Tag: The Age


An artless act

A standing ovation please for Age columnist Michael Shmith for his commentary http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/culture-in-eclipse-at-the-herald-sun-20100514-v4en.html on events at the Herald Sun. While Shmith, in his role as arts commentator and especially critic, tends to have a somewhat too-cosy relationship with those he writes about, he is certainly on the money with these words. This country’s infernal preoccupation with sports, the trivial and the mundane is turning us into a cultural desert and impoverishing future generations who already believe talent consists of mumbling into a microphone stuck halfway down one’s throat.

Colonoscopy needed

The Age has long played fast and loose with the noble colon in its headlines. Today, however, it displayed all its doubts about its use on one page.
First up we had Fake Vietnam vet pretty pathetic: judge.
Underneath this the sub-editors had an each-way bet over a colon’s placement with Brumby: investigate leaks.
And alongside that they capped it all off by indicating their complete confusion with Broadband: lines ‘not ugly’.
The correct use of a colon is to introduce a phrase, comment or self-contained statement related to the words used before the colon. Thus the Brumby headline gets the grammatical tick of approval. This means the first headline should have been reversed to read Judge: fake Vietnam vet pretty pathetic.
As for the third example, the colon leads us into believing that Broadband, like Brumby and the judge, was making a statement; which is simply not the case. It was Senator Conroy who defended broadband’s good looks. The colon was redundant and the headline would have made more sense without it.
Perhaps the Age needs a colonic irrigation.

Belly ache

Seems our defence system has fallen into unusual hands. According to Age arts writer Annie Stevens a bunch of would-be playwrights attending the Emerging Writers’ Festival are trying to cope with naval gazing. Maybe they sit on the shores of Port Phillip Bay seeking inspiration and keeping an eye open for enemy ships.
Meanwhile, up the front of the book, Age reporters tell us of events happening at the tautologous time of ”about 10pm on Wednesday night” and the conflicting ”at about” 4pm. A sub-editorial day off perhaps?

Go with the flow

Writers fall into two broad categories: plotters and non-plotters. There are those who map out every twist and turn before they write the first word, Post-it notes littering their working space. Others (and I am one) simply start writing and go with the flow. Characters appear and move on. Suddenly a door opens and a new character is standing there. Or someone says something you had not expected.
It was therefore interesting to have Michael Robotham reveal in an Age interview by Jason Steger that he, too, doesn’t plot in advance. “If I knew what was going to happen right through from chapter to chapter it would be like a normal job,” said this hugely successful crime fiction writer. “I wouldn’t be excited about going to work every day.”
He added: “Things happen when I write that excite me, things surprise me, things shock me and things frighten me. And if they do me, they must the reader as well.”
It doesn’t always work out. He began his latest book, Bleed For Me, twice and discarded 30,000 words of what were very different novels. According to Steger, Robotham calls this “headlight” writing in which you see just as far ahead as a car’s headlights on a dark night allow you to. And he admitted “the danger is you drive straight off a cliff and there’s no going back”.