The Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop "Red Wave" fountain pen with a fine nib is a wonderful proofreading pen. The ink you see here is the Pilot Namiki red cartridge, which is what I use for proofreading. The shade of red is perfect for the purpose.
The Pilot Metropolitan is widely regarded to be one of the best fountain pens you can get for the price—around $15. Some argue that it's the best fountain pen you can get for two or three times its price.
I do love both of my Metropolitans. They start writing immediately—even after lying around unused for weeks—and they lay down a precise, smooth line with no skipping or blobbing.
The pen body and cap are made of brass, so the pen feels more expensive than it is. The weight is perfect, in my opinion. You won't suffer hand fatigue with extended use.
The pen ships with a converter for using bottled ink, but I find the Namiki ink cartridges to be so convenient, and the red so perfect, that I haven't used anything else (yet) with this pen.
The Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop is a great choice for many applications, and for the price, I just don't think it can be beaten. If you've never owned a fountain pen, consider a Metropolitan (of any sort) as your first. Fountain pens are a joy to use—a writing experience unlike any other.
I recently wrote this short piece for a specific purpose that didn't pan out. Rather than allowing it to succumb to the slow fire of time in a folder somewhere, I'm posting it here. Writing it was a therapeutic exercise, allowing me to organize the memories and put them into a meaningful framework. I'm glad I finally wrote it all down.
I never met my mother's father, but I have seen him. The photograph is grainy, the obligatory black and white of the forties or fifties—I'm not sure when the photo was taken. He looks like what one would expect of a Kentucky farmer who survived the thirties: leathery, stunted, unfathomably tired. The camera faithfully records the thinning hair, the hollowing eyes, the unraveling formality of his only dress clothes. Shy and embarrassed, he looks slightly away from the camera, down and to his right, his hands clasped loosely at his waist while he waits silently for this awkward moment to end.
His hands speak to me the most.
I imagine those hands milking cows, slopping pigs, steering tractors, hoeing weeds. They're out of place on his small frame, enlarged and gnarled from laboring dawn to dusk every day of his adult life. A short life, as it turned out. His stomach killed him—an ulcer or a disease or an infection. My mom told me once, but I can't recall.
I passed much of my childhood at the house he made with those hands, visiting my grandmother, alone among the hills of the sun-drenched farm they carved from the wild green of Kentucky hills. With the nearest neighbor half a mile down the rutted gravel road, her only security was the .22 revolver under her pillow. It sufficed. To my knowledge, she fired it exactly once in self-defense, from her front steps into the night sky. Once was enough. They never came back.
I must be five or six. At the south end of the house, I spend hours tracing my fingers along the furrows of mortar my grandfather smeared around stones, layer upon layer, until a chimney stood there.
His handprint rests in a large patch of mortar. I press my palm against it, the absence of the hand laid there decades before dwarfing the flesh and bone of his daughter's son.
It's very hot. My grandmother calls me to the well in the front yard, also made by my grandfather. This is a treat for me, a ritual for her. She smiles and tells me to lower the bucket like I've done a dozen times before, even though she has indoor plumbing now—flush toilet and all. The outhouse he constructed in the reaches of the back yard all those years ago is just a rickety reminder of how far she's come, too much of it alone.
I lower the bucket until I hear the hollow splash, feel the increasing water weight drawing the rope down. "Pull," she whispers. I labor at the task, but my grandmother is patient. When the dripping bucket finally emerges, she maneuvers it to rest on the side, stable on the stones, and softly dips the ladle in. A scoop of water gushes into my cup, filtered cold and clear by the deeply dug earth, protected by a ring of rocks stacked by a man I never knew.
The water glitters in the sun, smelling of rain and grass and freshly plowed soil.
My grandmother tilts her head a little, wears her familiar, kind, slightly sad smile. "Drink," she encourages me. With a quiet laugh, she tousles my hair and gently grips my shoulder.
At his hand-dug well, in front of his handmade house, standing by the love of his life, grateful, I drink.
As professionals, we often need to carry around a bunch of stuff--pens, pencils, paper clips, binder clips, reading glasses, correction fluid, sticky notes, permanent markers, highlighters, charging cords, lip balm . . . and on, and on. (It can be a little dizzying when you do an actual inventory of your mobile office supplies.)
And if all those doodads and whatsits and objet métier aren't properly corralled, we can waste a lot of time tracking them down or, quite possibly, replacing them (only to find them later in that extremely safe and extraordinarily logical place we put them in).
I was plenty tired of tracking down and replacing, so I began the hunt for a decent pencil case. My requirements were fairly simple, I thought:
This bad boy meets all of my requirements and even adds a few perks: a handle (far more useful than I thought it would be at first), paracord zipper pulls, light padding all around, a soft internal lining, and a smoothly operating zipper that opens just far enough around the spine so that the lid will lie completely flat when open.
As you can see, it's big enough to hold a lot of stuff, without crossing over into why-bother-I've-already-got-a-messenger-bag territory. Regarding aesthetics, although I'm generally not a label guy, these have panache, and I feel pretty sure folks wouldn't mistake this case for theirs in a busy café; regardless, the labels could be removed easily.
I promise I'm not one who tends to gush about pencil cases, but this guy is utterly fantastic. If you lie awake at night contemplating whether a perfect pencil case can exist in an imperfect world, the answer is yes. Now get some sleep.
Kerry Smith is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
So here's the deal with comma splices.
If you're of a certain age, or just fabulously hip, you're aware of how back in
the day--way back in the day, for many of us—audiovisual productions were recorded on long strips of media, either magnetic tape (for music or video) or film (pour le cinéma).
You're no doubt also aware that when something needed to be edited out or edited in or rearranged, whatever, the magnetic tape or film was cut apart and rejoined as necessary until it matched the producer's or director's grand vision—the final cut, ready for public consumption.
And you likely know that this cutting apart and putting back together was called "splicing." (Spoiler alert: If the splicing was done poorly or with weak adhesive, the magnetic tape or film would break when played. This tidbit will be jaw-droppingly important several sentences from now.)
I hear you: "Fine, thanks so much for the condescending history-of-media lesson. But what does this have to do with commas?!?" Calm yourself, Grasshopper, and regain your focus, perhaps with a bit of waxing on and waxing off. I shall provide the answer forthwith.
In short, methinks we have committed a metaphor.
In long, when we have two solid, upstanding sentences—independent clauses, non-fragments, subject-predicate perfection, model citizens of their industrious paragraph society—that we wish to combine for reasons aesthetic or otherwise, they must be joined with appropriate adhesive, which is all well and good and civically responsible.
The problem is this: Commas are extremely weak adhesive.
See how that spoiler alert paid off? If you listen hard enough, you can hear puny little comma splices popping apart somewhere. Listen with me.... There. And there. Oh, and right there, in that otherwise brilliant essay that just lost serious points. Ouch.
Okay, brace for explanation: A comma flying solo just doesn't sport the grammatical chops, not to mention the raw moxie, necessary to connect two complete sentences. Working alone, its main job, its raison d'être—among various other specialized gigs—is to join an independent clause (a complete sentence) to a dependent clause (a sentence fragment).
A lone comma, without reinforcements, cannot join two complete sentences. It can't. It just can't. Ever. Never Ever.
Do not employ ill-suited punctuation and thereby rend asunder the venerable gates that for endless ages have restrained Chaos and Anarchy.
Okay, so what's the solution? Well, you always can substitute our old buddy the period, sturdy and reliable, if not glamorous. It gets the job done admirably.
Then there are the seven coordinating conjunctions (and, or, for, nor, but, so, yet). If you feel inspired to keep the comma, and quite often you certainly should, calling in one of these wee but surprisingly powerful workhorses as backup and placing it just after the offending comma provides enough additional adhesive to hold your sentences together quite nicely.
But variety is the spice of life, right? And if you want to spice up your life—well, your writing, at least—with some instant glamour, consider the logically lovely semicolon. Its purpose is contained within its intricate structure: a period perched comfortably, perhaps a bit imperiously (but justifiably so), on top of a comma. It's more than a comma, but less than a period. It's in possession of the necessary grammatical glue that the comma by itself lacks.
And as if that weren't enough, the semicolon is a multitasker, too. Simultaneously, and with stunning style, it separates your two sentences decisively (like a period) while emphasizing that they nevertheless have something in common (like a comma). You can see why the talented semicolon is appropriately named: its behavior is similar to, but subtler than, its somewhat pushier big-city cousin the colon.
Here's an example of a glorious (dare I say sexy?) semicolon in action:
And for comparison, here's a comma splice, its feeble inadequacy on public display:
(I regret I had to do that to you, dear comma. I hope you understand it was for a good cause.)
Bonus pro tip: If you like, and sometimes you will like, you can incorporate a suave conjunctive adverb with your semicolon to clarify the logical connection between your sentences. Conjunctive adverbs are those charming connectors such as however, therefore, nevertheless, consequently, furthermore, instead . . . you get the idea. But hey, you can’t just toss it in there like any old run-of-the-mill lexeme. A conjunctive adverb’s gotta have standards, you know? And in this case, the standard dictates that we must include our loyal comrade the comma immediately after the conjunctive adverb. Here’s an example:
Semicolons and commas teaming up to make the world a better place. Thank you, guys.
Here are today's ten most frequently looked up words from Merriam-Webster. The challenge: Write a poem or very short story (one meaty paragraph maybe?) that uses them all--correctly and meaningfully, of course.
So I hesitated to put this up as my first blog entry, but my one other idea isn't fully formed yet, and I thought this would be an uncomplicated, facts-only, easy-sailing, they'll-love-me-for-this kind of post, so here goes.
I had read bits and pieces about the benefits of computer glasses in the past, and while copyediting (on screen, of course, 'cause I am the Modren Man*) a tome of tremendous length, I decided to try the highly touted, miraculous geeks' goggles. (I'm licensed to say that because I am, most assuredly, a geek--if not highly touted and miraculous, which I SHOULD BE.)
So, like any red-blooded American editorial professional, I commenced to researching.
During my research, I quickly and utterly rejected the rapacious price of my final choice's competition because, contrary to popular opinion, I'm actually not Tony Stark, I'm just an overtaxed self-employed freelancer who (a) can't have decent health insurance without spending a fortune because of the corrupt and backwards state I live in and (b) frankly can't spend my entire office-supplies budget on your plastic yellow-lensed glasses, you cash-crazed egotistical maniacs.
Buuuuut perhaps that's a post for another day.
In the end, I ordered two pairs of highly starred computer specs from Amazon.bling, as follows (the links will take you to amazon.com):
(1) Gamma Ray Flexlite GR001 (0.00 power), and
(2) Gamma Ray Flexlite GR004 (+1.50 power because I'm old and decrepit and have trouble getting the dedoochka glazzies* up.)
Pair 1 was intended for sitting back high and easy in my desk chair and reading the monitor from a safe distance.
Pair 2 was intended for leaning in closely to monitors and for proofreading text under those always-harsh-after-several-hours bulbs, no matter what kind you invest in (thought I might have a recommendation in a later post).
For all intended applications, I can offer a very hearty two thumbs up. Great glasses, no distortion, super comfortable, zero eye strain, decent price. These are products that perform as claimed.
*Golden kudos with emerald horns to whoever gets these references without hunting for them.
What my clients say
Kerry has done a great job copyediting for us. In addition to editing the manuscripts, he has also tagged one manuscript for our typesetter and done some minor fact-checking for another. His estimates have been accurate, and his work has been on time and thorough. He knows Chicago style well, and I would definitely recommend him for editing. I am always hesitant to try new people, as I have been disappointed in the past, but Kerry has proved himself, and he has now been added to our list of freelancers, which is a very short list.
- Amber Henderson, Managing Editor, AdventureKEEN