When you’re creative, it’s important to have someone in your life who can tell you that what you think is clever is actually just stupid. How do I know? Because I’ve been lucky enough to know a lot of very smart people who’ve been more than pleased to tell me when my ideas aren’t working. It’s cool. My feelings aren’t hurt. If you don’t have anyone to tell you there’s spinach in your teeth, you’ll go out into the world with a bunch of goddamn spinach in your teeth.
Which brings me to the Denver Post. Is this really a “Where’s the Beef” reference? The origin of this pop-culture catchphrase is a 1984 Wendy’s commercial–thirty-three years ago. Thirty-three. Someone wrote this the other day in 2017 and thought, hey, that’s pretty clever. And apparently didn’t have anyone around to say, whoa, hold on there, Kevin, that’s not clever at all!
Maybe the Denver Post laid off all of the people who would have stopped this silliness from being published. Maybe everyone left at the paper is so old and creativity-challenged that they thought this was genuinely very good. Who knows.
Then there’s this headline, which has a different problem. It’s got a kernel of cleverness to it, but it just doesn’t know what to do with itself. The writer must have been worried that nobody would understand it, so they overexplained it. Bald! Get it!? Bald!
Also, that “clever” lede: They can skip barbershops because the thief is bald! Hahahaha! Someone’s decided to go into journalism instead of comedy, which is a huge shame because that shit is solid gold.
I took the liberty of making the stupid headline slightly less stupid. Cops comb the area. See how much better that works? And I’d have gotten rid of that stupid police quote at the top, too.
Anyway, I’d give the Post a pass on this one since it probably came from the AP. But that’s why there are editors who are supposed to take the garbage that AP gives you and turn it into something less garbagy. Editors, people. This is what happens in a world without editors (or in a world with bad editors).
Pretty disappointed today in my editing brethren after the Associated Press’ bombshell that it will no longer make the distinction between more than and over.
If Facebook and Twitter are any indication, the AP ruined many lives yesterday and copy editors nationwide are in full revolt. The language world is in chaos.
But here’s the thing: Over means more than. It always has. Look:
o•ver (ō´vər) prep. [[ME ouer < OE ofer, akin to Ger über, ober < IE *uper (orig. a compar. of *upo, up) > L super, Gr hyper]]: More than, or above, in degree, amount, number, etc. [a moderate increase over his current salary, a gift costing over five dollars]
“In one of its uses, the prepositional over is interchangeable with more than <over 600 people were there>—and this has been so for more than 600 years. The charge that over is inferior to more than is a baseless crotchet.” — Garner’s Modern American Usage
It seems to me that editors and others who are supposed to enjoy language should be impressed by over‘s versatility and appreciate that it can do so much (I’m over it; hand it over; he was over the line; discussed over drinks; ad infinitum). I also wonder where all of our copy editors ever got the idea that words can do only one thing. How limiting.
The sooner we can stop blindly following arbitrary and meaningless rules and editing like robots, the sooner we can get back to the business of clarity and common sense. For the record, I don’t think much of the distinctions between over and during; like and such as; or since and because, either.