Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Muffin Quote We (Sadly) Couldn't Use

We liked (and by "we", I mean a bunch of copy editors with a sense of humour), but couldn't use, this one:

"You don't get tired of muffins, but you don't find inspiration in them."
George Bernard Shaw (British playwright and critic)


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Muffin Quotes Are Hard To Find

My editor appears holding a job bag and a printout, looking slightly confused. It's an article on muffins that I had translated a few weeks before, and it had now come back from the art department. She starts asking about the quotes in the article (there weren't any quotes when I had last seen it, so now I'm confused), and shows us one of the pages, which has a quote that reads as follows:

“I did something stupid.”
“What’d you do?”
“Well, I was shaving, and I noticed an assymmetry in my chest hair. And I was trying to even it out. And the next thing I know... Gone!” - Jerry and Kramer, in “The Muffin Tops” [Seinfeld]

Ed: "Mandy, did you do this?"
Me: ""
Afrikaans copy editor: "It was [the designer]. He was filling up space. They need a quote."
Ed: "Oh, thank goodness."
Me: "Thanks for thinking so highly of me."
Ed: "Well, I looked at it, and I thought, 'This couldn't possibly be Mandy', but then I thought maybe you'd searched for a muffin quote on Google, and just took the first one you saw."


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Today My Worlds Collided Briefly

Sophie B. Hawkins (favourite musical artist), plus an Alien(s) alien (somewhere in my movie top-10 list), plus copy editing (my primary profession), all in one place in one of my favourite online comics (the only one I read regularly), and I had nothing to do with it. Utterly disturbing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Why, Indeed?

Two boys are watching The Incredibles on video. The movie is at the part where the family is flying to the rescue of the city, which is being attacked by the giant robot, and Elastigirl is on top of the mini-van holding the whole flying contraption together.
11-year-old: "That's the fastest way to get to PE and stuff."
9-year-old: "Why would you want to go to PE?"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sometimes You Need The Plastic Bag

I'm paying for purchases at the till at The Crazy Store (odd, fascinating items at cheap prices), when behind me, I hear a woman say to her companion "...and ask for a packet. You don't want to walk around with that." I turn around and the guy standing behind me is holding a mini toilet plunger, with an amused expression on his face.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

They're Both Alphabetical References!

You know you've been working too hard as a copy editor when you're fact checking the name and details of a club (Hemisphere, in Cape Town), and you try to look it up in the dictionary instead of the phone book.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fear The People In Chicken Suits, For They Are As Intensely Scary As Clowns

I missed some good old suburban terrorism yesterday, right near my house, while I was slogging away at my job in the city (I always miss all the good stuff...), as representatives from PETA protested outside my old primary school, to further the cause of chickens. PETA chose that spot because the primary school was built on (or near) the site of a chicken farm, although we're talking 50 to 60 years ago. Nevertheless, PETA deemed it an appropriate place to make a statement, and probably freaked the kids out – one protestor was dressed in a chicken suit and others handed out "chicken chump" cards that are ripoffs of the old Garbage Pail Kids stickers from the 80s (currently being reworked and re-released by Topps for the new millennium), which I claim as instant collectables, and demand to be sent my own (mail me!).

Now, I'm as concerned about the plight of chickens as is any other respectable vegetarian but, honestly, how could anyone think this was a good idea? Those kids (aged around six to 12) are at a very impressionable age but are more likely to grow up with an unnatural fear of full-size costumed cartoon characters (goodbye next year's family vacation to Disneyland) than a distaste for consuming chickens – after all, a cooked chicken looks nothing like that cute fluffy baby cheeping thing you visit at farms.

It's also a well known fact (or maybe it isn't, which is the problem) that PETA is run by a bunch of urban terrorists that believe that all animals should be free – no zoos, no farms (the cows must run free, like they do in the wild!), definitely no pets. If you delve into the behind-the-scenes stuff, it's actually quite scary. I refuse to say anything more here, for fear of being targetted.

Meanwhile, we are likely only to know the extent of the kid's psychological scarring years from now, probably at the most inopportune time, such as at an annual UCT float parade charity event for SHAWCO or the annual SAX Appeal day, which may come to a standstill as a number of students suddenly irrationally refuse to dress up or participate. I can't wait... I mean, because it will be an interesting phenomenon. Of course.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Creepy Bathrooms

From about halfway through today the door of one of the stalls in the bathroom on the floor on which I work has been closed. At first I thought it was just someone having a bad day, but the door has been closed every time I've gone in there since about lunch time, and there is no sound of a person being in there. If you're in the bathroom by yourself your mind starts to wander and it becomes quite creepy. I started imagining that possibly someone was dead in the stall, with no one knowing or finding out until late at night when the cleaning staff go over the room. Thank god I don't have to work late tonight.

Curiosity finally got the better of me and I checked under the door (from a respectable distance) to see if I could see any feet (or, you know, blood, or something), and it was all clear, although I looked pretty quickly so I might have missed something.

Thankfully, though I didn't see anything, as the thought of what could be in that stall really freaks me out. I have heard and seen the weirdest things in that bathroom, and a dead person would just be the pinnacle of my experiences.

(PS: I resisted the urge to use the word "highlight" instead of pinnacle).


Meaningless Words

While working yesterday I happened across this site as I was attempting to find out what the hell "non-comodegenic" means, as it isn't in my dictionary (and yet, McJob and bling-bling are, but that's another story). I found it interesting to see commentary on this page regarding "nothing" words in the beauty industry, as one of the first lectures I received when I started working for an IT magazine, back in 1999, was on the meaninglessness of the word "solution(s)". In 1999 it was only being used on occasion here and there, but my editor at that time drummed into my head that this was a meaningless word and was never to be used, except in its proper context of a solution to a problem [is that...]. This lecture, in turn, reminded me of being in school and having 12 years' worth of English teachers telling me the meaninglessness of the word "nice".

Anyway, six years later, solution(s) is the bane of my existance. It is now everywhere – no longer just the IT sector – and it means absolutely nothing. I feel ill every time I'm subjected to "banking solutions", "financial solutions", "hosting solutions", "direct-marketing solutions"... Most sickening to me is all the companies that have sprung up with the word in the company name. It's worse than all the companies named "milennium" [sic] or "millenium" [sic] that suddenly appeared as we approached the millennium (I wonder what they call themselves now, as they all seem to have disappeared).

There are wonderful synomyns for solution in every context in which it is abused but people don't even try anymore. It's become perfectly acceptable to throw the word around – and no one seems to notice, or care.

Every time I see the word in copy, or worse – a tag line – for an ad or in an advertorial, I know there's a lazy copywriter behind it that doesn't deserve to be called a writer, and a creative team that doesn't deserve the account. The number of advertising companies that are producing stunning work without using the word is diminishing by the day, and that saddens me immensely. And don't blame the client. I've had to write numerous profiles on IT companies that used "solution speak" (and – frighteningly – are completely incapable of communicating in normal English), and I omit the word every time. I've yet to have a company demand that I insert it, as I believe they usually don't even notice that it's missing. Should they try, they'll get my "solution speak" lecture and, hopefully, feel very, very small.

If I had the power, I would wipe the word from our collective consciousness. If you have the power, please do that for me. I'll owe you one.


Monday, March 07, 2005

Say What?

I'm in the process of copy editing an article on quilting, so I figured I'd better do some quick fact checking. I typed "history of quilting" into Google.

Articles and Informational Links
... A brief essay on dating antique quilts. A Brief History of Quilting - The World
Wide Quilting Page. ... America's Quilting History. American Kit Quilts by Xenia Cord ... - 20k - Cached - Similar pages
[ More results from ]


As I was scrolling down the Google results page the bold piece above caught my eye and, for a split second, I misunderstood what I was reading, thinking it was some sort of new dating technique, like speed dating.


Why I Hate My Bank: Reason #15

I thought I might check out Nedbank's web site to see if it offers share trading. There was nothing noticeable on the home page, so I used the search box to search for "share trading" (duh) and it returned a list of asp page results like so:


Crime Awareness

Yeah, coz I really know what the hell is on all those pages.

I hate you, Nedbank.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

How Boring Was That Oscar Ceremony?

It's a rhetorical question, although the answer is: "Very".

My god. I was mentally working on a whole post about the dodging I have to go through on Oscar Monday to avoid learning the winners before I can see the delayed transmission, but I couldn't be bothered to post it this year. The Oscars don't deserve the recognition. Maybe I'll use it next year.

For those of you that were fortunate enough to miss it here are the highlights: it was an hour shorter than usual (about the only positive) and not at all entertaining.

The only true highlight was the appearance of Edna 'E' Mode, a character from The Incredibles, who presented the costume-design award with a very wooden Pierce Brosnan. If Edna has presented the entire show it would have been fabulous but, instead, it wasn't. I don't even have the enthusiasm to bitch about it.

As I mentioned, the show, for a change, and almost impossibly, was about an hour shorter, which is partly due to the fact that they became more creative in giving out the artistic/design awards by having the nominees all up on stage already, or having the presenter present the award in the section of the audience in which the nominees were sitting (all nicely grouped together for a change). This meant that time wasn't wasted while the winners slowly trekked to the stage from level two, row 57.

Besides the traditional "In Memoriam" tribute, there were no other tributes (usually to marginalised professions within the film industry), which are often about the only entertaining thing in the show. Instead, people won (no surprises in any of the major categories) and gave their speeches. Fun, fun, fun.

Can't wait for next year!



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