or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, September 10, 2010


Living well may be the best revenge, but for those of us with an eye for precision in English, poking richly deserved fun at your opponent's sloppy writing is absolutely the second-best.

There is a hideous brouhaha over at the opera blog Intermezzo sparked by...well, it's hard to say what, exactly. Some puffed-up legal beagle at the Royal Opera House sent a couple of pissy, error-spattered e-mails to the blog demanding that some photos be pulled--photos which, as the blogger rightly notes, were credited to the ROH, bring no financial gain to Intermezzo to the detriment of the opera house, and further could be said to help the ROH's bottom line by illustrating productions which the blog's readers might like to attend.

It's all here: the e-mails, the response, the readers' comments, and this, which I adore:

Here are the emails. They are untouched apart from some cheapshot mockery in red, which it gave me great pleasure to add

Cheapshot mockery! The best kind!

And because I used to be a professional proofreader, I noted another error, which I am handing to Intermezzo (for their unlimited use) absolutely free of charge:

May I remind you that you do not own the copyright in the Royal Opera House images and by encouraging visitors to your website to "use material from this site for non-commercial purposes" is (sic)* an infringement of Royal Opera House copyright; therefore unless these images are not removed from the website http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/ within the next twenty four hours from the date/time of this email, the Royal Opera House will inform your website hosting company of this situation and will consider appropriate action to protect our valuable copyright.

The sentence contains the contrarily worded "therefore unless these images are not removed from the website", when Mr. Avory meant to write "unless these images are removed" or "if these images are not removed," which means that he unwittingly ordered the blog not to remove the pictures on pain of legal action.

He really needs a proofreader. I'm available. And I'm not at all litigious.

* Most everyone who's reading this will already know, but in case you don't--and there's no shame in not knowing something--"sic" is Latin for "thus", and when put in brackets after an error in a quoted piece of material means, "It was like that when I got here." Just so your readers don't think you made the mistake. It is a favourite weapon of the cheapshot artist.


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