Everyone’s a copy editor!
Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “Subject: Talk about needing a copy editor.
“This might be a little on the long side. Please bear with me.
“I’m not a copy editor. But hokey smokes! I can tell when one is needed. (Or at least I think I can.)
“I’m a big fan of the legendary rock group The Who. [Bulletin Board says: Thank you for not calling them “iconic.”] Some might say (and some have said) I’m obsessed. I just finished reading ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia.’ It’s a detailed history covering the making of the two albums the band produced after ‘Tommy.’ I recommend it to anyone who shares my Who obsession.
“Just before I finished the book, I was going through a box of old stuff I had collected related to The Who. In it was a copy of a book, published in 1981, about the drug- and drink-fueled partying lifestyle of the band’s maniac drummer. The book is ‘Full Moon: The Amazing Rock & Roll Life of Keith Moon.’ It is by Dougal Butler, who was a good friend and employee of Moon, with the assistance of two other fellows. I assume those fellows were assigned to help put Butler’s stories into book form. I also assume there was an editor involved, as it was published by William Morrow and Company, Inc.
“I bought this book in the mid-80s, and I started but didn’t finish reading it. It ended up in that box. When I found it again last Sunday and told my son I had never finished reading it, he encouraged me to give it another shot. So, as soon as I finished that other Who book, I cracked into ‘Full Moon.’
“I made it through the first paragraph, when I remembered why I put it down in the first place. This book is a loose history of the insane partying antics of Keith Moon. It’s a collection of Butler’s stories of his experiences with the legendary party animal, so I don’t expect to find an in-depth examination of the dark secrets that drove Moon to such wild behavior. But it is a history published by a well-established and respected publishing house, so I do expect not to be confused and frustrated while reading it.
“None of the people involved in the writing thought it would be confusing at all for the reader if the book was written in present tense. Here’s that first paragraph, written exactly as it appears in the book: ‘At the time I first meet up with The Who they are not quite the most famous rock and roll band in the world. It is roughly 1966/67 though you will find that exact dates are not this history’s greatest strength — this is partly on account of I have a memory like a sieve and partly on account of being somewhat disorientated by medicines of one sort or another — a time when I am working as a Customs & Excise clerk at Heathrow Airport, London, England. This is by no means the most exciting job in the world and it is especially unappealing to an immaculately suited, short-haired Mod, which is what I am at this time.”
“See what I mean? What time period is he talking about? Is he saying he was an ‘immaculately suited, short-haired Mod’ working at Heathrow back in 1966/67, or at the time he wrote this book? And that middle section of the paragraph in which he talks about exact dates — isn’t that an aside? Shouldn’t that be in parenthesis?
“One paragraph had me so exasperated that I had to come up with a plan of action if I’m to have any hope of reading the entire book. I’m going to use a red pen to make corrections as I read. This might seem silly to you, but it will make the reading more enjoyable for me. I’m weird that way.
“For example, here is my edited version of that first paragraph: ‘At the time I first met up with The Who, they were not quite the most famous rock and roll band in the world. It was roughly 1966/67 (though you will find that exact dates are not this history’s greatest strength — this is partly on account of I have a memory like a sieve and partly on account of being somewhat disorientated by medicines of one sort of another), a time when I was working as a Customs & Excise clerk at Heathrow Airport, London, England. This was by no means the most exciting job in the world, and it was especially unappealing to an immaculately suited, short-haired Mod, which is what I was at the time.’
Doesn’t that make more sense? [Bulletin Board says: Yes. Indeed — though we’d have changed “on account of” to “because” in both instances, and we’d ditch the non-word “disorientated” to the fully functional “disoriented.”] I think I manage to keep it in Butler’s voice, while putting it in the proper tense.
“It’s 240 pages, I think I’m gonna need a few red pens.”
Then & Now
Or: Plus ca change . . .
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I guess this is one of the reasons it’s called your Second Childhood:
“When my 16-year-old granddaughter was eagerly waiting for her 4th birthday, she was bubbling over with excitement because the next day she would become just as old as her cousin Drew. All day, she kept talking about how fun it would be, and wouldn’t he be surprised when they were the same age?
“The next time I saw her, I asked her if Drew was surprised. She looked at me with a disgusted look and said: ‘NO! He says he is more 4 than I am!’
“Which brings me to today. My birthday was in June, and an acquaintance asked me how old I am. When I told her, she responded: ‘Ah-hah! I’ve got you beat! I had MY 85th birthday last April!’ So now that makes her more 85 than I am. Sigh.”
Out of the mouths of babes
City Girl on the Plains: “Two separate references to golf in BB inspired me to pass along this little tidbit.
“Every summer my husband, The Golf Pro, holds Junior Golf lessons for (very) young golfers, the first month or so after school is out. I suspect the majority of attendees are there at the behest of parents who want them out of the house for a while, and this annual event has been fodder for much dinnertime entertainment (and frustration) over the last 30-plus years.
“This week The Golf Pro found two 8-year-old girls in a heated discussion regarding the appropriate criteria for designating females as ‘girls,’ ‘women,’ or ‘grandmas.’ One of the girls insisted that any female over the age of 5 is a ‘woman’; she retains this title until she has reached the age of 60, at which time she becomes a ‘grandma.’
“I never learned the viewpoint of the other participant in this discussion, as The Golf Pro brought it to a close by asking whether it had anything at all to do with golf.
“Dontcha love it?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Funny little girls — or golf? As it happens, we love both.
Then & Now
Or: The highfalutin pleasures
The Original Robyn From Maplewood: “The Mad-For-Golf(er) and I were introduced to MeTV when we were in our RV/snowbird phase (2013-2015). It seemed to be the one TV station that was consistently offered (and whose signal came through) in the cable-TV lineups at the RV parks we used. Because we are both OTD, it was fun to see the old TV shows, and we quickly got into a routine of watching the channel’s evening programming, which included ‘The Twilight Zone.’
“Our sporadic MeTV viewership continued once we settled down here. Over the past four years, we have probably seen about 85 percent of ‘The Twilight Zone’s’ 156 episodes, but one in particular remained elusive: ‘It’s a Good Life.’ This episode stars the young Billy Mumy as a boy who uses mind-control over a whole town. It became an inside joke that the episode didn’t really exist; stations just used it for promotional purposes.
“This past January, I looked something up on the MeTV website and discovered they had a ‘reminder’ service. If there is an episode of a show on their channel one would like to watch, MeTV will text a reminder to a cellphone when the show is about to be shown on the local MeTV affiliate. I decided to test this by asking for a text when ‘It’s a Good Life’ would be shown. Lo and behold, yesterday I received a text from MeTV telling me that the show will be on this coming Monday night! I will also receive another text 15 minutes prior to the actual showing (which will be during ‘Perry Mason’).
“Pretty impressed that the reminder service worked; now hope we are impressed by the show!”
Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division
Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “Due to a March wind storm, I have a newly shingled roof. That story was a painful learning process with insurance companies and roofing contractors. But it didn’t end there.
“Five-thirty one morning, I heard a rapping on my house — not unlike a woodpecker dining on my siding. I thought: He’s going to bend his beak on my cement siding;what’s this all about? I got out of bed and out the back door to see if I could spot the bugger. No luck; the rapping stopped; I went back to bed.
“An hour later, the rapping started again. This time I wasn’t sure which side of the house it was coming from. Back out the door onto the deck, I looked up — and on the roof, crows or ravens, not sure which, were picking gravel off my new roof for their digestive systems.
“I wonder: Is this covered by insurance? I never considered, being that crows and ravens are omnivores, that they would need gravel to digest their dinner.
“I also wondered: where do crows nest? Are they opportunists and use other birds’ and squirrels’ nests, or build their own?
“They also like to soak their food in our bird bath for a while before dining — peanut shells included.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Close at hand.
“Today I seriously considered having my passwords tattooed on the palm of my left hand. I’ve done them in ballpoint before, but they always delete in the shower.”
The Great Twin Cities Newspaper War
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: What did we ever do to you?
“In the Sports section (Page C2) of last Sunday’s STrib, the eponymous ‘PATRICK PLUS’ column (named after Patrick Reusse) focused on one of the two inductees into the Vikings’ ring of honor: Ahmad Rashad (the other honoree is Randy Moss). Reusse argues that Anthony Carter should have been selected before Rashad, but in recounting events from 1982, Reusse takes an unnecessary jab at his employer at that time: ‘I was writing a column in the anonymity of the St. Paul Dispatch.’
“An unwarranted cheap shot, Reusse!”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Cheap shots are always unwarranted. That’s what makes them cheap shots.
They also, alas, sell newspapers — something Mr. Reusse has done in both St. Paul and Minneapolis . . . but never, so far as we know, anonymously.
America the Beautiful
Dan Hanneman writes: “July Fourth is a wonderful day to fly the flag. My former neighbor, Gene Miller, was a devout flag flyer and an excellent gardener. There was always a flag flying on the front of his house, above window boxes overflowing with beautiful flowers.
“I like this particular shot from a few years ago. Although you don’t see the actual stars and stripes flying robustly overhead, the image is reflected in the window above the flowers, which I think is more interesting.
“Gene and his wife, Joan, have since retired to Texas — and, although the house is still there, alas, the flower boxes are gone and the flag is no longer flown.”
Band Name of the Day: Jim Fitzsimons and The Who Obsession
Website of the Day, from The Stitcher of Woodbury: “One Tree, 365 Days”