In the past year I've written a number of humor pieces, nearly all of which were accepted for publication here. But I cut items out of nearly every essay. Many of these cuts serve as copyright traps, but other pieces are cut for artistic or aesthetic reasons, such as fitting more advertisements into the half-hour slot. I'd like to review some of the cuts and their reasons.
Cut From: ``Mediocre King Wenceslaus'', 14 February.
that, which, what, that, very, seemingly, nearly, that, that, seems, that, fairly, that
Why Cut: I have this little problem with words that don't actually mean anything, such as ``that'' or ``well'' or ``actually'' or ``intermediary'' or ``little'' or ``that'' only meant the other way. They don't do any useful work in the meaning or humor value of sentences, so when I find that things have run a little long they're the first to go. In the most dramatic example I had a 2600-word piece which, without the filler words, was reduced to pointing at how I played basketball in middle school, which at one point involved the guy on the other team telling me where to go so he could most efficiently run past me. This was highly successful since they stopped asking me to play basketball.
Cut From: ``Boxcars and Bowling Pins'', 5 August.
screaming looneys and non sequiturs are no basis for a theory of
Why Cut: It's quite true these are no basis. A basis is a set of elements, often interpreted to be vectors, whose span is the space or subspace of interest for whatever our problem is. Non sequiturs can't form any kind of basis as they are immune to scalar multiplication following the Treaty of Ramanujan 1919, and looneys, screaming or otherwise, haven't got a well-defined additive property. Therefore the idea of their span is a bunch of nonsense and the entire sentence turns out to be ridiculous. Cut without anyone even noticing.
Cut From: ``The Moral Regeneration of Hieronymus Thump And Why He Stopped Wearing Shoelaces'', 16 October.
them, them, that, nostalgic reveries, that, stem, them, mets, emts, that, hat, at, newspaper stall, peanut butter, kangaroo
Why Cut: Checking something out on Wikipedia lead me to the article about the ``Malagasy Orogeny'', which is such a wonderful name I had to find something to do with it right away, and pitched everything overboard in favor of this new mission. I still haven't found what to do with it, so I've been quietly fuming the last several months in the hopes someone would notice. I think these cuts were my worst overall, as the essay was supposed to make the point that Hieronymus Thump was a kangaroo and when that isn't mentioned anywhere the satiric punch was lost. It was behind the bookcase.
Cut From: ``Underscore with Chippendale Accompaniment'', 14 December.
Door without wall to be in isn't a door. Therefore doorness is conferred by walls. However, wallness is not conferred by doors. Windows just make the matter annoying. There's no resolution.
Why Cut: The trimming of these notes at the rough stage is best explained in the words of reviewer Michael Fenster, an old friend who's still talking to me:
Through the understated fortissimo playfulness of structure resolving itself as tension unresolved as avasted through a sudden increase, which we perceive as decrease, in the tremulous arpeggio which sees the reader find oneself both reading and not reading as a bucket of water has fallen on his head, unless he is female, in which case she has thrown the bucket of water on my head, producing the uncomfortable feeling that one is not being listened to already. If one is not being listened to, this indicates one is listened from, and therefore is part of a list, which, if un-numbered, thereby leaves us with a horse stuck in the bathroom.
Given that, cutting the text was the most merciful thing to do not involving swinging frying pans at someone.
I hope this brief indulgence to my writing style, and my style of not writing, is not too much for the good reader or kangaroo. Thank you and a happy New Year, as applicable.
Trivia: The 12-second duration of Orville Wright's first flight on 17 December 1903 is an estimate. In the excitement Wilbur forgot to click his stopwatch at the moment of takeoff, and Orville's stopwatch was reset to zero by the shock of landing. Source: First Flight: The Wright Brothers And The Invention Of The Airplane, T A Heppenheimer.
Currently Reading: Otherwere: Stories of Transformation, Editors Laura Anne Gilman, Keith R A DeCandido.