Bad Writing

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Richard Kaufman
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Bad Writing

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 10:49 am

I despise the free use of words that invoke magical cliches in non-magic situations because it's a lazy crutch for writers.

In a movie review in today's New York Times which the author, Stephen Holden, manages to write without expressing an opinion, he mangles yet another magic phrase: sleight of hand. This is what he wrote: "As is his wont, Mr. Shawn employs insidious sleight of hand to score moral points."

"Insidious" sleight of hand? How can sleight of hand (in this case merely a euphemism for the playwright/actor's work) be insidious? It can't, and that's bad writing.
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mrgoat
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby mrgoat » July 23rd, 2014, 11:08 am

Seems ok to me:

adjective
1.
intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.
2.
stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy.
3.
operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 23rd, 2014, 11:33 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:the free use of words that invoke magical cliches...


Insidious sleight of hand? Had to look up the review to check context. The topic is inappropriate touching and that's not so horrible an allusion.

Undercooked cliches and all the writer speaks for himself.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 2:43 pm

The word "insidious" is, of course, fine.

But no matter how you twist the English language, there is no sense to the phrase "insidious sleight of hand."
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby mrgoat » July 23rd, 2014, 2:46 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:The word "insidious" is, of course, fine.

But no matter how you twist the English language, there is no sense to the phrase "insidious sleight of hand."


So sleight of hand is not stealthy or deceitful?

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 4:00 pm

"insidious" is not a synonym for "stealthy" or "deceit."
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Rick Ruhl » July 23rd, 2014, 4:43 pm

Now I'll get Richard's OCD going...

The New York Times ain't Shakespeare!

;)

Seriously, how can humans not use all the online resources today for grammar and thesaurus references?

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Rick Ruhl » July 23rd, 2014, 4:45 pm

http://thesaurus.com/browse/insidious

Looks like it is Richard....

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby mrgoat » July 23rd, 2014, 4:53 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:"insidious" is not a synonym for "stealthy" or "deceit."


You best email the dictionary.com folk and tell them they dun goofed!

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 6:52 pm

They can kiss my keister.
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Rick Ruhl » July 23rd, 2014, 11:16 pm

expects to see this thread vanish soon.................... ---------->

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 23rd, 2014, 11:58 pm

Why would it be deleted? I have the right to disagree.
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby mrgoat » July 24th, 2014, 5:15 am

It's not really disagreeing. More being wrong. :)

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Ryan Matney » July 25th, 2014, 6:50 pm

Well, being wrong has never held you back from posting, Mr. Goat. :D
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby jamessmith » July 25th, 2014, 7:37 pm

If you spend any time researching old newspapers you will find magical terms misused left, right and centre. The phrase "political legerdemain" is particularly annoying and goes back to the 17th century even though it has nothing to do with actual sleight of hand.

Annoying, I know, but nothing new!

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Richard Stokes » July 26th, 2014, 1:01 pm

"I could have been a Judge, but I never had the Latin..." Peter Cook's miner monologue

As a Brit raised on Latin, I automatically associate insidious with 'ambush'.

'Ambush sleight of hand' sounds like a reasonable combination to me.

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby MManchester » November 7th, 2014, 8:51 pm

We Are Hardwired to Screw Ourselves Over Until the Day We Die

"This doesn't only pertain to the old sleight of hand with diet and exercise or otherwise minor ethical considerations. A Business Insider piece from July of this year looked at the more insidious effects of all this mental magic."

http://jezebel.com/we-are-hardwired-to- ... 1654184050
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Q. Kumber » November 8th, 2014, 2:57 am

Bad writing can be irritating.

What irritates me more is bad advertising, especially in magic magazines. Just open the pages of any magic magazine including GENII and it is full of ads with a nebulous graphic and a website. Absolutely no information about the product, no incentive to buy, just a fond hope that you will go to their website and search for this new product.

"When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.'
I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product."
- David Ogilvy

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Dustin Stinett » November 8th, 2014, 3:48 am

This is turning out to be a very unique thread.
8-)

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby observer » November 8th, 2014, 12:12 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:This is turning out to be a very unique thread.
8-)



One of the uniquest ever!

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby mrgoat » November 8th, 2014, 12:43 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:Bad writing can be irritating.

What irritates me more is bad advertising, especially in magic magazines. Just open the pages of any magic magazine including GENII and it is full of ads with a nebulous graphic and a website. Absolutely no information about the product, no incentive to buy, just a fond hope that you will go to their website and search for this new product.

"When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.'
I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product."
- David Ogilvy


Couldn't agree more. In fact, I can't think of a SINGLE magic ad I would call good. They good money on the media space, then get their cousin to knock something up because he has photoshop.

And they don't even make an effort to track if the ad is working, like offering a discount with coupon code GENII NOVEMBER or whatever.

It's dreadful.

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby MManchester » November 8th, 2014, 12:50 pm

Reminds me of a great line used to promote a local radio show on the topic:

You don't want advertising. You want results.
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Re: Bad Writing

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » November 8th, 2014, 9:27 pm

Wow! Am impressed bout all this stuff bout bad righting and so on. I thought that insitius was about cities. Thanks for the in sites, y'all. I gots lots to lern.

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Re: Bad Writing

Postby erdnasephile » November 8th, 2014, 9:56 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:Bad writing can be irritating.

What irritates me more is bad advertising, especially in magic magazines. Just open the pages of any magic magazine including GENII and it is full of ads with a nebulous graphic and a website. Absolutely no information about the product, no incentive to buy, just a fond hope that you will go to their website and search for this new product.

"When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.'
I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product."
- David Ogilvy


I concur--this phenomenon is pervasive throughout the advertising industry. I can't understand what half the commercials on TV are saying about the merits of the product they represent.


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