I've been teaching writing--screenwriting, to be specific--at the college level for a number of years now (the number is six), and I have learned a lot. Some of my students say they have, too, and that's nice. I try to get across to them such basics as story structure, good dialogue vs. bad dialogue, character development and the importance of opening strong.
But I can't get them to use apostrophes correctly. I just can't.
The current generation seems to believe that if a word has an "S" as its end, it must therefore have an apostrophe before that "S." As is: "Bean's are really legume's." What?
I'd like to blame texting, but this scourge has been coming for a long, long time. Try to remember the last time you went through a whole day without seeing an abused apostrophe. Try to remember the last time you made it through a week without seeing something like this:
I always want to call up the business and ask something like, "Your fresh organic salad's WHAT?" and then hang up. I guess that would be rude.
Now, I'm hardly the first to notice such lapses. Remember the book Eats Shoots and Leaves? You thought it was going to change things, right? I'm teaching college students whose parents are dropping tens of thousands a year, confident that their kids are taking a WRITING CLASS, and I have to point out to them, on a regular basis, that they don't know how to use an apostrophe.
Meanwhile: Thanks to everyone who has posted a review or comment about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED on Amazon, BN.com or just as an email to E.J. Copperman, the author of said book, who is, as loyal readers of this blog will recall, a CLOSE PERSONAL FRIEND of mine. Publishers do care what you think (perhaps not as much as what you buy, but they care), and your kind words do make the author feel quite privileged as well.
One interesting note: A few reviewers have said they especially enjoyed finding out who the author of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is because they had assumed--given that the narrator is Alison Kerby, a recently divorced single mom--that the author was a woman. And they said this added to their enjoyment.
I take that as a great compliment, but it is a little strange. Shouldn't any author be able to write any character convincingly? Isn't that the craft involved here? Do you really prefer to read books written only by people who are the same sex as you?
Discuss, and show your work.
LP-to-Digital Conversion Project Update: Where last week we had gotten through very few albums, culminating in the work of Allan Sherman, this week went faster, possibly because the music was more enjoyable throughout, and partially because many of the records are already duplicated in my CD collection, and didn't need converting.
We began the week with the work of Simon and Garfunkel, who showed up together at a Yankee game a few nights ago, which my daughter pronounced "adorable." I had to convert only two in the collection, as I had the five original studio albums already on CD. The two oddities I had to make digital were the original film soundtrack of The Graduate,
which was something of a revolution in its time--popular music was not as ubiquitous in films as it is now.
The S&G music on the soundtrack (there were many instrumental tracks by Dave Grusin that show off how generic film music could be in the 60s) consisted mostly of previously released songs, the hits up to that time, "The Sound of Silence," "Scarborough Fair" (repeated in full after being played through once, for no discernible reason) and so on. The "Mrs. Robinson" on the movie soundtrack is clearly a filler, because Paul Simon had not finished writing the song yet (and was considering calling it "Mrs. Roosevelt" until director Mike Nichols insisted otherwise). It's an odd record, and a sign of things to come.
One of the things to come was the sublime "The Concert in Central Park," a recording of just that, when Simon and Garfunkel reunited (one of many reunions that were supposed to be one-time-only events). Despite my distaste for live albums, this one has a special place because 1. I was there, along with 500,000 of my closest friends; and 2. This shows off both artists beautifully, and makes you long for the recording reunion that almost happened, and then didn't.
Carly Simon's long career was, whether anybody wants to admit it or not, at its peak when she was married to James Taylor. I don't know if her husband was an influence artistically or not, but the run of albums she made then were her best work, hands down. After that, Simon got to sounding like a child of privilege (which she is) singing about "everyday" events like sitting for a oil portrait. But put on "Playing Possum," or "Hotcakes," or "Boys in the Trees," and you have something. The sad fact is, Carly never seemed to get as much fun out of the music as she did posing for album covers.
Carly's sister Lucy put out a couple of albums in the 70s, when it was apparently the law that anyone whose last name was "Simon" was required to be a pop singer. Lucy's songs ran the gamut from stupefyingly dull to really quite nice, and there were two or three on each album that were worth the price of admission. Check out "From Time to Time to Time" on Lucy Simon or "Please Say Yes" from "Stolen Time."
Paul Simon's solo career has been an amazing journey, and while most of it was in my CD collection already, the live album "Live Rhymin'" was not. I was at that show, too, at Carnegie Hall, but the album still doesn't do much for me. Putting a South American flavor on "The Boxer" and a gospel choir on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are interesting, but don't make up for the fact that Artie isn't there.
On the other hand, "Hearts and Bones," the S&G reunion album that didn't happen, is one of Simon's best, and an overlooked gem. Coming back from a serious commercial failure with "One Trick Pony," which is a really good album and a seriously lousy movie, Simon was trying hard, and it shows. "Allergies," "Song About The Moon," and "Think Too Much (a)" are personal favorites.
And that brings us to Phoebe Snow. I've written here before about my admiration for Ms. Snow and my sincere hope she comes back completely and quickly from her current health problems. Of the albums I didn't already have on CD, "Never Letting Go" is a favorite, but I found "Against The Grain" a revelation. I hadn't cared much for this, Snow's last Columbia Records album, on its original release. But now, the melancholy in the synthesizers of "Oh L.A." works like a charm, the bounce and fire of "In My Life" comes across, and "Keep A Watch on the Shoreline" ends the proceedings with some real desperation. Brava, Phoebe; you keep coming back.