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I’m pleased to tell you that work has begun on “Grammarnoir 4: Final Edition.”

As previously, it will appear on this blog in a series of weekly installments, beginning in February and concluding on March 4, National Grammar Day.

Today, for you, a little taste, a paragraph from Part 1, “A belle in the night”:

“This is quite satisfactory,” she said, adjusting her skirt to allow me to admire the line of her thigh. Her vocabulary was Downton Abbey, but her accent was Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Her clothes said Saks, but her eyes said floozy. The little cross at her throat murmured piety, but what the decolletage blared was entirely secular.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:44 AM | | Comments (10)



I can hardly wait!

Oh, please publish before thw move to what LL terms the Format of Oblivion. Everything about FofO is verboten here on Ginormous Corp's network.

Prof. McI.,

Ooh La La! Magnifique!

Quelle belle jambe!

Quelle belle poitrine!

Quelle belle fesse!

Votre 'belle du soir', ici, offers up a veritable trifecta of feminine pulchritude. Non?

I'm literally waiting w/ baited breath, and baited lust............ for a stellar, engaging noirish narrative, of course. HA!

Clearly, from this petit teaser, your "belle in the night' is a kind of melange of odd, yet compelling contradictions. I like your technique of playing off these apparent contrasting opposing elements of her character make-up, w/ a kind of back-and-forth, bouncy, light-and-breezy narrative cadence, reminiscent of that old chestnut that opens w/ "You say tomato, and I say 'tomatoe'....."

Of course, folksy veteran satirical whiz, Garrison Keillor employs that same kind of stylistic rhythmic pattern in his superb Guy Noir/ private eye pieces on his long-running NPR Prairie Home Companion weekend broadcasts. I'm sure, for him, it's some kind of (hardly veiled) homage to the writing styles of the likes of the iconic, beloved noir mystery scribes of the genre, like Dashell Hammet and Raymond Chandler.

With that vivid description of your "belle in the night", I couldn't help conjuring up early incarnations of the chameleon-like, enigmatic performer, Madonna, who was given to prancing around onstage, half-naked save for her dominatrix-inspired all-black-leather bottoms, and that radical conical bustier creation for a top. All the while w/ a giant Christian crucifix dangled between her majorly augmented decolletage. The sacred/ secular duality writ large, and in your face, if you will.

(Ironically, in her youth she was once a dutiful, religiously observant, good Catholic girl, but the holy fathers in the era of her prime-time performance excesses (and successe$) were none-too-happy w/ her mixing sacred church iconography w/ her wild, punkish, trashy, S&M-inspired stage get-ups. Some pop-psychologists have termed this phenomenon-----the madonna/ prostitute syndrome. But I digress.)

When Madonna more recently was still married to her Scottish film director/ hubby Guy Richie, a few years back, the pop culture world, particularly her devoted fan-base, was quite flummoxed by her suddenly affecting an almost toffee-nosed, snooty, upper-crust Downton Abbey-esque voice inflection. Was it a simple case of 'when in London do as the Londoners do', or was she just putting on lofty, phony airs? Not unlike your "belle in the night", I would imagine, John?

I must leave you folks w/ a small sampling from a 2003 Keillor Guy Noir script that I found quite hilarious, that I admittedly pilfered from that invaluable knowledge trove that is Wikipedia.

This, my fellow bloggers, is the high caliber of competition that our fair blogmeister finds himself up against. If last year's gallant, and quite engagingly droll effort is any indicator, then our dear professor should fair just fine w/ this year's "Grammarnoir 4: Final Edition".

Here's Guy Noir speaking, as only he can speak, right now:

"She was tall and long-legged, and her blond hair hung down sort of like what Beethoven had in mind when he wrote the Moonlight Sonata. She wore a knit sweater and jeans so tight it looked as if she'd been poured into them and forgot to say "When!". When she moved, she seemed to undulate under her clothes in ways that took a man's mind off the state of the economy."---IMHO, priceless.

Hmm......sounds like it might behoove either incumbent presidential candidate Obama, or the guy nominated to lead the GOP into this next general election (all current signs pointing to Mitt Romney), to hire the aforementioned blond bombshell that Keillor has so eloquently described; to take out on the cross-country political hustings this year w/ them, The politics of distraction (from the ills of the economy--- joblessness, underwater mortgages, a rapacious Wall St., banks that won't lend credit to small business, etc.) might be the wise way to go. Sex does sell........... maybe even in politics. (I know I'm being silly here, but times are tough, and it's fun to fantacize, on occasion, to relieve that enveloping abject despair, ennui, and hopelessness. HA!)

Chin up, folks!

Noir rocks!



Just realized that I wrote "baited breath", and "baited lust" in my last commentary.

Should have been 'bated", without the "i'.

One baits one's fishing hook w/ worm, or fish roe, whist one bates one's breath in anticipation of catching a huge trout, or bass.

"Baited lust" frankly just sounds plain silly, don't it?

Live and learn.


"our dear professor should FARE just fine" too, Alex. =)

Granny Shanny,

Aah, the intangible rewards of nitpicking!

But seriously Granny, thanks for catching (and pointing out) my 'fairly' minor spelling faux pas there. (You may deem it major...... whatever.)

Indeed, our esteemed blogmeister McIntyre should FARE (not "fair") just fine w/ his latest installment of Grammarnoir. Clearly 'noirish fare' falls comfortably within his creative wheelhouse. (Glory be, the word FARE can be used as either a verb, or noun. Ain't English just a marvel?)

Hmm...... I am a tad curious about that little iconic symbol, i.e., "= )" that punctuates your admittedly gentle admonition?

Guess I just don't get out into the electronic social networking scene a lot these days, 'cause I can't recall ever seeing that particular one. (I lead a very sheltered life, mind you. HA!)

Respectfully, I interpret it as perhaps a smiling, or chuckling hog symbol, w/ those twin bars, "=", having a decidedly porcine nasal, snouty configuration.

So perchance you are sending me a little friendly parting snort*, or chortle? Which is very cool.

*Always breaks me up when one of the Tap-it (sp. ?) Bros. on their NPR weekend "Car Talk" ------the all-things-car show (any vehicle, or apparatus w/ a combustion engine is basically fair game)------becomes so convulsed w/ laughter (which is most of the time), that he lets out a series of audible snorts. (It's like we've suddenly been transported to the old set of Hee Haw.)

(Wow! I managed to slice-and-dice that penultimate sentence, (directly above), like a chopped Cobb salad run amok. Are you folks nauseous yet? HA!)

Those zany Car Talk guys have such a total blast on their show, and clearly enjoy what they do. Aside from their annoying 'obfuscating' tendencies. HA!

Wasn't that movie "Babe" a sweet film.? Don't know where that came from? =) Could have been the "Hee Haw" effect, y'all? Just sayin'.


First off.

A shout out to all you triskaidekaphobes out there.

It's bad enough that it's the 13th of the month, (a Friday-the-13th, no less), in a leap year-of-the Dragon (Chinese calendar), but then we've got that ominous Mayan end-of-the wold scenario slated to come to pass this mid-December. What's a neurotic doomsdayer to do?

Don't worry my little ones......... THIS too shall pass. Promise.

Now to more serious fare*.

Following up my earlier musings on the fare/ fair usage distinction, let me get this off my chest.

It would be fair to say that the term 'male men' is a redundancy, no? Now contemplating the dismal way our U.S.P.S. is faring these days, 'mailmen' might soon become redundant, as well. (Should never knock a mailman when he's already down. Sorry.)

Here's a little off-the-cuff ditty, riffing on the multipurpose word "fair":

If 'er there was a town called Middling
Just seems most likely there'd be a Middling Fair there

If sweet Pippy Longstrom's perky pigtails
Are clearly long and flaxen
Then her golden hair, it's fair to say
Would be fair, blond,
Jutlandian, hardly Anglo-Saxon

If say two bank heisters evenly spit their ill-gotten gains
It's fair to state that would be a fair-and-square exchange.
Or if little Johnny got a "C" in math
His final grade would fall squarely in that middle,
Fairly average range.

So "fair" can have a multiplicity of meanings
From a comely, fair maiden, to a fair deal, or fair fight,
To a fair-haired lass, a World's Fair
A country fair, or a simple, fair delight.

They say 'all is fair in love and war'.
Ha! What do THEY know?
I'm out the door.

(Fair enough........... or enough "fair"?)

*Oh, in my earlier post I forgot to include another meaning of the word "fare", that being a designated fee for a service rendered. For instance, the fare one pays, for say, a trip to the county fair on public transport.


Folks, on my Yahoo! "TRENDING NOW" homepage sidebar, i just stumbled upon a partial (about three-quarters) of the actual word meaning fear of Friday the 13th.

At first blush I thought this unfamiliar, odd word was either some remote native Inuit outpost in Canada's North West Territories, "Parakevidekatrap......", or perhaps, the name of a dormant, obscure volcano in Greece, or Iceland.

My curiosity piqued, I then proceeded to click onto this partial, strange word, and voila!....... when revealed in-full , i. e., "Paraskevidekatraphobia", it proved to be the official word for fear of Friday the 13th. Who knew?

And we all thought that mouthful of gobbledy-gook from "The Sound of Music"......... calafrajilistic.......etc,......etc...... was an impossible tongue-twister?

Apparently, the root word "Paraskevi", is from the ancient Greek, meaning Friday.

Now the word "friggatriskaidekaphobia" is also a legitimate alternative, (also meaning fear of Friday the 13th), to that earlier cited multi-syllabic monstrosity.

Frigga is the name of the ancient Norse goddess from which our weekday,"Friday", derives. I believe another Nordic deity, Thor, had something to do w/ our naming the day prior to Friday, Thursday. Those Scandinavians do get around, don't they?

Oh, thanks to our good friends at Wikipedia for a lot of that good info. (Always give credit where credit is due............. or someone gets sued. HA!)

Have a great weekend, y'all.


Alex, there is also the fare that one eats or otherwise consumes.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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