Saturday, January 30, 2010

A whole lot of suck.

Sometimes here at GlobalWatchWatch, I point out grammatical errors. Sometimes I point out spelling mistakes. Other times I make fun of how hackneyed the storytelling is. It's been a while since I showed how downright atrocious the prose is.

Case in point.
In the first sentence, we are confronted with two participles in a row ("looking stunning"), which when it is said aloud makes you cover your ears in pain. Moving on, we see yet another "then" instead of the correct "than." Why couldn't the person who typed in Global Watch have just said, "Piper stood up. She looked stunning and more than ready to go out." Also, what does "go out" mean here? My friend's dog sometimes looks "ready to go out." Has Piper been housebroken? We just don't know.
Not wanting to think about that possibility too long, we move on to Piper's attire: "a long, flowing, blue and green dress with high heels." Does the dress have high heels? I know how we often say things like, "I was wearing a pair of jeans with my black shoes, which makes me look relaxed and dressy at the same time." But this is writing, folks. When you're describing something, be exact and clear; don't lazily jam prepositional phrases into each other in the hopes the reader will understand what you're trying to say. I read that description, and this is the picture that came to mind:

23 Skidoo, Piper! Let's find a blind tiger and then listen to hot jazz in my jalopy!
More inexactness follows, as the person who typed in Global Watch tell us she has pearls in her ears. How can she hear? Are they wedged in there really tight? I suppose I'm supposed to deduce that Piper was wearing pearl earrings. To which I reply, "I don't deduce unless there's cash on the barrelhead, Jack. None of that 'deduce on spec' malarkey for me." Why couldn't the person who typed in Global Watch have typed the phrase "pearl earrings"? Why? I'm getting tired of all this deducing I'm being asked to do.
You know what else I'm being asked to do? Read the same sentence over and over. "She was truly magnificent, and looked ready for a date." That's a repeat of a sentence that occurred THREE SENTENCES AGO! The person who typed in Global Watch can't even remember what he wrote THREE SENTENCES AGO. This would be like me telling someone, "The person who typed in Global Watch makes a lot of basic grammar and punctuation mistakes," then waiting one minute and saying, "Global Watch is full of grammar and punctuation errors." I would think the person I did this to would look at me askance and say, "Why don't you start a blog about it if it sucks goat so much?"
I'll end this post with another homage to Mark Twain: "Suppose you are an idiot. Suppose you are the person who typed in Global Watch. But I repeat myself."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Back up" or "Backup" = Brown M&Ms

Which is it, Global Watch?

In some instances, you use "backup." In others you use "back up." This frustrates me because I always thought you couldn't spell the same word two ways. Seems like a pretty basic rule.

This inconsistency illustrates why copy editing is so undervalued. A copy editor fresh out of the eighth year of high school would have caught this problem and fixed it without batting an eye. As I've said before, when I see things like this, I conclude that the person who created it doesn't care much for the finer details of writing or for presenting his work in the best way possible. And this brings me to today's lecture on Van Halen.

Van Halen used to insist in its concert contracts that its members' dressing rooms had to have bowls full of M&Ms, with the brown M&Ms removed. Seems like a crazy rock star detail, right? Nope. There was a reason Van Halen wanted those M&Ms removed. According to Wikipedia:

this was listed in the technical portion of the contract not because the band wanted to make capricious demands of the venue, but rather as a test of whether the promoter actually read the contract, as it contained other requirements involving legitimate safety concerns.[47] On early tours, inadequate compliance by local organizers to the safety requirements of the rider had placed members of Van Halen's road crew in danger, sometimes life-threatening. Because of these incidents, the band developed the M&M's demand as a means of checking whether the venue was properly honoring all of the contract. Subsequently, if the bowl was missing, or if there were brown M&M's present, they had reason to suspect that the venue may not have honored legitimate technical and safety concerns within the contract.


So, when I see use of both "backup" and "back up," it makes me wonder if the person who typed in Global Watch read his own stuff before publishing it.

In other words, there are brown M&Ms in these bowls, Global Watch. What else have you screwed up?

[Editor's note: An anonymous reader directed me to an error in the above post, and I corrected it. GlobalWatchWatch makes no claim of infallibility.]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DC

Here are some instances of "Washington, DC" in the story of Global Watch.


And here's where he references the nation's capital in the "About the Author" section.


How inept is the person who typed in Global Watch?
He uses three different versions of his hometown.
1. Washington, DC
2. Washington D.C.
3. Washington, D.C.

For the record, the city's website (www.dc.gov) uses "Washington, DC."

These commas and periods may seem trivial, but I will not let these mistakes pass unnoticed. The person who typed in Global Watch grew up in Washington. He should jolly well know where to stick the comma and whether or not to use periods.

I grew up in one of those vast tundra states west of the Appalachians, and by third grade I knew that states were not abbreviated like "W.I." or "C.A." It made sense, even to an eight-year old. While the District of Columbia is not technically a state, I'm sure the schoolchildren there went through similar education on writing their addresses.

Sorry, Global Watch. I hope your grade school teacher sees this blog post and sends a letter to your mom.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Landmark post

I missed commemorating GlobalWatchWatch's 100th post, so I hope you don't mind me taking a moment of silence to honor the language that was so senselessly butchered by the person who typed in Global Watch.



Now, do me a favor. Go watch Team America, World Police, and tell me the person who typed in Global Watch didn't rip off half his ideas from that movie.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"So's Your Mom."

I've been debating whether to post on this topic for some time now.
This morning, I said, "What the heck."


The person who typed in Global Watch had his mom edit it.

All these errors exist because he could find nobody other than his mom to be an editor. Nobody but his mom was willing to spend enough time with Global Watch to make it readable. This dedication says more about the person who typed in Global Watch than it does about his mom.

I thought it would be wise to leave his mom out of this blog, but the person who typed in Global Watch made her an issue in the first place. Put yourself in her shoes. She probably already has a full schedule, with a career and family, and her son demands that she edit his attempt to play Tom Clancy. He wants her to work tirelessly, and read every page repeatedly, and make it perfect.

At what point did she ask him, "Why did I spend all that money sending you to Emory University, if you still need me to check your spelling?" At what point in her tireless effort did she say, "Screw this, son. I've got to take your little brother to ballet lessons"? Can you blame her? What would you do?

It's as though he's setting her up, so that he can blame so many errors on his mom. What a gem of a son you have, Mrs. Global Watch. You deserve better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's like Lucy and Ricky

If the Ricardos were clinically insane.
video

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A quick post

I haven't done a straightforward post in a while, so here's something simple.

As my colleague The Punctuator notes,
Many of these mistakes individually are very trivial, like the one above ... but as an aggragate, they get pretty overwhelming.


Now, I've proven that the person who typed in Global Watch has no writing skill whatsoever. But I think that had its use been intentional, the phrase "oblivious pitfall" could actually be considered clever. Alas, it's merely a typo.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Time Travel

I have two problems with this otherwise stellar paragraph:

First, the person who typed in Global Watch either can't add or loses track of time easily. I don't understand why it says that Kyp and Laura fell in love 20 years after they met, because earlier in Global Watch, Kyp says:


Now, if they've fallen in love at 34, and they met 20 years prior, that would mean they met when they were 14. That's can't be true, because they met at Harvard when they were 18. So, I'm just confused.

My other problem with this paragraph is the last line: "not to make the same mistake twice." As the late, great George Carlin wrote:
Don’t make the same mistake twice seems to indicate three mistakes, doesn’t it? First you make the mistake. Then you make the same mistake. Then you make the same mistake twice. If you simply say, “Don’t make the same mistake,” you’ll avoid the first mistake.


Other than those two problems, this is a great paragraph.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

That was a long intermission

Welcome back to GlobalWatchWatch theater.
video
In tonight's episode, Piper Strobe, played by Hillary Clinton, makes an offer to President Simons, played by Thomas Jefferson.

Sound implausible? Then you haven't read Global Watch.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hanger

Apparently, people in Global Watch need wire triangles upon which to hang their clothes.

I kid, of course. And I won't scream and pull out my hair in frustration. I'm in a better place with my anger .

How one winds up concocting this story about submarine bases and mini subs (reading this section made me hungry) and confuses "hanger" and "hangar" (twice, by Jove!)is unbelievable. It's par for the course for the person who typed in Global Watch, sure, but still. I think people stop making this mistake in sixth grade. No, really. Sixth grade.

Too much time on my hands

It's becoming apparent now.

This is my new profile picture.
This blog needed to refresh its branding, so instead of using a picture of somebody else, and risking a copyright violation , I risk counterfeiting charges now, too.

I kinda like it.

It's on my Twitter page, too. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This conversation takes place AT HARVARD!

If I were Harvard, I'd sue the hell out of Global Watch. This section is darn near slander.

Both Harvard professors and Harvard students are belligerent ignorant drunks, if we are to believe the person who typed in Global Watch.

Trying to fulfill my New Year's resolution, I must comment on the use of italics in this section. Here goes.
WHY?
In some places in the story, italics are used to denote what a character is thinking. But here we see an actual conversation depicted in italics.
WHY?
There. January 12. Resolution accomplished.
It's also worth noting that he can't even do it right. The first set of quotation marks is not italicized in the each of the three paragraphs. I just conducted a little experiment and tried to italicize three paragraphs of dialog, and miss only the first sets of quotation marks. It's darn near impossible. Bravo, Global Watch, for a feat of typographical trapezing.

Do I need to point out the appalling lack of commas here, or should I just skip ahead? Screw it. I'm skipping ahead.

The phrase "diluted view of history" is my favorite tidbit in this section. The correct word, of course, is "deluded," but I confess that a certain thrill tingles my elbow when someone tries to use what one thinks is a "big word," and fouls it all up. It's even more tingly when the "big word" is "deluded." I bet the person who typed in Global Watch also uses the phrases "labor under a dilution," and "dilutions of grandeur." I hope nobody ever corrects him.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fan Fiction

I'm sure some of you are familiar with fan fiction, in which fans of a TV show, movie, or book write new adventures for their favorite characters. Harry Potter is a particularly popular source of material. A lot of the Harry Potter fan fiction has a lot more sex than the books.

To which I say, "Is 'To Catch a Predator' aware of this?"

For God knows what reason, I spent some time poking around the premier fan fiction site on the web, FanFiction.net. If you haven't been, I recommend you visit to see what I mean. There are 87 fan fiction stories devoted to Ally McBeal.

What does this have to do with Global Watch?

Global Watch is essentially fan fiction. It's as though the person who typed in Global Watch decided to pay homage to every bad, throwaway, straight-to-DVD, written-under-a-pseudonym thriller he must have devoured instead of learning how to write well.

I'll show you what I mean. Here are two excerpts: one from a story on FanFiction.net, and the other from Global Watch. Try to determine which one is which. I've redacted the names so it won't be too easy for you.

First excerpt:
[NAME REDACTED] sipped his lukewarm coffee and read the newspaper. It seemed Russia was finally starting to understand capitalism, and for once the economy was proving beneficial in the region. The gangsters and prostitutes who’d taken over following the initial collapse of communism were now being ousted by the strengthened militia in Moscow and across the country. It was nice, [NAME REDACTED] noted. Part of his life had been spent under the oppressive rule of the USSR, the other half in the subtle chaos of post-Cold War capitalism. Now he was being given a chance to live what Americans called a “normal life.”


Second excerpt:
[NAME REDACTED] hoped the situation mounting in Russian would not parallel past confrontations. The reference to improving Stalin's five year plans was disturbing at best. In the old USSR, the five year plans were doomed to failure because of a lack of resources and a lack of man power. But with all of this time to analyze past mistakes, a new government could easily revitalize some old terminology and try to create a new agenda. If there was a new power growing in Russia, with roots tied to the old USSR, this could spell trouble for [NAME REDACTED] and the people it protected.


I realize that's a double shot of bad writing, but you can't tell which is fan fiction, and which is Global Watch, can you? Why would you pay $1.99 for the same type of writing you can find for free?

Fun with indenting.

It's pretty hard to screw up indenting, but somehow, the person who typed in Global Watch pulls out all the stops.


When I see a situation like this in Global Watch, I think that the person who typed it in was getting so caught up in the action that all rules of spacing and indenting (and spelling, and grammar, and punctuation and...) got thrown out the window. I have an image in my mind of the person who typed in Global Watch typing in the story and furiously asking himself, "Then what did he say? THEN what did he say? THEN what happened?" He's not paying attention to any rules. He's just letting the inspiration flow.

In short, he's making it up as he goes along. That's fine! Stories are supposed to be made up. But the stories that people read and enjoy (and buy) are stories where every episode has a point and contributes to a larger whole. This is where editing comes in. Each episode can show that the author has thought about the events taking place and how they connect, and when the story gets edited, things like indenting can get taken care of.

In this case, what we see is an artifact of a night long ago, when the person who typed in Global Watch told himself a story, and didn't bother to think it through. He just put the words into the computer and never looked at them again.

You know that image I said I have in my mind? It's not one I'm proud of.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Unbelievable

I am lazy today. Too lazy to underline. Damn you, Global Watch, for sapping my will to live!

So let's do this thing.

Here's an entire paragraph run amok because of poor punctuation. Commas in the wrong place can undo the best of intentions. Since good intentions are all that Global Watch has, what's left in this paragraph is unintelligible.

1. Poor commas and lack of parallel structure make this sentence read as though it is known that Oleg was entrusted with saving humanity. How to fix this? "...Oleg felt that he had been blessed by God and had been entrusted with saving humanity." It's still a sentence with three passive verbs, but at least now it makes sense.

2. A little less sucky than the first sentence, but the comma after "history" should be moved to follow "apparent." There are two independent clauses that can be linked by a comma.

3. Tying the first sentence for first place in the confusion category, this sentence doesn't make clear the true nature of this spy organization Oleg built. Is it the most advanced of a number of privately funded spy organizations? Is it privately funded and most advanced? The person who typed inGlobal Watch needs to dig: You can't just sprinkle commas through your prose as though you're a dainty little flower girl at your aunt's wedding.

4. Ah, but wait. The final sentence in this paragraph takes the Palme d'Or of horrid. There's so much there. "Events has fully unfolded" is classic, textbook, obvious "wrong." Then there's that comma after "unfolded," which, combined with that "and" immediately following, could lead the reader to see "both agendas were laid on the table" as an independent clause. So there's a nice blend of blatant and subtle atrociousness.

I just realized that this is another paragraph (and a long one at that) with something wrong with every sentence. So I think I can be forgiven for skimping on the proofreading marks. It's not as though they'd do any good anyway.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Be my guest.

You know what you call somebody who invites a lot of people to his mountain resort, provides food and boarding to the people he invited, and gives presentations to those people?

If you're the person who typed in Global Watch, you call that person a "guest."

I want to scream, "HOST, Global Watch! HOST! Oleg is the HOST here! Everyone else is a guest! If you invite people to your house, you are the HOST!"

I want to scream, but I won't. I think I got it out of my system. Miss Manners would probably be revolted by my low levels of couth, but I'm pretty sure the leader of the pack of street urchins that raised me taught me the difference between "guest" and "host."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another blog for you to follow.

Fellow editor and crap-hater The Punctuator has undertaken a project similar to this one. Only he's doing it to a work by an established author who does not have to sell his offal on Amazon for $1.99.

He's taking on W.E.B. Griffin, who I gather is one of the bigger names in the literary market of publishing the equivalent of a box of Oreos and gallon of Kool-Aid.

Apparently, sloppy editing is not confined to small-time, bush league self-publishing. Once you get big enough, nobody bothers to check your work.

Check it out. The Punctuator is a compelling blog that gets the GlobalWatchWatch Seal of Approval.

PROnouns? Seems more like an AMATEUR to me.

I'd like to start the first GlobalWatchWatch post of 2010 with a song.

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

--Bob Dylan
Ballad of a Thin Man

I feel like Mr. Jones after reading this paragraph, because I'm trying to figure out who belongs to what pronoun.

Pronouns can be tricky, and they can confuse the reader. I had to read the first two sentences a few times to understand who "his" was referring to. For example, the sentence:
"This man loved and could well marry the woman of his dreams."
made me think, at first:
"Well, I hope this man marries the woman of his dreams. That's so sweet."
Then I remembered who had typed in this sentence. And I had to edit the sentence in my head to piece together what the person who typed in Global Watch was trying to say.

Once I finished that little exercise in translation from GlobalWatchian to English, I was further baffled by that swath of white space in the middle of the paragraph. Was it redacted text? What had Global Watch deleted? Then, again, I remembered who had typed in Global Watch, and realized it was just another error that could have been caught by an editor.

Finally, my hatred of unnecessary italics was further stoked by the last line in the paragraph. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to address Global Watch's arbitrary typography choices. There's no reason for this sentence to be italicized. None. New rule, Global Watch: Just because Stephen King did it doesn't mean it's great writing.