The Oxford comma: dead at the hands of serial killers

I give a #%*^ about the Oxford comma.  I’m known for giving a #%*^ about the Oxford comma. But sadly, this sudden palaver over its threatened extinction (at the hands of its eponymous university, no less) is just a bureaucratic nail in an already-long-buried coffin. As a proofreader in Australia, I must (at least during working hours) adhere to the ‘current trends’ in Australian writing style, and that means NO SERIAL COMMAS EVER (except if absolutely needed for the sake of clarity, which isn’t any fun at all).

So as far as I’m (professionally) concerned, the Oxford comma has already been eradicated, or is at least seriously endangered, teetering on the brink of extinction. It lingers only as a ghost, destroyed by a gradual succession of serial killers*: style guides in ruthless pursuit of minimalist punctuation.

R, I, P.

Over at, Mary Elizabeth Williams has already said almost everything else I would say on the topic. Most importantly, she a) clarifies the extent to which Oxford University is eliminating its eponymous comma (that is, no more than most institutions already have); and b) embedded the obvious Vampire Weekend video clip.

Now, two things about this video clip: Firstly, its total number of hits must have jumped phenomenally in the past 24 hours. Secondly, IT WAS DIRECTED BY THE WONDERFUL RICHARD AYOADE (of The IT Crowd, of course). And if that isn’t a joyful note on which to end a sombre post, I don’t know what is.

*Yes, I went there.

Wallflower Words: Vitriol (n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Vitriol (n.)

Huh? Originally, referred to sulphates of metals in general (iron vitriol, copper vitriol, sulphur vitriol &c.). Subsequently, ‘vitriol’ became a specifically synonymous term for sulphuric acid (aka. Oil of Vitriol). Hence, ‘vitriol’ in its currently popular role, as an apt reference to bitterly abusive language or vituperation: nothing short of spitting, spiteful, acerbic, acidic ire.

As in? Give it a little bit of vitriol!

And? ‘Vitriolic’ has a nice Sherlockian ring to it. AND it is formed naturally in the upper atmospheres of Venus and Europa, which I consider to be a particularly cool triviality. AND, Bluejuice played at Big Day Out! AND they were awesome. As in… they were all dressed like Quentin Tarantino’s The Bride! (aka. Beatrix Kiddo; aka. Black Mamba; aka. Mommy)

{ via Entertainment Weekly }

Now THERE’S a woman with vitriol!

See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)
Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)

Loves: Books & Spiral staircases (all). Does Not Love: Eames (some).

I love books.

Love love love. Adore. Cherish. Worship. Covet & Lust after.

I also have a VERY strong aesthetic attraction to spiral staircases. [Aside: I once scared off a fellow theatre patron by waxing lyrical about the set design for Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and my “thing” for spiral staircases].

So to me, this image…

{ Casa Aquino by Augusto Fernandez Mas, on Freshome, via FFFFOUND! }

…is almost perfect.



I just can’t abide the Eames Lounge Chair (670) and Ottoman(671). Look at it. ‘Tis a boring blot on an otherwise heavenly room.

This aversion, I think, is borne of 5 years working for an architecture & interior design magazine — where I chance upon an image of ‘The Eames’ at least three times a day, usually as prop-furniture in project promo photo shoots — in addition to a lifelong general disaffection for Stuff What Everyone’s Already Got.

Some people (okay, LOTS of people) adore 670 & 671. And I’mma let them finish… but I’m sorry, I think it ruins everything. See, That Chair can even turn this really sweet and interesting poster (full of good intent and fine advice):

{ Graphic-ExchanGE via FFFFOUND! }

…into “Oh. Another pretentious design poster”:

{ image credit: ditto }

Even the ineffable cuteness of Polaroid can’t save this from the Eames Lounge Instant Cliché Effect (patent pending).

It’s just so thoroughly and undeniably… beige (in the figurative sense… unless you buy this one, in which case it is also literally beige, and therefore the definitive definition OF beige).

But I promise I have no deep-seated [oh. Oh that was BAD. Sorry] prejudice against Eames’ designs in general. Everyone, I’d like you to meet the Eames Time-Life Executive Chair. Designed in 1960 for the Time-Life building in New York. I once had the pleasure of meeting a pair upholstered in aqua-blue wool tweed, with the smoothest, buttery, faun-coloured suede back and armrests… I fawned over them. I thought they were truly lovely.

This fleeting encounter was an informative one. All this time I thought I was anti-Eames, yet all it took was 5 minutes with two darling retro chairs to prove that this dislike only applies to SOME Eames (Eameses? Eames’es?).

This is a happy discovery, for absolutist prejudice is never a pleasant thing.

Disclaimer: This does not change my feelings re: 670 & 671.

Going Forward… [*shudder*]

I just realised why the phrase “going forward” irks me so.

It is newspeak for “henceforth”, which is actually a lovely word and does not need to be replaced. Think about it: anywhere the phrase “going forward” is used, one could just as well say “henceforth” and convey the same meaning. It’s an ugly, ugly synonym.

Henceforth, whenever I hear the soulless, economistic, accountantesque* words “going forward”, I shall mentally replace them with “henceforth” and thus obscure the linguistic ugliness. That way, the politicians, teachers and grown-ups all get to play with their boring newspeak, I get to enjoy the phoentic rustle of henceforth, and everyone is happy.

* Nothing against economists/accountants. I hear some of them are LOVELY people.

Everything Will Be [Techn(olog)ically] Okay

I have been a very bad blogger. But with good reason, of course. Here begins the story of a Miraculous Laptop Resurrection.

On the first day, at the first sign of computer malfunction, I made one emergency backup.

{ via hannahbeth }

On the second day, I witnessed increasingly psychedelic bouts of computer death. RIP Graphics Card (and therefore, motherboard, into which said graphic card was unfortunately integrated).

{ via Gizmodo }

On the third day, I put Marvin away and started what would become several weeks of Using Someone Else’s Laptop (Mother, Work, Friends…).

{ by breadandbuttershop on etsy }

On the fourth day I began procrastinating about repairs. 1 expired warranty + 3 University end-of-semester essays (+ subsequent holidays)  = 3 weeks of procrastination. Anticipated interminably long phone queues, futile complaints, ending inevitably in a very expensive motherboard replacement. Not to mention the idea of a Restore-From-Backup, which never quite returns things to normal.

{ via fromkeetra }

… [Insert here:  Several weeks of frustration. Using a netbook (I advise against them, unless your preferred work speed is “glacial”) loaded with Internet Explorer (not recommended, unless you love a good crash… every 5 minutes). Enduring the mundanity of Open Office, and “This is a public computer: please don’t remember my password” on the work computers. Missing my pedantic email filing system in Thunderbird, and all my delicious, delicious cookies (NO, not that kind, THIS kind). ]

{ via Lolita }

The Call to Dell was made on the Thursday, at 4pm.  By 4.05pm (including 1 minute of synthesised glockenspiel muzak) I was saying thankyou to the phone operator who had just promised FREE delivery and installation of a FREE replacement motherboard (which will be covered by a 1-year warranty, FREE), hopefully next-day, but by Monday at the latest. Almost. Fell. Off. My. Chair. In. Shock! (I like to think that it was because I mentioned my awareness of the Dell forums showing more than 150 people with the same problem, many out of warranty,who were still able to claim a free replacement.)

And so, on the Friday, Marvin* rose again. Dell Man appeared at my office at midday, as arranged, and with power drill in hand, disassembled my poor machine into a pile of bits and pieces. And lo, by 12.25pm the lappy resurrection was complete! Free of charge, and less than 24 hours after I finally made the rescue call? A miracle! It’s like nothing ever happened. Marvin even set about launching my last-running instance of Firefox and downloading new emails from the server.

{ via FFFFOUND! }

Anyway, if this saga has taught me anything, it’s that Everything Will Be [Techn(olog)ically] Okay. Also, that I have a lot of haphazardly-gathered but accidentally-themed-alike bookmarks stored away on my harddrive…

{ via myguerilla }

everything wil be okay newspaper
{ via FFFFOUND! }

Everything is going to be amazing
{ via FFFFOUND! }

it's ok
{ via FFFFOUND! }

{ via FFFFOUND! }

* Named after Marvin The Paranoid Android in Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: a computer with a brain the size of a planet, but very poor interpersonal skills.

PLEASE don’t let your website resize my browser window


Squint for the (slightly NSFW yet somehow very polite) fine print.

Oh and to all those web designers out there, while you’re at it, if you don’t mind terribly, and it’s not too much trouble

a) EVERYBODY clicks ‘skip intro’. EVERYBODY.

b) NOBODY wants to hear your company jingle playing on repeat. NOBODY.

So just don’t bother, and we can all be friends again. And you’d have so much more time to spend on doing nice things for yourself, like having tea and biscuits in the sunshine. And I wouldn’t have to mute the sound on my computer. Now doesn’t that sound nice?