Sunday, January 14, 2007

Serial (Comma) Celebrity

Who would think a remark or two about the serial comma would elicit so much comma, comma commotion (sounds like the chorus of a Del Shannon or Boy George song)?

It turns out my post last week on this topic ventured headlong into one of the more contentious battlegrounds of the cultured wars. (Notice, I didn't say "grammar wars"; it really has to do with style and whether you adhere to a particular style, or solipsistically and sloppily ignore it. That was one of my key points.)

I installed a web counter for the first time last week, more out of curiosity than vanity (liar!). I discovered that James Wolcott of Vanity Fair and Emily Gordon of The New Yorker Between the Lines, also known Emdashes, made passing references to my serial comma post. Yikes! Well, Ms. Gordon did more than that. She said, "The continued existence of people like this is literally what makes me go on living."


You're welcome, Emily.

[Disclaimer: Neither The Laughorist, nor any of his dependents, codependents, or heirs, or accomplices, have or has [wasn't sure; didn't want to research it, ask David Grambs] ever knowingly met or spoken or before her post corresponded with said Emily Gordon; nor has any remuneration, be it financial, erotic, laudatory, literary, or otherwise, op. cit., loc. cit, oh shit, been offered to or given to said Ms. Gordon or her cohorts in exchange for or in any relation to comments on the serial comma, amen, ipso facto, ad nauseam, inter alia , solidus interruptus period full stop]

Speaking of existence, contined or otherwise, what if I were to declaim about the Kierkegaardian comma? Would I be flooded by posts from Denmark? I hereby proclaim the existential existence of the Kierkegaard, or Kierkegaardian, comma. The Kierkegaard comma has to do with the riddle of whether you use a comma or not, and whether you feel guilty either with the comma or without it. Either/Or. That says it all: An existential dilemma facing each of us every day, on some level or another.

Either I put in the comma, or I don't.

Either I get up, or I don't.

Either I live, or I do not.

Either the tragedy in Iraq gets better, or we impeach Bush.

Laugh. Or....


p.s. I think we should tell the maker of Alpha-Bits to put some commas in their cereal. Y'all with me?

p.p.s. You commenters who nastily said "use your goddamn head" last time around betrayed your own ignorance and infelicitous inattention to detail by misspelling the name of the famous recently deceased nun. Who could take you seriously? No one.


Michael C said...

Wow. Good stuff. I do not use the comma before the 'and'

I remember sleeping through every grammar class I ever was enrolled in. Now that I write a lot and made a living for 5 years as a copywriter, I wish I had paid more attention!!

I can boast to be very, very consistent in not placing the comma before any 'and' I may use where it might be called for. Every once in a blue moon I'll allow my spell/grammar checked to overrule me, but that's a conscience decision. Good stuff!

Army said...

How I enjoy your pointed pontifications. If not you, then whom?

And speaking of existential dilemmas, have you heard the phrase "I'm trying to be an and/both person in an either/or world?"

Or more importantly, why does the question mark go in front of the damned quotation? I never liked that rule...

Dafath said...

ah, comma on

Narya said...

I'm with you on the comma thing, as are several of my readers. Don't get me started on passive constructions.

JoeBlogs said...

Boy George and Culture Club started it. Comma Comma, Commelion.

Meloncutter said...

Hmmmm, Serial rapists, serial killers, serial commas,,,,,,,, You will give the court systems a whole new look as the evolution of serial crimes. We shall now have to look to the education of the serial criminals to see if this might be the cause of the mental introduction to serial activity.

This may be the breakthrough we have been looking for to identify future criminals.

Had any weird urges lately?

Later,,,,,, Y'all

Glamourpuss said...

I'm with Narya on passive verbs. Grrr...

But commas, I like a lot of them; as long as they support the sense. But ain't that what SPAG's all about anyway?


azgoddess said...

all this fuss about a silly ol, little comma....aww, it's just so cute how can anyone be upset with it..

i think we should use it after lots of words..not just and's....grin

Sheila said...

I am all for the serial comma.... impeach bush.... I mean yes, serial comma!!

Roger said...


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