A few months ago I took My Precious to the Apple Store to get a tune-up. The dude who served me at the Genius Bar looked just like that guy from How I Met Your Mother and a hundred silly man-boy films. Jason…something? Anyway, he was awesome, and the Genius Bar was really like a bar. I sat there for about an hour while he showed me how to find out which things are taking up the most room on my hard drive, how to transfer my iTunes and iPhoto libraries to an external hard drive without losing my mind, and various other tricks I needed to know. I was really impressed, and my computer was too. It started running better right away. That’s why I returned to the Genius Bar seeking absolution for my wireless keyboard. Or at least Last Rites. This new guy was also nice (they pick adorable young men to staff the Genius Bar on purpose, don’t they?) but he took just a few seconds with the keyboard and said basically, “Yeah, you’re screwed.” But not in the those words. He invited me to buy a new one right there in the store, which would be convenient, but I was pissed. I’d rather buy a piece of shit thing on eBay for $15 if an $69 Apple product is going to fail me within two years. Meanwhile, now I’m stuck using the laptop’s keyboard until I buy a new one, which means I have to look down at the open laptop screen versus straight ahead at my external monitor, which puts a crick in my neck, which makes me cranky. As if I’m not already.
Just One Paragraph 7/30
Over the last several months I have discovered that there are two things that I have always taken for granted about grammar and writing that are actually questioned by smart people. I’m talking about people like you and me, who read a lot, and even who write a lot. The first was a hard-won lesson in style: the reduction of spaces after the end of a sentence from two to one. It is natural for me, after typing a period, to hit the space bar twice. I don’t even think about it. It’s like breathing or riding a bicycle or feathering my precious side bangs. I took typing class in 1984 from a wizened little nun named Sister Ernestine who would rap girls on the fingers with her cane if they glanced down at the keyboard of the electric typewriters we used for our lessons. As typography evolved with the now ubiquitous use of desktop computers, the need for two spaces after a period went away, because electronic fonts allow for alignment of space that pleases the eye in a way that the mechanical typewriter could not. I came to know that editorial standards no longer dictate the use of two spaces after a sentence only late last year, and it floored me. I was on the floor, picking up my lost spaces as they fell through my fingers. I could not have been more shocked. Because of that unexpected paradigm shift in my writing and editorial practice, I second-guessed myself a bit when recently I was questioned about my use of a period inside quotation marks. No less than two people suggested, when reading a document I drafted, that I place the period outside the marks. (Heavy sigh.) So I looked it up. Not only does it look right inside the quotation marks, IT IS RIGHT. At least in this country. God bless America.
Just One Paragraph 6/30
In 2004 I was a story editor on a reality show called “From Flab To Fab.” My colleagues and I like to describe it now as a precursor to “The Biggest Loser” because it was, like many of the shows I worked on, ahead of its time. Each episode documented a group of people who followed the rigorous diet and exercise plans of a pop star. Professional nutritionists, trainers, stylists, photographers, etc. were brought in to make sure the participants got the full “rock star” treatment. In one of the episodes that I edited, the first act of the nutritionist was to give the three ladies a GI cleanse made from olive oil, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. He mixed it up and served it to them in martini glasses. The girls choked the mixture down but not without difficulty – one of them actually gagged several times as she tried to drink it. Then they were told to lay on the gym floor and wait for it to work through their systems, after which they would need to visit the bathroom. I had to watch all the tape from that day. The concoction did its job alright, and the powerful microphones picked up the symphony of gurgles, pops, and whistles from the direction of each woman’s stomach. The nutritionist even pointed it out to them. “Can you hear the music in your colon?” he asked, with an Austrian accent. Just like Arnold, my friends tell me after I mimic it for them now.
Just One Paragraph 5/30
Pleasure Beach, Waterford, CT
Another gem I discovered while geocaching. (More on that some other time.)