Language allows us to communicate the ideas in our heads with other people. It is a main way we connect with the world around us. Because of that, language becomes very personal to each user. We form affinities for individual words because of what they mean to us.  Continue reading...
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Aside from writing prose, I write songs, maybe five or six a year. Usually I have no idea where they come from. One day I'm strumming my guitar, thinking of this and that, and suddenly a chord or a fragment of melody catches my ear, or a few words pop into my mind. I repeat them and wonder, is this the seed of a song?  Continue reading...
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On the surface, and/or seems like a helpful but mostly harmless little phrase — a little ugly, perhaps, but still useful for those times when you want to be extra clear about what all the options are. Most people associate the phrase with legal writing, but it turns out that a surprising number of lawyers and judges hate it, claiming that it's actually unclear and thus impossible to interpret.  Continue reading...
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The lure of making resolutions for the new year is practically irresistible. Lose ten pounds. Go to the gym three times per week. Stop smoking. Start meditating. Save more money. Do a better job of managing stress. But I'm now inclined to think we should abandon them altogether and replace them with rituals.  Continue reading...
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The film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods just opened to much critical acclaim. Musical theater and film are very different, and revising and adapting one's work is a challenge, but what changes and how it changes can offer us insight into the art and the artist.  Continue reading...
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Sing, goddess, sing the wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus... The Iliad's immortal opening lines have let countless generations of readers know just what to expect from this primal epic poem of Western literature—angry men at war—and they have not been and never will be disappointed.  Continue reading...
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Parallelism is something copyeditors obsess about and writers take little notice of. If we could meet in the middle, our sentences would be a lot happier. Parallelism is no more than matching parts of a sentence or multiple sentences grammatically. It creates balance and rhythm in the sentence and brings order and clarity to meaning.  Continue reading...
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