Saturday, September 29, 2007

typesetting & punctuation

this, it has to be said, is a rather off-putting title for a blog—particularly following on the heels of the much more fun you tube clips. but it's really not as full of rules or nearly as bossy as it sounds. it might even be interesting or helpful. Or both.

it's fitting too. as you may or may not know, it was in fact "National Punctuation Day" (September 24th)—I steered well clear of it myself—(who can begin to imagine what manner of torture might be involved in such a day?)

punctuation, it seems to me, is one of those tricksy things that the more you think about it the more you can't do it (except if you're brilliant and J R R Tolkien and then you know everything anyway so you don't count).

i once found myself lost in the middle of a huge manuscript, two days before the final deadline, re-punctuating everything because i'd convinced myself I needed to get more semi-colons in. don't ask me why. i don't know—it's insane (and i don't even like semi-colons)—it had a lot to do with thinking semi-colons are what clever people use. And because a critic who lives inside my head says horrid things, like "ah yes, what a shame. and it would have been such a lovely book if only she'd... (fill in the blank)."

if you find yourself in a Punctuation Bog like this, all i can say is, you need to GET OUT of there right this instant, run into the fresh air and the sunlight and talk to a sensible friend and only come back to your manuscript when you're fully in the real world and back in your right mind and have just stopped it.

and once you've done that, read something like this—a very helpful old typsetting saying:

"Set type as long as you can hold your breath without getting blue in the face. Then put in a comma.
When you yawn, put in a semicolon.
When you clear your throat, put in a period.
When you want to sneeze, that's time for a paragraph"

and here is a completely beautiful piece of typesetting to close this punctuation posting with.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

funny old women

well, it's very silly but it has sent some of my friends into complete hysterics, so I bring it to you, too as a nice way to begin your Thursday

Seagull thief in aberdeen

He waits until the shopkeeper isn't looking and then ...

Monday, September 24, 2007

the hardest instrument to play

Leonard Bernstein was once asked which instrument was the most difficult to play. He thought for a moment and then replied, "The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinsts, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm — that's a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."

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