Friday, February 29, 2008

Teaching Items of the Week

I was asked by people on the 'Net to continue my series of educational posts. So, et and voila: today's entry on proper capitalization, italization, and underline-zation of titles, etc.

I wholeheartedly believe in not reinventing the wheel. Therefore, when someone else can pull together a style guide, I will borrow from it ad nauseum.

Let me reiterate. I did NOT create this style guide. I am pilfering from others who thought long and hard about what would best serve the institution for which they write. They in turn borrowed from a variety of other sources. Go buy your own reference books from an independent bookseller or a big huge chain store which I will not name.

This [excerpted series of notes] is intended to help standardize the way [the institution] use the English language in [their] publications. It is based on a number of sources, including The Chicago Manual of Style, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, The Associated Press Stylebook, D. Kern Holoman's Writing About Music, and the good old English Dictionary (American Heritage College, Third Edition). The blend of these sources results in our own "house style." While there are exceptions to all rules, the goal is for our publications — catalogs, newspapers, brochures, pamphlets, etc. — to conform to one style.

A final note: Usage changes with time. New words come into the language, or th emeanings of old ones change. (Today, "web" means something different to most people than it did 20 years ago.) For much of this, there's no absolute "right" or "wrong" (to go back to "web," you'll see Web site written many ways in different publications: Web site, web stie, website, Website). We're not aiming to be "right;" we're aiming for consistency.

[For the record, the institution has this for “web” and other electronica]

W: Web site; Webmaster; World Wide Web
E: e-mail (only capitalized at beginnings of sentences)
O: online

Newspapers and magazines:

If a newspaper includes 'The' in its masthead, then 'The' should be capitalized. If, like the New York Post, 'The' is not included in the newspaper's title, then 'the' should not be capitalized. The complete title is rendered in italics.

An article in The Junkyard Journal. An article in The Journal.
A report in the New York Post… A report in the Post.
As a corollary, if "Magazine" is included in a magazine's title, it should be capitalized. If, as in the case of New York magazine, it is not, then it should be neither capitalized nor italicized.

Titles of works and parts of works
  • Acts/Scenes: Capitalize and use numerals (Act 2, Scene 2)

  • Articles, chapters, etc.: titles in quotes (e.g."Luxury in Hard Times" was the cover story of The New York Times Magazine.

  • Books: titles in italics; chapters in quotes.
  • Courses, class names: capitalize only if unique title, not generic subject (Arts in Education; music history, Classical Music in an Age of Pop; dance notation)
  • Musical works (see Musical Terms section below)
  • Newspapers, magazines: titles in italics (capitalize "the" if officially part of the masthead: An article in The New York Times; a report in the New York Post). Similarly, capitalize and italicize "magazine" if part of the title of the periodical: PC Magazine surveyed 100 laptop users. New York magazine has good theater listings.
  • Organizations: capitalized (but do not capitalize "the" in an organization's name)

  • Performance series: capitalize only; no quotes or italics: Lincoln Center's Great Performers series.

  • Plays, movies, TV shows: titles in italics: The Merchant of Venice; 60 Minutes

  • Recordings, CDs: capitalize but do not italicize if generic; italicize if descriptive title (his recording of sonatas by Bach; his recording The Art of the Countertenor)

  • Roles: capitalize only, no quotes or italics. (He played Romeo in the production of Shakespeare's classic love story.)
Musical Terms
Most of the style rules regarding musical terminology are consistent with D. Kern Holoman's book Writing About Music, so if something doesn't appear in this manual, please refer to it. (One notable exception: Capitalize Op. when abbreviating opus.)

Generic titles are not italicized, only capitalized (Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 or Beethoven's Second Symphony; Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1).
Generic titles include, but are not limited to, symphonies; sonatas; concertos; suites; trios, quartets, quintets, etc.; names of dances (e.g. waltzes, mazurkas); fugues; inventions; canons; masses; etc.

When not referring to a specific title, do not capitalize: Mozart's symphonies; Beethoven's sonatas, etc.
Movements of works are not capitalized: The first movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Descriptive titles are italicized when the name was given by the composer (Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue; Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz); otherwise, nicknames follow in parentheses and quotes: Schubert's Symphony in B Minor ("Unfinished") or Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony.

Songs and Arias - In quotes ("Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. They all sang "God Bless America.")

Major, Minor: Both are capitalized only in titles (Sonata in C Major, Concerto in E Minor; hyphenate only if in adjectival use: E-Minor Concerto). If not part of a title, capitalize the pitch name, but lower case "major" and "minor": He transcribed the work from E minor to G minor.

Sharp, Flat: Do not capitalize in titles; do not hyphenate unless adjectival or compound (Sonata in B flat; Nocturne in C-sharp Minor)

Pitches: Capital letters, spell out "sharp" and "flat" (B flat, C sharp)

Opus numbers, Kochel numbers, etc.: Abbreviate, with a space between the period and the number (Op. 46, No. 2; K. 449, etc.; an exception is BWV, which takes no periods).

When referring to a specific era in musical history, the name of the period is capitalized: Baroque music; Classical; Romantic; etc. However, classical music is lowercased when referring less specifically to music of the Western European tradition (classical music as opposed to rock music). Do not capitalize medieval music, or modern or contemporary music.

Use accent marks in names. Use transliterated, Americanized spellings: Rachmaninoff (not Rachmaninov); Tchaikovsky; Prokofiev; etc.For names with "von," usually the "von" is dropped: Weber, not von Weber; Gluck, etc. (There are exceptions, however: von B├╝low, for example.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Amazing Adventures of ... the Shushing Librarian

We apologize for the interruptions in this blog. Auntie Nettie and the Shushing Librarian were both struck down with the flu-like symptoms that have been circulating. Unfortunately, they have been abed and away from the Internet.

More to come ... as the work desk is undug, energy is revitalized, and I have more time to waste.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Apologies re: last Post

Okay. I'm sorry. I'm really really sorry.

Upon further reflection, I must apologize regarding the last post. It should not be considered an adequate reflection upon the City, either living in or near it, or about working here.

I am tired. I am cranky. I am not feeling well. I am SO hormonal I literally could cry. I hate February in general. I'm just being my usual whiney self.

If I'd get up off my butt, go around the cube wall and invade my boss's space to look out the window, THIS is what I see.

Now, being that close to that view can't make it all bad. Right? Even if they are other Big Grey Boxes under construction.

So mooshymama, I'll pass on the food processor, but I'll take you up on baking lessons, give you room to bunk out on my floor, and set you loose in the Big Apple (oh, and a bonus? Moroni's right across the street).

Plus, you never know who you'll run into on the street ... maybe Jill? Maybe David Hyde Pierce? Maybe Isabella Rosselini or Peter Gallagher? Or, much to my friend Jenn's delight, "Todd" from One Life to Live in the Big J's other cafeteria, Balduccis?

Just ignore my ranting ... Come and visit the City.

I *heart* New York.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dispelling the Myth

Working and living in NYC is nothing like the media portrays it. All of the Candace Bushnell-spawned television programs and Meg Ryan movies to the contrary, it just isn’t like that at all.

What brings this up? Recently I got a comment on the blog from a non-NYer offering a major appliance for the opportunity to live in NYC. I think this an instance of “the grass is greener,” so let me do my part to dispel the myth.

To go on the record, I don’t actually live in the five boroughs. I’m a commuter from a suburb just over the Bronx border. Thanks to a train, shuttle, and subway, I manage to get work everyday. On a good day with an express train door-to-door it’s just about an hour of colorful interactions with my fellow “happy” commuters. On a not so good day, the commute is much longer and emotionally taxing. The worst one-way commute to this job so far has been two hours – and that was because of rain* … and I think I stood up the entire time. In general though, commuting is crowded, stressful, and an often sweaty and grimy affair. Glamorous? I think not.

Fancy Corner offices that you get to yourself? HA! I work in a Big Grey Box that’s in the midst of a five year construction/expansion project. The dulcet drone of the massive drilling project directly below my feet has a massage-like, yet deadening quality to it. While there’s a window in my office, I don’t look out it. I have a Dilbert Cube wall that separates my desk from the rest of the office that I share with two other people. (I’m lucky; one office has 5-7 people in it on any given day). My view, such as it is, five grey filing cabinets and reams and reams of paper. To combat the institutional grey, lack of opening windows, and the institutional air that’s vented in directly over my head, I’ve brought in splashes of color through my decorating, my oh-so-delightful personality, and some plants for CO2. Feng shui? I laugh in your general direction.

For every NYC worker and dweller, there are millions of these examples, some funny, some sad, some poignant, and some hysterical. For the most part though, we envy you as much as you envy us—for your open green space, room to park, lack of tourists, your real grocery stores with actual room to take a cart up and down the aisle, reasonable real estate rates, low crime rates, etc.

Once and a while though, we’ll experience a totally random moment that could only happen in a big city that makes us go: hey, this isn’t so bad. Like last Thursday when I stood on the subway platform in my usual location, grooving to my shuffle (TM). All of a sudden this guy walked up to me. Now, you have to understand, people don’t often walk up to me, though I’m starting to look “native” enough that people ask me for directions more and more (or is the L on my forehead that flashes “librarian”?). I wasn’t too concerned. It’s a safe platform, it was rush-hour, and he didn’t give off a “vibe.” Lots of people were around, and we’re all paranoid enough now that if “we see something, we say something.”I didn’t really have time to react when he reached out and handed me … 1 quarter. Yep. Just one quarter. 25 cents. That’s it. That was the transaction. I was so completely befuddled that I let the guy walk away before I could ask "why?". The business man from ABC standing next to me got one too. Bemused, we both looked at each other, and then turned and watched the guy as he worked his way all the way down the crowded platform, handing out one quarter to each person from his Ziploc bag full of about $20.00 worth of quarters.

Was it performance art? Am I supposed to pay it forward? Or it is just one of those weird New York Stories that offsets the grind of the commute and that brightens the finish on working in the Big Grey Box? Where is the grass greener?

You decide.

* I’ve managed to avoid the commutes that were affected by 9/11, the East Coast power outages, massive flooding, and transit strikes. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Language Oddities of the Week

With thanks to Gale Q. from the Big C for this week's guest installment:

Let's face it. English is a crazy language.

Think about these:

The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

English is a crazy language! Here's more to illustrate:

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; no apple or pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? We say one goose, but two geese, so why not one moose, two meese, and one index, two indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends, but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why don't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital; ship by truck and send cargo by ship;have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick?'

P.S. Poor Amber. She's just going to be so confused.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rainy Day Meditations on a Natal Event

Strange signs that you are getting older:

~ You are no longer a “young” single adult, as per your Church;

~ You are no longer a member of the key demographic of 18-34;

~ You are one of the last generations that learned how to type on actual

~ You are one of the last generations that learned to play music on

~ You are one of the last generations that tuned into
television with antennas;

~ Your generation played on playgrounds with asphalt and metal
jungle gyms;

~ You're part of the
X generation, but pre-date the Y generation;

~ Prince’s song about “
1999” was about a year that was AGES away;

~ You still can’t believe that Y2K was years ago;

~ You find yourself having short-term memory loss for no apparent reason;*

~ You’ve stopped dying your hair;

~ You find grey hairs in other strange places;

~ Bits and parts of you creak when you try to use them;

~ Your parents are retired and on Social Security;

~ Your “
baby” brother is going to be 30 this year;

~ Your younger siblings have been married for more than five and ten years;

~ You worked at
one job the same amount of time that you spent in regular schooling;

~ You realize that your first boyfriend’s oldest kid is the age that his dad was when you and he first met;

~ Your high school and class reunions are coming up on the 15 and 20 year mark;

~ The next major milestone birthdays are the ones with 0's on the end of them;

~ You start rounding up on your age six months in advance so you get used to the number by the time your actual birthday rolls around; and

~ You decide to start adding the numbers of your age together and have your inner child start acting that age instead of your real one.

So, happy freaking b-day to me. Today, I am 9!

*I’m sure there are more items for this list, but these are just the ones I can remember.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

10 Random Things about Auntie Nettie

A couple of days ago I was tagged by Xtina of the Monkey Maxfield’s blog. As per her instructions, I am supposed to list ten (10) random things about myself.


1. I am named after my paternal grandfather and a paternal ancestress, a great-great-great something aunt. I have the exact same name as the great(X)-aunt, which means if you Google me and scroll around, it may look like I’ve been dead since 1878.

2. I have no middle name. Neither did my namesake (see above).

3. People mistake and mispronounce my first and surname all the time. It’s ridiculous. Pay attention people. It's like the MONTH. I’m not of Latin or African-American descent. Nor, for that matter, am I related to the coffee people. If you come across an article or book ala The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries written by a Juanita Maxwell, I don’t know anything about it (*ahem*). Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Bribes WILL be accepted.

4. My nicknames in high school were Mario (as in Andretti), Crash, and Evil (as in Kneivil) because of my unfortunate propensity to have 'minor' fender-benders. I don’t have a car anymore in case you think things have changed. (I don't care what the ongoing litigation is saying, I still maintain the last one WAS NOT MY FAULT.)

5. I used to play the piano relatively well. Now I just type very fast, and can do so with my eyes closed.

6. In college I was part of a chamber ensemble called the Trio Non Sacra, aka The Unholy Trio. Rehearsals were always fun and filled with cackling, hysterical laughter (oh, except for the Martinu! We had another nickname for that piece). One time the violinist played the piano while I did a “dance” to the rhythmic and percussive accompaniment of the flutist. We did play at Commencement, albeit with a new name and much more decorum.

7. I don’t like heights and one time got severe vertigo on the Empire State Building, but for some reason I want to do a tandem jump out of a plane. Go figure.

8. I’m pretty sure I have a government file. Why? I went to the Soviet Union in high school, have a friend who use to work for the White House Advance Communication Detail, had another friend use me as a reference when she was going to have top-level military language training, and have another friend who used me as a reference to join the tri-state area bar. Do I think Big Brother is watching? YEP! (Payre A. Noid. Party of One. Your table is ready.)

9. For a brief time I considered applying for a job with the CIA -- and I don't mean the Culinary Institute of America. The other one. Yep. That one. As a librarian, granted, but still. Can you imagine? The mind boggles. What was I thinking?! Sydney Bristow I am not.

10. I’m painfully shy. Social situations like parties, gatherings, or any new situations are a nightmare. So how do I do library work, fund raise, “booze and schmooze,” do tours, take classes, date, or leave the house, etc.? Some situations I avoid utterly, others I ease into, some I’ve gotten over completely. It’s a work in progress. This shirt fits me to a T.

There are ten (10) somewhat random things about Auntie Nettie. Hope this helps explain the enigma-wrapped-in-a-puzzle-shrouded-by-mystery that is me.

I guess now I am supposed to tag some other people so I will tag the following unholy friends, Krippy and Jane.

Grammar Oddity of the Week

The next in our almost weekly e-mail series, this time brought to you courtesy of bossdj.

This is a real sentence.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

I can't diagram it to save my life, so click here for the explanation.

See? I'm not making it up.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

EBS -- Enviable Blog Syndrome

It's blogs like these that contribute to what I'm dubbing EBS -- Enviable Blog Syndrome.

It's like "Molly Mormon"* syndrome (or inadequate homemakers disease aka Martha-Stewart-makes-me-feel-unworthy-for-not-making-EVERYTHING-from-scratch-including-your-clothes to you non-LDS types) crossed with literary envy.

I wish I had the time and talents to be like the following:

Homemade by Jill

Moosh in indy
and her other blog
Linoleum Dynamite (the best name EVER)

I'm sure there are many more blogs of this caliber, but for just my recent explorations into the blogosphere, these ladies really (excuse the pun) take the cake.

Jill and Casey -- you ROCK!

* I don't mean Molly Mormon in a bad way, purely the crafty/homemakery kind o' way, thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Random Overheard Comment of the Day

"I don't hear the droplets of blood."

~ says a colleague who is wearing headphones and talking to herself.

Umm ... I REALLY don't want to know.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I'm finding that I have a case of bloggers block combined with symptoms of fatigue, overwork, ennui, exhaustion, and a case of the nasty stomach bug that's floating around. It's not pretty. I don't feel pretty. In fact, I feel pretty darn nasty. I went looking for a remedy for the latter symptom in the form of the ubiquitous saltines in my local grocery store and couldn't immediately find them.

Then I said to myself,

"Self," cause that I said, "What Did J Say?"

Dear readers, I have been proclaiming for years that I'm not the funny one in the family (I'm the funny LOOKING one). My bro J is quite snarkily witty.

Here's his earlier rant on crackers.

Saltines get the shaft. In looking for them, I dutifully searched the cracker aisle. After a few moments of fruitless hunting, I finally had to ask a stock girl where they kept the “nasty saltines that no one wants but everyone eventually needs.” She pointed me to the far side of the aisle, bottom shelf. Which really means floor. Saltines get hidden away from all the so-called “good” crackers on the floor.
It’s cracker discrimination at its most blatant.

From now on, that old mantra WWJD is being replaced by WDJS or WWJS for What Would J Say?.

Cause he's usually thought of it first. And funnier ... and um, you know, more articulate.

Excuse me while I go and eat those saltines now -- and nasty ginger ale.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Girls and Football - dilemmas

As an older sister to two sports-playing younger brothers and a daughter to a sports-watching dad, I would always be the bane of their existence when games were on. I tried not to interrupt this bonding experience, because I am smart enough to know not to ask "dumb" questions during plays. But really, Ladies, who is not confused by the whole downs, endzones, penalties, off-sides, man-in-motion thing, anyway. Seriously. Do we really care? Yes, we know the big guys are the defense, the special teams are "special," and we all mock the kicker. We're supposed to idolize the QB. My favorite position on a football team, however, is the "tight-end" EXACTLY for the reasons you think. (YUMMY)

To add to my dilemmas, I grew up in a New England state and now live in New York so my loyalties (again, IF I CARED!) are divided. My policy for the "big game" du jour, du week, and du whatever, has always been to find out who my family/boyfriend/host/friend was routing for and THEN ROUTE FOR THE OTHER TEAM. 'Cause I'm the imp of perverseness that way ...

So, imagine what Sunday was like. On the one hand, New England, land of my upbringing, has this undefeated team -- supposedly the favorite, with this monster machine, debonair QB, and all that hype. Then we have the Giants, underdogs, scrappy, the better of the two NY teams, led by one of the Manning brothers. What's a girl supposed to do, again, IF SHE CARED?

Here's the thing. The Patriots. From what I gleaned from my glancing at the sports/gossip pages, Tom Brady dates an obnoxiously obnoxious supermodel. Strike 1. Tom Brady broke up with his ex-fiancee who found out she was pregnant. Strike 2. Patriots accused of spying on other teams. Strike 3. Coach didn't seem to be too remorseful that he was caught doing this. Strike 4. Coach seemed to be filled with hubris. Strike 5. Undefeated season Strike. 6. ---- mmmm --- the imp seems to be leaning in favor of ...
The Giants. Underdogs. Point 1. Cute Manning brother still dating college sweetheart. Point 2. Cute Manning brother NOT a regular in the society/gossip pages. Point 3. Coach not caught spying. Point 4. Again, underdogs. Point 5. (Can you see where this is going?)

Now, to be fair, I avoided much of the whole Superbowl day by either sleeping, reading the papers, napping, watching the FoodNetwork, TravelChannel, the PuppyBowl (which is strangely addictive), or Jane Austen ... however, thanks to the loud raucous parties throughout the building and across the street, I knew exactly when to flip to the game and watch the instant replays of some wonderful plays. Nice. Very nice, and you have to admit the dichotomy of Austen and football has to be admired on some levels.

So, if you haven't figured it out.


Not that I care or anything ...

Nope. Not me.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Item of the Week: Ongoing

Lest anyone think that Auntie Nettie hasn't been working on her crafting, please note that she's in the middle of three large scale afghan projects (pictures of two of them in progress can be seen below). While I'm working on the large scale projects, I've also been working on portable projects that I can do during my commute.

So, let me see ... that's 4 fancy skinny scarves to one large blankie ... and counting.
Sorry the afghans are already spoken for, and it may be a cold day in H-E-C-K before I do another large project for a while.

Drew's Afghan -- twin-sized, light blue alphabet block afghan, 2/3rds done
You do this one in reverse, so you actually start with the block near the Z and end up with the block by the A, then you have to push all the "bobbles/puffs" through the stitches to get the effect. You HAVE to watch the counting and the pattern because if you miscount in one block you have to carry the mistake throughout -- unless you don't mind unravelling hours of work. (Which I've done, and it SUCKS!) When the manufacturers tell you to buy enough of the same dyelot to finish your project -- they mean it! I cannot find another skein of the EXACT same blue to finish this, that's why it's taking me so long*. The blues I'm finding are just a hair off. Skyblue/lightblue, no dyelots -- my butt. The closest one I found is just a hair greyer and I CAN TELL. I've even warned my sister-in-law because she would notice. Not that I want my work to be mangled, but I'm hoping that my nephew uses the bejeepers out of this (once it's finished) so that it gets mangy enough that the two blues match.

*Full disclosure: I started this for his 2nd birthday. If you read the blog, you'll notice that his 3rd birthday was a week ago. Sorry Drew. Luckily, you can't read yet and won't hold it against me (yet anyway)

Kate's Afghan -- twin-sized zig-zag purple mix snuggly afghan -- SOOOOO close to being done.

A former colleaque at the Big C asked me do some afghans for the ladies in his life, for when they would curl up and watch movies. Found this fun yarn that reminded me of his full of energy, changeable, electrified tween. Figured I make it big so she could grow up and still snuggle under it. It's a deceptively simply pattern, but you have to keep counting. (MORE COUNTING!)

Stay tuned for the pictures of the finished products and other Items of the Week.