October 5th, 2005


[Reader cries.]

Who among us doesn't love the Metro, Boston's subway paper run by "Negress-bedding" racists and edited by first-graders? The scrappy free upstart has long had a reputation for poorly editing its AP and Ananova news feeds, often cutting a story off mid-paragraph to fit the allotted column space instead of, say, removing some chaff in the middle. I'm chagrined to see that while they're learning from their mistakes, they still have a lot to learn. Now they're removing a bit more than just chaff. Case in point, a "news in brief" blurb at the top of today's Page 2, reproduced here verbatim:
A regional supermarket chain has pulled a halloween decoration from its shelves after one of the decorations burst into flames on a family’s dining room table. Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper’s stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont removed the items from store shelves after hearing of the fire.
Well, that's all fine and dandy, Metro, but isn't there something you missed there? Such as, say, details on the decoration what burst into flame? I have visions of commuter families staring warily at their Price Chopper Giggling Ghost Hayride Halloween centerpiece, copies of Metro clutched shakily in hand. "Daddy, is ours one of 'em?" the little girl asks, her voice quavering with heightened fear. "I don't know, Peanut," Dad answers, quiet yet brave. "I just don't know." Mom's hand reaches back along the dining room wall, groping for the kitchen fire extinguisher just beyond the doorframe. Somewhere, off in the distance, a dog barks. Then the entire family bursts into flames.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic here, spoiled as I am. I'm currently reading Brendan Gill's fabulous account of his sixty years at the New Yorker, working under editors who took great pride in fanatical adherence to the principles of gooder writing and more gooder grammar. Discussions on the placement of a single comma could take up an entire afternoon, but maybe it was a slow afternoon to begin with. Gill's writing is a joy to read and the wit just dry enough for my liking, and it's wonderful to read first-hand accounts of the magazine's existence, back when excellent writing was championed (and provided) by the likes of E.B. White, James Thurber and S.J. Perelman.

Perhaps comparing the Metro to the New Yorker is just the slightest bit unfair, much like comparing apples and Cadillacs, but let's be honest here. I think it is my right, as one who can read and comprehend English, to be able to peruse a daily publication without the fear of throwing up in my mouth a little. Unfortunately, just such a thing occurred this morning when I stumbled across this little literary dropping in today's hip-n-trendy "UNCOVEReD" section:
There's a saying that there is no such thing as bad sex or bad pizza, but we know that's not true. Sadly.
[Writer cries.]
That's verbatim, with square brackets included just as printed. Exactly which obscenities were hollered in the Red Line car this morning upon the discovery of Page 14 will be left as an exercise for the reader.

It could be argued that this offense is a modern construct, borne from the immediacy of Internet conversation, and who among us hasn't, at one time or another, ensconced an action in asterisks to convey emotion? The only difference is that we're smart enough not to include it in professional writing to be featured in a professional, honest-to-gosh newspaper. Both the [Writer] and [Editor] should be taken out and soundly beaten around the head and neck for not only creating such an abomination, but for letting it go to press that way as well.

"[Writer cries!]" the writer cries, invoking a much-loved Interactive Fiction injoke as the bamboo sticks descend upon his shoulders.

"[Editor shrieks!]" the editor shrieks, as the beatings continue.

Then the [entire office bursts into flames.]
Tom Lehrer is Smug


So it's been revealed to me that Redbones and Cambridge Common are two of the few places in Boston right now who have the Sam Adams 325th "Colonial Ale" on draft.

So, uh, who wants to drink some beer tonight?