tmcg: (Default)
In the Pet Peeve Department:

If you use ellipsis points at the end of some dialogue to indicate faltering or trailing-off speech, you do not then have to announce in the narration that the utterance has "trailed off." It's evident from the punctuation.

If you use an em-dash at the end of some dialogue to indicate sharply cut-off speech, and the next line is another line of dialogue, you do not have to announce at any point that the second speaker has cut the first speaker off. The two lines of dialogue and their punctuation work aurally, just as in a playscript, and the reader doesn't need any help from the narrator to get what's happening.

For example... )

A lot of the time, "said" tags are unnecessary; we know who's speaking from context, from interpolated description ["Okay." His pained expression belied the assent. "Yes"], and from the content, syntax, and vocabulary of the dialogue itself. But "said" tags do serve a rhythmic purpose and help keep the reader oriented, and as long as they aren't awkward or excessive they're close to invisible, hardly registering on the reader's conscious mind, as integrated as punctuation. "He trailed off" and "he said, trailing off" and "She cut him off" and "she said, cutting him off" make the "said"s visible to no good purpose. When they appear frequently throughout a piece of fiction, they amount to a rhythmic crutch; to me they loom larger each time, and become annoying narrative tics. It's like the TV commercial where the guy's in the job interview talking about his qualifications and what the interviewer sees and hears is this droning guy in the background and the stain on his shirt SHOUTING IN CREEPY GIBBERISH!!!! He can't focus on what the guy's saying, because the stain distracts him so much.

tmcg: (pirate)
MoveOn is soliciting applications from people in the continental U.S. for five-month paid fellowship positions. The positions are full-time with health-care benefits and seem to primarily entail online organizing, so they could be especially interesting to people who already work from home and are comfortable in online environments (in other words, a fair number of you guys). More info and a link to the application form here. You can also nominate fellows and sponsor fellows.

tmcg: (starry blue)
Having cars beep their horns in order to say "Yes, ma'am, signal acknowledged, ma'am, I'm all locked up, ma'am" when you use the remote to lock them is like having a doorbell that's loud enough to startle the neighbors and passersby and that instead of politely chiming cries "Look out!" and "Don't hit me!" and "Help!"

Using a potato peeler to laboriously strip the top layer from a stalk of celery you've already rinsed as thoroughly as possible feels a lot like washing the soap. Then again, sometimes the soap does need washing.

I can no longer listen to music while I write because I sense a melodic, rhythmic shape to sentences before I have the words to fill the shape; I need to listen, I need to be able to hear what I haven't said yet.

(I used to like to have music playing while I was writing, and on a panel at the last Albacon--when the question "What music helps you write?" came up, as it frequently does--I said I couldn't have music on at all anymore, and Barbara Chepaitis was curious why, and I told her I didn't know, although I had a vague unarticulated notion that it might have something to do with aging, that when I was younger I was better at handling multiple sensory input and multitasking. Maybe that is part of it, and maybe it's all just different ways of saying "I need to be able to hear myself think." But yesterday I found myself listening for, reaching for, that word melody that didn't have words yet, and I thought, Huh. Wow. This is why. And it is.)

tmcg: (mousies)
Usually I clear the spambox every week or two, but I didn't get a chance this last month.

Between August 1 and August 31, 1,132 spam messages received at my Gmail eddress.

tmcg: (sword)
GOP Takes Aim at PBS Funding (Boston Globe, June 8)

Statements of Public Broadcasters on House Subcommittee's Vote To Cut Federal Funding for Public Broadcasting by 23 Percent ( pressroom, June 7)

CPR Responds to House Appropriations Subcommittee's Proposed Funding Levels for Public Broadcasting (Corporation for Public Broadcasting pressroom, June 7)

Public Broadcasting Under Assault (

Bush Budget Pumps Propaganda, Slashes PBS (MediaCitizen, February 7)

From MoveOn's email today:
Over the last couple of days, over 300,000 people (including 80,000 who are totally new to MoveOn) have signed on to our petition to save NPR and PBS. That brings the total number of signers to over 1,400,000—making this not only our largest petition ever, but one of the largest petitions anyone's done.

But the next vote in Congress will be as soon as tomorrow. To stop Congress' budget cuts, we need to go even bigger: we're aiming for 1.5 million of us to sign on by tomorrow.

From MoveOn's June 8 email:
Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they've just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS — unbelievably, starting with programs like "Sesame Street."

Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two years—threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog journalism.

Petition at

tmcg: (sword)
From What If They Gagged Gutenberg? (by Craig Newmark, San Francisco Chronicle, June 11th): quick excerpt )

In a June 10th commentary, he offered a couple of other metaphors: quoted behind the cut )

House Ignores Public, Sells Out the Internet through Passage of COPE Act (press release at quick excerpts )

From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo...

June 12th:

The fight is already over in the House. Now it goes to the senate. A new telecommunications bill is being moved through the Senate Commerce Committee by Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK).

The question is whether the new bill will include Net Neutrality language or not.

The pro-Net Neutrality legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Snowe (R-ME) and Dorgan (D-ND) -- the Snowe-Dorgan bill (S-2917).

So if you're interested in trying to find out where your senator stands, the key question is whether they support and plan to vote for the Snowe-Dorgan bill. A supporter of Net Neutrality should say 'yes', an opponent 'no'.

And June 9th:

Okay, so Dorgan, Inouye, Leahy, Boxer, Clinton, Obama and Wyden are down for Net Neutrality. Just because someone's not a cosponsor, you can't infer from that that they're not for it. But it does give a list to start with of who's on the right side.

Now, here's what I'd like to do. Many of you out there are working this debate and you know which senators are leaning which way. But everybody can get on the Net and start googling. So I want your help in putting together a list of where the different Democrats stand on this issue. Let us know what you find out.
tmcg: (sword)
US Senate blocks gay marriage ban

Vote Summary (thanks, [ profile] tharain)

tmcg: (creepy book)
Three weeks ago, I switched to cable phone, because how could I resist $15/mo for more services than I had for $45/mo with Verizon? Right after I switched, I got a lot of incoming wrong numbers (useful for practicing my Spanish), and there were service outages of one to three minutes at least once a day. Then the wrong numbers tailed off, but the outages got longer and now calls are occasionally half dropped (I can hear the other party but they can't hear me anymore).

This morning, there was an incoming call from my own phone number.

I thought that was pretty nifty. I even picked up. "Hi!" I said. "Am I there?" I was disappointed to find that I wasn't. Or maybe I was, but I couldn't hear myself?

I'm hanging in with the service, hoping the cable company gets its act together. If it doesn't, I hope that the next time I call myself we can actually have a conversation. Especially if the call's from the past or future or an alternative dimension. An interdimensional phone line! For fifteen bucks a month! That would be worth the unreliable regular service.

tmcg: (quill)
Well, that was a pain.

It turns out that if you have the Web 11 (Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition) electronic version already installed on your machine, the current Web 3 (Merriam-Webster's Third New International Unabridged Dictionary) electronic version won't load correctly. You need to uninstall Web 11, install Web 3, then install Web 11 again.

I pretty much figured that when I ran into a problem, but I contacted tech support. here's our exchange, which solved the problem )

Maybe eventually they'll revise the FAQ, or maybe it's just not a Q that's F enough A. Or maybe they'd rather we all subscribe to the online versions of the dictionaries. But I can't always get online when I need access to Web 11 and/or Web 3, and I'd rather buy once than subscribe, so I am still thrilled that they offer these references on disk. And tech support got back to me within a day.

tmcg: (sword)
Skrybble sent me the link to this ACLU animation about a guy who gets a little more than he expected when he calls for pizza.

some action alerts )

NOW is also campaigning to save the TV show Commander in Chief. Ironic or interesting or pointless bit of data: My male SO is the fan of the show in this household; I've been ready to bail on it for a couple of episodes now. It's as idealized as The West Wing without being as realistic or sophisticated. Every episode I find myself bored and frustrated, mainly because of bad writing (an overload of "as you know, Bob"s and other terrible dialogue, some intended to baby along an amnesiac or slow-on-the-uptake audience and some just plain bad) and belabored structuring (attempts to build tension by showing the opposition scheming, when it's all just so bloody obvious). It was a nice idea and explored some interesting issues, but I can't get behind a campaign to save it. I am sorry to see Commander in Chief and The West Wing leave the airwaves and fiberoptic cables at around the same time, though, especially this particular time, and for similar reasons I'm glad for ER's current Darfur storyline, and I chuckle and grin at the success of The Da Vinci Code despite all its irritating narrative tics.

tmcg: (Default)

In last night's episode of Commander-in-Chief, which we watched tonight on tape because last night we were at Studio 54 watching Gabriel Byrne in Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet, there was a scene in which the President's son is berated by a high-school administrator for plagiarizing an essay. On the blackboard behind her, Edgar Allan Poe's name was misspelled.

Just thought someone ought to mention it.

tmcg: (sword)
If you live in New York, don't forget that you can vote on the Working Families Party line for a lot of the same candidates as on the Democratic line.

From The Power of Fusion Politics, in The Nation:

Fusion is powerful. Voting in the Working Families column is no wasted gesture--every ballot counts. It sidesteps the Nader Effect, since voters can show their support for a progressive party agenda without spoiling the chances of a candidate--usually a Democrat--who has a shot at winning. And if there's an opportunity to take out a bad Democrat, like former Albany DA Paul Clyne, Working Families can run its own candidate.

If you live in Texas, please consider voting no on Proposition 2.

And while I'm here: The Sierra Club's petition to oppose Arctic and coastal drilling.

tmcg: (cherry coke)
Returning after this past month away from here, I feel that I should come bearing rants and linkage. To be honest, I felt disheartened about ranting here, and to some extent still do; despite the disaster after the disaster, I can't help feeling that all will be forgotten by election time, and that the polarization in this country is severe enough and laminated enough that nothing can penetrate it. Seeing no point in passing this disheartenment along, I drifted away. Will try to stay returned for a while and see how it goes.

On Primary Tuesday, twenty minutes before the polls closed, I was the ninetieth person in my district to vote. When I came up to the table, one of the women said, "We've got a live one!" I got the feeling they'd been sitting for some time without much to do.

My cool-word find of last month was "kayakathon." It's probably in poor taste now, but it's a great word.

Oh, and LJ had neither of my high schools listed in its new Schools userinfo thing, so I went ahead and added one of them. It would feel odd to run into a classmate here.

tmcg: (cherry coke)
Back from Readercon, where a very good time was had. [ profile] akaspeedo has a report up already. I'm watching [ profile] merlinpole's and (check) [ profile] stevendj's (check) space.

We cracked today and hauled the fans and air-conditioner up from the basement. Actually, my SO cracked, so he did the hauling of the AC. I would have just kept sitting in my own thermal deliquescence. I've gotta hand it to Hotpoint; that little room unit dates back to my bedroom in my parents' house, and it's still working after many, many moves. My best estimate of its DOB is 1982, maybe 1983.

Meanwhile, the electronic vortex of doom continues to plague this house. This week's casualty: my NEC monitor. The problem seems not to be the power cord but the connection between the power cord and the monitor, which is no longer jiggable with random objects. (Nonrandom objects don't work either.) This issue comes up with monitors a lot, doesn't it? Is it something easily fixed, worth fixing? Something that would be a crime to abandon an otherwise perfectly good monitor because of? (I have a spare in its place now.)

tmcg: (scream)
What is the problem with spelling "definitely"?

My mental spelling mechanism works semi-eidetically. I learned to spell by reading a lot. When I was copyediting romance novels, in the late nineteen-eighties, I became permanently incapable of spelling the word "feisty," because I saw it spelled "fiesty" so many times that it started to look right that way. I fear that the Internet may curse me to a future of double-checking the spelling "definitely" because "definately" has been burned into my optic nerve.

tmcg: (scream)
So on Friday I drove to a semi-nearby Babies R Us store to pick up a registry gift for a baby shower. The radio was playing the Coasters. It was playing good oldies. Stuff you just don't hear on other stations anymore, the way you mostly don't hear standards since WNEW-AM died. Traffic started to thicken as I neared my destination, because I hadn't left early enough and I was starting to hit an infusion of rush hour. When I got out of the store and back in the car and was paying attention to the radio again, it was playing "Just Another Manic Monday." Huh? I hadn't changed the station. I thought I was listening to CBS. Home of good oldies. Home of the resoundingly reverbed Cousin Brucie. But the station identification insisted that I was listening to ... JACK.

On Saturday evening, we were driving back from the baby shower and post-shower reception at the house, and on "Idiot's Delight" Vin Scelsa was delivering an impassioned eulogy for WCBS-FM and playing "Another One Bites the Dust." The oldies died as of five o'clock on Friday. JACK is just another pop-mix station. And oh boy. I was there at its debut.