Taken from NYTimes On-Line ed. 4/25/09:
I have been attacking Strunk and White for many years. On my blog, I have called it “that mangiest of stuffed owls,” “the bible of those who want to sneer at other people’s use of language without bothering to actually learn something about it themselves” and a “malign little compendium of bad advice.”
But in the comment thread to my latest Strunk-bashing post, a reader said he had “close to zero knowledge of linguistics” but was “fascinated by the arguments” for and against the book,” and he quite admirably followed up by acquiring a copy and reading it. He then came back to review it, saying:
The rules are short on explanation, background, detail and useful context. So, the book is not the elegant historic relic I hoped for; nor is it an evil, nasty little mindrotter. Either would have been worth the price. I suppose you would have to live with the constant praise of the thing (like Tolstoy with Shakespeare) to get decently angry about it. There are better things to be angry about: like an education system that has college kids unable to write a decent essay, and that turns for a remedy to this inadequate work.
I found that I agreed with him. As I said in my reply, “it’s not evil (though Geoffrey K. Pullum, a co-author of “The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language,” likes to talk as if it were), just undercooked and overpraised.” I told him that the reason some of us express what may seem excessive anger about it is precisely that we “have to live with the constant praise of the thing.”
If people would stop touting it as the Indispensable Book and using it as a weapon, we wouldn’t have to annoy them with our attacks.
All Along the Watchtower
I just watched the London marathon. I don't see any lack of monies and shit overthere. Nobody jumping out of windows or off the bridges. London looks great, even charming. Even the usually extra-filthy Thames looks clean and refreshing; and, I'd forgotten how right out on the main street the Tower of London is--and Big Ben hanging bangingly high over an otherwise shabby flat swarming trafficky asphalty cluttered wide street leading over to the Old Virgin Queen's royal digs--Buckingham(fat) Palace--looks like a huge park bathhouse--you know, those palaces where the poor and down-and-outers went to bath and take leaks and shits and stuff. Like one I was once in in San Francisco, out in Expo Park, a great old stony Gothic bathroom--and beings it was San Francisco, of course it served as a gathering place...oh well, on with the show. So, yes, London looked nice--great in fact, green and deeply European, great, too, in that their hundreds-of-years-old structures are mingling with brand-spanking new (neo-glasshouse era) glassy, reflecto buildings of all rounded rims or pancake-stacked squares like a children's blocks turned into an architectural enterprise. The only thing about London I don't like is that tacky Millennium Wheel. Looks like a high wind could come along and blow the damn thing flat off down the Thames toward Southampton and the opening-out-toward-the-New-World Atlantic. Like the guy in the Raymond Chandler story, The Goldfish, who was named Sunset. Why? "Because I'm always heading west," was his reply. And in London, you naturally want to head west to get out of town. When I was there in ancient times, I couldn't wait to get back to NYC. But then that's the way I felt in Guatemala City; the way I felt in Dallas, Texas; the way I felt in St. John, Newfoundland; the way I feel even in Brooklyn, New York. And when you're in Brooklyn, you follow the sun west to get out of it and back to the civilization of Manhattan Island. And I'm calling myself Sunset these days. I'll be heading west again when I'm dead and gone and in my pine box being shipped back out to the city of my nativity, that high-and-dry city on the lone prairie, that bald-prairie city from whence came the lyrics to the cowboy's lament, "Don't bury me, on the lone prairie...." Sunset Wolf. Howling at the setting Sun, the wolf's god! and man's god, too.
I was watching the story of the telescope on PBS (Pro-British System) t'other eve and how amazing was it to see how once man looked through the telescope and saw right before his eyes how wrong the religious scammers were in their belief that a great human who looks just like us so craftily designed our boiling universe! Looking through those early crude but surprisingly revealing telescopes those old skeptic scientists saw so clearly that, NO, the Christian God got it wrong, the Sun did not travel around the earth--and NO, sorry Jehovah (Allah), the earth is not flat. With a telescope you can clearly see the curvature of the earth! And by tracking the position of the earth to other planets--Galileo could see Jupiter and its moons moving slowly around it--every night, taking precise measurements, these guys could plainly see the earth was actually moving around the Sun along with Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter--I think they considered our moon (Luna, from which comes lunatic; another religious-based myth based on missed facts) a planet--until some other skeptic scientist came along and saw the moon was simply reflecting Sun light back to earth.
Heading west from London, I arrived back in New York City in time for the thermometer to be heading gaily as hell, up into the 90s today. The record for today is 84. We're gonna smash that by 11 ticks of the thermometer the hot weather girls are babbling about--95 the high today in Central Park. Right now, at 11:36 in the morning, it's a pleasant 75--my windows are open and the air is fresh and scintillating, though you can feel some tongues of fire licking at you from within it. It's a southern breeze, so it's coming off that Atlantic Ocean you head west into to escape the royal-asskissing streets of old Viking-built London.
I once made love to an Irish girl and during the height of our togetherness she suddenly turned wildly and wonderfully ferocious on me--bucking me up wildly into some deep Celtic mythological state of ecstasy. Afterwards, while we were cooling out and refreshing each other's egos with glorious praise for our procreational Olympian efforts I babbled out, "You fuck like a Viking, my little Irish wonder." "I am a Viking," she snorted back, attacking the shores of my loins with an intruding force that suddenly had me running me flag up the old flagpole once again--going for Old Glory against this Viking attack. Remember, Eric the Red was really the White man who discovered the Red Men (the Red Stick people) of the tribal nation Eric and his Boyz called Vineland, because the land was covered in wild grapes. So I suppose, since my old daddy's way-back family was from London, I'm part Viking, too. As well as originally African. Ain't that ironic?
Hot As Hades
So, I'm readying myself for a day in the oven New York City becomes (we're below sea level, you know) when the temp hits anywhere over 90. I mean the heat is suffocating around 2 pm. Relief comes with nightfall they're saying....
And New York City teevee, I'll say this, has some of the hottest weather girls of any city I've ever watched teevee in. Channel 11 has the best, a woman named Linda. Channel 11 years ago came up with the concept of having hot women as their news half-hour anchors and weather girls, etc. So at one time they called themselves the three-Linda channel because of Linda Church, the weather babe (I worked in the same building with her for 9 years and she's a beautiful friendly very tall voluptuous woman), Lynne White the absolutely gorgeous anchor babe, and J-Lo's teevee-star sister, Linda Lopez, in a way, much more suitable in terms of teevee beauty than sister J-Lo, who by the way, I just heard a Black woman on the radio say, is considered a White chick by Hollywood society--which she means the whole White society. That's like I recently said about Piri Thomas, a New Yorican-Puerto-Rican writer, who was black as the Ace of Spades, as Whites put it, and was treated like a black man in Texas until they found out he was Puerto Rican and then he was treated like a White man. I consider J-Lo simply a Mickey Mouse Club creation--wasn't she? Her and Britney and Christina Aguilera and Jason Timberlake and Ricky "Oooooo La-La" Martin (ex-Menudo, wasn't he; the guy who founded Menudo ending up doing time for making the Menudo boyz pay him respects by kneeling in a prayer-like position just in front of his open fly--but then, I'd better watch my step here. I got in a lot of trouble calling old Al Capp a pedophile. Turned out he was simply an adulterer--and which of us hasn't at one time been an adulterer or adulteress?).
I turn to the west. The weather babe is saying a cold front is moving in from the northwest. Go west....
A westwardly aimed,
for The Daily Growler