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.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Where's That 3D Printer When I Need It?

Because I'd like to take this author's attitude, copy it, and embed it in the mind of all the authors out there who think they know what belongs in an index, all the evidence to the contrary.

I'd also like to send him flowers, even though the first line of his email scared the living hell out of me.


Hi Bob,

I hired you because I figured you know how to do an index. The last one I did took too much time.

So I am just going with the index you produced.


Monday, November 6, 2017

New Blog Approach

It’s what you might call multipurposing of related content. Scholars do it all the time. If I had a dollar every time I saw an author with a virtually identically titled article published the same year in a different journal, and it was a book chapter somewhere else and a presentation at a conference, I’d be able to make the next payment on my Lamborghini.

And this way, I’m sorta always on topic. Unless I need to throw down for an hour on the therapist’s couch.

I gotta buncha killer emails to India to post. Good lord. Being that angry all morning, from the time your eyes have barely cleared, is no fun.

Reminded of a line from Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, as I often am. The players had been asked to report for batting practice at 10am in advance of a 12:30pm start because of a nationally televised game. One of the players said, “Ten o’clock? I'm not even done throwing up by then.”


By the way, on this note from your email—and not apropos to this project—

Endnotes no longer need to be provided as separate document as InDesign has a new feature available in its latest edition of the platform.

First, that’s great news. Second, one day I’d like to sit down with all the designers and typesetters and managing editors I work with and say, “OK, Just what the hell can InDesign do?” Because, as far as I know, all my folks use InDesign but they all tell me different things. And I don’t know what designers are doing on their ends that I should probably be doing, or what I’m doing that I don’t need to be doing (such as HTML coding if InDesign can pick up a bulleted list). 

I’ve heard different things for years about notes and lists and tables and style sheets (thank you, [name of press here]) and so much else. There’s one press I work for, and the designer absolutely refuses to learn how to do style sheets. They’re in InDesign, of course, right? You match up the style sheet in Word with the style sheet in InDesign and voila? The jobs are basically novels and memoirs, very little formatting, and my life would be so much easier if I could just use style sheets—which very, very few presses use, I’m sorry to say. The two times I tried style sheets, he wrote the publisher like the world was going to end. I tried to explain it to him up front. He was agreeable. Then no way. Not gonna do it. 

Nothing Worse

I think the worst part of my job is dealing with authors who want to remake an index because they "don't understand the rationale" behind, well, apparently anything. I'm dealing now, thankfully at second-hand, with a volume editor who is wondering why a particular phrase, which must be wrong, is appearing in the index.

Because it's not only a term, it's right where the index says it is.

I finally responded to the press, somewhere within about a four-email string of seething rage, that if the editor didn't like the term in the index, they should take it out of the book.

Oh, an email just came in. Maybe it's from India, telling me what else is wrong. I hate waking up to emails from India. They are never good. Work requests don't seem to come at dawn.

Maybe my problem is going to sleep. I don't know if it's easier to start a day or end a day being just off-the-rails pissed off.

"Ant trade," in case you're wondering.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Technology Rant

You longtime readers know I don't have good luck with this stuff. I complain about technology and I slice my hand open or the czarina gets me a smartphone. Horrible things happen when I cross the great magnet.

But toner. For chrissakes': Toner. Don't give me this bullshit (you can say that now, can't you?) about Toner Low, Toner Low, Replace Toner. Page 100 looks perfectly dark to me. You can't crank out page 101?

I yearn for the old days of reading fading printouts by candlelight while the coolies fetched my mint juleps and the serving wenches kept a check on my opioid addiction.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Friday News Dump

is going to have to wait. If I wasn't wore out, I'd work up quite a rant against authors who once again just don't know what they're doing—and that's not by my standards. Those standards are the ones drilled into me by unforgiving managing editors with reasonable heads on their shoulders. Those standards are the same ones written in the mostly godforsaken 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. I don't think anything is more godforsaken about the new edition than the now-retiring one. They all are.

And AP. God. There's another organization that couldn't find its stylistic ass with both hands.

Authors. I've known a few I'd trust around an index. Indexes are not

* For making connections you neglected to make on page proofs
* For finding terms that your grimy little hands couldn't manage to type on the page in 330 pages of your prose
* For organizing your allegedly comparative text so that the entries are entirely compartmentalized by nation, thus disallowing the reader from seeing at a glance, for example, what the Communist Party might be up to in different countries

Another thing you shouldn't expect an indexer to do unless you've moved the sharp instruments:

* Remove abbreviations "because they are repetitive," and no one needs that cross-reference.

About 5 hours ago, I sent in the second longest index I've ever had to start whittling down. It was brutal. And now I'm back to this index, the longest ever, and of course the work is now unpaid because I'm not getting any extra ducats to do this review. It's all going through India [ugh]. Say it twice.

And the labels function ain't workin' on this thing. That ain't good.

PS: And after all that, Cousin Lazar is left on the cutting-room floor. Something seems appropriate about such summary judgment.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I've Been in a Mood

I'd say it started about two weeks ago. The czarina had gone off to Atlanta to stay with friends in their recently rebuilt home in what used to be a fear zone close to downtown. When our friend moved there 25 years ago, Domino's wouldn't deliver. Now, it's great. The czarina left essentially to lay eyes on our older son, who was there to be in a wedding of some people he'd met while acting. We hadn't seen him since, uh, July, and before that it was way back in, uh, June. Yeah, well, whatever. 

A hurricane was moving through Atlanta, so the wedding was moved across the street. It was supposed to be where the czarina and I were hitched, oddly enough. Our son was going to be a groosman at the same place. They still dressed there, and the restaurant, now under a different name, had at least one Thornton Dial on the wall, as well as some other cool stuff. Mitchell had everyone talking about the art.

I was here in Bristol, baby, with the shedding menagerie. My father's eighty-fifth birthday would have been the seventh of the month; my work game has been off; the electronic gig had backed up two weeks of work into about four days, on top of the usual Lucy and the chocolates; mid-October was coming; eating, sleeping, basic maintenance, all shot to hell . . . I'm down to 177, and the last time I saw that, I was on my way to 145. Couple years after my mother died. "Lotta ins and outs. Lotta what-have-yous."

So—how much you getting paid for this?—I just sent off an index for a book to a company that has certainly in some way affected your life in a significant way (this readership's life) with ramifications, published by a university you know, by some coeditors who are or were the equivalent of C-suite gentlemen in this particular field. "Not exactly lightweights," judging from their bios. 

I'm feeling a little better having accomplished something, and I guess I was feeling my oats. This was after asking the receiver of the invoice if I could send and he could process speedy delivery. I've never worked with the guy or any of these people before, except the press, which won't be involved until I send the index to them author-approved.

Nine hours after the fact, I'm rereading the email I sent them. I guess it's professional enough. The letter is verbatim from Gmail. I love it because I can use it again and again. Absolutely generic, except I did take out the name of the university. It's somewhere east of the Mississippi, I'm pretty certain.

A peek behind the curtain. The underlying tone is, "I really hope you leave this thing alone." I'm almost scared to send off an index anymore. It's also coming up on the one-year anniversary of that experience. I'm not sure I ever addressed that incident in this space. Lordy. Pathetic. Talk about some horseshit scholarship. 


Hi, all. First, thanks again for your patience, and apologies for the earlier bait-and-switch.

I've attached the index manuscript as well as a marked-up PDF noting some things I saw along the way. You've probably already caught most of these issues while reviewing the page proofs.

From looking at your distinguished bios, I'm guessing y'all have been to this rodeo before, but a few notes:

* Multiauthor books present a challenge in that different chapters, especially if they've been printed elsewhere before, might refer to the same concepts using slightly different language. I've tried to consolidate different terminology here, so please keep an eye out for where I may have misinterpreted. I've also presented a lot of cross-references but may have missed opportunities for additional ones. Feel free to add.

* Another challenge with this type of book is avoiding the rabbit hole of trying to present data in the index in addition to the conceptual items. Of course, with an index, a guide to the book's data is not desired. The index would become unwieldy very quickly, and it's also against standard indexing practices, as XXUP's guidelines aver.

* If you want to make or handle any changes on your side, please do so, although track the changes so that I can see what you've done, to ensure that the index still adheres to standard protocols.

The deadline for the press is Monday, 10/23. Hopefully you'll find the index to your liking and any back-and-forth will be brief (although, of course, the index needs to satisfy the authors, within reasonable constraints). I do have a few very minor queries in the index. If you could address to those, I'd appreciate it. They may result in no changes at all.

If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks for an interesting read.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trolling, Trolling, Trolling

Ah, the new national pastime. But this type of trolling is in the good, old-fashioned, whorish kind of way—not the twenty-first-century, bait-your-fellow-readers-into-mindless-exchanges way.

Actually, I have an alias for that. Had it for forty years. Same one Abbie Hoffman used, and I employed it for trolling purposes back in college. If you search the tubez, I'm the only one out there with that name. And, no, you won't find it on this blog (I don't think).

If you read this blog, if you like this blog, if you want to give me the slightest encouragement to keep posting here, please leave a comment once in a while. Google really likes it, and if past performance is any indication of future results, I never know who might stumble upon this space and provide me with interesting work, relationships, or something I can't even imagine.

Working in SEO, as is part of my life again, gives me little hints. If I'm gaming online real estate to attract clicks, well, I'm about the 600 millionth in line to do so, so don't hold it against me.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Telephones: Hate 'Em

"People with nothing to do resent any imposition on their time." --William S. Burroughs.

And people with too damn much to do resent not when something else is put on their plate but being kept waiting to do whatever it is has to be done.

I'm sitting here waiting for a 10am phone call. It's 10:40a. Sitting here with my thumb up my butt is billable time in my mind, but that's not important. I'm not going to try to get my head back into a project -- and I've already shifted gears from catastrophe -- only to have to put it down again. It's turning into a different catastrophe.

Seething. Bigly

When Catastrophic Risk Seems Like a Good Alternative

Gray matter’s getting a little frayed here. I just sent this to a UK-based managing editor. The bolded phrase is the book's topic:

Got it. Thanks, J—. No promises, but you might have this back well in advance of the deadline. I’ve been dealing with some absolutely brutal indexing jobs from a variety of sources, and I need something to calm my nerves. And when living in a country in which mastering catastrophic risk seems like another way of saying, “waking up in the morning,” I wouldn’t mind feeling like something’s—anything’s—in control.

Just a Matter of Time

What was the old saying? If you sit on the Left Bank long enough, you’ll eventually see someone you know? That might not be exactly right, but the point’s made.

We have a friend who’s about the same way. No matter where you go in the world, eventually you’ll run into someone who knows him. (Then again, a few of his friends [including the czarina and me] think he may work for The Company -- and if you have to ask, forget about it.)

With all the books I work on, and especially with the nature of my more regular clients, it was only a matter of time before I hit upon a reference to a particular distant cousin of mine. Actually, this same press (it’s Yale) has printed at least one volume of the correspondence between the two people mentioned below. The second one is, indeed, a cousin. No joke. And let’s just say that not all of his accomplishments were as attractive/admirable/mentionable in polite company as putting marble and chandeliers in the subways of a particular city. A more notorious part of his resume is responsibility for the deaths of about 20 to 30 million people.

I've known my whole life the guy was a badass (and he just died in 1991), but I didn't know that his range extended as far as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.

You can pick your friends. . . . And for any people I've ever worked with who might say my editorial tendencies can be a bit authoritarian, well, consider the blood that runs through my veins.

In June 1931, at a “special plenum of the central committee of the All-Union Communist Party,” Stalin and his deputy in charge of the Moscow region, Lazar Kaganovich, had announced that the Communist Party had renounced all “foreign theories” of both urbanism and disurbanism, including those of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. Instead, the new focus would be on Moscow as a model of the urban “socialization of everyday activities,” with Kaganovich in charge of its development.

(l–r) Cousin Lazar (and yes, there's a family resemblance with my maternal grandfather, Morris "Spike" Kaganov), Uncle Joe 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Do What Now?

I’d think the audiobook version would need some clarification.

“The dominant strategic response to sexual violence in conflict is increasingly penal in nature.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Reappearance of One of My Favorite Acronyms

Or abbreviations or initialisms. No bandwith, in the parlance of our times, for keeping those items distinct.

MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti)

Not one of my favorite books, though. The book is pretty good, if only I didn't have to index it. Right now, and I hope I'm close to done with the editing, the index stands at about 16,000 words. I've never paid attention to the word count of an index, but I'm sure by any metric, that number is ridiculous.

Cultural Interlude: Mandolin Orange, “Wildfire”

Judging from blog 1.0 (2007?–July 2017), Google is eventually going to scrub YouTube videos from here, so I won’t bother posting a recording of the song. I’ll leave that to interested readers.

I live in Bristol, VA, which, along with Bristol, TN, is the official Birthplace of Country Music. Translation: here, in the late 1920s, Ralph Peer came to record Appalachian and southern white folk music in the form of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, et al., which kicked off the chain of events that eventually led to Nashville.

Third weekend of every September, Bristol hosts the Rhythm and Roots Reunion, which started the year we moved here with a few stages and small crowds. Seventeen years later, it draws about 50,000 to 60,000 people over the course of three days and is a legitimately good time. Downtown Bristol, inside and out, is turned over to about 20 music venues.

On the recommendation of an old and dear friend, I went to see Mandolin Orange a few weeks ago. Usually I don’t pay attention to lyrics that much anyway, and when it’s a band you’ve never heard on an outdoor stage, you’re lucky to understand much of anything.

But Mandolin Orange falls somewhere around alt bluegrass and lo-fi, so picking up the words wasn’t hard. One song caught my attention, and the more I listened, the more I was amazed at what I thought I was hearing. A week or so ago, I went online to look at the lyrics. I wasn’t disappointed. Reading them now brings tears to my eyes. And the recurring line has become a bit of a mantra for me on many different levels. “It should have been different. It could have been easy.”

I’m New York City born and bred, as were my parents and one set of my grandparents, so I have no dog in this hunt. But I married a woman who qualifies for Daughters of the Confederacy and who was born in Montgomery, AL, and raised there and in Atlanta. The Virginia/Tennessee line is the farthest north she’s ever lived. I think she’d have mixed reactions to this song, even though she’s as progressive as the day is long. I don’t have mixed feelings at all.

Mandolin Orange: If someone happens to direct you to this post or you find it on your own, thank you, thank you, thank you.

It should have been different. It could have been easy. And I’m crying as I type. (Lyrics printed sans permission of the artists. I hope they and the Google don't mind.)


Brave men fall with a battle cry
Tears fill the eyes of their loved ones and their brothers in arms
So it went, for Joseph Warren

It should have been different, it could have been easy
His rank could have saved him, but a country unborn needs bravery
And it spread like wildfire


From the ashes grew sweet liberty
Like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns
They open up, grow and burn again
It should have been different, it could have been easy
But too much money rolled in to ever end slavery
The cry for war spread like wildfire


Civil war came, civil war went
Brother fought brother, the south was spent
But its true demise was hatred, passed down through the years
It should have been different, it could have been easy
But pride has a way of holding too firm to history
And it burns like wildfire


I was born a southern son
In a small southern town where the rebels run wild
They beat their chest and they swear: we're gonna rise again
It should have been different, it could have been easy
The day that old Warren died, hate should have gone with it
But here we are, caught in the wildfire


Thursday, October 12, 2017

My Master's Thesis: 1 of 2

I went to graduate school for exactly one day.

Back in my full-time employment days, I was writing and editing textbooks and examinations for a university-level business and insurance education program. Next up on my work list was a three-year project editing (and occasionally writing) a textbook on accounting in life and health insurance companies. Of course, I'd never taken an accounting course and knew nothing about life and health insurance. I was 25 years old. The company wisely hired wordsmiths and would teach them about business subjects; easier than hiring business gurus and teaching them how to write.

So, the SVP of the division decided I should go get an MBA in accounting. Uh-huh. I'd considered graduate school once before -- for about 10 minutes, when I saw that the University of Oregon offered an MS in journalism. More than the idea of getting a journalism degree, I liked the idea of having a master's in science after almost failing 10th-grade biology and never taking another science course after that. I wasn't bad in math. Other than earth science, the rest of it may as well have been in Sanskrit.

Get an MBA? Well, that means taking the GRE. Thankfully, I'd spent the last 18 months helping develop standardized tests, so I knew the form much better than when taking the SATs.

[Fun fact about your blogger and the usefulness of the SAT as a predictor of future success. My top SAT scores after three tries were Math 670, Verbal 520. 520. After three tries. One time I posted a 420 Verbal. These are generally not the scores of someone who ends up years later working for such outfits as Oxford, Yale, and Johns Hopkins UPs -- and a few theological presses of equal heft.]

I did pretty well on the GREs and was admitted to the MBA/Accountancy program at Georgia State University. Attended class one day. At almost exactly the same time I started dating my future wife and realized where I'd rather be spending my free time. I went to the SVP, who was all about professional development and education, and explained I simply couldn't return to school and was prepared to deal with the consequences. There were none, other than my subsequent marriage.

So now I occasionally very lightly fantasize about graduate school, and I've mapped out one of my two possible theses:

1. "The Hunting Cap and Alienation in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Literature: A Study of Chapeaux in Catcher in the Rye and A Confederacy of Dunces."

2. A data study on women scholars who cite virtually nothing but other women scholars. Sistahs are doing it for themselves, I s'pose.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Record I Am Not Happy to Set

Harking back a few days, I appear to be on the way to having a 150-page indexing manuscript to edit down. That's just ridiculous—and it's what I get for caring a little too much.

Proofreading. Lots and lots of proofing. That's what I need. I'm so much calmer with a stack of paper and a red pen. I can deal with disturbing concepts a whole lot better when I'm just reading about them. Having to massage them into indexable form is a different story.

Take a book. Smash it into thousands of little pieces and then put them back together in an entirely different form. Indexing in a nutshell.

Prayers are welcome.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Props to AF

An editor with whom I used to work once said (paraphrased), "I can't believe people are paid the same to work on young adult fiction as we are to work on lengthy scholarly books with difficult concepts and extensive documentation."

And I'll extend that: I can't understand how indexing a 600-page book with 40 different authors all dancing around the same difficult topic merits the same pay (if not less, because of the client) as a 250-page simple and straightforward narrative about a hometown boxer made good.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Daily Demands

Working on a 600-page index—40-plus chapters, all different authors, global study of an Issue of Importance. Indexing is different from proofing and copyediting in that longer jobs make for increased difficulty in a way that doesn't affect the red-pencil tasks. Typically indexing problems grow exponentially with length, and indexing problems are not always easily solved. I'm speaking of consolidating entries and subentries and even keeping track of what you've discussed. My usual tendency to overindex also gets worse with length, because I don't want to leave something out that might reemerge 450 pages later—and I want to have enough subentries because the listing will be huge. Sorry, publisher and Chicago, but this index is going to have a lot more than a dozen main entry numbers for UNSCR 1325.

At this point in my life, and I hope this is no jinx, there aren't many hard-to-solve proofreading and copyediting problems. Make a decision, mark the style sheet (in the case of copyediting), and move on. It's someone else's prose and output. Indexing is an original product, the result of decisions I make related to content and wording. It's writing. It's hard. It's not fun.

Before the return to indexing, though, I have some hours to put in for a relatively new client. I try never to mention or allow readers to identify clients here (usually successfully, I think), but one particularly notable employer resulting from some early posting on this blog comes in for a little revisiting. I ranted my way into employment with an Internet publishing outfit called Demand Studios, subsequently Demand Media Studios. If I ever write the book I've been asked to, but never will, that seven-year-long episode could merit a chapter.

But now it's led to a similar gig of reviewing the work of dozens of contributors to a company called Dotdash, which used to be about.com, which predated Google, for Chrissakes. about.com for a short period was the property of the old grey lady, but unfortunately for my great aunt Ettie, I cannot now say that I work for the New York Times. She'd have been pleased. So far, the task almost approaches pleasant. Causes me to learn a few new tools (never bad for this dotard) and actually improves my editing for more scholarly endeavors. And if the gig ever turns south, which I hope it doesn't for a long time, you'll not hear about it here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Coming Back?

I realized that I'm posting a lot on Facebook, to an audience of two or three, instead of doing anything with the blog. Since I loathe Facebook, maybe I'll just keep this window open and bother this lack of audience instead. Never know when the alGooglerithm might pick me back up. I've ended up with some interesting work because of this free little bit of real estate. Maybe I shouldn't bite the hand, etc.

Hey, if you're reading this, let me know. Anonymous comment is fine. Email. Smoke signals.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A (Temporary?) Return to the Blog World

In the interests of equal time, as I memorialized my mother a few years back on what would have been her 80th birthday, here I honor my father, Ronald Marvin Land, who would have been 85 years old today. He passed away earlier this year. Some people say that when you lose both your parents, you're orphaned. I think that's nonsense, but losing them both does make you grow up in a different sort of way.

The image below is after our younger son's high school graduation, 2011. In this photo, my father was 78. I should look so good at 58; well, actually, I might look quite like that in a few months. Lately I've been mistakenly repeatedly for someone in his mid- to late 60s. Relative to the image below, I've lost the facial hair, the glasses, and about 55 pounds. Not that it helps much.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

End of an Era Parting Shot

Confluence of three events in this time in Land on Demand technology history:

1. Putting the brakes on this blog a few weeks ago.

2. Facebook notified me today that I joined six years ago. Ugh.

3. The czarina got me a smart phone. I'm sure the unintentional consequences will start soon enough. I suppose I'm just glad to have a flashlight and a stopwatch that runs into the double-digit hours. It's like a Swiss Army knife for someone with no useful skills.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Final Post?

Yeah, it just might be.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another Pot-Boiler

A dialogue follows of questions about teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow of the bones, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, stomach, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, lymph, saliva, snot, synovial fluids, urine, and the brain.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Morning Musical Interlude

Today's strange find. And if you work in an office, you can listen to it without people thinking you're too weird, unlike the music-type sounds that I usually play.

Joe Pass and Roy Clark Play Hank Williams

I will presume you know who Roy Clark is. You should know who Joe Pass is, especially if you heard him about 25 or 30 years before this.

Please sit through the annoying first 30 seconds of crowd noise and then listen to what Oscar Peterson (p), Joe Pass (g), and Niels Henning Oersted Pedersen (b) do, which is almost literally unbelievable. Beginning at 3:25, Oscar Peterson plays a solo in which you can't imagine anyone playing a faster bass line, just bafflingly quick left hand . . . and then the right comes in.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Above and Beyond

In the midst of about 40 hours of doing nothing but fixing bibliography and notes for a massive volume. The book was translated from the Italian (and translated into Italian originally from probably five different languages [damn overachievers]), and I'm searching the Webz looking for translations of Italian, French, and Spanish (so far) minutiae, like documentation abbreviations. If I had a foot in the door in Sanskrit, I'd be there, too.

And I'm listening to Keith Jarrett at present. I can't tell if his groaning is his groaning, my stomach, or the mascot whining.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Today's Wisdom from the East

It is related of Chao-chou, another great Zen master, that when a monk once asked him, “What is the last word on truth?” he simply replied, “Yes”—Whereupon the disciple, thinking that the master had not understood, repeated the question. And Chao-chou, feigning anger, boomed back at him: “Do you suppose I am deaf?”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Not Exactly Cognitive Dissonance

But it feels very strange to jump between copyediting a biography of Daniel Berrigan and indexing a play-by-play of the activity in al-Anbar province, Iraq, circa 2006.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Reviewing Your Own Work Months Later

I've been proofreading, except for three years in college, for 43 years now. I'm not chatty, I don't edit, I mark it up as judiciously and quickly as I can and move on.

Tonight I am checking the changes on some 2-page corporate spreads that I first proofed some months back. One of the spreads has the word workplac.

Did I write, "insert e," or whatever my tedium was that day?

Nah, I went for "I'd like to buy a vowel."

"Strange figures, weird figures, Steel 186, Anaconda 74, American Cane 138 . . ."

If you get that reference, let me know. If you don't, let me know. No InnerWebz sleuthing allowed.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Today's Index Entry

Subtitle: I'm Such a Juvenile

Fu, Q., 104

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Word of the Day

presenteeism = decreased productivity while at work.

Fill in your own memories at the comments section. The phrase "while at work" seems to indicate under the umbrella of paid W-2-type employment (aka "sap with a day job," which is an increasingly attractive status for me), not just slacking off while a freelancer. If that were the case, one could chalk up this entire blog as a testament to presenteeism.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Still Here

In case you're keeping score at home.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, I turn 57 years old today, and given the physical events of the last few days, I think my best bet for not waking up dead in the morning is to stay up all night reading an easy book on a difficult subject.

"Why is this night different from all other nights?" It's somewhere near Passover, right?

(Looks like even the rats' nest is hedging its bets. Zuckerberg hasn't posted greetings on my timeline yet. Maybe he still thinks I'm dead from some Facebook glitch last year.)

I recall an interview with Annie Liebovitz (no relation, that I know of [Land was changed from Liebovitz back in the '40s]) in which the photographer gave one-word answers to every question. My favorite:

"What do you like least about your family?"


Many of my fellow tribespeople can likely relate.

I remember Passover every year on the 23rd floor of my maternal grandparents' apartment building on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn -- greatest view ever, overlooking the lights of every neighborhood in Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop (although the view from the other side of the building was the entrance to New York harbor; not too shabby either). You'd get out of the elevator, and the odors of Jewfood lured you down the hallway.

We'd begin the seder with my 4-foot-11 great-grandfather chanting and davening in the old style. Family would pay attention for about 10 minutes. Then the kids got involved hiding the matzoh and asking the Four Questions, and my two great aunts would start in on the bickering. They despised each other: my grandfather's spinster sister and her other brother's wife. About the latter came one of the great putdowns I've heard and remember to this day: "Your aunt was blind as a bat, but she could spot a flaw in a diamond a mile away." About the former, she had an opinion on everything, offered loudly and with a voice that the word "raspy" doesn't begin to cover. And my poor little Grandpa Isaac, trying his best to maintain decorum.

Passover was hell. Not exactly a culinarily enticing holiday, either. All I wanted was a hunk of pizza, or to go to Nathan's -- about a mile walk.

Sooner or later, this blog might return to the editorial world. Maybe. In the meantime, I'm pretty darn certain this was the building:

And if you've ever seen the bizarre and horrific Requiem for a Dream, I'm also pretty certain that some of the street scenes were filmed on or very near this block -- although much of this part of Brooklyn was, or is, pretty interchangeable with whatever's on the next street.

Good times? Hell, not really. Although, speaking of childhood, I came to a strange epiphany last night that relates to a much earlier part of my life: my next Basset hound will be named Rosebud.

I mean . . . just in case I do indeed wake up dead and anyone tries to make any sense of . . . anything.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

There's Always Hope

"Subjectivity, if it has any real existence at all, is destined to be completely obliterated when the cosmos returns physically to the eternal sleep of original mindlessness" (emphasis added). The author doesn't agree with the statement, and I'm taking it way out of context . . . but on some level, it's got some real appeal.

The Day's Still Young, Though

Typo of the day:

"Like many college campuses, mine often hosted artistic showcases or open mic nights, but they were mostly geared toward aspirating acoustic songwriters. . . ."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Doubling Down on the Lattice

I'm working on a book -- without giving away too much -- about student poetry, and regular visitors to this space are well aware of my feelings about most verse, even that written by adults. Frankly, I'm not a fan, once you leave the canon (Western or Eastern). Sorry to say it, but there it is. I'm convinced that much of the poetry that appears in the New Yorker, for example, would never receive an airing if not for the contributor's name.

I also work not infrequently (a construction, I've come to learn, that baffles nonnative English speakers) at a local 24-hour bakery that must have Pandora's Great American Songbook on repeat, because I hear the same music every two hours, including what seems like thrice-hourly versions of "Mack the Knife." The bakery also presents serious distractions that earplugs can't cancel out, such as coeds from the local universities. One is about eight feet from me right now, blissfully unaware of the letch typing near her.

But down the row of tables I see another student agonizing over a laptop. As I just went to replenish my coffee, I noticed one of the books he is working from: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry. I can't quickly formulate a witty response to that setup, but trust me, it's not for lack of material.

Ah, well. Back to the coed -- uh, I mean, work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thanks, Merriam-Webster's

Main Entry:hip*hop
Etymology:perhaps from 4 hip + 1 hop


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Indexing Thought

Sure is nice when an author decides to bring up new topics and new research in the last 10 pages of the book. At least I know it's not going to go on forever.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Post-Roadtrip Report

As a follow-up to the previous post, I threw deadlines to the breeze and made a hasty and wonderful trip to Chicago to see the Necks on Thursday evening with my son. An excellent weekend all around with fine food and entertainment, quality time with my 27-year-old (that's just so hard to believe), and some too-rare time with one of this blog's dedicated readers-- always a joy.

Actually, the last time I addressed my readership, I received a nice email from another follower -- whose own first issue shares a birthday with my own first issue, referenced above. So it all ties together.


I am working on a manuscript in which the author has misspelled -- more precisely, mis-oddly capitalized -- his own name.

Not often (I mean, I don't think about it that much), but I am occasionally grateful for having a name as simple as I do, although in the course of a lifetime, people have mangled it in a variety of ways. My favorite was when this son and grandson of automobile dealers was transformed into a v-hikl, which is what they call anything you drive here in Bristol.

My wife and I last November were boarding the ferry across the Gibraltar Strait from Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Boarding passes were printed out last name, first name. Remember from seventh-grade Spanish class that v is pronounced closer to b:


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

In this case, my elder issue. One nice thing about raising kids with a diverse musical palate (pallet? pallette?) is that they have enough time to keep you apprised of the really good stuff you miss.

Oh. My. God. This is what's happening in my head:

The Necks 30th Anniversary Concert

My son's name is Mitchell Land. If you're in Chicago, look him up and see if he's playing anywhere, either by himself or as (with) Joey Mitchell, whom (or which) you can find on the rats' nest (Facebook).

Monday, February 27, 2017

Two Questions

1. What awful dictionary did Microsoft Word base its spell check on that it doesn't recognize "diaspora"?

2. If you're just finding this blog and you arrived here via Facebook, please let me know how. You can leave a comment or email me.

The Proprietor

Today's Indexing Tongue-Twister

Seashore, C., 296

Sunday, February 26, 2017

On Classical Music

From the current project. Actually pretty interesting, although getting a little repetitive around page 350.

Goodman’s famous assertion that one wrong note or dynamic disqualifies a performance from representing the work, but that a vast latitude in areas not specified by the score is permissible, is a purely philosophical exercise of no interest or importance in the musical world. However, Urmson takes a more practical if also philosophically stern line in suggesting that performers have an ethical obligation to proffer the audience something as true as possible to what they believe is (e.g.) Handel’s Messiah if that is what is promised on the programme.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Oh, Where the Series of Tubes Takes You

From an issue of the American Physician, July 1907:

A certain young man of great gumption
'Mongst cannibals had the presumption
To go--but alack,
He never came back; 
They say 'twas a case of consumption.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Today's Chuckle

From the endnotes to a book on Mormon ecclesiology: a journal article titled, "Try the Spirits."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

From a Twenty-Year Atlanta Resident

This blog has probably had fewer sports-informed than politics-informed posts (I think the score was 3-0, now about to be 3-1). But if you've spent any time around ATL sports franchises, you know that the outcome of tonight's game was not a matter of what the result would be, but in what shamelessly horrid fashion it would take place.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Well, Never Mind

Color me humbled.

This book on the American nonvoter has obviously been in development for years, and it ends at 2012. I was ready for it to be outdated from the get-go.

Instead, the authors must have been clicking their heels and clucking their tongues as election day 2016 unraveled -- entirely confirming their thesis, which, as obvious as it seems, they say has never been investigated.

Basically -- and I don't think I'll be cutting into their royalties -- they claim that uncertainty in the campaign climate is the greatest influence on voting participation. High certainty of what will happen with the election and its results leads to nonvoting. A situation like last year's mitigates against nonvoting. They nailed it.

And I'm actually, almost, enjoying the indexing.

Now if the damned news wasn't so alluring. I've lost more productive hours in the last six months to reading news than in any comparable period. Damn Internet.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When Worlds Collide, or Not

I could go on for hours (well, maybe an hour at this point in my life) about the author who cowrote When Worlds Collide. If you ever want to read a novel set in the framework of open marriage among the wealthy during the depths of the Great Depression, and which came out the same year as When Worlds Collide (1934), check out a personal fave titled Finnley Wren. You can usually find it online for a few bucks. I've bought about six of them and I distribute them accordingly.


I have two audiences, which comprise maybe about eight people (accurately, more like three). I have four friends on the rats' nest of Facebook: my wife, my two sons, and my future daughter-in-law. My younger son and his fiance never post and rarely comment or like, so it's really more like two.

This blog (now in its 10th year, I s'pose, although not exactly a force) has a steady readership of which I'm aware of exactly one. God knows my family never looks here. They might learn something if they did, or they've probably heard it all before. So this gives me the opportunity to post something here that I've also put on the rats' nest, and no one feels like they're not getting what they didn't pay for.

My FB post:

I worked concessions at Virginia High tonight, and I heard this wistfully uttered remembrance of Bristol history: "Yeah, I was there the day Old Man Lilley opened his last pack of honey weenies."

From my one experience with honey weenies, they are inedible. My younger son -- the one who avoids Facebook -- and I once went to a local establishment called the Corner Dog House. It's been around here forever, although I've never heard it mentioned. He was around 9 years old.

We each ordered a hot dog, and when Harry bit into his, I said, "Nope. That's it. Throw it out. We're going somewhere else." I've never seen that shade of pink before in something passed off as food. It might have come from a Nazi lab.

I later came to find out that the Corner Dog House serves honey weenies.

And as the good doctor Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, you can tell a writer's in real trouble when he starts stealing his own material.

A Most Anticipated Title

I'm about to start an index for a book titled The American Nonvoter.  Umm . . .

1. A lot of them just voted.

2. Here we are.

Monday, January 30, 2017

This Year's Word Apparently Is


Every. Damn. Book.

It's like the 1980s, when I couldn't turn a page without running into Maslow's needs hierarchy. Enough already.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Today's Gripes

1. Publically. It's publicly, regardless of what alternative Messrs. Merriam & Webster offer.

2. The messianic Jewish bagel shop in downtown Bristol has changed hands. It seems now to be a theologically unaffiliated bagel shop, but some things don't change.

I very rarely salt my food (fried chicken mainly), but I like salty food. I've always liked salt bagels. At Manna Bagel, all the salt is on one side, so what you really have is half a salt bagel and half a plain bagel. I was in there yesterday, and the fetching (interesting pun) young woman behind the counter asked if I'd like some of the salt taken off of the salt bagel. After psychically recovering from that query, I told her that what I'd really like is a salt bagel with salt all over it -- the way they manage to make their everything bagels, their poppy seed bagels, et al.

I'm not often nostalgic for my geographic roots, and I can always sprinkle kosher salt on top of cream cheese -- a realization I came to about thirty years too late. But bagels and pizza are different -- and generally wrong, even if tasty -- everywhere else.

Curmudgeon out.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Some Nice Notes re: Recent Indexes

I got my reasons.

From a prominent Baltimore-based institution of higher learning:

Hi, Bob.

We're in good shape; the index is beautiful.

From an author publishing with that joint up in New Haven:

The index looks fantastic -- very comprehensive, especially with all the subcategories under key terms! 

Having said that, I still like to proofread and copyedit, if you get my drift.

Another Sign of Reverse Time Travel

I'm copyediting a book in which the author spelled the word as "marihuana."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I Am Certain I Have No Idea What He Meant

but i like the sound of it:

Nietzsche writes, “I am afraid that we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hitting a Little Close to Home

If people ask about my work regimen (or hear my wife reporting on it), I often say -- because it means something around here -- "At least I'm not in a coal mine."

From the current project:

Miners paid according to their productivity, on the basis of piecework, imposed working rhythms on themselves that were detrimental to their health—a dynamic that is true for any workforce. An intensification of effort came at a cost: increasing the degree of dust inhalation.

Now if you want to play Mad Libs,* you can substitute "editors" for "miners" and any number of effects for the last two words.

*Invented by a second (or third) cousin of mine, Leonard Stern, also an executive producer of the original Get Smart series and a number of others. Never met the man. But his mother was at my brother's bar mitzvah in 1968, and when I asked my father about him a few years back, I heard a story that was new to me. When my father was 12 he wanted a train set, and my grandparents took him to see cousin Leonard, who was working in a New Jersey department store. You people need to know this stuff.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

More Family News: Gender Inequality Begins at Home

A couple of years ago, almost exactly, I was posting sad news that Elvis had left the building. Now the nonhuman census includes

* Zooey, our most handsome and ridiculously eager-to-please mutt, who has been with us about six years.

* Franny, his younger miniature (thank god) Basset sister--the Land on Demand mascot and a complete pain in the ass when she's not the calmest, sweetest, and most beautiful creature on earth.

* Maggie the Cat, whom we rescued from a shelter to help battle a rodent problem in the house (problem solved on her first night out of our bedroom).

* The latest addition, an oddly striped and strange-faced gray kitten whom we named Suzzy.

We took Suzzy off the hands of a friend of ours; Suzzy was probably about 10 weeks old when Tere brought the feline home. The kitten was presented to us as a female. Tere saw our friend the other day, who asked, "So, can you tell yet if the cat's a boy or a girl?"

Uh, what?

Upon further research and inspection, Tere and our Korean exchange student -- who is fascinated and most enamored with this menagerie -- determined that Suzzy is a he-cat.

Well, hell.

But what's interesting is that Tere and I are both treating this cat differently now that we know it's a male. The kid gloves are off. Even the tone of voice is different.

The toughest cat we ever had was our first: a female who would catch bats and leave them for us. Good ol' Sadie. So why we'd treat this kitten any differently because of its gender makes no sense.

Now I'm gearing up for this animal to be crazy. And I suspect he'll live up to it. Like any boy named Sue.