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Monday, May 5, 2008

Copybitch: Which paper has the worstest grammar?

Look, they fit in a two-seater.

When it comes to distinguishing comparative and superlative, the newspapers are tied with the bloggers and the candidates themselves for not caring about the needs of ordinary grammarians.

Two candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Between them, there can be a stronger candidate. Not this, from Adam Nagourney and Marjorie Connelly of The New York Times:
Still, the survey suggested that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, had lost much or all of the once-commanding lead he had held over Mrs. Clinton, of New York, among Democratic voters on the question of which of them would be the strongest candidate against Mr. McCain, of Arizona.
It bears repetition that the Times is not alone in perpetuating this superlative solecism. The sparklingly well spoken Obama himself - who, to his political peril, makes a point of pronouncing Taliban "Taleebahn" - does it routinely.

One more bitch about the Times: as usual, the links to the reporter's bylines are to lists of their stories, something only a paper with a rich self-regard and ignorance of readers' needs would think to provide in a medium where it is standard practice to hyperlink authors names with email addresses. The link for Adam Nagourney at least gets you to a second link to a form with which to email him, but it warns that the message will be delayed.

When I was a reporter for, every reporter's byline had a mailto: link. I frequently got email from readers that helped me clarify if not correct the posted story in very short order or alerted me to related story ideas. The Times doesn't cotton to this element of "interactivity," a longstanding symptom of its illness-at-ease on the Internet.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.