Flush the word turds, babe

Posted: November 25, 2008 by ginavivinetto in music, rock criticism


Eleven years ago, I landed a fun job as a copy editor for an alt-newsweekly.

It was at that fun little indie paper, which later became an un-fun corporate-owned paper, that I began writing about music.

When I was a newbie, the music editor at the time farmed out CD reviews. He was very confident in his abilities and had no qualms about making my words sound like his. To make matters worse, he pigeonholed me as the “middle of the road indie-alternative girl” — basically, I was stuck reviewing the boring bands no one else wanted to tackle.

I will say that he helped me tighten up my writing and expand my knowledge base, but he also instilled very annoying music critic-ese that make me feel uncomfortable with myself. It was almost like I had to shower after a deadline sometimes.

I internalized his voice. I started using words like “conjured.” I still catch myself using that stupid word. It’s so Goth-geeky. Really, now. “conjure.” It reeks of stale patchouli and Wiccan B.O.

So, the goal is to establish a Word Turd Fund. We’d set up a PayPal account, and if you as a music writer — whether you’re blogging or submitting a full-length feature to Magnet — catch yourself using certain forbidden foppish, obtuse and hackneyed words or constructions, you should have to contribute to the Word Turd Fund.

A music review should read like a recommendation from your fun-as-shit, smart-as-shit and well-meaning friend.

Playing CAPTCHA with folks’ heads ain’t no way to go about it, and we’re going to start getting our laxatives out fortwith … wait, is that one? Oops, I let a squeaker out.

Here’s a start:

Invoke: Like “conjure,” this word should never be used unless you’re joking about demons or John Edward.

Fuck your verbose anecdotal lead: Who are you impressing with that story about an old bluesman who took a piss next to Johnny Cash? Who, huh? If we wanted a history lesson, we’d watch American Experience on PBS. Most people don’t want to read the first bit of opinion four paragraphs in. We have munchies waiting in the fridge, and they aren’t going to microwave themselves!

Everyone’s been introduced: So, please, for the love of Jesus Lizard, stop telling us about the time so and so meets so and so. Saying T-Rex meets T-Pain meets Tammy Wynette doesn’t say a whole hell a lot about a band’s true artistic vision. It’s a lazy shortcut … though I’m suddenly intrigued by my fictitious construct. … Anyway, regardless, this is a hard one, I know. We’ve all been guilty of it, but *breathe* reword.

Conjunctive-itis: Please stop with the fancy coordinating conjunctions like “hence,” “thusly” and other linkage hooha.

TRANS-rendered: People really get bored with using practical bread-and-butter verbs, so they will employ a nifty action word implying change or movement. Often, those words begin with the prefix “Trans” — like “transcend” or “transport.” I just read “transmute.” What the fuck. I’m not really sure what that means. I can kinda guess. … Is that a three-way involving the speech-impaired?

  1. ginavivinetto says:

    I want to punch any critic that henceforth uses the term “wall of sound” as well as the adjective “lush.” ENOUGH!

  2. Deborah Frost says:

    There is a time and place for every word.

    As well as great and very funny ideas– like the ones expressed above.
    I needed this at this hour in the a.m.

  3. Deborah Frost says:

    That alt-weekly wasn’t the Village Voice, I presume?

  4. Deborah Frost says:

    Yeah linkage hoohah just doesn’t seem to… hook up.

  5. I forgot to mention recall. I was brainwashed to say shit like The Hives new CD recalls the early Kinks. The Hives new CD doesn’t recall anything. It’s plastic and aluminum, whatever it is, it doesn’t have a memory of any kind!

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