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 and proofreader, and occasional indexer. 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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Buh-BYE, 2011

What a year.

No year-end review this time. I'm going to let a fading memory take its course.

I'll spend the next few days wrapping up two loose work ends and then prepare for next year. Moi mentioned the word "resolve." I could use some. "Discipline" has never been a strong suit. Maybe I can win the semantic war.

Because of scheduling issues, January 2012 is already an avalanche in waiting. December 2011 was delays and time away and holidays and such.

The year 2012 I'll start out on a new leaf or leaves. I have a bunch of thoughts in my head. Resolve, resolve. And I'll have two four-hour car rides on the 30th and the 1st to get some thinking done. Sons are back to college next week. And winter will settle in at chez czar, with the czarina on 24-hour call for her theatre tour booking duties. Scheduling an educational touring group in central Appalachia during January through March isn't one of the easier hands to be dealt, and keeping or revising that schedule with snow dates . . . in many backwoods counties where roads are iffy . . . that's wintertime anxiety around here.

Anyway, this is a sign-off for the year. Everyone out there, have a great time on New Year's Eve and thereafter, wherever life places you. And if you don't hear from me at HM or on your different blogs so much in 2012, it's not because anything's wrong. Actually, it's probably just the opposite.

But I do hope to be posting more here, and more on topic.

For now, it's . . .

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Too Much to Do

Christmas Eve day, and miles to go.

New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, NY;
except for the cars, 
the view hasn't changed in at least 50 years.

Shopping is basically done, although I have to brave the grocery store sometime this morning for tomorrow's feast. Per popular acclamation at chez czar, we're giving the czarina the day off from heavy cooking and doing a far simpler low country boil just for the family. It's the kind of thing we typically only make when there's twenty or so people around, so I'm going to halve the recipe. We'll throw some newspapers on the table and make believe it's summertime. And no dishes to wash.


Many interesting projects lately, and I wish I was wrapping up one of them this morning instead of what I'm working on: an index that seems not to want to go away. I've started placing the PDF and the Word doc side by side on the screen rather than looking at paper. Every second counts. Maybe I'll become the Frederick Taylor of the editorial world. Now if I could just keep my fingers out of my mouth while editing or proofreading and keep that red pen close to the paper.


When our younger son came home from college last week, I asked him if he'd signed up for any shifts at a local drive-thru he'd been working at for some years. He said no, but I knew that he needed some holiday funds (and I had become used to the intern labor), so I asked him if he wanted to do some word processing for me. I had about nine hundred pages of manuscripts that needed editorial changes keyed in. He did an OK job, but his reactions to the work were interesting. On job one, he pondered, "There wouldn't be so much to do if authors just followed the right style to begin with." On job two, he asked, "How hard is it for them to get the reference style right?" Out of the mouths of nineteen-year-old babes . . .


When Colleen (former intern) returns for winter/spring semester, I'll be talking to her about paid work for keying in changes. In the right circumstances, it saves me enough time and is worth the money to have someone input corrections to a Word document. We were speaking about this as a family last week, and we chuckled that, unfortunately, the czarina is not the person to help me in this area -- for a number of reasons. As I put it quite simply to the czarina's laughter, "You won't do what I want you to do when I want you to do it." Working for me is probably only slightly worse than being married to me.


The two books that my younger son slaved through were both rather interesting. One was a first-person account of a South Vietnamese army/government official's experiences from the mid-1940s until his escape in the early 1980s after imprisonment by the new regime, although the author began in the Viet Minh. The author knew John Paul Vann and Daniel Ellsberg and people like that from the mid-1950s on. Having come to consciousness during the height of the Vietnam War, I found the information on French and US involvement in SE Asia, and especially the internal Vietnamese happenings, fascinating.

[Great note on this book. As the coauthor, who is my primary contact, told me, "The [Vietnamese] author is 88 and not in great health. We're hoping he holds on until the book is published." So sweet. The book has been in various stages of writing for 24 years. The coauthor, who is concerned about his colleague's age and health, is 85.]

The second book was about the Fed's operations during the credit crisis of 2008. The editor was almost apologetic when sending the book out. "It's about economics, and many copyeditors don't like books with a lot of numbers." After explaining that I used to be the lead editor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, he was relieved and I suspect a little surprised. I suspect, also, that I'll now have an inside track on copyediting any books dealing with banking or economics coming from this press. Fine by me. They pay fast.

What I didn't mention was that I'd probably still be at that job if my boss wasn't one of the most despicable human beings I've ever met in my life. Her name was . . . oh, it's Christmas. Never mind.


I've had a few other things going on, it seems, but I have to finish this index NOW. Then to the store(s), then wrapping presents, then back to work on an intense little proofing job that must go out on Monday. At least it's not indexing.


The photo above comes from my hometown. Staten Island is part of New York City yet a world of its own. When the czarina was first there in 1985 and we went down New Dorp Lane, she said, "This reminds me of small towns in the South," the point being, "I had no idea that the evil urban Northeast full of you Yankees and Jews was actually like the rest of the world." Staten Island, when it's not acting more like Alabama, can be a very nice place.


Happy holidays, folks. Glad you're out there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Haiku Monday: Spin

Hosted this week at Fleur's Place.


My entry

with visuals.

Faster and faster
'Til enlightenment springs forth:
Whirl, dervishes, whirl!

Wintertime Jewtop
Reminds, "They tried to kill us,
We won. Now let's eat."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Most Unlikely Result -- Intern '11, 1

An intern from a local college worked with me during this last school semester — a coed, as the vernacular goes, or went. This intern, we’ll call her “Colleen,” wanted to find out about the world of editing, and she’d receive two hours of college credit for doing so: 10 to 14 hours per week for about 12 weeks, soaking up the heady Land on Demand corporate atmosphere.

Colleen is the third intern who’s worked with me over the last six or so years. What’s made this hosting-of-intern slightly different is that Nicole is between my sons’ ages. Spending this amount of time over the last few months with someone in college — while my two are as well — was interesting. I think I was well prepared.

I'll discuss the internship in more detail later. Colleen and I both were required to write summaries of the experience to complete the process (and I needed to provide a number/letter grade), so maybe I’ll mine those writings for some future postings. My contribution was more of a strengths-and-weaknesses assessment.

Another intent of a perhaps future arc (ugh) on the internship would be to try to move back to where this blog mostly started: discussions of work-desk issues. Way too much miscellania these days.

Before the internship was over, I asked Colleen to write a blog posting on her experience, which follows:


I have done the impossible (improbable at the very least) and completed an English major in two years. On top of all my regular work, I chose to register for an internship to experience the life of an editor. Along the way I have gained a huge respect for copyeditors and proofreaders. Someday I hope to call the work mine.

This semester just happened to also be the time when I am working on my senior project, a mini-thesis, if you will. Working as an editorial intern for roughly 14 hours a week added to my 18-credit-hour class load has definitely taught me how to organize my time. I will say that the organization skills for my project have been spurred forward by my work with Bob. I’ve been exposed to countless styles of writing and formatting, and have found strengths and flaws in all of them. I would like to think that these observations have shown through in my own writing, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I were stuck in my own ways as a writer—I am an 82-year-old woman stuck in a 21-year-old body, fifty cats and all.

It would be nice to be able to apply everything that I have learned to each of my assignments for class, but who am I kidding? Switching from MLA to Chicago is a challenge in itself, let alone having the added stress of Bob follow my work with his own. In the beginning, I assumed that I would get faster the more comfortable I became with the work of an editor. I stand corrected. . . . He has me always double-checking my work, and I’m right most of the time, but sometimes I remain lodged in my old ways. I will say that one of my proudest moments was when Bob commented, “I passed the ‘Colleen inspection.’” Yes. I have an inspection named after me.

Coming into this internship I knew that I wanted to do something along the same lines that Bob does, but I wasn’t quite sure yet. My first week here, I was proofing the index for a religious book. The entire index was made of biblical references and had to be re-alphabetized by hand, not with the automatic word-by-word alphabetization that Word does. Considering that the index was probably close to forty pages at this point, I thought I’d hate working here the moment the stack of papers plopped onto my table. As I got into the work, the time flew by and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was enjoying myself. Later on in the semester, I worked on a few different indexes and enjoyed each one better than the last. Call me crazy, but I think I found my destiny: indexing.

I’ve always had an eye for mistakes or confusing wording, and have enjoyed helping other people with their writing, so I chose this career path as the obvious option. While I dabble in creative writing and poetry, I really enjoy editing and indexing; I want my career to be my passion. Bob has shown me that it is possible and that I can enjoy what I do with my life. This lesson negates all else that I have learned this semester—not on my internship evaluation, of course.

In my final week of interning with Bob, I hope to keep learning and experiencing the life of an editor. Or indexer in my case.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Haiku Monday: Time

Hosted this week at the magnificent Karl's Korner.

Deadlines, mortgages:
Accordion-like squeezes,
But like trolley cars . . .

Tomorrow — flexing
Like a whore — and tomorrow.
Shakespeared; lad insane.


I don't usually do videos or any visuals for Haiku Monday or post the haiku here, but I found this -- an interesting, unbroadcast live version of a song from one of my favorite albums -- so I figured I might as well post the video. Sorry you had to sit through the haiku.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In school, we just called him "Eye Chart"

Orobator, Agbonkhianmeghe, 147

Friday, November 25, 2011

Haiku Monday: New Host

If you're looking for Haiku Monday for November 28, the host is last week's winner Serendipity, and the hosting is here. Topic is energy/energized.

Have fun.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm Really Not Trying to Turn This into Facebook or Twitter

But I'm drinking a Coke from a white and silver can. That's just wrong.

 Happy Thanksgiving all.

UPDATE, December 1:

Coke to Drop Snow-White Holiday Can

Monday, November 21, 2011

Updates on Some Old Stories

Back on September 26, I wrote the following:

Do you think the fun ends there? Looking down the road, I am scheduled to receive the book for proofreading on October 17. The book will need to be read/marked up and FedEx'd back to the publisher. And when do you think the book is due back with them? October 19? October 18?

Stop it, you're killing me.

October 17.

Well, I guess the joke was on me, because I wrote the publisher around November 17 to find out about this and another job scheduled to come in at the same time. Both were under time constraints and went to press without proofreading -- at least not proofreading by me.


Not much I can do about that. But hearing about it from the publisher would have been nice, without having to track it down.

Here's the thing: I actually waited a month before contacting the publisher, because I've waited that long on earlier projects with this company . . . but the jobs always eventually showed up.

Any other publishers, I call the day after I'm supposed to receive something, and they are apologetic, not just for the lateness, but the lack of notice.

I suppose I can be thankful that not everyone does the lack-of-communication thing. Sometimes small projects from independent authors or occasional publishers can run late, but companies that are full-time in the publishing business are usually pretty good about keeping freelancers informed.



A young woman who worked with me as an intern some years back accepted a job last week as production editor with a large religious publishing house, of all things. Yes, English majors, jobs do exist. She also had an MA, though, which she earned after her time in the LandonDemand bunker. Production editor . . . that's sometimes the title of a person who hires freelancers. Hmm. How provident.

Another intern is working with me now, and I am thinking of having her do a guest editorial for the blog. Maybe what she thought editing was going to be about vs. what it actually is, or whether editing still holds any attraction for her after being exposed to three to four months of it. Any ideas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Morning Coming Up/Down

From the joys of the work-at-home department: It's 11:30am Sunday, and 20 yards from where I'm now sitting, my neighbor is tearing up his driveway. With his two young daughters. Not a quiet process.

So, everyone else . . . please enjoy this. If I've posted it before, well, it deserves a second hearing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Real Stop-the-Presses Moment in Academia

No need to know the topic; you can fill in your own blank.

"The theme stemmed from the idea that decadence could serve as an exciting inspiration for examining [insert anything here] in a broader context."

Friday, November 18, 2011

"I'll Be Watching You."

Beth Cavener Stichter
American, born 1972
The Inquisitors, 2004
Stoneware, porcelain slip, and wood
61 × 78 × 25 inches overall
(154.9 × 198.1 × 63.5 cm)

Two Words That I'm Beginning to Hate


I can't read a book these days without seeing them. Nothing, though, could ever rival the Abraham Maslow loathing of the 1980s and 1990s. Lord.

Newsworthy Comments from a Co-Vendor

It's frustrating as hell to expect something at a certain time, open a hole for it, arrange your life and work around it, and have it not show. It impacts cash flow. What are we to do: sell other orders, and once knee deep in that, drop it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

State of the Morning

December 2011 is in a few weeks, and I'm stunned. I'm not going to do a preliminary year in review; I'm not even sure I've got the stomach for the real thing when time comes. While I'd really like to turn the page on this year, there's always the possibility that next year could be even stranger. One nice thing, though, about incipient senility is that I've probably forgotten half the stuff that's made this year feel like I've been tossed in a clothes dryer for 11 months, taking the ride with a few good-sized rocks, for proper weathering.

I feel like I've aged a lot since the photo at the bottom of this page. I certainly look it. I guess that photo was taken a little more than two years ago. If I were to shave off the snow-white beard I now have, that would probably help, but that would mean walking around looking (even more) like a bum most days of the week, as keeping clean-shaven is way down on the list of priorities.

Anyway, I was checking Feedjit and came across It's Been Jessified. Thanks to Jess, whoever she is, for at least starting off my day right today. She listed this blog among a few editing blogs she recommends. For each of the other blogs, she has some statement about the blog's purpose. Not for this one. Instead, her comment attached to the link for my blog reads, "I have just spent all my free time today reading the entirety of this blog." She stopped posting back in 2010 sometime, but at the time I guess the educational or entertainment value of this blog was enough to hold her attention, or at least I didn't receive a ticking package in the mail.

Heaven knows I waste too much time on the Internet reading comments and opinions and musings from perspectives that I loathe, although I don't spend all day at it.

Anyway, I'm elbows deep in wrapping up a huge, complex proofreading project. At least the topic is sort of interesting. The book should be beautiful when published, and if history is any indication, I'll receive a comp copy. Thanks, New Haven.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bibliography Entry of the Day

Work--What? How? Why? Philadelphia, 1893.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quotes from the Workdesk

Narikela-pāka: Books come in three levels of accessibility—the grape style, easily available to anyone; the banana style, where you have to peel off the outer layer; and the coconut style, where the reader has to work hard to crack open the text in order to reach the soft inner substance.

By killing their husbands, Śiva reduced these women to widows who cannot wear earrings.

[Bibliographic entry] Lalita, G. Tĕlugulo cāu-kavitvam. Vijayavada: Kwality Publishers, 1981.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Haiku Monday: Ghost

Apologies to those of you without a hankering for haiku, but this week's judge, Aunty, has mandated that visuals will apply in a tiebreaker situation, so I'm kinda duty-bound to post a visual and the accompanying entry. If you're so inclined to throw in a haiku this week, please do visit this neighborhood at porkrind central.

Beckon, brick spirits! 
Perfect spacetimes well from walls;  
Spectral signs remind.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Posting 1: Magazine Editing

I have encouraged friends of mine who read this blog and those who don't to send me their publishing horror stories, and I'd print them as guest postings. Sort of a gift of therapy for my embattled peers laboring in the ditches.

Forthwith, a posting from one of my nonreaders.

Enjoy. Or at least commiserate.


I edit a lifestyle magazine that covers life, work, and recreation -- about a half dozen little villages/communities.

All editorial was due to me by October 7 for copy editing/review, in order to make deadline for a November 1 publication date.

I woke up this morning to an email from a writer saying she sent her piece to the two folks she interviewed to check facts. I ALWAYS discourage writers from doing this. We are not an advertorial magazine and it’s my job to check facts, dates, spellings, etc. You know the score . . .

Anyway, she says to me that George was fine with it but Ringo basically rewrote it with more information and sent to her. Since she “liked” his version better, she decided to send it to me and hopes that’s okay.

My response:

Please don’t allow the interview subject(s) to guide your writing. IF we agree to send them a piece to review, it is to proof for factual information only, not word use, writing style, or what to include or leave out. You are responsible for those decisions, not Ringo, because you are the one being paid, not him. The only other person who can mess with your work is your editor, the person who guides the angle of the article and the content of the magazine’s editorial. In this case, me. And I’ve always been happy with your work. I’ve never had to bump anything back to you because it was incomplete or poorly written. Word limits mean just that: there is a limit to what we can write on any given subject, and you as the writer and I as the editor have to make choices about that. This topic could be a BOOK, I’m sure, but that’s not what we’re doing here.

I cannot tell from the piece you just sent me which work is yours and which is Ringo’s, so I can’t make any decisions about how to handle this. If you believe that some of his additional information is imperative to the piece, then by all means amend YOUR original article and send it along, using your own words to interpret Ringo’s, just like you would do if he had said this to you in an interview. If you don’t have time to do that by mid-today, then send me your original piece, as written.


My pal closed the missive to me with a number of expletives. Can you blame?

Feel free to send me your stories. The blog needs different perspectives. 

Especially you managing editors out there. I'd love a post on what a pain it is to deal with freelancers. I'll even allow stories about myself . . . as long as they end up with the necessary spin that will not scare off potential clients. I'm crazy, but I'm not stupid.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

brief moment of haiku

The topic this week in Haiku Monday was fog. My favorite entry, and perhaps one of my favorite haiku of these many months:

The postman is here
to kill us all: bark, bark, bark,
bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.

Courtesy of Roxie.

Monday, September 26, 2011

This Stuff Writes Itself

The previous post dealt with timing on deliveries of jobs from a particular client with a history of somewhat late communications on changing deadlines, not to mention the occasional expectation that I should drop everything I'm doing and read its stuff. I received the following note today from the same client:

Hi Bob, I don't know if you know about the ST job since it's not one we are using the Web for. It's on a very fast track. According to the schedule, you should have copyedited it and had it back to us yesterday.

So given this parameter, when do you think we could have it back? As always send us a clean copy and one with track changes.

Dear readers, I've been freelancing one way or the other since 1986 -- a quarter of a century, roughly half my life. This memo is without precedent. Never before have I been late on a job that, not only had I not received it, but the client never even made me aware of it.

I finally became privy to the original production schedule, which called for me to receive the book for editing on Saturday, September 24, and to return it on Sunday, September 25.

Do you think the fun ends there? Looking down the road, I am scheduled to receive the book for proofreading on October 17. The book will need to be read/marked up and FedEx'd back to the publisher. And when do you think the book is due back with them? October 19? October 18?

Stop it, you're killing me.

October 17.

PS: In all fairness, I do love this client, whom I made aware of the previous post. S/he got a kick out of it. I think.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Making It Worthwhile: A Client with a Sense of Humor

In response to a message in which I requested some vigilance about informing me of changes in schedule:

See if this helps: all text from us, henceforth and forever after, will be late by a factor of 29 percent, except when it's late by 153 percent. Late text does not mean final text. It just means what we're submitting is late but there's still more to come. Which will  be even later. There is, naturally, an inverse proportion of the percent of lateness to the amount of time the various vendors who come afterwards have to complete their job. The later we are, the less time you have. It's the way the word world works -- sadly. However, work being done in a rush by our vendors earns the vendor battle pay, which is really pretty much what you'd normally get, but you can brag about it to the literary set at the Dunk 'n' Dine. Except that you won't actually have money to spend at the Dunk 'n' Dine because your battle pay was late. Had you not been in battle, perhaps you would have seen that memo. When you finish editing our copy, you get what the poor SOB got when he finished stuffing envelopes -- more envelopes. And more copy. Yes, it's a vicious mother****ing cycle, but it beats (we hope) saying, "You want fries with that?" Maybe.

Feel better? Am logging off for the night and will be back in the morning to be late some more. And by the way, thank you always and with considerable gratitude for putting up with our messy, late ways. Which I'm late in saying.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



For the most important goings-on in the Fred Neil world, go to

That's the Bag I'm In (Neff; forthcoming)


For Haiku Monday, Google/YouTube was adamant about not letting me embed a video. Trying again here.

And for display purposes, I offer you four extremely rare minutes of a very rare type of performer -- one heralded and revered within the industry and who sought no fame whatsoever, eventually disappearing from public view.

Most people are not familiar with Fred Neil, and I won't go into his history. But everyone is familiar with one of his songs: "Everybody's Talkin'," which Nilsson recorded for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, and royalties of which probably covered most of Fred's expenses until his death in the early 2000s.

The song here was prominently featured to nice effect in an episode of The Sopranos.

I only learned of Fred Neil and his reputation through a little book I read repeatedly in my early teens: Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia. Also from that book, I first found out about the Velvet Underground. That's a whole 'nother obsession.

Anyway, my words are merely keeping you from seeing the following, which is legitimately rare and precious footage. Some angel posted it on YouTube at the end of July 2011. I get chills every time I watch it, because this man has been a part of my life since the early 1970s -- whether reading about him, then searching used record stores in pursuit of his four albums, or ultimately bringing him to the attention of others. To actually see him in performance after all this time is bizarre and beautiful.

Watch concert video here.

9/24 UPDATE: A Fred Neil documentary is on the way that appears to include more footage from the concert below. Too good to be true.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Haiku Monday / DANCE: The Winner

First, thanks to all who participated and to our voyeurs. Some folks just like to watch, and some have time constraints. All understandable.

DeepBlue -- the only one to link to a visual -- called me out for being fussy. I’ll own up to that. Personally I like the idea of the firm haiku rules, at least every so often anyway. It certainly has made the writing side tougher, and the judging perhaps easier. Moi said we need to make this whole gig more difficult because the competition’s become so good. I think the proper combination of theme and strict haiku observance makes this enterprise as challenging as drunk haikuing or haikuing on a ledge. We really don’t know what mind-altering substances people have been on up until now anyway, and with Moi submitting entries from 40,000 feet, no one’s getting any higher than that.

Speaking of DeepBlue, I’m glad he did link to his blog. Neat video, and I especially liked the music. Anytime you get more than two people working in a kitchen -- even at home -- a bit of a dance is involved. Nice to see when it all works for harmony and beauty.

First, the omissions.


Chickory! A true goddess of all things arts. Nada on dance and poetry?

And someone who for me has in a short amount of time come to represent an essential element of Haiku Monday, as much for himself as the people he’s brought along: Princess! Nothing? Really? We need you here.

Boxer . . . czar’s font of mystery and supporter of far-flung rants. I can certainly understand otherwise consumed. I don’t even know what I’m doing here right now.


Frankly, even in my dance ignorance (ignordance?), I thought these topic possibilities were obvious, and maybe even too obvious. For a combination of dance and season, how about Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring? Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker? How many of you are doing the facepalm dance right about now? Frankly, I thought DeepBlue was somehow evoking the Nutcracker until I saw the video.


We had a few; I expected more. Even though I’ve stated on previous Haiku Mondays and in some related correspondence that I’m perpetually oblivious to metaphors -- and I am -- I tried thinking of idiomatic expressions and relating them to seasons:

* dancing around a topic, and bringing a chill to a relationship?
* the heat of the bolero?


Many folks went for the fall theme, to nice effect. Some beautiful phrases emerged. It’s charming how, with the restraint of this haiku format, even simple strings of words assume a different air:

Curmudgeon’s “the aspen retire,” which swings and sways on its own (unfortunately, the 2nd line had 8 syllables)

the resignation inherent in foam 1’s “sighs . . . the rake in hand.”

Fleur, Fleur, Fleur: In a class by herself. Who else could toss off “Autumn’s mosh pit”?


foam 2 and karl hit similar funny notes about the act of dancing, and humor’s always good in the czarist universe.

I really like the way foam’s last line echoes the words themselves: “dog days hoedown stomp” = BUMP bump BUMP bump BUMP. That’s a stomp to me.

The humor of Karl’s verse is endearing. I’m wanting more punctuation there, not as an editor, but as a reader. I’m also wondering how the season and theme relate. The juxtaposition of crisp breeze and warm hand was one of my favorite moments this week. Maybe there are some fall dance memories in Karl’s past? “Oh sorry, your toe” is another classic.


I’ve already paid some homage to DeepBlue. “Fine Spoons’ arabesque” is great; “arabesque” by itself is a poetic word. As Count Basie was known for, sometimes you can just play one note, but if it’s the right note at the right time, you’re a genius. As DeepBlue acknowledged on his own account, the rules were secondary. Still a great verse.


RafaDe enters the metaphorical realm, it seems. Another excellent line: “Writhe in flames of blasphemy.” One of the other haikuers mentioned some rule about not using the theme word in the verse; I’m not holding that against RafaDe, as I didn’t mention it. But I am missing the seasonal reference here. If I’m overlooking it, it wouldn’t be the first time. (Late thought: season of the witch?)


Interesting that Moi and Uncle went back to junior high and high school, respectively, for entries. Both place the reader in a specific time and place . . . crucial.

My musical library and Moi’s only barely intersect, but I figured that something must be up with the Limburger reference; I didn’t think it was meant to refer solely to the smell of a southwestern junior high gymnasium, thick with sweat and socks and hormones. And I wasn’t disappointed: took a minute amount of research, but the reference is to a 1979 B-52’s lyric — which is smack dab in Moi’s wheelhouse. Did I get that right, Moi?

Uncle 1, on the senior prom. Uncle, you cad.


Uncle 2: Again, placing us not only in a specific season and time and place but in a crucial few seconds in time . . . bringing us up to the moment slowly . . . then climax! . . . the resolution and the celebration. As far as using the word “dance,” see RafaDe above.

Uncle 3 and Aunty rewrite: Sure it’s sappy. But it could just have easily gone blue:

Last dance, hold her tight;
does she feel my heart beating?
[Fill in here your own snide 5-syllable comment about lust-inspired throbbing organs.]

Okay, Uncle, pick Aunty up off the floor and offer her a fan and something cool to drink.


Aunty: I do love your verse, but as was pointed out some weeks back, some phrases are too good to split across lines. With “Ancient choreography” — a beautiful combo — coming in at seven syllables, why split it? Same goes for “chill night air.” May I be so bold (I feel like Uncle cutting in at the prom):

Owl swoops, mice skitter:
Ancient choreography —
Night-chilled matachin.*

*Matachin = Spanish ritualized sword-dance or battle dance (I had to look it up).

If you like the edits, keep me in mind for that book you’re certainly writing. Maybe I’ll make an exception and grant you special Auntian rates. :-)


CoreyJo, whose name alone is poetry, presents a beautiful take on the fall theme begun above. The clinging and falling evokes some dances whose names escape me. (I wish I knew more.)


Not too late, Pam, not at all. I really like the way you stop the reader with that comma immediately after the first syllable, as well with as the word “waltz,” which is an attention grabber and seems to impose a hard stop anyway (and is a good word to remember for Scrabble). The many little words on line two could be seen as wasted syllables, but they serve very effectively to slow . . . time . . . down, in anticipation of the tempo accelerating on the last line. Quite nicely done.


So . . . where has this late-night dance led us? Another great week of entries, and as usual, I’ve strutted and shuffled on too long. What’s the bottom line on this pas de deux of the judged and the judge?


Fourth an' goal to go;
two seconds left on game clock—
Dive play! End zone dance.

Uncle, your prize, courtesy of the czar, is you get to lord it over Aunty for a week. Our prize, kind sir, is to see you declare the theme and be the judge for next week. Presumably Aunty will let you rent her space for a spell.

Thanks, everybody, for a grand time as always. I'm going to do-si-do back to work. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Haiku Monday: 9/19/2011

I couldn't find a few things I wanted for the videos below -- and the word lends itself to much more than is represented here. If you're on a PC, right click to open links in a new tab or window:


John Renbourn

The French Mistake

What a Pair (pardon the sound)

Rules, as Aunty wrote 'em:

First, of course, is the proper [syllabic] scheme of 5-7-5. Next is the use of Kigo, essentially a seasonal reference. Thirdly, the subkect matter is subjective but oughta have a universal ring to it--the best Haiku (accordin' to the Masters) oughta have an "aha!" moment where the reader/ listener recognizes the moment conveyed. An' a final consideration is a "cutting" --a division of the poem into two independent parts, but each enhances the other.
On visuals: I've changed my tune from the original posting a few hours ago (Aunty, take note). Of course, feel free to post visuals on your blog, but for them to be considered in the context of the haiku contest, please provide a link to them in the comments section along with your haiku. If it's a short YouTube clip or something from Google images or a photo you've uploaded to a Flickr account, whatever. That saves me the time of going back and forth to your delightful blogs and getting consumed with nonhaiku content, which I invariably do.

As I said, I've selected a topic about which I am ignorant, so visuals could help me understand your verse. Links to your blog, though, will not work in your favor, so don't even go there.

Not for nothing am I the czar -- more than a trace of Russian totalitarianism courses through my veins. 

But I'm not entirely evil: Post as many haiku as you please, all open for judging. Window for entries closes at 11:59pm, Pacific Daylight Time. That's a minute before 3am Tuesday on the U.S. east coast, and god only knows when sometime next week for our dear friend(s) in Australia.

Have at it, funsters. The theme for Haiku Monday is DANCE.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Personal Interlude: My First Few Cars

My dedicated reader, Moi -- who has a delightful blog and who juggles more talents, skills, and interests than I could dream up in five lifetimes -- is a fast-car freak. I sent her an article that I thought would interest her, and it prompted a quick email exchange.

Moi had mentioned her lust for the present series of Jaguar E-class vehicles. I relay here a slightly modified email response of mine.


Growing up, when I barely cared about such things, I always thought Jaguars were the most elegant cars on the road. Their standard sedans would have done me just fine. Something like this:

As far as I'm concerned, most sedans since -- from the Lexus on down -- tried to match this look.

Here's a display of the first few cars I received from my dad, the Chevy/Olds dealer. Unlike most other car dealers' kids -- who had nice cars -- I always got the stuff Dad absolutely couldn't sell, even on the used car lot, or that he might have been too uninspired to unload on the wholesale market at Jerome Avenue in the South Bronx, at the time (and perhaps still) one of America's worst neighborhoods. But I could never beat the price, and until I got out of college and wanted actively to wean myself from the corporate/parental teat, they always came with gas credit cards.

My first car appears below, which I had for the last three months of high school and then until I went off to college. Seven miles a gallon. Car weighed 5700 pounds. If the driver's door accidentally closed on your leg, your next stop was the prosthesis store:

Next stop: Summer after freshman year. I was very surprised to receive a foreign car, as my father naturally thought that they were manifestations of the antichrist:

I had the Audi for about a week. Dad asked me what I thought. I was pretty pleased, but I mentioned in passing that the radio didn't work that well. Dad's response? "OK, give it back. We'll take care of that."

He sure did:

So I drove around the Pinto in the height of the exploding-gas-tank scare; Dad didn't care. I'll always remember this car because one time when I was on the FDR Drive in Manhattan, driving at a pretty good clip, I went into a dip and came out of it in mid-air, seemingly shifting half a lane to the right in the process. Good thing it was late at night and no one was in the lane next to me.

And the vehicle for which I was famous, the body of which was festooned with duct tape to cover the rust (remember, at this point I am the potential heir to a GM dealership that had been in business for 50-something years): I give you the affectionately monikered "Ghetto Cruiser," which lasted me for about four or five years:

The quality of cars courtesy of my father finally improved when I had a wife and kids who were riding around in them.

A gas credit card billed to someone else's account sure sounds good now, though.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Something about This Rang My Bell

Quote from the work desk. Longtime followers of this blog -- hell, my life -- know that the matter of religion has disturbed/fascinated me since before the bar mitzvah that I was committed to for all the wrong reasons. How many functioning atheists of Jewish descent see the Abbey of Gethsemani as the ideal retreat?

Hang in there with this. It starts off a little rocky, but there's a payoff:

No theory is truly falsifiable or rationally justified, because there is no ultimate commonly agreed standard of rationality or set of premises to adjudicate on whether a theory has been falsified. This would let theology off the hook, had Bartley not gone on to formulate his own nonjustificational approach, dubbed “pancritical rationalism.” The pancritical rationalist refuses to commit to any position and holds everything open to criticism—not just any theory that he adopts, but also the criteria for rationality and the premises from which he starts.

I believe that Bartley goes rather too far. Yes, our beliefs, including our most cherished theological beliefs, should be open to criticism, but that ought not to preclude our being committed to them—otherwise, intellectual and moral paralysis set in. Commitment ought not to constitute a retreat so much as a launching pad for further inquiry. As Michael Polanyi puts it in Personal Knowledge, “The principal purpose of this book is to achieve a frame of mind in which I may hold firmly to what I believe to be true, even though I know that it may conceivably be false.”

So, there you go. Maybe "agnostic" is a better term. I've read books about Polanyi, not that I could understand a word of them. Sounds like this quote is from a preface anyway. I probably couldn't get past the roman numerals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Deleted post

Yes, a post used to be here. Why did I delete it? Purely mercenary reasons. No offense intended to Eggy, Aunty, or Moi for deleting your most welcome comments.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ready to Punch an Author in the Face

And I can't say it's the first time.

I'm indexing yet another rehash of a dissertation. I'm not complaining. Work is work. And theological dissertations aren't going away anytime soon.

This author has taken to putting not just [sic], but [sic!] in the middle of extracts for relatively meaningless items . . . the occasional subject/verb disagreement (easy enough to silently fix) or use of masculine pronouns when a gender-neutral approach may have been preferred. The one that sent me over the edge was a [sic!] for misuse of "who" instead of "whom."

The overall effect is one of Gotcha! But who really cares? The author is just making himself look very petty.

There are better ways to handle this. First, the author could put a simple note in the preface: "Extracts include gender-exclusive language as they appeared in the original." Simple enough, no overt value judgment. Some of the works cited are old enough that such use of male pronouns was standard practice.

The other thing is that in these days of greater attention being paid to such matters, some authors or publishers mandate alternating gender pronouns. In the case of anecdotal material, we don't know if perhaps the work cited had a female pronoun on the previous page. Quite possibly, this author is taking material out of context and making a big deal out of nothing.

What really grinds my guts is that this work is itself full of typos. Misspellings, authors' names treated inconsistently, verb tenses wrong, works in the footnotes that don't appear in the bibliography. It's a wreck. We're dealing with a serious glass-houses issue.

For some publishers, I'd note the more egregious problems. And I like working with this publisher. Friendly, pays on time, grants a little extra time if I need it, actually sent me a gift card to a bookstore a few Christmases ago. I've told the managing editor any number of times that the publisher's books would really benefit from professional proofreading. I think this publisher shares the expenses of publication with the author, though, and proofreading payments would mostly fall to the author. As it's been explained to me, folks who are reprinting their dissertations don't have a lot of extra money lying around.

Understood. But unless the thing goes into reprints (unlikely if you saw this title), the author has one chance to make that book as good as it can be. And I guarantee, if this author's experience is anything like most other authors' and editors' experience (present company included), as soon as the damn thing shows up on his doorstep, he's going to open to a page with a glaring error. But in this case it'll be that one, and another one, and another one, and another one.

Five years from now, is the author going to wish he scrounged up an extra $650 to have this pretty significant tome proofread, so it wouldn't embarrass him every time someone cracked open the cover?

Thirty-five years later, am I still regretting spending $75 of birthday money on albums instead of an autographed copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass that I saw in an Ann Street bookstore on the way to J&R Music World, when J&R was just a hole in the ground in the shadow of the World Trade Center, selling records for $3.99 a pop?


Philip Wylie, in Finnley Wren, wrote, "Why should I be sobered by anything akin to regret?"

Don't get me started.

PS: Some folks might think I'm the one being petty here. "If you see mistakes in a book you're indexing, shouldn't you point them out to the publisher?" Yes and no. I often do this, when the mistakes are occasional. When the mistakes are rampant, when it appears that the author himself or herself didn't care to put enough effort into the work, I'm less likely to do so.

"But if you were a doctor and you noticed something wrong with one of your patients, but that wasn't what brought the patient in to see you, wouldn't you point it out or treat it?"

Well, if I was a doctor, I'd be dealing with life-and-death situations, and that's a whole 'nother story. How about this:

I'm working at a car wash (much more appropriate to my level of expertise). You come in and tell me you want the outside of your car washed, and you want it back in an hour. I do a fine job of washing your car, and I notice that the inside looks like hell. Do I do the inside, knowing that (a) stopping to do so will make me miss your deadline and (b) I won't get paid for it? Or do I tell you that, for an extra fee, I can also take care of your interior?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Surprised? Insulted?

Just received an email from a client that decided to go with a different type of page numbering system. Instead of numbering each book sequentially from 1 to the end, the publisher has decided to number within each chapter. Thus, 1.1-end, 2.1-end. Kind of a tail-wagging-the-dog issue here, but the publisher has a reason for doing so.

Email reads:

Hi Bob,
I know we ran the idea of changing the page numbering system by you, and we wanted to let you know we have decided to use the approach described in the e-mail below. A week or so ago Jane asked me to ask you if your indexing/copyediting software could handle this type of numbering system, but we put contacting you about this on hold until the final decision was made to change the page numbering system. Now that the decision has been made, can your indexing/copyediting software handle this?

Let us know.

Longtime readers know where this one is going. Cue the snarky email response in 3, 2, 1:

Not sure what you mean by "software."

If you ever run into an indexer who touts his or her software, I'd run in the other direction.

And I guess I use the same copyediting software that your authors use writing software. Your authors let all the software do the mental work of writing and researching and editing and keeping review panels happy, right?



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Haiku Monday: The Long and Short of It

Good Tuesday or later, folks.

We ended up with a nice bit of variety, although it was interesting how many haiku focused on food and beverage. Maybe that’s just a sign of where everyone’s head is. When I first thought of the theme, the denotation of the word that intrigued me was selling short -- profiting through loss, betting on a move to the downside. If I had to offer up a haiku this week, I’d have tried to do something with that. But as the definitions showed, many possibilities were available, and judging from the quality of the entries, I’m glad I was on the sidelines this week.

I do intend to keep this short, by the way. Every entry was quality. As I saw them come in, I thought, There’s a winner, there’s a winner. But when one in particular showed up, I knew where the blue ribbon was going, and subsequent entries didn’t move me off that dime.

The entries:

Karl 1: Gets a prize for working “glyexab” into the verse. There’s poetry in word verification.

Fishy 1–3: “Short bus” is always a metaphor and a euphemism that’s well worth mining. The “short ribs” entry made me wish I was invited to the party.

Karl 2: The long and short of the haiku process made me want to dance the hokey-pokey. Liked the rhythm.

Moi: Glad you found your knight in shining armor. I wish I’d have been there when you were thirteen. Alas, I was ensconced in a boys’ school, years away from thinking any female would ever even cough in my direction. (I’m still amazed when they do.) Eh, I’d have ended up on the trash heap, too. Moi at thirteen. Any of us at thirteen. The mind reels.

Chickory: In full disclosure and true to my profession, I should have given credit where it’s due and noted that the definitions were from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition). There, that feels better. Somewhere back in my blog archives, I have an entry about whether “50 Cent” in an index should be alphabetized under “Fifty” or “Fiddy.” I get, obviously, the Randy Nouvel Homme reference, and I guess Gaga is “born this way.” I don’t know where the Fiddy comes in. When I saw “go, go, go shorty,” I thought a little further back -- to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Glad you’re over the plague. We need you plugging away in the many art realms.

Troll 1: Thanks for giving me a chance to ask my son to translate. I think it sounds better in the original.

Kym 1: Being short might be hard, but I think your stature will result in a longer life. I have always thought that life expectancy was related more to height than gender. Women are shorter; live longer. To wit, Muggsy Bogues has already outlasted Manute Bol. The human body’s not designed for excessive height. There’s a reason you hear “little old man,” and you don’t see a lot of six-foot-three nonagenarians stumbling around.

Troll 2: Thanks again for another gift: a visit to the Thomas Hobbes Liquor Emporium. Only at Haiku Monday.

Kym 2: Nice play on “short.” And I am a Waffle House devotee. Lived for 10 years in Avondale Estates, GA, home of the first and the 1,000th WH. From spending literally hundreds (it may even be thousands) of hours patronizing this fine institution, I can attest that the lives of most of the cooks seem scattered, smothered, and covered indeed. And I have the greatest of admiration for those folks. It takes an amazing mind to do that job correctly -- one that I do not possess.

Foam: Good thing about pints and pint-sized folks. If there’s too many of the former, the descent is much quicker, and likely not as painful.

Fleur: We need to get you out more. Or less. We could rename this one “Fleur and the Angry Inch.” How did you ascertain his exact height? Were you toting your Mickey Rooney cardboard cutout for comparison?

Fishy 4: Nice job on the timely and topical. Blago is that dumb. And corrupt. And arrogant.

Uncle 1–2: In my part of the world, two types of wimmen wear short shorts: Girls who are too young for me to be looking at, and women who damn near take up an aisle by themselves at the Walmart. Both are unfortunate in their own way.

Aunty 1–3: I don’t think I set up any rules this time around, nor did I dangle a prize, now that I think of it. Thanks for getting these in. All are great. Shameless pandering is a time-tested way to a man’s heart (see also Fishy 2, “Short ribs”). I love “six short pants and a PUSH!” And between “myopia” this week and “presbyopia” last week, I’m having a hard time seeing straight. All most clever.

And now, having made a short story long, I’ll bring this review up short with a haiku summation:

Wide-ranging short verse.
To Kymical Reactions
Go this week’s honors . . .

for the Waffle House homage.

As I said, no prize forthcoming from here. You don’t need one. As the father of two sons whom I adore, I can say -- as you already know -- your gift awaits you. Sounds like you’re already enjoying it.

Had a great time, folks. Thanks to Troll et al. for entrusting me with this institution for a week. Back to meet a deadline on which I’ve left myself woefully short on time.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Haiku Monday: Short

Take it any way you want.
Haiku on "short" in 5-7-5 format.
Post in comments field below.

Main Entry: short
Etymology:Middle English, from Old English sceort; akin to Old High German scurz short, Old Norse skortr lack
Date:before 12th century

1 a : having little length  b : not tall or high  : LOW
2 a : not extended in time  : BRIEF  *a short vacation*  b : not retentive  *a short memory*  c : EXPEDITIOUS, QUICK  *made short work of the problem*  d : seeming to pass quickly  *made great progress in just a few short years*
3 a of a speech sound   : having a relatively short duration  b : being the member of a pair of similarly spelled vowel or vowel-containing sounds that is descended from a vowel that was short in duration but is no longer so and that does not necessarily have duration as its chief distinguishing feature  *short i in sin*  c of a syllable in prosody    (1) : of relatively brief duration  (2) : UNSTRESSED
4 : limited in distance  *a short trip*
5 a : not coming up to a measure or requirement  : INSUFFICIENT  *in short supply*  b : not reaching far enough  *the throw to first was short*  c : enduring privation  d : insufficiently supplied  *short of cash*  *short on brains*
6 a : ABRUPT, CURT  *I'm sorry I was short with you*  b : quickly provoked  *a short temper*
7 : CHOPPY 2
8 : payable at an early date  *a short loan*
9 a : containing or cooked with shortening;  also   : FLAKY  *short pastry*  b of metal   : brittle under certain conditions
10 a : not lengthy or drawn out  *a short speech*  b : made briefer  : ABBREVIATED
11 a : not having goods or property that one has sold in anticipation of a fall in prices  b : consisting of, relating to, or engaging in the sale of securities or commodities that the seller does not possess or has not contracted for at the time of the sale  *short sale*  *a short seller*
12 : near the end of a tour of duty
  –short£ish \*sh*r-tish\  adjective 
  –short£ness \*sh*rt-n*s\  noun 
  –in short order : with dispatch  : QUICKLY

Main Entry: short
Date:circa 1586

1 : the sum and substance  : UPSHOT
2 a : a short syllable  b : a short sound or signal
3 plural    a : a by-product of wheat milling that includes the germ, fine bran, and some flour  b : refuse, clippings, or trimmings discarded in various manufacturing processes
4 a : knee-length or less than knee-length trousers —  usually used in plural  b plural   : short drawers  c : a size in clothing for short men
5 a : one who operates on the short side of the market  b plural   : short-term bonds
6 plural   : DEFICIENCIES
9 a : SHORT SUBJECT  b : a brief story or article (as in a newspaper)
  –for short : as an abbreviation  *named Katherine or Kate for short*
  –in short : by way of summary  : BRIEFLY

Main Entry: short
Function:transitive verb

3 : to sell (a security) short in expectation of a fall in prices

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Need Your Wisdom, Blog Homies: And/Or

An editor I work with once made a pretty solid argument that, in most cases, the "and/or" construction is clunky, useless, and repetitive. Most of the time, "or" implies "and," and that "and/or" should generally not appear.

I can never remember his argument as well as he stated it, but I'd like to hear the opinions of people I trust.

What do you think? Get rid of "and/or"? Why? Or why not?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Form and Formlessness

Revelation time.

Most poetry I am exposed to these days does nothing for me, not that I come across much of it. Generally it’s what appears in the New Yorker, or what Garrison Keillor reads in his daily poetry minutes on NPR—although now that I think of it, I think the local NPR affiliate has done away with Keillor’s segment.

New Yorker’s poetry often leaves me with two takeaway notions.

1. If I submitted this poem instead of the person whose name I recognize at the end of the verse, it would have gone straight into the trash.

2. This poem is nothing but middling prose with line breaks.

But I came across a New Yorker poem a few weeks back titled “Facebook Sonnet.” I loved it. I’m sure I’m violating eight or seven commandments right now—especially for someone in the publishing industry—but here it is:

Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend

The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume and extend
Childhood. Let’s all play the games

That occupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.

Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.

—Sherman Alexie

And it struck me: I like structure. Free verse, not so much. And that explains my enjoyment, too, of Haiku Monday. If it were Free Verse Friday, I’m not sure what would be worse: writing entries or reading those from other people.

So, I prefer form. Poetry within certain parameters, which offers a certain obvious challenge.
Then, revelation two: Why people don’t like certain types of jazz.

Just guessing, but maybe it's the seeming lack of structure. My wife, for example, can listen to Kenny Burrell or Bill Evans or Jimmy Smith or Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, but Coltrane’s A Love Supreme? Nope. “My Favorite Things”? Long enough while he’s holding the melody, but not past it. Ornette Coleman? I wouldn’t even try.

I was talking to Tere about this and she said, “But I like abstract art—visual art.”

I responded, “Yeah, but there’s an end to it. You don’t have to go beyond the canvas. You know where it begins and ends. Unlike a Coltrane song, which you never know how long it’s going to go on, or when it will return to the theme. There’s an uncertainty there that leaves you uncomfortable.”

Well, to be fair, I would admit to some share of shrieking and bleating in Coltrane and Coleman that aren't for everyone . . . not that there's anything wrong with that.

For me, I don’t mind the aural discomfort. But the structureless void, and occasional blathering, of much free verse? Prose and hard returns. Blah.

So, that’s my one thought for 2011.



PS: I am not on Facebook. 
PPS: Haiku Monday at Chez Fleur. The theme is memory.