The Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A made me smile today:
Q. Hello, I saw Barack Obama speak and he seemed to make a grammar error. I was wondering if I was missing something. He said, “President and Mrs. Bush invited Michelle and I to come to the White House.” Another time he said, “It was for Michelle and I.” Shouldn’t it be “Michelle and me”? My husband thinks I’m crazy to spend my time thinking about things like this, but it bothers me.
A. You’re right—I’ve heard Obama say that myself. But you have to feel for the guy. I’d wager my job that he knows the correct grammar. But he knows that hardly anyone uses it and that if he does, he’ll sound either incorrect or “elitist.” What’s a pol to do?
Q. Consider the following situation. A woman is wearing a sweater which has black-and-white stripes, and the underlying color is blue (base color), and a short skirt with a tartan plaid pattern involving the following colors: red, black, white. Is the correct way to describe this person as follows: “She is wearing a black-and-white-striped blue sweater and a short plaid skirt (red, black, and white tartan)”? Or “She is wearing a black-and-white-striped, blue sweater and a short, red-black-and-white-plaid skirt (tartan)”?
A. At last—a serious style question. I would go with version 1, but change the sweater to black cashmere.
Q. I am writing a novel. How do I write a title of a song in the body of the work (caps, bold, underline, italics, etc.)? Example: The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” looped in his head.
A. Noooo! Now that song is looping in my head (“but it’s too late to say you’re sorry . . .”). Use quotation marks. Thanks a lot.
Q. We are editing a scientific book. We have to follow UK spelling. Per the dictionary, sulfur is the US spelling and sulphur is the UK spelling. But in one chapter the author has used sulfur and in another chapter sulphur. Since we are following UK spelling, can we change sulfur to sulphur? Or, per CMOS, since the IUPAC recommended spelling is sulfur irrespective of UK or US spelling, can we change sulphur to sulfur?
A. Good grief. You can’t lose—just pick one.
It’s nice to read that other crazy people grammar police folks out there notice and care about this stuff. And that editing can sort of be funny.
Is there anything so melancholy as taking down the Christmas tree? After feeling somewhat revived this morning from yesterday’s horrible stomach virus/purgatorial day in bed, I finally got around to packing up all the holiday decorations. What was once festive and sparkling now seemed frowzy. But I still felt a pang of sadness putting everything away.
On the bright side, we can now reclaim our living room, and in place of the nativity, our nature table now features a serene setting of crystals and pine cones. Despite the warmth and joy of the holidays, there something equally nice about clearing it all away and starting afresh with Less Stuff.