Showing posts from February, 2020

What Say You, Poor Little Adverbs?

Sure We Love 'Em, but Do They Really Deserve to Live? (Answer provided below.)
That thing against adverbs is stupid. Really? (See what I did there?): very
every dialogue tag other than "said" or "asked," and preferably neither wonderfully

Girls in Yellow Cars

A Missive in Which I Discern the Many Nuances of That, Which, and Questionable Choices
NOTE: You Aussies, Brits, Canadians (mostly), and other people who speak English with a weird accent and refer to speaking the Queen's English and such other nonsense which makes me clapperclaw the walls may want to skip this entire post. Thanks.

Why am I posting this? Because I see errors along the lines of what I'm about to discuss every day. Because knowing the difference will improve your writing—and your reading. And if you don't think that's why, I'll save you the trouble—I'm a grammar Nazi, I think I'm smarter than you, I'm an asshole, I hate people, I'm raining on everyone's parade, I just want attention, I like to control what you write, blah, blah, blah. Have at it, like I give a flying fuck.

A Brief Clarification

The Observation Still Seems Salient Three Years Later
Reading Bill Walsh's obit reminded me how important it is to be kinder and gentler when playing with others:

(For those who may be wondering—no, the irony that George Bush was formerly the director of the CIA is not lost on me; not at all.)

Anyway. back to the point. In the spirit of giving, two clarifications (bonus round; yay):
I do not hate sportswriters—I hate most sportswriting, a dark crevice from which seeps an unfamiliar ooze resembling English but that is truly a bastardization of language perpetrated by hacks. The only thing worse is literary fiction (see #2). At least sports writing is not literary fiction, a bottomless dark crevasse from which weeps an all-too-familiar ooze resembling English but that is truly a bastardization of the language perpetrated by those who value MFAs over genius and technical expertise over storytelling. Literary fiction was created to reward hacks who are incapable of writing actual stori…

Book Review—Too Many Carrots

Awesome Illustrations, but the Story's Resolution, Along with How It Gets There, Is Quite Problematic. 2/5
Too Many Carrots, a children's picture book by Katy Hudson (Capstone Young Readers)

I bought this book in Barnes & Noble when Capstone marketing-blitzed it by paying for an entire table display in each store (I can't imagine what the budget was for that). I've read it several times and experienced several emotions reading it, but mostly it just makes me sad.

The Three Best Bands in the World Right Now

It's Just My Opinion, Though I'm Certain I'm Right
Alter Bridge:​

(Watch the adjustments by the players to unexpected time changes--absolute pros.)


Donnie Iris and Eugene Levy—Separated at Birth?
I've always found it strange that no one ever comments about the fact that Eugene Levy and Donnie Iris appear to be the same person:

Book Review—The Girl Before

A decent read, but incomplete, flat character development sinks it. 3/5
DISCLAIMER: I received a free galley of this book on NetGalley. However, I was under no requirement to read or review this book, nor am I affiliated in any way with the author or publisher.

Let's begin with this from the book's description:

“Immediate guarantee: You will not be able to put this book down. . . . Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will realize that there’s not only more where that came from, but it’s also more thrilling.”

—American Booksellers Association

Here's Your Proof


And Now for Something Completely Different . . .

I Don't Spend All of My Time Bitching About Poor Writing
Here's a little something I penned for back in June 2014.

A Better MousetrapSpiderbait, Spiderbait LP
Reviewed by Brent D. Tharp

Oh musical gods, why hast ye forsaken me? Once, long ago, in a place where only vinyl and 8-track tapes existed, a band’s first album was titled using the band’s name, i.e., eponymously. That’s how we got Bread, Boston, [The] Chicago [Transit Authority], [Fresh] Cream, Supertramp, Buckingham Nicks . . . well, you get the idea.

Chicago and Cream may have gone a little overboard on the whole put-your-band’s-name-in-the-title-of-every-album thing, but I’m not knocking it—marketing and branding are as important for bands as they are for any other business.

I Don't Know. Did They Play Texas Hold 'Em in the Mid-1800s?

On How to Find the Frequency and Existence of Words and Phrases

Lordy, Lordy, Buckeroos, and a happy day to you!

Today's theme is secrets. Let me share a secret with you, but don't share our secret with anyone I've blocked. That would be bad. But unlike a priest who admonishes a child not to share their secret lest the child's family be cursed, I shall merely be sad.

It's called the Google Ngram Viewer. Ever wonder about variations on a word--for instance, symmetric versus symmetrical? The dictionary says they are both fine, but what do folks use in practice? The Ngram Viewer will tell you. It's not perfect, but it's the best there is to date. And you can search date ranges, which is especially helpful for historical fiction (so you don't mistakenly use "home run" [mid-1800s] or "all in" [1903] in a book set in the early 1800s):

It's All Right to Dream

But It Takes Real Guts to Realize When It's Time to End the Sadness

Many writers believe that writing is just a matter of putting words on a page—the more words, the greater the chance of success. But words are simply raw materials, as writing must first and foremost communicate ideas to others. A haphazard string of poorly structured sentences communicates little, and when done poorly but with the right amount of righteous fervor, what is communicated is often contrary to the writer's intent. 
So don't go around throwing words into the air like fistfuls of sand, hoping they will land in all the write places to make a castle for you. Unless you're Harry Potter, of course. Then do whatever the hell you want.

Woe Is the Poor Little Semicolon, but He Shall Surely Some Day Rock

I Probably Wouldn't Pick a Semicolon as My Go-To Rocker Move (probably Jimmy Page), but If It Works . . .

When I think of semicolons, I mostly think of abused children; you know the type, bruised and scared but staring you down with those little eyes saying, "Save me from this hell, you editor bastard!"

Then again, some of you miscreants might actually learn something, so I feel compelled to share this.

Party on Buckeroos; and party on, Buckeroos.

(p.s. San Diego State is the only undefeated team left in Division I basketball; of all the writing shit I can share with you today, this last is most important.)

Sure, I'm an Empath

On the Virtues, Based on the Literal Definition, of Being Inside the Mind and Feeling the Feelings of Another Person No Matter How Fucked Up They May Be
Many people think I lack empathy. I, like many of you, am prone to errors from time to time, so yes, I have loads of empathy for all your sudden flights of sudden frivolity as you roll round and round while looking down and all around using your eyes after turning your head on its tall yet still statistically normal neck.

Just yesterday, I was recalling my most recent grammatical error.

Then I remembered, most suddenly, that it were someone else.

Cheerio, you little Buckeroo fuckers.

Focusing on What Matters

An Important Skill to Hone
I'm working on a new short story titled "Brent Wood Saves the World One Idiot at a Time," but I'm having a really hard time with a longdenseveiny descriptive scene.

My MC is eating oatmeal before heading out to bang his best friend's mom. But that last part is not especially important to the story line, so I'm focusing on the part that is:
How should I describe the bowl and utensils, and what type of oatmeal is it? Also, I need answers before 9:20 a.m. tomorrow (second period).

Thanks in advance.

Articles—So Tiny Yet So Important

Sometimes It's the Little Things That Matter Most
"I'm a writer and editor."
Unless you write it as "I'm a writer and an editor," you are neither.

Because I Care

Tiny Flecks of Dust in Support of Your Position Do Not Make It Right—Good Usage Versus Common Usage
Being the empath I am (man, I fucking love "empath" as a noun; I also love "fucking"), most of my diatribes in this forum are about YOU, not me. I'm but a tiny speck in a giant Hoover vacuum of misguided, disgusting, facile humanity.

But I'll take a little, itsy bitsy leap and talk about myself for a bit. Actually not that—I'm going to do something really unusual and spout off about how abjectly stupid SOME of you are. Bear (not bare) with me, tools, as I'm not used to doing this (the sarcasm will be lost quickly on the brain dead; I'll guess within the first 10 comments or so).

On the interwebs, one may find evidence to support any number of bad habits. Some of you, be still my heart, have even managed to find online dictionaries to support your use of fucked-up tripe such as irregardless, could care less, and other bullshit. Somehow you've …

Syntax Matters

"Word order doesn't matter."

"I'm an artiste. Don't kill my buzz, motherfucker."

"I'm stupid, but I like the way it sounds."

So many excuses for bad writing. So, so many. (Exception to the "comma after so" rule because "so" isn't being used stupidly in this instance.)

To wit:

"Both died in an apartment Dr. Kevorkian was leasing after inhaling carbon monoxide." (New York Times)
"The 39-year-old San Francisco artist has beaten the odds for against him living—no, thriving—with the virus that causes AIDS for 14 years." (Time)

Kanye doesn't make mistakes such as these. Be like Kanye.