March 11, 2005

Some TV thoughts.

Matt at Throwing Things convinces me to buy the "Wonderfalls" DVD collection: "a snarkier and agnostic variant of 'Joan of Arcadia.'" I've been a big "Joan of Arcadia" fan since the opening minutes of the very first episode, but I must say I'm getting tired of the repetition. How many problems can the earnest, hangdog dad have at work? How many times must Joan deliver a peck on the lips to her boyfriend before they head off to different classes? How many times will Joan seriously consider getting into a first tier college and then in the next show have to struggle with the problem of getting into any college? And how many times will God be able to seem cute telling her to do one thing and then another -- join the chess club, learn to juggle, be a cheerleader, play the piano -- before God seems to be a crazy sadist with attention deficit disorder?

Also over at Throwing Things (or whatever the hell they expect us to call that blog these days), Kingsley throws a nice douse of cold water on "American Idol"'s Bo Bice, and Adam predicts the night will come when it's Nadia as the only woman in a competition with five men. I wonder who's the one man he thinks is subject to early elimination? Scott? Constantine? Anthony?

Question to my word editor type readers: I've been putting TV show names in quotes, so how should I do the possessive of "American Idol"? I went with "American Idol"'s, but that looks awfully strange.

UPDATE: Answering that word editor question is Joe's Dartblog, but I read his solution to mean, essentially: that's why you never should have put TV show titles in quotes in the first place. Let me reword my question: assume a commitment has been made to putting TV show titles in quotes....

While I'm here fiddling with this post, let me state my theory why I don't think Scott Savol will go out easily. I see him as the combination of Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Like Ruben, he's the fat guy. Americans feel a special fondness for a fat guy. They don't want everyone to be fat, but if just one person is fat, marked as the underdog, we root for him. Also, we identify with the fat guy. We're fat! Like Clay, Scott is the completely unhip white guy who really does have a nice voice, and when he tries to dance, we're all what was that? I can really see a big bloc of American voters united behind a guy like that. The fact that he's made it this far shows this is happening.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several emailers, answering the editing question, suggest the classic workaround. Don't say "'American Idol''s Bo Bice," say "Bo Bice of 'American Idol.'" I considered doing that, but I'm trying to write in a conversational style, and I wouldn't talk like that. The punctuation pile-up looks bad, I admit, but in a contest between looks and sound here, I'm going with sound.

YET MORE: Another emailer writes:
You drove me to the "Chicago Manual of Style" and that's never a good thing. I think everyone is working too hard on this and I propose the very simple:
"American Idol's" Bo Bice....

Using the CMS, 15th Edition, I'll refer to sections 5.26 and 7.13
5.26: Possessives of titles and names. The possessive of a title or name is formed by adding 's {American Idol's Bo Bice}. This is so even when the word ends in a sibilant {Dickens's novels}.

7.13 works in quotation marks. The plural of a word or phrase in quotation marks may be formed by the addition of an apostrophe before the s, with the closing quotation marks following the s (though rewording is usually a better option. A plural ending should never follow closing quotation marks. {How many more "To be continued's" can we expect? {not "To be continued"s})
That looks really weird to me. Of course, the apostrophe used to make a plural is really weird, but if that's right, clearly, the possessive "s" ought to go inside quotes too. But I rebel against that suggestion. The "s" isn't part of the title, so why should it insinuate its way inside the quotes? It's a quote crasher!

AND: I just reread this post and noticed a couple of punctuation errors, now corrected. What am I doing writing about a fine point of punctuation and making low-level errors? I am interested in word editing, and yet I'm writing -- a lot -- with no editor at all! Inevitably, I'm going to end up as a stickler-hypocrite.

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