Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009!

Thanks to all who have read and showed support for this blog this year. Your support makes it all worthwhile. Keep reading in 2010. I got a big pot o' grammatical gumbo cooking for the new year.

To send off 2009, I'll use this post to talk about something that always bothered me about Global Watch. It's this paragraph.


I'm not a car guy, so I had to do some research on what a Maybach 62 was. I found this:


"The heart of automotive luxury beats in the Center of Excellence in Sindelfingen, Germany. It is here at the Manufaktur that each Maybach vehicle is produced according to customers individual requirements."


Why is the head of a company named after George Washington being driven around in a German car?

Just asking. It seems bad for the corporate image. Company named after Father of America, using German cars. Maybe I'm being picky.

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No need for red ink.

I'm not going to use the red ink here. It's all bad.


How does a person type that paragraph and not see the slightest thing wrong with it?

"Consciences" is the most obvious error, so bad you almost don't notice there's no period after it.

Then there's the awkward phrasing that has the guy finding his head in a woman's lap. I know that the person who typed in Global Watch meant no decapitation, but how often do you hear somebody say, "I found my head in a cap," or, "I found my head being forced into a traumatic swirly"? You don't, and that's my point. The person who typed in Global Watch doesn't understand the language.

Put those errors together, and you have yet another sentence in Global Watch that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Synopsis

I'd like to step back for a moment, away from the text of Global Watch. If you look at Joe's Novel Idea, the blog set up by the person who typed in Global Watch, you'll see a brief synopsis of the story. That synopsis is the best summation of all the problems I've been pointing out in this blog, and it demonstrates why Global Watch should be avoided. I give you here three reasons, based only on the synopsis, why Global Watch is an affront to the craft of writing, a crime against grammar, and a shame to the English language.

1. The person who typed in Global Watch uses stale, cliched phrases.
Harry Truman’s greatest legacy, a secret organization called Global Watch, is suddenly put to the ultimate test as an international conspiracy unfolds which threatens the American way of life. Out of the chaos, an empire from the past is resurrected causing a global power shift. The lines of the map begin to blur pushing the new superpowers to the brink of World War III.


I Googled the phrase, "to the brink of World War III." It came back with 1,640,000 results. A good writer would have used a more refreshing phrase, or an idea that hadn't been used in about a million other cheap novels.

Same thing with this paragraph:
While the mission is risky and dangerous, and chances for success look bleak, failure is not an acceptable option for the forces of Global Watch.


As a typical reader, I like to buy books that I haven't read before.

2. The person who typed in Global Watch uses the wrong words.
Global Watch marks the first entry of a new action packed series wrought with political intrigue and international conspiracy. The fast paced twists and turns will keep the cleverest minds guessing until the very end, and holding their breath as the ultimate endgame unfolds.


The correct word here is "fraught." Just because two words rhyme doesn't mean they have the same meaning. Why should you buy a book written by somebody who doesn't care to use the right words?

3. The person who typed in Global Watch has a limited vocabulary.
"international conspiracy"
"ultimate"
"endgame"
"forces"
These are words with lots of powerful, vivid synonyms. Yet, Global Watch repeats them in the synopsis itself. If I am going to read a book billing itself as "action packed" and "fast paced," it had better not use words suited for non-fiction multiple times.

This synopsis is what the person who typed in Global Watch is using to get you to buy his book. This synopsis should be the best writing he can present. And, sadly, it is. There's no spark, or unique perspective, or fresh idea, or style to this writing. The words just sit in front of you on the page. The synopsis itself, like the book, is something the reader gets through, without having been entertained or challenged. What does it say when the only entertainment Global Watch provides is when I make fun of it?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Short Chapter

This is the shortest chapter in Global Watch.

While I think that short chapters are a stylistic indulgence best used by real writers with real talent, I'll forgive this one because it's Christmas.

But I want to point out something. In this chapter, NOTHING HAPPENS. Read it a few times to yourself. There is no action or plot development in this paragraph. Nothing happens. If you're going to drop a short chapter into a book, make it count. Otherwise, what you're left with is what we have here: a plot summary. It's as though Global Watch is its own Cliff's Notes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Simon

The evil President's last name is Simons. You'd think the person who came up with that name would know how to use its possessive form.
You'd think that if you hadn't actually read Global Watch. I have, so I can let you in on the joke that is the use of "Simon's" at the beginning of the paragraph, and "Simons" at the end of the paragraph. Yeah, I don't think it's that funny, either.



If I were the person who typed in Global Watch (and I wake up every day with a silent prayer of thanks that I am not), and I wasn't sure how to use apostrophes or possessive forms, I would not have made one of the central names end in "s." It would have been a lot easier that way, seeing as how actually learning a rule of punctuation is way too hard. It's hard. I would have his name be "Simon," or "Cheney," or "Pancake." It's really easy to make those possessive. As in "President Pancake's evil plot." The public would elect a ticket with "Pancake" in it.

The above paragraph can be admitted in court when I sue Global Watch for making me lose my mind.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Christmas, Everybody!


I couldn't wait to bust this out on you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Conspiracy?

The computer that I normally use to alert the world to the mangling of language that is Global Watch is out of commission for the weekend.

So, I can't access the copy of Global Watch that was residing on that hard drive. Which means I can't do my usual copy and paste from the copy I have. And I'll be damned if I'm going to buy it again and put another $1.99 into the pocket of the person who typed in Global Watch.

I'll be back by the end of the weekend with some extra special posts to make it up to you, but I have learned a couple of lessons.

1. Have a backup copy of your stuff available. It pains me to say this, but that includes dreck like Global Watch.

2. The person who typed in Global Watch may be behind my computer woes. I'm not sure, but the timing seems a little convenient.

You'll also notice I added some reaction checkboxes to my blog, so you don't have to post a comment to register your opinion.

In the meantime, go read something in a similar vein.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Literary Offenses

I acknowledge that of late I've been harping on how short Global Watch falls in its aspirations to be a piece of writing.
I also fully acknowledge that I am susceptible to fits of laziness, since it is the holiday season.
So, today, I'll point you to the guy who was doing this more than 100 years ago. His name was Mark Twain, and he did such a number on Fenimore Cooper that Cooper died of a heart attack straightaway.
I hope some day, years from now, the person who typed in Global Watch reads "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" and sees himself. Should that happen, I, on behalf of humanity, will accept his apology.
Some relevant passages:

In addition to these large rules, there are some little ones. These require that the author shall:

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
14. Eschew surplusage.
15. Not omit necessary details.
16. Avoid slovenliness of form.
17. Use good grammar.
18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.


and

I may be mistaken, but it does seem to me that "Deerslayer" is not a work of art in any sense; it does seem to me that it is destitute of every detail that goes to the making of a work of art; in truth, it seems to me that "Deerslayer" is just simply a literary delirium tremens.

A work of art? It has no invention; it has no order, system, sequence, or result; it has no lifelikeness, no thrill, no stir, no seeming of reality; its characters are confusedly drawn, and by their acts and words they prove that they are not the sort of people the author claims that they are; its humor is pathetic; its pathos is funny; its conversations are -- oh! indescribable; its love-scenes odious; its English a crime against the language.


"Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" is a great essay. Had Global Watch read it at any point in his life, the last four months of my life would have been much more productive.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Who/Whom



I'm going to let Grammar Girl handle this one.
Still too hard to remember? OK, here's the quick and dirty tip. Like whom, the pronoun him ends with m. When you're trying to decide whether to use who or whom, ask yourself if the answer to the question would be he or him. That's the trick: if you can answer the question being asked with him, then use whom, and it's easy to remember because they both end with m. For example, if you're trying to ask, "Who (or whom) do you love?" The answer would be "I love him." Him ends with an m, so you know to use whom. But if you are trying to ask, "Who (or whom) stepped on Squiggly?" the answer would be "He stepped on Squiggly." There's no m, so you know to use who. So that's the quick and dirty trick: if you can't remember that you use whom when you are referring to the object of the sentence, just remember that him equals whom.


I know "who/whom" is a little tricky, but it seems like something a writer who has been featured in his university's alumni magazine should know.

You can thank me later, Global Watch. Spend some time reading Grammar Girl, or Strunk and White, before you start typing away at the next exciting installment of the Global Watch series.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"It is what it is."

It's not the "then/than" error,
nor the lack of a hyphen in "would be,"
nor the missing comma after "Well."



What has caused me to pour myself a double this evening is the phrase "the situation was what it was."

"It is what it is" is the laziest, most meaningless, least thoughtful, worthless phrase in the English language. It is so empty and devoid of content even USA Today criticized its use. And USA Today let Larry King have a column! Think about how bad a piece of writing has to be for USA Today to make fun of it. That's the level of writing on display in Global Watch.

As I continue to drink, I think back to what a degradation of language Global Watch represents. Look back 50 years to what people were reading. Books like Naked Lunch, The Tin Drum, and Goodbye, Columbus. In a mere 50 years, we've gone from
"I looked hard at the image of me, at that darkening of the glass, and then my gaze pushed through it, over the cool floor, to a broken wall of books, imperfectly shelved."

to
"Well the situation was what it was."

Thanks, Global Watch. I hope you can call yourself a writer with a straight face.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Random thoughts in need of expounding

1. Does it bother anyone else that the premise of Global Watch is that there is this group of four perfect white people who act as benevolent overseers of mankind's tranquility? Delving deeper into the psychology of Global Watch, we see that the greatest threat to this group is a woman, Laura, who is romantically involved with no man, and who frustrates the group's perfect white leader by besting him in competition. And what does she get for this usurpation? Death. Dang, Global Watch. What are you trying to say here?

2. If Global Watch was set up by Truman, with the mission of protecting the world from "unseen threats and unimagined terrors," it has really dropped the ball on some big events. Where was Global Watch when the Russian tanks rolled into Prague in 1968? Or during that whole Viet Nam "situation"? In the words of the poet, "JFK blown away. What more do I have to say?" This is the best this organization can do to protect humanity? They. Suck.

I'll be back with more writing criticism, but I really needed to get those two points off my chest.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is December 1.

I've been blogging about the errors in Global Watch since August 22. 75 posts later, I am still at it.
75 posts, and 102 days of my life. All made possible by horrible, unschooled writing.
Like this.

The person who typed in Global Watch may not be able to write well, but is it too much to ask for consistent capitalization? Capitalize "secret." Capitalize "service." That's it. Set a rule and go with it. It's the literary equivalent of boiling water if you want to cook.

Thanks to all three of you who have read this blog these many months. Stay tuned. More masochism awaits!