You may dictate my style, but not my content.

The Associated Press has long been one of my favorite sources of news (and of style), but lately it's been pulling some heart strings that are only annoying me. Or maybe that's the thousands upon thousands of ditzy blondes in buttcheek-short dresses I've been running into lately on the bus or on BART.

This tragic tale of woe takes place in Temecula, California (misspelled as "Temicula", by the way, in the Editor's note), where a 38-year-old disabled Marine contemplates suicide because the government sucks, or something.

I could not even finish the article, it was that long and oozing with pathos rhetorical masturbation (and yes, Mom, I just used the word "masturbation" in prose I know you will read, and that is a stylistic choice owing to the only explanation for the Associated Press' decision to publish this piece: pathos rhetorical masturbation.). It was at precisely this moment that I could read no longer:
He passes nights largely sleepless, a zombie shuffling through the bare rooms of his home in sunny California wine country.

I would just like to say, if Temecula is wine country, I am rich and successful and have great marriage prospects and want fourteen children. Wine country is more than 450 miles north of Temecula, thank you. In fact, Temecula is closer to Mexico than it is to wine country, which isn't saying much for Temecula because it is practically in Mexico. You know, a completely different country.

Secondly, wine country is rarely sunny. Any number of cogent adjectives would suffice besides "sunny": foggy, cold, expensive...

Thirdly, why, oh why, does the AP use "largely" to modify "sleepless"? Sure, it's acceptable, and maybe this is more picky than any English major-turned-journalist would be, but doesn't "large" connote something more like extent or "physical girth" instead of suggesting anything like the quality or quantity of one's sleep?

Fourthly, if Temecula California is so damn expensive, why is he even living here?

Maybe I'm just grumpy from encountering too many reasons to be misanthropic. Maybe I realized it's probably weird that I care so much more about the style than I do the content of that AP article. I do, however, rather enjoy the Halo 3 musical score. Way to be, Marty O'Donnell!


lilredvwagon said...

One, keeping in mind that a clinical perspective can frame almost any discussion objectively, your choice of words is quite appropriate. Two, while "largely" may feel awkward to you, it's often been
used synonymous with "mostly" or "generally", as well as for size references.
And since it actually is sunny today..... maybe that
will work as a grump antidote :)

kfed said...

"Often" does not mean "proper" in all circumstances (if they jump off a bridge are you going to, too?), and I have largely understood the goal of Associated Press style--why they care so much, and why they are the journalistic standard of style to the U.S.-- to be to communicate meaning as clearly as possible.

Associating "largely" with "understood" as I did just moments ago is acceptable, because "largely" is modifying a concept of my thought, not a physical quality of my existence (as with "sleepless").

Does that make sense? Am I just being neurotic?