Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sleigh Bells Ring

“This has exceeded even my lofty expectations!” So says a character in the Hallmark movie Sleigh Bells Ring, on last night and on again six more times between now and the of the year. “My favorite of the season!!! Definitely a DVR keeper!!!” So says someone on Twitter. So bad it‘s good, says I. So bad and so good that having dropped in about halfway through, Elaine and I had to watch to the end. We had to see what would happen. Because after Alex overstepped by putting up all the Christmas decorations with his old girlfriend Laurel’s daughter Scarlett, how could things ever turn out right for him and Laurel?

Related posts
I am a prisoner of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries : Hallmark ex machina : The Bridge, continued : Shine on, Hallmark Channel

Saturday, November 18, 2017

From the Saturday Stumper

A clever clue from the Newsday Saturday Stumper, 23 Across: “With 29 Down, sight below some Lincoln Memorials.” The answers are three and four letters long. No spoilers; the answers are in the comments.

Today’s puzzle is by “Anna Stiga,” Stanley Newman, the puzzle’s editor. Anna Stiga, or Stan Again, is the pseudonym Newman uses for easier Saturday Stumpers of his making. Finishing a Saturday Stumper, even if it’s an easier one, is cause for minor self-congratulation.

Otto Baum Handlettering

An Instagram page: Otto Baum Handlettering. I especially like this clip, which shows some tools of the trade.

Thanks, Rachel!

Domestic comedy

“We’ve never been to the new McDonald’s — which is now old McDonald’s.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Things to do in the Valley

The San Fernando Valley, that is. The main thing to do in the Valley was to hang out with Rachel, Seth, and Talia. But I can recommend a few other things to do:

Bargain Books (14426 Friar Street, Van Nuys). A small store (estd. 1958) where the books are reasonably priced and shelved two deep. We found one book by Alexander King, two copies of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and three Robert McCloskey books for you-know-who. And the owner showed us an inscribed Truman Capote title. Capote had excellent handwriting.

Barnes & Noble (12136 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City). On the one hand, it’s a chain store. On the other hand, the location is a renovated movie theater. Location, location, location. There’s a large selection of children’s books.

Beeps Diner (16063 Sherman Way, Van Nuys). The real thing (estd. 1956), with a few tables outside, a few more tables inside, and two windows for ordering. The tuna melt is terrific. Beeps appears in a 2006 Zippy strip. A xeroxed enlargement hangs under a menu signboard.

Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza (Nineteen locations). Excellent pizza. That means more to me than it-was-served-at-the-Oscars, which it was, in 2014, when Ellen DeGeneres ordered Big Mama’s for the audience.

Brent’s Deli (19565 Parthenia Street, Northridge). Huge sandwiches, excellent ingredients, beautifully prepared. Pickles included. No disrespect to Canter’s or Nate ’n Al, but I think I prefer Brent’s.

Firehouse Restaurant (18450 Victory Boulevard, Tarzana). Greek food, intensely flavorful. Large portions — just the side order of hummus would probably last through three or four lunches in our house.

Puro Sabor (6366 Van Nuys Boulevard, Van Nuys). Peruvian food. We had yucca with huancaina (a tasty cheese sauce), mixed ceviche (fish and seafood marinated in lemon, with cancha, Peruvian corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes), and steak with tacu tacu (a pounded piece of tender beef atop a hash of rice and beans). A total comfort meal.

These bookstores and restaurants have earned the Orange Crate Art seal of approval.

Synchronicity

We were hanging out with Rachel and Talia, with an Amazon Dot playing Beatles tunes. I was looking through my RSS feeds, and started reading a post from Grammarphobia. A reader had a question:

Can you give me a very simplified way to remember how to use “there,” “their,” and “they’re”? I know “there” is a place or shows ownership, and “their” is more figurative, but I still sometimes get them wrong. HELP!
You can guess what Beatles song started as I read that last word. Swear.

Related reading
All OCA synchronicity posts (Pinboard)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mark Trail, recycled

That face . . . those beads of perspiration . . . where have I seen them before?



[Mark Trail, revised, May 10, 2014. Mark Trail, May 14, 2015; April 28, 2016; November 16, 2017.]

Today’s face is a cruder rendering: it appears that Mark’s lower forehead has been wiped clean and the eyebrows redrawn. But the beads of perspiration on the upper left forehead (Mark’s left), the cheekbones, the shadow under the nose: it’s the same face, recycled and repurposed.

Related reading
All OCA Mark Trail posts (Pinboard)

UPC misspelling

I was surprised to find what looks like a misspelled word on the back on a box of UPC. Here, look:


[“Be good to yourself this morning with a satisfing bowl of Simply Nature Organic Oats and Honey Granola.”]

To my eye, the letterforms look too various to have come from a cursive font. I think that this “note” superimposes an image of handwritten text onto an image of an exaggeratedly rustic piece of paper. Which would mean that someone wrote satisfying while leaving out the y. And that no one else noticed.



Related reading
All OCA spelling and misspelling posts (Pinboard)

Mister Memory

[Please imagine Jeff Sessions in the role.]

Q: “What are the 39 Steps? Come on, answer up! What are the 39 Steps?”

A: “I don’t recall.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to improve writing (no. 72)

Page 49 of the November 20 issue of The New Yorker is a full-page ad for Ameritrade. The most prominent text element on the page is embarrassingly off:



I wondered for a moment if the ad is announcing an investment plan meant to provide for family members after the investor’s death. “The portfolio that works even when you aren’t” — in other words, when you aren’t around? But no, it’s just clumsy writing. The problem is that works and aren’t aren’t parallel elements in this sentence fragment. Parallel elements would look like these: it works even if you don’t work; it works even if you quit; it works even if you shuffle off to Buffalo. It works even if you aren’t? No. Even if you aren’t work? No.

One way to fix the problem: “The portfolio that works even when you don’t.” Or “The portfolio that’s working even when you aren’t.” But these revisions might suggest unemployment or retirement.

Better: “The portfolio that works even when you aren’t paying attention.” Or “The portfolio that works even when you’re not looking.” That sounds a little shady to me. But then again, I’m not a likely prospect for this ad.

The oddness of the banner sentence ought not to take attention away from the dangling participle in the body text: “By monitoring and rebalancing your portfolio automatically, it’s a low-cost solution that takes care of business, so you can take care of life’s essentials.”

Yes, life’s essentials, one of which is (or ought to be) striving to write good sentences.

Related reading
All OCA “How to improve writing” posts (Pinboard)

[Click for a larger view. This post is no. 72 in a series, dedicated to improving stray bits of public prose.]