Over the transom
One of my vows this year, not yet abandoned, is to keep up better with the queries and comments that come to my desk. Here is a miscellany.
O western wind
One of The Sun’s loyal readers — a hardy tribe — was disappointed in the headline for the article on the cancellation of the New Year’s fireworks display because of dangerously high winds: Wind rustles planned festivities.
She thought that ruffles might have been intended, since rustles doesn’t appear to match any of the common senses of the word. I caught the sense of the headline but think that it was a misjudged effort at wordplay.
See for yourself
Paul J.J. Payack, the million-words-in-English man, has responded to my post suggesting that his enterprise is flawed and largely pointless, inviting me to examine the article in which he sets out his argument. You’re welcome to have a look, but I have to say that I am unpersuaded.
You’ve seen them before
Virtually all journalism is infested with cliches — do you live in a leafy suburb or on a gritty inner-city street? (I come from what some of my colleagues would probably call hardscrabble.) And there are the stock story forms and stock story structures; usually you can read the headline, maybe a sentence or two, and predict the entire contents of the story. The odd thing is that the writers who employ these shopworn devices almost always imagine that they are being original. “It’s not a cliche when I use it,” a reporter once told me — with a straight face.
Probably no writers have to resort more frequently to cliches than sports reporters. They typically have to turn out a large volume of copy under demanding time constraints, which makes it inevitable that prefabricated phrases comes to hand.
Andy Knobel, who capably oversees The Sun’s sports copy editors, offers this link to an annual column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette identifying some of the most notable sports cliches of the year just past.
The purple sweater
Some of you have commenter on the purple sweater and tie that I am wearing in the “Surely you jest” series of video jokes. Let me repeat what I said in a comment on the most recent one.
Mike Catalini has far weightier responsibilities as a multimedia editor than the production of the videos on this site. To spare him time and labor, I record a batch of these jokes at a sitting and then post them at intervals. The next one will display a change in wardrobe that will run for half a dozen posts until I put together the next batch.