Print Story 2008.01.22: It's not Neuschwanzstein
By BlueOregon (Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 06:57:24 PM EST) (all tags)

I'm sorry, but this isn't nearly as good as verbal tea.

Nathan Rabin's Commentary Tracks of the Damned "finished" today with entry #104, Tom Tykwer's Perfume, reevaluated (after Rabin's initial dislike) as a "Secret Success," and I agree to a great extent, for it's a flawed film but one that strives and is interesting. I watched it last fall with my roommate; this, I believe, I related here already (and if not, just imagine that I did). I seem to have both a German and English version of the novel on my shelves. Both unread.

Curiouser and curiouser. And I have some Ransmeyr on a shelf. That sounds dirty.

Inside: A Tuesday in review.


"I emailed you the book reviews Friday afternoon as a .doc and as a PDF, even though you weren't in, just in case you wanted to check them over the weekend and get them sent off to Deb, since you'd given that as a deadline."

"That's the great thing about being manager; I manage. I gave you the 18th when the real deadline is the 23rd." Thank you $DEMIURGE.

When I did get in today, after travels and travails exotic, banal, mundane, and otherworldly galore—oh my!—I found $DEMIURGE in the appropriate office, sitting at her desk, staring at her computer, depressingly disinterested at the tasks at hand, and inside I nodded in agreement.

"Oh my god," she began, "can I tell you how long it took to get in here? I arrived—"

"Ten minutes ago?" I interjected offhandedly and, as is my wont, alas in a manner that interrupted her, but, thankfully, didn't lead to cognitive derailment.

"—ten minutes ago." Full stop.

One working hypothesis is that with the vast majority of the city and state employees off yesterday the roads and streets did not get plowed. That can only be part of it: yesterday streets were plowed, and we all heard the scraping of hungry steel maws against asphalt late at night. Perhaps we inherited overnight a slew of Illinois drivers. This we discussed but we agreed in the end not to disagree but just to suspend judgment, shrug our shoulders, and continue with the bitching and moaning.

We do not have a lunch or break room, water cooler, etc. So we just stand in doorways.

I related how my bus was late. "Oh, there were plenty of buses," continued $DEMIURGE, "we saw plenty of buses go by, but they were all 'Not in Service.' $DEMIURGESPOUSE and I decided to stop at the co-op on the way—oh my god was that a mistake." Traffic. Roads underplowed and some unplowed. Bumper to bumper. And the shocker: the roads really aren't that bad. Aren't. That. Bad.


A certain book review editor is, for lack of a harsher term, an absent-minded professor. He's a smart guy (though he managed to confuse J. Philip Gabriel and Peter Gabriel while editing a review, thus attributing a book on Japanese literature not to the translator of Kafka on the Shore and other Murakami works but to a musician. A musician the author of the review had never heard of, curiously enough. The author of the book was flattered and slightly amused, but the emphasis here is on slightly) but prone to bouts of pre-mature senility. He emails $DEMIURGE asking for my email address because he's misplaced it. No, he hasn't misplaced it, as far as I can tell; I suspect he is confused that my address is the same as my predecessor's address, since it's the same account. So the first batch of reviews went to $DEMIURGE, who forwarded them to me to format, edit, etc. Over the weekend a review essay assigned by said editor came in straight from the review essay author (instead of from the editor, from whom it should have arrived) ... to the inbox of ... $DEMIURGE. So it got forwarded to me. If anything emails to $DEMIURGE should come to me and be forwarded, not the other way around. I'm low man on the totem pole, after all. It's my job to make $DEMIURGE's life easier.

We've got two review essays this issue. A review essay—in some circles known as a review article, but not here because we do not want authors of said essays to get the impression that said essays count as articles, which some authors like to pretend, especially when they're revising their files for, oh say, tenure review—is, more or less, a review of several related books in one text, often along with related secondary material. It's the cancerous big brother of the annotated bibliography. We also say "review essay" because sometimes it is worth assigning a true "review article," which, while still not an "article" for the sake of tenure review publications, is a rather considerable undertaking.

And we have two such essays for this issue; we don't usually do review essays, but they're a convenient way to group several related books (especially if the books are otherwise hard to place with reviewers), and they're a bit more than just a "double review" or similar. The one was received today, several days late. The other was sent promptly by a different editor, but that one had issues of its own, issues of formatting that took some time on my part to remedy.

Publishing/formatting guidelines are a lot like role-playing game rules. You've got your basic GURPS, D&D, and Wereshark the Buffet heavy-hitters, your APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style divisions. But only the amateurs and those running tournaments actually follow the rules as written; most everybody employs house rules to a greater or lesser degree. Perhaps it's a 1st Edition campaign but Basic Set troglodytes are a playable race; we follow the CMS but employ extended MLA parenthetical references.

My last journal was MLA plus a century of house rules. I edited a volume—sans acknowledgment, you arrogant, backstabbing mother-f*cker—where I knew to follow MLA, but said dipshit pre-tenure goatee-stroker wanted the layout and formatting to look like a specific volume from Stanford UP. Jean-Luc Picard said, "Make it so," whereas this guy could only pull off, "Make it look like this."

At this gig article authors are allowed footnotes and a list of references; book reviewers get inline references only. For said references we want complete bibliographic material, and since you don't get foot/endnotes or a list of works cited, you can't write, "A case study for any theory of the unconscious is the idea that adopted children suffer a 'primal wound' (Verrier 1992)" or, "[...] a 'primal wound' (Verrier 1992): 'all adopted children begin their lives having already felt [...] (Verrier 1992, p. 9)." Instead we need something along the lines of "I am not primarily concerned here as to whether Verrier is correct and has identified a real psychiatric phenomenon, my question is, 'Could this possibly be true?' (Grant Gilbert, The Mind and its Discontents: An Essay in Discursive Psychiatry [Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999]: 134)." Review essay writer number two, the first to submit, gave me a list of references and a bunch of parenthetical remarks of the "(Verrier 1992)" variety, so I had to match them with the references, which is not that tedious, all things considered ... except ...

Except when the references are journal entries. The bibliographic style often used in social science and similar publications is, more or less, "[last name], [first name(s)], [year], [title]. [publication information (city: publisher)]." If necessary, pages come after the publication information, but with periodicals the publication information is often the journal name and volume number. Or name and year. Or name and (Month Year). Or ... the CMS won't give you a single way to do it, just a variety of suggestions based on the information you have available and the judged relative importance of the year. Is the year critical in identifying the issue? If not, we go with the "[name(s)], [year], [other stuff]" model, but if it is, we get something like "[name(s)], ["title"], [periodical], [(Month & Year)] ..." And with the parenthetical references the parentheses become brackets, etc.

So I was left with "(John Doe, 'My Article that Nobody Read' Specialized Publication being absorbed by Blackwell 32[2] [2002]:69)." That's ugly. It's not exactly wrong, but that's because there is no right against which to measure it, but the problem was quickly solved by rewriting the original "32(2)" not as "32[2]" (for the parentheses) but as "32, no. 2," and thus I only had one set of brackets. This is all somewhat trivial, but we didn't have a style sheet for it. Erm ... still don't.


Yesterday didn't count, because it was, so to speak, a holiday.

So today was the first day of the semester. Each first-day-of-the-semester I ask myself, "Is this your last first-day-of-the-semester?" I think back to that stupid recruiting letter from last week, the one that doesn't really apply to me, but thanks for not reading my c.v. closely, and wonder, "Should I go get a job like that?" Leave this life behind. An old college roommate doing stats in Seattle keeps urging me to do so, but I like it where I am. And today it was gorgeous.

Cold, but gorgeous.

Clear and crisp, puffy frozen clouds plastered to a bright azure sky, and there were people. The intersection, the bus stop, has been devoid of all but senile and silent life for some time, but today students and their ilk stood at the corner, waiting for a bus to come.

They stand at the corner, but I know this is a mistake.

The No. 4 follows the same route every half hour, but the No. 3 alternates during the day between its origin at the East Transfer Point and my stop; at the top of the hour it take the northerly route along Willy Street, and at the bottom of the hour it goes along Routledge and Spaight, passing through residential neighborhoods, which means it approaches the bus stop from different directions depending on the time. It comes from the north and stops along the side of that street at the hour; at half past it comes from the south and turns left before stopping, yet people stand at the corner no matter what; it's as if they haven't mastered the simple fact that the route alternates quite regularly and that there is no guesswork involved in choosing which bus stop at which to stand. Or they just don't care.

And today they were right, for the wrong reason.

It was time for the No. 3 yet it did not come. And yet we waited. And it was five minutes later, and then at the corner a bus arrived: a No. 4—about 15 minutes late. Perhaps I should have taken it, too, but I felt, hell, the No. 3 has few stops between the transfer point and here, it won't be long, blah blah blah. One woman chose not to take the No. 4. A friend of hers arrived. From another direction a more petite yet still quite bundled young woman approached. We four stood waiting for the No. 3. We watched cars slide into the intersection; one responsible driver who must have aced his driving exam and been given a special "I can drive anything anywhere anywhen" license decided to delay hitting his breaks until he was about twenty feet from the stop sign. On ice and snow.


From the direction from which the No. 3 should arrive a pickup took the corner, turned toward us, and failed to accelerate through the curve. So he just fishtailed and slid. Or slid and fishtailed. He narrowly missed several parked cars. And us.

Shovelers arrived.

Envy is a sin. Envy lost Gwyneth Paltrow her head. Envy is a 2004 comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, and Christopher Walken. I've not seen it, but, um, Christopher Walken.

I envied these fine fellows their shovels. Wide blades of plastic, nearly translucent. Great grips. I have a metal bladed shovel, provided, probably, by the landlord. Snow turns to ice and clumps upon it when one shovels, but these wide plastic devices scooped half, not a mere third, of the sidewalk at once. The blade bit to the cement and churned up clumps of packed snow; my shovel just hits upon the seams between cement segments and sends a jarring pain up my arms.

The shovelers also had cool coats.

The two women who were first on the scene at one point discussed Neuschwanstein, and it was not difficult to conclude that one or both had been there. They also discussed the difference between swans and tails, and wondered whether the latter had a tz or just a z. "Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead," I could have said, but instead I just interjected, as I am wont to do, you recall, and offered that there is no t, only z. I hate intruding upon the conversations of others, and so I often don't, but they were talking loudly three feet away about a matter of spelling dear to my heart.

We stood shivering. The tubbier of the two contemplating spelling discussed some spray she had for her shoes or boots. Perhaps Sof Sole Water Proofer Spray (never really heard of it, but amazing what googling for "water proofer" will get you these days, besides five to ten and a permanent place on a federal registry); the more slender of the two, with the hawk nose and weak chin, just wanted to go shopping, for she was tired of shabby clothes.

The petite third-comer was meek. I can't recall what we discussed.

At 10:45 a bus arrived at the corner; another No. 4, hot on the heels—well, ten or so minutes after—the first, and still no No. 3. We all crowded aboard; we'd learned our hovering-near-zero lesson, bright sun-shiny-day be damned.

The No. 4 didn't take me exactly where I wanted to go. I was late to my destination, but I wasn't facing a deadline. And in the evening the buses were still late, but that was okay with me. The antsy, nervous types around me, though, who hadn't learned their lessons, who were flitting this way and that to see if a bus was turning a corner and if so, was it the right one?—these folks I wanted to gas with aerosol valium.

Days Without:

  • Alcohol: 22
  • Ice cream: 22
  • Finishing a book: 0
  • Finishing a comic: 0
  • Watching a Heath Ledger movie: a long time (time for A Knight's Tale, perhaps)
  • ...?
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2008.01.22: It's not Neuschwanzstein | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
NeuschwanZstein by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 03:17:01 AM EST
You realise there are only two or three people on this world wide intarthingee address who get the joke, right?

As for stylebooks, when I was brought in to help a publication I ripped up the age-old (and quirky) in-house manual, re-instituted AP with Chicago as back-up only, and wrote a 2-page addition for very local things. This was in the days before I could set the word processors to auto-correct most shit.


OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

I LOLLED! by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 04:02:46 AM EST
Yeah, that was funny.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
as for the dumb ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 08:24:17 AM EST

... joke -- well, luckily for me the 2 to 3 on the intartubes who get it are among the 3-4 who actually read my tripe. I've got my audience down.

Re: style crap -- this job is relatively easy. Sure, I have to deal with rogue fonts, and alphabets and languages I do not know how to read, but making sure the text is right is, at least, somebody else's job. At the previous journal we published in English and in German, and matching MLA-plus-house-rules to the German way of citing, doing punctuation and quotes, etc., while not intellectually challenging, per se, was tedious. Rather, transforming the German texts to look more MLA-plus-house. And then there's the matter that style-sheet-or-no, head honchos are capricious. Reasons for or against something be damned, what they like is like porn, and they know it when they see it.

And Re: tearing things up -- as reported earlier, I think (unless I'm getting senior moments already), we needed to send in some offprints or photocopies of an article to a committee chair elsewhere, and once the photocopy solution borked, we decided to use a blade and make our own offprints by cutting said article from three copies/issues of the journal. After all was said and done, I left the three mangled issues on a filing cabinet. I'd taken 20+ pages (10+ sheets) of several hundred, so at first glance said issues could almost pass for normal. $ÜBERBOSS came in, saw them later, looked at $DEMIURGE, and said, "Please tell me it's the lamination."

This doesn't seem that funny, and out of context it's not at all. The -- quick -- backstory is that we didn't want laminated covers. $ÜBERBOSS told the press the lamination looked like shit, that he absofuckinglutely did not want lamination. And the issue came out ... laminated. The lamination also led to some smearing on the cover. This also annoyed $ÜBERBOSS. When several copies of the issue were missing pages he was quick to conclude, quite sincerely, that the lamination process had also caused the spines to break and pages to fall out.

[ Parent ]
Your school starts late by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 04:23:52 AM EST
we always returned from Christmas break in the first week of January.

I think ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 08:09:59 AM EST

... Harvard still might do it that way. And a number of colleges universities on a semester system don't hold final exams until after x-mas. Quarter and Trimester schedules are left out for obvious reasons. A bunch of semester-system places do a 1-month winter term in January, with said term being optional, and begin the spring semester in February. Some of my editors work on such campuses.

But Labor Day (+/-) to X-mas is rather standard fall semester, with MLK Day to early May a standard spring semester. That having been said, my absentee roommate works at a college in Virginia and they began the spring semester last Wednesday (and took Monday off after a short week).

[ Parent ]
Montana ski boat championships by theboz (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 04:38:20 AM EST

What's your opinion on the outcome of the Montana ski boat championships held last year?  I thought the winning team had a rather interesting take on the competition.
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That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n

2008.01.22: It's not Neuschwanzstein | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback