Adventures in Editing, or The frustration of English.

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To hyphenate or not to hyphenate, that is the question.
Currently, I am working on reviewing galley proofs for an upcoming Steampunk Fantasy from Pro Se Productions.
What’s a galley proof? Very simply, it is the last step before publishing. It’s an ancient term, from a time when type was actually hand set using wooden or metal blocks and placed into metal trays called “galleys.” Then single-column pages of type, or “proofs,” was printed. The authors would edit and make corrections to the text and send it back to the printer. The printer would then take great delight … uhm, curse the author to the third generation, while rearranging the blocks of type that needed to be corrected. Lather, rinse repeat until the book was perfect.
In this case, a) not my book just double-checking the copy edits and b) it reads well. There is not much in need of correction…except two lines which caught my attention. And they don’t need correction, they just got my curiosity up. They are:

  1.  “You’re always snooping around the back alleys…”
  2.  “There are other means of employment besides back-alley robbery,..”

Do you notice the difference? Yeah, there is a hyphen in one and not the other. Ever had that experience where you look at a word, and it just doesn’t look right?
In the first sentence, “back alleys” is a noun. It follows the standard definition of Person, Place, or Thing. An alley, or alleyway, runs behind a row of houses, or between rows of houses. Definitely a place then. What about context? In the United Kingdom, (our story is set in London), a residence or other premises whose only entrance is on a back alley will have an address of the form “Back of [number] Something Street,” where the row of houses is in “Something Street.” It would appear, according to my sources, no hyphen is needed here.
Except… in sentence number two it is an adjective. A word or phrase naming an attribute added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it. By modifying robbery, back-alley (with a hyphen) is defined as dirty, unprepossessing, sordid, or clandestine.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to burn too many brain cells on it. A quick check of a sound source on editing questions, Editor Group, had the answers about hyphenation. Still, it reminds me of a quote about the English Language.
“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
–James D. Nicoll
Pretty sure we can add torture to its list of crimes too.
Thank you for reading
Ernest Russell

Monday’s Musings

Types of Currency

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I’m in my late fifties now and have had regular jobs since I was twelve. Throughout working these various jobs, a majority of them dealing with people and money, I naively believed I had seen the different categories of currency used in transactions. These categories, as I am calling them, relate more to the condition and method of carry at the time of a cash transaction. I share with you now my observations.
New Currency
Yes, this is the category of bright, crisp money. The bright greens popping against the white, wrapped in bands of green, reds, yellows, violets, and mustards being the most common wrappers denoting denomination, the number of bills and the amount of the bundle.
These are pretty unless you are a cashier. These deceptively attractive bundles which reputedly cause the world to go round are really quite the hazard. These same new bills take delight in striking to cause paper cuts. There is a legend in some circles these stiff, sharp bills can be just a sharp as any well-honed blade. Their intent to slip through your hands, laughing as they make good an escape. Their Velcro-like tendency makes it easy for two or even three to act together as one. At closing, anticipating a balanced drawer, your frustration growing as you try to balance. A vain search for the escapees, only to make up the difference from your own meager supply of cash.
Regular or “used” Currency
Have no fear, over time these bands of bloodthirsty marauders of the cash drawer and wallets are handled and beaten in submission. As we stuff them into our wallets, purses, and pockets their edges become blunted and the Velcro-like surfaces are sanded to a sleeker finish something begins to change. No longer brash and beautiful, the minty freshness dwindling to a memory as it is laundered, folded and crushed. This legal tender transitions in just that, an object as soft and pliable as a well-loved pair of comfortable jeans.
Now, you would think these are the two types of currency yet, they are not. There are other categories created by people. Just as our influence affects our surroundings, so too have people created subcategories of cash based on the method in which it is carried.
After all, how did you suppose this money achieved its delightfully soft and plaint condition? It has probably been through one, or more, of the following methods of carry.
The first of these subcategories is usually seen carried by women, and it breaks into two subcategories.
This is not meant to be a sexist reference in any way, it merely involves apparel those identifying as male generally don’t wear. The bra.
Yes, I am talking about –
Bra money.
Upper Bra Money
One of the amazing things is the number of items some women can carry in their bras without creating the appearance of being lumpier than badly mashed potatoes. No, it’s not a flattering picture, but when you watch the assortment of items some women remove from their décolletage, it can be downright scary to watch. Externally, there is no evidence all this “stuff” was ever there!
It’s the body pocket trope made real. You know the one where a character, often animated, reaches into a pocket or other space and pulls out a series of gag items until they find what they need. The array of cell phones, lipstick, makeup, keys, hard candies/mints, small wallets/ids/credit cards, hankies, and of course, money is impressive. Stages magicians weep at not being able to stuff this much up their sleeves.
This is cash stored in the bra on top of the breast. Presented with the amount due the customer reaches into her top extracting payment from the upper portions. The money is always warm and depending on the weather may be slightly damp.
Under Bra Money
Sharing many traits in common with Upper Bra Money it is found under the breast, held in place not only by placement between the bra and the breast but by the weight of the breast itself. This money is always damp, occasionally has an aroma, and the bills could be difficult to separate.
Both of the above methods do seem to represent a somewhat secure method of carry. Neither is likely to cause any loss of funds.
Those identifying as a male of the species rarely carry the particular forms of currency so far described. A predominately, though by no means exclusive, male category of currency is carried in the sock.
Sock Money
Sock money, as the name implies, is carried in the sock(s) of the bearer. The quality of this currency varies on many factors. Weather, as with Bra money, is a primary factor regarding the moisture level. So too does where in the sock the money resides. If an athletic tube sock, the cash held in place between the ankle and top of the sock, those bills on the interior of the fold may be relatively dry. The outer bill, or bills, which wraps the others will absorb any sweat produced.
Migration can occur with this method. If the cash migrates too far up the sock, there is a danger of it falling out, or even ejected between the elastic and motion of the calf muscle. At times, the bills carried in this manner may be pushed downward wedging itself between the ankle and edge of the shoe. It is recommended not to allow this position to continue as the cash rubbing against the side of the foot could cause various degrees of irritation.
I have witnessed some to carry the money placed deep in the sock, so the foot rests upon it. Thus providing additional arch support. Not being an orthopedic specialist I cannot attest to this and would suggest speaking with a qualified podiatrist before attempting.
Positioning the cash in this manner causes all of it to become soaked foot sweat and should it be raining it guarantees the money to be soaked thus rendering it very tender indeed. A condition for the cashier akin to separating wet newspaper.
As mentioned, carried above the ankle cash presented from this form of storage is generally damp for the outer bill or two absorb the sweat, leaving the inner bills in reasonable condition, and they exude little odor. For those bills which are carried inside the shoe, a very different matter. As one person removed his shoe, setting it upon my desk, thereby guaranteeing if I were any species of canine with a tracking ability I could find him anywhere, before proceeding to remove his sock. As he reached into the ecru nylon tube, it may once have been white, and stained with his footprint, I wondered what might emerge. Flashbacks to episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle flashed before my eyes:
“Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out this hat.”

“Again? That trick never works.”
Indeed, many things came out of the sock. An ID, some loose change, and a crumpled bus pass. But no cash. He had forgotten which sock the money was located. The idle thought crossed my mind if he went through this process whenever he rode the bus, I suspect it was carried higher up. It is a question I regret not asking.
A repeat performance on the other foot occurred. This time cash was produced. It was damp, to the point of slimy but not to the point of inseparability, and for the rest of the day, the cash drawer emitted the distinct aroma of the combined unwashed contents of a basketball teams gym bags. It took several doses of Lysol, Febreze not yet invented, and a pine tree-shaped air freshener left in the drawer for about a week before the offending effluvia dissipated.
Honestly, until recently I had thought these were the ways people carried their stash of cash. Over the past few months, on a reasonably regular basis, there have been enough instances of this for me to think a new category should be added. Are you ready?
Underwear Money.
Yes, you read it correctly. For a few years, as almost everyone is aware, there has been a fashion trend among young males to wear their pants below their underwear. Not a style which suits me, but to quote Tim Gunn, “”If that’s the look you were going for, that’s quite a look!”.
My first encounter with this form of currency remains quite vivid. It was time for the young man to pay for his purchase. After hearing the cost he stands up, I thought to reach into his pocket. But no. It was to reach down the front of his black and white checked underwear. Not the pants, he very definitely pulled the underwear forward and reached down plunging about half of his forearm down the front of his pants, having to lean forward slightly as he did so.
Was this was some parody of Cleavon Little’s Sheriff from Blazing Saddles? It would not have surprised me had the young man said: “Excuse me, while I whip this out.” Which, disappointingly he did not, as he whipped out a crumpled wad of bills.

It did make me wonder if he had seen The Sting. There is a scene where a grifter is showing a numbers runner to carry the cash down the front of his pants “because no cop is going to frisk you there.”
So there I am with this crumpled wad of bills, glistening from unknown fluid, with a rather strong musky odor emanating from them. The young man proceeded to sort and count out the correct amount then duly returned the remainder to their resting place and sat back down. With no hesitation, I used a paper towel to scoop up the bills and left them covered by it in my cash drawer.
Several pumps of hand sanitizer later I felt almost clean again. This has not been the only time I have seen this occur. It has happened with enough frequency that it must be included here, though I do believe it to be limited to only young males at this point.
I leave you now with my observations on the ways people transport their money. Perhaps you have run into some and not others, if you have spotted other means not mentioned, I would be interested in hearing them. For now, it is enough to have shared my two cents and the descriptions herein. Until next time, try not to think about where your money may have been.
As always, thank you for reading,
Ernest Russell