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by Rachel Balik

17 Nov 2009

As a professional writer and English major, I had always wanted to believe that Woe Is I was a book miles below my reading level. I am not, after all, a grammarphobe. I like words. I always answer “I’m well,” instead of “I’m good.” I know the difference between you’re and your. And best of all, I almost always have a professional editor on call to catch whatever mistakes I might make. But when I learned that Patricia O’Connor had produced a third edition of the famous book, I got an intuitive feeling that it was time for me to finally read it. In my heart of hearts, I know my grammar isn’t perfect. Furthermore, editors don’t always catch mistakes. I recalled a piece I’d written in which my editor and I both missed my wildly incorrect usage of the word, “incidences” instead of “incidents.” Although it had slipped by us, it was caught by a reader who was angry enough to find my personal blog and write a comment calling me a “dunce.’

If I had read O’Connor’s book before that day, I would have known better. I also would have been able to make a case for the modern meaning of decimate (it no longer means killing off ten percent, but it definitely doesn’t mean “wipe out completely”). I would have been able to inform my editor that it is permissible to have “myriad” or “a myriad” questions about grammar. I would have spent less time agonizing about hyphens and never would have complained that was I was “chomping at the bit.” (Apparently it’s “champing at the bit.”)

In truth, the book is as suitable for lovers of language as it is for those who fear commas. O’Connor inadvertently teaches a great deal about how to write elegant, economical, and clear sentences. Reading the book felt like sharpening a knife; I thought I knew how to write, when in fact my brain was a bit dull in many areas. It occured to me that this book is even more important for writers than it is for average people. Underneath O’Connor’s cutesy, down-to-earth explanations, clarifications, and references to movies is a tribute to the art of the the English language. Much of what O’Connor knows is so specific that we could get away without doing it correctly, but the real revelation is how truly effective language can be when we stick to the rules. (Or break them. O’Connor also tells when we should ignore convention in favor of coherency.)

Her book is testament to the living, breathing nature of language. Not only does she relay important information about how words should be used, she reports on how language is used. It is an important reference for any writer to at least have on file, if not to read from cover-to-cover. It is the sort of book that can be read one chapter at a time for inspiration and insight. But for those who are seeking a comprehensive grammar education, the book is easily digestible and littered with pop culture examples that will appeal to real grammarphobes. Apparently, Paris Hilton is as ubiquitous as pronoun misuse.

by Sarah Zupko

17 Nov 2009

60 years ago this week: One of the seminal moments in musical theatre history transpired with the opening of Rodgers Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music on Broadway. That first production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, ended up running for 1,443 performances and spawned the massively popular 1965 film and countless movie theatre sing-a-longs since then.

Mary Martin singing “The Sound of Music”

And the movie trailer…

by Tyler Gould

17 Nov 2009

San Francisco’s Girls are blogosphere darlings at this point, clogging the intertubes with video after video of the same old songs, feeding our insatiable appetite for a slurry of content. “Laura” sounds the same as ever: soupy, jangly, delicious. Stay tuned for footage of Girls playing “Laura” in a basement, “Laura” on The Gong Show, “Laura” on the moons of Jupiter…

by Sarah Zupko

17 Nov 2009

In the year that saw the ambitious remastering and re-release of the entire Beatles catalogue, the Cute Beatle is still going strong. Paul McCartney was always the Beatle that most enjoyed live performance and that enthusiasm has never dimmed throughout his long and storied career. Good Evening New York City captures the excitement from McCartney’s most recent tour with two CDs and a DVD packed with solo, Beatles, and Wings classics, including “Hey Jude”, “Yesterday”, “Band on the Run”, and 30 others.

by Sarah Zupko

17 Nov 2009

10 years ago this week: Leading Tex-Mex music figure Doug Sahm passed away at the young age of 58. In the ‘60s he founded the cult favorite the Sir Douglas Quintet and later in his career he teamed with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez for the Mexican-infused country of the Texas Tornados.

Doug Sahm on Austin City Limits

The Sir Douglas Quintet

The Texas Tornados

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Slowdive Sell Out Brooklyn and Release Bonus Song "30th June"

// Notes from the Road

"Although sound issues delayed their set on the second night, Slowdive put on an unforgettable show in Brooklyn, or rather two shows.

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