Playlist 32: Myriad Blogs with Apostrophe Apoplexy

I first became a fan of the Old 97's music after listening to Fight Songs, an album that showcased their wry songwriting, alt-country swing and pop sensibilities.

But I had a major problem with the band.

I didn't like their punctuation.


They should have been the Old 97s (sans the apostrophe). Unless there was a word missing from their title that I was unaware of -- The Old 97's Engine or something like that.

But when I visited their Web site back then I found that not only were they aware of their punctuation problem, they addressed it an FAQ section on their site. I don't recall why they went with the apostrophe, but I was impressed with the fact that the band actually knew it was grammatically wrong and cared enough to write about it on their Web site. Seriously, think about that. A rock band that cares about a misused apostrophe. (Don't look for it now. They recently redesigned their Web site with the release of their latest Blame it on the Gravity.)

All right. I am weird. I find grammatical mistakes on billboards, misused words in television commercials, inconsistent word usage on restaurant menus. When I see every day as one word everyday when it's not an adjective, my blood boils. As it does when I come across poor usage of the word myriad. You don't need to use the word of after myriad.

But I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. In this week's Playlist, you'll find three blogs with similar apostrophic (I know that's not even a word) issues. But first, let's start with a very impressive young adult novel by Cory Doctorow.

Little Brother. Cory Doctorow.
A court orders Google to provide Viacom a list with all the You Tube videos downloaded as well as the IP addresses of those who downloaded them. The Senate passes the FISA Amendments Act, which gives the government broad authorization to monitor Americans' internal communications.

Still think we're not losing bits and pieces of our privacy every day? Read Doctorow's thriller and you'll realize all the privacy we've already given away in name of convenience and technology. And how it could quickly get out of hand.

When San Fransisco is hit by a terrorist attack, 17-year-old computer whiz Marcus is pulled off the streets along with his friends and detained by Homeland Security. Days later, he's finally let go, as are all except for one of his other friends. He finds out a new version of the Patriot Act has been passed and vows to fight DHS. He does so underground as M1k3y.

Little Brother is a worthy contemporary successor to Orwell. It's a thought-provoking book about the battle between privacy and security, youth and adults. If you know Doctorow, you know his politics. And he lets his views slip through quite a bit. I'm on the same side, so I'm OK with that. Doctorow also explains a lot of really neat tech stuff, such as encryption. (Our weekly Wikipedia link Alan Turing is mentioned in the book).

My suggestion: Go out and buy the book, whether you're a young adult or a fully grown one. But you should know that Doctorow has also made it available as a free download.

Also, see Playlist 20 when I reviewed another Doctorow book and Playlist 25 when I reviewed Boing Boing, one of the several Web sites to which he contributes.

Apostrophe Abuse
Apostrophe Catastrophes
The Blog of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

Abuse and Catastrophe are both helped by readers who send if photos of grammar atrocities. And there are no sacred cows -- even Goodnight Moon's lack of commas earns a post on Catastrophes. And thanks to the bloggers at "Unnecessary" for taking on what is "truly" a "widespread" ill. I just hope there isn't a blog that monitors overused exclamation points -- it's a pet peeve of mine, but a bad habit I fell into myself when I first started this blog!

If anyone out there knows of any other punctuation-related blogs, please let me know.

Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-1968
This is my favorite Miles era. The great young and adventurous musicians (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Tony Williams) help push Miles to the edge. This work was the predecessor to Bitches' Brew and Miles' other early fusion work. Six historic and passionate discs of eclectic, bold jazz.

Angels of Destruction. Marah
I was a little harsh when I reviewed this in Playlist 11. This is a solid album and holds up well in the Marah canon. But please: Bring back more banjo.

Sweaty Betty Blonde
I'm not a big fan of wheat beers, but these were both pretty good. Both pack a decent punch. Hoegaarden (pronounced who-garden) is a little stronger. Both have a stronger fruity taste than I would have expected. Both good summer beers.