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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Today's Mystery of the Universe

If I never have cash in my wallet, why is there always change in my pocket?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Index Entry of the Day

John XXIII, xviii 

Monday, December 7, 2015

After 35 Years at This, Maybe I Know What I'm Doing

An author with whom I've been working pretty closely just received a rejection letter from a writers' agency. Agent really liked the book but feels it's not sufficiently marketable.

The manuscript was in essentially OK shape when I first saw it, yet it needed a thorough albeit not difficult copyedit. Here's the agent's assessment after the Land on Demand touch:

I may as well get right to it: I’m going to pass on this. But believe me when I say I’m passing with many regrets, as I think that you’re an excellent writer with a superb grasp of both language and the type of style, tone, and pacing that makes for a good biography. I’m a big fan of biography and read a fair amount of it, and in terms of composition and content, this manuscript is on par with anything else that’s out there. 

Well, thanks. And, well, I guess I do know the person's name. But check out the lefty bass player and about three seconds of a seriously hammered Judy Garland at the beginning:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Well, now that's nice

If it's trite, I just haven't heard it yet, I guess.

By counting, one may determine the number of seeds in an apple, thereby obtaining factual information, but by determining the number of apples in a seed, one obtains knowledge of greater moment.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Typo of the Day

What though the shadows gather ’round? A new song Christ is giving.
No storm can shake my inmost clam, while to that Rock I’m clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Name of the Day (I'm running out of time)

Nellie Louie was born at Byrock, near Bourke in far western New South Wales, in December 1903 to Nancy and Ah Louie, one of at least four children born to the couple. 

Footnote of the Day (damn, is it still today?)

See, for example, Evening News, ‘She Liked Chinamen’; Wagga Wagga Express, ‘Sydney Chinese Opium Dens’; Sunday Times, ‘Girls in Opium Dens.’

Word of the Day


Main Entry:re£lume
Function:transitive verb
Inflected Form:re£lumed ; re£lum£ing
Etymology:irregular from Late Latin reluminare, from Latin re- + luminare to light up — more at  ILLUMINATE

 archaic   : to light or light up again  : REKINDLE


Well, the Beverly Hillbillies thing ended up being a bust -- as was most of this seemingly promising book. Easy proofread, disappointing content.

Y'all come back now. Ya hear?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

First Time for Everything

I'm about to read my first scholarly treatment of The Beverly Hillbillies, about 15 pages of a larger chapter.

These pointyheads better get it right. Unfortunately I'm proofreading, so any unsolicited comments about content I might make at an earlier stage would be out of place, particularly since the proofs are going back to Bangalore.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pity the Author Didn't Learn to Spell While There

"I taught—and learned to teach effectively—at Such-and-So Middle School in Tuscon, Arizona."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

For All You Self-Publishers Out There: CreateSpace

Bob, I just sent book out last night and it's due to arrive on Tuesday (I couldn't bring myself to spend $45 for Monday!)  As a product of CreateSpace, it is all you said it would likely be; in short, stunningly disappointing and defective in just about every way. (In my own defense, I tried hard to get our team to go to another publisher; the numbers were just too good for CS.) If you would like to point out any defects, feel free, and we will try to fix the ones we can.

Their margin of error is a whopping 1/8 inch, so bindings almost all off center, the books are all wavy, the cover stays open after a single perusal and bends skyward, the bold of one author’s story bleeds too much (we are going to use a different typeface; if you have any recommendations of other ways, typefaces to set his story off, they are most welcome), and our designer said the back print job is worse than the local Kinko's would do. Other than that, pretty good inside, except the color is stark white, so we are going to try to change to a cream or beige.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hometown Gets No Respect

Myrna and Harvey Frommer argue that the general practice in New York City politics was to run, for the slots of mayor, comptroller, and president of the city council, one man from the Bronx, one from Manhattan, and one from Brooklyn, one Irish, one Jewish, and one Italian. Residents of Staten Island and Queens, women, and people from other ethnic or racial groups were decidedly and deliberately left out. [emphasis added]

Some Things Never Change

From the Jim Crow era, but just as true today:

As the Washington Evening Star put it, “It must be viewed as one of the ironies of history that the Confederacy, which was never able to capture Washington during the course of that war, now holds it as a helpless pawn."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Well, You Know I'm Not Watching College Football

Today’s project:

"From 1962 to 1964, he was in the U.S. Army and served as an aide to the commanding general of the Military District of Washington. A social aide to President John F. Kennedy, [Richard] Lipsey was the only nonmedical attendee to oversee the president’s autopsy."

I wonder, How is he still alive?


Ripped from the headlines:

"E! and other celebrity news media said on Friday that Odom had opened his eyes, saw Kardashian at his bedside and uttered a few words before falling back to sleep."

Headline, LandonDemand News Service:
"Oh, Christ, I’m Not Dead Yet?”


[I believe I have overcome the white Gmail background. Must be a mistake.]

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sounding It Out

I don't often copyedit with an ear toward a book being read aloud, but I just couldn't let slide an all-encompassing reference to the Judeo-Christian deity as "s/he/it."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Monday, September 7, 2015

Not Yet Appealing to My Prurient Interests

Working on a Marxist-feminist study of Cuban women's hips. Should be more engaging.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Quote of the Day

"There are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?"
—Henry Kissinger, 1969

Quoted in Donald F. McHenry, Micronesia: Trust Betrayed (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1975)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Quote of the Day

From correspondence with an author, and the label for the post is a little deceiving, given that the author is in the UK:

"I think down-sizing is the way to go. However, it's really, really hard! We all want simpler lives, yet the complications of getting to that point leave one's mind boggling!"

Words I Never Expected to Type in an Index

zombie apocalypse

Monday, August 17, 2015

Damn Overachievers

He's known for his charitable works and activism (although I also seem to remember stories about some domestic abuse against Darryl Hannah), and many of the Eagles' more tolerable songs are his, but how the hell do you write such lyrics as those below at age 16?

[Lyrics reflect Nico's version on her first album. She and the songwriter were an item back in those days, when he was all of 18 and she was in her post-Velvet Underground period.]

"These Days" (Jackson Browne)
Arranged by John Cale; backing musicians: John Cale and Lou Reed

I've been out walking
I don't do too much talking these days
These days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to

I stopped my rambling
I don't do too much gambling these days
These days 
These days I seem to think about
How all the changes came about my way
And I wonder if I'll see another highway

I had a lover
I don't think I'll risk another these days
These days
And if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
It's just that I've been losing so long

La . . . la . . . la . . . 

I stopped my dreaming
I won't do too much scheming these days
These days
These days I sit on cornerstones
And count the time the quarter turns to ten

Please don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them

Monday, August 10, 2015

More APA Rage

New York, NY in Biblio
Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press

Makes a body appreciate Chicago, IL

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Smart and Dumber

I am constantly amazed at what some otherwise highly educated people think passes for correct punctuation.

The authors whose books I read for theological and university presses are supposed to be experts in their fields. Said authors didn't get that way, one presumes, by watching Wheel of Fortune while pounding Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

They've read books and scholarly articles. Lots of them.

So, when writing their own, why do they flaunt the most basic of grammatical standards?

I'm working on a book now in which the author routinely puts punctuation inside close parentheses that should appear outside of it. A few examples follow, with some words changed to protect the guilty:

Some institutions prefix a letter or two to denote the type of image, and some have a code number unique to the donor (especially if they are repeat donors.)

A private lender was anxious about placing his historic firearms in the museum for a required six-month period (the usual display time for firearms is no more than three months.) 

Always leave a note in it’s [sic] place stating: 1) what it is; 2) the date it was removed; 3) the reason it was removed (e.g. for a loan, photography, conservation;) and 4) the approximate date of return. Imagine seeing a note that simply states “Object Taken” (as has been seen.)

Make sure your doors have weather-stripping, sweeps and thresholds (gaskets,) and block all other small areas of possible insect entry.

Do these examples suffice? Imagine 142 pages of this style. Thankfully the volume is short.

The point of the post is that I don't understand how multiple-degreed, professional people who are highly respected in their fields can write sentences as if they're unfamiliar with the concept. 

Another example, which I see frequently enough to drive me to distraction -- and a form of which also resides buried somewhere in this blog -- is

"Where did my car go," Jim wondered?

My question has always been, "Has this author ever seen another publication present punctuation in this way? How can this even look correct, even from a visual standpoint?" 

I guess that's the case if someone has spent a lot of time reading. There are other ways to make it in the world.

. . . Not that I'm familiar with them. I'd say I'm open to suggestions, but at this point I'm pretty untrainable, and you don't want me in your workplace. Not if anyone there likes microwave popcorn.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Must Have Been Interesting in the Green Room

It was an unusual display of star power considering that [the Erie Benedictine Sisters], which soon disbanded and was never heard from again, shared the stage that evening with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, singer Petula Clark, comedian Alan King, and the Muppets in their first TV appearance.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just Finished Proofing a Book by Her and Now Indexing Her Biography

Everything that is written about us is written without us. The only input that the [Catholic] church takes on the women’s issue is what we do on the steps outside your closed doors. After you issue your bulletins defining us as lower and lesser kinds of human beings, we react to them. Dissent is the only ministry a woman has in the church. And when we react, you call us radical feminists and heretics.

--Joan Chittister

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Meet the proprietor in a rare moment of dozing, with four-month-old Franny:


Slavery made many free white Jamaicans very rich; by the middle of the eighteenth century, Jamaicans would be the wealthiest Britons outside of Britain. As historian Trevor Burnard has shown, the average white man in Jamaica was more than thirty-six times wealthier than the average white man in the thirteen mainland colonies. Only four men in all of New England and the middle colonies had wealth that exceeded the wealth of the average white Jamaican. (emphasis added)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Today's Great Customer Comment

One of my publishers asks me to bid on a large novelization of some ancient stories. Large, like 800-900 manuscript pages, and you can look at my rate sheet and do the math yourself.

The author responds, "I already spent a lot of money with a content editor. Why should I spend more on a copyeditor?"

Very reasonable question, to which I can usually, through a page or two of sample editing, offer quite damning evidence of why a copyeditor provides essential value.

The managing editor for the press asks if I can do a sample edit to show the author what he'll get for his money. In perhaps the first time in -- well -- forever, I tell a client that, indeed, the manuscript is in such good shape that the $4K or so spent on copyediting would be misused funds . . . and it would be such easy money. Through a sampling of different parts of the document, I can find virtually nothing I would change.

The publisher is presently recovering from a serious operation (N.B., DB: not a lobotomy). The managing editor passed along that the publisher thought she'd taken too much Oxycontin before reading my email.

What was that old image I used? Maybe those days are behind me.

But don't count on it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Oh, Those Wacky Academics

Even though the topics may change over time, much of my labor still involves pressing my nose to the trappings of supposedly informed discourse: footnotes (or author/date citations) and bibliographies. Nothing like editing 12 hours of such documentation to the exclusion of any running text. But I guess that's a production decision.

Such citations are important, one is given to understand. My grad-school son and girlfriend were at the house during finals period in the spring and had me giving their APA documentation in a semester-end paper the once-over.

One of my esteemed publishers -- esteemed because they send me paychecks, albeit a bit sluggishly -- has me edit the text and then deal with the author's review of my copyedit. In other words, I get to see what edits they override, what mistakes I overlooked (he writes, mea culpingly), and what they choose to ignore.

I'm presently reviewing a manuscript that I sent back to the publisher in October 2014, for chrissakes, and the author just managed to get around to reviewing the text. That cutting edge dulls a bit with time, buddy.

Routine queries involve places in which the author/date citations don't match up with the bibliography or where the author should be citing a particular fact.

Author for this book has simply deleted many of the queries where the information disagreed -- and deleted the citation itself as well. Simply too busy to do the legwork, I guess. So now what appears? Either what seems like an unsubstantiated fact or a wee bit of something that smacks of, uh, violation of fair use -- or perhaps lack of intellectual integrity. Is there a nicer word for that?

A representation of a null set, so the site sez

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Today's Word Is

In Rome, the mentally handicapped could not inherit an estate or participate in “legal activity.” Some who escaped tardocide (the killing of those considered to be “idiots”) became “objects of display and amusement for the rich.” They were “lacking understanding, similar to children,” with no “legal capacity.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Drawing That Line in the Sand

But thanks to this work, people from all over learned about the repression [in Nicaragua]. I was told the bloody dictator of Uganda, Idi Amín, was compared to Somoza and he became furious and said he could eat the liver of his enemies but he did not bomb his own people like Somoza.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Peace on You

Scroll down for a refreshing golden shower update.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

That's What This Blog Is All About, Charlie Brown

This blog serves, as the header above states, as my business's website. Thanks to the Google for the cyberrealestate. I've attracted over time clients from Kuwait and Australia, not to mention Oxford University Press, based on people who've found this work diary. That was back in the day when the Google's algorithms were a variation on the old Stalin line: "Paper tolerates anything written on it."

Tangent: You know the line attributed to Stalin, "To make an omelette you have to break a few eggs"? Seems that he cribbed that from my notorious cousin Lazar Kaganovich, although Lazar probably picked it up from somewhere else. For all of his, uh, charms, I don't think that original thought was high on Iron Lazar's list.

Anyway, even in spite of the Google's algorithm changes, a year or so ago, the author of a nascent Fred Neil biography found a posting I'd done about one of the few surviving video clips of the late, great Fred Neil. Alas, in the interim we've met and hit it off quite nicely, and tomorrow I'll receive the complete manuscript.

The notion that I'll have a heavy hand in a Fred Neil biography is one of the things that makes my crazy work life worthwhile. That, and nailing a friend's father years back for telling me he taught ethics at the School of the Americas with the line, "How interesting. A good friend of mine did the original English translation of Gutierrez's A Theology of Liberation." Perhaps my greatest party moment ever -- well, at least in my mind. You could just about see the steam coming out of this man's ears. No telling how many times he'd gotten away with that line.

Not as dumb as I look,

I remain,

Yr. humble and obedient servant,

[drum roll]

Geo. Washington

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Put Out That Candle, Diogenes

I've said before somewhere on this blog that when I mention to a press that I think a book's got problems, the press is usually aware of it already.

New indexing client, and I was so bold as to offer this slightly edited in-progress report:

"The index is presently running about 26 double-spaced pages, short of the allotted 34. I didn't try to hold back on length when indexing. As any of my clients can tell you, if anything I'm usually trying to cut my original data drastically to make the text fit. I think the length is more a factor of the book's organization. The author is fond of the 'say what you'll say, say it, say what you've said' approach -- not only within chapters but through the whole book. Too, the same ground sometimes seems to be covered in two or three places (at least), and as an indexer I'm not fond of sending readers to multiple pages only to find the same information. I hope my approach is okay. I've also tried to follow the press guidelines on not trying to outline the book or capture every detail. Having said all that, I don't feel that someone looking at the index would conclude that I'd cut any corners."

Response (slightly edited)

"Thanks for this update, Bob. Your approach to indexing this book sounds right. You don't need to hit the max no. of pages. This author's dissertation advisor should have steered him away from this topic, which sounds good but is almost impossible to pull off and still do justice to all the issues involved. So I'm not surprised at the vacuity you have encountered. We rejected the ms at one point, but a 'friend of the Press' thought we should reconsider."


"Vacuity." That's some harsh stuff.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Learn Something New Every Day in This Line of Work: Golden Shower Update

I posted the following back on June 11, thinking I was clever. If you've read this post already, please revisit.


Man, and I thought the New Testament was whack. . . .

Don’t you remember the myth, Justin, how Zeus in the form of a golden shower descends upon the virgin daughter of King Argos, Danaë, from whom Perseus then subsequently issues forth?


A "golden shower"? Wow.

Thanks to Messrs. Merriam and Webster for capturing for posterity what most folks, except maybe this author, seem to know:

Main Entry:golden shower

 : the act of urinating on another person usually as part of a sex act


The proofs I worked on arrived at the press on June 17, and the following email exchange ensued, with the title, "Zeus & Danaë, per Klimt."

Managing Editor: Interpret as you will. /D

LandonDemand: Huh. When I checked some references, they all referred to a shower of gold, which this could depict. However, that's different from a golden shower. If, indeed, this is showing a golden shower, then Zeus must have consumed a godlike amount of Nepenthe before delivering it.

Managing Editor: hey, he’s a god; his capacities are infinite, including his capacity for perversion (ask Leda & Io, to name just a couple)

LandonDemand: But I'm keeping an open mind.

Managing Editor: always important when dealing w/ a deity

LandonDemand: So, ultimately, the phrase "golden shower" and its present-day connotation was entirely willful and intentional on the author's part? Was the "shower of gold" I read numerous references to just an obfuscation / G-rated version of the original text?

Managing Editor: let it go, Bob; you’ve done your job, and I appreciate it. Google results for “golden shower” (in quotation marks) + Danae: 41K hits; for “shower of gold” + Danae, 29K hits. Moreover, most readers of this book—probably the vast majority of readers of this book—will be blissfully ignorant of any naughty meaning. And if you change it to “of gold,” you have two “of” phrases in rapid succession, and it’s simply not reworking further to protect a reader from naughtiness. In fact, I applaud a little subversive naughtiness.

LandonDemand: Thanks. I'm just trying to fill in the education I missed all along the way.

Managing Editor: as are we all—or should be anyway. I just learned that New Hampshire and Vermont are so topographically different because each is from a different continent, which smushed together and then split again, leaving a different landmass mix.

LandonDemand: That might explain the Manchester Union-Leader in one state and Bernie Sanders next door.

Managing Editor: That’s what one of my fellow managing editors said, only in less polite terms.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hoping This Doesn't Become Regular

A few days ago, another friend of the family suffered what will end up being a fatal heart attack, if the next few days play out as the doctors expect. Woman around 60 without prior heart problems, husband had just retired, and they'd planned all the things they'd be doing in their leisure.

If these things happen in threes and I'm number three, well, it's been -- uh -- it's hard exactly to classify what it's been, whatever "it" is.

I guess working in my favor is that I do indeed have some heart health issues and have been warned. My father, from what the doctors say, shouldn't be sucking air at all at this point because of heart problems, but he looks and feels pretty good.

No sense.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bill Leonard, RIP

Just another week (actually, this all kinda came together on the same day, if I remember correctly [questionable]):

Three-day stomach virus concomitant with panic attack? Check.

Home water heater ceases to function? Check.

First friend made out of college dies unexpectedly out of nowhere? Fifty-eight years old and no apparent prior health issues? Check.

Bill Leonard, whom I first came to know while proofreading airline timetables and lottery tickets in Atlanta in 1981-1982, had a heart attack while hiking with his dogs in Asheville, NC. I went to the celebration of his life yesterday and saw a lot of folks with incredible memories whom I hadn't seen in 30-plus years. Plenty of stories that I'd heard and not heard. The fleeting incidents that managed to stick in their heads for all of this time blew me away. I'm lucky if I can remember the manuscript I was working on earlier in the day.

This commercial printing joint where I met Bill did, however, spawn three people who ended up writing or editing for a living -- the third remains one of my dearest friends in the world -- so there's something to be said for slave labor right out of college, although it helps that it's in one's desired field.

Bill leaves behind a wife and two daughters, both of whom are far too young to have their very devoted father taken away from them.

Bill was a witty, brilliant, talented communicator who had deep knowledge and love of many issues and activities -- and he was perfectly happy to remind you in detail of any of those at the drop of a hat. He was a life-lover in the extreme. And if whatever you brought up didn't measure up with his standards, he'd tell you that, too. Imagine how special a person . . . who could proudly live up to that description -- and still have legions of admirers.

Once, at a mutual friend's wedding reception, the czarina mentioned that we were in Bristol now, and Bill and his family should come up and visit. Bill's response? "Why would I do that? Asheville's better." Classic Bill.

Sad day . . . and throwing off plenty of harmonic echoes in my own world. The drive back from Asheville and some of the hours since have been some of the more introspective and psychically disruptive of my life.

Going to a Reiki session tomorrow -- my first. The timing cannot be coincidental.

See ya, Bill. It ain't right. Your life was honored well, but you know that.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Another Author Bites Back

Fiction author for whom I've edited five or six books has a character in the most recent tome who shape-shifts into a venomous snake -- evil's right hand. The character's cover story? Freelance copyeditor.

Thanks, boss.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Just a Brutal Sentence

African liberative theologies will persevere and be fruitful through the consistent appropriation of Christian faith made possible by the inculturation that draws out meanings in African cultural values in the light of the changes and transformations these cultural values have undergone in response to various agents of social transformation on account of modernity and multifaceted globalizing trends.

Another Happy Customer

Oh, that they were all this easy to please:

I just love all your periods and commas! Gives such a feeling of security!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Author Fights Back

I love this. One of my publishers has produced about a dozen of this particular author's works. Every six months he comes out with another little book of religious writings (about 80 m/s pages). If I had to classify the genre, and for as long as the Google lets this video sit here, please enjoy:

So his current manuscript comes in with this section in the Preface. Fight the power!

Special Note to My Publisher and Editor, as Well as to All Readers
            It may not be politically correct to adopt such a change in policy. But this is to serve notice that, from hence forth, I plan to capitalize not only nouns but all pronouns that refer to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. By way of further example, since Jesus is the “light of the world,” I will capitalize the word Light when it refers to Jesus as being the Light. The same with the Lord as being Provider, Guide, and Companion—also the Light of His Presence.
            Enough said! Hopefully you get the idea. I may miss a word here and there, but at least you get the drift of my intentions. That’s one good thing about self-publishing: the author has the last word! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bibliographic Entry of the Day

Been good to know ya.

So, R. J. and Long, H. (2013). Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism. Boundary 2, 40(2): 147–82, doi:10.1215/01903659-2151839.


The Google, maybe in cahoots with the evil Facebook, has apparently seen fit to remove the photo of John Cale, the czarina, and me that used to appear at this posting. That kinda sucks.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stick Around Long Enough

If you read a few million words a month, every month, rain or shine, sooner or later you come across a gem.

From the current project:

While the president decried Kristallnacht, he announced there would be no change in America’s harsh immigration laws. Strict numeric quotas would remain in place, effectively closing the nation’s doors to the large number of Jews seeking refuge in the United States. But some courageous American leaders pressed for increased immigration. Following Kristallnacht, in February 1939, Senator Wagner and Representative Edith Nourse Rogers (1881–1960), a Massachusetts Republican, cosponsored a bill permitting twenty thousand German Jewish children, a modest number, to enter the United States as nonquota immigrants. Eleanor Roosevelt unsuccessfully urged her husband to support the bipartisan Wagner-Rogers bill. Anti-Semites and isolationists attacked the legislation, as did the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the bill died in committee.

FDR’s cousin, Laura Delano Houghteling (1893–1978), whose husband was the US commissioner for immigration and naturalization, opposed the Wagner-Rogers legislation, declaring, “Twenty thousand charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”[i]

[i] Richard Cohen, “Muffling the Drums of War with Iran,” Washington Post, October 1, 2012.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'll say . . .

McCracken, G. (1988). The Long Interview. Vol. 13. SAGE, Newbury Park, CA. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Lattice

"Hanging out with him, if one could ever be said to hang out with Gene McCarthy, I began to see a very complex man. He was skeptical in the way that intelligent people are. His doubts could easily be read as cynicism. He once said, 'Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.'" 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Has Journalism Grown Stupid(er), or Am I Increasingly Intolerant?

So I'm taking a break from proofreading, of all things, college football calendars (ah, college football -- speaking of stupidity and my intolerance), chomping on an ice cream bar and avoiding my perpetual work backup. (See also blogging.) I click on the AP news and see a story about which I had no prior knowledge nor any particular interest, but it looked odd enough to catch my attention.

Link: Facebook fraud suspect on the lam; family, dog also missing

Part of my attraction is that I've always liked the phrase "on the lam." One of my favorite movies is Petrified Forest (1930s; Bogart, Bette Davis, Leslie Howard), and one of Duke Mantee's gang tells him a few times, "C'mon, boss, let's lam on outta here." I saw the movie on TV one afternoon back in my 20s and fell in love with it. (I just looked it up on YouTube, and only one clip is available, but I did see that there was a live TV version done in the 1950s with Bogart and Henry Fonda. Don't know who plays the Bette Davis role, but the original movie is notable -- among many other reasons -- because Bette Davis plays an idealistic young goddess, not a hardened bitch.)

Oh, yeah, journalism.

If you've clicked on the link above, you perhaps noted something interesting. Here's a story about a guy who tried to pull a multibillion-dollar scam on Mark Zuckerberg, and intrepid AP journalist Larry Neumeister offers up this detail in paragraph 3:

"And the search widened Thursday: Ceglia's wife and two young sons and his family's Jack Russell terrier, Buddy, also have disappeared."

Great reporting there, sport. Too bad you didn't mention the names of the other missing humans until seven paragraphs deeper into the story.

I mean, what gives? Is the dog's name important whatsoever? And Buddy? What a pedestrian name for a dog. Now if the dog's name was Zarathustra or Moon Unit or J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, that's crucial information. But "Buddy"? 

Besides, as far as I'm concerned, you could vaporize every freaking Jack Russell terrorist on earth, and I wouldn't bat an eye. What a godawful breed of dog.

Ah, well. Time to see how Vanderbilt did against Ole Miss on October 8, 1949. I wish I was kidding. My whoredom knows no limits, although I did turn down an index the other day. Even with my tolerance (!) for obscure theological prose, this one would have pushed me right over the edge. It's nice to be in a position, ephemeral as it is, to turn away work once in a while that I really don't want to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bears Repeating: An Oldie but a Goodie

"Take time to familiarize yourself with this manual. The slightest deviation from the style described herein will lead directly to the collapse of our carefully constructed editorial house of cards, economic upheaval, spiritual and moral chaos, and the end of civilization as we know it."

APWA Style Guide, 2nd ed., American Public Welfare Association, 1995

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Authors: Call for Books

I want to be paid for books that appeal to my prurient interests. Is that too much to ask?

Sports or theatre books -- also good.

Celebrity bios? Well-written young adult fiction?

Anybody? Bueller?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Math Note for Authors

This type of construction drives me crazy, but I see it a few times a year.

"A 200 percent reduction."

Wouldn't a 100 percent reduction in anything bring it to zero? I think what the author is usually getting at is "reduced to a quarter of the size."

I checked with a statistician friend who offered the following response:

"The only way you can have a 200% reduction in a quantity is if negative quantities are allowed. In theory, if your company went from a 50K profit a 50K loss, you have had a 200% reduction in profit. But I don't recommend that construction.

"For the record, percentage change is (Current Value - Previous Value) / Previous Value, times 100. Thus, going from 50K to 60K profit is (10/50) * 100 or a 20% increase."

You know what else drives me crazy? That the Google has embedded some crap in its email that turns all text copied and pasted from it into this white background when I put it into my blog -- and that's after putting it into a Word doc, hitting Clear Formatting, saving as Plain Text, and pasting it here.

My email problems, though, pale compared to Mrs. Clinton's, if today's news is any indication. I wouldn't mind at all seeing a (D) alternative or two or three step up. Or seeing Bernie Sanders run the table on the whole lot of them.

Then there's Mark Warner, one of my U.S. senators. Matter of fact, here's a very interesting website:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reference Lists, Name Order, Lower-Level Scholarship: Questions, We've Got Questions

Part of any copyeditor's gig when working for academic/scholarly publishers is checking works cited lists. Pages and pages of them. What a godawful bore. I often like to do all that at once before reading the actual text because the reading goes pretty quickly once I clear all the junk out of the way. In a journal article that has six pages of works cited out of a thirty-page chapter, a lot of the real estate in the text comprises author-date citations that I then can ignore when shuffling commas. Chewing up three or four hours doing reference checks up front is akin to eating your vegetables before you get to the protein.

My present job, a quarterly journal for which I'm the de facto CE -- and have been for about four years now -- deals with matters Asian. While the editors (both content and in-house) do a nice job preparing these manuscripts before I see them, there's still a lot of foreign-language content to sort through. Italics or not? Name order? Translations? Which Li are we talking about? And is that a first or last name? On and on and on.

My dear, long-suffering wife asked if she could help me check the author-date citations -- something that a neophyte could occasionally do. When I showed her what this project involved, she withdrew the offer. Smart woman.

Reading all the references at once, though, uncovers certain patterns, and really that's what my whole work life comes down to: Does the text match the style sheet? Is all this handled consistently? Why didn't I become a plumber? (Well, maybe not the last one.)

A pattern I've begun to recognize is that an awful lot of these references -- not only in this journal, but in plenty of books, too -- cite the first page only of their source.

So what's going on here? Are these scholars just reading the abstracts? Can't these people be bothered to plow through some of their peers' work?* I mean, when I check thirty citations and twenty-five of them are to the first page of the cite, what's my takeaway?

(*"I mingle with my peers or no one. Having no peers, I mingle with no one." --Ignatius J. Reilly)

By the way, after five minutes of lazy research of my own, I can find no good images of a page from an English-language phonebook with a mess of Chinese names. If you can find one, send me the link. Or if you live in a town where the voting-age population is not mostly white meth freaks, morbidly obese white folks, or ancient Caucasians who can't drive more than 18 miles an hour, scan a page of Korean or Chinese names and email it to me. Hell, send me a postcard from such a place. I'm given to understand that not all of America looks like Central Appalachia.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Keeping It Regular

I think I mentioned this point in passing in some recent post, but I'm editing a special issue of a journal for a multifaceted scholar of note who found my blog some time ago -- when the Google wasn't so picky, thankfully. Bless him, as he has three distinct fields of interest and is publishing in all of them. We're going to be pals for years to come if I don't blow it.

Problem is that the articles for this journal are kinda trickling in, making it hard to get up any rhythm on the work. I worked on an article last night, or earlier this morning, or sometime since the last time I was asleep. It was a perfect storm of relative ignorance for me: MLA style, converting to UK spelling and punctuation, and a Works Cited section that featured a decent amount of -- get ready -- Estonian.

Good thing the work is interesting.

And in an entirely different field, he has 300,000 words of abstracts coming to me for editing in March for an international symposium he's hosting this summer. With any luck, I'll have a little more to grab on to there. Three hundred thousand words of mess might put me right over the edge. Been a very emotional year already.

By no means am I complaining about the work he sends me. I'm loving the relationship. And at least my intestines aren't getting ready to explode any time soon. Sometimes you take the good news where you can get it. When I think of colons, I'd rather keep it work-related, thank you very much.

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 spoken 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 Jürgen 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.