Words & Writing

Some of my favorite quotes, articles, books, etc.

  • The 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style was published in 2003, and my heart is still aflutter. Check out their brilliant FAQ page.
  • From the recipe for spiced green beens in Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: Bala Books, 1987): "When [the ghee] is hot but not smoking, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chiles and fry until the cumin seeds darken and the mustard seeds pop and turn gray."
  • From A.O. Scott, "Some Things Just Can't Be Planned", review of the movie The Wedding Planner, in the New York Times, January 26, 2001: "Say what you will about the institution of marriage, but without it the possibilities of romantic comedy would be drastically improverished. Not only is the fantasy of ever-lasting love capable of melting the most cynical heart, but weddings, with their ridiculous formal wear, pretentious catered food, free liquor and cheap sentiment, also overflow with potential for comic disaster."
  • From Anthony Lane, "The Devil and Miss Jones", review of the movie Bridget Jones's Diary, in The New Yorker, April 16, 2001: "The story is shamelessly simple. Bridget fancies her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and she is fancied by a barrister called Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The former is a slithy tove who just wants to gimble in her wabe, the latter a stern-looking sweetie who silently loves her ('I like you very much,' he says, which is an Englishman's code for uncontrollable lust), and she tacks back and forth between the two of them like a yacht."
  • From Steve Crowe, "Madden, Summerall Shine Again", article on Superbowl XXXIII, in theDetroit Free Press: "Madden's finest moment was perhaps best understood by slobs everywhere when Denver led 17-6 late in the third [quarter]: 'Atlanta just hangs in there, like an old baloney sandwich or something,' he said. 'You let it sit around and sit around,you get hungry enough, and you eat it!'"
  • Mark Twain's 1895 essay Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses is brilliant.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style on ending a sentence with a preposition: "The traditional caveat of yesteryear against ending sentences with prepositions is, for most writers, an unnecessary and pedantic restriction. As Winston Churchill famously said, 'That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.'"
  • The Chicago Manual of Style on beginning a sentence with a conjunction: "There is a widespread belief--one with no historical or grammatical foundation--that it is an error to begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and, but, or so. In fact, a substantial percentage (often as many as 10 percent) of the sentences in first-rate writing begin with conjunctions. It has been so for centuries, and even the most conservative grammarians have followed this practice. Charles Allen Lloyd's 1938 words [in We Who Speak English] fairly sum up the situation as it stands even today: 'Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of the many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with "but" or "and." As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.'"
  • The Chicago Manual of Style on split infinitives: "Although from about 1850 to 1925 many grammarians stated otherwise, it is now widely acknowledged that adverbs sometimes justifiably separate the to from the principal verb {they expect to more than double their income next year}."