What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Still Dealing with It

CT scan yesterday because of re-increasing symptoms revealed inflamed intestines, aggravated diverticulosis, stool blocking a bowel. Apparently all I need to do is drink 120 ounces of water a day, and I should be OK. Sure. Just set my workstation up over a trough.

Important fact learned after the fact. "Make sure you drink plenty of water with that Metamucil. Otherwise it'll turn into bricks in your stomach." Don't you think that information would be especially important for someone who is doubled over in pain because of something that feels like bricks in the stomach?

I was getting the scan done, and the radiology technician and I were talking. I figured we were about the same age, although he ended up being a little younger. After about five words came out of my mouth, he asked, "Where are you from?" Then clarified, "Where are you from originally?"

I said, "The Northeast. New York. Staten Island."

He said, "I thought so. I grew up in Nassau County" [Long Island].

He picked it right up from my voice, which I thought interesting because a friend of my wife's whom I haven't spoke with in many years and I were on the phone the other day, and he commented he could hear no trace of a New York accent. I guess it's knowing what to listen for. Not that I can explain it.

So, the doc says let him know if I continue to have problems with things moving apace through my system or if the significant pain comes back. (I was timing spasms last weekend at 10- or 14-minute intervals that might last one to three minutes. Kinda exhausting.) When I spoke with him today, he was glad to hear I had two days of antibiotics left, or based on the inflamed intestines, he might have put me on a double new dose of antibiotic.

All I want at this point is to be as regular as my dog. And he doesn't have to drink 120 oz. of water a day. Thank god.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

No Fun

If what I am just getting over with antibiotics and two or three days of serious freaking pain is diverticulitis, I wouldn't recommend it. For me, without the initial "Oh my God, I'm gonna die" feeling, it's about like having been kicked in the nuts for two days straight.

But I guess it's better than one of my organs exploding, which was one of the other options. Apparently my bloodwork came back "great."


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Today in Infamy

I’m indexing the name “Bull Connor,” and I figured I’d do my A-student thing and check his real first name. I thought it was Eugene.

Well, sorta.

Theophilus Eugene Connor. How could you go so wrong with a name like Theophilus?

Friday, January 9, 2015

So . . . So, So That

I didn't even know until a fellow editor brought it up in the context of another conversation a few years back that I was probably screwing up the difference between "so" and "so that" for so many years.

Online explanations are invariably confusing. While I think I grok it now, I can't explain it -- kind of like the Supreme Court justice said about obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

But from one of the online explanations, I've culled and massaged an example that I should keep taped to my forehead.

Pavlov rang the bell, so the dog salivated.

Pavlov rang the bell so that the dog would salivate.

Think about it. It's easier than the accompanying explanations.

Credit, sorta, to the Regent Univ. writing center. I can't imagine any other context in which I'd be giving Pat Robertson credit for anything, except a huge amount of entertainment over the years.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Elvis Has Left the Building

1996-2015. RIP.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The 2014 Obscurity Review

Regular readers of this blog as well as people who know me understand that every day I work mostly on books that, if all goes well, may be read by a few hundred people -- and some volumes won't be that popular, if that's even the right word. While I labor over a small percentage of books that are for a private audience -- the yesterday-mentioned corporate histories among them -- most of the books I proofread, edit, or index are of great interest only to the author and (maybe) a small handful of other scholars and insiders. I doubt even the author's parents would pick up these volumes and read them anywhere close to cover to cover. The parents might not even brag about them at parties.

Which is not to say that some of these aren't damn fine books; they are. But their topic matters are so obscure that folks are often amazed when I tell them not only what I've read but, if I can remember it, the batch of books that either just left my desk or are about to arrive. The variety and scope of the obscurity is also impressive.

For years, it seemed that I worked primarily on theological tomes. Now with changes in clients, changes in amount of work from certain clients, and indeed changes at the clients themselves, the theology isn't as heavy. Seems that international relations and social sciences are creeping in more and more. One press, and it's not exactly a secret if you look at their catalog, and if you know anything about the presses listed at the right, has moved largely from the fascinating (seriously) world of the intersection of science and religion -- nuclear physics and other topics that I don't understand -- into the realm of libertarian politics and economics. Or at least that's what I'm seeing. At this point in my life, I can't say that I like the trade-off, although the latter books are generally written by popular authors, and the writing is breezy.


The idea for this blog posting comes from an idea for an email. The producing artistic director of the theatre where my wife works has always been amused at my reading list. I thought I'd compile a month-by-month list for him of my most obscure titles for the year. I've done so and listed them below. Instead, he'll get a copy of this blog posting. He doesn't read blogs anyway, but I've alerted him that I was doing a blog posting in his honor. Maybe he'll read this email, or just skip to the list.

And, please, keep in mind that I really did like some of these books. One of the authors, I have a reason for presuming, followed this blog for a while after I worked on his book. I hope he doesn't take offense at seeing his book here if he checks back in.

The titles in the 2014 Obscurity Review are also a function of what else I worked on that month. I didn't factor in corporate histories or self-published books. The books listed below are all available for sale from their publishers, which I've not listed here, but which I assume hoped for some success for these books, however that might be measured. So if you're a lucky author, none of whom I've named here, who ended up in a month in which I had more self-published books than others, your book had a much better chance of being chosen. Congratulations.

Turns out that most of these books are indexing, because I only get indexes from this particular client, which happens to publish plenty of these kinds of books, bless their hearts.

Books by month, title, and job function:

Securing the West: Politics, Public Lands, and the Fate of the Old Republic, 1785–1850 [index]

Uphill Battle: Reflections on Viet Nam Counterinsurgency [proofread]

Newton and Empiricism [index]

A Polity of Persuasion: Gift and Grief of Anglicanism [index]

A Complete Identity: The Youthful Hero in the Work of G. A. Henty and George MacDonald [index]

Diplomacy on Ice: Energy and the Environment in the Arctic and Antarctic [proofreading]

All Things New: The Trinitarian Nature of the Human Calling in Maximus the Confessor and J├╝rgen Moltmann [index]

Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East [proofreading]

The Creativity Crisis: Reinventing Science to Unleash Possibility [proof/edit]

Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo [copyedit]

November (tie)
St. Francis and the Foolishness of God [proof]

Urban Villages and Local Identities: Germans from Russia, Omaha Indians, and Vietnamese in Lincoln, Nebraska [copyedit]

Pastoral Leadership: A Case Study, including Reference to John Chrysostom [index]

One day I'll do a post about when I get out of the house to go work at the public library. That a whole 'nother story.

Well, back to copyediting. Might be an early entry for next year's list: Perspectives in Interdisciplinary and Interactive Studies.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Too Much Excitement in the Publishing World

Being a freelance comma juggler doesn't come with a lot of fireworks. 

I've been involved with a particular corporate history for going on three years. Anytime a project lingers that long -- especially a corporate history, which is usually tied to some anniversary date -- you know something's gone wrong.

I copyedited a draft of the lengthy manuscript almost three years ago. The pages came for proofing in early fall of 2014. Uh-oh. And that was before things got weird.

I wrote the publisher today to find out if the book might ever make it to indexing. The response?

"I truly don’t know. They’ve put an indefinite hold on it pending some outcome on the homicide investigation."

As the label says, life in these United States.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The De-Spiriting, or Taking the Wind Right Out of My Sails

It's not worth much, but these days I self-identify as a Taoist-leaning Jewish agnostic -- one who still spends a lot of time up to his eyeballs in Christian theology. MDivs and people who hang around enough Sunday school classes or Saturday morning Torah studies with the rabbi will note the punning in this posting's title. To bring the rest of you heathens up to speed, the word for "spirit" in Hebrew is ruach, which means "wind" or "breath." Greek = pneuma. Same. Think, "pneumonia." Or you could think, "Jesus Christ, doesn't anyone read this stuff?"

The clock says 1:40am, about the same time it was three or four days ago when I discovered paragraphs repeating pages apart and the FUBAR situation known as "indexing implications."

Same thing happening now. Is it Groundhog Day? Four places in the book where paragraphs repeat. And in this case, there's no "near the end of the chapter" possibility that could pull this author's butt out of the sling. For some reason, he wrote this book -- some pneumatological ruminations -- in diary form. I have no idea why. The diary begins around April 2 and ends around November 29. I have no idea why. Is that average "normal time" in the Christian lectionary? Frankly, I don't care.

So the book has no chapters. The "diary entries" run in one after the other. I was wondering when I opened the PDF why this usually sensible press was publishing a book with no table of contents. Now I know. And I also know that it's now 1:46am on a Sunday morning, and while this managing editor might check her office email later today, there's not a damn thing she can do about it either. I have to presume in a book of this relative brevity the repetition is intentional. This author has, according to Amazon, eight books to his credit. I'm proceeding full speed ahead with the index. Let Rev. Smartypants substitute some text.

I mean, this happens so rarely -- so twice in four days is by any standard appalling. By the time I see these books, they've been vetted in-house (one hopes), copyedited (one hopes), and maybe even proofread while I'm doing the index. They may have even been through a stage or two of page proofs. No one notices? Admittedly Land on Demand has some screwy methods of operation, but certain benefits accrue to sitting down with a project and trying not to move my ample white butt until the thing is finished. At least I can remember what happens 30 pages apart.

Time to fix a cup of coffee. Presuming no other freakouts, I should have this wrapped up by dawn. Oh, for some career alternatives. Or a winning lottery ticket. I'd take the latter and probably still proofread. No stress. Read a book, point out mistakes, and send it back. Life used to be simple, not that I remember it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bad Timing

Partially it's my own fault. Whether it's the eight-day workweek or using up all the time my deadlines allow, I find that the most crucial questions that would allow me to proceed safely with a job come at times when it's least likely I'm going to get an answer.

One of my ongoing fears deals with a managing editor who's become a dear friend -- and who is actually one of the folks who admits to reading these little jottings. Since he knows my MO, I occasionally expect him to slip a note buried about two-thirds into a job that reads, "Bob, no matter what time of day or night, call me and leave me a message when you read this note." And it would be 3:30 in the morning the day the job is due, and the response to the message would have some essential information for going forward. Or he'd just want to bust my chops for leaving his work for the last minute.

But he's not alone, not that it should provide him with any solace.

Another common occurrence is that I'll have a more or less regular week going, then pick up a manuscript at 5:10pm on Friday that clearly has some fatal flaw 10 pages into it. Of course by that point, most normal people -- as a good friend once called them, "saps with a day job" -- have gone home, not to check back into their daily grind until Monday. Actually, my friend above, while far from a sap, is one of those who actually has a life outside the office. If one of these jobs ever came from his desk, I knew I'd just be better off putting it away until Monday morning.

I was indexing a book on the graveyard shift last night, and the book started presenting with difficulties. Paragraphs repeating from one chapter to another. Sentences repeating within a paragraph. All kinds of copyediting miscues that I'd have cleaned up or queried as a proofreader, but as an indexer aren't necessary my responsibility.

However, paragraphs repeating is a legitimate big deal at this stage, because you can't just take out two paragraphs on page four of a 40-page chapter halfway into a book. That results in the rather moderately phrased SNAFU known as "indexing implications."

Note to all you newcomers to publishing. If you're dealing with a book in production, and something comes up that has "indexing implications," it generally ain't a pretty sight. Either pages need to be reflowed if text comes out, or the author needs to submit new text to fill the same space -- in which case the indexer might proceed with his work, but the managing editor has to write index entries, not to mention re-proof those pages, when the new copy is set.

Here's the thing, though. If Land on Demand had its proverbial fecal matter together, I wouldn't be doing this job on the graveyard shift the day it's due (actually, gulp, the day after I told the author I'd have the index). I'd be doing it a few weeks before, giving the author and the press time to come up with solutions and maybe even tell me to stop work and await a new set of page proofs from that point forward. That's no fun either. Picking up writing an index after a forced break must, it seems to me, be part of one of Dante's levels of hell. I typically can't remember what book I invoiced two days ago, much less remember the entries and subentries I've started setting up a week or two ago.

Interesting book, though. I remember a few years ago hearing that someone had discovered that his VCR or DVR had what seemed to be a miniature camera facing out of it. I'd always thought that such a claim could only come from someone who'd just returned from a visit to the tinfoil hat store. Turns out that Samsung has admitted that some of their later-model TVs indeed were outfitted with cameras and microphones that could be activated remotely -- and that a watchdog group had cautioned about positioning such units facing your bed.

This public service announcement brought to you by the Luddites local union 23. Don't stay tuned.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Good Times Gone Wrong

A little job that I'm squeezing in among the more unpleasant ones is four short journal articles on a not-particularly-grueling although academic subject. The writing is fine, but the editorial regime is driving me crazy: MLA, which I work with about once a year, and UK punctuation and spelling.

Of course, only about half of the authors have paid any attention to either, leaving me to transform the documents into styles with which I am generally unfamiliar. MLA is OK, but it usually takes me to the end of the book to really get in the groove. On four short pieces, that groove is hard to find. And transforming 30 footnotes from Chicago style to MLA cites and a Works Cited listing takes about five times longer than it should.

Why can't anything be easy? As another editor and I were commiserating some weeks back, it's hard to believe that some people are paid the same to copyedit young adult fiction as we get to massage square scholarly tomes into artificially round holes.

To make matters worse, I was paid for this job about a year ago (strange circumstances), making this feel way too much like work. I ate the carrot at the end of this stick long, long ago. Tasted good at the time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chemical Imbalance Finally Pays Off, Momentarily

"Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible" (from a Dow Chemicals Vietnam War-era ad campaign)

A shift in my chemical regimen (for the better [I guess], I should report) has left me with the most uncomfortable side effect of remembering my dreams. It's not that I mind dreaming per se, but my dreamworld usually renders experiences that, as Ignatius J. Reilly said, "[leave] me bruised and muttering." I have a friend who's a recovering alcoholic who reports such a horrid barrage of images each night that he usually has to go for a walk with a cigarette and a cup of coffee just to shake it off. I know the feeling.

Last night offered a few moments of bliss. I slipped into sleep while sitting up on a sofa and trying to finish off the last 20 pages of a manuscript about Muslims in US prisons (yet another barn burner from the desk of Land on Demand). Across the room is the television that I never turn on.

All of a sudden I'm dreaming about seeing Lou Reed and John Cale in concert, except they are playing Cale's songs from his solo career. Reed would start out on the guitar and then push the microphone over to Cale behind the piano for a song like "Fear" or "Guts." This never happened in real life, as their reunions were either doing Velvets material or Songs for Drella, their Andy Warhol tribute. So to hear the boys performing from the Cale songbook is something I'd never hear in conscious life.

The strange thing is that I was watching this concert right where I was, in the seat on the sofa and on the TV in front of me.

I mentioned this to my wife this morning, and she had a bizarre thought: "Do you think Cale might have died?" I am happy for many reasons that today's news didn't present that report. The garbage coming out of my hometown of Staten Island is bad enough.

So after finishing the manuscript a few hours later I actually go up to bed and lay down long enough to have a dream that involved me all of a sudden being on deadline to proofread my 1977 high school yearbook -- like, my 54-year-old self, today. Doesn't my unconscious remember that I worked on the newspaper and not the yearbook?

Prompting thoughts on two pictures and the best email I received this year, work division:

Photo 1:

Police Chokehold Death Staten Island

That would be the Verrazano-Narrows bridge (as the truckers call it, the Guinea Gateway), looking toward Brooklyn. That little tower atop of brick edifice you see off to the right of the bridge would be the school where I spent the years 1969 to 1977. Poly Prep. If you search "Poly Prep sex scandal," you'll find a world of pain and bad times that were in full throttle during my years there, a revelation that only came about recently. This photo accompanied an AP story yesterday about the outsider borough of Staten Island. Why they presented an image of that bridge facing Brooklyn, I have no idea.

Picture 2:

I was working on an index for an author in Israel, and when his name came up attached to a Lou Reed homage, I sent him this picture. His response:

"Nuff said that I'm thanking the gods and [the press's managing editor] for introducing me to you, sure.  But how did you and your wife come to be in a room with a warped acoustic ceiling and John-fncking-Cale?"

Ah, authors. I occasionally love 'em.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Question That Always Drives Me Crazy

It's not this one.

My wife and I were at a party this evening -- the annual holiday party following the board meeting of the regional theatre where my wife works. A woman who has known me for probably eight or ten years asks, "So, are you still editing?"

This woman is not unintelligent. For that matter, when she worked for the theatre, she used my services. She was directly involved when I copyedited, proofread, and indexed the self-published book the theatre put out about the theatre's founder.

Why people ask me if I'm still editing is a mystery. Has anyone since I was 24 years old ever known me to do anything else? (Throw in proofreading, and you can back that number up to 20.) Have I ever exhibited any other marketable skill? Can I build anything, design anything, fix anything, sell anything, create anything, or perform anything?

In order, the answers are no, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no.

Is editing a way station, a hobby, a disreputable pursuit, or a stage in life?

Um . . . no, no, no, and no.

I think I once responded to an MD who asked me this question, "Are you still a doctor?"

Drives me nuts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Gem from an Awful Book

et all

Yeah, I guess that works.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Update on If Indexing Was That Easy . . .

1. See http://boblandedits.blogspot.com/2014/11/if-indexing-was-that-easy-more-people.html (or scroll down a few posts).

2. The (gut) punch line: 

Hello Bob, 
Sorry for the delay in response. After going over things with our project lead, we've decided to go in a different direction and will not be needing your services. I am very sorry about all of the back and forth with the staff. As I mentioned, this has been a tricky time for us, and unfortunately budget and time constraints mean that we simply cannot do this work in the way that we had anticipated when our staff was first in contact with you. 

I appreciate your patience with us during this process, and the time you've put in. Feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Best of luck, 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Quote of the Day

As even the vastly popular science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov understood, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

Friday, November 28, 2014

Another Dictionary Rant

One of my jobs is for an internet publishing company. You can call it a content mill or a content farm if you so desire. I call it a paycheck.

It's not one of my favorite gigs -- not that I mind the work so much, but it's not particularly remunerative and it's one of those jobs like the post office: it never stops. Unlike a book project, which like the book itself has a beginning, middle, and an end, this gig's like the US Mail. There's always more of it, and the production line never ceases. "Going postal" is a term that comes by itself honestly.

My job is primarily to review the work of copyeditors on very specific 400- to 500-word articles with such scintillating titles as "How to Become a Butler," the actual title I'm reviewing now. In the comments back and forth between writer and editor, the writer offers, "Butling (one t) seems to be the predominant spelling."

"Predominant" for whom, you might ask. "Damn if I know" would be my answer.

Merriam-Webster's (MW) does not recognize "butler" as anything but a noun, and "butling" is not a mentioned alternative form. MW also doesn't recognize "butle" as a verb.

Step 2: Because this august client uses AP, and AP uses Webster's New World College Dictionary (NWCD), I go there. Indeed "butle" appears as a verb:

butle (Source: Webster's New World College Dictionary)
but ´ 'l vi. -lied, -ling , [[< fol.]] [Informal] to serve as a butler: a hugmorous usage

Well, that's just freaking dandy. "Butling." (By the way, Oxford Dictionaries [OD], which you'd suspect would have something to say about "butlering," does recognize "buttle" and "buttling," but not "butle." OD also cites "buttle" as US usage, a statement about which I can find no evidence.)

However, like peeling an onion, one has to wonder about NWCD's "a hugmorous usage." Of course, no one on God's green English-speaking earth knows what the hell "hugmorous" is, but a look back at OD states that "buttle" is "humorous" usage. 

All this leads me to believe that (a) NWCD is a crappy plagiarizer, (b) OD is an equally crappy plagiarizer, (c) the writer is fond of composing material in apparent slang, and (d) OD has a strange sense of humor.

To me, "butlering" sounds right. "Butling" is affected and dumb.

On the other hand, I decided to look up a word close to "butler" that the English might know something about. The Oxford Dictionary's grasp on "bugger" seems to be rather authoritative.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Also Applies to Letters to the Editor and Internet Comments Sections

"Some people speak uncontrollably in tongues, so that no one understands anything. Paul tells them: 'In church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue' (1 Corinthians 14:19). And they need an interpreter: 'If there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God' (1 Corinthians 14:28)."

If Indexing Was That Easy, More People Would Do It Well

Another day, another (potential) client education:


Thanks for the email.

The problems with an indexer receiving a list of terms come down to a number of items. 

First, even well-intentioned authors aren't indexers. They often don't know how to phrase index entries in such a way as to capture the content as the reader might expect it, or even according to general indexing guidelines. Often, terms might be too broad to be useful, start out with adjectives when the nouns are more important, or -- and this is very common -- present terms that don't actually appear in the book (yes, that happens, more frequently than you'd expect).  I've also seen authors try to make connections in the index that aren't explicit in the book. The best way to ensure presence of a topic in the index is to discuss it in the book. And looking at the list provided, "Institution that shaped family," for example, is not a useful index entry. 

Editing and massaging an Excel document into a shell of an index would actually be counterproductive from my standpoint -- as I'd prefer to write all the entries in a consistent style, instead of trying to match terms and their syntax to someone else's work.

Second, having a list of terms doesn't really reduce the amount of work I need to do. I still have to read the book to index it properly. Given a list of terms, one could easily search for use of the terms and input the relevant numbers, but that's not an index. That's a concordance. It also doesn't account for the same concept presented with different phrasings. Having a list of terms also doesn't save on keying time, because I still have to verify the accuracy of the author's entry -- and, especially for proper names, I often just cut and paste them from the PDF to make sure there are no keying errors.

Lists of terms also don't present complete subentries, and that's often where a lot of the indexer's work takes place. A category such as "Staff, consultants," and a subentry of "consultants" presents obvious logical and logistical problems.

Let's step back a little and see what we can do. What is the current number of indexable pages (introduction to the end of the running text, inclusive)? What is the trim size of the book? Needless to say, I'd much rather index from scratch and use your Excel document more as a guide to see if I've missed anything. I might be able to meet you halfway, but I don't think $3/page would be possible.

I'd also need a PDF with one-up pages, not spreads. If you could send me that, I'd have a much better idea of what the project entails.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dictionaries for $100, Alex

Usually I'm a supporter of Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary. One of my clients has me use Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary, which is growing on me, and I've been dabbling some in oxforddictionaries.com, just because Oxford University Press wants it, which makes sense.

An editor I work with says that he has a shelf full of dictionaries, and he can justify pretty much any usage he wants if he looks long enough.

But back to MW11 . . .

I looked up "discursive" in Merriam-Webster's because it's a word that I always think of when I'm actually trying to come up with something else -- a word that still eludes me -- so I want to make sure I'm using correctly whatever word I'm remembering or forgetting.

Here's Merriam-Webster's 11th on "discursive":

1a : moving from topic to topic without order  : RAMBLING
1b : proceeding coherently from topic to topic

Ehh, maybe it's time to switch allegiances.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Phrase of the Day

"an assorted plethora of different issues and topics"


Has it really been a month? 

One of the biggest pieces of news in this blog's history developed over the last week, dating back to a post I made about three years ago. 

But I'm going to let it simmer and play out a little bit before doing any big reveal. 

If you want a hint, go up to the left corner of this blog and type "Fred Neil" in the search box. And for four minutes of bliss, click on the YouTube part of the video link.

Quoting the man, although from a different work,

I missed my connections and I'm late for work again
You know they'll probably drop the atom bomb the day my ship comes in. . . .