When to use commas.

Obviously, commas are a whole issue unto themselves, but there are certain uses of a comma that are “for sure” uses. Here’s one.

One of the uses of a comma is to add what’s called “parenthetical information” to a sentence. This is information that’s nice to know, but is not necessary to the sentence. In fact, if that information was taken out, you’d still have a workable sentence.

One thing that people have questions about is the use of someone’s name. Is someone’s name parenthetical or not? Well, here’s the deal.

I have one dog. Her name is Grace. So when I talk about “my dog, Grace,” I don’t need to say her name. Because I have one dog, Grace’s name can be taken completely out of this sentence and there’s no confusion:

My dog, Grace, and I are going hiking this weekend.

My dog and I are going hiking this weekend.

Generally speaking, when material is enclosed in a pair (got to be at least a pair when they are in the middle of a sentence) of commas, that information could be completely removed and you’d still have a workable, unambiguous sentence.

If, however, I had three dogs, then I’d want to identify which one was going with me:

My dog Grace and I are going hiking.

See? No commas. You’ve got to be unambiguous.

Here’s a wrinkle. If all three dogs were going hiking, then I could say this:

My dogs, Grace, Penny, and Annie, are going hiking with me this weekend.

Removing their names results in a workable sentence:

My dogs are going hiking with me this weekend.

Wait a minute. The purpose of punctuation is to help your reader understand what you’re trying to say. Are you trying to say that your dogs and Grace, Penny, and Annie (whoever they may be) are going hiking? No. In this circumstance, you use dashes for clarity. The material inside the dashes is called an appositive phrase. Like this:

My dogs—Grace, Penny, and Annie—are going hiking with me this weekend.

So, let’s look at this sentence, which I just got in an email:

I’ve teamed up again with Celebrity Agent and 4X EMMY Award Winning Director, Nick Nanton, to publish a new book featuring some of my top clients and fans.

Okay, the first thing I see is a lot of puffery with the unnecessary capitalization. The words “celebrity,” “agent,” “award,” “winning,” and “director”—none of those words are proper nouns. None of them should be capitalized. I also don’t like 4X. It’s not correct. “Four-time” is what I’d say.

Also, I went to www.Emmys.com and discovered that the correct use of its trademarked name is not in caps; it’s an Emmy Award or the Emmys. Since “award” is coupled with “Emmy,” you’d capitalize it because now “award” is part of a proper noun phrase.

So, back to the issue at hand: commas. Here’s my question: is the name of Mr. Nanton parenthetical or not? Can you remove his name and have a workable sentence? Nope, you can’t. You need his name. It must be there. Those commas are wrong.

Now, if you’d said “a celebrity agent, etc., etc.”—emphasis here on the indefinite article “a”—then yes, you could take out his name because you haven’t been specific, so commas would have been fine. If you’d said “a celebrity agent,” but…you didn’t.

Do you need a comma after Mr. Nanton’s name and “to”? Well, let’s see. Boiling the sentence down to its simplest components, it would look like this:

I’ve teamed up again with Nick Nanton to publish a new book featuring some of my top clients and fans.

I’d say no commas at all, like this:

I’ve teamed up again with celebrity agent and four-time Emmy Award-winning director Nick Nanton to publish a new book featuring some of my top clients and fans.

Not to sound snarky (and I might as well tell you that I was “invited” by the author of this missive (yeah, with 600 of his nearest and dearest) to be “featured”), but here’s someone who doesn’t know basic punctuation rules telling me that he might feature me in his new book. Wow! Be still my heart!

Everybody, it seems, is a best-selling author. And the thing that’s crazy is that his book probably will be a best seller!

Just because you say you’re a best-selling author doesn’t mean you can write. This guy can’t write his way out of a paper sack. That’s okay. For my purposes, he’s a gold mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve teamed up again with Celebrity Agent and 4X EMMY Award Winning Director, Nick Nanton, to publish a new book featuring some of my top clients and fans.

What happens when two nouns are separated by “or”?

We all know that when two nouns are separated by “and,” you use a plural noun and a plural pronoun, like this:
Liz and Gayle have to decide.

But, what happens to the verb and pronoun when two nouns are separated by “or”?
If both nouns are singular, you use a singular verb, like so:
Liz or Gayle has to decide.

But what if one noun is singular and one is plural? The rule is that when two nouns are separated by “or,” the verb usually agrees with the noun closest to it.
Neither my demeanor nor my arguments were persuasive.
Neither my arguments nor my demeanor was persuasive.

Here’s a great example of a mistake.

“The authority of the school is superseded when law enforcement or the Department of Children Services become involved,” said a district spokeswoman.

Either one or the other can supersede the authority of the school; in other words, it doesn’t take both acting together (which is why it’s “or” and not “and”).
Both these nouns—law enforcement and the Department of Children Services—are singular nouns. So, the verb, which in this case is “become,” should be becomes: “when law enforcement becomes,” when the Department becomes….”
Now, we’ll note that this is a conversational use. Because it’s conversation, we’ll grant the spokeswoman some slack. If this was formal writing, however, it’d be wrong.

What every author must do!

The need to carefully review all changes.

Even the most experienced editors need to look over their edited content before publishing: too often, corrections beget more mistakes. Here’s a great example.

At the beginning of the month I was looking around my college’s website, and saw new material about an “Emory University Style Guide.” That was a nice surprise, and so I applied an editorial eye to that content, never doubting that it would be perfect.
Alas, not so. Take a look.

Original:

This guide refers to resources that include:
• The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) | With its detail and depth, this is our general go-to style for most university communications.
• The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) | With its emphasis on simplicity and brevity, this is our preferred style for online communications.
• AMA Manual of Style (AMA) | This is our go-to style guide for medical and scientific references.
• Merriam-Webster Dictionary (Webster’s) | This is the dictionary we primarly use.

Well, I’ve always been taught not to put a colon after include. That’s the first thing. The second thing is the nasty misspelled word. Do you see it? Take a look at the very last sentence. It’s primarly.

Normally, I would just roll my eyes (it’s the “communications” office, after all), but, seeing how it’s my very own college and it’s embarrassing to think that they’d be caught with not one but two mistakes on the communications page, I thought I’d send an email to the person who I hoped would be in charge, so she could effect a change.
Well, someone changed it all right, fixing the original issues, but in doing so that person created yet another mistake. (All the contact information you see was added after I sent my email, evidently so anybody else’s emails would go to the really right person…) Take a look.

Rewrite:

The Emory University Style Manual also uses select items from the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook (see addresses, state names). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, is the manual’s preferred dictionary.
If you have questions that not addressed in these sources, please contact:
Susan Carini
Executive Director 404.727.7816
Emory Creative Group
susan.carini@emory.edu
Karon Schindler
Executive Director 404.727.5680
Health Sciences Publications
karon.schindler@emory.edu
For editorial style on the web
Jill Hennecy
Online Content Manager 404.502.2559
jill.hennecy@emory.edu

You just have to reread your material, folks, after you’ve made changes. (What, you don’t see the mistake? Read that “If you have questions…” sentence again.)

As for me, I sent another email about two weeks ago, and, as of today, the mistake hasn’t been corrected,  so I thought I’d use it as an example of what not to do.

April 4 Editing Quiz with ANSWERS!

  1. People get hundreds of e-mails a day, and you’re sending them one in the entire month, you and your brand are lost.
    Too conversational. I think I know what this person is trying to say, but this needs a rewrite.
  2. This is a co-sponsored event with Student Alumni Board and allows current student and alumnae to visit and network.
    Current students.
  3. This 7 day course is only the beginning.
    7-day course. Need that hyphen. (And, oh, joy—it’s “only the beginning”!)
  4. If you choose not to utilize one of the pieces, your outcome  –  your growth in your community might not be as fast or as high.
    Wow, is that a hyphen sitting there all by its lonesome? That should be a dash, and, since it’s an appositive phrase, you need a second dash, like so:
    If you choose not to utilize one of the pieces, your outcome—your growth in your community—might not be as fast or as high.
    I don’t like being lectured by someone who can’t write. That person’s…what? Lack of skill? Ignorance? Sloppiness? seriously diminishes his or her authority.
  5. The two hours, at your discretion, that you can use for changes to your website. If you do not use it, the hours go away.
    That first sentence makes no sense. And then there’s more confusion because the writer used “it” to refer to “the two hours.” I think.
  6. Why? Because we ask questions. Lot of them.
    Yeah, yeah, you ask “lot” of questions. Sure you do.
  7. Unfortunately most of the jewelry from this time period has been lost or melted down over the years, please don’t miss your chance to own this special piece of history!
    Taking a break from sloppy content writers, here we have a lovely comma splice. There are a couple of options here:
    Unfortunately most of the jewelry from this time period has been lost or melted down over the years; please don’t miss your chance to own this special piece of history!
    Unfortunately most of the jewelry from this time period has been lost or melted down over the years. Please don’t miss your chance to own this special piece of history!
    (I’m not keen on this next, but it’s correct.)
    Unfortunately most of the jewelry from this time period has been lost or melted down over the years, so please don’t miss your chance to own this special piece of history!
    I wouldn’t have used an exclamation point, either.
  8. Amazing Visuals: A business website is more about how it looks. We load websites with some amazing graphics/pictures to get visitors attention and so that it compels users to learn more about your business.
    Visitors’ attention. And what’s that bit about “and so that it compels…”? Yuck!
  9. SEO- friendly: Your business contains essential meta-tags that help Google recognize your website and the industry you operate in to show it relevant visitors.
    I’m confused. Does this company mean “to show it to relevant visitors”?
    PayPal Integration: Business websites with PayPal provide easy payment option to their customers.
    Business websites with PayPal provide an easy payment option—is that what this company is trying to say? Or is it supposed to read “easy payment options”?
  10. It is not necessary to have an invitation to visit a chapter, however it is best to contact the president of the chapter prior to the visit.
    Comma splice alert! You cannot join two complete sentences with a comma. What I would do is this: It is not necessary to have an invitation to visit a chapter; however, it is best to contact the president of the chapter prior to the visit.
  11. Search the map using a region, city, zip code, state name or abbreviation (e.g. Sarasota, FL).
    Need that comma after “e.g.” Always. Ditto “i.e.”
  12. Sunshine Web Marketing is a Sarasota, Florida based internet marketing company serving the entire suncoast.
    Florida-based internet marketing company.
    And, for this purpose, I’d opine that “Suncoast” is a proper noun, and so should be capitalized. And, FYI, that isn’t its real name….
  13. Our Sarasota based firm will design you a WordPress website or blog to fit both your needs and your budget.
    Sarasota-based firm. And I’m not keen on “design you.” Very loose. Drop the “you.”
  14. What is happening, who’s fault is it and how do you fix it?
    Who’s? Wow. It’s whose. And I’d use a serial comma.
  15. 4 things clients say that cause web professional’s frustration:
    Don’t start a sentence, or, in this case, a phrase, with a numeral. Plus, it’s web professionals frustration; though, now that I look at it, it could be “web professionals’ frustration.” Interesting. It could be a descriptive phrase or plural possessive. At any rate, what it ain’t is “web professional’s frustration”!
  16. In fact, as she tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, she still refuses to refer to Simpson as anything other than “the killer.”
    This is a great time to learn an unusual rule: Commas are always placed inside quotation marks. Oh, you knew that already? Well, this writer was obviously confused by the question mark inside the quotation mark, but that doesn’t have a thing to do with the rule about commas. I know it looks a little strange, and it is unusual, but here’s how it should look:
    In fact, as she tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?,” she still refuses to refer to Simpson as anything other than “the killer.”
  17. Dr. X is a two-time international award-winning author, an internationally-recognized speaker, and subject matter expert in the field of personal development.
    Never hyphenate an –ly adverb.
  18. His passion for teaching and positively impacting peoples lives has been recognized globally.
    “Peoples” is incorrect. What this person meant was “people’s.” You could also make a case for plural possessive—peoples’—if you meant “the peoples’ of the Arctic Circle are loosely connected.” (You could come up with a better sentence I’m sure; I just came up with that one on the fly.)
  19. As we all know, professional athletes, movie stars, business managers, CEOs, and world political leaders use coaches because they pinpoint the limitations that are holding them back from achieving the success that they seek.
    Okay, pronoun confusion. The first “they” refers to coaches, the “them” refers to all the other people, and then “they” refers to the other people. Rewrite.
  20. If you have heard a deep “sigh” while discussing your project chances are you have made one or more of the following errors.
    Whoa, Nelly! I hope no one ever hears a deep “sigh” at any moment in life! I suppose it’s not that bad—just take out the quotation marks and leave the italics. But then, because you’ve started with a dependent clause, you’ve got to have a comma after “project.”
    Sigh. Save me from overly dramatic web content writers who can’t write!
  21. As the automobile made the horse and carriage obsolete; solar, wind and robots will disrupt our view of energy.
    You cannot use a semicolon here. Semicolons separate complete sentences, and that “As the automobile” phrase is just that: a phase. I’d say this:
    As the automobile made the horse and carriage obsolete, so solar, wind, and robots will completely change our view of energy.
    (I think “disrupt” is too trendy.)
  22. This is for those of you that would like to maintain your own blog, website or facebook page. Instruction can be by the individual project, such as posting new pictures, or it can be an intensive study of Facebook ads, either way we can assist you.
    Whew, “facebook” and “Facebook” in contiguous sentences. Sloppy.  Plus, that “you” should be followed by “who,” not “that.” Plus (oh, yes, there is more!), this is a comma splice: you need to stick a semicolon after “ads,” not a comma.
    These last two sentences came from a fellow who claims to have been a copywriter for 30 years.
  23. My apologies if some of the verbiage “rubs you the wrong way”.
    Ho, ho! Unless he’s been a copywriter on Uranus, he’d know that you put your commas and periods inside quotation marks.
  24. Simple tell them… “My PR guys are on it!”
    Bro-ther! You’d think a “copywriter” would at least cast an eye on his prose prior to publishing, but no!

March 30 Quiz with ANSWERS!

1) Headquartered in Miami, our operations are comprised of a nationally chartered bank, SUB, a wealth management division, SB&T, and an international branch of our parent company, BS.
Okay, it’s composed of, never comprised of. The large thing (the operations) is composed of smaller things. The large thing comprises small things.
2) When we ran into issues with our hosting company, we realized we needed a tech partner for our rapidly-growing business.
Never hyphenate an –ly adverb.
3) This open source platform has become the standard on the web due to it’s easy-to-manage backend, plugin architecture, and extensive scalability.
Wow, the most common mistake in the English language, made by a company that is paid to write content. Really inexcusable. Lots of trendy buzzwords, too. Boo to buzzwords. Looking at it again, I’d also stick a hyphen in “open-source.”
4) Here at ABC, we emphasize the importance of water in your body and how it affects your every day life.
Here you needed everyday, with no space. “Everyday” means regular, commonplace; “every day” means, well, each day.
5) We have over 12 years experience in helping businesses get to the next level by providing quality strategic marketing services.
This is a common mistake, especially in biography-related, “About Us” material. You have to say either “12 years of experience” or “12 years’ experience” (plural possessive). And, typical of this horrible writing, this company uses my least favorite buzz phrase: “to the next level.” I’m so sick of that phrase I could scream.
6) Perfect for small to medium-sized companies who need to outsource their marketing department.
Suspended hyphen rule: small- to medium-sized companies. Plus, a company is never a “who”; a company is always an “it.” So this sentence should read: Perfect for small- to medium-sized companies that need to outsource their marketing departments. Kinda tricky, but that’s it.
7) With over 12 years of experience in building great looking, search engine optimized, business-class websites, we know the steps that it takes to get your web site up and running quickly.
Website is one word, my dears.
8) Clients who subscribe to the Monthly Marketing Packages enjoy knowing their clients are being strategically reached – while they go about doing their thing.
Here we have a little noun confusion: there are two “clients,” and “they” do “their” thing. Rewrite!
9) K*** Marketing + Media offers many mobile features designed specifically for small to mid-sized businesses.
Small- to midsized.
10) What you’d need to know for your first call is that they are on the third Monday of the month.
Since when is “your first call” a “they”? Oh, no! “It” is on the third Monday…
11) Don’t blow off the calls because you are ‘too busy’.
Wow, and these people get paid to write internet content? Dude, that just ’bout blows me away!
Don’t be trendy and sound like you’re 8; use double quotation marks; and quotation marks are always placed OUTSIDE periods and commas.
This sentence was on that company’s website; heaven knows what it is doing to its clients’ sites! (Assuming, of course, that it has any!)
12) During our recorded conference call, you’ll want to have an idea of what you’d like to focus on for the upcoming month (new services, new products, etc).
Got to have a period after “etc.”
13) Sure, we could. But for you to be successful – you have to make time in order to help us grow with you and get your voice captured with a writer. Carving out time from your busy schedule to look at what you have – what’s missing, what’s needed, and what you are and are not saying. Be prepared to clearly communicate – pass over some notes, have a phone call, let us know what is happening when things happen. Communicate to us your ideas, your concepts, your goals, your hopes, your dreams, your fears, etc. will result in better, more clearly focused marketing thank you’ve experienced in the past.
This is such lousy writing that I’m practically paralyzed. The second sentence is a fragment. So is the last. Need a comma after “etc.” Then there’s “thank” instead of “than.” “Clearly focused” my…eye.
I think this must rank as Top 10 on my “Lousy Writing Written By A Supposed Professional” list. I’ll have to check.
14) We get to know them – through you. We need to know about your target audience to make each connection with your audience successful. Who that person is, their age group, their demographic, any details that you can provide up front for us about that person makes for a better message to that person. What are they like? What don’t they like? What are they interested in?
Geez. “A person” can’t be plural; in other words, you must use a singular pronoun with a singular noun. This is awful. Awful.
15) Do you do things around specific holidays or seasonally or what do you have happening that needs to be highly focused and prepped for when that time comes we have that already in place when the event takes place.
Are these people on drugs???
16) Block hours can be used in situations where more print or product related artwork is desired as well.
Product-related artwork.
17) For Email Marketing (Constant Contact mailings): Three Constant Contact emails is included in your plan per month.
You must be consistent, people. You cannot write “e-mail” and “email,” especially in the same sentence.
18) Another fee would be the Constant Contact monthly fee that charges directly to your credit card from Constant Contact themselves.
“Constant Contact” is an it. It, itself.
19) There’s twelve different sizes that could be created, depending on your budget and the goals of the ad.
There are twelve different sizes…
20) Yes, it’s best to utilize the plan in it’s entirety.
And, we’ll end close to where we started: its entirety.

Lesson: put your content in Word before you publish. So much of this sloppiness could have been caught by Word.

Knock, knock! Anybody home?

I got an email today from an organization I just joined. I’ve already mentioned my initial worries about this group, and I can now say that my fears were justified.

Writing like this has no place in a professional email. I am not going to let you look at the material without a list of the things that are not to professional standards, editing-wise. I know I usually post my quizzes, let you digest them for a week (or longer!), and then come back with the answers, but not today. These editing thoughts and a short temper flew out of my forehead like Athena springing from the forehead of Zeus, fully armored and ready for battle.

Take a gander at this prose! And don’t forget that this is what I’d call “standard language”; in other words, it is pre-written and goes out to all members. By the way, everyone, “members” is not a proper noun and so is not capitalized. (The organization doesn’t know that rule, either.)

An Edit of Three Sequential Sentences

All Webinars are scheduled and listed in US PACIFIC TIME. Use the Add To Calendar link to have it added to your calendar in the correct time zone or to convert to your timezone, please click here: XXXX.

Most webinars are scheduled for 30 minutes for the lesson plus Q&A.

*****

Off the top of my head, I see these mistakes:

Time zone:
The proper way to express California’s time zone is Pacific Standard Time or Pacific Daylight Time. Spell it out on first use; if you are going to use it again, then put the acronym next to the first use, and use the acronym alone on subsequent uses, like this: Pacific Standard Time (PST). If a business has clients all over the world but is headquartered in California (and this business is and does), I would not bother with “US.” However, having said that, the use of “US” is to be avoided in all but the most informal writing: Either spell out “United States,” or, in informal writing, you can write “U.S.” (Those last several quotes are mine.)

Why italics anywhere? Change all italicized content back to a regular font.

“Webinar” is not a proper noun, so lowercase it.

Plus (related) there’s inconsistency because “webinar” is spelled lowercase later.

I think button names should be in quotes: “Add to Calendar.”

Note to self: check to see if that is what the button is called; it’s on another page.

Note to you: There is no such button as “Add to Calendar.” Surprise!

Time zone versus timezone. Geez, how do you miss that??? (It gets worse: the next page reads Time Zone.)

Writing Suggestion: don’t like the two “for” uses in last sentence and would rewrite as “Most webinars last 30 minutes.”

So, bottom line, we have half-dozen mistakes at least in a three-sentence sequence.

If you are involved in an organization that can’t write worth a darn, it’s time to push back.

 

April 4, 2016 Editing Quiz!

Most of these sentences are from “website developers”; in other words, companies that are paid to write for other businesses. In my experience, most internet content writers can’t write their way out of a paper sack and are largely clueless about basic punctuation and grammar.  Bad writing, ignorant writing, sloppy writing…with you paying for it!
If you are shopping for a web developer, be picky.  Before hiring a company, take a hard look at the writing on that business’s website; the writing there is going to be reflected on your site!

1) People get hundreds of e-mails a day, and you’re sending them one in the entire month, you and your brand are lost.
2) This is a co-sponsored event with Student Alumni Board and allows current student and alumnae to visit and network.
3) This 7 day course is only the beginning.
4) If you choose not to utilize one of the pieces, your outcome – your growth in your community might not be as fast or as high.
5) The two hours, at your discretion, that you can use for changes to your website. If you do not use it, the hours go away.
6) Why? Because we ask questions. Lot of them.
7) Unfortunately most of the jewelry from this time period has been lost or melted down over the years, please don’t miss your chance to own this special piece of history!

8) Amazing Visuals: A business website is more about how it looks. We load websites with some amazing graphics/pictures to get visitors attention and so that it compels users to learn more about your business.

SEO- friendly: Your business contains essential meta-tags that help Google recognize your website and the industry you operate in to show it relevant visitors.

PayPal Integration: Business websites with PayPal provide easy payment option to their customers.

9) It is not necessary to have an invitation to visit a chapter, however it is best to contact the president of the chapter prior to the visit.
10) Search the map using a region, city, zip code, state name or abbreviation (e.g. Sarasota, FL).
11) Sunshine Web Marketing is a Sarasota, Florida based internet marketing company serving the entire suncoast.
12) Our Sarasota based firm will design you a WordPress website or blog to fit both your needs and your budget.
13) What is happening, who’s fault is it and how do you fix it?
14) 4 things clients say that cause web professional’s frustration:
15) In fact, as she tells “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, she still refuses to refer to Simpson as anything other than “the killer.”
16) Dr. X is a two-time international award-winning author, an internationally-recognized speaker, and subject matter expert in the field of personal development.
17) His passion for teaching and positively impacting peoples lives has been recognized globally.
18) As we all know, professional athletes, movie stars, business managers, CEOs, and world political leaders use coaches because they pinpoint the limitations that are holding them back from achieving the success that they seek.
19) If you have heard a deep “sigh” while discussing your project chances are you have made one or more of the following errors.
20) As the automobile made the horse and carriage obsolete; solar, wind and robots will disrupt our view of energy.

21) This is for those of you that would like to maintain your own blog, website or facebook page. Instruction can be by the individual project, such as posting new pictures, or it can be an intensive study of Facebook ads, either way we can assist you.

These last two sentences came from a fellow who claims to have been a copywriter for 30 years.
22) My apologies if some of the verbiage “rubs you the wrong way”.
23) Simple tell them… “My PR guys are on it!”

What I’m reading now.

The other day someone asked me what I’m reading.

Well, aside from mining real estate-related websites for material while researching my much-anticipated tenth book, Self-Editing for Real Estate Professionals, I am reading some great books at the moment.

Let’s see, I’ve got a P. G. Wodehouse Bertie and Jeeves novel open; also open are a really excellent autobiography by Miles Davis and Toastmaster magazine (of course). I’m wrapping up the Miles Davis autobiography and tried to listen to some of his music recently, but I’ve been distracted by Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” off its Uncle Jam Wants You album, so I didn’t get far with Miles. This particular tune is what I’d consider an extended version, and it’s unbelievably funky. The solos are out of this world. Once you start listening, it’s hard to stop, even for Miles Davis.

I’m also going to be listening a lot to Carlos Santana/Gato Barbieri’s “Europa.” There’s a live performance from 1977 on YouTube that is outstanding. I rushed out and bought Caliente when it was released.  You never think that some people are mortal, just like the rest of us. Gato Barbieri lived a life of incredible creativity, a life of being present more than most of us ever think about being.

Anyone out there remember Larry Lane, the DJ on that Atlanta radio station? What was it? WQXI?  Blue Lights in the Basement sounds familiar. Atlanta in the late ’70s was a very happening place; I heard every musician I ever wanted to hear in Atlanta (with the exception of Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler), but it seems like the music was the coolest in the ’70s. Mother’s Finest comes to mind.  Cy Timmons. The skating rink at the Omni. I saw live performances by Lakeside; Earth, Wind, and Fire; Stevie Wonder; Ella Fitzgerald; Gil Scott Heron–twice…I’d have to go in and look at my record collection to remember all of them. I was the only white person (and had to go by myself when none of my friends would go) at the Lakeside concert, and distinguished myself by knowing all the words and calling out requests. I remember I drove my green 1969 Cadillac deVille, a convertible, to the concert, which was on the south side of town.  That must have been in the late ’80s.

Next book reading project is Putting the Most Into Life, by Booker T. Washington. First edition!

One of the best-edited articles ever! A must-read!

I like reading The New York Times. It was practically the happiest day of my life when I signed up for “complete access” on the internet, and, oh, joy! the Sunday edition. The Sunday paper edition!

I do like commenting about articles. I wrote a comment today about this article. Obviously, it’d be better if you read the article first, so here’s the link:

Well, that didn’t work. So sorry. Please Google

Exotic Marble and Opulent Finishes Lure Buyers

plus The New York Times and you’ll find it. And then, please come back and see what I wrote, which is right below.

Never loath to display my middle-class background, I have to admit that I got bored and didn’t finish this article. That kind of stuff doesn’t hold my attention. Do you know what I mean? Show me a good abandoned-dog-undergoes-miraculous-transformation video however, and I’m there until the happy or bitter end.

If I had money, there are so many wonderful things to do in the world; this is not how I’d choose to spend whatever it was I had. On the strength of that thought, I just donated $100 to Hope for Paws, out in California, and I invite you to do the same. But this article? Boooor-ing!

Oh, on a happier note, this is a great editing job. Just look at all those hyphens! A thicket of hyphens! And the numbers! Whew! All students of punctuation should study the commas as well, though that early missing (cough, cough) serial comma combined with the “Goldman Sachs” phrase was a little too bereft of the little dears. This is a perfect example of when to use a serial comma! In my opinion. Still, with so many honey-hued (gotta love it!) opportunities for an editing misstep or two, this is a masterpiece! Trust The New York Times to set the standard. Again.

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Having said all that, I do hope the Times won’t mind if I publish the “case for the serial comma” sentence here. See how the items just tumble against each other? I follow with the serial comma version so you can see how easy it is to distinguish between the start and stop of each item listed.

Original:

It’s quite different from anything else that’s being built in New York City,” Mr. Despont said of the project, which is being developed by Hines, the Pontiac Land Group and Goldman Sachs, with apartments priced from about $3 million to more than $70 million.

Mine:

It’s quite different from anything else that’s being built in New York City,” Mr. Despont said of the project, which is being developed by Hines, the Pontiac Land Group, and Goldman Sachs, with apartments priced from about $3 million to more than $70 million.

NEVER AGREE TO SOMETHING LIKE THIS

When you are a professional speaker, or even if you’re not, you should never agree to speak in a venue that requires you to sign something like this. (The three misspelled words are in the nature of icing on the cake.) If you are ever faced with this sort of quasi-legal mumbo jumbo, stop, and just say NO.

Never let yourself get bullied into doing anything (and especially signing anything) that you know is stupid and just plain wrong; here’s a great example of when you need to protest, and, not getting satisfaction, you walk away. This is the most unprofessional piece of garbage I’ve ever read, second only to the time that Lee County wanted me to sign an agreement that would  have allowed it to conduct interviews of my neighbors before I could present adult educational programs (for the third year in a row) in its library system.  That didn’t happen, and neither will this.

WAIVER: By virtue of my registration and attendance at this District 84 Event, I hereby grant to Toastmasters International, District 84, (hearafter “D84”) the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, reproduce, and publish photographs, video, and/or audio of me, including my image and likeness as depicted therin, captured at/during the event without compensation. Such images, audio, and video may be published in any medium, and may also appear on D84’s or its affiliate’s websites and social media outlets. Consequently, D84 may publish materials, use my name, use photographs, video, and audio of me, and/or make reference to me in any manner that D84 deems appropriate in order to promote and/or publicize Toastmasters International District 84, or to promote, highlight, or showcase D84 membership benefits and opportunities. I understand and agree that by virtue of this registration, I release D84 from any and all claims, actions, and liability related to its use of said photographs, audio or video images and recordings.