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Syntax

Study of those rules that govern the means by which words combine to form phrases, clauses and sentences.

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Lemonade Lessons

  • Jul 16, 2012
  • by
Rating:
+5
Any mediocre writer of prose in possession of both self-awareness and some ambition to hone their syntax is condemned to repeated frustrations upon evaluating their own output typed years, months, weeks, days afore, and I have never been exempt from this discontent. My two-hundred-plus critical reviews are living documents subject to deliberate and arbitrary revision alike: factual errors are occasionally extirpated and supplanted with thrillingly authentic information; immaterial adjectives and verbs are routinely replaced to evocative effect; the infrequent hyphen is interposed, or italicization applied; rarely, the dread typographical error is redressed. However, the number of phrases in these articles that I've altered for purposes of beautification and rarefaction can be counted on the fingers of one healthy hand. Just as my inclination to recend my reviews denies them a definitive condition, so do their maladroit inadequacies. This is especially true of my earliest content, much of which is unspeakably gauche and inelegant. Were I to repair every objectionable portion of these works, I'd have no developmental chronology for retrospect, and would be renovating in perpetuity for an unsavory goal of mere competence!

My readers and I deserve to learn from my mistakes, and the awkward excerpts below have been extracted from my own critiques to illustrate my prosaic failures and how they might be ameliorated (or obviated entirely!) if written at present.

Quoted from my excoriation of Ana's Girls:

Every aspect of the online anorexia subculture is detailed: its asinine screed, derivative slang and vernacular, common methodology and absurd religious pretensions.
 

"Slang" of "derivative slang and vernacular" entertains a distinct tautology. Instead, "derivative vernacular" would have sufficed.

Bona Cristo, how I once fecklessly concluded sentences with correlating conjunctions! Note this passage from one tepid appraisal of Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film:

Narrated by a gravelly-voiced Nick Nolte and featuring titles illustrated by Ralph Steadman in his inimitable style, this is an impressively slick dedicatory overview of a man whose talent and behavior propelled him into the kind of fame that he was fundamentally averse to.


It ought have read:

Narrated by gravelly-voiced Nick Nolte and featuring titles illustrated by Ralph Steadman in his inimitable style, this is an impressively slick, dedicatory overview of a man whose talent and behavior propelled him to a fame to which he was fundamentally averse.


Likewise, this abhorrent share from my (henceforth redacted) praise of the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me score deserves assessment:

Propelled by a slow, chugging beat that's cemented with a steady bass riff and punctuated by shrill blasts of aimless guitar riffing, this is something to party and fuck to.


Thusly reformed:

Propelled by a slow, chugging beat, cemented with a steady bass riff and punctuated by shrill blasts of cacophonous guitar noise, this is something to which the most dissolute can party and fuck.


Less egregious is this sentence from my capsule critique of the Rob Roy score:

Like so many film scores, Burwell's compositions are usually only as good as the features that they're written for.


Here's a preferable permutation thereof:

Like so many film scores, Burwell's compositions are usually only as good as the features for which they're written.


Worse is this that mars an evaluation of the Yojimbo score:

This is playful, inventive music that perfectly complements the tone of the film it was scored for; for anyone who's seen it, the infectious, trudging title track will instantly evoke the image of Toshiro Mifune's shrewd, slovenly ronin.


Execrable, that! Had I my wits about me, I might have instead tapped out this:

This is playful, inventive music that perfectly complements the tone of the film for which it was scored. To those familiar with Kurosawa's jidaigeki classic, its infectious, trudging title track will instantly evoke the image of Toshiro Mifune's shrewd, slovenly ronin.


Overutilization of the English language's most oft-employed word is common, though seldom so conspicuously as in this dreadful paragraph plucked from my Day of the Woman review:

The quality of this feature's production values are mixed. While Zarchi is a director of slight invention, his editing is clumsy, sometimes embarrassingly so. The cinematography is a cut above that of most B-movies, but the sound is awful; much of the dubbed dialogue sounds as though it were recorded in a bathroom.


By polishing prose and crediting Meir Zarchi's crew for their efforts, the above quote may be redeemed:

Indisputably, this feature's production values are of mixed quality. While Zarchi is a director of slight invention, his editing is clumsy, often embarrassingly so. Nouri Haviv's cinematography is a cut above that of most B-movies, but Michel Carton's sound mix is awful; much of the dubbed dialogue sounds as though it were recorded in a bathroom.


My modest approval of Death Wish is so ill-conceived that it's been subjected to nearly a half-dozen revisions and still isn't satisfactory. Note this unaccountably slipshod selection:

While always capable, Charles Bronson was never a terribly nuanced actor. His straightforward, understated performance here is as powerful as it is reserved, relying on his talent for subtle expression and his considerable screen presence. His Paul Kersey is a mild-mannered architect of trendy sensibilities: his heart bleeds ever so sweetly for the underprivileged, regardless of the criminal element so prominent among them. But when his wife is murdered and his daughter is beaten and raped by a gang of "underprivileged" thugs, Kersey experiences a dramatic change of opinion. His gradual transformation from a gentle professional to a hardened, vicious vigilante is realistically portrayed - an impressive aspect of the film that owes as much to Michael Winner's tense, blunt direction as Bronson's striking performance.


Good gravy! Its pensioner's parlance indulges superfluity: two consecutive clauses begin with "his" and another with a conjunction. Here's a tolerable redaction:

Always able when unburdened by immoderate dialogue, Charles Bronson was never a terribly nuanced actor. Here relying on his talent for subtle expression and formidable screen presence, he delivers a straightforward, understated performance of muted virility. Bronson's Paul Kersey is a mild-mannered architect of trendy sensibilities: his heart bleeds sweetly for the underprivileged, regardless of their prominent, virulent criminal element. After his wife is murdered and daughter beaten and raped by a gang of vulgar thugs, Kersey experiences a dramatic change of opinion, gradually transforming from a gentle professional to a hardened, unsparing vigilante. This credible metamorphosis owes as much to Michael Winner's tense, blunt direction as Bronson's striking performance.


Even worse than its predecessor, this fatuous paragraph may well be the nadir of my authorship:

Although it's frequently brutal and a bit clumsy in spots, Death Wish provides a perceptive and even compelling perspective of its subject matter. I've read and heard this film referred to as "pro-gun propaganda" more than a few times, and while that description is over the top, there's no doubt that screenwriter Wendell Mayes was catering to the victimized everyman when he adapted Brian Garfield's novel of the same name to the screen. Ultimately, the core issue of this movie is not the subject of guns but instead the cost of so-called civility. When a society makes self-defense practically impossible for the average individual and law enforcement establishments are unable or unwilling to fulfill their tasks, what reasonable course of action can that everyman engage in? While Kersey's choice of action is extreme and probably misguided, it isn't impossible to relate to.


One can only revise this to an admissible form by radical means:

Regardless of its goosier humor and infrequently clumsy editing, Death Wish provides a cogent, compelling perspective of its speculative scenario. Now popularly received by a more sheltered America as propaganda in favor of private gun ownership, Wendell Mayes' screenplay (adapted from Brian Garfield's novel of the same title) unarguably patronized the victimized everyman. Ultimately, the paramount theme of this movie addresses not the subject of firearms, but the cost of ostensible civility. When an average citizen of a felonious society is scarcely permitted the fundamental right to self-defense, and institutions of law enforcement are unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties in the stead of this right, to what reasonable course of action can that everyman resort? Though extreme and likely misguided, our protagonist's course of action is in no way outlandish.


Judged by any metric, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is flagitious movie that's likely aggravated brain damage suffered by its addled target demographic. Numerous deficiencies of my admittedly soporific review may be attributed to my desire to put this drivel quick behind me:

However, Lorenzo Lamas is something else entirely; he's introduced almost forty minutes (though still far too early) into the video and gnaws every cheap plastic set that he's in as some sort of obnoxious, omnipotent military authority who makes Albert Rosenfield from Twin Peaks seem affable in comparison. He says "sharkzilla" twice and it is not funny either time. He spews calculatedly racist quips so that the other cast members can respond with vapid revulsion and the audience can shake their heads at this colorful character. If Lamas doesn't feel like waking up early to show up on the set of a B-movie, that's fine. He should step aside so that Mark Hamill or Bruce Campbell can take his place and at least try to make the role somewhat fun and interesting.


I'd be wiser not to attend to this trifle at all, but as I'm not:

Regrettably introduced far too early (nearly forty minutes into the video's running time), Lorenzo Lamas tenaciously gnaws every cheap plastic set in which he finds himself. Playing an obnoxious, omnipotent prefect, he tosses off calculatedly racist quips to which his castmates respond with vapid revulsion. Twice, he employs the "sharkzilla" portmanteau; in neither instance is it at all amusing. Clearly uncomfortable in his preposterous role, Lamas imparts to it no especial panache; either Mark Hamill or Bruce Campbell would surely have been more personable choices in his stead.


I am always receptive of criticism. If you, gentle reader, should encounter more of my embarrassing bloopers, feel free to contact me in concern of them. Otherwise, I'll inevitably locate them of my own initiative during idle hours, to the corollary of this article's enlargement.

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July 17, 2012
I have to say, I have had my own share of bloopers, some I have managed to fix, some...well, beyond fixing. This is a very useful post--I like it a lot. or should I say: This post is filled with items that cause me to revisit certain things I have done in the past. Thanks! (I'll have to feature this tomorrow evening!)
July 17, 2012
Thank you so much! I'm pleased to read that this can serve as a catalyst for some reflection and productivity.
 
July 17, 2012
OUAOU! :D This is so much funsies to read! :D It's really fun to do thingies like this and watch yourself improve before your very eyes! :D I think its very refreshingsie! ^-^ Your revisions are superb! :D The original excerpts were already light years beyond the grammatical skills of most people residing in the colonies, but you've perfected them exquisitely! :D They are shiny and cherry - pink, nowsies, heehee! ^-^ YOU are a sweet SNUUU! :D I Love YOUUU! ^-^ Heehee! ^-^ Muu! ^-^ I LOVE these Lemonade Lessons! :D

*nosie & cheekie rubsies*
*snuuslebuuups*
*peepsie kisssssssies*

♥ Annusya ♥
July 17, 2012
You are too flattering, sweet baby! Even as a heathen, my conviction that the absence of bad as nothing intrinsically good is one of a Catholic few that resonate with me; that I can form a complete sentence hardly suggests that the sentence will be at all substantial. However, I should like to imagine that I'm always improving.

You are shiny and cherry-pink; I'm a juicy orange!

*wuuubs*
*baboooos*
*snugglypips*
July 17, 2012
Of *course* you're always improvingsie, otherwise, you wouldn't have written Lemonade Lessonsies, heehee! ^-^ YOU *are* a delicious, juicy cinnamon orange! ^-^ You're a Snuudles baby! ^-^ Muu! ^-^

*wuuuuugs*
*papooooose*
*snugglypipkissies* ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
 
1
About the reviewer
Robert Buchanan ()
Ranked #30
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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