Eats, Shoots & Leaves | A Criticism

Eats, Shoots & Leaves | A book you should avoid at all costs.

Directly above is an image of the front of a book by author Lynne Truss. It is a book that should not be read and a publication that should be removed from the shelves of libraries immediately, it’s publication suspended indefinitely and its existing issues burned at once.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss published in April of 2006 is probably the most awful book I’ve ever read. The book’s content is atrocious. Conclusively, there are about 20 or so pages of useful information of the obvious and basic type of content that can be located in any children’s fundamental grammar book. The rest of the publication is full of forced comedic jokes, mostly if not entirely related to grammar, dull historical references pertaining to the beginning of grammar and shallow elicitations of famous authors.

What I thought was fantastic, however, was an article I read by The New Yorker that almost seemed delighted in pointing out all the errors within Truss’s book. Regardless, punctuation errors in a punctuation book should be reason enough to pull the publication off the shelves. The following is a small excerpt from the article:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves” is really a “decline of print culture” book disguised as a style manual (poorly disguised). Truss has got things mixed up because she has confused two aspects of writing: the technological and the aesthetic. The first punctuation mistake appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.

As was just strongly opinionated by author, editor and contributing writer of The New Yorker, Louis Menand, Truss’s book is essentially a badly disguised instruction manual for grammar. Truss admits she isn’t a grammarian yet drags up information about things like the history of the comma or semicolon.

As to the author’s objective in writing this book, I believe she wants to communicate common errors found throughout the English language and attempt to explain how they should be correctly used while providing historical context as to how grammar and punctuation was once implemented and how it is used now. There are several reasons why this message was not effectively communicated to me.

Firstly, it appears as though Truss does not wish to interpret the liberal message that language is always evolving and seems to be an author who will remain affirmed in her peculiar grammar/punctuation rules she claims to know, yet chooses to break at the same time. Secondly, there’s an issue with the books translation. The publisher’s at Gotham Books failed to make any alterations for the Americanized version of the publication, an error that makes the book virtually useless to American readers. Thirdly, her pretentious, unamusing attempts at humor surrounding grammar and punctuation were often uncomfortable and awkward and in combination with her dull references to the historical foundations of the English structure I frequently lost sight of the messages she attempted to communicate.

Because this book was not properly translated into an American version in addition to every other reason I’ve described above, I do not believe this novel to be exceptionally pertinent to copyediting in the United States and the relevance it holds to a student of copyediting I would rate at zero.

Concerning the assessment of how well edited this book is, I would have to admit that based on the content I’ve read and the research I’ve done, it is a book that should be immediately removed from the shelves of every library and the sales of which should be discontinued immediately. Even in the book Truss admitted that her copy editors were continually removing the commas that she tends to place before conjunctions, along with a number of other problematic issues.

In conclusion I can only assume that somewhere after reading this book, men are mashing their teeth, women are crying and children are screaming. I’d like to begin a petition to remove this book from its perspective shelves immediately but unfortunately I am far too busy to do so. Having surprised myself at finishing this book in its entirety, I’ve become one step closer to recognizing a good author from a bad one. Decisively, however, I am affirmed that after writing this review I will begin a Facbeook hate group created at the expense of this nonsensical collage.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves | A Criticism

Eats, Shoots & Leaves | A book you should avoid at all costs.

Directly above is an image of the front of a book by author Lynne Truss. It is a book that should not be read and a publication that should be removed from the shelves of libraries immediately, it’s publication suspended indefinitely and its existing issues burned at once.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss published in April of 2006 is probably the most awful book I’ve ever read. The book’s content is atrocious. Conclusively, there are about 20 or so pages of useful information of the obvious and basic type of content that can be located in any children’s fundamental grammar book. The rest of the publication is full of forced comedic jokes, mostly if not entirely related to grammar, dull historical references pertaining to the beginning of grammar and shallow elicitations of famous authors.

What I thought was fantastic, however, was an article I read by The New Yorker that almost seemed delighted in pointing out all the errors within Truss’s book. Regardless, punctuation errors in a punctuation book should be reason enough to pull the publication off the shelves. The following is a small excerpt from the article:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves” is really a “decline of print culture” book disguised as a style manual (poorly disguised). Truss has got things mixed up because she has confused two aspects of writing: the technological and the aesthetic. The first punctuation mistake appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.

As was just strongly opinionated by author, editor and contributing writer of The New Yorker, Louis Menand, Truss’s book is essentially a badly disguised instruction manual for grammar. Truss admits she isn’t a grammarian yet drags up information about things like the history of the comma or semicolon.

As to the author’s objective in writing this book, I believe she wants to communicate common errors found throughout the English language and attempt to explain how they should be correctly used while providing historical context as to how grammar and punctuation was once implemented and how it is used now. There are several reasons why this message was not effectively communicated to me.

Firstly, it appears as though Truss does not wish to interpret the liberal message that language is always evolving and seems to be an author who will remain affirmed in her peculiar grammar/punctuation rules she claims to know, yet chooses to break at the same time. Secondly, there’s an issue with the books translation. The publisher’s at Gotham Books failed to make any alterations for the Americanized version of the publication, an error that makes the book virtually useless to American readers. Thirdly, her pretentious, unamusing attempts at humor surrounding grammar and punctuation were often uncomfortable and awkward and in combination with her dull references to the historical foundations of the English structure I frequently lost sight of the messages she attempted to communicate.

Because this book was not properly translated into an American version in addition to every other reason I’ve described above, I do not believe this novel to be exceptionally pertinent to copyediting in the United States and the relevance it holds to a student of copyediting I would rate at zero.

Concerning the assessment of how well edited this book is, I would have to admit that based on the content I’ve read and the research I’ve done, it is a book that should be immediately removed from the shelves of every library and the sales of which should be discontinued immediately. Even in the book Truss admitted that her copy editors were continually removing the commas that she tends to place before conjunctions, along with a number of other problematic issues.

In conclusion I can only assume that somewhere after reading this book, men are mashing their teeth, women are crying and children are screaming. I’d like to begin a petition to remove this book from its perspective shelves immediately but unfortunately I am far too busy to do so. Having surprised myself at finishing this book in its entirety, I’ve become one step closer to recognizing a good author from a bad one. Decisively, however, I am affirmed that after writing this review I will begin a Facbeook hate group created at the expense of this nonsensical collage.

Barbara Colegrove Scholarship

This past Saturday, April 17, I attended the C.E. Shuford Journalism Banquet featuring the Barbara Jordan Media Awards here at UNT.

It was an entertaining evening with live musicians, alcohol, friends and professors – but I didn’t expect what was to come later that night.

At dinner I was seated with several other Journalism students whom I had never met until that evening. We exchanged majors and made small talk until dinner arrived; a beautifully prepared Chicken breast chardonnay with herb roasted potatoes, haricots verts and chocolate thunder cake for dessert.

Welcoming us all in was professor and senior lecturer of the Mayborn School of Journalism, Neil Foote, with introductory remarks by the Interim Dean, Mitch Land.

As the night progressed, the keynote address was delivered by D.C. based political opinion columnist Cragg Hines, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle. The Barbara Jordan Media awards were given out shortly thereafter with remarks from the winners, door prizes, and then came time to dispense the Mayborn School of Journalism Scholarship Awards.

Rewind to November, 2009:
When Blake, my now ex-boyfriend, and I were together, he asked me to help him write an essay for a journalism scholarship as he was – and still is – pursuing a degree in PR at UT Tyler in East Texas. I did so without hesitation, revising and re-editing until the final draft was ready for submission. It was only just recently, months after we had gone our separate ways, that I came to find out Blake won the scholarship award; an amount of $1,500.00.

No longer on speaking terms, it depressed me to some degree at his success in light of the recent past – things concerning depth far beyond what I can rarely elaborate on vocally in its entirety, much less type out.

So, I decided to give it a shot myself. I had seen the signs posted all around the General Academic Building (we call it the GAB) where I do all of my coursework for my major on campus, but I just never got around to it. Fortunately, due to the lack of applicants on the first submission date, the scholarship committee decided to extend the scholarship deadline by several weeks in the hopes of receiving more applications.

Fast-forward..
Having received what I perceived to be a second opportunity to apply for a journalism scholarship, I took advantage of it. The first requirement was to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, the second was to write an essay of 400 words or less explaining why you – the applicant – felt like you should receive the corresponding scholarship.

Having applied for four scholarships on the application, I wrote the essay over a period of eight days, when, on the eighth day, I received useful advice telling me to start over from scratch. With two days left to submit my application, I was panicking. So, I started completely over, and I don’t think I stopped until I submitted that application.

Now, sitting at that dinner table surrounded by peers and media professionals in a room full of 200+ strangers, I was listening to names being called out of the scholarship winners. Winners of the C.E. Shuford Fund, the Jack Tinsley Scholarship, the Kenneth May Scholarship and others were all being called out followed by applause and cheers and hollering. I didn’t expect to be awarded anything – I’ve never won anything in my entire life, and that’s why it came as a surprise to me when my professor, Neil Foote, called my name.

Walking up to the stage, I received an envelope and then was guided to a UNT background where I had my picture taken alongside two other journalism students whom I’ve never met, and then it was back to my table.

In total, I would approximate that about 30 students names were called out for the scholarship awards. As I sat down at my table and names were continuing to be called, I slowly opened my envelope to observe the letter inside.

Addressed from the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism, the letter read:

“April 17, 2010

Dear Stephen:

Congratulations! The Journalism Department is pleased to award you $3000 from the B. Colegrove scholarship. These are highly competitive awards, and you were selected because of your academic achievement, service to the university and community, and overall excellence as a Journalism student.”

I can not effectively describe the feeling I had and still have towards this letter, but it is one that brings me to tears. I have worked so hard, and for so long, that I really felt like this scholarship was something I not only needed, but earned.

This is the first scholarship that I have ever been awarded in my life and for that significane it will forever remain in my memory. That this scholarship will have a direct application towards the pursuit of my higher education… I just cannot express my gratitude enough.

This is the file of the final draft essay I submitted to win this scholarship and the thank you letter I wrote to Barbara Colegrove, the donor, an excerpt of which can be found below.

Thank you, and never give up on your dreams.

“I wish I could better communicate how valuable this scholarship award is to me, how much it means to me, how much it’s going to help me in my immediate future as I continue to pursue a higher education. But I don’t know a better way to demonstrate my gratitude other than to go into the community and use the skills and strengths I have learned during my time at UNT. Because of this scholarship, my pursuit of becoming a professional photojournalist advances one more step to the obtainable.

I cannot thank you enough for your immense generosity that will directly assist me in pursuing my goals, dreams and ambitions.”

Photos from Washington D.C.

I am finally getting around to editing some of the better photos I took during my 2010 Spring Break in Washington D.C. I drove 22 hours to D.C. from Dallas (and back, of course), and I don’t know that I will ever repeat that venture again.

I had a great time staying with my two uncles and the trip was a much needed break. If you ever need an opportunity to clear your mind and focus on yourself I highly recommend a road-trip.

Anyway, here are some of the images taken with the Canon 5D Mark II:

Arrived (frozen) in Jersey City

Hey all; I’ve just arrived in Jersey City @ the Double Tree Hotel. The weather is about 20 or so degrees here but with the windchill factor it feels like 15. Getting here wasn’t too terrible – it is the holidays after-all.

We had a connection flight in Arkansas that took my family and I to NY; and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a flight attendent as odd as that one (flying on American Eagle). I filmed some of his rantings and uploaded the vid from my iPhone to YouTube. It’s worth a watch.

So It’s 12:21 am EST and I need to go to bed so I can be prepared for tomorrows happenings. Have a good evening and I’ll be posting photos here shortly.

Best,

Steve

Photojournalism in New York City

On Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009, I’ll be going to NYC w/ my family for Christmas break to visit my aunt who lives by the Hudson Exchange in New Jersey state.

On Dec. 28, my family leaves the city to return to Dallas while I stay behind with my fiancé to room @ the Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel (map below) from Dec. 29 to Jan. 03:

While I’ll be photographing the city during my stay, I will also be attending the new years festivities in Times Square, hopefully with press credentials to enter meda areas for better journalistic coverage. The event schedule for the evening can be located here and will include appearances from openly gay CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, musical performances by Chris Daughtry and others.

The epicenter of the jubilant event is the world-famous Times Square, a festival of lights, electric banners, and New York iconography in itself.  The main event, the famous New Year’s Eve Ball dropping from the flagpole on top of Number One, Times Square, is such an iconic heralding of the turning of the year that countries around the world tune in to watch NYC’s event any way they can. The symbolic act has been marking the New Year in New York for over a hundred years, and looks to be strong enough to last hundreds more.

(Personal) Recent Accomplishments

Concerning photojournalism, my work recently gained the attention of a UT Texas student interning for the national news network, ABC, while working on a story concerning gay-activism across several university campuses. By pure luck, I was contacted by Xorje Olivares via my friend and fellow UNT photojournalism student Charlie McRae. Conclusively, my photography appeared on ABC News national website, located here.

Shortly after this, I was contacted by a Dallas online news publication called Pegasus News who extended to me a position on their staff as a paid photographer. Oddly enough, I had entered a ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ movie contest through Pegasus days earlier, and the staff member hosting the contest apparently noticed on his own accord that I was a photographer and then passed the information along to the corresponding staff. Lucky again.

But most recently and most importantly is news that has no relation to photojournalism so I will keep it short and sweet. On the 18th of December, 2009, I asked the man of my life to marry me, and he of course responded yes. I’m engaged, and I couldn’t be happier.

More blogs to come. Thanks for reading.

Stephen

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