Archive for June, 2011
Regular readers of Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun understand how dismaying this little chestnut would seem to me:
As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used — especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’.
That’s the Oxford Writing and Style Guide telling us not to use the Oxford (also popularly known as the seriall) comma. As a professional writer and editor with a lifelong passion for grammar, punctuation, and usage, this is huge. I’m generally a descriptivist, and I’ll engage in a Talmudic level of discussion and debate about almost any point of grammar, but I’m a serial comma zealot. A line has to be drawn somewhere.
So I read about Oxford turning its back on its own comma, and for a brief instant, I was crushed. But almost immediately, I was reminded of this scene from The Last Temptation of Christ. (Which, if you haven’t seen it, this is kind of climactic? So stop reading. But seriously, see it. We’re living in a culture here, people.)
This is how I feel about the Oxford comma. Just replace “the resurrected Jesus” with “the Oxford comma” in Paul’s discussion with Jesus up there. Go ahead, Oxford. Go on. Tell them now. Who’s going to believe you? You started all this, and now you can’t stop it. We know about the greatness of the Oxford comma. The good news is out there, ready to be heard, and here’s the plain facts: the Oxford comma far outstrips whatever style the Oxford guide now claims as the truth. Willem Dafoe’s Jesus can go along working and raising his kids and living however he pleases, because for Paul’s, and humanity’s, purposes, what he does with his life is now irrelevant. Ditto for the Oxford guide.
I’ve been seeing ads for this new series on USA, Necessary Roughness. Like a lot of promos for shows that haven’t premiered yet, 1) it was kind of vague, and B) I didn’t pay close attention to it. So I’ve just been assuming it’s based on the hilarious 1991 Scott Bakula film.
You know, kinda like how Friday Night Lights the show is based on Friday Night Lights the movie is based on Friday Night Lights the book. Apparently, no! It’s about some psychologist consumed by inner turmoil or something. Who cares!
I’m sure you all have songs that just scream “summer.” This is one of them for me. Celebrate the start of summer with a little “Soco Amaretto Lime.”
If you’re like me, you watch a lot of repeats on those syndicated TV show channels. A hallmark of these types of channels, at least at the times I watch them, are ads for for-profit colleges. You know the type, if not the actual schools: become a medical assistant, go to culinary school, and c. Let’s not have a discussion about how . . . ethical . . . these for-profit operations are. Let’s talk about the commercials, though.
The script is always the same, with subtle variations. Some attractive and exuberant actor gets up and talks about jump starting your career, about exciting opportunities in X field, flexible hours, financial aid available. Yada yada yada. It’s a commercial making a pitch, like every other commercial making a pitch. Then it ends.
And then it starts up again. Except this time, it’s a beheadsetted actor in a call center, ostensibly representing the real person you’d be talking to if you called the number that the previous commercial told you to call. And then this person will say that they hope that commercial inspired you to take hold of your dreams or something, and they’ll repeat the number and tell you to call. And then the commercial will finally be over for real.
What’s up with this call center post-commercial? How come you don’t see it for like, car commercials? Where you see a Jeep Cherokee barreling through the mud, and the ad fades, and then another commercial with lower production values starts up, and a car salesman looks you in the face and tells you he hopes that commercial got you excited about Jeeps, and hopefully you’ll come on by and purchase one. I don’t know if it’s effective or not, although there’s got to be someone doing research about this, because almost every for-profit college ad is like that! I don’t get it.
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