Archive for March, 2010

The March of Inconvenient Punctuation

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Writing a humor column is an interesting thing. It’s tricky to hit the sweet spot. For me, I am most proud of a column when I feel that it provides people with interesting information and educates them, while at the same time making them laugh. And so if you were to ask me what was my favorite column I’d written recently, I’d have to say that it was the one about the Ides of March.* Another decent one which at least touched on the theory of relativity was Einstein Time.

More often though, I find myself oscillating between the overly silly (Candy!) and the overly serious (Roman Conservative Party). And usually these types of columns follow in close succession. If I write something that I deem “not funny enough”, then I often go extra zany in the next week or two. And if I write something that’s pure silliness, I tend to obsess about making one of my next columns really informative or otherwise grounded.

Outside the column front, I’ve been trying to do a bit more musically. The other night I got together with the inimitable Lex Friedman for an online songwriting session, so maybe if he STOPS HAVING BABIES, we’ll co-write some new funny songs this year. I have three other humorous collaborations all on hold because my musicians are too busy to meet with me, one funny collaboration on hold because I was hesitant to start another large project until I’d finished one of the many I have running, and one serious music collaboration on hold because it turns out I have trouble writing serious music.

With silly music, I just have trouble recording it, but I really enjoy coming up with ideas. This is why I may have done a little terrible voice work for this week’s RNZB Songfight.*** And I always like making up instant music as part of my improv troupe, which is especially fun since it seems like our musical games are often the most popular. In fact, we’ve got a show tonight (3/20/10), but the chance of you reading this in time to show up are pretty slim. If you wanted to know about future shows ahead of time, you should probably follow RBIT’s Facebook page.

*I’d wanted to title this post as a pun on “The Ides of March”, and have a list of bullet points to the effect of, “I’d like you to read this column”, and “I’d love to have my improv troupe perform more often”, but how do you pluralize “I’d” in a title with punctuation? I tried to make it, “The “I’d”’s of March”, which looks completely terrible, and then “The I’ds of March”, which is bad in a different direction, and “The I’d’s of March” splits the difference and is still awful. And thus, I decided to scrap that whole idea and call it, “The Inconvenient Punctuation of March”.** But then I figured, why not flip it around?

**Also, why the hell would punctuation go inside the quotes when it’s not part of what you are quoting? The American system is part of the march of inconvenient punctuation. I consciously choose not to put punctuation inside the quotation when it’s not part of “the thing being quoted”. I’m not bad at writing in AP style, I’m just an Anglophile using superior British punctuation rules.

***I have to admit, it’s still cool to me that I am now entering songs in Songfight, many years after interviewing them for “Think You’re The Only One?“.