Friday, September 29, 2006


The L.A. Weekly's annual Best of L.A. issue is imminent (hits the streets October 5th, I dare say), and this year's theme is "pirates." Yes, pirates. As in gold doubloons and parrots-on-the-shoulder. This theme won out in editorial meetings over its closest challenger (submitted by blurbologist extraordinaire Libby Molyneaux): "chicken." That's right, a double-sized issue of the L.A. Weekly could have classified all the bests of Los Angeles according to their relevance to chicken. Well, maybe next year. FYI: I've already applied for editor of the "breasts" section.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The Insignificance of michigan

As much as I admire my esteemed colleague Mr. Gaines...and as much as I revere AP style...I must alert everyone that the times they are a-changin'...

Thus, I officially move that we have our Weekly style reflect the prevailing modern view on the once-great mitten state as detailed here in ANTM style:

Select the "in the pool" video for the latest, most relevant viewpoint on Lansing's home.

I mean, if no one important really thinks Michigan is important, why in the hell should we capitalize it? The lakes aren't that great.

Ergo, I move that the mitten-shaped "state" and all references to it be written with a lower case "m" in our paper. For example:

"Craig claims to like sports. With the same bizarre glee, he also claims to be a michigander. However, we find this confusing because michigan is so meaningless. He should just go ahead and say he's from Texas, like all the smart, successful people do."

All those in favor, please see David Caplan, Copy Chief.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Attack of the Monkies

A few days ago, L.A. Weekly designer extraordinaire Ryan Ward called me at my desk with a simple question: How do you spell the plural of "monkey"? Before I could really think about it, I said "m-0-n-k-i-e-s." Judging by the reaction of my co-workers, you would have thought I'd just committed an act of high treason.

The hoots and hollers of derision (monkeylike, now that I think of it) rained down upon my poor head. I quickly corrected myself to Ryan ("Sorry, dude, the executioners in here just told me it's "m-o-n-k-e-y-s") and prepared for a day's worth of ridicule. When you're first entering the copy editing world, experienced folk will tell you about some of the job perils: odd hours, lack of recognition, a lifetime of staring into a cold computer monitor. But what they don't tell you about -- primarily so they can embarrass the living hell out of you after your first miscue -- is that copy editors love to jump all over their colleagues' mistakes.

We're so bad at the Weekly that we pounce if someone mispronounces a French term or doesn't use the subjunctive when it's required. (But we have the utmost respect for our writers. We never make fun of the mistakes we correct in copy. Honestly.) I tell you, entering that room every day is like climbing into a steel cage in preparation for a Grammatical WrestleMania against a half-dozen nerdly Ultimate Warriors.

So if you're interested in the alluring world of copy editing, have the chops, know your style ... and develop a thick skin.


Many thanks to LA Observed for the link. Now we're more paranoid than ever about mistakes on this thing!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Dictionary Madness!!!

Pity me. At the Weekly, I use an American Heritage dictionary as my weapon and partner in spelling enforcement. But in my freelance work, I use Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. Big deal, you say? Think again, TOSC fans. Consider just these two crucial differences:

A.H.'s first preference is "work force" (two words), while Webster's first preference is "workforce."

Further, A.H. spells it "ambiance," while Webster's tells me it's "ambience."

And that's just two discrepancies. Then figure in that some pubs use A.P. style, others use Chicago, and all of them have their own local styles. How does one copy editor keep it all straight?

Superhuman intelligence, that's how. I don't like to talk about it much, but I was bitten by a radioactive, nerdy monkey when I was a child. Besides the fleas, that incident also bestowed upon me a preternatural ability to keep a multitude of styles and lexicographical philosophies stored in my mind at the same time.

And, no, I don't throw poop as a result of the monkey bite. That's just Craig being Craig.