Saturday, November 18, 2006

I Love Arial

It's my favorite font. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, it's just there when you need it. And it always looks fabulous.

Don't even get me started on Arial Narrow, because that's nothing more than an anorexic bastardization.

Times New Roman should go die a quiet death.

Helvetica? So 1990.

Pupcat, Jokerman and Matisse can go fuck themselves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's Just Go Ahead and Call This Incredible

For as long as I've been at the L.A. Weekly ('bout a year and a quarter now), the proofreading department has had a strong horizontal bias in how it situates its reference books. Every copy editor has three vital stylebooks at his work station: the local stylebook, The Associated Press Stylebook, and The American Heritage College Dictionary.

I consult these books, especially the dictionary, dozens of times per shift. The only downside to this (because I can't think of any others -- reading reference books is the best!) is constantly having to pull a needed book from beneath other books. This presents all sorts of hazards: Books could fall off the desk, books might bump into something else, a hand could get trapped between two books (more on that in a minute). But for months now, I've just considered that part of the job.

Until now. For some reason, Mother Innovation decided to poke me with her Magical Idea Wand today. The moment she did, I made a bold decision in how I arrange my reference books:

That's right: I went vertical. Now I can reach for my stylebook in a snap, without worry of disturbing its fellows. I won't have to constantly rearrange an unwieldy bibliohazardous heap. With the saved time, I figure I'll become .037 times more efficient at the Weekly (and, yes, supervisors o' mine, I'd love a raise to recognize my workplace ecological genius).

Not to mention the fact that I've now made my work station safer. Consider what could happen in the bad old horizontal days:

Ouch! My hand! This immense dictionary is crushing my tender digits! OSHA! OSHA!

But now witness life in our brave new vertical world:

Ah! The new arrangement makes reaching for books positively a joy! Isn't this the kind of thing that made Ralph Nader famous?

So let this be the first step upon the Path to Revolution, my copy-editing comrades! Shake free the chains of horizontal reference-book stacking! Stand up for yourselves and for ecological efficiency! Huzzah!

"Whether or Not?" I Say Not to "Not," But Yes to "Whether." Just Read the Damn Post

I have a few usage hang-ups that send me up a tree. I read them, and my central nervous system orders my brain to flood my system with whatever chemical makes you really ... y'know, nutso angry.

One of those is the phrase "whether or not," which is used in common English 3.2 billion times a day. Consider it: Where's the contrast? Is there one option -- "whether" -- competing with another -- "not"? Nope. Taken literally, it's a meaningless phrase. In every single instance, just using the word "whether" is more accurate, more concise, more ... better.

STUPID: I can't tell whether or not Courtney or Derek will ever post to TOSC again.
NOT STUPID: I can't tell whether Courtney or Derek will ever post to TOSC again.
POSSIBLY EVEN LESS STUPID: I can't tell if Courtney or Derek will ever post to TOSC again.

See what I mean? The Not Stupid and Possibly Even Less Stupid sentences are just as clear (I'd argue clearer) and don't employ some meaningless phrase cribbed from vernacular speech.

At some point while writing this post, I've become very upset over "whether or not," it's such a stupid goddamn phrase. So, please, people, stop using it. Next time I see it, I'm punching James in the head.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Proofreading Is Hilarious!

The Onion gets it.

Thanks to Siran B. for passing along the link!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I had the pleasure of copy editing the last L.A. Weekly news story edited by Alan Mittelstaedt today. My only disappointment was that the story was so well edited and written that I had relatively few queries. Meaning I had an excuse to hang out in Alan's office for only a minute or so.

TOSC wishes Alan and the six other recently dismissed Weekly staffers all the best.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Long Overdue Reply

Longtime TOSC reader and fan Tim Ericson asked us "Eon"s ago about usage of the word "thusly." Tim, this post's for you.

While Webster's allows "thusly" in informal usage as an adverb, Bryan Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage says: "Thus itself being an adverb, it needs no -ly. Although the nonword thusly has appeared in otherwise respectable writing, it remains a serious lapse."

Thanks for reading, Tim.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hang Ten w/TOSC

Falling James & Bad D