to “retire” (execute) them, which is a creepy thing to have to do because they’re not that different from regular people.
Take my word for it, this sign is about a discounted movie screening that is taking place “between 1pm to 3pm”.
Using “to” with “between” sounds terrible, but I know why people write this way because I’ve done it. You start out thinking about two times in one sense, then your thinking unaccountably changes before you finish writing what you set out to write. Gah!
When stating a range of times, here are some acceptable formats to use:
We are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. [from/to]
We are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. [to]
We are open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. [en dash, not hyphen]
Drop off your donation between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. [between/and]
In the case of a movie screening, I definitely wouldn’t use “between/and” because the movie isn’t happening at one point between the two times mentioned, it’s happening for the entire length of time. I probably wouldn’t even use from/to, though. I’d probably use “start at” and “finish at”.
The movie will start at 1 p.m. and finish at 2 p.m.
Everybody Writes is a book that Derek Zoolander would recommend to “adults who can’t write good and want to do other stuff good too”. If you’re one of those, then, by all means, share and enjoy.
It’s not, or not entirely, Ann Handley’s fault that I found her book disappointing. For one thing, I had high expectations. I eliminated at least a dozen books on blogging from my Amazon cart before I decided to buy hers. For another thing, I was, simultaneously, reading a book on writing I much preferred, an erudite tome called Style by Joseph M. Williams. And anyway, I am probably not in the target audience. The subtitle of Part I, “How to Write Better and How to Hate Writing Less”, should have been an obvious red flag: I don’t hate writing.
The book has a lot of good reviews on Amazon, so some people seem to have found it useful, and even I got some use out of it—just not as much as I was hoping to.
More on what I disliked about the book as well as when and why I read it below.
Clothing shops sell apparel, not apparels, no matter how many individual items they sell or how many kinds of items they sell (ladies’ apparel, men’s apparel, kids’ or children’s apparel).
I suppose maybe it’s possible you could talk about a business importing a variety of ‘apparels’ from different countries, just as a chef could study the ‘cuisines’ of different countries, but I’m not sure whether anyone actually uses the word in this way.
Just assume that if you see the word ‘apparels’, it’s wrong. The word ‘apparel’ should be used instead.
My husband and I went to visit the Chinese Garden.
The place looked a little worn, which in a way was refreshing since much of Singapore is shiny and new and lacks that friendly patina old places have.
As the sun went down, there were a lot of people out jogging in the relative cool. We strolled around and I took a few photos before the sun disappeared and the park was filled with shadows from streetlights.
I think what bothers me most is the fact that sincere expressions of supposedly private emotions are betrayed to third parties, i.e., that innocent people are being made fools of and don’t even know it. It is horrible to suspect that others are laughing at us; it is even more horrible to find out that we have indeed been laughed at, and that, further, we deserved it, if only because we were naive.
Do you think you can evade vicarious injury by identifying with the clever if cruel miscreants rather their victims? Then you will be pained when the novel fails to conclude as happily for them as they seem to assume it will. No one gets away unscathed!
The ambiguous stance of the book allows readers multiple interpretations. One lesson you could say the book teaches is never to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, though perhaps it’s simply saying that no matter how suspicious you try to be, your trust will always be misplaced. A more benign lesson would be that the ridiculous French loan-word ‘liaison’ has two i’s in it—if I never type the word again, it will be too soon.