or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moving Target

Reader XXX said in response to yet another complaint I made about Salon:

Sorry if it's been mentioned before but Maybe Salon.com just reads your blog then makes the corrections on its own. I just went there and the word is "crowd."

I can't imagine they read my blog--who am I but a complainer, really?--but it's usually a good bet that the egregious mistakes get pointed out in the comments section for any given article, so if the Salon folk are smart, they read that and then make their corrections.

I have two more Salon gripes, actually, and they're both the fault of movie critic Stephanie Zacharek.

The first is from her review of Twilight:

There's the vampire dad, Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Fascinelli), and a vampire mom, Esme (Elizabeth Reaser), and a number of adopted teenage vampire children (one of them played by Nikki Reed, who also co-wrote and starred in Hardwicke's "Thirteen").

I am willing to bet that one quality that all good proofreaders have in common is the ability to instantly memorize the spelling of every word they come across, and subsequently notice when it's been spelled wrong, as the name of actor Peter Facinelli has here. If you aren't 100 per cent certain of the spelling of a word, particularly when it's an unusual surname, how hard is it to Google that, do a little research, and get it right?

The second mistake is stylistic rather than orthographic, from her review of Bolt:

The 3-D gimmick has been heralded as the future of movies at least since 1953, when good old one-eyed André DeToth gave us "House of Wax," a novelty picture that wowed audiences with special effects like a paddle ball that appeared to be bouncing straight out of the movie screen. The technology has gotten more sophisticated since then, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's been better used. The recent live-action adventure "Journey to the Center of the Earth" was fun partly for its innovative use of 3-D effects -- I still remember vividly that flock of phosphorescent birds fluttering toward me from the screen -- and partly for the fact that it had a sense of humor about itself; its lack of pretension was refreshing, and rare, in movies these days. But I remember almost nothing from Robert Zemeckis' cumbersome, self-serious, computer-generated 3-D "event" (to call it a movie would be giving it too much credit) "Beowulf," except for a few primitive, pointy swords jabbing at me from the screen. Thanks, but unlike poor André, I've got two good eyes and I'd like to keep them.

There is no reason she should have used the phrase "from the screen" or a variant of it three times in one short paragraph. Even a somnolent and unengaged editor would have blue-pencilled the second and third iterations, because they are unnecessary, weighing down the text and insulting the reader. Does Zacharek get paid by the word?


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